Thursday, August 22, 2013

Essential Tracks: "My Favorite Things" Album: "Out Here", Christian McBride Trio, 2013

Essential tracks highlights tracks that arguably should be found somewhere in any serious jazz collector's library. This segment is also meant to inspire readers to seek out foundational tracks from the various sub-genres of this great music.

"My Favorite Things", from the brand new Mack Avenue Records release "Out Here"


True, this segment normally features jewels from the treasure chest of Jazz. However, this track need not wait for the passage of time. I'll save the rest for the review of the CD, but, it's suffice to say you have to hear this track!
Okay, a teaser. For the first 30 seconds or so of the track (I wasn't watching the titles), I was set for another interesting version of "Take Five". When the first melody verse was the signature opening of "My Favorite Things", everything stopped to listen to where this was going. That's enough. Go find this track and listen to it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Essential Tracks: "Young Rabbits" Album: "Looking Ahead", The Jazz Crusaders, 1962

Essential tracks highlights tracks that arguably should be found somewhere in any serious jazz collector's library. This segment is also meant to inspire readers to seek out foundational tracks from the various sub-genres of this great music.

"Young Rabbits", originally from the 1962 Pacific Jazz release, "Lookin' Ahead", most recently available on "Way Back Home"


Album cover from Way Back Home

This is easily one of the best known tracks from the early days of the Jazz Crusaders. At the time, the group consisted of Wayne Henderson on trombone, Stix Hooper on drums, Joe Sample on piano, Wilton Felder on sax, and Buster Williams on bass. It was also one of the most challenging compositions of it's time. Every jazz band in High School in the late 60's and early 70's was on a mission to master this tune. It was fast moving, intricate harmonies, and very tight melody and chorus lines. You really had to be on top of your game to play it. If you could master Young Rabbits as a band or on your instrument, it was a big deal.



Monday, August 12, 2013

CD Review - "People Music" - Christian McBride | Inside Straight

If there were such a thing as "comfort music" for jazz lovers, it would have to be the idiom(s) loosely known as straight ahead jazz, bop, hard bop, or post bop. Christian McBride is more than comfortable in all those formats. He stays busy as a sideman in constant demand, his big band, the “Situation”, and a number of other projects. 


This is his combo alignment, Inside Straight, and he serves up healthy portions of it on his latest release "People Music". The quintet features saxophonist Steve Wilson, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Peter Martin and drummer Carl Allen. Pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., who have performed extensively with the band, also perform on selected tracks. That comfort feeling sets in from the opening track, "Listen To The Heroes Cry". On this sophomore release the band demonstrates just how well they connect with each other. Solo turns compliment and carry each tune on a joy ride. Yes, the leader plays bass, but don't expect him to be out front all the time, or carry most of the weight as soloist. Yes, he takes his moments, but by and large, it’s a showcase for the entire group. 

The tribute piece, "Ms. Angelou"' is a beautiful soft ballad featuring both piano and vibes. Then comes the fiery "The Moment Revisited". McBride cuts these young horses loose, each one taking turns at the lead, before drummer brings it all home to a photo finish. Through the eight tracks, there's an awful lot to like on what truly can be called People Music.
#jazz @mcbridesworld

Thursday, August 8, 2013

George Duke - Appreciation

Every jazz journalist knows they will eventually write about the passing of a great artist. Needless to say it is not something we look forward to. We also realize eventually that artist will be one of our own favorites.

I received the news in the modern day equivalent of the 4:30AM phone call. You know, the phone call telling you a family member had just died. The text message, from a friend who is never up that early, simply said, "Brother Duke has left the planet". Walking down the street, I was stopped in my tracks for more than a few minutes while the magnitude of the void sunk in. Next, the images flowed through my mind, then the music, back to the images, finally to the times shared with this gentle giant.





There was watching him perform at many of the outdoor shows when he came "home" to the Bay Area. His introduction of 15 year old superstar in the making, Sheila Escovedo", in his band at the long lost Circle Star Theater. Catching up with him every year at minimum at NAMM, hoping he was going to be playing somewhere with whoever dropped by the booth that was featuring him. Then there were the personal moments. Hanging out backstage at Yoshi's and Kimball's between sets sharing a glass of wine and swapping tasting notes, and the late night calls and emails discussing the merits of the vintage year and coordinating wine orders and shipments. The thought of all that and more had to be swept aside because I still had to get through the day; at least until I could get in front of a keyboard and pour it all out onto virtual paper.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Essential Tracks: "Blue Spirits" Album: "Blue Spirits", Freddie Hubbard, 1966

Essential tracks highlights tracks that arguably should be found somewhere in any serious jazz collector's library. This segment is also meant to inspire readers to seek out foundational tracks from the various sub-genres of this great music.

"Blue Spirits" title track from his 1966 Blue Note release




This was Hubbard's the last of a series releases on Blue Note from the early 60's. This has the feel and sound of what should have become a standard, but somehow didn't. The horn arrangement on the title track is particularly noteworthy for it's density and harmonics. Most recently, this track showed up on a Jazzanova release: "Blue Note Trip: Looking Back", a collection of standout tracks from the label that didn't necessarily make the mainstream.  

Personnel on "Blue Spirits" besides Hubbard: Hank Mobley - tenor, James Spaulding - alto and flute, McCoy Tyner - piano, Bob Cranshaw - bass, Pete LaRoca - drums, Kiane Zawadi - euphonium
#Jazz

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Faces of Jazz: Nancy Wilson, 2008 Monterey Jazz Festival



The afternoon "Conversation" segments of the Monterey Jazz Festival are a hidden gem in the festival's weekend program. The audience takes a rare, personal look at an artist as they reflect on various aspects and moments of their storied careers. This image was captured in one of those sessions with Nancy Wilson. Later that evening, Ms. Wilson would take the stage for the first time since the passing of her husband of 35 years, just weeks prior. She noted that how performing would be very different now. "Whenever U was onstage," she explained, "...no matter where I was in the world, I was always singing to him." She went on to say her signature song "Guess Who I Saw Today" had absolutely nothing to do with the Reverend Wiley Burton. 

All ticket options for the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival are available now. Choose from single day grounds tickets to full weekend subscription packages for the Arena concerts. Go to the Monterey Jazz Festival Site for details and to purchase tickets.
#montereyjazz #jazz #photography