A guy that I’ve met wrote a list on Facebook which has been running ’round my head for the last few hours. Quite a simple idea really – the albums he was listening to in his teenage years. It sparked something within me and took me back to another time and so I’m up in the night writing a list of my own but also exploring things that in some ways I’d rather not think about it – a very different time – and some things I guess I’d rather forget.
But in the midst of it there was always music.
What: Bob James Quartet
When: 1-3 August 2016
Where: Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London
Whenever you hear mention of Bob James one of the above will inevitably be mentioned. But when you come to see a Bob James show like this series of dates at Ronnie Scott’s, there is little in sight or sound that would fit that description. Sure, Mr James is keen to come up with carefully arranged material but that was never a crime and the solos and improvisation are as adventurous if not as radical as much you will hear in modern jazz. So why does Mr James have such a rough ride from some reviewers who have filed him under “bland” forty years ago and left him there?
My friends just don’t get it – not even my Dylan-fan friends – but I remain fascinated by the 2009 release “Christmas in the Heart“.
It seems to me to be one of the consummate Christmas albums for several reasons which I will list below. I’ve written about this album on two occasions before – most recently here:
But here’s my reasons that this is a classic of the seasonal kind:
Thank you to everyone who visits and supports this site. We now get more visitors per day than ever before. We get twice as many visitors per day just reading old stuff as we used to get on the old site on a day when a new article went up.
So a couple of weeks into the New Year, what seems to be likely to appear here in 2014 and what else will I be involved in?
I’m pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to this time of year.
Where: Clapham Grand, London
When: 10th November 2011
“Smooth jazz”. Just what does that mean?
Two of the artists I respect most have new albums coming in the next few weeks.
First up is Bob Dylan whose new album is due on cd and vinyl on the 28th of April. I think the artwork is dreadful but I’m sure the musical content will be better. It’s called "Together Through Life"
Next is John Foxx who, as I’ve mentioned before, has been working with Robin Guthrie. Their album will also be on cd and vinyl and will appear the first week in May. It’s called "Mirrorball".
On a more personal note, I’ve been working on remastering the sound on three albums for a band from the 70s and 80s called Sad Cafe. I now have a provisional release date for the first of these. The album also called Sad Cafe will be on Renaissance Records in the States on the 21st of April.
I mentioned John Foxx. Another album he has been busy on dropped through my letterbox this morning. This time he’s worked with Steve D’Agostino and Steve Jansen (ex-Japan). I’ve not shown the artwork for this one before so here goes:
Mr Foxx is frighteningly prolific.
What other discs would I recommend at the moment?
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
Frankie Valli – Romancing the Sixties (one for the nostalgists – but very good!)
Barclay James Harvest – Revolution Days (just happens to feature Ian Wilson and Mike Byron-Hehir from Sad Cafe, did I mention I’ve been remastering for them)
Richie Furay Band – Alive (Catch my interview with him on Cross Rhythms on the web and in Natural Progressions Magazine in the world of print)
Enough for now………….
Jazz snobs irritate me. You know the kind of guy who claims it’s not jazz unless it is some kind of standard or follows some kind of bebop form. For a music that is all about improvisation, it sure seems to attract a lot of people who like pigeonhole things. For me, improvisation is the heart of jazz. On one extreme, I like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck. In the middle ground, I’ll listen to a little Danilo Perez or Eliane Elias. Out on the other edge I love the music of Bob James. It should be obvious by now that piano is my favourite instrument when it comes to all kinds of jazz. But one thing all these piano players have in common is that they surrounded themselves with some great bands.
A guy who used to play with Bob James in the early eighties is Mark Colby, the tenor saxophonist. He’s been making some great straight-ahead jazz on Hallway Records. His latest is a tribute to the sax great Stan Getz. It’s one of the finest albums I’ve heard in the last two years. Here’s a guy who has made some great modern jazz but has also done the contemporary stuff too. Where there’s real talent there’s no room for jazz snobs and their pigeon holes. Just room for great music.