Kamasi Washington’s ‘The Epic’

After reading a review of L.A. saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s recent Woodstock, NY gig, I was inspired to track down his latest album, The Epic. I obviously don’t have my finger on the pulse of the jazz world. If I did, I would have known that The Epic has taken the genre by storm this year.

Listening to The Epic for the first time – even as a casual appreciator of jazz – was like stepping into another dimension of colors and sounds.  Seventeen songs span almost three hours. It feels like you’re traveling through everything that is good about the past, present and future of Music.

Kamasi’s sax, two drummers, two keyboard players, two bass players, a trumpet, a trombone and the occasional vocalists stretch out into mind-bending moments of improvisation, soul, bop, afro-latin jazz, and beyond.  What a trip!

Check out The Epic on Amazon or Apple Music.


Name This Jazz Tune

Can I get a little help? You see, I pulled out an old mix CD today.

You know, the kind you don’t label and it gets put in a box and you move a few times and suddenly it’s a Sunday afternoon and you’re 39 years old and you hear a great jazz tune, and you knew the artist and song title long ago but you can’t for the life of you remember what the hell it’s called now??

Well, that’s the scenario. And Shazam – that awesome lil’ app that recognizes tunes for me on my iPhone – well it couldn’t recall the name either.

So I put it to you good people. Can anyone peg the artist & song title? All I can offer in return is my gratitude, and maybe a Tweet in your honor. The lonely untagged mp3 in my iTunes will thank you too.

Here it is, my Unknown Jazz Tune: Name This Jazz Tune (mp3)

RIP Les Paul


Legendary guitarist, inventor, songwriter and overall pioneer Les Paul has passed away at the age of 94. The debt that popular music itself owes to Les is immeasurable. From his part in the creation of the solid-body electric guitar to the first multi-track recording in history his contributions are endless. As a performer, solo and with his late wife Mary Ford, he had scores of top-ten hits and sold millions of records. This particular recording, from the Chester & Lester recording sessions, has long been a favorite of mine.

Chet Atkins & Les Paul – “Over the Rainbow” (mp3) (from Masters of the Guitar: Together, 1978)

Peter Piper / Take Me To The Mardi Gras

Show of hands: who knows the genesis of the bell & percussion groove of Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper”?

I stumbled on it tonight. I was listening to Afrika Bambaata’s radio show on Sirius Backspin on the way home from work today. He was playing short clips of some of his favorites from back in the day. He played a minute or so of “Nautilus” by Bob James. Nice funky, jazzy little groove. I went on to Blip.fm to track it down. Didn’t find it, but I did see “Take Me To The Mardis Gras”.

I clicked it, and – lo & behold – the source of “Peter Piper”! The song itself was written by Paul Simon, released a year earlier (1973) on Simon’s ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon‘. Bob James added that memorable percussion and his own flair to the song on 1974’s Two.

Bob James has to be flattered, but I also think he’d be pissed to know that people go their lifetimes not knowing that his creation is the backbone of one of the classics of early hip-hop.

Bob James / “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” (Blip.fm) from 1974’s Two

Dexter Gordon

It’s high time we jazz things up around here. I ran across this Dexter Gordon gig recently, and thought there may be some jazz fans out there in Ickmusic land as well. I recommend downloading this show, and letting it accompany you as you wrap those last minute presents, or crank up the heat and get comfortable during these cold months. If you’re down south of the equator, it just as easily sizzles.

I’m a fan of classic jazz, but I still have a long way to go in discovering the greats. I have a lot of Miles, a lot of Coltrane, some Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith, Bill Evans, Monk… but I need to really dig more into that classic era.  Dexter Gordon is a good start. In 1948, photographer Herman Leonard snapped one of the great photos in music history – Dexter Gordon, his tenor sax, and cigarette smoke wafting lazily in the air at the Royal Roost in New York City (the pic above, obviously). He was just a 25 year old kid in that picture, unknowingly rooting himself in classic jazz history.

In the 60’s, Gordon relocated to Europe, spending a lot of time in Copenhagen, Denmark. This particular gig is a 1969 private event at Club Caloo in Kalunborg, Denmark. It’s reeeeeaaal easy to get lost in Dexter’s sweet tenor sax.  Dexter passed at the age of 67 in 1990. RIP Dexter.


Dexter Gordon
Club Caloo
Kalunborg, Denmark,

1. The Rainbow People
2. The Blues Up And Down
3. The Shadow Of Your Smile (mp3)
4. Hot House
5. Rhythm-a-ning
6. Straight, No Chaser

7. Fried Bananas (mp3)
8. In A Sentimental Mood
9. Misty
10. 2nd Balcony Jump
11. Interview w/ Dexter Gordon (July 15, 1969)

Dexter Gordon Official Site

Tjader’s Cuban Fantasy

Here’s some mokin’ hot latin jazz from a virtuoso of the vibes, Cal Tjader. I wasn’t familiar with Tjader until I heard his live Cuban Fantasy album sometime last year, but the man was a vital component of the Bay Area jazz scene in the 50’s and 60’s, starting out in the Dave Brubeck Octet.

Hooking up with George Shearing’s popular quintet in the early 50’s, coupled with the mambo craze of that time, turned Tjader on to the Latin jazz sound, which he would perform straight through to his death in 1982. Carlos Santana counts Tjader as one of his biggest influences.

I’m no jazz aficionado, but this album, like I said, smokes. Here’s a hot one…

Cal TjaderGuachi Guara (mp3)


Buy Cuban Fantasy

Cal Tjader’s AllMusic profile.

Jon Regen: Live!

Don't Live a Little, Live a Jon Regen.

Maestro (and all around nice guy) Jon Regen checked in from the road with an outstanding live recording of his single “Let It Go” from the record of the same name (which you may recall got a good bit of spin time here at Ickmusic East). Recorded in Vienna, Austria it features Jon in a trio setting burning up the keys. Jon has a couple more dates lined up in Italy and will be visiting the UK in September. Hopefully he’ll have a few US dates in there as well.

Jon RegenLet It Go (live) (MP3)

Tour Dates:

July 19: Griziane Festival – Griziane, Italy
July 20-28: La Ghironda Festival – Puglia, Italy
September 25-27: Pizza Express Jazz Club – London, UK

Buy Let It Go: CDBaby | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

Jon Regen – Let it Go

Regen Just Feels Right.

Photo: Merri Cyr

Sometimes an album just hits the mark. Let it Go is one of those records. There is something to it that just feels like home. I’ve spent two weeks soaking up the tracks, something that as Pete pointed out in a recent post is sometimes hard to do with all the music we listen to. Jon Regen has taken on the singer/songwriter genre from a point of view not often seen. The New Jersey native has a Jazz pedigree but the heart of a pop songwriter with the ability to make words and music move your heart through the arc of a relationship’s highs and lows.

From the first notes of the opening title track through to aptly titled “The Last Song” there is no emotional stone left unturned. I really struggled with what tunes to share with you all as there are no duds here. I choose the heartfelt “Better Days” and the beautiful “Finding My Way Back to Me”. Check these out and pick up the record at the links below so you can tell all your friends that you were listening to this guy before he hit it big.

*Note: I’ve reloaded the audio files and they should be working now. My apologies to those who have tried to listen.

Jon RegenBetter Days (MP3)

Jon RegenFinding My Way Back to Me (MP3)

Buy Let It Go: CDBaby | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

Marco Benevento’s Real Morning Party

My latest eMusic download is Marco Benevento’s new one, Invisible Baby. Marco is a crazy-talented keyboard-man and composer from NYC, specializing in experimental effects-laden jazz-jam. I’ve been somewhat familiar with him from his work as a member of the Benevento/Russo Duo.

It’s an adventurous album – God knows how he makes some of those sounds. I’d love to see Marco live, working all the bells and whistles on his keyboards – and that’s definitely a plural – look at that setup in the pic!

Here’s a fun one that just sounds so damn retro-good to me. And just wait until the percussion madness kicks in at 2:48. Sick! (as the kids say). . . Don’t think it’s in any way indicative of the album as a whole, ’cause it isn’t. Every tune has something fresh and new (with healthy doses of strange) to offer. A must have for musical explorers.

Marco Benevento – The Real Morning Party (mp3)