Birdland and Y.I.R

Coming home from dinner one night with my wife and daughter, I was zoning out to music, when the great jazz tune Birdland comes through my playlist.  This is an amazing piece!  If you are a jazz fan and have not heard it, then you need to turn in your damn funk card!  If you are not a big jazz-funk fan, well then you can either learn or bounce out.  Can you dig it?!?

Birdland is a tune from the seminal jazz band Weather Report created by Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter.  These two cats played with some serious heavy’s of jazz from back in the day; Maynard Ferguson, Cannonball Adderly, Art Blakey, and Miles Davis just to name a few. Weather Report included the keyboardist and one of the greatest bassists ever, Jaco Pastorius.

While this was one of my favorite bands growing up, hearing it this particular night just made me think of the new music I had been introduced to in 2018.  Sort of a year-in-review of my musical consumption.  

My YIR went something like this: why do I like this tune?  Why do I like jazz-funk music?  Why do I like music in general?  I have often said that “music is the universal language” because everyone can bounce their neck and bob their head, even when coming together from completely different areas of the globe.   Well, I decided I was not going to wax philosophical, but rather just go over a few artists I was either introduced to or found on my own and really dug.  So with that, here is my list of the top 5 musical artists I am currently listening to:

Not all of these artists are jazz or jazz-funk, but they all lay down some really great grooves.  Alesia Cara, while young, has the sound of a weathered, bluesy juke-joint singer.  When I first heard her tune “Here,” I said, “this chick is BAAAD!!!”  I originally thought it was a new track by Joss Stone and got excited.  “Trust My Lonely” is a fun and catchy tune that’s poppy, but still smacks! “Here” on the other hand, has a greazy, smoke-filled feel that takes me back to some spots I had visited in Chicago when smoking was still allowed. Solid!

Gregory Porter does a cover of the great Nina Simone track called “Sinnerman.” It’s more of a straight forward jazz tune that has a driving percussive sound and has me visualizing Samual L. Jackson driving to inflict some pain on someone.
Lawrence is a brother-sister duo and has a very old school sound.  Clyde Lawrence is the keyboardist and has a voice that sounds much older than his 24 years.  I compare him to that of D’Angelo, where his soulful harmonies blend well with his sister’s higher, more pop sound.  “Where It Started From” provides a good starting point for the sound that will take you back to where it started it started from – see what I did there?!?! 🙂

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings definitely have a 60’s throwback sound. Again, see yourself sitting at a little jazz club where quality drinks are being made by tuxedoed mixologists, and the tables are covered in white linen. The sound reminds me of what you would hear at the jazz club that master thief Nick from the movie “The Score” owned.

Now St. Paul and the Broken Bones is a new breed of band. These cats are amazing!! A friend of mine turned me on to these guys, and when I 1st heard them I thought it was Al Green singing! Very soulful, great range, and you can just kick it with the melodies that come from this band. My current favorite tune from SP & the BB’s is Sanctify. I don’t know why, but I have to listen to this one loud every time I hear it.

There you have it. Is this a culmination of what my 2018 was about? No. It’s just something I am going to try to do every year instead of setting resolutions. I look forward to experiencing new groups in 2019 while enjoying my current repertoire. Have a great year yourself and remember to keep it real and live life loud!