Who are your musical influences? This is a question asked of musicians, obviously, but what about the ordinary music listener? Why do you listen (or not listen) to certain artists and genres? More than just filling the time during the commute home, listening to John Fogerty’s Wrote a Song for Everyone made me reflect on my own musical influences and why this album is a good illustration of them.
Pres hooks up with the Maharaja. According to legend, Young's powers faded after a traumatic stint in the army during World War II. And yes, the opening four numbers seem to corroborate this story. Peterson's quartet (the title was a mistake in its first printing and has thus never been fixed) cooks, jives, swings, pushes and otherwise sizzles behind Lester. Barney Kessel in particular throws out some some super hot licks and Peterson does his usual genius turn at every opportunity.
Five stars? Excellent? Necessary? This album is far beyond all those things and more:
It is the frenetic yawp of youth. It is unfettered joy, it is class rage, it is delinquent delicacy.
It is misspent summer nights, windows rolled down, distant threat of responsibility kept in check.
It is broken bottles and stolen cigarettes.
It is sweat-soaked sacrosanct abandon, the saliva-drenched howling of the disavowed.
It is the disjunct, shattering simultaneity of high-art mind and low-brow boogie woogie.
Soak is 18 year-old Birdie Monds-Watson, an Irish singer-songwriter who sounds at once wise beyond her years and refreshingly unfamiliar. Before We Forgot How to Dream would be an astonishing debut for any artist, let alone a teenager, let alone a teenager who, according to the liner notes, had been working on these songs for four years prior to recording the album.
The how of whatever "spooky action at a distance" a particular song or sound performs on our hearts and minds ranks up there, along with dark matter and love-at-first-sight, as one of the most confounding mysteries in the human experience. A perfect example of this sublime magic is The Verve label's release of recordings led by alto saxophonist Benny Carter, Benny Carter: 3, 4, 5 the Verve Small Group Sessions. As the title suggests, the sessions are played on the CD in the consecutive order of a trio, quartet, and finally a quintet.
I recently found myself saying something I never would have thought I might say: "I'm so in love with George Washington right now."
It's a safe bet that I'll kick off every jazz review I write with some statement concerning the dense, cerebral nature of the idiom and its unique and demanding nature. The predictable, metronomic feel of pop (or even most rock, for that matter) makes for an easier, less obtrusive listen. And yet Mehldau and company's 're-telling' ('cover' sounds too simple for the trio's imaginative reinvention) of English rock band Radiohead's "Exit Music (for a Film)" closes out their album, Art of the Trio 4: Back At The Vanguard and is one of many highlights. Seriously: Jazz+Radiohead?
What is it about Swedish pop music? It’s incredibly catchy and top-notch, from the disco harmonies of ABBA to First Aid Kit’s country melodies on Stay Gold.
One might think that an album whose title references songs by alt-rockers Weezer and rock-‘n'- roll troubadour Roy Orbison might play like a confused mish-mash of ironic lyrics, hipster-disposition delivery, and metronomic performances. Thankfully, that is not the case.
This album is a fantastic treat, the true definition of a "hidden gem." I'm not entirely sure why I first purchased this album on its release. Maybe because I was so into Ben Folds at the time and this album is produced by Folds. I had heard William Shatner's previous attempts at "singing" so I was not expecting much besides something to laugh at and listen to every once in awhile.