In April 2020, weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rolling Stones released “Living in a Ghost Town”, with lyrics and video apropos of the time. The song actually came out of a 2019 recording session, and the band finished it off remotely when it became more relevant than they could have anticipated. The song also represented the first new, original song the Stones recorded since 2012.
While in lockdown, the Stones finished off work on the re-release of 1973’s Goats Head Soup. The update featured three previously unreleased songs including “Criss Cross”. A very sexy new video was made for the song’s release, based on shoots that director Diana Kunst had done over a period of a few years with Spanish model/actress Marina Ontanaya.
And on April 13th, Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl released “Easy Sleazy”, a hard rocking look back at lockdown – definitely from the perspective of guys who haven’t had it too bad. Let’s pray the whole world will feel ready to join Mick’s and Dave’s upbeat spirit soon.
While we are still mourning the passing of jazz innovator Chick Corea, it is awfully reassuring to see a new generation of young musicians dedicated to keeping jazz – and the chops that go with it – alive. French keyboardist Domitille Degalle, stage name DOMi, and Texas drummer JD Beck are both in the prodigy vein of musicians – she is now 21, he 17. Their paths crossed a few years ago, and they have been collaborating ever since. Thanks for the heads up on these two, Barry!
Here are a couple of videos from a set of studio duets they performed last year. The second is their renamed riff on the John Coltrane classic, “Giant Steps”.
This performance features JD, with DOMi playing as part of Ghost-Note, a collaborative of musicians worthy of their own post. Learn more here until I get around to that. Fast forward to about 1:20 if you want to bypass the chatter.
Merry Clayton, she of the iconic backing vocals on the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter”, released an album of her own, Beautiful Scars, this past Friday. Thanks for the tip, Helga! In the 50 years since she sang on the Stone’s track, Merry not only sang backup for many famous artists and on other famous songs (including improbably Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”), but released albums of her own, acted on TV and on stage, and was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.
The title track for the new album was written especially for her and for this project by uber-songwriter Diane Warren. The final track is a medley that includes pieces of 1969’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and 1970’s “O-o-h Child”.
While Tina Turner performed the role of the Acid Queen in the 1975 film of the Who’s Tommy, Merry preceded Turner, singing the role on a 1972 album by the London Symphony Orchestra that also featured vocal tracks by Rod Stewart, Richie Havens, Steve Winwood and Ringo Starr.
And here’s Merry and Mick telling the story of “Gimme Shelter” from “20 Feet from Stardom”. Merry had already spent a couple of years as one of Ray Charles’ Raelettes, and was the kind of person you dragged out of bed in the middle of the night when you needed a crack vocalist.
Jaten Dimsdale (aka Teddy Swims) has launched his career the new-fashioned way – posting covers on YouTube. So far it’s earned him over a million YouTube subscribers, over a million Facebook followers, and a record deal with Warner Brothers.
Swims’ voice can genre bend all over the map. I really don’t need to say much except watch these videos to see what this guy can do. If you like what you see, check out teddyswims.com where you can link to pretty much everything he’s got out there.
Here is Swims’ take on “Tennessee Whiskey”, a song covered over the years by George Jones and Chris Stapleton.
On this video of Swims’ original tune, “Broke”, he lends his soulful voice to a playful collaboration with Thomas Rhett – the reigning Entertainer of the Year from the Academy of Country Music 2020 Awards.
And now for something completely different, here’s Teddy throwing down some modern R&B on “Night Off”.
Modern jazz lost one of its greats a few days ago. Take some time to search the web to read about pianist Chick Corea’s amazing, 60-year career. Like all jazz greats, Corea collaborated with many, many fellow artists, and in his case a who’s who of the genre. Below are just a few – and I’m leaving out his jazz fusion defining work with Miles Davis!
One of his earliest collaborations was on Stan Getz’s 1967 album, Sweet Rain. The album represented a move in a modern jazz direction for Getz following years of bossa nova innovations. Corea not only played on the album, but wrote two of the tracks, including “Windows”. Here are Getz and Corea performing that song live in 1972, featuring bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Tony Williams.
In that same year of 1972, Chick formed the band Return to Forever with Stanley and others. They recorded two albums that year, the second of which featured “Spain”, perhaps Corea’s best known composition. Here is a live performance of the song from 1975 featuring several of that year’s DownBeat magazine’s best jazz musician poll winners. OMG. Stanley Clarke, George Benson on guitar, Hubert Laws on flute, Lenny White on drums, and listen to what Bill Waltrous can do on a trombone (2:40)! (you may have to do a “double click” to get to this video, but it’s worth it).
Chick’s collaborations with vibes master Gary Burton spanned over 40 years. Their first album together was 1973’s Crystal Silence, and their last was 2012’s Hot House (see this post from a few years ago). Here’s an intimate two-song set from the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series, starting with “Love Castle” from their 2008 collaboration The New Crystal Silence, and the title track from the original Crystal Silence.