This winter I’ve been going through hundreds of old transcriptions I did with pen and paper when I was first training my ear to recognize melodies and chord changes. Some of them have egregious mistakes, but it brings back good memories to revisit my old files.
Ginseng Woman is an album by guitarist Eric Gale. It’s full of solid performances by great players, and it’s also a testament to Eric’s versatility and artistry as a “session” musician; even on his own record he doesn’t flaunt his considerable skills, but tailors his playing to serve the music. Chances are you’ve already heard Eric’s understated playing on some of your favorite jazz, funk and pop songs… I’m still discovering records in my collection that I didn’t even know he was on, from Paul Simon to Ashford and Simpson to Billy Joel and more.
Happy new year! Hope your 2018 is happy and healthy. Here’s one from Freddie Hubbard.
Happiness is Now
Here’s a funky tune from Djavan’s album Alumbramento. This may be the only pop song I know that never fully resolves the harmony. Every time it comes around to the G chord, the bass plays an F. Can you think of another song like that?
Last year on the site I used the month of March to focus on the blues in some of its different forms. I think this year I’ll be even more specific and feature the work of a single artist: Brazilian singer Djavan. He’s been putting out quality albums for over 40 years, and I hope he continues long into the future. His work reminds me in some ways of Stevie Wonder’s… a mix of funky pop songs and heartfelt ballads, featuring some interesting harmonic choices and always fronted by strong, mature vocals.
Let’s start near the beginning. This song is on his self-titled sophomore album from 1978. Its simple melody and danceable groove always put me in a good mood.
People who grew up with Sesame Street may remember this tune, as sung by the Pointer Sisters. As a child I had no idea how hip this was (I’ve included a link below to the original).
Pinball Number Count