Recent Music

Some music I’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks

I’m about to go work on my Counterpoint 2 project, for which I actually am coming up with stuff that I don’t hate for a change. Maybe I’ll post it here when I’m done to see what you all think. In the meantime I thought I’d talk about some of the amazing stuff I’ve been studying and listening to lately.

First off, there’s Miles. Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain. And I’ll be listening to more in the next few weeks. But what can you say about Miles? You don’t appreciate him enough when you first start studying jazz, and the more you learn, the more amazing and deep Miles seems. Listening to him, you get the feeling that he really truly meant everything he said with his horn, and he had an uncanny way of always being aware of the context and saying things that were perfectly relevant. There are very few other musicians that you can really say this about. He was a visionary, and it rubbed off on all the people he came into contact with.

I also developed a new appreciation for the song Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn. We listened to a Nat King Cole recording of it in survey (who, by the way, has an incredible voice), and it’s a nice song, but the lyrics are what really kick ass. They’re really cleverly manipulated. I found that I still have an old Joe Pass/Ella Fitzgerald recording that I think Matt sent me a few years ago, so I got to go back and listen to it.

I got to go and talk to Ted Pease this week, he’s my survey teacher and Jazz Comp Guru here at Berklee, and he’s been inviting us to go talk to him about various things we’ve listened to in class, among them Maria Schneider’s work and a piece by George Russell called All About Rosie. George is an interesting character, he’s got some really different ideas about harmony which he’s applied to his pieces to get some really fresh-sounding stuff. He was commissioned to do All About Rosie for a Gunther Schuler album of what he called “third-stream” music, which is basically the melding of jazz and classical music. This isn’t like Gil Evans using orchestral instruments or Dave Brubeck borrowing the rondo form for his Blue Rondo a la Turk, but this is hard core contrapuntal and multitonic explorations, really complicated and ingenious stuff. Apparently it never really caught on. I’m really interested in studying this stuff because it’s an avenue that I’m interested in exploring in my own work, so I talked to Ted about it and he loaned me his score to study for a few days. It’s nuts.

Don’t worry, I’ve been indulging my more rock-oriented musical needs too, with music by the Grandaddies and also Peaches; you know, The Presidents of the United States of America song. Ahh, memories of middle school. Good times. Mmm… Good Times.

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