Friday, April 15, 2005

Musical Friday

It's Friday, and me too, I would like to say a few words about music. In retrospect, I am surprised not to have mentioned it so far given the importance is has to me. These days, not only Queen will have a reunion but my Jazz band in Hamburg as well and I am seriously practising my alto sax again.

But let me also first do a random ten (I set xmms to random mode and will comment the ten songs that come up. I'll try to be honest and not skip boring ones):

1. Mona Lisa played by Keith Jarret's trio. Jarret is my absolute piano hero. The Bregenz solo concert is what got me into serios jazz a long time ago (after some initial Boogie Woogie infection probably caused by Bernd Röser, my infinitely patient piano teacher). As a kid I hardly ever practised, so my classical skills are still rudimentary but out of pure desperation he taught me all the theory including advanced harmony that comes so handy for playing jazz later. And in the long term I benefit so much more from this than if I had learned to play more Beethoven sonatas. And I still do a Booggie Woogie every now and then as this is pure fun.

2. Eine schöne Party by Götz Alsmann. Alsmann is to my mind the only true living alround entertainer. He can be a talkshow host (Zimmer frei being slightly surreal), can sing and play piano on stage. Amazing. And he is about fourtyfive, holds a PhD in musicology and as I hear is one of the world best ukulele players.

3. Elephant Hips by Rabih Abou Khalil. This guy does a great mixture of modern jazz and oriental music. A must hear. Sometimes reminds me of John Zorn's Masada project.

4. For All We Know by Dave Brubeck. This comes from the "Great Concerts" live album, also one of my first CDs. Thinking of it, it's probably my dad's. Besides Take Five they also do wonderful versions of other songs: A feverish Take the A Train, Pennies From Heaven is the opening song and Three To Get Ready is probably my favourite Brubeck tune (we also to to this 3/4 3/4 4/4 4/4 tune with our band).

5. Three Strikes and You're Out by The Foremen. This is from a political comedy CD I bought during Clinton's second presidential campain when I was a summer student in Princeton. These guys were interviewed on public radio while I had my breakfast and I do not regret buying the CD afterwards.

6. Take Me There by Grover Washington Jr. Admitedly, this is elevator music. I bought the CD because of Modaji, which is one of my fusion favourites (and it is featured on the play along CD of the New (legal) Real Book).

7. Your Congratulations by Alanis Morissette. I still claim I discovered Alanis Morissette before the hype. I mentioned above my summer in Princeton. In late September, I took a week off, rented a car and went to New England to see Indian Summer. Somewhere in New Hampshire there was this song on the radio with the chorus "...and I've got one and in my pocket and the other one..." which I thought was quite cool. I stopped in the next town which turned out to be some hippie colony and went to the record store. The 150kg guy behind the counter did not recognise my singing but sang it again much louder (really, like in the Leasureship Larry In The Land Of Lounge Lizards computer game where you have to ask for condoms in the pharmacy). And indeed, some teenager browsing the CDs knew that this was Alanis Morisette and I bought the tape for the car.

8. Hit Me by Defunkt. Wonderful energy, this can really wake you up. I have seen them live a couple of times and all those were amazing gigs. Even with a trombone player as front man.

9. Ariana by Spyro Gyra. I don't know why but this is my only CD of this very influential jazz rock band. Don't have much to say about it.

10. Celebration After Billies Capture by Bill Frisell. I love this man, besides Mike Stern (who is very different in style) my favourite guitar player. The first group I heard him with was a concert on TV with John Zorn's Naked City (if you don't know this you must get hold of the CD!!!) and after that he has played an amazing variety of different styles (all at the highest level): He performed live to Buster Keaton silent movies, did this CD (with tunes ranging from Madonna over Souza marches to Aaron Copeland) did the music for "Million Dollar Hotel" and toured with the Intercontinentals (I attended the gig at Cambridge's Corn Exchange).

This was much more fun than expected. I am surprised that none of the many Michael Brecker songs on my playlist came up. And will have to blog about Beatles some other time and just mention a real expert


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