The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Wayne Shorter’

56 is the new 55

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2016

Tomorrow a momentous event is occurring:  I’m celebrating it with two gigs, which is actually how I would be spending the day even if it wasn’t an anniversary of my birth.

I’m not one of those who shy away form celebrating his birthday.  While it’s true I am now one year more removed from the salad days of my 20s and one step closer to the grave, there is an important facet of the birthday not to be overlooked:  Presents.

Folks you have to milk it.  Need a new shirt?  A new set of linen?  A beer?  A chocolate cake? Strike a pose and drop a hint.  It’s go time!

Now right about now, you’re probably wondering, ‘How can I, the mere blog-reader, contribute to Keitho’s birthday celebration?‘ Well I’m glad you asked.

Go to this link:

And remember, linen always makes a great gift.


Wayne Shorter was born on August 25th too, as well as Leonard Bernstein, Rollie Fingers and Fred Frink.  (a baseball player form the 20s)

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The main event: The John Coltrane Quartet!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 14, 2015

I just saw this for the first time last week:  The John Coltrane Quartet playing A Love Supreme live.  Amazing stuff. McCoy’s solo on Resolution, which begins at appx 7.50, is devastating.

I really believe that in an Anchorman-style rumble the Coltrane Quartet would have no trouble with Mile’s 60s quintet. I realize that Miles’ group would have a man advantage, but the quartet would outweigh them and are going to want it more.

Now some of you are probably saying, ‘Woah, woah, woah, Miles knew boxing, mannnn!’ To that I would respond, one word: Elvin.

Elvin would be like, ‘You want a piece of this, Miles?’ *Ba bam bam be ke de bam [three against four to the face] GOOSH CRASH BE BAM CRINKLE OH SNAP [paradiddle] GA-GOOSH IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO PLAY 6/8 GROOVE GROAN SKOOSH CYMBAL*

And that, my friends, would be the end of the Miles Davis Quintet. I would hope they already had recorded Miles Smiles cause that shit is my favorite.

John Coltrane’s masterwork, A Love Supreme, was only played once in live concert. This portion is the only surviving film of that 1965 performance.

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The greatest piano solo I’ve ever heard

Posted by keithosaunders on September 12, 2015

I’ve always liked Herbie Hancock but for whatever reason he has never cracked my top 3 favorite pianists. (Bud Powell, Wynton Kelly, McCoy Tyner) I was into most, if not all of his leader dates in the 60s, (Speak Like a Child is a top 5 record for me) and love him with Miles. Yet…there was something preventing me from going all in. I liked him as a friend.

Until…this. On the very first tune of this video, at apx 8:38 he plays a solo on Autumn Leaves that is so monumental that I am surprised that the space-time continuum was able to maintain its structural integrity and that there still exists an earth where there are standards with chord changes in 32 bar forms. That we try to play. And fail.

This is one of the best piano solos I’ve ever heard. It’s a fully realized, harmonically mind blowing, yet seriously grooving, logic defying masterpiece.

For some reason Wayne ends his solo at the bridge. (why did he do that?) Herbie starts out with some clusters suspended over a pedal point. He’s doing the ropadope – like he’s biding his time, patiently waiting for the chorus to come around and then BAM!


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Aja — the Ten Commandments of pop music

Posted by keithosaunders on April 27, 2011

Steely Dan released Aja —  their sixth album —  in 1977.  It was an enormous hit, peaking at #3 in the U.S. charts.  It is a jazz-rock fusion album in the best, and truest sense of the word.  Its rhythms have an R & B, and pop sensibility, but the songs are infused with dense jazz harmony, complete with +9 and -5 chords, ii-V-I progressions, and obscure hipster references.  […died behind the wheel]

I recently heard a radio show in which a pair of music critics debated the viability of Aja.  The anti-Aja guest asserted that the record is sterile, and that its music is akin to 1970s-style easy listening music.  Although I fall firmly on the pro-Aja side of the debate, I can see where this person is coming from.  Aja is a remarkably clean-sounding record.  Donald Fagan and Walter Becker were notorious for their meticulous attention to detail, and by their own admission they were passionate about their love of the studio and its possibilities. 

The anti-Aja guest is a rocker through and through — that is to say someone who does not appreciate jazz.  For me, the idea of pop music that contains sophisticated chords, great grooves, and sardonic lyrics, played by bad-ass jazz and studio musicians, is right in my wheelhouse.  I can easily see how someone could mistake Aja for easy-listening, especially on first listen.

That theory only holds so much water, however.  There are some all-time performances on this date.  Steve Gadd’s drum fills and samba groove on the title track is a jaw-dropping revelation.  Likewise, drummer Bernard Purdie’s “Purdie shuffle” groove on Peg is hall of fame stuff.  Wayne Shorter lays down an interesting solo on Aja, but it is the L.A. tenor man Pete Christlieb, who, to my ears, steals the show.  His solo on Deacon Blues may be the greatest ever sax solo on a pop tune.  

 The list of sidemen on this date reads like the pop music version of a Cecil B. Demille film: 

Tom Scott, Chuck Findley, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Don Grolnick, Michael Omartian,Jim Keltner, Rick Marotta, and Michael McDonald, to name a few. 

Becker and Fagan happen to be good musicians themselves.  While Fagan may lack the chops of the aforementioned session men, he has a great time feeling, and he knows how to utilize space.  I watched a clip of a documentary on the making of Aja, in which Fagan discussed the harmony of Josie with fellow pianist, Warren Bernhardt.  You can hear, both in his discourse, as well as his playing, that he is someone who knows what he is doing — he is not simply playing at being a jazz muscian. 

It would be nearly impossible to make a comparable record in today’s era.  Even if there was an artist as innovative as Steely Dan, there isn’t a studio left that would splurge on this array of talent.  And if the record somehow got made, radio, as it exists today, wouldn’t play it. 

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Three-ring records

Posted by keithosaunders on December 28, 2010

Younger readers of this blog have not had the experience of playing a record so many times that the cover develops concentric indented circles.  My favorite records had three-rings, which was a sign of dozens, if not hundreds of playings.

Today while listening to my Pandora station, McCoy Tyner’s Four by Five came on.  Hearing it reminded me that the album that it comes from, The Real McCoy, is one of my favorite records of all time.  Recorded in April of 1967, it was McCoy’s first album for the Blue Note label — he had recorded several as a leader for Impulse — and it featured Joe Henderson on tenor, Ron Carter on bass, and the great drummer, Elvin Jones.

Henderson is simply amazing.  His time is impeccable and he effortlessly glides over the changes while meshing perfectly with the explosive rhythm section.  The album contains five striking originals by Tyner and is one of the great records of the post-Coltrane era. 

Listening to Henderson play on the Tyner composition got me thinking about the first Joe Henderson record I ever heard, Inner Urge.  The personnel is nearly identical to that of The Real McCoy; only the bass player, Bob Cranshaw, is different.  I had borrowed the record from my cousin and I was fairly sceptical as to whether I would like Henderson’s playing.  At that time, still in my late teens, I was certain that Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, and Hank Mobley had said all there was to say on the tenor.  By the second jaw-dropping chorus of Inner Urge I realized how wrong I was. 

This record was probably responsible for opening my ears to more music than any other.  Not only was I hearing Henderson for the first time, but (incredibly) McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones as well. 

I had no idea…

Once I accepted and embraced the fact that there was great music created after the be-bop era it opened up an entire new world for me.  Inner Urge was my gateway drug.  I had listened to Coltrane before, but now I felt brave enough to venture into the classic quartet material.  It would take me five or six more years to get to his later works, but I had enough to chew on for the time being. 

I also began listening to Wayne Shorter’s records as a leader, as well as his work with the Miles Davis quintet of the early to mid-60s.  Wayne is an acquired taste.  He’s like the oyster of jazz — you rarely like him the first time.  Once I got used to his thinner tone and his quirky time feeling, which is not so much in the pocket, but floating in and around the beat, he became one of my favorites.  Not to mention the fact that he is a masterful composer.  The three-ring record I own of Wayne’s is a 1964 work entitled JuJu. 

 I suppose it is no coincidence that all three of these dates featured Tyner and Jones.  They had such an empathy for each other that to my ears there is no finer rhythm section.  They are in complete agreement as to where the quarter note is and they compliment each other — McCoys pounding left hand fifths and Elvin’s fiery polyrhythms.  For this reason I have always felt a greater connection to the Coltrane quarter of the 60s over Miles more ethereal (but no less brilliant) quintet of the same era. 

I don’t know what the digital equivalent of a three-ring album is.  I suppose we have the ability to star our ipod tracks, but that idea never appealed to me.  I’m not ready for the American Idolization of my record collection.

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