Thursday, January 30, 2020

Kit Walker: Fire In The Lake

Oh!  I remember this CD. Jim often played it as we were driving along. And Kit Walker Fire In The Lake is perfect background music. Although I liked the music, it just doesn't stay in my thought. 'Kinda wish I had a tune I could carry along all day.  No such luck. But I do enjoy  the music on the CD.

Play list includes:

  • Thunderworld
  • Touch the Earth
  • Fire in the Lake
  • White Crane Spreads Its Wings
  • Lightning In His Blood
  • Orion
  • The Nagual
  • First Snow
I like the titles. One can imagine the titles going along with the music.  My favorite is The Nagual and its soft flute music. Nagual is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "a personal guardian spirit or protective alter ego assumed by various Middle American Indians to reside in an animal or less frequently in some other embodiment."   Oooh Eee Oooh.  I think I will just enjoy the music and not think about the meaning.

The jazz fusion album was released in 1989 on the Windham Hill label. Composer Kit Walker defines himself on his Web site as a musician, philosopher, and oracle.  That's quite a mouthful for Walker, who is known as a composer, keyboardist, and producer in the music world. You might like to spend some time on his Web site. There is a lot of heavy thinking going on. 

Listen to Fire in the Lake here. Check out his Youtube site and listen to his latest with his cohort Mariana Ingold. Spend some time there.  You will enjoy the music.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Island by David Arkenstone with Andrew White

Sometimes life just isn't fair! I'm driving down the road listening to the island sounds of David Arkenstone's Island. The musical flute and rythmic drums  make me think of warm sandy beaches, bright blue skies, and soft tropical breezes. But outside the car windows, there is six inches of snow and the flakes keep falling. No fair!
Well at least I have the somewhat new age sounds of Arkenstone's CD to cheer me up. Island, by Arkenstone with Andrew White, was released in 1989 on the Narada Eqinox label. The electronic jazz album includes:

  • Nantucket
  • Ballet
  • The Island Road
  • Desert Ride
  • Along the Shoreline
  • Caravan
  • Hindu Holiday
  • Passage
  • Nullarbor
  • The Palace
  • Carnation Lily Lily Rose
The names have me thinking of at island retreat. Darn snow! Take a moment to listen to Nantucket and other pieces on Youtube

An American composer and performer, Arkenstone has filled his career with over 45 albums. Add soundtracks, commercials, and game scores to the list, and you realize  he must be creating all the time! His Web site describes him as a musical story teller.  I can't wait to hear the results of his recent trip to iceland.

Learn all (well at least some) of what there is to learn about Arkenstone here.  He's and interesting guy. And listen to more of  his music. Hmm.  Maybe if I play music of his from Iceland, I will see sun and sandy beaches out my car window. Anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dave Brubeck - We're All Together Again for the First Time

Perfect and orderly. That was the way Jim kept his music collections. He knew exactly where each album, CD, cassette tape and digital recording was on the shelves.

Things have kinda fallen apart since he left, which is how I ended up with another jazz CD to study. I reached in the box of CDs and pulled out Dave Brubeck's We're All Together Again for the First Time.The Jazz album, recorded before a live audience, was first released in 1973, and the first CD version in 1990. It is nice to hear some of Jim's favorites, even if I never knew they were from Dave Brubeck. 

I have a love-hate relationship with the jazz-great's music. I hear great tunes which I can carry in thought all day, and bam! The tune slips into a cacophony of discordant sounds - those were the parts that Jim liked best.

The group consisted of Dave Brubeck on the piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax,Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, Jack Six on bass, and Alan Dawson on Drums.My favorite piece on the album is Take 5. The classic jazz tune had my feet tapping instantly. And, I remember dancing around with the kids -babies at the time - as Jim played the music.

The CD was created from the original analog recording. Beside  Take Five by Paul Desmond, the CD includes Truth by Dave Brubeck, Unfinished Woman by Gerry Mulligan, Koto Song, by Dave Brubeck, Rotterdam Blues by Dave Brubeck, and Sweet Georgia Brown by Ben Bernie, Kenneth Casey and Maceo Pinkard ( solo piano performance by Dave Brubeck). I connected each to a Youtube recording for your enjoyment.

Brubeck, 1920 to 2012, was born  into a musical family in Concord, California.  When he was four, he began studying piano with his mother.  88-years-later his career ended being designated a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress for his jazz and classical work. His biography on his Web page states "he was one of the most active and popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career that spanned over six decades,  his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation."  That's a mouth full!

Listen to a classical recording of Brubeck Meets Bach. Now that I can listen to all the time. If you want to learn more about Dave Brubeck, or find out where you can hear his music, visit his Web site. You can also listen to more of his tunes there.  His music lives on! 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Oscar Peterson The Trio

Laugh Out Loud! I am reminded of the movie Amadeus, where the king tries to counsel young composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that his musical piece has "too many notes"!

For me, the same holds true for Canadian jazz pianist-composer-legend Oscar Peterson. Not in a bad way, of course. His music is fascinating. There ARE a lot of notes. His fingers seem to fly along the keyboard.  And you can tell he is loving every minute he is performing - with him happily humming as he is playing along.

 He began studying music when he was five under the direction of his father, an amateur trumpeter and pianist, and his older sister, a classically trained pianist. He continued his studies with other well-known instructors. The young prodigy practiced four to six hours per day.  He dropped out of high school when he was 14 to become a professional musician It wasn't long before he became known as the "Maharaja of the keyboard"  and his career continued to grow. He recorded over 200 pieces during his career.

We are looking at the Trio performed before a live audience in Chicago. The trio, including guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen produced the album The Trio which won the1974 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance. It was a nice surprise to find the The Trio CD among Jim's collection.  I've been listening to it all week as I drove to work.  It is truly joyous music.

Songs on the CD include:

  • Blues Etude
  • Chicago Blues
  • Easy Listenin' Blues
  • Come Sunday
  • Secret Love
All great! Listen to some Oscar Peterson here.

Listen to a piano lesson here.

Also, I am reminded  of Black Books, The Entertainer, where Manny (Bill Bailey) plays the piano.

Peterson passed in December 2007 and is remembered through the Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival. Check it out.  Maybe you can attend.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Steve Winwood Roll With It

I went down  to the deep, dark corner of the basement where the CDs are stored, and pulled out Steve Winwood's Roll With It.

What a nice  surprise! The classic four-beats-to-a-measure-and-a-quarter-note-gets-one-beat rock album - bordering on pop rock - had me humming along in no time. I especially enjoy Put On Your Dancing Shoes by  Steve Winwood and Will Jennings.
"Life's a dance; put on your dancing shoes; take a chance ..."
What a wonderful reminder to go on living - and living well. So I'll put on my dancing shoes and tap dance on!

Winwood is an English singer and musician. Known mainly as a vocalist and keyboardist, he also plays numerous other instruments including drums, guitars, bass and saxophone. His music is often described as progressive rock, rhythm and blues, and jazz. I describe it as just plain listening fun.

In between his solo career, Winwood is known for participating in popular bands including The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. Notable solo pieces include While you See a Chance, Back in the High Life Again, Higher Love, and Roll With It. Even I am familiar with those, and now I know who sings them. I am even happy to know the next time I go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I can read about him as a member of Traffic. He was inducted in 2004.

The CD Roll With It was released in 1988 by Virgin Records of America Inc. Songs include:

  •  Roll With It
  • Holding Oh
  • The Morning Side
  • Put on Your Dancing Shoes
  • Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?
  • Hearts on Fire
  • One More Morning
  • Shining Song
I like them all.  Learn more about Winwood at his website, or listen to Roll With It on Youtube.  Don't forget your dancing shoes!