Suggestions From All Around – Snarky Puppy, The Lone Bellow and Polaris Rose

To get 2015 off on the right foot, some great suggestions have floated in from friends and other bloggers.  But before we get started, happy to say that two of the artists we featured when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced made it through (see the post)!

First up is Snarky Puppy.  Thanks, Ben!  This Brooklyn based group of jazz fusion musicians, a self described “quasi-collective”, migrated from the University of North Texas .  Their website lists a dozen members, but the video below makes you wonder if that number grows on some tracks.  The video for “What About Me?” is from the live performance set-up they used to record their latest CD “We Like It Here”.  If you find the beginning of the guitar solo at 3:00 a bit ethereal for your tastes, hang in there till things pick up at about 3:45.  And if you want to hear one of the other guitarists strut his stuff, check out “Jambone”.

Meanwhile, on another street in Brooklyn we find the alt-country trio The Lone Bellow.  Thanks Dennis and Maureen! They are about to release their second album, “Then Came the Morning”, and will  apparently be on Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night to play “Cold As It Is” from that album.  Hear that track before everybody else, and also try out the album’s title track. No shortage of great backing musicians in the Big Apple!

Last but not least is the duo Polaris Rose from Los Angeles.  They were mentioned on the excellent blog “The Delete Bin”.  Thanks, Rob!  No matter how cold a winter you’re dealing with, these harmonies and lush guitar tones will make you feel like you’re in the California warmth of the videos.  “Perfect View” is from their new album “Telescopes”, and “Chartreuse” is from their debut EP “The Moon & Its Secrets”.


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A Jazzy Detour – Tauk, Fletch’s Brew, and Thievery Corporation

Time for an overdue dip in the modern jazz pool.

Tauk is a four-piece, instrumental fusion band from Oyster Bay, Long Island (thanks for the heads up, Charlie!).  Three of the band’s four members began playing together in middle school and reunited after college. “Friction” is the first track from their new album “Collisions” (that guitar tone is very Walter Becker), and if you want an introduction to their earlier album, “Homunculus”,  try out “In the Basement of the Alamo”.

Fletch’s Brew is a U.K. band built around drummer Mark Fletcher, and it includes a crew of seasoned musicians who have played with pretty much everyone you’ve ever heard of from Dizzy Gillespie to Diana Ross, and from Chrissie Hynde to Placido Domingo!  Despite all that history they are thoroughly modern, having raised money to record their new album “39 & 47” on KickStarter.  Here is the band playing their progressive version of the jazz standard “Invitation”.

Thievery Corporation is the duo of Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, who have been turning out incredible records and live shows that mix a broad range of musical styles since they teamed up in 1995 in Washington, D.C. Their shared love of Brazilian Bossa Nova apparently was part of what drew them together as artists, but “Saudade” is their first album entirely dedicated to that genre. Here are “Firelight” and “Bateau Rouge” featuring long-time vocal collaborator Lou Lou Ghelichkhani.

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The Kennedy Center Honors – 2038

2013 Kennedy Center Honors were presented to music legends Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Billy Joel last night in Washington, D.C.   The Awards are in their 36th year and have done a pretty good job of honoring artists of truly monumental lifetime achievements.  In the Awards’ early years the Kennedy Center recognized Ella, Sinatra, and Count Basie and in more recent years Dylan, Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Brubeck, McCartney, Brian Wilson, and James Brown.

So, who might they be honoring 25 years from now?  What musical artists are on a trajectory to possibly stand in that company?  Looking at this year’s awardees who range in age from their mid-60’s to mid-70’s and who made their first musical marks 40 to 50 years ago, we need to think of artists currently between their mid-30’s and mid-40’s who have already been at it for 15 years or more.  Being a bit parochial and limiting the possibilities to musicians featured on this blog, here are our predictions for the 2038 Kennedy Center Honors.

Alison Krauss should definitely be there.  She’ll be 67 by then, and we hope will still have her pure, angelic voice.  She might not need to make one more recording to be viewed as one of the best and most influential artists of her time. She’s already won 27 Grammy Awards and countless country music awards. Here’s a cover of a pop tune from the Queen of Bluegrass.

Dave Grohl will be 69, bringing a legacy that already includes Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, drummer of choice for pretty much everyone, and documentary filmmaker. Here’s Dave practicing for 2038 by making nice at the White House. Things start to rock at about 3:00.

Jack White will be a 63-year old in 2038.  In addition to his recent solo work, he’s led The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, but his greatest musical legacy may be the work he’s doing at his Third Man Records – preserving American roots music and developing new artists.  White has produced albums for country icon Loretta Lynn, rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, and rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis. Here’s another side of Jack, performing a duet with Alicia Keys of the theme song he wrote for the 2008 Bond movie “Quantum of Solace”.

In case you want to hang around for a few more minutes and sample the early works of the honorees of 2013, here are the first songs that made Herbie, Carlos and Billy famous. And, oh yeah, please feel free to comment with your picks for the 2038 Kennedy Center Honors.

Another Legend Lost – George Duke Did It All!

On August 6th, just a few weeks after the release of his latest album “Dreamweaver”, keyboard legend George Duke passed away.  Duke’s career spanned four decades, and few artists contributed to a broader range of musical genres.  He began his career working with jazz fusion pioneers including Jean-Luc Ponty and Franz Zappa, collaborated with a variety of other jazz greats including Miles Davis, played on Michael Jackson’s breakthrough album “Off the Wall”, and produced songs for Smokey Robinson, Gladys Night, and Natalie Cole.

The brief interview in the clip below includes a few snippets from tunes on “Dreamweaver”, and it gives you an idea of what a lovely man Duke was.   Listen to full tracks from “Dreamweaver” at George’s Website

Sample Duke’s jazz fusion chops in this live performance from the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976 with Billy Cobham on drums, John Schofield on Guitar and Alphonso Johnson on Bass (thanks for the link Rainer!). Duke gets his solo 3:45 into the track.

And finally here’s the highest charting single of Duke’s career, 1981’s “Sweet Baby”.

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