Friday, January 30, 2015

Full Show Friday: Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers 2010

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week..Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers!
It's Jazzy January again here at RtBE, so get ready to kick off 2015 with some different styled shows every Friday, we are skewing into new (or more recent) jazz land this month. Keeping it recent to prove there is amazing live jazz still being performed no matter what Ken Burns says.
It is Latin Jazz time as we wrap up Jazzy Jan with Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban MessengersWell it was another fun spin into the jazz realm this month, thanks for tagging along, we will get back to some regularly scheduled writing next month but until then...


DREISER DURRUTHY BOMBALÉ - percussion, batá, vocals

Thursday, January 29, 2015

RTBE Interview: Lucky Chops Band

A few weeks ago we reviewed the newest excellent release from Lucky Chops and now the bands trumpeter Josh Gawel took some time to conduct an interview with us as part of our on going RtBE Interview series. You can read it below:
RTBE: So how did Lucky Chops get started?

Lucky Chops Josh Gawel: We formed many a moon ago when we were all in high school. We were classmates at LaGuardia Arts High School in Lincoln Center and we met (no surprise) in band class. We used to play in Central Park after school, exploiting the cuteness of a kid brass band to get some nice pocket money. Eventually we all went to college and starting performing in other bands and delving into various styles of music. In 2013 we began taking the band seriously again and we used the new tools gathered in college to create the current Lucky Chops sound. We're now a six piece band consisting of Sousaphone, Drums, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Trombone and Trumpet. Here's to the future!

RTBE: You do a lot of playing for free especially in the subway's how has NYC influenced what you guys do? Does playing next to a rumbling train change things up musically for you?

LC: In 2014 we were admitted to the MTA's Music Under New York program, granting us legal permits each week to perform in the subway. We love the job and it brings us back to our roots performing in Central Park. Our main tenant as a band has always been to bring joy to a city that often times seems joyless. What better place to brighten up someone's day than the subway? It's great to get crowds of all sorts of people randomly gather for a dance together. That's what we're all about.

RTBE: You seem to be very comfortable putting your own spin on songs, whether it is the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" or a Michael Jackson tune, I am interested in the decision making process of whether to do a straight up cover or a "Lucky Chops" version of a tune?

LC: We love playing covers! It's a great way to connect with audiences, and a great outlet for our creativity. Since we're an all acoustic band with no lead singer, we enjoy the challenge of covering vocal songs and making them both recognizable and funky. Our covers of current top 40 pop songs are usually pretty straight forward, and they come and go with the new hits. We like to be more experimental with our covers of classics though, since they've withstood the test of time and can remain in our repertoire. We draw from a very wide range of styles and time periods to find our covers, from Ottoman Empire Arabic music to Tchaikovsky to The Spice Girls and beyond. Everything is on the table for us.


RTBE: There is a clear groove/funky element to your sound, have you collaborated with any MC's or are there any plans to delve into hip-hop?

LC: We went through a phase of collaborations with various MCs back in 2012. We wanted to go in more of a hip-hop direction and had some great shows, we even opened for Snoop! We discovered that our band vibe wasn't in fact suited for hip hop though and decided to leave that behind. We still incorporate elements of hip hop in our music, but we don't often work with MCs anymore

RTBE: As with most brass bands the city of New Orleans is all over you guys (We can not get enough of the town and 2015 Jazzfest can't come soon enough for us) what influence has it had on the band?

LC: We love NOLA and we've all been down there before. A number of us have jazz backgrounds and I particularly have studied early jazz history extensively. The sound of 1920's and early 30's jazz is a big part of my playing and I like to add those sounds to the big chops "gumbo"

RTBE: What's in the immediate future for the band?

LC: We are currently working on some really big projects that we're not at liberty to discuss... but stay tuned!!

RTBE: If you guys had a dream gig what would it be?

LC: Hmmm.... we've always wanted to live on a sailboat and play all day and night, just for ourselves. We'll see what happens with that!

Sail On Sirs! You should make it a point to catch the band live as they are a joy, we danced all night last Friday to their sounds out in Brooklyn. Thanks to Josh and the fellas for their time and the fantastic music. 

The Incredible Story of Moondog: The Viking of 6th Avenue

As January draws to a close we are finishing up our focus on Jazz but before we do we wanted to direct people to the unlikely story of Louis Thomas Hardin, Jr. better known as Moondog. A blind viking homeless Jazz musician/composer who influenced a generation of composers/rockers, Hippies/Beatniks and New Yorkers. Please take some time to read his story here written by Zachary Crockett.
He made being a true individual pretty inspiring and his story is one that could never happen in today's NYC. Thanks to Mike for sending this story our way.

Below are some compositions of his for you to check out before we end the month tomorrow with our last full show Friday that pays tribute to Latin Jazz. Thanks for reading.

Janis Joplin covering Moondog:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NYPL Blog Post: Miles Davis- Dark Magus

Hey all, we got our latest post up over @NYPL. You can read it right c'here! It is our newest installment in the Great Albums You May Have Missed series with a focus on Miles Davis live disk Dark Magus.
This disk has been with us for a long time, and it is great to be able to write about it for the day job and have it finish up our Jazzy January series. We still remember grabbing a copy from the second floor of the old Tower Records on Broadway back when it was first released. It enchanted from the get go and was a perfect mix of rock/funk/jazz/punk/whatever in our brains. It was a pleasure to write about it for NYPL and again you can read the full long post here.
Also you should check out Robert Christgau's review of the disk. We will probably write more about the Dean at some point, but it is shocking how many times we will go back to see what he said about an album, after our opinion is already formed, and see him feel the same.

In this case the phrase that stuck with us that Christgau wrote was, "single palpitating organism" that sums it up. This music is as alive now as it was in '97 when the CD came as it was in '77 when they released it in Japan, as it was in '74 when the players played it in Carnegie Hall, just a short walk from the library itself. I can't imagine it won't sound fresh and amazing in 2077 and yet one more reason it was dumb of Ken Burns to not talk about fuison, electric jazz, etc in his documentary.

Enjoy "Wili" broken into it's two parts:


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Album Review: Triad-TRIAD

**and 1/2 out of *****
Triad is a Greek quartet that takes traditional jazz and blends it with a fusion touch for various results on it's first studio release. Dimitris Keramidaki, Alekos Roupas, Michael Evdemon and Apostolis Vangelakis respect their homeland and are the players who vary up enough to keep things from becoming staid. 

The opener "MAZEPPA" begins the album on a routine if not exciting light jazz vibe before half way through the track a flurry of ivory work kicks the song into uncharted, Mediterranean sounding territory until its all to soon fade out; what seemed routine got exciting quick.

That is a returning theme here as songs seem to be going in one direction before twisting and getting spiced up. "Crazy Monks" gets augmented by out of left field tempo bounces and some appropriately breathy scat singing while "Καιγομαι και σιγολιωνω" takes some male vocal work and alters things up with a singing break that messes with the tempo and blowing fills.

"Lost Castles" wanders over a stuttering drum as a scattered electric bass rambles around but both are held in check by a smooth sax. The title track has imposing and haunting intro as the instrumentation expands to include various percussion, flutes and piano banging; when it's five and half minute run time is over it sticks with you.

Not all of the tracks are successful, the vocals on "Μαυρα μου χελιδονια" don't mesh with the playing but on "Kαμπισιο" the frantic piano worked is paired with a catchy groove and songs like this makes Triad worth a listen.   
Another bandcamp find for Jazzy January

Buy the album here and steam it below:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dylan Cover #174 Keith Jarrett Trio "My Back Pages"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by the Keith Jarrett Trio playing "My Back Pages"
Jazzy January has invade Mondays! All month we will check out covers of Dylan with a Jazz vibe, can you dig it daddy-o? 

Thoughts on Original:
From our first take on a cover of this:
The original has taken upon itself a cultural importance, and the chorus has simply become iconic.  I doubt Dylan intended such, but it toes the line of out and out protest and illustrative questions.  He puts down everyone from evangelists to girls, but the language snakes and flows so magically that it doesn't seem as harsh as "Positively 4th St" or "Ballad in Plain D".  

The sense of exhaling desperation or at least the realization that age confuses things even more seems to be what I take from this tune.

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
We know Jarrett from his fantastic electrical work with Miles Davis but had not heard him play strictly piano before which apparently is his preference. I don't think I have heard bassist Charlie Hayden before but I have checked out drummer Paul Motian before with his work behind Bill Evans

Thoughts on Cover:
This is easily our favorite cover this month and one of all time favorites that we have heard. Love how Jarrett's piano will return to the song while the rhythm section of Charlie Hayden's double bass and Paul Motian's snares and drums can wander around. This is a great jazz inspired Dylan cover that rises above to just simply become a great cover period.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Full Show Friday: Snarky Puppy 9/25/14 Raleigh, NC

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week..Snarky Puppy!

It's Jazzy January again here at RtBE, so get ready to kick off 2015 with some different styled shows every Friday, we are skewing into new (or more recent) jazz land this month but it's all cool daddy'O! Keeping it recent to prove there is amazing live jazz still being performed no matter what Ken Burns says.

The jazz collective with upwards of 30 members known as Snarky Puppy are our Full Show Friday this week. Their style is a mix of jazz genres, thoughts, and eras. They can be funky, turn on a dime, solo for multiple measures or jam out as a unit. These guys are really talented and good people holding music teaching clinics on the road when they tour. An interesting group especially because the dynamic of the band is so varied their sound can be all over the place but it is pretty much always grounded in Awesomeville.   

Just a quick note, as you can see from the info below, the fact that this was recorded on an iPhone is pretty unreal. Technology has come a shockingly long way in recent years.


Snarky Puppy's Early Set (out of two that night) @ Southland Ballroom in Raleigh, NC - Sept 25th '14

Set (thanks to Ethan Mitch for watching):
0:00 - Kite
8:05 - Strawman
20:25 - Binky (25:49 Rite of Spring quote and again at 26:44)
36:00-38:30 - Transition to Skate U
38:30 - Skate U
48:35 - Thing of Gold
57:00 - Obnoxious "Free Bird" Request
57:15 - Celebrity (Chris Bullock's uncredited flute performance)
1:12:08 - Young Stuff

Recorded with an iPhone 6

The Band:
Chris Bullock: Tenor Sax
Mike "Moz" Maher: Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Justin Stanton: Trumpet/Keys
Nate Worth: Percussion
Robert "Sput" Searight: Drumset
Mark Lettieri: Electric Guitar
Bob Lanzetti: Electric Guitar
Cory Henry: Keyboard
Shaun Martin: Keyboard
Michael League: Bass/Bandleader