Archive for May, 2009

My Top 5 for May

So here are the top 5 of what I’m listening to this month, the merry month of May.  Shoot me an email & let me know what you think.  OR, your favorite five of the month.  I always love finding new music.

Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

I’ve been a fan of Sigur Rós for a long time. Every new album continues to show what an amazing ‘group’ they are.  Track 7, I could literally listen to 1,000 times.

The Bad Plus - Prog

The Bad Plus - Prog

This is actually the only Bad Plus album that I have ever owned. I’ve always known they were a ground breaking band, not to mention just stupid crazy good musicians.  I didn’t want to be influenced by their sound (so unique) while I was writing for the trio.  But with this album, I just can’t seem to put it down.  Some really amazing playing!!

Cleveland Quartet - Beethoven String Quartets Opus 18 Numbers 1,2,3

Cleveland Quartet - Beethoven String Quartets Opus 18 Numbers 1,2,3

I love Beethoven. His harmonic structure has always been so inspiring. I found this album at the local library and have just fallen in love with it. I find that listening to four part harmonies is just mesmerizing in how each voice can create such harmonies mastery (when done right, of course).

Joshua Redman - Compass

Joshua Redman - Compass

Whenever I want to write, I listen to 2 things. Classical & Joshua Redman. I can’t put a finger on the latter but I also become so centered in writing after focusing on Joshua’s albums. He breaks the mold by having 2 drummers & 2 bass players on many tracks. Brilliant!

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Man I love this album! I know it’s been out for a while. So what!? I wore the previous MM album out, and when this when came out it hasn’t left either the iPod or the disc changer. So raw and just full of energy. I could probably listen to Dashboard a million times over!

Well, there ya have it.  My top 5 of what I am listening to for May.  I’d be curious to hear what you think. Not to mention, I’m ALWAYS open to suggestions to new music.

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Jeff Buckley Gives Me Chills

Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley

I like coffee.  Love wine.  A self-proclaimed wine ‘enjoyer’.  I would say connoisseur but thats such a word that….well, connoisseurs use.  So pooy on that.  As with everything in life I still have a lot to learn.  But, that comes with living.  So why anyone would consider themselves a connoisseur of anything is puzzling to me.  And if I WERE to be a connoisseur of something, wouldn’t you want it to be something bizarrely interesting like duct-tape art, or scouring yard-sales for that perfect grizzly bear?  “I remember a stoop-sale in ’98 over by Park Slope.  A grizzly the size of…well, a GRIZZLY!  No idea where they had put it in their studio apartment the thing was so big! Darn near had it ‘til some little brat wanted it for his birthday. What the heck is a 9 year old gonna do with a stuffed grizzly!?!? Sigh, the one that got away.”  (Ok, that never happened. Just so we’re clear.  That NEVER happened.  Besides, what 9 year old….or 34 year old for that matter, doesn’t want a big ole grizzly bear in his living room?). Where was I going with this blahg?

Oh ya, coffee.  I do a lot of work in coffee shops.  I have wifi at home, a great back porch overlooking woods, huge ferns hanging from the porch that I am UBER proud of (lots and lots of water people, though my wife isn’t so convinced) and a golden retriever at my feet.  But there is something about coffee shops that I enjoy.  A lot of it has to deal with the random selection of music that they play.  Some good, some not so much. But like now, Waltz for Debby by Bill Evans just came on.  I have this album, but would have never thought to play it in the background on the porch.  I’m a huge Bill Evans fan, but with all the music I have at home, who knows what to play anymore.  Maybe that’s why I’m here, to rid myself of the daunting responsibility in what to listen to.

Occasionally a song comes on that just stops me completely.  One of them was a Jeff Buckley song ‘Lilac Wine’.  I had to stop what I was doing and just listen.  I’ve had this album, Grace, for years.  Know every lyric and beat of it.  And even after hearing it a zillion times, I still get almost weepy when I hear his voice. There is something about Jeff Buckley that is so sincere.  So raw, unadulterated ‘here it is, take it or leave it’ mindset.  He never tried to be anyone but himself.  Sure, he had influences just like all other musicians.  But instead of trying to sound like any of them, he gives a nod as to say “I learned this from you, but I’m not trying to be you.” In jazz, there are many ways of learning the language.  Some people are adamant in transcribing solos of the fathers of jazz, while some strongly say to create your own voice. Either way, there comes of time of finding your own voice.  It’s a life long pursuit and can either be freeing or a ball and chain in trying to find it.  But Buckley, he found it early on in my opinion.

There is another singer who is well known that released an album few years back with a song imitating Buckley’s voice to great degree.  I then read an article about his recording this song and the similarity of the voices.  To sum it up, the artist said during the recording he felt his singing was that of Buckley and was proud how the song turned out.  I’ve never liked said artist since.  Maybe this artist is a great singer, maybe not.  But to compare his-self to that of Jeff Buckley is blasphemy in my book.  How about saying “You know, Buckley had a really big influence on me and I wanted to pay my respect.” Not, “Ya, I can do Buckley.” (Sonny Clark’s Softly as a Morning Sunrise just came on.  Great piano solo.  Paul Chambers & Philly Joe Jones).

Instead of rambling on as I have, I’m going to create my next blahg of what songs give me chills.  Stay posted, I’ll do my best to get this up soon.

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Chad Lawson Trio XM/Sirius Radio

I love XM radio.  I got it as a gift goodness…..back in 2004? 2003? It was right when they came out.  The BIG decision was trying to decide if I should do XM or Sirius.  Today, they make it easy on you.  They’re now one. Yippee!

I received an email this morning from the producer of the Bob Edward Show hosted on XM/Sirius.  You can also hear the show on the weekends on most NPR radio stations.  At least, I hear it here in Charlotte, NC.

Imagine my surprise when the email said that Past Reference (Unforeseen by Chad Lawson Trio) was going to be used today on a feature of Arthur Phillip’s latest novel The Song is You. Now I wish that I could say that I was a huge fan or Mr. Phillip’s creative works.  How he’ll woo and dictate imagery only rivaled by the greatest Kandinsky paintings.  But, I can’t.  However I will find the book though (Humm…last blog…library….).  The producer wanted to create an identity, if you will, with a character by the name of Dean Villerman.  “It sounds like the kind of song The Dean Villerman Trio might play, if the musician wasn’t fictitious.” the producer of the program states.  Thanks Chad! (ahem….that’s HIS name, I’m not merely talking to myself.  And even if I were, would I really write about it here on my blahg?”)

All this to say, you can read Chad’s blog at the Bob Edwards Radio blog site here (<— click that word).  If you like it, email Chad and tell him thanks.  I have.  Cheers.

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The Jazz Ear

I venture to the local library relatively often to see what cds they have to offer the tax payer’s pleasure.  Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss.  The great thing is picking up something completely random that you know nothing about it, liking it, then digging deeper into the artist’s repertoire.  And if it’s a miss, well the only cost was that of getting to the library & maybe 20 minutes of your time.  So, no hard loss for the most part. Besides, who doesn’t like to walk through the library.  I mean, you just FEEL intelligent, right?

The other day I was there and must confess I really don’t look to often at the book category (yes, I realize it’s a library we’re talking about here).  But on my way to the selections of a collection of Traditional Irish Jigs or perhaps the only remaining copy of George Duke’s 1976 Solo Keyboard Album (actual title fyi), a book caught my eye. The Jazz Ear, Conversations Over Music. It was written by Ben Ratliff who has been the jazz critic at The New York Times since ’96 and has also written other books about Coltrane, so on and so forth.  I flipped through the book and surprisingly took a great interest in it.  Although I am an avid reader, I’ve never been the biggest fan of those who claim to be as a ‘critic’.  Can one person REALLY speak for all in terms of personal selection?

Anyway, To sum it up, he sat down with 15 individual artist and asked to listen to 5 of their favorite picks of music.  The book opens with his time with Wayne Shorter, then on to Pat Metheny and then everyone from Andrew Hill to Maria Schneider, Branford, etc.  It’s a phenomenal read because it’s basically seeing what inspires these great talents and makes them tick.  How they not only approach music, but even how they listen to, or in some cases not listen to anything.  It’s especially fascinating to learn the influences of these artist are nothing I would have ever imagined.  Again, some really beautiful words of wisdom for any musician or any person that loves the arts.

If you have the time, stop by and pick it up from your library.  Some amazing words of wisdom from these artist.

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