Outside of the guitarist community there are probably not too many folks who know Israeli born guitarist Oz Noy. A long time fixture of the NYC music scene he seamlessly blends jazz, soul, funk with a dash of pop for good measure into his own very distinctive groove. His resume includes backing everyone from Harry Belafonte to Toni Braxton to Nile Rodgers but it’s his solo outings where he truly shines and his new release Fuzzy is no exception. And how pleasantly surprised was I to find a very familiar title in the track list. “Sometimes It Snows In April” is (for me) one of Prince’s masterpieces and I think that Oz pays beautiful homage.
I’ll be honest here, I did not know much about Marcus Miller before I decided to write this piece. I only knew him as the bass player for Miles Davis. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say:
… a jazz musician, composer and producer, perhaps best known as a bass guitarist with Miles Davis, Luther Vandross and David Sanborn. Miller is classically trained as a clarinetist, and also plays bass clarinet, keyboard, saxophone, and guitar, and is a capable singer.
Well hot damn! He’s won a Grammy for his solo efforts and has played with a veritable “who’s who” of Jazz and Blues musicians. I stumbled upon his latest release while browsing through my Miles Davis links. It immediately grabbed me with it’s raga-inspired lead off track “Blast” and held me down tight delivering funk, soul and some of the tightest bass licks I’ve heard. Here’s a sample of the soulful side of this record featuring the beautiful Corinne Bailey Rae covering the 1977 Deniece Williams track “Free”.
Marcus Miller (feat. Corinne Bailey Rae) – Free (MP3)
It’s a giveaway frenzy here lately, so I have no choice but to once again bestow quality goods upon you people. The latest item will make any jazz fan happy. Even those who aren’t into jazz know a cool motherf**er when they see one, and Miles Davis was just that.
Well the Monterey Jazz Festival has launched their own label, aptly named Monterey Jazz Festival Records, and their first wave of CD’s were released today. They launched into their live archives, and are debuting with releases from Sarah Vaughan, Thelonius Monk, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles. Future releases will also feature contemporary artists, projects and special events recorded at the festival.
So leave a comment down below, folks, and have your chance to win this CD. Did anyone out there ever have the honor to see Miles play live? What’s your favorite Miles Davis album? Are you down with electric Miles?
Speaking of cool mofos, check out his quintet circa 1963: Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, George Coleman. Sheesh…
Miles Davis Quintet – Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival
(September 20, 1963)
Miles Davis – trumpet
George Coleman – tenor sax
Herbie Hancock – piano
Ron Carter – bass
Tony Williams – drums
1. Waiting for Miles
2. Autumn Leaves (streaming Quicktime)
3. So What
4. Stella by Starlight
6. The Theme
Who would’ve thought that three months after getting a brand spanking new, $2000 Apple iMac, that the most reliable computer in the house would be my 3 year old Dell? You know the ad with the cool Mac guy and the geeky Windows guy? The way I feel right now, I’d punch the smirking Mac guy in the face and take Mr. Windows out for beers. My Mac has been nothing but trouble since day one: freezing up with the “spinning beach ball of death” at random times, and lately, some programs deciding just not to open. FRUSTRATING! So after months of troubleshooting with the Apple folks, I’m off to an appointment with an Apple “genius” tonight over at the local Apple store. Meanwhile, hello XP, old friend… (Not how a new Apple owner is supposed to behave, is it?). Make it right, Mr. Jobs!
So thanks for enduring my whining, and on to the music. Bay area 8-string guitar wiz Charlie Hunter has been featured here before. The trio – Charlie on guitar, John Ellis on tenor sax, bass and wurlitzer, and Derrek Phillips on drums – move beyond a mere jazz trio, infusing ample doses of funk and rock. Charlie is also a big Prince fan too, so he gets bonus points right away from me.
Here’s one I heard recently on Sirius, off of last year’s Trio release, Copperopolis. Take in some laid back, Middle funkin’ Eastern style.
Many people heard of Nels Cline for the first time when he accepted Jeff Tweedy’s offer to become Wilco’s new lead guitarist in 2004. But Nels’ stature in the improvisational music community was already well established. One of his ongoing side projects (I guess you’d call it) is the Nels Cline Singers – a misleading moniker if there ever was one because, well, ain’t much singing goin’ on in the Nels Cline Singers. What the Singers do is assault the listener with sounds you don’t often hear emanating from a guitar, a bass, and a drum kit. Accompanying Nels’ guitar is Devin Hoff on stand-up bass, and Scott Amendola on drums and assorted electronic gizmos.
These aren’t carefully crafted pop songs. These are wild, spontaneous, very in-the-moment improvisational pieces that range from 3 to 16 minutes.
If you want to explore the outreaches of your musical horizons, and hear Wilco’s guitarist completely unrestrained and in his element, pick up Draw Breath, the new CD from the Nels Cline Singers. This one is the most rock-oriented of the bunch.
Speaking of violins, you can’t mention the instrument and the 20th Century in the same sentence without talking about Stéphane Grappelli. Mr. Grappelli, together with jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt, founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France, the single hottest and most influential European jazz band of the first half of the 1900’s. They played their style of gypsy string jazz between 1933 and 1939, when World War II forced the group to hang it up.
Grappelli stayed very active in music for the rest of his long life (he died in 1997 at the age of 89). He played with many musicians spanning across many genres of music; artists like Jean-Luc Ponty, Oscar Peterson, Yo-Yo Ma, and mandolin player David Grisman.
This brings us to 1978. Grappelli was in San Francisco playing the Great American Music Hall. He and his group showcased Grappelli’s unique style, ripping through many old standards and classics. And joining him for the last few tunes were bluegrass-ers David Grisman and guitarist Tony Rice. Nice show, great sound, and a nice introduction to Stéphane Grappelli.
Stéphane Grappelli – Golden Green (mp3)
Stéphane Grappelli w/ David Grisman & Tony Rice – Tipsy Gypsy (mp3)
Stéphane Grappelli Group
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
April 25th, 1978
1. It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
2. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
3. Tiger Rag
4. The Man I Love
5. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
6. Golden Green
7. After You’re Gone
8. Chattanooga Choo-choo
9. St. Louis Blues
11. Someone To Watch Over Me / I’ve Got Rhythm
12. Pent-Up House
13. Night And Day
14. Pennies From Heaven
15. Grappelli Piano Solo
16. Grappelli Intros Grisman & Rice
17. Tipsy Gypsy (Fisztorza) *
18. Gypsy Swing *
19. Gypsy Baptism tune (Fulginiti) *
20. Limehouse Blues *
21. Sweet Georgia Brown *
* with Tony Rice (guitar) and David Grisman (mandolin)
Check out Stéphane Grappelli’s music on or the Amazon links below…
It’s always nice to hear some contemporary jazz that harkens back to the classic age of Miles, Coltrane, Parker, Mingus, etc. I’m sure there’s a lot of great stuff out there, it’s only that I don’t expose myself enough to it. Thanks to the Music Choice Jazz channel that my wife plays during my kids’ nap time (dodo music, they call it – “dodo” is creole for sleep), I came across Matt Wilson recently. Wilson is a jazz drummer and bandleader who has played for Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, and Dewey Redman. For his Arts & Crafts project, he brought in trumpet player Terell Stafford, organ and piano man Gary Versace, and Dennis Irwin on bass.
Their third release, The Scenic Route, was released earlier this year. On this record, they offer their take on tunes by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Thelonius Monk, and Pat Metheny, while offering up some fresh originals like “25 Years of Rootabagas” (check out Versace’s killer Hammond B3) and the title track, which was the tune that caught my ear during a mid afternoon nap with my kids (ah naps, so rare and precious). There’s some great, unique sounds in this track, including Stafford’s trumpet (or is it a flugelhorn in this one?).
Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts – The Scenic Route (mp3)
Howzabout a little Garage a Trois to end the weekend / kick off the week? What we have is a side project of Charlie Hunter on his 8-string guitar, Galactic’s Stanton Moore on drums, and Skerik on sax. On this 2003 release, Emphasizer, they had Mike Dillon help out on percussion and vibraphone.
Laid back acid jazz/funk comin’ your way.
Garage a Trois – Hard Headed Rio aka Rio Cuca Dura (mp3)
It’s easy for me to measure how low long I’ve been married, or how long the war in Iraq has been going on. They both started in the same week. My wife and I just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary last week (the 14th). And today, of course, marks the fourth anniversary of the wonderful decision to invade Iraq (we were in Jamaica at the time, makin’ love, not war – t.m.i.? sorry).
3,220 American soldiers dead. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead. “There’s been good progress”, our president said today… the same tired rhetoric we always hear from him.
But I’ll jump off the soap box, and let the music do the talking….
Bill Evans – Peace Piece (mp3) – A sparse, beautiful piece by legendary jazz pianist Evans. Appears on several albums, like Everybody Digs Bill Evans.
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Light Up Ya Lighter (mp3) – Franti speaks (sings) his mind on this anti-war track from Yell Fire!.
If you love this land of the free, bring ’em home, bring ’em home. – Pete Seeger
THE SANDBOX: Garry Trudeau, creator of the cartoon Doonesbury, has a great site set up called the Sandbox. He created it as a place for military personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan to share their experiences. It’s a military blog, aka a Milblog.