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Posts Tagged ‘drums’

Song of the Week – Kurt Elling “Where I Belong”

November 20th, 2009
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Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist

Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist (photo credit: Christian Lantry)

One of my all time favorite jazz vocalists is the inimitable Kurt Elling. He has been voted Male Vocalist of the Year for 10 years in a row by critics in Downbeat magazine and for 5 years by the Downbeat readers’ choice awards.

Kurt Elling has done some really incredible recordings, and I am definitely going to go out and try to complete my collection and get all 8 of his albums.

The current JazzPianoCafe song of the week is Kurt Elling’s recording of his very romantic original song, Where I Belong. It’s from his 1998 album This Time It’s Love. Here are the lyrics, courtesy of Kurt Elling’s website:

Lyric by Kurt Elling

I hear the woman like a song / dancing down a long corridor
Reminding me I belong where I am

I see the singing in the rain/ the rhythm at my windowpane
Reminding me I belong where I am

There is a light in the silence of loving things
And when I look in my baby’s hopeful eyes
It’s like the sound just before ever morning horizon
Light comes to life

It’s like a magnet of loving sound / turning me rightside down
Keeping my two feet firmly planted on the ground
Reminding me I belong where I am.

You can listen to the song on iTunes for 99 cents, or listen for free on imeem (free account registration required). You can also purchase the CD or MP3’s online from Amazon.

Kurt Elling - This Time It's Love - Where I Belong

This recording of Where I Belong features the following stellar musicians: Kurt Elling voice, Laurence Hobgood piano, Rob Amster bass, Michael Raynor percussion, Dave Oderdonk guitar, Paul Wertico drums, and Brad Wheeler soprano saxophone.

The track opens with burst of warm sound. A simple riff on the soprano sax is echoed by the piano, accompanied by drums, acoustic bass and guitar. The riff is repeated once and then Kurt Elling enters with his sparkling and luscious baritone. A hypnotizing bossa nova ensues, with an exciting and tasteful soprano sax solo well shaped to a gentle climax before the final vocal melody restatement. The outro is a vamp on the original intro riff, ending with a bit of Kurt Elling’s whistling on the fade out.

Highly recommended! Hope you enjoy this song and check back again next week for another JazzPianoCafe “Song of the Week”.

-Geoff Peters (Birds in the House Productions)


11,099 views

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

September 28th, 2009
1,857 views No comments
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

1,857 views

Song of the Week: Stars by Kate McGarry

September 2nd, 2009
6,660 views No comments
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

6,660 views

Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard – Victoria Conservatory Jazz Workshop students

July 19th, 2009
2,292 views No comments

Last week I took a holiday from work and attended a jazz workshop at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Victoria, BC, Canada. It was a fun week of attending concerts put on by the faculty, and going to piano masterclasses and composition classes by New York jazz pianist, composer, and producer, Misha Piatigorsky.

We had some student jam sessions, and here is a video recording of myself (Geoff Peters, piano), Luke Elliott (drums) and Simon (bass) playing the tune called Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard.

It was recorded at the Superior Cafe on Superior Street in downtown Victoria BC Canada (a great place for live music in Victoria with bands performing every day).

Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard
Watch video: Youtube
Download song (free): Mp3

We also recorded another song at the jam, the tune Angel Eyes by Matt Dennis. It features Jillana Rathjen on vibes.

Angel Eyes by Matt Dennis
Watch video: Youtube
Download song (free): Mp3

2,292 views

Three Little Bops – awesome jazz cartoon

June 13th, 2009
3,729 views 1 comment

I stumbled upon a wonderfully jazzy and funny Looney Tunes cartoon video, thanks to my Facebook friend and jazz singer Jennifer Scott! From the Wikipedia article on this cartoon (click here to view):

Three Little Bops is a 1957 Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Friz Freleng, with voices by Stan Freberg and music by jazz composer/trumpeter Shorty Rogers. It is a takeoff on The Three Little Pigs, told as a hip, jazzy musical.

View the Three Little Bops on Youtube by clicking here or use the player below.

3,729 views

Ambrose Akinmusire – Trapped in a Dream

May 13th, 2009
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I discovered an amazing track entitled Trapped in a Dream by jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. In this article on San Francisco Bay Area jazz musicians, David Rubien writes:

Akinmusire – a graduate of Berkeley High School’s renowned jazz program with degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Southern California and the Monk Institute in Los Angeles – seems to be the most academically inclined of the bunch, but the opposite is true. He’s actually an iconoclast who’s thrived just because he’s made everyone come around to seeing things his way.

Feel free to use the player below to listen to Trapped in a Dream, and visit Ambrose Akinmusire’s web site or CDBaby to purchase his album Prelude to Cora.

Trapped In A Dream – Ambrose Akinmusire

The thing that strikes me about Trapped in a Dream is how the music really suits the name of the song. While I am listening to it, I feel like I am dreaming. There are flashes of insight: at times the chords seem to be leading somewhere purposeful, but then return back to the comfort and lull of a deep dream-filled sleep. The way it ends is with a hypnotic drum sequence which suggests to me that I am soon going to wake up and face reality again.

1,789 views

Interview with “Mr. Bongo” – Jack Costanzo

July 6th, 2005
1,875 views No comments

Found a fascinating interview with the one and only “Mr. Bongo”, Jack Costanzo. From his own web site (which contains MP3 samples from his album Back from Havana):

Jack Costanzo is known and responsible for the popularity of the bongos all over the world. He introduced bongos into American music when he was with the famous Stan Kenton Band, which shot him to jazz fame overnight. Jack recorded with Stan such favorites as The Peanut Vendor, Bongo Riff, Cuban Carnival and about fifty other recordings.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

JV: How was Kenton to work with?

JC: Marvelous! He let you stretch out. “Play what you feel Jack,” he’d say. I remember the opening night at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa. It’s a little island he’d worked for years. It’s opening night, his return, and he’s going to show off his new band. So we start with Stardust and you know the tempo is real light and he gives Laurindo Almeida a guitar solo, then points to me. I looked at him like ‘what am I supposed to do with this tempo?’ So Shelly yells ‘pick up the tempo’ so I did these really fast runs and Kenton is yelling ‘that’s what I want!’ (laughter)

[…]

JV: Tell us about your jazz experience.

JC: I went through bebop and cubop. When I went to Birdland, which I did fairly often, I was playing with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Percy Heath, Curley Russell, and before he died, Fats Navarro. Playing with Lester Young was probably one of my favorite experiences. But I really didn’t play Latin and that’s why I was so well-liked by the musicians at Birdland because I could play jazz. I remember Bud Powell saying finally we have a conga drummer that can play jazz.

1,875 views