A luminary in jazz has died today—Mr. Ornette Coleman. If you know anything about his music, you’ll know that it’s pretty out there, tonally and rhythmically, even by many jazz-fan standards. He had this idea that jazz could be much more harmonically and conceptually “diverse” than it had been—that people in the band could play in different keys and still be together. I love this quote from trumpeter Roy Eldridge from the memorial piece in The New York Times today,

“I listened to him high, and I listened to him cold sober,” he said. “I even played with him. I think he’s jiving, baby.”

Continue reading

I’ve been a Galactic fan for years, but just recently realized one of their main driving forces is drummer, Stanton Moore. He is one of the funkiest drummers I have ever heard and his timing and style are straight out of New Orleans. After just a few measures, you can really hear his influences, and while there are many funky drummers, something about his playing has me hooked. Be sure to check out his first album as a leader, All Kooked Out!, for some classic, New Orlean’s funk.

I’ve missed a couple of my #photowednesdays and #musicthursdays posts lately due to life. Oral surgery, fumigation, work trip, sleepover—and that’s just what went down last week. But when I was on the road for my work trip on Monday, this ray of light came on through a playlist I had synced to my phone. Many are now familiar with Robert Glasper from his Black Radio album, but his earlier, more straight-ahead stuff was pure joy to my ears. I hope it lifts you up as much as it did for me in a moment when I really needed it.

Jazz has played an important role in my life on a lot of levels, but for whatever reason, I haven’t shared much of it here. It’s definitely a genre I’m drawn to on my own, musically, but it’s just so damn daunting, which sometimes makes it hard to explore (and enjoy). This guy though, Ambrose Akinmusire, grew up in Oakland, CA and attended Berkeley High (a school known for its jazz program). I grew up somewhat nearby and was always astonished by what the Berkeley High kids—kids my own age at the time—were capable of. Blew me right out of the water. Still does.

Anyway, Akinmusire is pretty much everything I love about a great trumpet player: beautiful tone, flexibility on the instrument, with a knack for writing pieces that I’m drawn to harmonically. This recording won’t be for everyone—and unfortunately, it gets cut off at the end during the tenor solo—but it’ll give you an idea of what he’s about and it definitely gets deep in the conversation happening on stage between the guys in the band.