Monday, February 28, 2005

are you going with me?

pat&mike, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

1980, ECM records.
in the early 80's, michael brecker's successful career blossomed on many fronts.
as his reputation found unconditional recognition in europe, his collaboration with munich-based ECM RECORDS seemed obvious and much anticipated by any true jazz fan. among his featurings on recordings by kenny wheeler or john abercrombie, his friendship with PAT METHENY, one of the most successful ecm artists, resulted in 80/81, a double album featuring CHARLIE HADEN on bass and JACK DEJOHNETTE on drums: a dream rythm section that allowed metheny to experiment different shades of improvisation with both brecker and DEWEY REDMAN on sax. to me, "everyday..." is one of metheny's most uplifting jazz track that builds up to give brecker a free ride to deliver maybe his most amazing and emotional chorus.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

the don

don&mike, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

feat. Michael Brecker
HipPocket Records, 1985
"don was my musical mentor, my trusted confidante, and my great friend. i turned to him for musical opinions because he had a marvelous ability to listen and determine what made music great. he profoundly influenced the way i listen to, play, and write music...and that will remain for the rest of my life"
michael brecker
that's a great quote borrowed from DON GROLNICK'S WEBSITE, where you'll find more brecker talking about his friend, plenty of info, pictures (incl. that very nice one above) and memories of the late great keyboards artist, composer and producer, sadly missed since 1996. don grolnick and mike brecker played together on many recordings, including some great sessions with supagroup STEPS AHEAD (feat. mike mainieri, eddie gomez and peter erskine). HEARTS &NUMBERS is one of my favorite grolnick album as the music ranges from very intimate and soulful pieces to more adventurous structures. "more pointing" is a short but beautiful improvised keyboards/sax duet, where brecker's style is particularly expressive. good luck at your local music pushers to buy this one.

Monday, February 21, 2005

god must be a boogie man

joni&mike, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

among the many outstanding contributions of michael brecker, a 1979 live recording of joni mitchell: SHADOWS AND LIGHTS is a very particular one. featuring maybe the greatest band ever: jaco pastorius on bass, pat metheny on guitar, lyle mays on keys, don alias on drums and brecker on sax, backing vocals provided by the persuasions. to give you an idea, i'll quote the wise words of a certain mr. o. dubhaight, who reviewed for cd now online :
"This is a terrific listening experience, rewarding from almost every conceivable perspective. The musicians here changed her and she herself responded with challenges to her own abilities. I wish I had caught this tour. Pastorious is possessed, Mays is at his impressionistic best and Metheny is a foil for Mitchell the likes of which she'd never again replicate. Becker brings that East Coast jazz vibe that only he can muster and he is incendiary, smokey, subtle and brilliant."
well, i kinda agree with that. please note that on the "hejira" track, brecker plays the soprano saxophone instead of the tenor, which is one of a kind to my knowledge.
thanks for info to Herr K. from totally fuzzy, newcomer XANAXTAXI cruises the backstreets of "jazz, improvisation, fusion, funk (and the rest)" and great jazz covers of sade or bjork.
i particularly enjoyed a live version of jamiroquai's "space cowboy". mp3s are delivered at 256 kbps which is a real treat for music lovers. GATHERING DUST is another new daily stop ran by "a swedish guy of 38 named dan who lives in france". named after a ThisMortalCoil track, GD deals with early "white" electronic music. i think its TDK cassette visual is a great lo-fi symbol of our tape-to-mp3 full- circle music history. dan caresses the fantasy of running 3 musicblogs at the same time... THE NATION seems more focused on "emerging music" and is already on, the 3rd will be be about black music... good luck with such a task. like maybe many of you out there, i got a message from joshua ellis @
"Mperia is basically the Internet version of an indie record store.
We allow artists to upload, price and sell their music. We don't charge them any fees for this; instead, we take a 30% cut of each sale, for which we provide hosting and streaming and useful tools for indie artists, like free mini-blogs and the ability to post their upcoming gigs where fans can see them and optionally be reminded of them via e-mail..." i didn't get a chance to browse around here yet but it seems like artists cut a better deal here than with iTunes/iMusic...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

to maceo

cityscape, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

WEA, 1982
you may come from outer space or don't dig jazz music but you probably heard mike brecker's sax before, as the man has recorded music with EVERYBODY in the past 35 years... trying to track all of his gigs is meaningless, as he and his older brother randy on trumpet were among the busiest of elite studio musicians who contributed to the sound of major 70/80's jazzpop artists: frank zappa, steely dan, michael franks, joni mitchell, etc. add frank sinatra, bruce springsteen, billy joel to the list, you name it... any major playa called in the L.A dream team:
steve gadd on drums, anthony jackson or abe laboriel on bass, larry carlton on guitar and the brecker brothers on horns. a cool biography of the main saxophone man is available HERE
among his extensive discography and my favorites recordings, CITYSCAPE holds a special place. don't get me started on CLAUS OGERMAN, eternally praised as ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM's arranger.
his musical genius deserves a full galaxy of dedicated posts. in 1978, seminal jazz pop producer TOMMY LiPUMA produced ogerman's GATE OF DREAMS, featuring gadd, george benson and mike brecker. he then felt the chemistry between the composer and sax tenor deserved further developments, achieved in CITYSCAPE. to me, IN THE PRESENCE... epitomizes brecker's style: his impro builds up on emotion and energy but keeps the introspective mood of ogerman's music. more brecker pieces in next posts BUY THE ALBUM

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

message to the messengers

gils, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

TVT records, 1994
i won't even try to sum up gil scott-heron's career and influence on contemporary music and politics. considered as the hip-hop godfather, he embodies, as mos def once said, "the elder statesman and the man on the corner at the same time." seminal albums path his way, starting with "SMALL TALK AT 125th AND LENNOX" (flying dutchman, 1970) up to "SPIRITS" (tvt,1994), his only studio album in the past 20 years (another example if needed, of the record industry's insanity). backed up as in many of his classics by brian jackson on piano and a bunch of jazz cats, it's an album to be rediscovered again and again for its pure musical genius and accurate analysis of modern issues. from his "message to the messengers": an indictment of the immorality in much of hip-hop's lyrics (still pertinent today), "give her a call": a beautiful introspective ballad, "spirits": based on john coltrane's music or "don't give up", produced by ali shaheed muhammed of a tribe called quest, the whole album is incredibly modern and what
strikes me the most is the power and beauty of the words.
"i'm addicted to creating" gil said, "i use other things from time to time"...
he experienced many bad trips, including lately a 2003 jail sentence in rikers island penitentiary for possession of illegal drugs. now 55 years old and released last summer, he's back on the harlem block. if he plays anywhere near you, don't miss your chance to catch his genius live, as his jams are the real thing and his future in music might be shadowed by his old demons.

Monday, February 07, 2005

the octopus backyard

pj, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

Toshiba EMI,1978
one for the grooveriders out there. try to hunt this lp on ebay and you'll have to reach deep pockets for a fresh japanese copy. thanks for the cool guys at platform records they reissued a cd format in 2000 with a few unreleased tracks. known as a "musician's musician" and founding member of the headhunters, bassist paul jackson, jr. recorded this beauty during a 1978 japan tour. personel includes herbie hancock, bennie maupin, webster lewis, alphonse mouzon, ray obiedo and jackson himself on vocals. it's not really a heads' album as it starts a little weird with some loose abstract jazz and bluesy jams 'til it mutates into a monsterfunka. too bad the cd reissue lost its hatori hanzo's sushi style for a blank 70's look but the funk still hits the fan anyway.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

i see that now

avia, originally uploaded by thebeathunters.

catalogue, 1998
rebirth is one of these tracks you hear once and then grow on you adlib. it comes as bare as the title suggests: synths, sampled jazz breaks, a walking bass and minimal house beats.
oh, and bob de niro's monologue from taxi driver, too. that's just what it takes for this epic ride.
in 2002, avia released a full album "i see that now". production help was no less than the guys from alpha (of massive attack's melankolic label fame) but to me, no track stood up to this one. sit back, relax and close your eyes.