Friday, June 24, 2005

What's on my iPod?

Just got a new 4GB iPod mini for my birthday. Took me all of 3 days to completely fill the thing up. A lot of what I put on it is music to keep me in shape - lots of jazz standards, lots of fusion guitar exercises, that kind of thing. In addition there are some things on it, like Mondo Garaj by Garaj Mahal, that I have identified as current infatuations. What's left are those albums / songs that I think I'll always want near me. Here's what they are:

Complete Albums (sorted by artist name)
Allman Brothers Band: Beginnings
Aquarium Rescue Unit: Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit, Mirrors Of Embarrassment, In A Perfect World
The Band: The Band
The Beatles: Rubber Soul
Bill Frisell, Kermit Driscoll, and Joey Baron: Live
Billy Cobham: Spectrum
Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
Cannonball Adderly: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
Carla Bley / Paul Haines: Escalator Over The Hill
Dixie Dregs: What If
Frank Zappa: Hot Rats, Apostrophe, Over-Nite Sensation, One Size Fits All, Roxy & Elsewhere
Funkadellic: Maggot Brain
Genesis: Trespass
Herbie Hancock: The Fat Albert Rotunda, Crossings
Herbie Mann: Push Push
Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth
Jeff Beck: Blow By Blow, Wired
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme, Giant Steps, My Favorite Things
John McLaughlin: Extrapolation
John Scofield: Blue Matter, Loud Jazz
Joni Mitchell: Blue
King Crimson: In The Court of the Crimson King
Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame, Birds of Fire, Apocalypse
Marvin Gaye: What's Going On?
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew, Live Evil
Naked City: Torture Garden (I love the fact that iTunes identifies this album as "Jazz")
Neil Larsen: High Gear
Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz, The Shape of Jazz To Come
Ralph Towner: Solstice
Return to Forever: Return to the 7th Galaxy
Santana: Borboletta
Shakti with John McLaughlin: Live
Simon and Garfunkel: Bookends
Stanley Clarke: Stanley Clarke
Stevie Wonder: Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness First Finale
Surrender to the Air: Surrender to the Air
Taj Mahal: The Natch'l Blues
Thelonious Monk: The Best of the Blue Note Years
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

Classical Works
Krzysztof Penderecki: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 stringed instruments, Fluorescences for orchestra, De natura sonoris II for orchestra
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite
Bela Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
Arnold Schonberg: Pierrot lunaire

Billy Cobham: Some Skunk Funk from A Funky Thide of Sings
Bob Dylan: Tangled Up in Blue from Blood on the Tracks
Charles Mingus: II B.S., Mood Indigo, Better Get Hit In Yo' Soul, Theme For Lester Young from Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus
Charlie Hunter Trio: Fred's Life from The Charlie Hunter Tiro
Dave Brubeck: Benjamin from Concord on a Summer Night
Herbie Hancock: Ostinato (Suite for Angela) from Mwandishi
Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark, Help Me, Free Man in Paris from Court and Spark
Mike Stern: Upside Downside, Little Shoes, Mood Swings from Upside Downside
Richard Thompson: Don't Tempt Me from Amnesia - Tear-Stained Letter, Two Left Feet from Hand of Kindness - Bathsheba Smiles, Crawl Back (Under My Stone), Sibella, Uninhabited Man from Mock Tudor - Gethsemane, One Door Opens from The Old Kit Bag
Sea Level: Rain in Spain, Tidal Wave, Storm Warning, Midnight Pass from Best of Sea Level
Spike Jones: Laura, Hawaiian War Chant, Clink, Clink, Another Drink, Cocktails for Two, Holiday for Strings, Jones Polka, The Man on the Flying Trapeze, My Old Flame, Happy New Year from The Spike Jones Anthology
Squeeze: Another Nail for My Heart, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), Tempted from Singles 45's and Under
Weather Report: Birdland, A Remark You Made, Teen Town, Palladium, Havona from Heavy Weather

That's a whole buncha music to always have around. I really love this little thing.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Garaj Mahal is fantastic, Mars Volta's interesting, but what about John Mayer?

My newest infatuation is Garaj Mahal. I discovered them a while ago when I downloaded one of their live performances from Just recently I got their album Mondo Garaj. It is hands down the best new album I've heard in a long time, and I am eager to hear their new one, Blueberry Cave.

There's no weak link in this band. Each has an impressive resume including everyone from Ray White and Steve Kimmock to Bela Fleck and John McLaughlin. It's funk, it's fusion, it's odd-meter melodic instrumentals and flat-out scary improv. I can't say enough about this band - get the album, see them live, or at the very least, go to their web site and download the 6 free MP3's and see for yourself.

So who would have thought that, in 2005, we'd see a buzz generated around a real-life honest-to-goodness progressive band, like the Mars Volta? One of the hardest thing for me to do these days it keep an open and objective mind about new music. So much of it is so contrived, formulaic, or just boring that it is easy to become jaded, I've found. So imagine my surprise when I heard what sounded like mid-70s progressive music coming from a co-worker's office. I asked if it was Marillion or Dream Theatre and he said it was Mars Volta.

I've still not heard much by this band, but after hearing this little bit plus the piece I've heard on NPR, I'm willing to seek out some more. The thing about the progressive stuff is that, while it is musically more interesting that most of the stuff you hear, but by the same token a lot of progressive music can fall into the trap of taking itself way too seriously. The funny thing, though, is the more time goes by and the more ridiculous dreck I hear, the less this matters to me - I'm just happy to find something new, interesting, and at least a little cerebral.

Now can someone tell me what is up with John Mayer? He's played with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters at Bonaroo. He's playing with John Scofield on his new album and even appeared with him on The Tonight Show the other day - and even traded licks with Sco! Since when is John Mayer for real? What album should I get that shows his talent off, because everything I've heard by him before now has all seemed a little forgettable. So help me out, where should I go to find the real John Mayer?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bye Bye Dunhams

I just found out the other day that Jeff and Maria Dunham are moving their family out of Atlanta. Those of you in the Atlanta area know that, for several years, the Dunhams had one of the hippest radio shows on the air on Z93 - a combination of live performances (sometimes in their own living room) and the best of the jam bands and other improvisational music. You guys will be missed - good luck!