Are you lost on a howling, desolate, icy tundra, not knowing
where you are, or even if you’re near anywhere, knowing only that you’re about
to face an implacable enemy in high-tech, mortal combat? No? Good. Maybe you’re
on space craft, and something’s gone wrong, and you’re hurtling in slow-mo
toward some kind of seething, black-hole abyss. No, not that, either? Good.
Good, because Blood
Year, the new album by the devastatingly heavy instrumental trio Russian
Circles, won’t be fully released until August 2. If you’re planning any of the
above adventures—or, maybe, making a score for a movie or video-game that
dramatizes such scenarios—wait until early August, because, if the pre-release
tracks from Blood Year are any
indication, Blood Year is the
soundtrack you need. It is such a buzzkill when your dark, cinematic adventures
have the wrong music.
Be sure to read Part 1, which focuses on Joni Mitchell’s song “Furry Sings the Blues” and her distinctive use of alternate tunings.
noted in Part 1, Metheny’s presence in Mitchell’s touring band is one among his
rare appearances as a sideman to an artist from outside the jazz world. Well
before his 1979 gig as Mitchell’s lead guitarist, Pat Metheny had in place a
sound and style very much his own. Throughout much of the show, he presses his
well-known tone—via a Gibson Es-175 into a pair of clean Acoustic combos,
gently enhanced with asymmetrical delay settings—into the service of songs
distant from his own.
Be sure to check back on July 7 for part 2, which will focus on Pat Metheny’s contribution to “Furry Sings the Blues.”
Mitchell’s “Shadows and Light” is a brilliant performance document that brings
together stage translations of the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s mid-70s
period. During this interval, Mitchell released one after another adventurous
album: Court and Spark (1974), The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975), Hejira (1976), Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977), and Mingus (1979). In contrast to the folk and softer rock leanings of
her earlier recordings, the brief on this sequence of albums was strongly
informed by jazz, and Mitchell brought aboard some of the most cutting-edge
jazz musicians of the era, perhaps most notably electric bass innovator and
virtuoso Jaco Pastorius.
Although Mitchell herself is the essential guitar presence
on her albums, she invited occasional additions from jazz-rock lead player
Larry Carlton and Robben Ford. By the time of the late 1979 gigs that led to Shadows and Light, her live band
included one of the most innovative young jazz guitarists of the time: Pat
Metheny. Four years out from his 1976 debut and close to the cusp of releasing American Garage, Metheny was in what
have proven to be rare circumstances in his lengthy and still-evolving career.
what you must about the group that shapeshifted from the band that made “Somebody
to Love” to the band that made “We Built This City,” but anyone who wants to
dis them too hard has to reckon with the high points of their output. While
never a megahit, “Jane” has been an FM radio staple for four decades and may
well be the most identifiable single from the Jefferson Starship incarnation.
Much of its enduring appeal resides in the contributions of rhythm guitarist Paul
Kantner and lead guitarist Craig Chaquico.
with a clean, phase-shifted arpeggiated Em7-Gmaj7 riff, the guitarists quickly kick
on crunchy sounds and cue the rhythm section with a pick-up that precedes the
tight and punchy main riff. The riff is simple, but the song resists reduction
to a bonehead riff with dramatic chromatic climbs, a faux-Carribean breakdown,
and a key change leading into the guitar solo.
With the arrival of People Moverimminenthere (On Apple Music, it dropped at midnight on Monday, July 1), I’ve been listening to a lot of Scott Henderson’s older music and getting excited about hearing new stuff from him. Below are five tunes, in chronological order, from Henderson’s previous releases. They represent his early days as a sideman; his work as a key member of the fusion outfit Tribal Tech; an interesting one-off collaboration with bassist Jeff Berlin and drummer Dennis Chambers; and his solo albums, but there is no attempt at ranking and no judgment of what is absolutely essential in his catalog—except in a couple of cases.
“Three Nighter,” from Jeff Berlin’s Champion (1985)
Champion was my introduction to Scott Henderson’s playing. I knew Jeff Berlin from Allan Holdsworth’s Road Games, and I was stoked to see that the bassist had Neal Schon and Neal Peart on his debut solo album, but it was the guitar contributions of then-unknown-to-me Scott Henderson that really turned my head around. On “Three Nighter,” Henderson’s rhythmic acuity shines as he riffs in unison with Berlin, carries melodic sections on his own, and digs in on solos that capture both bebop’s melodic contours and its spaces and pauses right next to rock guitar moves.
Click “continue reading” for 4 more choice Scott Henderson tracks!
On June 19, Glass Onyon PR issued a press release giving details of People Mover, Scott Henderson’s soon-to-be-released follow up the absolutely outstanding Vibe Station. It’s been a while since there’s been any new music from Henderson: Vibe Station came out in 2015, and it’s the last issued recording he mentions on his website. But, based on Scott’s own words, there is reason to think it will be well worth the wait. Dig this:
“I’d say this album is a bit more harmonic than ‘Vibe
Station,’ and the rhythm section plays a bigger role in the music. The
challenge was to come up with new tones and effects I haven’t used before,
since like ‘Vibe Station,’ the songs are layered with multi guitar tracks.”
“Real Thing” is the super-hooky single from the latest EP by Australian band Middle Kids. Released a couple of months in advance of New Songs for Old Problems, “Real Thing” grabs attention with lead singer Hannah Day’s gorgeously stretched vowels on longing choruses that rise up from uneasy verses.
are supported by the guitars of Day herself and lead guitarist/bassist Tim Fitz,
in a perennial rock style that fits into the channel of what is broadly called “alternative”
or “indie.” The grungy chorus will certainly bring 90s associations for many.
In the week
before Gold & Grey dropped, on
June 14, Baroness played a series of small gigs, including an in-store
appearance at Vintage Vinyl and a full-on electric performance at the Gutter, a
Brooklyn, NY, bar.
videos of both above-mentioned short sets, each of which is totally worthwhile,
along with some thoughts about them. Please share your comments!
can’t think of any other band that does two-guitar harmonies in which both
guitarists use single-coil pickups. The reduced sustain (as compared to
humbuckers) and the pokier high frequencies of single-coils emphasize the sound
of two guitars together. With some bands, I frequently hear guitar harmonies as
two players trying to sound like one. I dig that sound a lot, but there are other
At the June 8th and 9th 2019 Brooklyn Stompbox Exhibit, musicians of all types who are pedal enthusiasts found a cornucopia of fun signal-bending technology ready to be played by anyone so inclined. What a kick it was to see the huge enthusiasm that a display of pedals generated! The exhibit, which was held at Lytehouse Studio, included the products of at least 50 pedal makers. Delicious Audio, a blog that was involved in organizing the event, reported a total of nearly 2,000 attendees.
A few big rooms, tons of music gear, and a seeming gazillion pretty closely packed people—“Well, that’ll give you a headache,” a cynic might think. But, actually, no, not at all.
Don’t let the wAcka-jaWaKa lettering on the cover throw you off! Warsaw Summer Jazz Days ’98 (Manifesto, 2019) is a well-recorded documenting of Allan Holdsworth digging deep into his muse in a trio that also showcased the chordally sympathetic six-string bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Gary Novak. Needless to say, another reminder of the vital and singular sound of Allan Holdsworth will always be more than welcome!
quartet of tunes that later appeared on Holdsworth’s 2000 release, The Sixteen Men of Tain, this gig also includes several pieces from
the late master’s fertile early 80s period, plus “Proto-Cosmos,” from his tenure
with drummer Tony Williams.