By Donnell Hilton
The song is the thing, at least for me. I seek them out, they are treasure. Not all of them, of course, but there are indeed enough to last a lifetime. I’ve always looked to music to bring color to the world when it didn’t seem to have much and also to accompany its brightest moments, hopefully making them that much more luminous. The search for these Bright Moments (thank you Rahsaan Roland Kirk) continues to be a most worthwhile endeavor. Just recently, whilst listening to an album I love -- Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige (Columbia/Legacy), I found myself drawn to the fifth song on the album and not the fourth. The fourth is one of Ellington’s seminal compositions, “Come Sunday” sung by legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. The fifth song is the same composition with a shorter arrangement and instead of vocals it features one of best Jazz violinists of the ‘40s, Ray Nance. The performance is subtle, beautiful, and yearning…yet another reminder that multiple plays of an album can reveal more over time.
Some songs and albums are so good that they need sharing, especially if I know of someone who would enjoy it as much as I. Recently while trolling the internets for music, I stumbled across Benjamin Clementine, a British-born singer, songwriter, poet, and pianist whose voice drew me in immediately. His album At Least for Now (Capitol Records) is all that I hoped it would be and more. After hearing the first single, “Condolence,” I hoped it would be as good and it is. Clementine’s piano playing and vocals, peppered with some strings and percussion, make for a remarkable first outing. The album is populated with line upon line of a poetic sensibility that is passionate, urgent, and revealing, such as “London” with the lyric, “Though my preferred ways are not happening, I won’t under estimate who I am capable of becoming." There are so many good songs: “Adios,” “Nemesis,” “Cornerstone,” “Quiver a Little.” The follow up can’t come soon enough. I’d love to hear him do a rendition of Weill’s “Pirate Jenny.”
By Donnell Hilton
Amoeba Music sponsors four nights with Japanese-born contemporary jazz pianist Hiromi and her Trio Project at SFJAZZ Center, September 24th - 27th.
Hiromi is an utterly original improviser and composer who turns each piece into a thrilling ride. Her powerful Trio Project features electric bass master Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, whose resume includes stints with Brian Eno, Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Toto, and The Who. Despite their obvious musical firepower, what’s most impressive about this band isn’t their matchless instrumental technique; it is instead their cohesive group approach in which no instrument is confined to its traditional role.
“I want to treat the three instruments as three pieces of an orchestra, and extend the sound,” says the pianist. She worked with Jackson on her first two albums and had long thought about bringing him into the studio again. After playing several shows as a trio, she knew Phillips was the right drummer for her this incredible trio. “He’s got a very diverse, very unique sound,” Hiromi says. “He has an amazing understanding of all kinds of music, the same as Anthony, and that’s what I was looking for.”
Amoeba Music is proud to be an official sponsor of the 58th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival and to once again be on-site with the Mini-Amoeba store! Each year, we have a magical time meeting jazz fans and seeing the world's best musicians.
This year's festival welcomes more than 500 artists performing nonstop on eight stages for three nights and two days! Come see amazing sets from Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Trombone Shorty, Monty Alexander, Pete Escovedo, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti, Snarky Puppy, Lizz Wright, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and so many more!
Be sure to visit us at the Mini-Amoeba between sets for tons of rare, collectible, and out-of-print CDs and LPs for sale from our vaults. Plus, look for a host of artists who will be signing copies of their albums at our booth.
Amoeba Music is a proud sponsor of SFJAZZ's solo concert with Bill Frisell at San Francisco's beautiful Grace Cathedral on Friday, September 18th.
Long a master of creating space, Bill Frisell has built a career by manipulating the sound of his guitar to create unexpected sonic landscapes. For his return to Grace Cathedral, the soaring sanctuary and its natural seven-second reverberation will provide an unforgettable acoustic setting that will take Frisell’s musical explorations into new territory.
Free from the confines of a group, Frisell’s singular artistry as an improviser, composer, and radical musical re-interpreter becomes crystal clear. For this performance, Frisell’s choice of material may roam freely from his own compositions and jazz chestnuts by Thelonious Monk to wildly unconventional takes on Bob Dylan, Madonna, and the Americana of Stephen Foster, often utilizing layers of loops, delays, and other electronic effects in concert with Grace Cathedral’s sonorous environment to expand the sonic possibilities even further.
This night is required attendance for all guitar players, and all lovers of jazz at its most unconventional. Get your tickets HERE!
American Cinematheque presents Jazz on Film, a weekend of classic jazz films Aug. 20-23 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
The first three screenings will feature giveaways of jazz CDs, courtesy of Sony Legacy recordings, and Amoeba gift certificates. Each screening starts at 7:30 p.m.
The series begins with Diana Ross' electrifying performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues Thursday, with an appearance by jazz musician Corky Hale. It continues on Friday with the shorts program Jazz on a Spring Day and Stormy Weather, which features singing from Lena Horne, Fats Waller and Cab Calloway; film noirs Anatomy of a Murder and Odds Against Tomorrow on Saturday; and Latin jazz films Cachao...Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos, directed by Andy Garcia (who will be there in person for a discussion, time permitting) about original mambo king Cachao, and performance film Calle 54.