Category: Jazz/ Fusion

Shadowfax “Watercourse Way”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#955 in the Series) is Shadowfax, Watercourse Way When you look at a listing of the best bands Chicagoland has produced it better have Shadowfax included, if it doesn’t find a new list. Are you familiar with Shadowfax? If not, let me go back a ways. The origins of this eventual Grammy-winning band begin in the early 70s in south-suburban Crete, Illinois. That’s where the band lived in a farmhouse popularly known as “The Triple B Ranch.” It was there that these five young men crafted a sound that really could not be pigeonholed. It was jazz, it was rock, it was spacey. It was acoustic, it was plugged in. It was good....

Return to Forever Featuring Chick Corea ‘Hymm of the Seventh Galaxy’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy” by Return To Forever featuring Chick Corea Pianist extraordinaire, Chick Corea, got his professional start playing with the likes of Cab Calloway, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria. He went on to replace Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’ band and played with him from 1968 through 1971 during a crucial time when Miles was moving away from straight-ahead jazz, and toward a more psychedelic rock sound. He appeared on Davis’ seminal albums Filles de Kilimanjaro, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Black Beauty and Miles Davis At Fillmore. After leaving Miles’ ranks with Dave Holland, he formed Circle with Anthony Braxton and Barry...

Bennett/Brubeck – ‘The White House Sessions, Live 1962’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “That Old Black Magic” by Tony Bennett with The Dave Brubeck Trio Every so often the reissue gods bestow upon us a truly special recording that music fans never knew existed.  Recently, one such recording was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public by our friends at Sony Legacy, featuring a musical summit that took place between Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck on August 28, 1962 at The White House. The event was a special concert recorded at the Sylvan Theater (at the base of the Washington Monument) welcoming a new group of volunteers (or interns as they are now called) that had come to Washington DC to work for the government. The...

Herbie Nichols Trio ‘House Party Starting’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “House Party Starting” by Herbie Nichols Trio If Herbie Nichols is remembered for anything, it’s probably for composing one of Billie Holiday’s signature songs “Lady Sings The Blues.” Problem is, Nichols is all but totally forgotten, even though he recorded a handful of seminal EPs and an album for the Blue Note record label between 1955 and 1956. For the 30 or so years after these recordings were made, the music sat in the vaults, out of print and out of most people’s minds. Sometimes the greats don’t get their due during their own lifetime. During the late ‘30s, Nichols was part of the Harlem jazz scene, playing at such Harlem...

Rudresh Mahanthappa ‘Gamak’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Waiting Is Forbidden” by Rudresh Mahanthappa Welcome to the sonic space where Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time meets King Crimson. Sound intriguing? If it doesn’t, read no further because today’s Song Of The Day is not for the faint of heart or those of closed mind. Despite his exotic name, Rudresh Mahanthappa was born in Italy of Indian descent, but raised in Boulder Colorado from a very young age. He studied music at Berklee in California and earned his Master Of Fine Arts degree at DePaul University in Chicago. While at Berklee, he was introduced to Indian saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath, and the two traveled to India to play concerts between 2005 and...

Pat Metheny ‘The Orchestrion Project’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Improvisation #2” by Pat Metheny Orchestrion Project If the essence of Jazz is to listen to and improvise off of the musical ideas of those you are playing with, and you are in essence a one man band, can you still consider the music you make jazz? The orchestrion is a mechanically controlled mini orchestra that was designed by Pat Metheny and controlled by his touch on the guitar. Metheny based his orchestrion on his childhood fascination for his grandfather’s player piano. But where the player piano plays itself, Metheny, in essence plays an entire orchestra controlled through his guitar in the album and film, The Orchestrion Project. Metheny has...

Herbie Mann ‘Push Push’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Push Push” by Herbie Mann Duane Allman’s final session… Herbie Mann was already ten years into a career that established him as a purveyor of Afro Cuban Jazz, Latin Jazz and Bossa Nova music by 1971 and the release of his album Push Push. Mann had released albums for Bethlehem, Prestige, Epic, Verve and Savoy, before signing with Atlantic Records in 1962 where he would release numerous records for the label over the next eight years that established him as the premiere flautist in all of jazz. While at Atlantic, Mann worked with a whole host of influential percussionists and instrumentalists like Ray Barretto, Michael Olatunji, Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos...

Gerry Mulligan Tenette ‘Walking Shoes’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Simbah” by Gerry Mulligan Tentette The innovative instrumentation and arrangements of Miles Davis’ landmark Birth Of The Cool nonet sessions from 1948, of which Gerry Mulligan played baritone saxophone, was a major influence on Mulligan’s own Tentette recordings from January of 1953 that included “Simbah,” today’s Song Of The Day. But even though the Tentette recordings are less well known than the storied Birth Of The Cool sessions, they are every bit as essential and influential. Sessions for the songs “Westwood Walk,” “A Ballad,” “Walking Shoes” and “Rocker” took place in Los Angeles on January 29th 1953, while the recordings of “Flash,” “Ontet,” “Taking a Chance On Love”  and today’s...

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra ‘The Jazz Age’

  Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#841 in the Series) is Bryan Ferry, The Jazz Age Talk about something coming completely out of left field. I had heard nothing about this album until one day I saw it pop up on a listing of new releases for the week. What makes it more surprising is that was true even though it had been out in the UK for about three months. The premise of The Jazz Age is quite simple. Bryan Ferry takes some of his more popular recordings and transposes them into 1920s era jazz pieces.  I love the idea but I must admit that it did take me a few listens to warm to the record....

Gabor Szabo ‘Bacchanal’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bacchanal” by Gabor Szabo Yesterday, I wrote about the Lena Horne/Gabor Szabo album Lena & Gabor. In doing so, I listened to that album, plus records by Lena Horne and Gabor Szabo while researching the piece.  As a result, I decided to feature one of Sazabo’s great albums today, and to reuse some of the information that I used in yesterday’s post. Gabor Szabo was one of the few guitarists whose stands comfortably beside Jerry Garcia when it comes to guitar sound, technique and improvisatory style. His use of Indian and Middle Eastern scales had a profound influence on the likes of John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana, Robbie Krieger of The...

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