Grant Green Idle Moments – YouTube

This is how laid back the guitar should feel. Grant Green is an under-sung performer, and this is his most classic album. Everything, no matter the form, comes across as the blues. Beautiful behind-the-beat accompaniment throughout, and really lush and touching compositions.

Musicians: Grant Green (Guitar, Main Performer), Al Harewood (Drums), Bob Cranshaw (Bass), Bobby Hutcherson (Vibraphone), Duke Pearson (Liner Notes, Piano), Joe Henderson (Sax Tenor).

Tracklist: 1. Idle Moments 00:00, 2. Jean De Fleur 15:00, 3. Jean De Fleur (Alternate Version) 21:50, 4. Django 30:01, 5. Django (Alternate Version) 38:47, 6. Nomad 52:01. read more

Fela Kuti – My Lady Frustration


This is the tune that Fela identified as his first truly African composition. While that might be debatable – highlife is African, for sure – it really does represent a change to the Afrobeat style that Fela stuck to for the remainder of his career. This tune has no lyrics, but the same modal structure and bottom-heavy horn section that characterizes his music are definitely in play here. A-fro-BEAT!!

Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Full Album) – YouTube

This is some deep blues couched in some very sophisticated forms and counterpoint lines. The bari sax, in particular, cries while the low brass moans through their mutes and the rhythm section churns underneath. I would love to see the scores for this album, especially the first tune. I’d like to see how the bitonal moments are scored out. The counterpoint is at times so dense it feels improvised, but several horns playing the same polyphonic lines? Genius, really – Mingus is able to compose lines that sound like improvisation. read more

John Coltrane – Invitation – YouTube

This is such a beautiful ballad, and Coltrane wrings all of the pretty emotional content out of it. Even a couple of choruses into his solo you can still hear the melody within his trademark “sheets of sound” aesthetic. I’ve recently been learning a chord-solo version of this tune that hits on a lot of Coltrane’s melodic sense of the tune. What I would like to do at some points is to cop some ideas from Coltrane, especially the melodic minor and whole tone sounds he uses to such beautiful effect. Such a great recording read more

Joe Pass & Ella Fitzgerald – Duets in Hannover 1975 – YouTube

The duet starts at c.27:19 in this video, but the previous part is all solo guitar. Joe Pass was an undisputed master of fingerstyle solo guitar, and his accompaniment with Fitzgerald is extremely tasty. And of course, Fitzgerald’s voice is clearly the voice of love. This is a spectacular duo.

Son House – Dry Spell Blues Part 1 (1930) – YouTube

I don’t know why this video features an image of Charlie Patton, but there you go. The person who uploaded this video says he was first introduced to Son House’s music through a Charlie Patton compilation, but it’s still a funny choice of image.

The guitar playing on this tune is incredibly complex and polyrhythmic while maintaining a very simple aesthetic. On top of that is House’s incredibly powerful voice – it’s one of those voices like Howlin’ Wolf’s that probably overwhelmed audiences, demanding their attention. read more

Tom Morello’s Tricks Pt 1 – YouTube

Video of Morello discussing his guitar technique (the person who uploaded the video has blocked the ability to embed this video).

I’m not really a fan of heavy metal inspired guitar playing, but Morello is a very interesting player. I have a feeling the guy has massive chops, but it’s his unique use of just a few pedals that makes him stand out. That and his commitment to left politics makes for a very powerful musician.

I suppose most people wouldn’t equate a musician’s politics with their musicianship, but I have always been drawn to musicians who have something consequential to say. Sun Ra and Fela, for instance, were all about history and politics, and this adds depth to their music. At least from my perspective it does. I love Adrian Belew’s guitar playing, for instance, but most of his music is utterly forgettable to me. I much prefer someone who has something to say. This is yet another reason why I love the music of Son House – his lyrics talk about life (“porkchops 45 cents a pound, cotton is only 10” from “Dry Spell Blues”) in a way that highlights the everyday politics and economy of a black person living in the South. It’s a damn sight more substantial than “baby got back” (though I appreciate that sentiment as well). read more