Archive for October, 2009

French Touch and Type

Classic video animation from 1999 constructed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain.

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Its All Love on October 22nd 2009 in Music

Coltrane Changes

I’ve said it before, but Jazz is not an area I know a huge amount about. Like an attempt at swimming at the British seaside, I generally dip my toe in, but never dive straight in for fear of freezing in the face of depths of cool I can’t even begin to fathom. But like many people I do try, and my collection features staples which are probably familiar to any serious music head, nay essential, but which are mere tips of ice-bergs for serious aficionados.

And one of these albums is the simply sensational “Blue Train” from 1957, John Coltrane’s one-off Blue Note recording, and a work of staggering innovation and musicianship. Coltrane is clearly a genius, anyone with half an ounce of musical knowhow recognises this, and his influence beyond the confines of Jazz alone is profound. The depth of sound created by the triple-horn approach on this album – Coltrane’s leading tenor sax, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Lee Morgan on trumpet – was unique to hard bop recordings at the time, and remains a startlingly original approach. And this is far from accidental, “Blue Train” being seen as Coltrane’s first real solo album in terms of all compositions being his, and also the band being completely of his own choosing.

It is also this album that sees the first appearance of the harmonic progression known as the Coltrane Changes, a substitute for common jazz chords which freed the band on tracks “Lazy Bird” and Moment’s Notice” to explore never before seen improvisational elements and set the tone for Jazz improv and soloing from there on in. Put simply, this album played no small part in changing music.

You could go into some detail about every track on this collection, but it is the tune “Lazy Bird” that I actually wanted to talk about here, not because of these Coltrane Changes, or even Coltrane himself, but more because of the beat. And the beat comes courtesy of legendary drummer “Philly” Joe Jones, more famous for his membership of the Miles Davis Quintet, but who simply shines on this album, and this track in particular. I was listening the other day and the way that Jones rides the cymbal and hi-hat, keeps pace, and drives the tempo of this busy song up and down is breath-taking. Listen again and while the horns clearly dominate on first listen, if you allow yourself to just follow the drums throughout you realise that Jones is simply killing the groove stone-dead.

It is awe-inspiring and probably just one reason why Miles himself always maintained that Philly Joe was his favourite drummer of all time. He may just be mine too, though that really will need me to dive in head first, but why not, the water looks lovely.

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Its All Love on October 20th 2009 in Music

Album Cover Of The Day – Nu Yorica – Soul Jazz Records London

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Its All Love on October 15th 2009 in Music

Powerful impact, boom from the cannon

Now if you ask me the days of hip-hop being defined solely as east, west, south or wherever, are gone. Hip-hop is truly a global force, and generalizations of style and sound are no longer adequate. That being said, the debut long-player collaboration from Brooklyn’s Torae and Canada’s own beat head supreme Marco Polo, the infectious “Double Barrel”, does have echoes of the gritty and aggressive insistence of some of the East Coast’s finest moments. Not a perfect record by any means, and not a classic, but there are enough high-points for any fan of rap music to pay close attention.

Lead off single and title track “Double Barrel” is a great example, utilising additional outstanding cuts from DJ Revolution, the tune is a lyrical powerhouse over heavy bass, drums and a horn loop that screams for you to ring the alarm. Like the work of Masta Ace for example (who also appears as guest on the album) the record is concerned with simply outstanding lyrical flow over precise production, the way straight-up hip-hop should be.

Sinister production, edgy rhymes with something real to say about the world today. The pair may not be staring down the barrel of mainstream success, but there are enough signs to say that they have true respect in their collective crosshairs.

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Its All Love on October 11th 2009 in Music

Very likely to work out, actually

We’ve said it before, and well say it again, if there is a record label worth following, whose every output seems to be tinged with equal measures of genius, innovation and soul, then it is surely Stones Throw. Simply always on point. And the latest incarnation of the ST sound, if such a thing even exists, is of course the buzz-master’s latest favourite Mayer Hawthorne. Mayer, also known of course as DJ Haircut and part time member of Now On, amongst other side projects, is stirring up a real fuss due to his geek chic meets classic Motown take on blue-eyed soul.

He’s hipper than a hippie hippopotamus having four hip replacement operations. But don’t let any growing sense of hype put you off, because indications are that all the fuss is justified. Hawthorne is interesting, a multi-talented type, who plays lots of instruments annoyingly proficiently, produces, raps, DJs, sings, makes good tea, everything. And the latest focus of his creativity has taken classic Holland-Dozier-Holland, sprinkled some Smokey and Thom Bell into the mix, and stirred with a spoonful of Gene Page. The result: sweet, sweet, sweet soul music, with classic arrangements and a symphonic swirl at every turn.

And while long player “A Strange Arrangement” is yet to make it to our ears, never is the recipe more profound than on the effortlessly catchy “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”. Don’t get us wrong, Hawthorne (a stage name by the way) is not the greatest singer of all time, and his crackled falsetto can get a little over-worked, but somehow he pulls it off. The pitch may wobble, and the vocals may verge on pastiche in places, but as a whole it can on many occasions it is capable of simply knocking your socks off. And the red heart vinyl is killing it, but then you know we at Twelve Bar know more than anyone that it’s all love.

We’ve said it before, and well say it again, if there is a record label worth following, whose every output seems to be tinged with equal measures of genius, innovation and soul, then it is surely Stones Throw. Simply always on point. And the latest incarnation of the ST sound, if such a thing even exists, is of course the buzz-master’s latest favourite Mayer Hawthorne. Mayer, also known of course as DJ Haircut and part time member of Now On, amongst other side projects, is stirring up a real fuss due to his geek chic meets classic Motown take on blue-eyed soul. He’s hipper than a hippie hippopotamus having four hip replacement operations. But don’t let any growing sense of hype put you off, because indications are that all the fuss is justified. Hawthorne is interesting, a multi-talented type, who plays lots of instruments annoyingly proficiently, produces, raps, DJs, sings, makes good tea, everything.

And the latest focus of his creativity has taken classic Holland-Dozier-Holland, sprinkled some Smokey and Thom Bell into the mix, and stirred with a spoonful of Gene Page. The result: sweet, sweet, sweet soul music, with classic arrangements and a symphonic swirl at every turn. And while long player “A Strange Arrangement” is yet to make it to our ears, never is the recipe more profound than on the effortlessly catchy “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”. Don’t get us wrong, Hawthorne (a stage name by the way) is not the greatest singer of all time, and his crackled falsetto can get a little over-worked, but somehow he pulls it off. The pitch may wobble, and the vocals may verge on pastiche in places, but as a whole it can on many occasions it is capable of simply knocking your socks off. And the red heart vinyl is killing it, but then you know we at Twelve Bar know more than anyone that it’s all love.

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Its All Love on October 1st 2009 in Music

Best left unsaid

Let’s just be clear about this from the outset, we’re not Diddy haters. Far from it. I mean the man is a sensation. Love him (as we do) or hate him (as some seem to), you have to give props to the achievements that have seen him rise to become one of the biggest players in the game. A&R, production, executive production, dancer, performer, entrepreneur, film star, TV star, hustler and true Bad Boy for life. If we had an ounce of his golden touch we’d be ecstatic, and news of an inked deal with Interscope only suggest another golden rung on his ladder of upward mobility. It’s just, and i’m sure even he would say it, of all of his strong points, rapping isn’t at the very top of the pops.

He can flow, sure, but the skills on the M.I.C are never likely to be the things which see him go down in legend. However, while I personally have always been a little universally dismissive of the Diddy rap style, there are undoubtedly highpoints. “Mo Money” verse? Huge. “Notorious” rhyme? Massive. And there are others. And the other day as I lounged with my youngest sibling, the great Roberto, another huge moment hit the video screen. Namely 2001’s awesome “D.I.D.D.Y”. Seriously, we’d forgotten how great this tune is. But not because of the lyrical flow, dear reader, though respect goes to the sheer egomania of the tune’s motif.

No, listen back and remind yourself of a Neptunes beat that simply fizzes with the startling innovation of a production house that is enjoying the beginnings of a very lengthy peak period in their powers. And fitting then that when we looked online the audio track with the rapping appears to be unavailable, leaving just the instrumental to get down to. Almost like it was meant to be.

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Its All Love on October 1st 2009 in Music

Album Cover Of The Day – New Order True Faith

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Its All Love on October 1st 2009 in Music