I’m not a big fan of songlists that claim to cite “essential tracks” or “ultimate, must haves.” Music is way too personal – and way too subjective for all that isn’t it? I mean, there’s no getting away from the way music and memory and our senses are all intertwined. Who amongst us has not heard a song out of context – at the grocery store, for example – that sucks you back into time and causes a thwack of emotion so intense that it’s a few seconds before your mind actually catches up with your adrenals. Whoa, what happened here? Well for me, it’s usually emotive agony - caused by A minor, the artist’s inflection of a certain lyric or worst of all, a song that I associate with an ex-lover. But at the other more positive end of the spectrum, I might be reacting to a moment of sudden unexpected longing that was lying dormant and waiting - till Patsy Kline tore the lid off with Crazy and I just happened to be browsing the tinned peas when I heard it …
But I digress. I would never be arrogant enough to suggest that my (albeit inspired) taste is the marker for what you should be spinning at your next party or get together; however, in a world where there is SO much music out there and not a whole lot of time to sample it all, I do understand that people – particularly musically curious people - appreciate suggestions and parameters and the ever popular, if you like this, then you might like that kind of thing. Sooooo with that alone in mind, I thought I would share some humble suggestions of artists that I especially like who may or may not be known to you. I’m all about the new and the old school here so if you’d like to email me your obvious omissions, that would be swell too.
If you have never listened to jazz and you already have a prejudice that it’s all “just a noise” (yes, some people actually say this) then I refer you to the old school jazz in its infancy which is such a good place to start. You can sample – as of course you must - Miles Davis, Stanley Clarke and the other “intelligent” jazz guys later. Start with the gentle and melodic strains of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong which will work for any kind of gathering and is also guaranteed to start your day right.
On a more modern note – while erring slightly more on the “popular/soul” side of things as opposed to true jazz – I have been extremely impressed with my recent discovery of the British songstress Duffy (who incidentally, was brought to my attention by good friend and arch 'CultureVulture' Jinny . Thank you!!!) Duffy makes an amazing contribution to the movie soundtrack“An Education.” This song, Smoke Without Fire is definitely one that deserves full-on listening attention and if you like Amy (Winehouse) this one should drop you to your knees in the grocery store …
Back to the Blues: Have you listened to Big Bill Broonzy lately?
Well hang your head in shame – when I first heard this guy I listened to nothing else for a very long time. Start with In the Evening (When the Sun goes down) You can sample below. This is the real deal old time blues – Broonzy was a precursor to Muddy and many others. Enjoy and help yourself to seconds!
For a sampling of someone who does old time jazz and the blues with equal aplomb you need look no further than Jeff Healey who served up authentic, heart felt electric blues with the best but also had a long standing passion for jazz easily sampled on his fabulous cd Adventures in Jazzland.
Check it out! And if this was helpful at all please let me know – I would love to hear from you. Cheers.
Editors Note: In the spirit of full disclosure the cds refered to here are all from the author's personal collection