Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while: I’ve gathered up all the searches done here at KnowYourMusic recently. Maybe we can incite a dialog; I’ll see if I can figure out what you were looking for, and you see if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

  • What does egbdf mean? — The notes of the musical scale, when written on a musical staff, fall either into the spaces, or onto the lines. In normal melody notation, the spaces are easy to remember — the notes are F, A, C, and E — FACE. The lines, however, aren’t as simple; so throughout history, we’ve come up with endless mnemonics to remember the obscure and arcane pattern of the notes on the lines. The Moody Blues did an album with a common UK version, “Every Good By Deserves Favour.” EGBDF — the notes on the lines of the scale. (This musicblog was once at EGBDF.info.)
  • black sabbaths iron man — In case you didn’t find it, I posted Iron Man back in June.
  • Don Wahlberg — New Kids on the Block? No; that would be Donnie Wahlberg. Probably not here.
  • Little Feat — Closest I came was “Ride of the Tarzana Kid” back on September 1st. But they’ll show up in greater detail eventually.
  • Norah Jones — . . . sigh . . . Norah Jones, indeed. You couldn’t have missed “Come Away with Norah Jones”, also in September.
  • Rising Of The Sea — Anything to do with OB1? If so, tell me more; the clips I’ve heard are very interesting.
  • Steven Oliver — Pleasant relaxing jazz guitar. Not familiar enough to offer a real opinion.
  • Three Two One Let’s Jam — Still one of my favorite entries, “Jumping Japanese Jazz” should fill the bill.
  • Wild Wood Flower — If there were only two folk guitar songs, they would be “Wildwood Flower” and “Under the Double Eagle.” Written by A.P. Carter and originally sung by ‘Mother’ Maybelle Carter, mother of June Carter Cash (Johnny’s wife), this is an eternally beautiful song. I like John Sebastian’s cover on “Tarzana Kid”, but nothing approaches the scratchy old 78 RPM record of Maybelle Carter’s equally scratchy voice and AP’s stunning guitar.
  • 1990 groups — Um; which ones?
  • A Little Touch Of Heaven — Nothing comes to mind. Are there more details?
  • Alison Krause Let Me Touch You Awhile — I love Alison Krauss. Not sure if I’ve heard this one, though, so I’ll have to track it down.
  • alley — As in, “Loading Dock Dark Alley Swing”? Or maybe Stevie Ray Vaughan’s incredible “Tin Pan Alley” from “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” I’m overdue for a review of a complete SRV album; that was my first, so watch for it sometime soon.
  • Blood On The Tracks — Bob Dylan — Mr. Zimmerman has made numerous appearances, but the most direct was “Shelter from the Storm” in October.
  • boy bands — Nope.
  • i know how he feels — Thank you; he appreciates your concern for his welfare. Wait; isn’t that a song by Reba McIntire? After 30 years, I’m coming into my second ‘country’ period. We’ll see about this one.
  • All Along The Watch Tower — “The Watchtower, All Along”
  • Angelo Debarre — Ah; anyone who records Django Reinhardt songs gets my attention. Further investigation is indicated.
  • Coldplay — My daugher Cheyenne has both albums. I’ll get around to these talented guys eventually.
  • granted you one final wish — Would you ask for something like another chance? “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, whether you mean the song and the album, is one of the pinnacles of modern music; a focal point about which entire genre revolve. If Steve Winwood had never played an instrument, had never recorded another thing, the vocals on this album would secure his place on a very short list of truly great jazz vocalists. On my vacation back in May, I wrote “While I’m Far From Home” about another Traffic tune.
  • Heavy Blinkers – I had never heard of the band. The bio at CDNow sounds intriguing. Have a CD you want to share?
  • homeworld — Yes. As in the group, Yes. First song on “The Ladder”, a wonderful album my oldest son Tristan has tried many times to steal from me. Maybe I’ll buy him his own copy (and maybe he’ll buy me my own copy of the PC game “Homeworld” designed around the song.) This got pretty thorough treatment in “Mountains Come Out of the Sky” back in July.
  • iz — Searching for Iz? “Finding Iz” back in June.
  • limbo song — Chubby Checker. Had the 45 when I was a kid.
  • Michael Nesmith — See “Tropical Campfires” below.
  • Michael Smith — Steve Goodman’s cover of Smith’s “The Dutchman” was more popular than Smith’s version, but Goodman’s tunes “Banana Republics” and “The City of New Orleans” gained wider circulation in the hands of Jimmy Buffett and Arlo Guthrie, respectively. Odd how things work out sometimes.
  • Michelle Branch — Performed ‘Game Of Love’ on Carlos Santana’s newest album “Shaman.” Nice work. Not too familiar with her own music, but I know it’s nice solid listenable stuff.
  • Route 66 — “If You Ever Plan to Motor West” — Well, I plan to motor east on my vacation next week, but this song will be along in multiple versions. They will all be played loud.
  • Tropical Campfires — When granting permission to use their graphics, the official Mike Nesmith website (in the guise of Neffie, the main character in Nez’s book “The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora”) included a link to “Laugh Kills Lonesome”, my review of what I’ve read of the book, and of the marvelous song, “Laugh Kills Lonesome.” Well, almost; they included a link to the home page. So in a day or two, it won’t be there any more. As of right now, this search won’t even find the article, so I’m re-indexing the search engine so folks can find it. I’ve also added what I hope is a really obvious link below the search tool. It’ll probably be with us for a while.

[l1I]/l1]’ve been meaning to do this for a while: I’ve gathered up all the searches done here at KnowYourMusic recently. Maybe we can incite a dialog; I’ll see if I can figure out what you were looking for, and you see if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

What does egbdf mean? — The notes of the musical scale, when written on a musical staff, fall either into the spaces, or onto the lines. In normal melody notation, the spaces are easy to remember — the notes are F, A, C, and E — FACE. The lines, however, aren’t as simple; so throughout history, we’ve come up with endless mnemonics to remember the obscure and arcane pattern of the notes on the lines. The Moody Blues did an album with a common UK version, “Every Good By Deserves Favour.” EGBDF — the notes on the lines of the scale. (This musicblog was once at EGBDF.info.)
  • black sabbaths iron man — In case you didn’t find it, I posted Iron Man back in June.
  • Don Wahlberg — New Kids on the Block? No; that would be Donnie Wahlberg. Probably not here.
  • Little Feat — Closest I came was “Ride of the Tarzana Kid” back on September 1st. But they’ll show up in greater detail eventually.
  • Norah Jones — . . . sigh . . . Norah Jones, indeed. You couldn’t have missed “Come Away with Norah Jones“, also in September.
  • Rising Of The Sea — Anything to do with OB1? If so, tell me more; the clips I’ve heard are very interesting.
  • Steven Oliver — Pleasant relaxing jazz guitar. Not familiar enough to offer a real opinion.
  • Three Two One Let’s Jam — Still one of my favorite entries, “Jumping Japanese Jazz” should fill the bill.
  • Wild Wood Flower — If there were only two folk guitar songs, they would be “Wildwood Flower” and “Under the Double Eagle.” Written by A.P. Carter and originally sung by ‘Mother’ Maybelle Carter, mother of June Carter Cash (Johnny’s wife), this is an eternally beautiful song. I like John Sebastian’s cover on “Tarzana Kid”, but nothing approaches the scratchy old 78 RPM record of Maybelle Carter’s equally scratchy voice and AP’s stunning guitar.
  • 1990 groups — Um; which ones?
  • A Little Touch Of Heaven — Nothing comes to mind. Are there more details?
  • Alison Krause Let Me Touch You Awhile — I love Alison Krauss. Not sure if I’ve heard this one, though, so I’ll have to track it down.
  • alley — As in, “Loading Dock Dark Alley Swing“? Or maybe Stevie Ray Vaughan’s incredible “Tin Pan Alley” from “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” I’m overdue for a review of a complete SRV album; that was my first, so watch for it sometime soon.
  • Blood On The Tracks — Bob Dylan — Mr. Zimmerman has made numerous appearances, but the most direct was “Shelter from the Storm” in October.
  • boy bands — Nope.
  • i know how he feels — Thank you; he appreciates your concern for his welfare. Wait; isn’t that a song by Reba McIntire? After 30 years, I’m coming into my second ‘country’ period. We’ll see about this one.
  • All Along The Watch Tower — “The Watchtower, All Along
  • Angelo Debarre — Ah; anyone who records Django Reinhardt songs gets my attention. Further investigation is indicated.
  • Coldplay — My daugher Cheyenne has both albums. I’ll get around to these talented guys eventually.
  • granted you one final wish — Would you ask for something like another chance? “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, whether you mean the song and the album, is one of the pinnacles of modern music; a focal point about which entire genre revolve. If Steve Winwood had never played an instrument, had never recorded another thing, the vocals on this album would secure his place on a very short list of truly great jazz vocalists. On my vacation back in May, I wrote “While I’m Far From Home” about another Traffic tune.
  • Heavy Blinkers – I had never heard of the band. The bio at CDNow sounds intriguing. Have a CD you want to share?
  • homeworld — Yes. As in the group, Yes. First song on “The Ladder”, a wonderful album my oldest son Tristan has tried many times to steal from me. Maybe I’ll buy him his own copy (and maybe he’ll buy me my own copy of the PC game “Homeworld” designed around the song.) This got pretty thorough treatment in “Mountains Come Out of the Sky” back in July.
  • iz — Searching for Iz? “Finding Iz” back in June.
  • limbo song — Chubby Checker. Had the 45 when I was a kid.
  • Michael Nesmith — See “Tropical Campfires” below.
  • Michael Smith — Steve Goodman’s cover of Smith’s “The Dutchman” was more popular than Smith’s version, but Goodman’s tunes “Banana Republics” and “The City of New Orleans” gained wider circulation in the hands of Jimmy Buffett and Arlo Guthrie, respectively. Odd how things work out sometimes.
  • Michelle Branch — Performed ‘Game Of Love’ on Carlos Santana’s newest album “Shaman.” Nice work. Not too familiar with her own music, but I know it’s nice solid listenable stuff.
  • Route 66 — “If You Ever Plan to Motor West” — Well, I plan to motor east on my vacation next week, but this song will be along in multiple versions. They will all be played loud.
  • Tropical Campfires — When granting permission to use their graphics, the official Mike Nesmith website (in the guise of Neffie, the main character in Nez’s book “The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora”) included a link to “Laugh Kills Lonesome“, my review of what I’ve read of the book, and of the marvelous song, “Laugh Kills Lonesome.” Well, almost; they included a link to the home page. So in a day or two, it won’t be there any more. As of right now, this search won’t even find the article, so I’m re-indexing the search engine so folks can find it. I’ve also added what I hope is a really obvious link below the search tool. It’ll probably be with us for a while.

It is my heartfelt desire for this site to become truly interactive. Until recently, I believed I was on a first name basis with both of my readers. Instead, a perusal of the server logs indicates that, over the last month, nearly a thousand different readers have spent an average of thirteen minutes each here at KnowYourMusic. You can’t imagine how exciting that is.

So, tell me about yourself. Who are you? Where are you? What do you like? What am I doing wrong?

Let’s talk.

(If that link doesn’t work for you, you can use the ‘Comment’ link below.)

Lenny

veryone has their short lists of musical preferences — favorite songs, greatest jazz album, all that. If you really want to incite a verbal riot, announce loudly that you think Ringo Starr is a great drummer (I do, and it does. Later, maybe.) But talk about guitarists, and on anyone’s top ten list, six, maybe seven of the names will be the same small group. And, if not at the top, very near it, will be Stevie Ray Vaughan; every single time.Personally, I think Eric Clapton has greater technical prowess; Mark Knopfler has more style, and Chet Atkins had more grace and overall ability than all of ’em. But Stevie played with a passion to match Clapton’s hottest fire on nearly every recording he made. Clapton impresses; listen to “Motherless Children” or “After Midnight” and you know you’re hearing a master. Knopfler delights; hearing “What It Is” or “Skateaway” you know he’s grinning from ear to ear, because so are you. Chet inspires; he and Les Paul playing “Birth of the Blues” makes me wish I could, and his duet with Knopfler “Tahitian Skies” makes me know I could. But when Stevie Ray Vaughan is ‘on’, really playing what he feels, you feel it all the way to your core.

[l1]E[/l1]veryone has their short lists of musical preferences — favorite songs, greatest jazz album, all that. If you really want to incite a verbal riot, announce loudly that you think Ringo Starr is a great drummer (I do, and it does. Later, maybe.) But talk about guitarists, and on anyone’s top ten list, six, maybe seven of the names will be the same small group. And, if not at the top, very near it, will be Stevie Ray Vaughan; every single time.

Personally, I think Eric Clapton has greater technical prowess; Mark Knopfler has more style, and Chet Atkins had more grace and overall ability than all of ’em. But Stevie played with a passion to match Clapton’s hottest fire on nearly every recording he made. Clapton impresses; listen to “Motherless Children” or “After Midnight” and you know you’re hearing a master. Knopfler delights; hearing “What It Is” or “Skateaway” you know he’s grinning from ear to ear, because so are you. Chet inspires; he and Les Paul playing “Birth of the Blues” makes me wish I could, and his duet with Knopfler “Tahitian Skies” makes me know I could. But when Stevie Ray Vaughan is ‘on’, really playing what he feels, you feel it all the way to your core.

When he recorded “Lenny” on his first album “Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Texas Flood'Texas Flood“, he was on.

Lenny was his wife, Lenora. Lenny was his guitar, a Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck and lighter than usual strings. Lenny is half blues, half jazz, half rock; all three halves graceful, stylish, technically brilliant; but mostly, “Lenny” wordlessly grabs my heart every time I hear it. It constantly amazes me that so much emotion can be conveyed with music alone.

The opening chords are jazz, pure and simple, but right away, Vaughan starts playing with it, establishing a melody and then immediately dropping out for a bar while the bass carries the tune. Now wandering up the neck of the guitar, pausing now and then to let us catch up or wonder where he’s heading; letting the silence build anticipation. Back around to the melody, but shorter, just a bit more punch; then off again, up the neck and then back down to the lowest notes on the guitar, bouncing and flexing to squeeze every drop from that low ‘E’ string, then flying up to the high ‘E’ just so you don’t forget it’s there, and then, my favorite spot in the song. A flattened, buzzed note; from most players, you’d think it was a mistake, but Vaughan has just taken us on a tour of the entire fretboard, and now, in the midst of the only screaming high notes in the journey, he throws in something personal; something other than what you expected to find. And it’s perfect.

Then, back down to the melody, slower, sweeter, and to the finale, just as slow; just as sweet, ending right where we began, except for the final two notes, gently chimed from the center of Lenny’s sweet maple neck.

Definitely Glamour

t’s hard to say if it feels like yesterday or a hundred years ago that I first heard Maia Sharp’s song “Brownstone” on the now defunct San Diego station KUPR. From her debut album “Hardly Glamour”, that ambiguous familiarity is inherent to the album itself; every track sounds like I’ve heard it before. Maia’s voice, deeper than most female singers you hear on pop radio, is warm and reassuring. Her songwriting and musicianship exude the same warmth and professionalism, making for one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve discovered in years. I’m not sure why it’s taken me five years to track it down, and now that I have, I regret the pretermission. I’ll make up for it by being particularly verbose in today’s review.If you’d like to read all about Maia’s famous songwriter father, or her struggles with the never-released album “Tinderbox”, I’m sure you can find all the details elsewhere. I’m only going to talk about her music.

[l1]I[/l1]t’s hard to say if it feels like yesterday or a hundred years ago that I first heard Maia Sharp‘s song “Brownstone” on the now defunct San Diego station KUPR. From her debut album “Maia Sharp's 'Hardly Glamour'Hardly Glamour“, that ambiguous familiarity is inherent to the album itself; every track sounds like I’ve heard it before. Maia’s voice, deeper than most female singers you hear on pop radio, is warm and reassuring. Her songwriting and musicianship exude the same warmth and professionalism, making for one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve discovered in years. I’m not sure why it’s taken me five years to track it down, and now that I have, I regret the pretermission. I’ll make up for it by being particularly verbose in today’s review.

If you’d like to read all about Maia’s famous songwriter father, or her struggles with the never-released album “Tinderbox”, I’m sure you can find all the details elsewhere. I’m only going to talk about her music.

  • “I Need This To Be Love” — ‘You said, “I’m going to California” so I was going to California, too.’ Leaving everything she knows behind, our heroine surrenders to the fantasy that love is a good enough reason for the madness of a cross-country crime spree. Co-writer Mark Addison and Daris Adkins keep adding layer upon layer of sliding, shimmering guitars, building this country-tinged number to a big round conclusion, even though the lyrics never really tell us whether it was love or not. Nice upbeat track in spite of it.
  • “Good Thing” — After the simplicity of the opening track, it takes more than one listen to absorb the more complex rhythym of this sad song’s chorus.
     To live without your touch Could never feel too much Like a good thing

    Despite dad Randy’s mandolin and acoustic guitar, this doesn’t sound like a country or folk tune. Maia’s voice and the arrangement of the mandolin solo combine with the time signature to lend a very jazzy feeling. And that’s a good thing. Co-written with Randy Sharp.

  • “The Apology” — Maia plays a number of keyboards and the tenor sax on this edgy/funky jazz tune. The keyboard solo doesn’t come to a tidy conclusion; everything just seems to dwindle to a near silence, making way for the next verse. Very nicely done, and not at all your typical pop schmaltz. It’s becoming clear we’re listening to a composer, not just a singer. The next track nails that down pretty securely.
  • “Brownstone” — A simple acoustic bass and guitar opening, with vocals to a completely different beat. Too many words for each line. Fuzzy, almost angry guitar over the gently vocals of the chorus. Suddenly, it’s raining, and a couple soprano saxes are dueling with a pair of electric guitars, but the prodominant sound is co-writer Janet Robin’s acoustic guitar, carrying the melody. Challenging, fascinating, complex, beautiful; this one track is worth the price of the entire album. A spectacular recording, showcasing Sharp’s mature writing and singing.
  • “Broken” — Another upbeat song about betrayal and unhappy love. It’s hard to empathize too much with the tragic lyrics when they’re surrounded by all those perky guitars doing their best George Harrison imitation. Another partnering with Janet Robin, who plays multiple guitars. Not quite country, but headed that way.
  • “Only Way Of Knowing” — A patient song about the freshness of first love. Co-writer/dad Randy provides some really stes/m backing vocals which make his new album “Connections” sound like a good bet.
  • “Don’t Come Around Tonight” — Opening like a Steven Bishop ballad, “Don’t Come Around” turns into the kind of rocker Jimmy Buffet might do if he had the notion. A good solid rhythmic piece which should have become a big hit.
     Don't come around here tonight But that doesn't mean forever

    In the old days of two-sided vinyl albums, this was the kind of rousing tune artists loved to have leading off side two.

  • “Solitaire” — Tr

Used Songs – Step Right Up

t’s typical of Tom Waits that his retrospective album compiled from his first six releases is called, not “Greatest Hits” but “Used Songs.”Waits is a songwriter’s songwriter. The first track on his first album, “Ol’ ’55”, was also one of the earliest tracks recorded by the Eagles, on their top 20 debut album. Although Tom’s recording evince fine musicianship, one doesn’t listen to a Tom Waits album for the guitar playing. The first attraction is a desire to see whether it’s possible to sing an entire album in that unbelievably gravelly low voice. It’s not long until you’re so wrapped up in the stories he tells that even that remarkable voice is secondary to the tales it tells.

[l1]I[/l1]t’s typical of Tom Waits that his retrospective album compiled from his first six releases is called, not “Greatest Hits” but “Used Songs.”

Waits is a songwriter’s songwriter. The first track on his first album, “Ol’ ’55”, was also one of the earliest tracks recorded by the Eagles, on their Tom Waits' '1973-1980 Used Songs'top 20 debut album. Although Tom’s recording evince fine musicianship, one doesn’t listen to a Tom Waits album for the guitar playing. The first attraction is a desire to see whether it’s possible to sing an entire album in that unbelievably gravelly low voice. It’s not long until you’re so wrapped up in the stories he tells that even that remarkable voice is secondary to the tales it tells.

Waits’ songs seem to be populated from film noir, or in fact, from almost any old movie. Except, we rarely hear a complete story. Instead, we catch a snippet of conversation as we pass on the street; we overhear a private conversation in the next booth; we carry on a brief pointless conversation with a total stranger; never quite hearing the whole story, we still feel like these are real people, and that somehow they’re important to us. While many of his tunes display a ready wit, the sad songs never seem trite; they’re too simple and real to be dismissed so lightly.

get yours today.

New York State of Mind

ne year ago today, lives changed forever; some ended, some forever scarred, but at the same time, some began. Yes, there are children celebrating their first birthday today, because, in spite of the occasional madness in the world, life does indeed go on.More than one of those who perished were men I consider brothers from a religious standpoint; not helpless victims, but voluntary victims — firefighters who, knowing they were risking their own lives, didn’t hestitate to enter the dual inferno to help others.

[l1]O[/l1]ne year ago today, lives changed forever; some ended, some forever scarred, but at the same time, some began. Yes, there are children celebrating their first birthday today, because, in spite of the occasional madness in the world, life does indeed go on.

More than one of those who perished were men I consider brothers from a religious standpoint; not helpless victims, but voluntary victims — firefighters who, knowing they were risking their own lives, didn’t hestitate to enter the dual inferno to help others.

Music has a marvelous healing effect. There are some songs which I’ll always associate with the 11th of September. One tune which has seen a resurgence of appreciation is Billy Joel’s Billy Joel's 'Turnstiles'New York State of Mind.” The first time I heard it was 22 years ago; the last time I heard it was ten minutes ago as I was wending my way through the city streets to work here in beautiful southern California. Joel once commented that meeting Ray Charles was like meeting the Statue of Liberty. “New York State of Mind” always reminds me of the homage he pays to the great jazz artists, and the fact that he’s always done so without sacrificing his own style. It’s a wonderful song which carries just a little bit more meaning than it once did.

Come Away with Norah Jones

hile we’re on a “Norah Jones’ roll, we might as well make it a clean sweep. I got my copy of her debut album “Come Away with Me” on Thursday, and I’ve listened to it almost constantly.”You’ve probably heard “Don’t Know Why” on your favorite radio station. The first time I heard it on KPRI here in San Diego, it was arresting. Norah’s voice is smoky sweet and subtly powerful, but just as powerful was the piano accompaniment. I’ve long been a fan of country pianist Floyd Cramer, who played with such luminaries as Chet Atkins. The piano on “Don’t Know Why” sounds so much like Cramer; his style and grace, a musical maturity not found in many keyboard players today. I was astonished to learn that the sultry singer was also the accomplished pianist. But then, “Come Away with Me” is full of surprises; surprises, but no disappointments. It is a delightful collection from start to finish.

[l1]W[/l1]hile we’re on a “Norah Jones‘ roll, we might as well make it a clean sweep. I got my copy of her debut album “Come Away with Me” on Thursday, and I’ve listened to it almost constantly.

Norah Jones' 'Come Away with Me'You’ve probably heard “Don’t Know Why” on your favorite radio station. The first time I heard it on KPRI here in San Diego, it was arresting. Norah’s voice is smoky sweet and subtly powerful, but just as powerful was the piano accompaniment. I’ve long been a fan of country pianist Floyd Cramer, who played with such luminaries as Chet Atkins. The piano on “Don’t Know Why” sounds so much like Cramer; his style and grace, a musical maturity not found in many keyboard players today. I was astonished to learn that the sultry singer was also the accomplished pianist. But then, “Come Away with Me” is full of surprises; surprises, but no disappointments. It is a delightful collection from start to finish.

Jones studied music in Texas, and while her country roots are audible in much of “Come Away” she’s certainly not going to be pigeon-holed as a country artist. Not exactly a surprise from the daughter of the most famous sitar-player ever, Ravi Shankar, major influence on George Harrison of the Beatles. A vocal chameleon, she runs the gamut from country to jazz, blues, and torch songs (one sounds like a cut from “Rare Django”, songs recorded in French jazz clubs in the late 20s), a slow klezmer tune (if there is such a thing), with plenty of soul along the way. Of the fourteen songs on the album, Jones wrote or co-wrote three, bassist Lee Alexander four, and lead guitarist Jesse Harris five. Sixpence None the Richer's eponymousThe three songs not written by band members were culled from the best of Norah’s roots: one by Hank Williams (the real Hank Williams, not the pseudo-performer currently using his name), one by John D. Loudermilk, and one by Hoagy Carmichael.

Norah’s voice reminds me somewhat of Edie Brickell‘s, and of Leigh Nash of “Sixpence None the Richer“, but with a huskiness more appropriate for the genre she’s chosen to include on this album. Refreshing and relaxing, “Come Away with Me” has style.

  • “Don’t Know Why” — An obvious single, this is a simple song about the confusion that often surrounds what we think is love. Jones’ piano sparkles, her voice seduces, the entire effect is like dancing alone in a darkened room with your eyes closed. Very Patsy Cline, which is a very good thing. Perfect torch song.
  • “Seven Years” — Musically more focused on guitars and Norah’s voice, this includes a dobro solo which lends a feeling of an early Carter Family recording, but with that same honey-smoked voice.
  • “Cold Cold Heart” — This Hank Williams classic has never been in better hands. It’s not easy to take a song so completely identified with one genre and transform it completely to another, but Norah does it beautifully. An extremely sparse arrangement, leaning heavily on rhythym and blues bassline, some brushes on the drums, and bits of piano to accentuate Norah’s vocals. She manages to completely ignore the natural cadence of the tune and either push the lyrics out just a little early, or leave them just a bit late, making for some perfect jazz phrasing. It’s a tribute to her musical sensibilities.
  • “Feelin’ the Same Way” — This one would be at home with Reba McEntire or Bonnie Raitt; it’s an almost-country pop tune which, without noticeable effort at uniqueness still manages to be memorable among so many memorable tunes.
  • “Come Away with Me” — The title song makes you want to do just that; a seductive tune about the simple joys we associate with being in love — walking through fields of grass together, the intimacy of unashamedly kissing where the whole world can see you, the warmth of just being with someone you love, and who loves you. Delicate multi-layered guitar work and Norah’s piano in just the right places merely emphasizes the intimacy of the piece.
  • “Shoot the Moon” — While the music to many of these tunes sounds like they should have sad lyrics, most don’t. “Shoot the Moon” is an exception; an indefinite poem of love leaving, undisturbed by the musical accompaniment.
  • “Turn Me On” — One of my favorites, a gem among gems, Norah seems especially inspired by blues great John Loudermilk’s lyrics. This is the one tune where she nearly lets her voice out of the box; more than once, we get a glimpse of the barely restrained power behind that softness. Reminiscent of Aretha Franklin, a long time ago. I’d love to hear more; not that there’s anything wrong with the way Jones uses her voice, but there’s plenty of room for more of the soulful intensity of “Turn Me On.”
  • “Lonestar” — Simple honest country tune. Every instrument sounds like they’ve gone home to Texas; even Norah’s piano chording is traditional 1-4-5 with the bass runs I remember so well from my father’s piano playing. Mournful lyrics, aptly suited to this homage to her home state.
  • “I’ve Got to See You Again” — Probably actually a rhumba or samba, this has all the earmarks of klezmer, the joyous music of Jewish festivities, but slower, more passionate. Jenny Scheinman’s violin adds just the right touch of mystery to an unusual arrangement. A standout, even among so many outstanding tracks. Fascinating vocal harmonies provided by Norah herself, which makes me wonder how some of these tunes would fare in a live setting, without the ability to overdub her own harmonies. More on that below.
  • “Painter Song” — This would fit right into so much of the jazz from the 20s and 30s. Unusual climbing chord progressions, a meandering melody not quickly grasped, and friendly accordion make this shorter song fun.
  • “One Flight Down” — Like a m

Comment: Racing Toward the Future

egarding “Racing Toward the Future, One Second at a Time, this comment from artlung:”Norah Jones is great, for sure. I saw her live last month and she’s a dynamic performer. She did an awesome version of Tenessee Waltz. I grabbed some alternate stuff of hers on Limewire, and there are some sound clips on norahjones.com.”

[l1]R[/l1]egarding “Racing Toward the Future, One Second at a Time, this comment from artlung:

“Norah Jones is great, for sure. I saw her live last month and she’s a dynamic performer. She did an awesome version of Tenessee Waltz. I grabbed some
alternate stuff of hers on Limewire, and there are some sound clips on norahjones.com.”

So, Joe, how about a review of the show? I missed it, and I’d love to have a first-hand account for Know Your Music.

Don’t Miss the ‘Jazz Me News’

I’ve listed “Riverwalk” on my links page since Know Your Music’s inception. If you love music, and enjoy learning about the music and the people who made it, “Live from the Landing” is an absolute must. The detailed and personal background to the music, as provided by host David Holt and a remarkable array of guests, gives insight not possible from just listening to a CD you bought in town.his just in: courtesy of “Riverwalk, Live from the Landing” – their fun and fact-filled ‘Jazz Me News’ archives are indeed available online. I’ve been enjoying it for some time without giving a thought to passing it along. I’m sure I’ll find a suitable way to do penance, but in the meantime, dig into some meaty and entertaining info, written from the vantage point of the Jim Cullum’s historic “Landing” in San Antonio Texas, origin of their not-to-be-missed weekly broadcasts.Sign up for the newsletter, and while you wait for next month’s catch up on the past issues. If you missed the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in May, they’ve do a nice review every year.

I’ve listed “Riverwalk” on my links page since Know Your Music’s inception. If you love music, and enjoy learning about the music and the people who made it, “Live from the Landing” is an absolute must. The detailed and personal background to the music, as provided by host David Holt and a remarkable array of guests, gives insight not possible from just listening to a CD you bought in town.[l1]T[/l1]his just in: courtesy of “Riverwalk, Live from the Landing” – their fun and fact-filled ‘Jazz Me News’ archives are indeed available online. I’ve been enjoying it for some time without giving a thought to passing it along. I’m sure I’ll find a suitable way to do penance, but in the meantime, dig into some meaty and entertaining info, written from the vantage point of the Jim Cullum’s historic “Landing” in San Antonio Texas, origin of their not-to-be-missed weekly broadcasts.

Sign up for the newsletter, and while you wait for next month’s catch up on the past issues. If you missed the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in May, they’ve do a nice review every year.

At next year’s Jazz Jubilee, expect to see me in Jim Cullum’s shadow, soaking up all the jazz I can.

Racing Toward the Future, One Second at a Time

orth Investigating:Norah Jones – ‘Come Away With Me’

[l1]W[/l1]orth Investigating:

Norah Jones – ‘Come Away With Me

Maia Sharp – ‘Maia Sharp

Ryan Adams (late of Whiskeytown)

Jorma Kaukonen (previously of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship and Hot Tuna) – ‘Blue Country Heart

I’ll have more as I conduct my own research.

Gypsy Jazz Reborn

friend recently returned from a trip to St. Louis, where she made time to check out the St. Louis Jazz Festival. Lucky for me she did. On her return to SoCal, she brought an autographed copy of the latest CD by the gypsy jazz phenomenon The Robin Nolan Trio.When she mentioned ‘gypsy jazz’, like any music lover I immediately thought of Django Reinhardt (didn’t you?) Nervous about the unavoidable comparisons I knew I was going to make between the great Django and anyone who even attempted to emulate him, I gave the CD a listen. I was not disappointed.

[l1]A[/l1] friend recently returned from a trip to St. Louis, where she made time to check out the St. Louis Jazz Festival. Lucky for me she did. On her return to SoCal, she brought an autographed copy of the latest CD by the gypsy jazz phenomenon The Robin Nolan Trio.

When she mentioned ‘gypsy jazz’, like any music lover I immediately thought of Django Reinhardt (didn’t you?) Nervous about the unavoidable comparisons I knew I was going to make between the great Django and anyone who even attempted to emulate him, I gave the CD a listen. I was not disappointed.

Over the course of seven albums, Robin Nolan has advanced far beyond emulation to originality. The trio’s latest release, “Mediterranean Blues” is their first album comprised completely of original material, composed by Nolan and his bassist, Paul Meader. (The final member of the trio is Nolan’s younger brother Kevin, who plays rhythym guitar.) The tributes page at the official website makes it clear that Robin Nolan is a musician’s musician – anyone George Harrison would fly to his estate every year for five years running is clearly not an average guitarist.

“Mediterranean Blues” has all the fire I love in Django’s recordings, with a modern rhythmic flair I think he would have loved. The tracks, all instrumentals, run the gamut from the blazing title track which opens the album, through quietly romantic pieces, to languid daydreams set to music. “Luna Tango” is the track which most reminds me of Django’s work, but after a first listen, that comparison becomes unimportant. Since two of the band members list the Beatles first among their influences, it’s not surprising to hear a few bars from “Norwegian Wood” tucked into “Friar Park.”

Full of beauty and fire and joy, “Mediterranean Blues” is a special collection from an amazing group of musicians. Expect to hear more about the Robin Nolan Trio as I collect the rest of their albums.

Ruby Dan

arly in February 1959 music history changed when Dion DiMucci missed the plane carrying the other musicians with whom he was touring: Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.Dion turned in seven top ten singles during 1962 and 1963, one of which was the Lieber/Stoller collaboration “Ruby Baby.” Only 19 years later, Ruby got quite a facelift at the hands of the more vocal half of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen.

[l1]E[/l1]arly in February 1959 music history changed when Dion DiMucci missed the plane carrying the other musicians with whom he was touring: Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Dion turned in seven top ten singles during 1962 and 1963, one of which was the Lieber/Stoller collaboration “Ruby Baby.” Only 19 years later, Ruby got quite a facelift at the hands of the more vocal half of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen.

Fagen’s Donald Fagen's 'The Nightfly'The Nightfly“, released in 1982, contains seven of Fagen’s own tunes, “Ruby” being the only cover. While Dion’s almost doo-wop, almost rockabilly version fit his times, Fagen makes it timeless as a pure jazz tune. Nearly discordant backing vocals and a piano solo credited to Greg Phillinganes (which sounds to me a lot like Fagen) transform the 60s pop tune into an after hours meeting at your favorite smoky club. Larry Carlton‘s guitar sounds less jazzy, more edgy than you’d expect from him, but fits neatly into the package’s arrangement.

Both of Fagen’s solo albums, “The Nightfly” and “Kamakiriad“, deserve close attention. I’ll spend more time with both in the very near future.

A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

A long, long time ago, there was a singer named Harry. He was never very popular; even though he recorded over two dozen albums, almost entirely his own compositions, and although his few hits are ubiquitous in modern music, his name still draws blank stares.In an interview in the late sixties, John Lennon and Paul McCartney named Harry Nilsson as their favorite American singer. With a nearly four-octave range, an obvious passion for music (his own or someone else’s) and a natural wit, Harry was a marvelous performer. Even those who don’t know his name recognize songs like “Everybody’s Talkin'”, “Without You”, “Me and My Arrow” from his wonderful children’s story “The Point”, and “Coconut.”

[l1]A[/l1] long, long time ago, there was a singer named Harry. He was never very popular; even though he recorded over two dozen albums, almost entirely his own compositions, and although his few hits are ubiquitous in modern music, his name still draws blank stares.

SchmilssonIn an interview in the late sixties, John Lennon and Paul McCartney named Harry Nilsson as their favorite American singer. With a nearly four-octave range, an obvious passion for music (his own or someone else’s) and a natural wit, Harry was a marvelous performer. Even those who don’t know his name recognize songs like “Everybody’s Talkin’“, “Without You“, “The PointMe and My Arrow” from his wonderful children’s story “The Point”, and “Coconut.”

What Harry is not famous for is my favorite album, bar none. Never one to pander to anyone else’s taste, in 1973 Harry teamed up with the great Gordon Jenkins, composer and arranger for Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and others. Harry chose Jenkins to arrange and conduct an album of standards (and not-so-standards) and in the process, made them his own.

Harry often joked with his last name in his album titles: “Schmilsson”, “Son of Schmilsson”, and finally, “SchmilssonA Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night“, today’s feature.

I’ve owned this album since shortly after it was released, and I’m quite certain a week has not gone by when I haven’t listened to it. After more than a thousand auditions, certain passages still make me catch my breath; certain segues still make me stop what I’m doing to absorb the subtlety; certain lyrical phrasings still make me marvel at Harry’s intuitive grasp of how language and music can be one. We occasionally give it as a special gift. It’s just part of our lives and I can’t imagine anything less.

Jenkins shows why he was sought after from the thirties to the sixties with his arrangements. No tune stands on its own; instead, the orchestration of each piece flows into the next. The album opens with the first three lines of the closing tune, then sweeps into an orchestral section before settling into the first tune.

As Time Goes ByThese orchestral connections make frequent reference to “Over the Rainbow” which doesn’t appear on the album. I wondered about that for years, until I recently discovered the 1996 album “As Time Goes By: The Complete Schmilsson in the Night.” I completely missed 1988’s “A Touch More Schmilsson in the Night”, but I’m glad to see the lost tunes from those sessions come to light. I’ll definitely have something to say about the other tunes once I’ve had a chance to fully absorb them.

  • Lazy Moon – After the nod to “As Time Goes By” and a sweeping orchestral bit, Harry sings accompanied only by the slow strumming of a quiet guitar, and a few strings. The only other known recording of this tune was by Oliver Hardy, possibly in the movie “Pardon Us.” Composed in 1901 by the innovative team of Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson, Harry turns this vaudeville tune into a gentle but humorous love song. Witty lyrics and a simple melody make it easy to picture Ollie singing it, too.
  • For Me And My Gal – Written for the 1942 movie of the same name, it’s been covered by nearly everyone at one time or another. A memory of simpler times.
  • It Had To Be You – Lyrics composed in 1924 by the great Gus Kahn to an Isham Jones melody, this one receives special treatment by Harry and Gordon – slightly adjusted lyrics for the last two lines:

     But with all your faults, it's you I adore, When you stand up, your hands touch the floor, It had to be me, unlucky me, it had to be me!

    Okay, it’s not that funny, but coming unannounced this far into an album of serious and romantic tunes, it sure caught me off guard the first time I heard it.

  • Always – The shortest track on the album; composed by the amazing Irving Berlin. A short sweet statement of love.
  • Makin’ Whoopee! – No, this was written for a 1928 musical,so perhaps it’s not exactly what you think. It is a humorous Gus Kahn/Walter Donaldson collaboration about the, um, joys of hasty marriage. Gordon Jenkins puts more than the usual effort into the score. Later assassinated by Dr. John and Ricky Lee Jones on the “Sleepless in Seattle” soundtrack. All the more reason to listen to Harry’s version.
  • You Made Me Love You – Jolson, Crosby, Armstrong, Garland, Cole, all had a crack at it. It remains intact. Harry’s is subtler, more sensitive.
  • Lullaby In Ragtime – My favorite. Written by the phenomenal Silvia Fine for her husband Danny Kaye, Harry and Gordon slow it down and really make a lullaby out of it. Fine’s lyrics are always spectacular. Harry does them justice. Again accompanied primarily by guitar, but a quiet acoustic guitar reminiscent of the twenties, not the sixties.
  • I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – Once again, recorded by everybody and his brother (and a few cousins) – Como, Crosby, Charles, Kaye, Martin; Harry makes it bittersweet. The emotional power of his voice is most evident here.
  • What’ll I Do? – Another tune by Irving Berlin, one of only two composers featured twice. Written in 1924, a smoky melody noir which Harry makes no attempt to cheer up. Subtle and beautiful.
  • Nevertheless – The songwriting team of Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby was the subject of the 1950 movie “Three Little Words”, named for one of their most popular tunes. Starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, the film has the distinction of being choreographed by Astaire and Hermes Pan, with musical direction by Andre Previn. “Nevertheless” is typical Tin Pan Alley schmaltz, but as usual, in Harry’s hands (or throat) it transcends its origins and becomes a lovely tune.
  • This Is All I Ask – Written by Harry’s arranger and conductor on the album, Gordon Jenkins, this is one of the most complex tunes present. Only ten years old at the time Harry recorded it, it sounds much, much older. John Gary did it nicely when it was newer, but as usual, Harry finds a few notes that no one else seemed to notice. Slow and subtle, it is the perfect lead into the final piece.
  • As Time Goes By – What CasablancaBogart really said was “Play it Sam, If she can take it, so can I.” So Sam plays it – “As Time Goes By.” Written by the otherwise anonymous Herman Hupfield, it is the lyrical epitome of the timelessness of true love. It’s just a bit odd that it plays such a pivotal role in a movie whose theme is that some things are more important than love. Harry and Gordon arrange it perfectly; the phrasing, the dynamics, the well-placed silences; it really is one of the finest recordings I’ve ever heard.

Harry died in at the age of 53 in 1994. In my opinion, that was a hundred years too soon.