World class trumpeter plays for stranded Canadians who, like him, are trapped in the snow

If I weren't in Ontario on assignment right now, I'd be home swearing under my breath at the foot-deep blanket of snow that ambushed Alberta. Jens Lindemann wasn't lucky enough to dodge the storm.

Lindemann, who grew up in Alberta, is a world-class trumpeter who's played for Queen Elizabeth II and soloed at Carnegie Hall. He, along with scores of other travelers, was stranded in the snow on the highway between Calgary and Canmore for close to ten hours with no help from emergency service personnel. It's not that no one in our provincial government gives a shit, rather, they're currently overwhelmed. We were hit so hard and so early by a massive snowstorm that Calgary had to request other cities from around the province to send in plows and personnel to help it dig out. It's that bad.

To make being stuck on the road and, in some cases, in the ditch, a little less miserable, Lindemann popped out of his car with a trumpet and plastic mouthpiece (lips sticking to metal are no fun) to serenade his fellow travelers. If the honking horns are any indication, the performance was appreciated. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Lady Rouge – I'll Be Seeing You

This was not a good week.

I visited Montreal as it was kissed by the ass end of a major Atlantic storm system and attended my first industry-related function where, because of my diet, I was unable to drink. Upon returning home, I went under the knife for a vasectomy – I've been icing my bits for days. Fortunately, I don't have to go far for ice: the area of Alberta that we're currently living in has been experiencing freakishly cold weather for the past few days. It's not even fall yet and there's snow falling outside my window.

The ONLY thing that I took delight in was catching Lady Rouge live while I was in Quebec. While they typically play weddings, corporate events and the like, their sound and the friendly energy they project while they're on stage would be well suited to a venue of any size. Taking in their set made what was otherwise an absolute shit week feel like it was almost salvageable. Read the rest

To do in LA this weekend: Scottworks, celebrating visionary composer, inventor and musician Raymond Scott

Cory Councill writes, "Musician, inventor, and visionary Raymond Scott (1908-1994) (previously) will be feted on September 8 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, CA. As influential today as he ever has been, Scott’s musical and technological achievements have become more widely known over the past 20 years." Read the rest

Pianist Henry Butler dead at 69

If you love New Orleans-style piano or simply subscribe to joy, the music of Henry Butler would be welcome in your home. Gospel, old school rhythm and blues, Caribbean-tinged jazz and, of course, that signature syncopated New Orleans sound made renowned by musical luminaries like Jellyroll Morton and Professor Longhair--Butler could play it all.

And he did.

His playing challenges the ears, turning well-known standards up on their ends to show listeners what's inside of them. Sadly, we're all given our time to go. There'll be no more Henry Butler for us to enjoy, save what has already been recorded. Butler died in a hospice facility this week, in Brooklyn. He was 69 years old.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Butler commanded the syncopated power and splashy filigree of boogie-woogie and gospel and the rolling polyrhythms of Afro-Caribbean music. He could also summon the elegant delicacy of classical piano or hurtle toward the dissonances and atonal clusters of modern jazz. He could play in convincing vintage styles and sustain multileveled counterpoint, then demolish it all in a whirlwind of genre-smashing virtuosity.

As The New York Times' obituary of Butler points out, Dr. John once called Butler “the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot.”

Knowing that his playing will inspire generations of musicians in the decades to come feels like cold comfort in the wake of the loss of such a talent.

The older I get, the stranger it feels to watch as the musicians who inspire me fall to the ravages of time. Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

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)

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

More posts