As a follow-up to my last entry, I was sitting in my favorite watering hole over the weekend, listening to my favorite jukebox㬎 tunes for 5 buckswhen a couple sitting at the bar next to me struck up a music conversation about what was playing: Elvis Costello, The Shins, King Sunny Ade, Lefty Frizzell, James Brown, Arctic Monkeys, you name it. At one point, talking about the cover art of an album I can’t remember now I said, being the absent-minded old man of the bunch, 'Have you ever seen that record?'
The great Eliane Elias put on a quite a show last night in NYC. Touring in support of her new album, Something For You, Eliane Elias Sings and Plays Bill Evans, the pianist, singer and longtime Evans admirer lit up Dizzy's at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is easily one of the best–sounding rooms for live music that I've ever been in. The food in there is fairly tasty and not wildly overpriced, a total rarity on the New York jazz club scene. And that behind the stage, floor to ceiling glass that adds a Central Park West backdrops to every performance is genuinely divine. Say what you want about Wynton, but the man did make the three JALC venues happen.
Sad to hear of the death of guitarist/keyboard player/singer/songwriter/mad genius Jay Bennett at age 45. I don’t want to be a hater here but like many others, his portrayal in the Wilco film, I Am Trying To Break Your Hearthas always been very problematic for me.
One of the real coups of Holger Peterson’s Stony Plain Records which is the subject of my Aural Robert column in the July issue of Stereophile was signing the great Canadian blues guitar player Jeff Healy to a deal late in Healy’s too short life to make both blues and jazz albums.
One distinguishing mark of the "old" music business, i.e. the one before downloads, the one that made buckets of money, the one where half of my friends used to work, was that it was so big that folks on say, the classical side, had no idea who worked on the rock side. Even within the same company. They were different planets.
If the cover of the latest issue of Uncut is any indication, “lost” albums never lose their appeal for the musicallyinclined or obsessed. Music fans always want what they don’t have or haven’t heard or hear is hard to get. It’s the allure of the forbidden record. And it’s a chief symptom of the record collecting psychoses.
The old saw about "the first album was their best" is often true, truer than most artists want to admit. And no where in music is that state more widespread than with singer/songwriters who only have a guitar, their voice and their material and no band to hide behind. Trying to hack out a career as a solo act is a bitch. Takes guts or overweening ego to get through it. Most soloists fall prey to the natural reaction which is to pour all their best ideas into the first project. That's cool until you're faced with coming up with a second and perhaps a third record. Yet sometimes the process can reverse itself, and after a fallow period a songwriter can recharge, again have something to say, and they come through with a late season masterpiece.
There was fast food like Catalonian baguette pizza with chorizo. Tapas like flash fried baby squid or crispy potatoes with olive oil mayo and tomato sauce. And then of course there was that robber baron Rupert Murdoch and his damnable tabloid The Sun which every morning has a halfnaked twentysomething smiling at you from page two! Danni, 23, from Coventry was my personal favorite. Yes, Europe does have its advantages!
And then there was the music, right, right, the music. A mini-theme of the 41st installment of the Barcelona Jazz Festival was the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue. The idea, and it was an admirable one, was to turn three groups of musicians loose on Miles masterwork and then sit back and enjoy the contrasting approaches. Now that I’m back in the States and have had a few days to contemplate what I saw, it all sort of comes under the heading of: “The Mysterious Ways in Which a Musician’s Mind Works(?).” Or “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Drummers.”
So it’s Fat Tuesday, or mardi gras and while I have not had a Hurricane cocktail quite yetold men need to keep pacing in the forefront of their thoughtsI have been listening to many of the gems of NOLA's glorious musical history.
I know that every time someone dies, it’s now customary to intone about what a hero they were, how much they were always had a smile for everyone, how they were great family men, husbands, fathers, etc. etc. etc. Speak no ill of the dead, I get it.