Tag Archives: Jazz

Track 39: Song of the Force by Ahmed Abdullah’s Diaspora

Jazz Wednesdays

Ahmed Abdullah is a NYC trumpeter who gained prominence while playing with prolific experimental jazz composer Sun Ra.  The experimental, avant garde influence of Sun Ra is undoubtedly clear in this track of of his album Dedication. Abdullah is now on the faculty of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, one of the preeminent jazz programs in the US.

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Track 34: Cira Regina e Nana by Lucas Santtana

Jazz Wednesdays

This may not be a traditional jazz track along the lines of Charlie Parker and Nina Simone, however, after having the opportunity to see a Brazilian jazz trio perform in Hong Kong a few weeks ago I’ve been reviving a lot of the  Brazilian samba, bossa nova and tropicalia in my music library.  Lucas Santtana of Bahia has been leading a contemporary resurgence of Brazilian Tropicalia for years now.  Having been discovered in the mid-90s by legend Gilberto Gil, Santtana came to prominence quite rapidly.  He incorporates Afro-Brazilian rhythms, Motown funk, Brazilian metal (à la Sepultura), and European electronica into his predominantly acoustic tracks.

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Track 27: Love Me Like a River by Melody Gardot

Jazz Wednesdays

Mmmm, love Melody’s sultry, sumptuous voice.  This slow, lethargic track really showcases her tone and her deeply personal lyrics and composition.

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Track 23: I’ve Got it Bad and that Ain’t Good by Nina Simone

Jazz Wednesdays

Nina Simone.  I could probably write an entire blog (or book) purely of love letters to this magnificent woman.  Although she’s usually categorized as a jazz singer (and one of the best ever, at that), I associate her music more with blues and folk.  There’s a soulful and profoundly melancholy tone to her voice and her lyrics tend to be more narrative and self reflective, something I affiliate more with folk music.  Its always hard to measure an artist’s impact after they have passed, but something tells me that Nina’s impact, musically across genres and socially as one of the civil rights movement’s greatest activists, will be felt for generations to come.

I can listen to this track over and over again without tiring of it.  Its just simply beautiful.

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Track 17: Don’t Stop the Music by Jamie Cullum (Rihanna Cover)

Jazz Wednesdays

Thought I’d bring this segment up a few decades and add a more contemporary jazz track.  Jamie Cullum is a well known British jazz-pop artist whose music often blends a variety of genres and modern influences.  Because of this, he’s often credited  as bringing jazz to the mainstream consciousness of a whole new generation.  This track is a perfect example.  Obviously, covering one of Rihanna’s biggest hits automatically sets you up for significant attention. But this cover is on a whole other level.  I personally am a huge fan of covers that construct completely new arrangements, to the point that the new track stands on its own separate from the original.  Cullum took a quintessentially millenial era techno pop song and laced it with sophisticated jazz syncopations and raspy rock vocals.  It’s undoubtedly recognizable and results in the same sort of dramatic crescendo that Rihanna is known for.  But in 20 or 30 years I have no doubt that people will be arguing over which one came first.

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Track 10: Can’t Let Her Go by Freddie Hubbard

Jazz Wednesdays

Freddie Hubbard was a trumpeter and one of the most influential jazz musicians and composers of the bebop era.  This track really reflects his signature tone.

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Track 4: Waltz Limp by The Dave Brubeck Quartet

In a jazzy mood this morning… which seems to be a mid-week trend for me.  Perhaps I will make this a Jazz Wednesday theme for the Track of the Week.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Dave Brubeck, as one tends to do after the loss of a great musical talent (ie. James Brown, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston).  Both my father and paternal-grandmother are/were avid jazz fans and I grew up on the standards.  However, “Take Five” was the first jazz song that truly stuck with me and Time Out had to have been the first jazz album that I stole from my dad to listen to for hours on my CD player.  Waltz Limp is one of my favorite tracks.  First off, I love the rapid yet subtle beginning jazz solo and I especially love how Cole Porter is woven in later.  Brubeck was a revolutionary and with Paul Desmond he pushed progressive jazz into the mainstream.  As a composer, Brubeck’s work was both avant garde and accessible, a delicate balance that few jazz musicians manage to strike.

His death last December was a profound loss to the jazz community.  However, his legacy will undoubtedly live on.

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