Music

Smalls: NYC’s Heavy-Hitting Jazz Underground

Take a walk to NYC’s Greenwich Village and you’re sure to see some jazz clubs you’ve heard of: Blue Note, the Village Vanguard, the Fat Cat etc. Though, the true gem of NYC may not be among the most extravagant venues, lacking a large flashing sign or wide raised stage. Instead, Smalls Jazz Club is a basement with a single small door and a crooked chalkboard for the featured performers. As you approach you’re likely to see a man with a modest cashbox and a violin sitting outside. If it sounds like something out of a novel, that’s because it’s pretty much how it feels when you approach.

I stepped inside with a group skeptical friends. Down a few short stairs and we peered into a dark but packed room as we barely were able to get our feet off of the last step. Eager college students strained to peer over others in the back while business casuals leaned on the bar. A young waitress pushed her way through the standing room in the back and took our drink orders. She smirked as Pabst filled the list. The front featured seating room, scrunched oddly shaped chairs that looked like they had been individually handpicked from various garage sales. Not surprisingly, the bar was impressive with the majority of the light coming from the backlit bottles behind the bartender. Though, this was all in a moments glance as the wholeness of my attention was yanked to the stage where EJ Strickland’s Quintet burned through their first number. We listened for two sets slowly nudging our way to the front until by the end of the second set I sat with my now gently swaying friend and our feet tapping next to the musicians. The others started to get up as the band left the stage and it hit midnight. The jam session started. After about a half hour the stage was full and at 45 min in, a short man in a tightly checkered button down and black suit and hat stepped on stage. The bassist stepped forward, “I’d like to introduce my friend Roy Hagrove to the stage.” Everyone looked up eagerly and from there, it got heavy real quick.

Needless to say, it’s a must see venue for any NYC trip. Whether you think you’re into Jazz or not, the bottom line is that it’s a music best served live and the more intimate, the better. With Small’s, you see, up close, the best musicians in New York, and you can partake in something truly special until the street lights die for the morning commute. Its not just a venue for a nice occasion but a spot to come after work any and all days of the week. Essentially, it’s the way music should be experienced.

If the space itself wasn’t good enough, their website certainly makes it a staple for the preservation and dissemination of modern music. Boasting a huge audio archive of all the artists that have passed through its doors in recent years along with an impressive live video feed of nightly performances, Smalls has the market cornered.

Their Mission Statement speaks for itself:

“The intention and purpose of this website is ultimately dedicated to the betterment of Mankind through the dissemination of this music. Our hope is that the music on this site is studied and enjoyed by people of open minds and clear thoughts. We ask that you research the artists and, if you enjoy their music, to support them by buying their cds or contacting them with positive feedback. We dedicate this site as a resource for musicians and fans to discover each others work and to share ideas. Through peaceful interchange we will be able to progress as Artists and as Human Beings.

Our intention is also to support Smalls Jazz Club and the Artists that perform there. By supporting this site, you are directly supporting the club and its Artists. We hope that if you are able to, that you come visit us in New York City and experience the club in person.

We ask that you not steal from this site and that you treat the material here respectfully. Much of the content on this site is here by the goodwill of the Artists who have performed at the club.”

You can check out the site here: www.smallsjazzclub.com

Bon Voyage Voyager 1

Voyager 1

Voyager 1

In honor of NASA’s Voyager I leaving our local little region of the Milky Way, you may know it as our solar system, I thought it would be apropos to lend our Earthbound ears to the Earthly sounds chosen to be placed on the real, and actual gold record(s) (designed by astrophysicist Carl Sagan) which Voyager(s) carries with it, now into interstellar space. I vaguely remember when the Voyager crafts (there are two) were launched in 1977 – an interesting little tid bit, Voyager I was launched after Voyager II – and their primary mission was to conduct close flybys of the gas giants that lay at the outer bounds of our solar system, and both of these spacecraft provided a veritable, and venerable, wealth of information on these ginormous planets that are still full of mystery to scientists. Following the completion of the primary mission(s), it was then off to the even greater unknown – interstellar space – and then each of these spacecraft will continue to broadcast their findings back to Earth, until their plutonium fuel is finally diminished (in about 10-15 years) at which point they will simply become drifting pieces of Earthly information; thus the gold records and the recordings on them. Without further ado, here are the recordings that are on board the Voyager spacecraft, may whoever finds either, or both, come in peace.

Voyager Golden Record

Voyager Golden Record

Scenes From Earth

Greetings From Earth

Sounds of Earth

»  Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F. First Movement, Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, conductor. 4:40
»  Java, court gamelan, “Kinds of Flowers,” recorded by Robert Brown. 4:43
»  Senegal, percussion, recorded by Charles Duvelle. 2:08
»  Zaire, Pygmy girls’ initiation song, recorded by Colin Turnbull. 0:56
»  Australia, Aborigine songs, “Morning Star” and “Devil Bird,” recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. 1:26
»  Mexico, “El Cascabel,” performed by Lorenzo Barcelata and the Mariachi México. 3:14
»  “Johnny B. Goode,” written and performed by Chuck Berry. 2:38
»  New Guinea, men’s house song, recorded by Robert MacLennan. 1:20
»  Japan, shakuhachi, “Tsuru No Sugomori” (“Crane’s Nest,”) performed by Goro Yamaguchi. 4:51
»  Bach, “Gavotte en rondeaux” from the Partita No. 3 in E major for Violin, performed by Arthur Grumiaux. 2:55
»  Mozart, The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14. Edda Moser, soprano. Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor. 2:55
»  Georgian S.S.R., chorus, “Tchakrulo,” collected by Radio Moscow. 2:18
»  Peru, panpipes and drum, collected by Casa de la Cultura, Lima. 0:52
»  “Melancholy Blues,” performed by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven. 3:05
»  Azerbaijan S.S.R., bagpipes, recorded by Radio Moscow. 2:30
»  Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, conductor. 4:35
»  Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No.1. Glenn Gould, piano. 4:48
»  Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, First Movement, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, conductor. 7:20
»  Bulgaria, “Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin,” sung by Valya Balkanska. 4:59
»  Navajo Indians, Night Chant, recorded by Willard Rhodes. 0:57
»  Holborne, Paueans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs, “The Fairie Round,” performed by David Munrow and the Early        Music Consort of London. 1:17
»  Solomon Islands, panpipes, collected by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service. 1:12
»  Peru, wedding song, recorded by John Cohen. 0:38
»  China, ch’in, “Flowing Streams,” performed by Kuan P’ing-hu. 7:37
»  India, raga, “Jaat Kahan Ho,” sung by Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar. 3:30
»  “Dark Was the Night,” written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson. 3:15
»  Beethoven, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130, Cavatina, performed by Budapest String Quartet. 6:37

Okay, just as I was getting ready to click the publish button I find out that NASA’s Voyager Science Team has declared that Voyager I has not yet left the solar system, but it is still the farthest man made object from Earth, and is hurdling farther away at an approximate speed of over 38,000 MPH, so it is just a matter of time and distance before it crosses wherever that arbitrary and ambiguous demarcation line between interstellar space, and our solar system.  Bon Voyage Voyager I…

Forget Rock and Roll; the Blues Will Never Die

I think that most everyone already knows that Rock and Roll music is deeply tied to the blues; and I’ve always been partial to blues music.  I love the emotion that is often conveyed through both the lyrics, and the music – typically driven by the guitar.  I have mentioned before that some of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite bands (Led Zeppelin) were their blues songs and covers.  In fact many of the early rock acts of the British Invasion, were deeply inspired by the blues, and though it may seem hard to believe (based on the music they’re known for), but Pink Floyd’s name is a mash-up of two early blues artists, Pink Anderson (1900-1973) and Floyd Council (1911-1976), because they were heavily influenced by, and were a blues act, prior to their success.  Some of those early bluesmen and their music continue to influence and inspire today, damn near 100 years after they were first heard/recorded.  I believe that is what can be called staying power.  As an example are some songs (Well two actually – maybe three) by early bluesman Huddie William Ledbetter, more commonly known as Lead Belly (1888 – 1949), and their modern cover versions, and mash-ups:

“Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (*Original* Version circa 1940’s):

“My Girl (Where Did you Sleep Last Night)” (Nirvana Cover):

“Black Girl (Where Did You Sleep Last Night)” (Ben Gesserit Remix):

And just because I kind of like this version – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (Lead Belly cover, on the piano):

“Black Betty” (Original Version, circa 1933-39):

“Black Betty” (Ram Jam (1977), cover version):

“Woah Black Betty 2012” (DJ Sliink, version):

“Black Betty” (Monophonique, remix version):

“Black Betty” (Laurie Kaye, acoustic cover version):

And that is just two songs from Lead Belly, there are countless other songs by a number of other bluesmen that have been covered by various other artists, and will more than likely be covered by many more artists.

 

*”Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” is believed to be a song dating back to the 1870’s, Lead Belly is believed to be the first to record it in the 1940’s.

Oh, I said there might be three songs, so I guess I better deliver. Below is Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” followed by Led Zeppelin’s version:

Kiss

KissKiss, one of the biggest band’s of the 1970’s, and arguably one of the biggest bands ever, has always been a bit of an enigma to me.  I bring this up because I heard a Kiss song on Ozzy’s Boneyard, an XM radio station, last night on my way home from a night class that I am taking, and it just got me thinking a bit about these monsters of rock.

Like I said, Kiss was absolutely huge in the 1970’s, I mean think about this for a second, this band had their own lunchboxes, dolls, pinball machines, and countless other knick-knacks, and no other huge band of that era appeared to have such strong merchandising – not Led Zeppelin, not the Beatles (though the Beatles weren’t exactly of that era), not Black Sabbath, not AC/DC, none of them.  In fact, it could be argued, that such a strong merchandising blitz wasn’t seen of a similar magnitude until the advent of the whole New Kids on the Block, and the subsequent ad nauseam, mass produced, Disney, Pop acts that continue to this day.  I’m not saying that the merchandising is a bad thing, quite the contrary, however the merchandising is a part of what has made Kiss kind of enigmatic to me; which I will now try and explain.

It was the late 1970’s, and I was in first grade, this is when I saw my first Kiss lunchbox.  So, here’s this 6-7 years old little boy, with his plastic Peanuts lunchbox, and across the lunchroom is a kid sitting there with a metal lunchbox covered with these guys with their faces painted in kind of a sinister (for the era) like fashion, dressed in a kind of sinister (for the era) fashion, and, when I was told that they were a rock band, I thought something to the effect that they must be pretty dangerous.  That thought stuck with me for years.  As my familiarity of music grew, there was one constant that stuck with me, Kiss must be dangerous, hard, heavy; as such, I thought there would be no way I would like their music (remember this was back in the day when many rock and roll bands [including Kiss] were considered to be satanic) so I never actively sought to hear anything by them.  I mean if you simply based Kiss upon their appearance, they looked like the 1970’s version of what Slipknot looks like today; but that’s the end of the similarities between those two bands.

Fast forward to the 6th grade, I am now 12/13 years old, it is now the mid 1980’s, and I am a fan of Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Billy Idol, with a burgeoning interest in the now disbanded Led Zeppelin, somewhat heavier music for sure, it was also the era when MTV actually played music videos, and Kiss premiered their new look, sans face paint, also sans original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, with the titular track of their new look/new line-up album, Lick it Up:

With some anticipation, I watched that video, not quite knowing what to expect – again because I thought Kiss must be some hard rock band, based simply upon that very early impression their look made on me – and when I heard “Lick it Up,” I thought, “What, that’s it?  What the hell have I been thinking all these years?”

As I got older, and heard more and more Kiss songs, particularly the songs from their 1970’s hey day, songs like “Detroit Rock City,” “I Love it Loud, “I Was Made For Loving You,” and of course “I Wanna Rock & Roll All Night,” I simply found that their sound belies their look, which is where my enigmatic view of this hugely successful band took root.  Here’s a band that, I thought, looked like they must be the hardest, heaviest, and most dangerous band of their day, and well, quite honestly they weren’t even close to being that.      In a bit of irony though, as I deliberately steered clear of Kiss because of my mistaken impression of them, I became a fan in some fashion or another of bands that were/are decidedly heavier, harder, and maybe even more dangerous than Kiss.  Bands like Motley Crue (particularly their album “Shout at the Devil”), AC/DC (contemporaries of Kiss), Black Sabbath, Metallica, Guns ‘N Roses, Korn, Pantera, Anthrax, and of course, one of my all time favorites, Led Zeppelin (whose sound is tame by today’s standards too).

There is no real point here, other than (I suppose) don’t judge a book by its cover.  I am not saying Kiss isn’t/wasn’t good; their record sales, concert sell-outs, and massive merchandising sales would show that, if I were to dare make such an argument (which I am not), I would definitely be in the minority of such an opinion.  To me, and this is just my opinion here, Kiss’ music is feel good, party rock, plain and simple; which definitely isn’t a bad thing whatsoever.  There’s no pretense in their music, no attempt to make some deep and profound statement, Kiss just wants us to “rock and roll all night, and party everyday;” they just looked like they might have wanted more.

 

Don’t Tell Mom, but You Can Play With Your Food

We’ve all heard it from our Mom’s, when we were kids, “Don’t play with your food!”  Okay, maybe it was just me, but when I was a kid I, like many kids, didn’t like, nor did I eat my vegetables.  Instead I just pushed them around my plate (I tried giving them to my dog, but she didn’t want them either) until Mom finally got so exasperated and told me to leave the dinner table.  Now I am an adult and to be perfectly honest, I not only eat my vegetables, but I find a meal incomplete without a veggie being on the plate.

Well, apparently these adults never listened to their Moms’ on the not playing with their food front.  They instead decided to continue playing with their food, which, some how, that continued playing with their vegetables led them towards making music with them . . . Um, wait, what?!


Yes, apparently they recorded an album.  I don’t know if it is available on iTunes™ though...

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the World…

Okay, yeah, I am an American; and, like many Americans I, at times, suffer from an Amerocentric view of – well, just about everything.  This isn’t to say that I am completely oblivious to the rest of the world; nor is it to say that I feel that the entire world should be “Americanized.”  No, it is instead, a recognition that I am a product of my environment, which can, at times, lead to a bubble like view of things.  In all actuality I am cursed with both an acute case of wanderlust, and a dearth of dinero.  I would absolutely love visiting other countries, and experiencing their own particular je ne sais quoi.  Perhaps one day I will make that happen.  Anyway, as a resident, in a predominantly English speaking country, I am basically exposed to predominantly English speaking music – along with some Latin American music too.  So, today I decided to explore some of what the predominantly non-English speaking world is listening too.  Now, I will apologize that what follows are mostly European, and I know that they may be dated too, but what follows are songs that I thought sounded good, even though I might have only the smallest inkling of an idea what they may be about – in most cases I don’t even have that; and yes, I know that these are not exactly what one can, or would call “traditional” music from the countries from where they hail, but that isn’t really my point here.  My point is/was simply to hear what may, or may not be popular music from outside Los Estados Unidos:

From Sweden:  MOVITS!

This band kind of reminds me of a much more tame, Quarashi, who are from Iceland, but I also feel a bit of a Black Keys vibe too…  maybe it’s just the hipster look though.

From Germany:  Peter Fox

I also like his Haus am See too.

Italy:  Adriano Celentano

C’mon, I dare you not to move to that song!

France:  Yelle

Um, my understanding is that the lyrics are a tad risque…but it is catchy.

India: Dalar Mehndi

The next Gangnam Style…maybe????

Korea:  Witches

Is that really Korean?  Well, according to the ol’ interweb that is where they are from…

I’ll end with some 1970’s French Pop-Punk:  Plastic Bertrand

Not filled with as much angst as British punk, but there is a bit of a Ramones feel to it – no?

There are oh so many more though, like Portuguese singer Ana Moura, who does a Portuguese flavored cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” (in English), and is currently on tour in America; and the artists not only span the globe, but their music spans multiple genres too.  It’s nice to go exploring new things from time to time, even if it is just from sitting on your sofa, using your laptop, and wondering, “what else is out there?”

 

What Does Fills the Gap? Maybe a Little Thelonious Crunk?

I found this while purusing Reddit today, it is a video by Will Cady, and I thought it was cleverly edited, in the music, images, and the voice over, which is of British philosopher Alan Watts:

Maybe that’s not exactly what you were looking for on Noise Made Me Do It; but upon a little deeper digging I found that Will Cady is also the bassist for a band called Thelonious Crunk, and I think this maybe more of the reason why you stopped by…

www.ourstage.com

Yeah, now that definitely fills the gap – doesn’t it?

Armando Trovaioli passes at 95

You probably have no idea who Armando Trovaioli is, or was, as the case may be. Well he was an Italian film composer, who worked with the likes of jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis. He is most commonly known as the “voice of Rome,” for his most popular work, “Roma Nun Fa’ La Stupida StaSera,” (typically translated to Rome, Don’t Be Stupid Tonight) which sort of became the unofficial theme song of Rome:

Mr. Trovaioli was so much more than that song though, and scored several Italian films dating back to 1949, such as scoring Giuseppe De Santis 1949 film Arroz Amargo (Bitter Rice in English), and the internationally acclaimed “El Negro Zumbon:”

I think though that this may be my favorite score by Armando Trovaioli:

Though this this isn’t too bad a song either:

FM Gem is Seeking Beta Testers

FM Gem claims to be a new and a fast and easy way to create & share commercial interruption free YouTube music playlists.  You simply search for music, and then drag and drop the videos you want to see in the bar at the bottom of the screen, or simply select play all and enjoy:

FM Gem

 

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