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Here's a live performance of Blue Matter from the 1986 album Blue Matter...

Another great bass line on this one (which I didn't even mention on the other...) and more great phrasing from John:

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This single tune had an inordinate amount of influence on my own playing, especially that first minute or so, when it appeared in a Guitar Player magazine circa 1986. At a time when I was trying to play betterFasterMore, it taught me phrasing.

Techno (Album Version) is from the album Still Warm:

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And who better to end the set?

Here's Thelonious Monk himself, along with the other three members of his quartet, wrapping things up with 'Round Midnight:

You can find the tune (MP3) on the album Misterioso
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Getting back to Oscar Peterson and his trio, here we add one more person to the mix:

Ella Fitzgerald.

'nuff said, listen & watch:

You can hear Ella singing the tune as an MP3, from the album Jazz 'Round Midnight: Ella Fitzgerald
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Oscar Peterson is often heard playing his piano with a bass player and a drummer, and when he does, he comes pretty close to defining exactly what the jazz trio should be.

On this performance of Monk's 'Round Midnight, he works with a slightly larger ensemble:

You can hear a different ensemble performance by a different ensemble, the Oscar Peterson Big 4, here on MP3, from the album Freedom Song. Oscar on piano, with bassist Niels Pedersen and one of my favorite jazz guitarists, Joe Pass, formed the core trio here, and drummer Martin Drew joined them to form the quartet.
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Chick Corea is very inspiring, even when he doesn't have a keyboard within reach.

I still remember bumping into him out in LA, and being asked by the owner of the music store I worked for to get his autograph for the store wall. I did so, approaching him tentatively as one might do to any living legend, and Chick obliged with two signatures - one for me, one for the store - without me asking for the second. While he was doing so, though, he talked to me about my music. He asked me questions about what kind of music it was, about my confidence in performing it, and was interested and engaged in the conversation, and offered encouragement. I didn't realize that, while talking, he had also written an extra bit on the autograph for me - echoing the tone of what he had been saying to me.

Most of the other musicians I approached for store autographs were more than happy to talk about themselves. While Chick wasn't the only exception, he was the only one who went out of his way to discuss me and my music.

I talked to him for maybe five minutes, and he wound up being one of my most influential music teachers... great guy!

Here's our current set-tune, 'Round Midnight, performed by Chick, along with John Pattitucci (keep an ear out for the bass solo!), and Dave Weckl:

A recording of this tune live - I can't quite tell if it's the same performance given the short sample; it doesn't seem to be - can be found on the album Alive.
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Over the past few days, we've seen McFerrin performing classical music or with a classical ensemble... this is some improvisation in a much jazzier format - just McFerrin and bass player Richard Bona, making it up as they go along:

There's a very good chance that this performance is from the DVD Bobby McFerrin - Live in Montreal, although the only evidence I have of that is a review that indicates McFerrin is joined by Bona and others... =)
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Switching from Badi Assad to her older brothers Sergio and Odair, here they are along with Yo-Yo Ma, Nilson Matta, Paquito D'Rivera, and Cyro Baptista, performing Um a Zero (MP3)
from Yo-Yo Ma's album Obrigado Brazil:

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Here's Badi again, along with a percussionist and a great bass player - bit more of a jazzy feel to this one...

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Here is Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Badi Assad with the tune Ai Que Saudade D'oce (MP3) from her album Chameleon:

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Here's another Nigel Kennedy Quintet tune from the Very Nice Album (Amazon.com).

This one, unlike the earlier ones, is not a live performance - it's a studio promo video. There's vocals here - not sure who does them [I checked: soul vocalist Xantoné Blacq, according to a review!], but he's definitely having fun with this one. It should definitely get wider exposure than it will amongst fans of R&B, funk, Afro-Cuban, and jazz fusion.

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Here's another video of Nigel & Quintet, live at the 2008 BBC Proms:

This tune can be found on the increasingly nice two disc set, a Very Nice Album (Amazon.com).

The tune is, out of all the ones I've selected, perhaps the most classically flavored for the first couple of minutes, and then jumps into the jazziest of jazz trio type stuff.

Good music.
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A good part of Jeff Beck's influence on my playing can be seen in this video - some great closeups showing his right hand techniques.

Unlike most rock guitar legends, Jeff does not use guitar picks. During an early performance, he dropped his pick and stood helplessly on stage, not sure what to do next. He vowed never to be in that position again, and uses a variety of fingerpicking techniques to expand the possibilities of expression.

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I suppose that, with a part 1 in the title, you can kind of guess where tomorrow's video is going... however, the one thing you won't be able to guess - without cheating and checking for related YouTube videos today! - is who the guest star will be in part 2...

Anywho, Nigel Kennedy.

Nigel's a violinist who threw the classical world into a spin when he had the nerve to play the music of the masters while sporting a punk haircut and attire. I think what upset most of the people who get upset at the lack of neat grooming and tuxedos whilst playing technically complex romantic violin concertos was that he played them so well, better than most of the clean-cut folks who should have been able to play a violin better on account of dressing like a penguin.

It sounds silly when you put it like that, but I remember hearing some of the classical radio announcers and media reports when Nigel started to get some international recognition, and that's basically the kind of things they said.

You can learn a bit more about Nigel by watching an excerpt from This Is Your Life (YouTube), where they talk about his work with Kate Bush amongst other things.

This piece is classified as jazz, although it mixes other elements in with it, and, if you stick around to the end, you'll be let in on the guest star for the second part.Here's the first part of Hills of Saturn, filmed live at Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms 2008:

You can hear Nigel and his Quintet on his first recording of his original works, the nicely titled Very Nice Album (Amazon.com).
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When I first started posting the Zoe Keating stuff, I mentioned a bit about the loops and how I used to do something much like that - bit more limited - with a digital delay.

I used to play around with a couple of delays and record hours of bizarre sound effects, making the electric guitar sound more like a keyboard or a church bell or anything but a guitar, really.

Had a guitar teacher who advised me not to do that. No one experimented like that, it wasn't healthy, it would grow hair on my hands, and it certainly wasn't commercial.

No, it wasn't commercial. Not entirely.

But there are folks like Keating who mix and match with the effects processing to create their music.

Robert Fripp - guitarist of the prog rock masters, King Crimson - worked with the effects so much that he's done albums (and not a small number of them) played entirely by 1 guitar and effects. Frippertronics, he calls them.

Here's a bit of Mr. Fripp speaking about creativity and musicianship - although, really much of it can be applied to any art. Some Frippertronics supply the backing music.

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John McLaughlin: Floating Point

I was really trying to resist reviewing this, on account of having his 2006 release in the bedside stack waiting for a review. To be fair, its only been there a week or so, but I've had it since 2006...

There are definitely some similarities between the two recordings - there's overlapping personnel, and there's a similar mix of his Eastern interests (see his Shakti or the Mahavishnu stuff) with a more traditional jazz.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is this doesn't really stand out as a guitarists record. The last track - Five Peace Band - comes the closest to a guitar driven tune, and even then, as I started typing this out, Hadrien Feraud breaks out into a bass solo section. Not a guitar-driven record at all, just some really good jazz.

On all the tracks, John plays a guitar synth, and that helps keep the guitar sound down - especially since on half the tracks he plays only guitar synth; the other half he plays both. Still, the lead instruments are likely to be the soprano sax, bamboo flute, or semi-wordless vocals.

While I've heard some lamenting amongst certain circles of guitarists about the long period John set down his electric guitar and played only Marielle (apologies, I can no longer link directly to it; the link goes to the Wechter custom gallery, where photos of Marielle can be found) - and I'm not one of them; not only do I love his acoustic stuff (especially his Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra "The Mediterranean"), but I've played Marielle, and it's flat-out the single best guitar in the known universe and 9 out of 10 unknown universes. Still, I think those anti-acoustic folks should be happy that he's playing the electric once again. Even if he's letting other brilliant and talented musicians spend time in the spotlight.
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Hiromi's Sonicbloom: Time Control

This album surprised me. I expected the technically impressive jazz, on account that's what I heard when I first listened to this and added it to ye olde wish list, but I hadn't quite expected such a variety. There's some on here that fits more of the airy, spacey style of Nik Bartsch's Ronin, but other bits seem more like jazz fusion. There's definitely some humor in these compositions, with playful melodies contrasting with serious, mellow rhythms and other tunes (Real Clock vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag, I'm looking at you...) that are just pure fun, through and through.

All the tunes follow the theme and naming convention established by the title track - there's Time Difference, Time Out, Time Travel, Deep Into the Night (Okay, that might be the loosest connection, but the night is still a period of time...), the aforementioned Real Clock vs. Body Clock = Jet Lag, Time and Space, the title track Time Control, or Controlled by Time, Time Flies, and Time's Up. Hriomi added little comments and quotes after each tune, and I like that. I was just wondering, the other day, while marveling at the list of titles on a Scofield album, how entertaining the names of some jazz instrumental tunes can be - excepting the obvious ones, like Autumn Leaves or 'Round Midnight, which are standards with lyrics - and how exactly the composer came up with the names. Well, here, the composer provides at least another quick phrase or two of insight into what she was thinking.

The title track is one of those uber-technical tunes, and it is definitely playing around with time, mostly on the speedy side, no less. Hiromi is a keys and piano player, but these tunes - this title track in particular - do a nice job of showcasing the other performers. The guitar - fretless and fretted - gets a nice showcase across the entire album, and racing and easing along in this tune. The bass and percussion get a few sections to groove through and bask in the spotlight. Despite all that, the piano that opens and solos in this tune is exceptionally well done.

I'm not surprised that she was influenced by meeting with Chick Corea - hell, he inspired me on a quick five minute conversation I had with him, and I can imagine her time with him was more extensive - but when I first listened to this his Elektric Band came to mind instantly. Not that I'd mistake her playing for Chick's or that she sounds like him, but the overall style - explorative fusion, with damn good guitar and keys - was the association I made.

And that's some good company to be keeping on you fourth album into your career. I look forward to checking out her first three recordings, as well as seeing what she comes up with next.
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Joni Mitchell: Mingus

Joni? Jaco!

Okay, so, for me, the writer of all the lyrics and singer of all the melodies and player of all the guitars really takes a backseat to the brilliance of the bass player. Some others have been critical of this recording for much the same reason: Jaco really hogs the spotlight, he overrides everything else, blah blah. Not so much. I still hear Joni's voice, singing melodies some jazz fanatics insist prove she is incapable of being a jazz vocalist and other jazz fanatics insist she got spot-on. I actually do notice the guitar, which is pretty damn interesting on its own, and might make me want to listen to other Joni-stuff, although, to be fair, I'm here mostly for Jaco, on account of him being Jaco, and that's just the way it is.

This album gets a lot of critical flak, some as noted, some for the decision to put Mingus raps between most of the tunes - five raps vs. six tunes proper - but that just really doesn't fly in my world. I was expecting something disjointed, jarring, that interrupted my pleasure of the music. That didn't happen. They flowed nicely, and they were entertaining little glimpses into the life of Charles Mingus, and this is, after all, an album of Mingus music, dedicated to the then-recently-departed Mingus, who - back to Jaco's dominance on these tunes - happens to have been one of the, if not the, pre-eminent jazz bass players of all time.

If you couldn't hear Jaco on these tunes, or, if things had gone differently, whoever played bass in the band, that would be a shame. This is a musical memorial to the man, and the man was a bass player. Now, he was also a composer and a band leader, so a completely solo-bass outing wouldn't be a fitting tribute, but I see nothing wrong and hear so much that is right with the way this was done.

I've mostly been one for instrumental jazz, in fact, I think the closest I might come to a jazz singer on anything I have *thus far* in my collection would have to be classical soprano Ute Lemper's recording of Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich's cabaret repertoire, Illusions. I'll leave it up to the jazz fanatics to decide in how many ways that disqualifies me to evaluate Joni as a jazz vocalist, but, hey I like her voice and the melodies. I'm not even going to get into the lyrics themselves - more and more I'm coming to realize the place lyrics have in music, and it's not the same place that words have in poetry or literature. In fact, you can take damn fine examples of the latter, put them to music, and have them seem utter cheese. You can also take any schlump of words - sensical or not, or wordless sounds even - and string them together with a melody line that makes them pure poetry.

This is a great album, and will definitely get a lot of replay.

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Claude Bolling: Suite for Flute & Jazz Piano Trio

I expect I first heard this in 1976 very shortly after it was first released. I think my dad bought a copy for [livejournal.com profile] patrixa, who tended to listen to it, and thus it became a part of my musical heritage. It's funny how, listening to it now for the first time in maybe 15 years, maybe more, the melody is so familiar - Jean-Pierre Rampal's flute playing, dancing around flightily over the piano trio of Bolling, Max Hediguer, and Marcel Sabiani. Even though I recognized that this music was meaningful to me when I first put this on my wish list (birthday's coming up, subtle hint-hint! =), I didn't realize until now that this is probably where my interest in the traditional jazz trio came from. I know I really enjoyed the rare trio performing at Musikfest, and was certainly disappointed when I couldn't find one, but I hadn't really thought about where I picked up on them before. As a bass player, I've been focusing on them more - as a guitar player, I wanted to turn it into a quartet or kick the pianist out, but now I'm quite satisfied with them.

This disc is considered by many to be the first classical crossover - something quite popular now, in fact possibly the only popular classical music out these days is that which is done with a hip hop beat or what have you. Jean-Pierre sticks with the classical themes, while the jazz crew does there thing and it blends so well. Folks who like Ian Anderson's flute noodlings over blues (as in Tull's Bach's Bouree) might find something similar here, albeit without all the overblowing and effects.

This is great music to sit and listen to on a quiet Sunday morning, or to have as a background soundtrack for a dinner party or other event. Of course, to top it off, there's also the highly suggestive cover, with the flute in bed with piano, with the flute contentedly blowing smoke rings...
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