All About That Bass


Kate is originally from Portland, Oregon, where she received national recognition in high school for bass and singing through the National YoungArts Program. Lauded by MTV as one of 2014’s “15 Fresh Females Who Will Rule Pop,” Kate grew up with an instrument in her arms and a head full of inventive lyrics. Her lifelong training makes for smart, warm pop that’s as musically nuanced as it is addictive. If you put a mid-career Jenny Lewis album in a room with Regina Spektor’s coloring, Joanna Newsom’s lyric poetry, and a dose of Tina Fey’s sharp wit—then added a couple decades of rigorous musical education and a shift dress—Kate Davis might come strolling out.

Read more at Katedavismusic.com. Find her on Facebook at Kate Davis


Cold Specks: Winter Solstice


Jim Fusilli, Cold Speck’s Arresting Mix:

Now 26, she (Ladan Hussein) was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, to parents from Somalia. Calling herself a “typical moribund teenager,” she took up a guitar at age 15. After relocating to London, where her extended family was dubious about her choice of career, Ms. Hussein was playing as Cold Specks at St. Pancras Old Church when a producer from “Later… with Jools Holland” caught her show and invited her on the BBC program. The other guests on the November 2011 broadcast included Mary J. Blige, Florence + the Machine, My Morning Jacket and the Who’s Pete Townshend. At the conclusion of her a cappella version of “Old Stepstone,” the traditional folk ballad, Mr. Holland cheered, “The power of the single human voice!”

On her two albums, including this year’s “Neuroplasticity” (Mute), Cold Specks delivers contemporary rock that either arrives with the confrontational authority of hardcore punk and free jazz or is as contemplative as folk and mellow soul. In concert here last week at the Echo, she and her four-piece band demonstrated how arresting that complex mix can be. In a conversation before her late-night set, Cold Specks—whose real name is Ladan Hussein, though she is also known as Al Spx—was quiet, perhaps even shy, a contrast to her bold, insistent music. “I’m a listener,” she said, “not a talker.” She added that she doesn’t follow modern music and was enjoying the doo-wop a manager put on in the van as they traveled between gigs.

…“I am who I am,” she said earlier during a conversation, a simple remark that later seemed a promise of much more extraordinary music to come.

Find her new album on iTunes here: Neuroplasticity

Find this tune on her 2012 album: I Predict a Graceful Expulsion

Thanksgiving


Eric Lewis, 41, who is better known by his stage name ELEW, is an American jazz pianist who has found crossover success playing rock and pop music. He was born in Camden, NJ. He is known for his unconventional and physical playing style, which eschews a piano bench and includes reaching inside the piano lid to pull at the strings directly, as well as the creation that he calls Rockjazz, a genre that “takes the improvisational aspect of jazz and ‘threads it through the eye of the needle of rock.'”

Lewis began his career as a jazz purist, playing as a sideman for jazz luminaries like Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks, and Roy Hargrove as well as performing as a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. However, he eventually became interested in rock music and embarked on a solo career as a crossover musician, quickly gaining recognition for his instrumental “Rockjazz” piano covers of mainstream rock hits like The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black” and The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”.

He released his albums of instrumental covers which can be found on iTunes here: ELEW Rockjazz Vol. 1 (2010, including “Sweet Home Alabama”) and ELEW Rockjazz Vol. 2 (2012, including this tune “Thanksgiving“)

Wallflower Medley (Diana Krall)


Here’s a medley of songs from Diana Krall’s new album titled “WallFlower” scheduled to be released in February, 2015.  Find details here on iTunes and Amazon.

And if you can’t get enough, check her on a longer Youtube clip of Eagles hit: Desperado.


Related Post: Diana Krall – Case of You

Herb Alpert: Honesty and passion are everything


Herb Albert Readies New Album by Marc Myers

Herb Albert, 79, is still at it today. At the end of 1965, he went head to head with Bob Dylan and the Beatles. His album climbed to No. 1 in 1965 and his albums in each of the next three years topped the charts.  More than 40 years later (January, 2014), he won his ninth Grammy for “Steppin’ Out,” and on September 30 he will release “In the Mood.” (Excerpts from the interview below)

Q: A remake of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” might be stretching it, no?

A: The Glenn Miller song from 1941 just popped into my head and stayed there. A number of people, including my wife, Lani Hall, told me not to record it, that it was too square. But the song felt good and I’ve made a career out of doing what feels good to me. If a song works and it’s honest, people will get it.

Q: Does it bother you to be thought of as the “king of casual?”

There’s a word called “happy.” I’ve always wanted to be that, and my music and trumpet reflect this ambition. I listened to jazz when I was young, but I have a classical background and studied formally for eight years. I just react to what sounds good and try to stay as spontaneous as possible. I’ve never rehearsed most of the songs I’ve recorded. I have relative pitch, so if I hear a song once, I can play it back instantly. Mostly, I try to be honest and listen to my inner voice.

Q: Was “Rise’s” success in 1979 unexpected?
A: Everything in this business is unexpected. My nephew and producer-songwriter Randy Alpert initially wanted me to turn Tijuana Brass hits into dance records. It just didn’t feel right but I gave it a shot. I brought in musicians and we played down a disco version of a “Taste of Honey.” I couldn’t feel it. Randy had written “Rise” [with Andy Armer] and wanted us to do it at 120 beats per minute—the standard disco tempo back then. But I slowed it down to 100 beats, giving it more of a soulful feel, and it worked.

Q: How do you feel when someone calls your music cheesy?
A: [Laughs] They’re thinking too hard. Art is a mystery. There’s no way you can figure out what’s special if you analyze it. You either feel it or you don’t. The definition of art isn’t breaking your neck. Why would you do that? Honesty and passion are everything—at least they are for me.

Read Full Interview in wsj.com here: Herb Albert Readies New Album by Marc Myers


Find Herb Alpert’s New Album here: In the Mood.

 

Sunday Morning: Why I live in mortal dread


You’ll say you don’t have time to watch this.
It’s 13 minutes.
You need to move on to the next post.

And I’m telling you that
this woman is something special.

Don’t quit on this one.
Take it to the finish.

Good Sunday Morning.


Megan Alexandra Washington, 28, was born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She is an Australian musician and songwriter also known mononymously as Washington. Originally performing jazz music her style evolved to indie pop and alternative rock where she sings and plays piano and guitar.  She developed a stutter early in her life and continues to struggle with her speech.  Find her website here: washingtonmusic.com.au. Find her album on iTunes here: I Believe You Liar

Saturday Morning Coffee


Topology is quintet from Australia formed in 1997. They perform throughout Australia and abroad and have to date released four albums. Find their album on iTunes here: Difference Engine


Do You Feel


José James, 36, is a singer songwriter from Minneapolis, and is best known for performing and blending modern jazz and hip-hop. James joined the Blue Note roster in 2013 when he released his breakout album No Beginning No End to wide acclaim. With its irrepressible lead single “Trouble,” the album release found José making national TV appearances on ConanLate Show With David Letterman, andTonight Show With Jay Leno.

The New York Times praised his “cool and confident” album, adding that it “sounds like the result of the black-pop continuum, jazz and soul and hip-hop and R&B, slow-cooked for more than 50 years.” NPR Music raved that “James makes utterly contemporary music,” noting that he “skirts categories with ease, fitting in with current R&B innovators like Frank Ocean or Miguel, yet maintaining a strong awareness of a lineage that stretches from Ray Charles to Marvin Gaye to Lou Rawls to Maxwell.”

Find this tune on his 2013 Album titled: No Beginning No End

José James official site and his full bio can be found at: josejamesmusic.com


Don’t Let Me Go


Jarle Bernhoft, 38also known as Bern/hoft, is a Norwegian singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and lyricist. Bernhoft is from Nittedal in Norway, but currently lives in New York.

what he [Bernhoft] did with those few tools was quite extraordinary. Using them, and via a process of instant recording, looping and layering, he was able to create the sound of a full band – including all the instrumental parts plus backing singers on rich harmonies – and it was all just him.”  – The Guardian

Find his website here: Bernhoft.org

Find his new album released last month here: Islander / Bernhoft


Liquid Spirit


Gregory Porter, 42, is a Grammy Award winning American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actor. Gregory Porter won the 2014 Grammy for best jazz vocal album, Liquid Spirit.

Find his album on iTunes here.