The Friday mix: Ecclectic and world-influenced jazz
I was spinning my jazz collection the other day and had 4 or 5 great songs in a row. I love my jazz mix. I mean, of course I love my jazz mix. Why would I have stuff I don’t like on my iPod? But still. Today I wanted to wander through my collection and pull some of the cooler jazz I have found through many hours of listening. I have weeded out the crap, the elevator music, and the incomprehensible math-based jazz so most of these are accessible or at least appealing.
- Pong Baby – Action Figure Party
This is top flight modern jazz. Great percussion and high-energy solos make this a great opener.
- Pay Back Africa – Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
These Brooklyn-based guys are a throwback to Fela Kuti, but they mix plenty of funk and dub into their West African influenced jazz.
- Cubafro Con Amigos – Ballistic Brothers
This is Cuban influenced chillout jazz, so it’s slow to develop and very vibe-based, but it has a great danceable beat.
- Artis – Brad Mehldau
Mehldau picks great songs and covers everyone from Harold Arlen to Radiohead. This is one of his own compositions. It’s pretty cerebral stuff, but Mehldau and his drummer are working it hard.
- The Fakir — Cal Tjader
This starts out with a nice Arabian vamp, but then Tjader rolls in with a long and engaging vibes solo.
- Chan’s Song – Jacky Terrasson
This Herbie Hancock cover was released on a collaboration Terrasson did with Cassandra Wilson, but she doesn’t sing a note. Instead, we get outstanding acoustic bass, bongos, and Terrasson’s wonderful acoustic and electric piano. What a great vibe.
- Jazzy (Suite No. 2 for Flute and Jazz Piano) – Claude Bolling
Bolling plays at the intersection of classical and jazz, which is really interesting. He is also a guy who can think of and play a musical idea almost faster than I can process what he just did. Or at least he could back in the day. I think he may have lost a step by the time this live recording was made.
- Out Beyond Ideas – David Binney
Again, pretty cerebral stuff. It’s not immediately accessible. The horns line is atonal all the way until it resolves at the “chorus.” After they do it a few times, though, you start to like the tension and release they set up. Ultimately, it’s a pretty piece.
- P.I.M.P. – Dennis Nelson/Jeff Lorber
This is from the Hidden Beach album “Unwrapped Vol. 3.” These are instrumental and jazz versions of famous hip-hop songs. This is a 50 Cent tune. I’m not a huge 50 Cent fan, but I really dig the jazz take on this great groove.
- It’s Just Begun – DJ Arkive
DJ Arkive gathers acclaimed musicians from a shared hometown but very different musical backgrounds and puts them in a recording studio together. There was a “Philadelphia Experiment” and a “Detroit Experiment.” This great track comes from “The Harlem Experiment.”
- Pink Shoes – Fred Frith
Quick percussion and funky guitar are at the heart of this song, but there are plenty of cool effects added in postproduction.
- A Lost Way Found – Free Form Funky Freqs
Sadly, this sample is taken from before the song really gets going. It’s a spacey groove with rock-based soloing that really explores every corner of the room.
- Green Grass Stains on Wrangler Jeans – Happy Apple
I couldn’t decide between this one and the title track, ‘Youth Oriented,’ but ultimately I went with this one because it’s in 5/4 and it’s a happier progression, both of which make it more interesting and pleasing to the ear. Both are great, though.
I should have many other such mixes in the future, particularly because I have ordered more jazz today while I was compiling this mix. Enjoy this with a bloody mary or some other drink that you’re not quite sure why you like it. Have a great weekend.
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