Musicians And Albums I Dig

David Bowie: The definition of Cutting Edge in music

The music world has lost a game changing hero.

In these past two days since discovering the news of his all-too-sudden and shocking death, I reflected on what David Bowie’s music means to me – how it affected and influenced my musical path and life.

One thing is for sure, he was a great Rocker who wrote some really cool Rock songs that I would listen to right beside my other favourite Rock artists (most of whom are 70’s acts). The riffs and the grooves spoke to me right away. The lyrics were poetic.  It challenged my understanding of what Rock music could be. These are some of my favourite Rock songs by David:

Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Rebel Rebel, Suffragette City, and Jean Genie.

Just as I thought he was a cutting edge Rocker, he came up with a cutting edge Dance-Pop album called Let’s Dance. It’s one of my top favourite drumming albums and I used to play along to all the tracks on my drums.

David Bowie again challenged my notion of his music when I heard the gorgeous “This Is Not America”. He collaborated with the Pat Metheny Group, themselves a cutting edge Jazz-Fusion band, and the result was a piece of music with such a stunning ambience and truly moving/reflective lyrics.

David Bowie delivered one final album masterpiece called Blackstar. Even in the face of death, not one iota of his staggering creativity was lost. No stone was left unturned thematically, and even his death became such an artful exposition on the track, Lazarus. Some peope dismiss it as a gimmick to sell records. To that, I simply say, don’t listen to the record then.

It is no surprise to me by now that David Bowie could make truly powerful and moving art out of any theme, object, storyline in his music. He knew who he was and where he stood artistically. He never compromised on his artistic vision but his genius lay in his ability to make that vision assessable and commercially viable. How does one do that? Unfortunately we won’t have David around to show us the way, but we still have his music – his greatest message.

Rest in peace, Major Tom.

 

 

In Memoriam: JACK BRUCE

Jack Bruce

A Personal Tribute To A Musical Giant

It is with deep sadness and shock that I write this post. I learnt about the passing of Jack Bruce about 30 minutes after the stroke of midnight on 26th October 2014. He had left the world many hours earlier on 25th October due to complications from liver disease.

Although I never knew Jack personally, much less even seen him live, Jack, although a bass player, IS a hugely influential musician to me. In all the years listening to and absorbing both his groundbreaking work with the original Power Trio, CREAM, and his own richly eclectic solo work, I learnt to be as broad as possible in my musical outlook. Every form of music on earth is equally beautiful and can be integrated to form new musical languages without diluting the integrity of the original forms. In this process, you ultimately find your own voice, and boy, did Jack certainly have his own voice. This was essentially the message that Jack Bruce taught me to appreciate through his work.

Jack Bruce did it all – he wrote some of the greatest Rock standards with Cream, pioneered a modern approach to playing the electric bass, was gifted with powerful soaring vocals that lifted every track he sung on, and produced solo works that inventively fused different musical forms into a very unique musical tapestry as only he could. Jack had the ingredients to be a such a great musician thanks to a solid background in Classical and Jazz. This background he had was one of the key factors that inspired me to take Jazz seriously. I’m a better musician for it today.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JACK!!!

Much has been said about his groundbreaking work with CREAM that also included guitarist, Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker, both also massive influences on me. I would however like to share some tunes that I particularly like from his solo work. If you’re new to Jack Bruce’s music, perhaps give these tracks a listen. I hope that you’ll love these works of high level art as much I do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnO1UDqsvjI – Never Tell Your Mother She’s Out Of Tune (from the album, Songs For A Tailor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YguY_jUDXRs – Theme From An Imaginary Western (from the album, Songs For A Tailor)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSinbaeI7Cc  – Mickey The Fiddler (version from the album, Jet Set Jewel, also recorded on I’ve Always Wanted To Do This)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiNN24qevBU – Directions Home (from the album, Shadows In The Air)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLUE2132_Mc – Hey Now Princess (performance on The David Letterman Show featuring Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker).

Enjoy these songs!!

Jack Bruce, rest in peace. We have your music close to our hearts every moment. May your shining example as a musician and person continue to inspire future generations of musicians who look to push the envelope of musical possibilities as you so capably had.

Miles Davis Live At Tanglewood, 1971 (Full Concert)

Badass. These guys write the book on on high level musical interaction. This is my favourite lineup of all the fusion bands Miles Davis had. Funky, free, at the same time. How do you do that? They can seriously rock too. Miles would then go into more repetitive rhythms, basslines,and riffs, but this band struck a balance which I like.

Personnel:

Miles Davis – Trumpet, Music Director

Gary Bartz – Saxophones

Chick Corea – Keyboards

Keith Jarrett – Keyboards

Jack Dejohnette – Drums

Dave Holland – Electric and Upright Bass

Airto Moreira  – Percussion

Tribute To Johnny Winter

I was shocked and devastated to learn of the passing of one of my musical heroes, the legendary Texas Blues-Rock guitar slinger, Johnny Winter.

I remember hearing The Progressive Blues Experiment album when I was in my preteens and was mesmerized by his fast, clean playing along with a very gritty, deeply rooted slide guitar playing. Johnny Winter And Live which features some heavyweights of 70’s Rock, guitarist, Rick Derringer, and killer drummer, Bobby Caldwell, taught me how to be exciting live within the Blues-Rock context but also have moments of quiet subtlety.

I think the ultimate favourite Johnny Winter track for me would be Mean Town Blues, from the Progressive Blues Experiment album. I just love how that boogie riff chugs so nicely on top of that solid and swinging Rock beat. Plus, it also contains one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. Another one would be his cover of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61, renamed as Highway 61 Revisted, from his Second Winter album. His voice, his badass slide guitar playing and that real tough texas shuffle just got to me in a real powerful way.

Thank you, Johnny Winter, for the years of inspiration. Your uncompromising approach to to the Blues, your steadfast belief in being rooted in tradition no matter how far out you take things, is a huge example for me to follow. You truly exemplified the phrase, “Looking back in order to know how to move forward.” The coolest thing about you also is that you always gave credit to the early Masters along the way.

Have a great time jamming up there with all the greats!

ZZ TOP, THE MOVING SIDEWALKS & THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS | TEXAS MUSIC LEGENDS

Early photos of the baddest Rock power trios. How cool is that! Note the huge absence of beards..

The Selvedge Yard

zz top chevy lowrider el dorado

“Our ’65 Chevy low rider convertible, flying the colors of ZZ Top’s El Dorado Bar is solidly a Texas car yet, equally at home on the streets of LA, Fresno, or Bakersfield.” –Billy Gibbons. This pic of ZZ Top has it all, in my opinion. Just checkout that custom-built Texas state Gibson guitar! The band has acquired an enviable car collection over the years, and is out and about in the custom scene. “We attend the Mooneyes Festivals in California and Japan and always make the SoCal Speed Shop summer ‘Open House’ gathering. Always a terrific time. As far as clubs are concerned, we think of ZZ Top as one.  We hang out, we shoot the breeze, we get down, we move on to the next town and, of course, it’s all about the arrival.  Loud, low, while you Rock and Roll…!” –Billy Gibbons

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Young ZZ Top Prom

“Dusty Hill, Frank Beard, and Billy…

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