Friday, September 21, 2012

The Music I Love

I am a music lover using a blog site to express my opinions about the music I love. I have for several years contributed opinions to various Internet sites that offer open forums for the discussion of music, art, and general topics. But I’ve become frustrated with these sites. Too much influx of metal musics. Too much obsessing over the “Classic Era” of progressive rock music. Too many people stuck in the expectation of standard rock band formats (i.e. bass, drums, guitar(s) and perhaps keyboard and/or saxophone). Too many people stuck in Neo-Prog-world. So I’ve created my own blog site in order to generate a public record of my opinions. The world is free to view (and respond) to them. Or not.

I like music. “Progressive rock” is just one genre of music I happen to love. What I love most is music that is different, music that surprises me, musicians who seem to be exploring, growing, evolving, testing their skills and the available technologies.

I like space. I believe it takes great skill and feeling to learn to use space, quiet, even drones to create.

I love melody, multiple melodies, and harmonies. Multi-layered vocal harmonies are greatly appreciated.

I seldom ‘hear’, listen to, or pay attention to lyrics. The voice is, to me, another instrument in the harmonic mix (a very important instrument). Some of my favorite voices include: Peter Gabriel, Marco Glümann, Nina Hagen, David Sylvian, Annie Haslem, Joanna Hogg, Tracy Thorne, George Michael, Andy M. Stewart, Carolina Prieto, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Ronald Isley, Aretha Franklin, Cassandra Wilson, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Kem, John Legend, Erykah Badu, Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson, David Longdon, Tim Bowness, Anneke Van Geisbergen, Arto Lindsay, and Maxwell.

Though I am a great fan of drummers, drumming, and percussion from any and all types of music—rock and fold or indigenous—I also love music that does not have drums, but rather rely on the instruments or artists ability to entrain for their rhythms and pacing. Some of my favorite drummer/percussionists include: Bill Bruford, Steve Jansen, Ricard “Huxflux” Nettermalm, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Phil Collins, Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussein, Nana Vasconcelos, Paul Wertico, John Bonham, Elvin Jones, Gavin Harrison, Mattias Olsson, Martin Axenrot, Lenny White, and Glen Velez.

I love to hear the intricacies of performance, the incidentals, ‘mistakes’ (is there really any such thing as a mistake?) and sound effects, planned or unplanned, as well as engineering and production.

I do not usually like live recordings, though DVD videos are appreciated. (I’d rather have been there.) Favorite live albums:  Grobschnitt Solar Music, Anekdoten Waking the Dead—Live in Japan 2005, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke, & Jean-Luc Ponty Live at Montreux 1994, Tangerine Dream Encore—Live in the USA 1977, Grand Funk Caught in the Act, Renaissance Live at Carnegie Hall, King Crimson Absent Lovers--Live in Montreal, 1984, Bill Evans Trio Live at the Village Vanguard, Harmonium Harmonium en tournée, Nektar Live in NY, Genesis Seconds Out, Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps Gentle Giant Playing the Fool—The Official Live Frank Zappa You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Part 2; DVDs: Pink Floyd Pulse, The Cure Trilogy, Porcupine Tree Anesthetize , Peter Gabriel Secret World Live, Steve Hackett Once Above a Time, Peter Gabriel Growing Up Live, Los Jaivas Alturas de Macchu Picchu, Jeff Beck Performing This Week at Ronnie Scott’s …, Björk Vespertine Live at the Royal Opera House, Iona Live in London, and any King Crimson live show.

I like complex music, syncopation, polyrhythms, unusual time signatures, and unusual instruments keeping time and taking the melody. For example, King Crimson’s song “Discipline” is one of the highpoints of my journey as a musical listener. I love the challenge of listening to music by Bill Bruford, Thinking Plague, Toby Driver, Burt Bacharach, Robert Fripp, Steve Jansen, Pat Metheny, Steve Reich, and so many others.

I like the use of ‘odd’ (i.e. not standard to the rock band format) instruments such as accordian, flutes and recorders, trumpet, kalimba, berimbau, oud, balalaika, lute, mandolin, koto, harp, harpsichord, clavinet, clarinet, acoustic (double) bass, oboe, bassoon, French horn, cellos, electric and acoustic violins, banjo, marimba, xylophone, bells, other odd percussives, yodels, whistles, diatonic toning, whispers, and screams. I love being exposed to musics and musicians of all world cultures and traditions—and have a particular respect for the “rock” musicians that have traveled the world to hear, “discover” learn from or collaborate with musicians outside of their own backgrounds. (Peter Gabriel, Mickey Hart, Ry Cooder, John Hassell, John McLaughlin, David Byrne, Hugh Masakela, Paul Simon, Pharoah Sanders, Don Pullen, Andreas Vollenweider, and Ryuichi Sakamoto immediately come to mind.)

I like instrumentalists that use a diverse variety of their specialty instruments. Some of my favorite guitarists include: Jan Akkerman, Reine Fiske, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Steve Hackett, David Gilmour, Dave Bainbridge, James Grant, Roye Albrighton, John Mitchell, Ottmar Liebert, Bill Nelson, John Martyn, Anthony Phillips, Paul Weller, Ernie Isley, Arto Lindsay, and Jimi Hendrix.

My short list of favorite bass players include: Tony Levin, Stanley Clarke, Eberhard Weber, Percy Jones, and Steve Rodby.

Some of my favorite piano/keyboard players:  Ryuichi Sakamoto, Richard Barbieri, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Astor Piazzollo, Oscar Peterson, Thelonius Monk, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Larry Young, Dave Stewart, Brian Auger, Lalo Huber, and Burt Bacharach.

I love movies, but a movie can be made by its soundtrack, its music. Some of my favorite albums of all-time sound as if they could be or should have been film soundtracks. A few of favorite movie soundtracks that come to mind are:  The Last Samurai by Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner by Vangelis, A Room With a View, Paris, Texas by Ry Cooder, The Last Temptation of Christ, Birdy, and Rabbit-proof Fence, by Peter Gabriel, The Falcon and the Snowman by Pat Metheny, E.T. the Extraterrestrial and the Star Wars series by John Williams, Grand Canyon by James Newton Howard, Thief by Tangerine Dream, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Note: These soundtracks were chosen for their film-specific compositions, not for their collections of out-sourced songs.) 

Over the course of the next few months I will be posting more lists of favorites and reviews of specific albums. I tend to review albums that I feel strongly about—usually ones I am excited about and want to alert the world as to their existence and attributes. Occasionally I get energized to review an album that seems to be receiving a lot of praise that I feel strongly opposed to. Hope you enjoy them, but better yet, hope you enjoy some of the music to which I might recommend you. 

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