Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Knock Three Times

Dexter Gordon, One Flight Up. Only four songs on this album, but I really dig it. I liked it from the first listen. There's something very haunting about there's a story there that's trying to get out. Some kind of sad relationship between the man who lives downstairs and the woman he loves upstairs who has no idea that one flight down a man is wasting away longing for her. All of this while the grey of day never makes it to night. "Tanya," the man repeats to himself until the name becomes known, and he becomes entranced in a spiraling effort to connect. 18 minutes long and the song and the name never drawn out or tiresome. Piano, trumpet, sax all spelling out the weight of 13 stairs, a landing and 13 more stairs, a left and 26 steps down the hallway to the left. Knock three times with the left hand and hide. He vanishes to watch for her face to peek around the door and listen to her voice say "Hello?" So much to do in 18 minutes. Oh, and there's a wonderful bass that holds the beat steady so that the man's dream is not forgotten. Only 18 minutes to live out this cold, grey fantasy. There could be wind and leaves rustling by under trees that are resolved for winter. Footsteps along the sidewalks sound half-hearted, mere attempts at completing what is expected of them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Piano Hurdles and Tuba Phobia

Okay, I admit it. I'm not a huge piano fan. (Not that small pianos are any different.) Sometimes, however, I'll come across someone who can really get something moving--like Ahmad Jamal. What a pleasant suprise to stumble upon him. Maybe the piano hurdle is just a mood thing. I like Horace Silver just fine, and there are many others, I just don't generally jump on the piano bandwagon. I guess my bandwagon is guitar, sax or trumpet. Again, no tubas, please. (Ironically, I learned that tubas played a key part in early jazz. I guess that I"ll have to steer clear of early jazz until I'm over my tuba phobia.)
Interested in learning more about the tuba? Get an earful here at Tuba News.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Never Does a Body Wrong

Gloomy weather today in San Jose. Another rainy December bringing Christmas a bit closer. It makes me want to play something either very ballad-esque or something snappy. Jazz in general is very good, but Bebop never does a body wrong. I'll go for Ornette Coleman (Shape of Jazz to Come) or something else a little on the Avante-garde side to blow the grey away--give me some hard bop, Modern Jazz, Avante-garde--styles of jazz. I'm still working on distinguishing some of the stuff. Rather than looking at something on the everyday side, let's look at holiday stuff to bring in the season. A favorite again, for me, this year has been Diana Krall's Christmas Songs CD. Although a close second was brought into the house this year: Harry Connick, Jr.'s Harry for The Holidays. He's actually a great composer and lights a fire unders some old favorites.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Man Bites Dog or I Found a Tuba

Sonofagun. I found a tuba playing...bebop. Max Roach's You Stepped Out of A Dream on his Deeds, Not Words Album. Unbelievable. I wasn't paying attention and caught myself thinking that I heard a tuba...playing something other than the normal umpah pah pah. Not bad, actually. I love Max Roach. He's one hip drummer and working with Clifford Brown on so many of his albums was no mistake. If you haven't heard a tuba play jazz, you gotta check this out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Center Stage

It's a toss up, really, trying to determine what makes the best instrument for jazz. Some days it seems like the tenor sax, others a trumpet, or better yet the guitar. Never the flute or trombone, sorry. I've seen on some album that there was a tuba in the band, but that seems almost ridiculous. And then there are days when one musician will really sound fantastic. It's totally possible to wake up and think Hank Mobley is premiere only to end the day with Kenny Burrell taking center stage. I try to get at least 15 hours of jazz listening in a day, so the list of musicians I run through is exhaustive. I have the world of jazz at my fingertips with Yahoo's Juke Box.

This morning's top musician's: Joshua Redman, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk

Monday, December 4, 2006

Nat, not Cannonball

I came across Nat Adderley's album Work Song at the Santa Clara Public Library today when I was supposed to be studying corporate finance. I did manage to hold onto the CD, get my homework completed and return home before popping it into my laptop for a listen. I have to say that I'm pleasantly suprised. Great assists from some of his friends: Wes Montgomery (guitar), Boby Timmons (piano), Sam Jones (bass) and Louis Hayes (drums). I really dig the early '60's stuff. This album was recorded in 1960 in New York. I haven't come across much that I don't like when Wes steps in and lends a hand on his guitar. What a sweet sounding addition. This gig is fairly unique in that the band is fronted by a coronet, guitar and a bass (sometimes a cello). Maybe I'm missing something but I don't hear a coronet much in the jazz I'm listening to most. The only other coronet player I'm familiar with is Don Cherry and I think he played something called a pocket trumpet. Speaking of which, I've heard some great stuff from Cherry and I love his improv. Who'd a thunk he would have a son called Eagle-Eye?

Saturday, December 2, 2006

William Ash on The Fast Track

Recently I was listening to some new artists on my Yahoo Music Jukebox and came across a fine young guitarist named William Ash.

At first glance, it looked like he had three albums available:
Ballads for Bill and Joe, Broadway Alley and The Long Road. Not so, he has many more, and from what I can tell, all of them sound great. Ballads for Bill and Joe has some great performances...standout sax player Joey Cavaseno and Ash set a collaborative standard set for two. Ash is defenitely worth checking out if you appreciate great jazz guitar and are curious about what the next round of masters are bringing to the table. Haven't heard of Cavaseno? Me either. I was pleased to learn of his album Tribute to Evanescence. More albums and artists for me to check out. If any of you have heard this dynamo's album, drop a comment.