Monthly Archives: May 2013

Velvet

As a kid I used to envy creatures that spend their lives underwater.  One of the best feelings in life is floating in the sea, undulating with the waves, and I imagined all fish were ecstatic with the freedom and grace afforded them by their liquid medium.  But those animals end up missing out on many of the other joys in life, one of which is being warm and dry in a rainstorm.  The cool winds have brought spring rains the last few nights, and I’ve cracked my windows to let in the sound of falling water and the smell of growing plants.

I’ve turned to my collection of old ECM albums to provide a soundtrack to these meditative moments.  One of these is Red Lanta, by the duo of Art Lande and Jan Garbarek.  Jan plays flute on most of the album, but “Velvet” finds him on soprano, which is probably the reason this melody stays with me after I listen to the CD.

Velvet

Art plays a C major as the last chord, I prefer a more augmented sound to add tension before the return to G major.

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Giulietta Masina

This week I’ve been listening to a lot of Caetano Veloso.  He is easily one of my favorite songwriters.  His tunes are often short and simple but they stick in my mind for days after I hear them.

Giulietta Masina was the wife and frequent subject of famed director Federico Fellini.  Her portrayal of tragic but strong-willed characters made an impression on me when I went through my “foreign movie phase” in high school, and biographers suggest she was musically talented as well, so I was delighted to discover this tribute to her.  On the record the form is played only twice before fading out, with soprano sax solos filling the vamp at the end.

Giulietta Masina

Scolohofo

Scolohofo was a short-lived jazz group formed in 2002.  It boasted John Scofield on guitar, Joe Lovano on tenor, Dave Holland on bass and Al Foster on drums, all seasoned veterans of the jazz scene.  Their album “Oh!” showcases compositions by each member, and it’s pretty easy to tell who wrote which piece.  Al’s “Brandyn” is a straight ahead 10-bar blues with a bridge, Dave’s long form tunes are based in groove and counterpoint, Joe contributes the title track and a few angular melodies, while John’s songs are more rooted in blues and r+b.

All four have strong personalities, and sometimes they step on each others’ toes, but mostly the record has a fun jam session vibe, thanks largely to Al’s exuberant drumming.  I’ve seen Al Foster play live many times, and he always looks and sounds like he’s having a great time.

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Oh I See

Miles Ahead

Coincidentally, the same day I posted Joe Henderson’s “Our Thing” I was asked to learn Joe’s arrangement of “Miles Ahead” for a gig.  This version can be found on the Verve album So Near, So Far.  Each of Joe’s albums for Verve featured the work of one composer, in this case Miles Davis.  Here’s the chart I wrote for the band:

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Joe’s quartet is squared by John Scofield, Dave Holland and Al Foster.  A decade later this same rhythm section collaborated with Joe Lovano as ScoLoHoFo (about whom more next week).