Kamasi Washington's killer new soul-jazz track inspired by videogame arcades of yore

Cosmic saxophonist, composer, and spiritual jazz revivalist Kamasi Washington has released a new jam inspired by his teenage experiences at the videogame arcade. "Street Fighter Mas" will appear on Washington's forthcoming album "Heaven and Earth" out June 22. Listen:

Washington says:

When I was younger, I was in between the end of the arcade generation and the beginning of the console generation. We used to go to this place called Rexall to play Street Fighter. At Rexall, there would be different people from different hoods there playing the game. It was the one place that was like an equalizer. It was just about how good you were at Street Fighter...for the most part. In other places, you were afraid of these dudes; there, you would just play the game and it was what it was, you know? I was really good at Street Fighter, so where the song really came from was me jokingly saying I was going to have my own theme song so that when I showed up to play Street Fighter they’d play my theme song before I came in, like a boxer. In the context of the album, it was the connection that we got with those guys in our neighborhood. We used to call them OGs, the older guys that we looked up to.

In a lot of ways, for me, video games was the way I connected with them because I was never affiliated with any gangs, but I knew them and I was cool with them and that was mainly through the video games.

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Fantastic psychedelic Levi's commercials from the early 1970s

In the early 1970s, Levi's ran these fantastic psychedelic TV commercials with narration by Ken Nordine, the beat creator of the pioneering Word Jazz albums of the 1950s that melded far-out poetry with hip musical accompaniment. Far fucking out.

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Experimental animated film records jazz with a Kinect

Marcin Nowrotek filmed a jazz quartet with a Kinect, then ran the recording through volumetric processors to give NEBULA an otherworldly 3D look and feel. Read the rest

Listen to this 1930s jazz style cover of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' by Wayne Brady, Postmodern Jukebox

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox band teamed up with Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) to bring us this 1930s jazz style cover of Michael Jackson's 1983 hit "Thriller," complete with zombie tap dancers.

The band is currently on a worldwide tour.

For nostalgia's sake, here's the music video for the original:

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Sesame Street: How a saxophone is made (1983)

Wonderful 1980 video of Sesame Street's visit to a saxophone factory, complete with a free jazz sax soundtrack. (via Laughing Squid)

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How to play a Hammond organ

I have a 1956 Hammond M3, youtube and this here book. Wish me luck!

I bought Hammond Organ Complete because I literally had no clue how to even turn on the Hammond M3 I decided would complete my living room.

Took me a while to figure out it wasn't broken, just that all the drawbars were pushed in and there were no tones. Let us not dive into the whole dual switch Run/Start boot-up sequence either!

I've always found music to be non-intuitive. The keyboard layout of notes really appeals to me and music theory, in my old age, makes a lot more sense than it did before I knew it was just science.

Time to practice scales.

Hammond Organ Complete via Amazon Read the rest

Willy Wonka dialogue as a sax and drum jazz duet

David Dockery performed a drum solo of the climactic scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Then Dan Felix upped the game with a saxophone accompaniment to the original. Read the rest

A great 'Cantaloupe Island' cover

Brother Groove's wonderful cover of Herbie Hancock's classic Cantaloupe Island. The original has forever been rendered too-slow-for-me by US3's version. Read the rest

This is the first jazz record

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the first jazz record ever released, or rather "jass" record. In a New York City recording studio, five white musicians called the Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the "Livery Stable Blues" backed by the "Dixie Jass One-Step" on a 78 RPM disc. Of course, jazz music was actually "invented" primarily by black musicians in New Orleans as an evolution from ragtime in the 1910s. (But rather than recognize this long musical thread, Original Dixieland Jass Band leader/cornetist Nick LaRocca went on to make racist comments insisting he invented jazz.) At Smithsonian, John Edward Hasse looks at the history of this influential record:

Some scholars would prefer the honor of the first jazz recording to go to the African-American instrumental quartet the Versatile Four, which on February 3, 1916, recorded Wilbur Sweatman’s "Down Home Rag" (listen below) with swinging rhythms, a strong backbeat and a drive that implies improvisation. Or to Sweatman himself, who in December 1916 recorded his "Down Home Rag," (listen below) playing a solo with an improvisatory feel but a non-jazz accompaniment. Some experts simply say that it’s futile to acknowledge any actual first jazz recording, but rather point to a transition from ragtime to jazz in the years leading up to 1917. As critic Kevin Whitehead put it: “We might do better to think not of one first jazz record but of a few records and piano rolls that track how jazz broke free of its ancestors."

In New Orleans and a few other urban places, jazz was already in the air by the 1910s, and in late 1915 the record companies were starting to discover it.

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So It Is: a Cuban-inspired album from the astounding Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Announced today: So It Is, a new album of Cuban-inspired jazz from the monumentally amazing Preservation Hall Jazz Band (previously), due out on April 21. Available today: Santiago, an instrumental track from the album that will MAKE YOU DANCE. Read the rest

Listen to an hour of the jazzy background music from 1967 Spider-Man cartoon

Dan Colman of Open Culture came across this video featuring an hour of excellent music from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon.

Ray Ellis had a six-decade career as a producer, arranger, and jazz composer. And while he’s best known for arranging music for Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin (1958), he also enjoyed a long career orchestrating music for television. Working under a pseudonym “Yvette Blais” (his wife’s name), Ellis composed background music for the cartoon studio Filmation between 1968 and 1982. And, during the late 60s, he notably created the background and incidental music for the original Spider-Man cartoons.

It reminds me a bit of Jack Nitzsche's great score for the 1965 dud, Village of the Giants:

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David Axelrod, incredibly influential soul/jazz/rock composer and producer, RIP

David Axelrod, whose 1960s and 1970s production and compositions melding jazz, soul, and rock had an indelible impact on contemporary hip-hop and R&B, has died at age 83. From Billboard:

Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Axelrod produced his first album in 1959 and went on to become a pioneer in combining jazz, rock and R&B in recorded music. He spent several years working for Capitol Records in production and A&R in the 1960s and went on to release more than a dozen of his own albums.

While a contemporary of, and somewhat analogous to, idiosyncratic composer/arrangers like Van Dyke Parks, Axelrod was much more influenced by jazz, as reflected in his orchestrations and his own compositions. He produced David McCallum's Music: A Bit More of Me, the 1967 release featuring "The Edge," a song that famously turned into the predominant sample in Dr. Dre's 2000 hit "The Next Episode." He also collaborated with the Electric Prunes on their bizarre 1968 album Mass in F# Minor, and when the group splintered in the middle of recording, he finished it with session musicians.

So sad to hear about the passing of musician/composer #DavidAxelrod. He was so immersed in creativity and so pure with his arrangements he WAS hip hop. And understood and appreciated hip hop culture (most cats would get guarded about time moving on & easily take the "NO!!!!!!!!" disposition if they aren't informed. David embraced and often reached out to producers and beatmakers for cool collabos) he appreciation for music and his ability to recognize musicianship is what I'll take from him.

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Jazz accompaniment to funny internet videos

Publio Delgado provides jazz guitar accompaniment to an advertisement for Jones Big ASS Truck Rental & Storage: "In my yard, I don't care!"

Here's the original, which now seems naked and bereft of wonder:

See also Publio's accompaniment to a lady's unwise attempt to eat a hot pepper raw:

Best, though, is his accompaniment to The Cat That Says No:

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13-year-old Indonesian jazz prodigy lives up to the hype

Joey Alexander picked up jazz at six, dedicated his childhood to jazz at 8, and won a major international competition at 9. Here he is playing City Lights from his latest album. Read the rest

Bobby Hutcherson, legendary jazz vibraphonist, RIP

Bobby Hutcherson, a pioneering jazz vibraphonist whose style pushed the iconic Blue Note label into more spiritual and experimental directions, died yesterday at age 75. He was under ongoing treatment for emphysema. Along with a phenomenal career as a band leader on dozens of records, Hutchinson famously played on the jazz classics "Out to Lunch," by Eric Dolphy and "Mode for Joe,” by sax player Joe Henderson. From the New York Times:

The first album (Hutchinson) released as a leader was “Dialogue” (1965), featuring Mr. Hill, the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and the saxophonist and flutist Sam Rivers. Among his notable subsequent albums was “Stick-Up!” (1966), with Mr. Henderson and the pianist McCoy Tyner among his partners. He and Mr. Tyner would forge a close alliance.

After being arrested for marijuana possession in Central Park in 1967, Mr. Hutcherson lost his cabaret card, required of any musician working in New York clubs. He returned to California and struck a rapport with the tenor saxophonist Harold Land. Among the recordings they made together was “Ummh,” a funk shuffle that became a crossover hit in 1970. (It was later sampled by the rapper Ice Cube.)

In the early ’70s Mr. Hutcherson bought an acre of land along the coast in Montara, where he built a house. He lived there with his wife, the former Rosemary Zuniga, whom he married in 1972. She survives him, along with their son, Teddy Hutcherson, a marketing production manager for the organization SFJazz, as does his older son, Barry Hutcherson, a jazz drummer.

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To download or stream: 1000 hours of classic jazz, mixed and annotated by a master collector

David W Niven began collecting jazz records in 1925, when he was 10 years old. He continued to collect until 1991, amassing a nearly unparalleled collection of 78s and LPs, whose highlights he eventually transferred to cassette, boiling down 10,000 hours of music to 1,000 hours of tape with his spoken commentary, each cassette meticulously annotated with handwritten liner-notes. Read the rest

Fred Kaz, Live at the Ash Grove

Few artists in the history of jazz have played piano with the expression and soul of Fred Kaz.

The master spent over 30 years as the musical director for the Second City, and was the most magical improvisational musician you could ever have heard perform. Fred's piano led both the audience, and the ensemble through adventures, tragedies and beautifully mundane moments. Fred made sure all was clear. The piano was his voice.

While his work on stage, as a composer and as a director, is amazing, Fred's jazz touches the heart. Sadly, it has been hard to find recordings of his music, however since Fred's passing in 2014 his wife Helen has been steadily producing his previously unreleased works.

This album was recorded in 1997, at the Ash Grove on the Pier, in Santa Monica, California.

I recently found this poem Fred wrote for me, after he and Helen visited my daughter and I, at our home in Muir Beach.

Where the river feeds the ocean

And the dry land meets the sea

And the hungry, saw-toothed coastline

Chews the gasping, high-tide surf,

I am harbored with my life-mate

By a sharing, gentle man;

And we all imagine futures

In the ever-present tense,

Letting friendship fertilize

each other's souls.

Fred Kaz 6/18/2013

We miss him very much.

Fred Kaz, Live at the Ash Grove Read the rest

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