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!