It doesn't take much to make me happy, but then it doesn't take much to annoy me either.



18 AUG 2019 - For the last couple of years I've been building my jazz collection. Mind you, what has been put together is nothing compared to the collection of others (my FLAC and MP4 totals are about 6K files - I've heard of others on message boards that were 10x that amount) but it's still something I greatly enjoy. Up until recently I would select my entire jazz library and put it on shuffle, playing whatever popped up 24/7... whenever I walked into my room there'd be good music to hear. I love it.

But lately I've taken a different approach, trying to focus on a specific artist or album, and repeating the play over and over to try and gain a better appreciation for that specific work.

I started with Freddie Hubbard, and queued up a couple of albums to play repeatedly. Then I realized there might be a better appreciation if I focused on a single album and only listened to that. For a period of a week or so would only listen to that body of work... then select another album for another week.

So far I've listened to Freddie Hubbard, Oscar Peterson, Andre Previn, and right now I've going thru Bill Evans. Really good stuff... after listening to Andre Previn's Alone album I combined it with Johnny Costa for some excellent solo jazz piano. Don't mean to repeat myself, but really good stuff...

Side note about Johnny Costa - I learned about him thru my kids watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Especially at the end of the program, the credits would show with some jazz piano playing in the background. Day after day the kids would watch and after a while I noticed I was looking forward to the end just to hear the music. Loved it - found out this was the inimitable Johnny Costa and learned he's one of the hottest jazz pianists around... good stuff!


11 AUG 2018 - Going thru our weekend morning routine - coffee and computers while quietly listening to music. We're on the patio with the Pulse 2 hooked up and a mix of pop songs is playing. One in particular song caught my attention... Another Grey Morning by James Taylor.

I know this song from years back after going thru a James Taylor phase. He's a great artist and I love everything from the early stuff up to his JT album. But the lyrics of Another Grey Morning are just so haunting and real.

It's a story about a mother who's battling depression, waking up and facing the routine of the another day and just not having the motivation to go on. The lyrics touch gracefully on the the thoughts and emotions of depression, recognizing the struggle without pushing for quick resolutions or short answers. Sometimes life is tough and grinding thru it can be, well... a grind. No other way out.

When if feels as though my love is sinking down
 The sun doesn't want to shine
When it feels like she won't face another day
 Life is unkind - she's frozen in time

And here comes another grey morning
 A not so good morning after all
She says "Well what am I to do today
 With so much time and so much sorrow?"

She hears the baby waking up downstairs
 She hears the foghorn calling out across the sound
Repetition in the morning air
 It's just to much to bear

And no one seems to care

If another day goes creeping by
 empty and ashamed
Like an old unwanted memory
 that no one will claim

The clouds with there heads on the ground
 She's gonna have to come down

She said "Move me, move me
 I'm locked up inside"
Well I didn't understand her
 Though God knows I tried

She said "Make me angry
 But just make me cry
But no more grey morning
 I think I'd rather die"


04 AUG 2018 - Wow. Just found a great site that breaks down Steely Dan's song Peg. This article goes into great detail about the guitar solo, especially since 7 studio guitarists were brought in, including Becker himself, to get just the right sound. They finally struck gold with Jay Graydon, who humbly describes himself as merely an above average guitarist that just happened to play the right music at the right time.

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan were famous for wanting just the right musicians for each song. A different song meant a whole different set of studio musicians. And in the case of the guitarist for Peg, it took 7 tries before they found the one they liked.

Some quotes from the article:

In a commemoration of Aja’s fortieth anniversary last year, Newseek’s Zach Schonfeld described Becker and Fagen’s “odd, neurotic approach” to recording “that turned the creative pair into musical auteurs of sorts, but made finishing a record nearly impossible.” As you’ll hear musicians like drummer Rick Marotta explain in the “Peg” making-of video at the top, the duo would bring in a crew of top-notch players for a session, then scrap every performance and bring an entirely new band in the next day, unhappy with virtually every take. “Every track, every overdub,” says engineer Elliot Scheiner, “had to be the perfect overdub. They didn’t settle for anything. They were always looking for the perfect.”

The website is openculture.com and the article about Peg, written by Josh Jones, is here - good stuff... hit the tip jar if you can.



Dave Brubeck29 JUL 2018 - Have a nice stereo system setup in my room (details here) and so now there's music running literally 24/7. I keep it quiet in the eveninings, and have it as low as possible while sleeping... but whenever I walk into my room there is music. Glorious, ongoing, beautiful music - I love it.

At first I was running thru a lot of the old masters such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Lester Young, Ella Fitzgerald... discovered some Fred Hersch! Great stuff and well worth training the musical ear to hear their progressions and interpretations of so many classics. But there was one artist I returned to over and over, Dave Brubeck. Now Mr. Brubeck runs on an endless background loop day in and day out. I still plan to switch it up occasionally and don't expect to never play anything else, but Brubeck has pushed his way forward like no others.

Initally I purchased a greatest hits CD called The Essential Dave Brubeck. Then I wanted to explore a little further so picked up other works, especially from earlier times. Can't get enough Brubeck...

There's something about the rythym, tonal changes, syncopation - all done in a smart way that isn't too interpretational with plenty of good melody coming thru also. He can play upbeat with the best of them, but his slow stuff is just so well thought out - as though creating a mood was the intention all along instead of just a good song.


30 OCT 2017 - Here's a list of my favorite torch songs. Oh. My. Gosh. I just love these songs.

When riding the bus home from work in the evenings I would sit in back, put my headphones on, and listen to these songs. What I noticed was, more than any other music, I'd have to be careful not to start singing out loud - on the bus. There's something about how deep and mournful these songs are... just want to break out and sing along, they're that good.

BTW, Etta James... the woman absolutely sings her ass off. Unbelievable. And Ella Fitzgerald is easily the greatest female singer of all time.

So here's the list, in alphabetical order. I've linked to a sample of the song on Amazon in case someone wants to listen:


07 SEP 2017 - In honor of Walter Becker, who passed away earlier this week.

I was introduced to Steely Dan in my youth, probably thru the album Pretzel Logic, way back in the 1970s. A couple of the songs were easy to pick up, such as Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Any Major Dude, and With A Gun.

But beyond a few pop hits I can't say I really appreciated them until 30 years later. Sure, I was aware of Aja back then, and even realized it was a beautiful work of art. But it wasn't until later on that I truly listened to the music, to the point that I was in awe of their genius and how the songs are so compositely complete. 

There are a bunch of YouTube clips that analyze Steely Dan's music, but I thought this was one of the better ones. It's not too technical yet still does a good job of revealing the complexity of the music. This video is from The Pledge and is narrated by Nerdwriter1.



More Steely Dan... this is Chain Lightning, a smooth jazz blues number that was the 8th song on the 1975 album Katy Lied. I like this song because there's a sweet little guitar solo in the middle that is actually performed by Rick Derringer. As noted on another review, "...the song is way too short as you want the lead guiter to continue way past the fadeout of the studio cut.":


The guitar solo transitions into the base rhythm of the song, which has a smooth jazz feel to it that easily becomes something you want to hum all day long:



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