Friday, 22 January 2016

New music and one way to come across it (though I'm sure there are many others. And if you have any jazz you can recommend, get in touch). Некоторые джаз для моих русских друзей.

These soundfiles should play fine on your Mac using Safari, Chrome and Firefox, and on a Windows PC using Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox. They don't seem to work on a Mac using Opera. I haven't tried them on Opera on a Windows machine cos I can't be buggered downloading and installing it. There are several other browsers out there - e.g. Maxthon for Mac - but at the moment is usually use an elderly Macbook running Snow Leopard and many of them demand a more up-to-date OS. But I feel I’ve done a my bit and if your browser doesn't play these tracks, it's up to you to sort it out. Chin, chin.

Time was when you got to hear new music by going around to someone’s flat, or being taken by a friend to one of his (or her) friends who would then play music you liked and you asked ‘who’s this’. That was then. Of course there’s the radio, but then of all the good, interesting new music out there it seems to me - going on what I have discovered and got to like over these past 20 years - that just a very, very small amount of it gets played on mainstream radio.

There’s the drawback that I can’t abide (here in Britain) Radio 2, and I get very impatient with all the utterly inconsequenctial and mind-blowingly trivial chatter about fuck-all on Radio 1. But, as I say, what gets an airing there is so bloody mainstream, they might as well collect their knighthoods now and save us all a lot of grief.

Radio 3 is better, not least because it is more or less the only radio station in Britain which plays jazz, and a broad variety of it at that. Then there are the various radio stations you can pick up on the internet and - courtesy of 3/4G and smartphones - listen to whatever is being played around the world. The trouble is that it isn’t just Britain which chooses ‘accessibility’ over ‘oh, that’s interesting’. There is, of course, a thriving music scene out there, but how to track it down. Again, Radio 3 is helpful by broadcasting several nights a week between 11pm and 1am a programme called Late Junction.

It is while listening to this that I have come across several singers, bands and musicians and subseqently gone on to buy an album of their music. Good examples would be Lake Street Dive (who do a great, jazzy version of Hall & Oates Rich Girl), Anouar Brahem, a Tunisian who plays the oud, and Sevara Nazarkhan, an Uzbek singer. And if the last two sound a bit too achingly right on for your tastes - what with the migrants being in the news and the imperative for all us white honkies these days to value everything and anything even vaguely ethnic - don’t worry, I’m still a million miles of joining a protest march and eating tofu. Both are just great, or at least to my ears (if you like music and aren’t too hung up on the 4/4 beat which makes so much Western music sappy and dull and predictable).

Another way I’ve hit upon of discovering new music is quite simple - look up the sidemen and other musicians the guys and gals you like play with. It started with Dave Fiuczynski, a ‘jazz’ guitarist of this parish. I play guitar, though by no means to any great standard (though I would trust myself to bullshit my way into the admiration of some gullible souls by the simple expedient of swinging nicely, playing a variety of major sevenths in more or less any order, and - this is crucial - returning to a root note or one related to the root on the eight beat, always). It is a revelation how easily most people are suckered. But - big but, obviously - if I played better the music Dave Fiuczynski writes and plays is exactly what I should like to play.

I came across him - he likes to publicise himself as a ‘jazz musician who doesn’t particular want to play jazz’ - when I bought a cheap MP3 player and as part of the package was given voucher to download 20 tracks from a large selection. I chose 20 jazz tracks and Mr Fiuczynski happened to be one of them. But oddly, it was pretty mainstream stuff. Then I checked him out - probably on Spotify, which is very useful for checking up on stuff before shelling out the shekels - and boy was blown away. The first CD I bought was Amandla, and here is the title track.

Amandla/Dave Fiuczynski

The next guy I came across was John Medeski. I came across him because he played on Fiuczynski’s CD Lunar Crush. I checked him out, too, liked the stuff he and his two bandmates produce and bought in. Here is one of his tracks.

Last Chance To Dance Trance (Perhaps)/Medeski, Martin & Wood

I found the bassist Reggie Washington in the same way, looking up who Fiuczynski was playing with, checked him out, liked it and ... Here’s one of his tracks.

Mr Pastorius/Reggie Washington

That’s also how I came across the Indian/American sax player Rudresh Mahanthappa, although in this case Fiuczynski was asked to play on his CD - he was the session man if you like.

Gopuram/Rudresh Mahanthappa

Finally, and just for good measure, here is a track by John Scofield and his band. Can’t say a lot about this except it is the most ‘accessible’ track on the particular CD it appears on - Up All Night - but I like it a lot. It’s a tune which was a hit in 1971 for The Dramatics (no, I hadn’t heard of them either). I logged onto Spotify to listen to it, and - well, I won’t be buying their, the original version. I understand Britain’s The Beautiful South did a cover, but I’ve not yet heard it.

Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get/John Scofield And here is a live performance if you are interested:

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