Groovafunkinliciousness. Yaaaas. Check out this episode of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts featuring George Clinton and (some of) the P-Funk Allstars. Strip it down to an office-friendly mini-group and it still hits the groove like a funky freight train on it’s way to Saturn. George Clinton is a groove conductor, for sure.
The first tune is essentially “Blue Monk,” though it feels more like “A Blues for Monk.” This is a great album, featuring Davis with Jack DeJohnette and Joe Beck. Davis’s tone and intonation are spotless, and DeJohnette is at his spare-space best – never overwhelming. Beck is like a blues guitarist on a half-tab of acid, fluidly moving from the B.B. King mode to a shape-shifty jazz-ish thing. I love this album, even when it is straight up free improv. I’ll be listening to this one for a while.
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.
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
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.
One of the great singers of jazz standards with one of the best jazz pianists. This is the kind of album that reminds me just how great the standards can be.
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.
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).
This is a nice mini-documentary featuring Mississippi Fred McDowell’s music and some film footage of people in Mississippi. I can only assume that some of the footage was taken in Como, MS where McDowell lived. Como is part of the hill country section of the state whose blues is more modal than the better known Mississippi delta blues.
McDowell is one of my favorite guitar players – his playing is simultaneously simple and complex, if that makes any sense. Each song has just a few musical elements to it, but the syncopation and intonation are deeply felt and tremendously complex in their own right. His playing is immediately recognizable and unique; I’m not aware of any other guitar players that sound remotely like him unless they are consciously trying to copy him. Brilliant stuff, for sure.
This is a fascinating three-part interview with one of the best rock and roll guitar players from the 1970s and beyond – very humble, very curious, and a very creative player. One of the things I appreciate about the interview and Q & A session (this is from the 2011 Chicago Humanities Festival) is that Belew is able to demonstrate his various concepts so simply, even though the process of getting to where he is probably required an intense study of the technology; I like that Belew’s musicality is the first thing that comes through, not the mass of technology at his feet and hands. He is a master of the technology, of course, but it’s his status as a musician that shines through. I would love to hear him play an acoustic guitar or a piano.