Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Skilled Pop song craft from The Gabe Dixon Band

My attorney advised me to make clear this is how I imagine the following conversation went…

SCENE: In a recording studio. A handful of band members and an engineer are sharing a pizza in front of a huge panel of dials and switches.
The Incubus song ‘Are You In?’ plays as a ringtone. GABE answers the phone.
GABE: Hello, this is Gabe.
PAUL: Gabe? Gabe Dixon? Great. Hey, this is Paul McCartney. Look, um… I just released my 53rd album and I’m going to tour on it this summer. Big tour. World tour. And I’m looking for someone to play keyboards for me on the road and um… I wondered if you were busy. One of my mates gave me your name and uh… I’ve heard you play and think you’d be great. What do you say?
GABE: Paul McCartney? Really? Wow, this is really great. You have no idea what a huge fan I am.
PAUL: [Sounding bored] Yes.
GABE: [With bad Liverpool accent] Sir Paul McCartney. Ha.
PAUL: Yes.
GABE: [Still with accent] “I’ve got a hole in me pocket.”
PAUL: Yes. Ha ha. Look, the tour…
GABE: Hey, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was really about acid, right? Not some kid’s drawing, right? C’mon.
PAUL: The tour. I need a keyboard player. Are you interested?
GABE: Right. Um, you see the thing is, I’m working on an album right now…
PAUL: I can pay you about a squillion dollars and you can use me as a reference.
GABE: Yeah, I kind of have my own thing going here and I’m really trying to get it off the ground. I kind of need to focus.
PAUL: We’re going to play Beijing. And New Delhi. When is your gig going to play New Delhi?
GABE: Wow. Wow, that sounds really fantastic. But um… I’m gonna have to say… no? Look I’m really flattered and everything. I know this is an unbelievable opportunity. I just really think the guys need me here, though. We’re mixing our first album and I have all these ideas, you know?
PAUL: If you’re sure…
GABE: I don’t want to leave you hanging, though. I know this guy. Really great keyboard player.
PAUL: Nah. I’ll give Paul Shaffer a call. He’s been bugging me.
GABE: Hey, thanks for the call. Thanks for thinking of me. Hey, did you get a funny vibe from Phil Spector back in the day?
PAUL: Cheers, mate. [Click]
JANO: [Also in the studio.] You are frickin’ crazy, dude.

It better be a freaking masterpiece. I'm just sayin'...

It better be a freaking masterpiece. I'm just sayin'...

So who turns down a gig on the Paul McCartney tour to finish up a studio album? Gabe Dixon out of the University of Miami (FL) declined to hit the road with Sir Paul in 2001 so they could get out the album I’m recommending today, On a Rolling Ball.

The Gabe Dixon Band is a 3-piece that has drawn inevitable comparisons to the Ben Folds Five (also a 3-piece) though frankly I don’t think their sound has that much in common. GDB comes from a different sound altogether. For one thing, they frequently feature a saxophone (so their “3-piece” seems to consist of piano, sax, bass, and drums…). I hear a lot more traditional Jazz in the chords and progressions and GDB doesn’t get as playful as BFF. I could hear more of a comparison to Elton John than Ben Folds, perhaps because of Dixon’s flare for playing in rhythmic counterpoint to the vocals and percussion. The songwriting is inspired and at times very deep. I suppose only Gabe himself could tell us whether skipping the tour was worth it, but having no stake in it, I’m glad he stayed home to focus on the album.

Here are 4 absolute winners from the album:

  • Your Last Fool – “I’m not your first fool, but I want to be your last fool.” These are some very honest lyrics and the beautiful melody is interrupted by an unbelievable jazzy sax / piano duet. Beautiful piece.
  • Expiration Date – Gabe is a talented piano player and songwriter and the harmony vocals are beautiful. The lyrics are personal, giving us a glimpse into his interpersonal relationships. The song jumps, though, and moves from stirring to funky with the agility of an acrobat.
  • Happy Woman – If they sound like this live, they’re a busy 3-piece. Twenty fingers worth of piano and organ, saxophone, drums, and sweet harmony vocals. This is a great piano riff and some cool lyrics besides. This might be the best track on the album.
  • Beauty of the Sea – This track makes me want to see them live. The lyrics are incredibly evocative and work brilliantly with the melody. It’s another love song, this time for a woman he likens to the sea. Not the first one to draw this comparison, I know, but it doesn’t seem cliché at all the way they do it.

Within the last year, they released their second album, The Gabe Dixon Band. I’m not familiar with it yet, but I have ordered it. I’ll let you know what I think.



July 8, 2009 - Posted by | Jazz, Popular, Rock

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