I have mentioned before that I like to listen to music while falling asleep, and I find that albums put out by European label ECM often provide a soft musical pillow. ECM has possibly produced more drummerless sessions than any other record company. One such effort is Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, featuring Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, and Dave Holland. These powerhouses of jazz seem to fall under the spell of Kenny’s austere compositions, subsuming their otherwise strong musical personalities to create a meditative mood.
Update: This theme is also titled “For H.” on Kenny’s album Music for Large and Small Ensembles, released a few years earlier.
About a year ago I posted a tune from Kenny Barron’s Things Unseen, in my opinion one of his best albums. Here’s another one in the same vein, blending swung 8ths on the A sections and straight 8ths on the B.
Another from Robert Glasper’s first album, Mood.
Here’s a burner from one of Wayne Shorter’s early albums, Wayning Moments.
While driving home from a gig late last night, I was looking for some music to keep me awake and landed on Miles Davis’ 1986 album Tutu. I hadn’t listened to it in many years, and I admit I probably won’t listen to it again soon. The overdone studio production sounds dated, and in my opinion Miles’ personality gets lost in the mix. His musicianship shines through as always, but this is obviously a Marcus Miller project featuring Miles rather than the other way around.
Marcus wrote and programmed most of the music on Tutu, and I enjoy his playing on the record, but the panoply of synthesizers and drum machines feels less like a coherent musical statement and more like a faddish costume Miles is wearing to attract a pop audience. This isn’t to say the songs themselves don’t have merit; I just prefer the spontaneity and verve of a live band. Some of Miles’ songs from this era get much more satisfying treatments on Live Around the World.
Anyway, the album did its job in keeping me alert, but out of all the funky faster tunes the one I kept coming back to was the ballad “Portia”. Something about it really fit the mood I was in, driving through foggy dark forests and empty city streets.