Eric Burdon at the Meriden Daffodil Festival

I have always wanted to see Eric Burdon perform. His music with the Animals, then later on with Sky Pilot, War, Spill the Wine and his latest recording Soul of a Man are amongst my favorite musical memories.

The past few years the Meriden Daffodil Festival has become a treasure trove of live music from the 60s. I have seen The Turtles, John Sebastian play there. Its a great place to get close to the artists.

Eric Burdon and the Animals set was a lively chorus of music. Eric’s voice was in top form.

He is an exciting bluesman. The Animals hits went over well with the crowd as we sang and danced along, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It’s My Life and the perennial classic House of the Rising Sun (1964).

What I really liked about Eric Burdon’s live performance were the songs from the Soul of a Man CD.

The song, Kingsize Jones took on a strong, immediate presence. The title track epitomized what Eric Burdon emotes the best, how a man’s soul feels and expresses. Soul of a Man is a great expression.

I really loved when Eric switched into blues mode with Boom, Boom by John Lee Hooker and the song he did about his early memories of seeing Memphis Slim at 17.

The band is very tight, professional, Red Young on keyboards, Paula O’Rourke on bass and several other excellent musicians.

All in all a great afternoon of music.


Jazz Fusion In Abundance Throughout 2008

For those who enjoy the jazz fusion sounds of John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Return to Forever and such notable jazz side musicians in their own right, as Christian McBride (bass), Kenny Garrett (sax) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), the harvest of music you will reap in 2008 will be very abundant. Allow me to lay out the vines of this tree so you can pluck the fruits you desire.

The first artist I’d like to mention is John McLaughlin, a prominent electric guitarist and world musician, a leader in the genre of jazz-world-fusion. John is releasing a pair of recordings interrelated , Floating Point on CD  

and a video of the 5 day recording session itself, entitled, Meeting of the Minds on DVD.

John McLaughlin’s point of intersection with Chick Corea is a band that he and the side musicians mentioned above will be playing together in for Peace, probably later on this year (fall/winter 08 anticipated due to each person’s existing schedules and committments), Five Peace Band. An exciting collaboration to put it mildly.

Chick Corea is also part of the reformed and touring Return to Forever ensemble. They are embarking upon a world tour that will reintroduce this jazz fusion engine to a new audience of listeners.

So all and all an exciting time for jazz fusion in 2008. Keep an eye and ear out for these artists as their tour and recording plans gel. We will all benefit from their synergy and direction.

Herbie Hancock – River: The Joni Letters, Reviewed

 Herbie Hancock

River: The Joni Letters

Verve B0009791-02

Produced and arranged by Larry Klein and Herbie Hancock (Piano), with Wayne Shorter (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone), Dave Holland (Bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (Drums), Lionel Loueke (Guitar)

Herbie Hancock continues with the tradition of classic collaborations that he orchestrated with Possibilities (2005) and Gershwin’s World (1998). This time out Herbie’s effort is titled River: The Joni Letters. River is a choreographed tribute to Joni Mitchell’s songs as letters of rich jazz visual montages.

River: The Joni Letters is ten smartly chosen tracks, six vocal tracks with stellar vocalists and four instrumental interludes. Interspersing instrumentals with the six main vocal tracks is a stroke of genius. It’s like eating your way through to the rich layers of creamy filling found in a multilayered cake. The first two instrumentals are “Both Sides Now” and “Sweet Bird”; done as new improvisations. We are also treated to two classic jazz numbers, “Solitude” (Edgar De Lange-Duke Ellington-Irving Mills) and “Nefertiti” Miles Davis (Wayne Shorter).

“Nefertiti”is written and performed by premier saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Shorter’s saxophone accents takes the recording to a higher plane. When I was researching the significance of including the composition “Nefertiti”, I learned it was originally performed by the second and last Miles Davis Quintet. “Nefertiti” had a significant influence on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira album which clearly established her jazz singer\songwriter potential. Therein lies the intersection point.

Norah Jones opens the River recording with the tune, “Court and Sparkriding in on the wings of Herbie Hancock’s piano accompaniment. Norah Jones is ideally suited to begin this musical journey with her present state leadership role in contemporary jazz. Ms. Jones swirls soft, eloquent vocals like clouds in a scenic painting as Herbie’s playing moves her along the sky. The duo is sweetly accented by Wayne Shorter’s signature phrasing on tenor saxophone. His saxophone ignites the spark for Norah and Herbie’s whimsical jazzy courtship.

Tina Turner greets us with her sultry voice accenting the song “Edith and the Kingpin”, from Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns. The listener is immediately drawn into a cinematic tale of romantic intrigue. One can visualize the coat draped over the shoulders of the big man as he enters the club. Immediately we intermingle with this underworld societies’ captivation with a powerful man and his women. Tina’s warm and soothing sisterly vocals narrate the sensual dance as it weaves the story in front of our very eyes.

One by one they bring

His renegade stories to her

His crimes and his glories to her

In challenge they look on

Women he has taken grow old too soon

He tilts their tired faces

Gently to the spoon

“River” the title track is performed by Corrine Bailey Rae as her voice possesses the sound of soft snow falling outside your window. One would swear that Corrine Bailey Rae and the musicians playing along have done this song many evenings together in a posh nightclub for regular clientele. They fit together harmoniously with a relaxed, familiar sound.

Joni Mitchell, appears next as if on cue, with the saga, “Tea Leaf Prophecy” from Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm. Here we have a song about the World War II era replete with the self-reflective consciousness of a woman who states repeatedly, “she says she’s leaving but she don’t go”. How many of us in this life have made that same claim about wanting to escape from our own meager existences?

Bossa Nova starlet Luciana Souza performs “Amelia” a song about Amelia Earhart. Her vocal stylizing is hip, which embellishes this song with a warmth, color and ambience.

Leonard Cohen folk music, poet laureate, (I’m reading his book of poems and essays, Book of Longing right now) ends the recording with his reading of “The Jungle Line”. His gravely narrative voice resonates throughout this song in a unique bohemia like poetic reading. I find it very appropriate that Herbie Hancock and Leonard Cohen chose this song about Henri Rousseau, the French painter.

Joni Mitchell is a painter first, a musician second. Her rich tapestries of artistic song enrapture us completely as Herbie Hancock accents Joni’s jazz letters perfectly.

Acid-Folk Music Scene – Devendra Banhart

Sometimes you turn over a rock in the back yard and discover a gemstone you’ve been hoping to find to illuminate your senses.  The discovery becomes a prism that takes you on a journey of thought, wonderment and mirth. The prism refracts and reveals the acid-folk music universe where Devendra Banhart is standing at it’s center. Devendra Banhart is a psych folk cultural icon, a natural mystic who is shaping, defining and adding art/dimension/intrigue to an unfolding multi-layered music genre.

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I know I’m late to the party here but there’s still a slice of cake to indulge upon. I first discovered Devendra Banhart as a new folk artist featured in the Vanity Fair, November 2007, Folk Music Explosion portfolio.

Next thing I know I start seeing more references about him on the front cover of music magazines. Uncut Magazine features Devendra Banhart personal compilation of artists he likes, which was stuck as a CD sampler to the front cover titled, Love Above All, 11 tracks Inside the Mind of the Acid-Folk King. The CD is extremely listenable (unlike other samplers which are disjointed) abundant in vivid, colorful, influences that yield to discovery and personal enjoyment. The artists include Papercuts singing Unavailable, Kyle Tomzo’s Bicycle and Hecuba’s Peace and Money. Several of the artists featured on this CD sampler don’t have record contracts. Several are from Gnomonsong Recordings, an adventurous, fun, how it used to be way back when in San Francisco psychedlic days, record label.

Devendra Banhart is featured on the cover of Harp Magazine this month. He’s hit the trifecta in magazines appearances folks. You should definitely check him and this music idiom out for your listening pleasure. Acid-folk music is a tribute to and a furtherance of such 60’s artists as Pentangle, The Incredible String Band and the mystic flower child Donovan.

As I learn about this subculture music and art scene, I’ll try to write additional updates here.

Sam Beam – Iron & Wine

I discovered Sam Beam just yesterday on the corner edge of my radar screen. I saw his picture on the cover of Paste Magazine’s October issue. I thought I’d share his art and music with you. You know as much as I do about him now.

He’s quite soulful and eclectic. His looks are deceptive, but his music will find that place in you that has been like a sweet tooth in search of a chocolate bar. So peel back the candy wrapper, take a bite and give him a listen.

Iron & Wine ~ Home


sheperdsdog The Shepherd’s Dog – Iron and Wine Reviewed

Jazz as a Wonderful Spiritual Virus

Carlos Santana always speaks with respect and admiration about how we can lovingly spread peace to each other through music in the form of a spiritual virus. He should know for Carlos is truly one of the great healing musicians in our time.

I was browsing Carlos’s What’s On Carlos’s Mind? web page on the Official Carlos Santana Web Site where I noticed Carlos has been listening to Kenny Garrett a lot lately. I recalled I had seen Kenny Garrett play at the Santana All That I Am CD launch party at the Hammerstein Ballroom.(You can watch that Webcast from 11/1/2005 here, Rhapsody Santana All That I Am Webcast  or listen to the track here, Evil Ways/A Love Supreme). When Carlos introduced Kenny Garrett, he said triumphantly “Also joining us the real Kenny G, Mr. Kenny Garrett”. Kenny G. played a knock you out and then some version of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme as he improvised masterfully on the alto saxophone for us live.

Well I must tell you, Mr. Kenny Garrett spreads a great spiritual virus with his recording Beyond The Wall. I picked this CD up yesterday and have been playing it non-stop ever since. The tracks are each a brilliant awakening. You are taken on a spiritual journey beyond the great wall of China, directly into a culture that Kenny leads you to .




Check out Kenny Garrett’s Beyond The Wall you won’t be disappointed!