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Archive for September, 2009

Song of the Week: “Your Amazing Grace” by Marcus Miller feat Chaka Khan

September 28th, 2009
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Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller

The JazzPianoCafe song of the week is “Your Amazing Grace” by Marcus Miller featuring Chaka Khan.

It’s from Marcus’s 2001 album M2 (find Marcus Miller M² on Amazon.com).

The song features a stellar cast of musicians:

The track starts off with a soft synth patch and a triangle wave lead that repeats a catchy little riff, which is echoed by Marcus Miller’s bass clarinet as it enters. The bass clarinet then plays the familiar melody from Amazing Grace, still over top of the synth pad. A drum and bass rhythm programming begins, but it is low in the mix (although it is well textured and contoured using cutoff filters). Chaka Khan’s soulful voice enters and after introducing herself musically, begins on a totally different melody that is “Your Amazing Grace” – Marcus Miller’s original composition. Kenny Garrett plays a killer alto-sax solo, and the song modulates keys, adding even more energy. An extended outro section keeps the music happening right ’till the end.

Listening to this song can excite something spiritual within me. I love how it’s a fusion of electronic and acoustic, of jazz, soul and drum and bass. (Marcus Miller even adds a reggae-style bass line in the outro.)

The track is available on Imeem (free account registration required), or you can purchase the CD which it’s on, M2 (“M Squared”), from Amazon. I’ve also included a streaming player below which should play the full version of the song.

Your Amazing Grace – Marcus Miller feat.Chaka Khan

Stay tuned for another great Song of the Week from JazzPianoCafe.com!

If you have any suggestions on a future song of the week, please email me at geoff@gpeters.com.

Take care and until next time,
Geoff Peters

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Ear Training Video on Identifying Chords

September 26th, 2009
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My friend Marcus and I created an ear training video on identifying chords. It’s available at EarPractice, on Youtube, or by using the player below.

In the video I play a series of chords on the piano and after each one, pause for the viewer to identify the kind of chord (such as Major, minor, dominant-seventh) and the key (such as C, A, etc), before revealing the answer. This is a useful exercise and is something you can do with a friend too, once you get the idea.

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Introducing the iRack from Apple – MADtv (Video)

September 12th, 2009
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Mad TV is one of my favorite comedy TV shows. They are not afraid to explore touchy subjects such as racism, politics, class divisions, and commercialism, and they do it in an hilarious and smart way.

Here is a sketch where Apple’s Steve Jobs introduces their latest product, the iRack. It is a funny and astute commentary on the Iraq war, at the same time poking fun at the consumer culture and hype surrounding Apple.

This sketch is from MADtv Season 12, Episode 16.

The actors are:
Steve Jobs (Michael McDonald)
Announcer (Nicole Parker)
Audience members (Crista Flanagan, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key)

2,153 views

Concert video: pegEsus Quintet live at Hermann’s Jazz Club

September 5th, 2009
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pegEsus Quintet Live at Hermanns Jazz Club (poster by Oliver Brooks))

pegEsus Quintet Live at Hermann's Jazz Club (poster by Oliver Brooks)

Back in August I performed a show with the pegEsus Quintet at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria.

pegEsus is led by vocalist Peggy Hogan, who is currently studying music and literature at Concordia University.

The pegEsus Quintet is: Peggy Hogan voice, Geoff Peters piano, Ben Fast bass, Nick Houghton drums, and Amanda Paterson saxophone.

I recorded the show using my Minidisc recorder and camcorder, and put together the whole thing online as a series of Youtube videos.

Here is a set list and links to the individual videos:

Set 1:

Set 2:

  • Twisted by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross

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Super cool 1985 short animated…

September 4th, 2009
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Super cool 1985 short animated film, The Big Snit. Nominated for an Oscar. Watch here: tinyurl.com/nwwvqn

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Amazing short film: The Big Snit (Richard Condie)

September 4th, 2009
2,645 views 2 comments

If you’ve got 10 minutes, check out this amazing animated film called The Big Snit (by Canadian animator and film maker Richard Condie).

Wikipedia says:

Condie’s best known animated work is 1985’s The Big Snit, an offbeat parable about marriage, Scrabble, sawing, and nuclear war. The Big Snit was nominated for an Oscar and won the Genie Award for Best Animated Short, along with over a dozen international awards. The Big Snit was also voted as #25 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by animation professionals.

[via sawing14s]

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Song of the Week: Stars by Kate McGarry

September 2nd, 2009
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Kate Mcgarry. Photo credit: Matteo Trisolini

Kate Mcgarry. Photo credit: Matteo Trisolini

I just discovered the music of jazz vocalist Kate McGarry (view her page on All About Jazz, her website, or her myspace).

She has a really contemporary and modern sound, a bit similar to Bjork but with the passion and intensity of some of the classic “old school” vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

For the Jazz Piano Cafe “Song of the Week”, I’ve picked Kate McGarry’s track Stars off her 2005 album, Mercy Streets. Stars was composed by pianist Fred Hersch who also performs on this track. The track also features Steve Cardenas (electric and acoustic guitars), Keith Ganz (myspace, acoustic guitar), Sean Smith (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums).

You can listen to Stars at Imeem (streaming only, provided you register for a free account). It’s also on iTunes (full song for 99 cents), and available directly from the record label, Palmetto Records, or by using the player below.

Stars – Kate McGarry

Stars is a wistful and beautiful song. The impressionistic glittering of Fred Hersch’s gentle yet insistent piano explorations makes me imagine looking at a sky full of stars. Wollesen’s drums and Smith’s bass eventually reveal the hints of a sophisticated and pulsing bossa nova, that underlies McGarry’s clear, sensitive, and nuanced vocal lines. The track progresses at a meandering walking pace through many harmonic directions into a thoughtful and motion-filled piano solo, and returns again to the original groove. My favorite part of the track is the line ending in “skies are friendless” at 2:15.

Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

It’s so much harder
I find
without the light
of endless stars.
Clear the wondrous winter sky
that casts its spell.
Warm your hand in mine.
Do you recall
who can tell
I wish I knew what I could do
to forget your face. What to do when nights are endless
and skies are friendless.
Not a star, bring back the stars, the endless stars.

I hope you enjoy this track! Stay tuned for more great songs of the week.

Geoff Peters at Jazz Piano Cafe.com

6,623 views