Posts Tagged ‘Groovin’ High’

There was a time when Jazz became watered down and very generic in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  This music was aptly labeled Smooth Jazz and sold to the masses.  The music found its way into elevators, doctors offices, The Weather Channel and in the homes of every white middle aged middle class American.  Kenny G was the most notable and the man everyone thinks of when the topic of smooth jazz comes up.

In the midst of this watered down garbage there were still plenty of solid cats who straight up shredded on their instruments within this format.  Art Porter was one of these men. The cat burned on both the alto and soprano saxophones.  Unfortunately due to an untimely death courtesy of a boating accent he was taken from us way before his peak as a player.  I only discovered his music in 1998 when the album “For Art’s Sake” was released, a posthumous compilation of some of his unreleased tracks and live performances.

My mind was blown by his ability on the Saxophone and my heart saddened that I would never get the opportunity to see him play live.  Like me Porter also spent time at Berklee College of Music in Boston.   Most jazz guys are always the first to discredit smooth jazz saying that it is a travesty to the art form.  Then I will always reference people such as Porter or Grover Washington Jr, David Sandborn, etc. who managed to still play to the best of their ability in the format.

Whenever I have a live performance or am going into the studio to blow over something more contemporary, but leaves me room to get on the wild side I always listen to a bit of Porter for inspiration.  The song I really wanted to share with you guys was a tune called “Lay Your Hands On Me” an 11 minute live version from the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1996.  I would say his playing on that tune in that performance is nothing short of all time.  I was unable to find an embed-able version.  I settled for this version of “Straight to the Point from the same concert and also a very cool Art Porter song.

In this performance he utilizes sheets of sound a jazz technique originally used by pianists and guitarists where multiple layers of notes are played simultaneously to give a sense of a wall of sound and creating the illusion that more then one instrument is being played at one time.  The technique was later popularized on the sax by John Coltrane on his rendition of “My Favorite Things”.  It is a skill I managed to pick up in high school and pissed off many of the traditionalist jazz guy because of it.  Porter also plays two horns at once towards the end of the tune as well.  I hope you enjoyed it.

I though I would leave you with one more, my favorite Art Porter tune, “Inside Myself”.  It is a very commercial version but you can still here how bad ass a player he is.

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Then man Killing it…

Now that I am writing again, I know its pretty amazing isn’t it?  I don’t really know what gave me the sudden angst to get the mind working again, but I’m back baby!  There are only another six weeks left in the Summer of Alf.  At the moment I have not decided if it was total flop or semi-success story.  I guess we will all just have to wait another six weeks to find out.  For the remainder of the Summer of Alf I have decided that every week I will post a Groovin’ High of what I really consider great music and more then that great music played, written and performed by masterful musicians.

These are the people that inspire me to play the saxophone on a higher level and constantly allow the bar to continue to be raised.  I feel on the whole most of what I post here in Groovin’ High are decent songs by decent artist.  Usually I pick a song by how it pertains to my life at that moment.  For me music has always been more of a stream of consciousness then just something to fill space or a vehicle for dance.  The next six weeks I will spot light six tunes by six artists that have helped shape me into the person and artist I have become.  If this is not your particular genre listen anyway and keep an open mind.  When “Call Me Maybe” is top on the American music charts I think it is time to give a comparison on what skilled artists are doing.

The first song in this installment is “Of Things to Come” by Stefon Harris and it appears on his Black Action Hero album.  He released it in 1999 and it found its way into my hands in 2000.  I have always been a huge fan of the vibraphone enjoying the likes of Milt Jackson and Roy Ayers.  I came across a very interesting write up in a Jazz magazine about this young vibes player who was combining contemporary jazz, R&B, Soul,Hip Hop and Jungle beats to create a very distinctive sound.  The description alone was enough to get my purchase.  I love the jungle work done by Dizzy Gillespie back in the 60’s.

“Of Things to Come” was the first song to really catch my attention on the album.  I was already blown away by the playing, but had yet to hear anything that really grabbed me.  Then this track came on and I was mesmerized.  I think I played this one on loop for nearly a month after hearing it.  I own another five albums, four solo and one collaboration by Stefon and I must say I am truly impressed.  I would have to put him as my favorite vibraphonist and in my top ten favorite Jazz Musicians.

The band on this are no slouches either.  Every player is masterful.  Greg Osby is playing Alto Saxophone and he also is at the moment one of the hottest jazz altoist on the market.  Listen to the infliction of his solo on this track.  The guy fucking burns.  On trombone you have one of my former jazz mentors, Steve Turre, who in his own right may be the best living Latin jazz trombonist at the moment.  I have had the opportunity to perform with Mr. Turre a few times in my life and if you think he blows on the trombone you need to hear what he can do with a conch shell.   As for the rest of the group they kill it too although I am unfamiliar with any of those cats.

I could go on and on about this tune but I would rather have you just listen to it.  Enjoy and please let me know your thoughts on the song, the playing, the style, or even the new direction of Groonin’ High in the comments.  I am always stoked for feedback.

Now Listen to this and tell me there is not a big difference in musicality.  If you can’t understand the difference please stop reading my blog.

“Before you came into my life I missed you so bad…So Call Me Maybe”  Now if that is not great American song writing I don’t know what is.  Rodgers and Hart, Gershwin, you guys have nothing on this tune! FTW…

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Last night I got dragged out by a good friend and then some of mine to go see this random band The Joy Formidable at Soho.  The event was $15 to get in and I hate spending that money on a group I have never heard and most likely was going to suck.  I have been to a few other shows there just because friends were going and have mostly been left less then impressed.  This group is from Whales, UK and when I first saw them take the stage my initial thought was they were going to just be another generic indy rock band.

It was this cute little blond girl fronting the group on guitar and vocals, a bassist and a drummer.  Then  they began to play and I was captivated.  I really dug what they had going on.  The combination of chords and melody of their songs reached me.  Remember indy rock is not really my bag so it is saying a lot if I am giving the group props.  The lady was a decent guitarist as well.  My first instincts were rather sexist figuring to get nothing more then some ugly power chords and distortion out of her.

I was really Impressed, fifteen smackers well spent.  My bar tab from both there and the Wild Cat on the other hand, plus the subsequent hangover leading to the shittiest day at work ever I could have lived with out. Such is life when your a party person and a drunk.  Buoy for me!!!

This song is off their new album The Big Roar.  Its called A Heavy Abacus and was one of the songs they played last night.  If you like the tune, check em out.  I know I will be downloading some of their stuff very soon. Enjoy.

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First off I want to let all the haters know up front I am not going ignore the Eric Clapton version, the original.  It will be posted at the end of the this blog.  Clapton is the man at the guitar.  I am a hip/hop guy and this version just really moves me, both physically and emotionally.  I mean seriously I can bust a foul move to this groove, plus M.J. gets down on the track and she is a full on diva.

More then anything I wanted to jot down a little bit about what this song means to me and the whole idea of actually changing the world.  I used to believe that it was impossible for one person to change the world and as a result always just passed the buck on to the next person. “I am just one man and the world is fucked anyway so who gives a shit”.  This was my mantra for the longest time.  I feel a bit different now.

I believe that we can all change the world individually, one person at a time, by showing our fellow man the same courtesy we ourselves would like to be shown.  “Do onto others as you would yourself”.  I spent way too many years being angry and miserable.  Now I try and smile as much as possible, don’t get me wrong its really hard to do, but “a smile can defeat a frown”.  I really do believe that.

Staying positive is important as well.  I just about spent the last thirty years thinking in the negative and you know what, when you give off those vibes you get them right back.  I have lived a blessed and beautiful life from day one.  Instead of dwelling on that and what I had, I spent the majority of my time always wanting more.   At the end of the day all it did was frustrate the hell out of me and make everyone around me miserable.

These days I make the most out of everything.  I try and appreciate the small things, like a remarkable sunset or the spectacular full moon we have gotten to enjoy the last few nights.  I give everyone around me the benefit of the doubt even if it comes around to bite me in the ass.  I try and listen to what others have to say and actually consider their point of view instead of my usual dismissal and insulting retorts.

All this sounds rather obvious, but think how rarely we consider these things in our busy, consumer-centric, generic society.  We are taught from day one that it is a kill or be killed world out there instead of live and let live.  All I am saying is that each and every one of us counts towards the greater good of our world.  Even if it is as small as holding the door for someone who has his hands full of packages or giving up your seat on the bus for an old lady.  Its those small kindnesses that become infectious and maybe those people whom you bestowed your kindness on will show it to the next person.

I am not saying I’m perfect.  I still regress every so often and do a thing or two I am not proud of.  It is our mistakes that make us human.  Perfection is boring.  As long as we learn from our misgivings then I feel it was not in vain.  I briefly wrote it in yesterday’s blog Your A Fucking Idiot, but So Am I that we if expect nothing but the very best in us then we can not go wrong.  I think that when we do that other people around us can feel that motivation and will strive for their personal best as well.  I know it works that way for me.

All I am trying to say is that I think I have been changing the world just a little bit one person at a time for a while now and have just never realized it.  It may have been adverse or positive. These days I am only shooting for the latter.  If we all put our efforts in a positive matter then just maybe we can turn shit around before we really are fucked.  That is just my two cents and probably just about all its worth as well.  I hope you enjoyed the song even if I just put you through 800 words of complete gibberish.  Below is the Eric Clapton version.

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I may have had this one as a Groovin’ High entry before.  Truth be told I don’t really know and that page is so hard to open because of content that I don’t really care to look.  Even so it’s not like anyone bothered to ever read that page with exception of Kooky Kyle and maybe Nick the Kook.  Back then when I posted it I think it was probably cause I thought it was a cool song.  Well I still think it is a really cool song.

Ex-factor came up in my shuffle this morning while I was finishing packing up the remainder of my stuff from my old room and moving it across the hall to my new room.  Once again I had never actually listened to the lyrics before.  How powerful and true to my situation they were.  I know I said I would try not to post anymore sad love songs here, but what I have realized in the last six weeks is that the majority of  my Ipod is made up of sad love songs.  I just never really knew what love was or sadness for that matter or heart break.

I always thought them all just cool songs.  Now I hear the words and all the emotion that went along with those words and they really speak to me.  Anyhow I’m not crying anymore.  I am past that stage.  I am not angry, bitter or jealous.  I decided to skip being petty this time around and hopefully from here on in.  I’m regrouping and rebuilding now and at the moment these songs are still the ones that speak from the heart to my heart.  What is the old saying “Better to have loved and lost then to not have loved at all”?

At first that is all I wished for, that everything that was happening was all some terrible nightmare and I would wake up at any moment and Ades would be right there next to me happy.  I never woke up.  You can’t run from reality.  Believe me I have tried, as a matter of fact I have been doing it my entire life and my legs are tired.  For the first time ever I am not running, but facing my future head on no matter what is a front.  That is what a real man does.  He handles his shit.  I can’t see my future and I think it is a good thing that it is a power I do not possess.  Life would not be worth living if we always knew what was in store for us.

Lauryn Hill is one of my favorite female vocalist who does nothing but emit soulful vibes.  Ex-factor is off her debut album back in 1998 entitled The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  If you have never heard of her before shame on you cause you have been cheated out of a great talent.  I hope you enjoyed the tune and check out more of her stuff.  I can promise it is all solid gold.

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Im an Ashanti fan so sue me.  I think her vocals are pretty tight, she is good to look at and her grooves are solid.  Her music speaks to me as of lately.  I have been playing her on loop from my Ipod the last few weeks.  This is one of her weaker songs from the Declaration album entitled Struggle.  It actually came on my shuffle while I was sanding boards yesterday and I had never really listened to the lyrics before, usually I always skip it because of the cheesy key board intro.  I must of been the middle of something that required the use of both my hands cause I let it play out.

Turns out the lyrics really reflected my current emotions and feelings.  I ended up repeating it three times, then listened to it again this morning.  Pretty much everyone around me right now is looking at me like door mat and believes that I have completely disrespected myself.  They don’t fully understand my situation, heck I don’t understand it even the slightest.  My world is in complete disarray right now and I have to just have faith and trust in the lord, in myself and in the other person whom I care so deeply for.

So yeah what I’m doing right now is crazy and it hurts, but it feels good too.  I don’t know how things are going to play out.  All I can do is stick by my convictions a bit longer despite how pathetic it looks and be strong.  If your still at loss to understand why I’m traveling down the path that I am listen to the lyrics of this song closely and maybe you will see.  This captain is going down with the ship.

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Groovin’ High Song of the Week: You Were Meant For Me, Jewel

There was a time when Jewel kept it real and was dynamo.  Her music really spoke to people.  I’m talking back when she was just some folk singer from Alaska with jagged teeth.  Even with those teeth her beauty was breath taking.  Alas like everyone else in the world her soul had a price and she was paid out for it thus ruining everything.   I’m not here to lament over Jewel’s current musical direction.

This song comes from her first hit album Pieces of You and is one of my all time favorite songs.  Its funny how when yo are in your most vulnerable state how important music becomes in your life again.  For a long time now I had begun to tire of music in general.  Sure I still always had it playing , but I just did not feel passionate about it.  Then I entered into my current state of torment and all of a sudden certain songs make me smile while others bring me to tears.  I have even broken out the saxophones again.

Tonight I managed to luck into a free ticket to see this guy Chris Robinson play at a very small venue called Soho here in Santa Barbara.  I had no idea who he was, but a new friend of mine, this French guy Alex is apparently a fan.  Turns out Robinson was in some rock group called the Black Crows and they were super popular.   I think I had heard of them.  I live under a rock remember, so don’t judge me.   I just recently met this dude Alex and in an effort to cheer me up and get me off the couch I decided to join him.

I have to say I was super impressed by the performance even if the style of music was not quite my cup of tea.  The band was super tight and the keyboardist absolutely killed it.  Think Joseph Zawinal but in a rock style setting.  I met this dude Alex at some random party this past Saturday, but that is a whole other blog altogether.  Lets get back to Jewel.

I was at this show and saw all these couples dancing and having a great time.  Everyone was having a blast.  I although very grateful to be out became very sad.  Truth be told today was a tough day for me.  I don’t want to get into it except for the fact that I spent the bulk of the day just wanting to crawl under the covers of my bed and cry. I persevered though.

That is when You Were Meant For Me popped into my head.  I played it on loop from my ipod like ten times just letting it speak to me.  That song embodies my current situation right now to a tee.  Its funny how much pain people who care for one another can inflict upon each other.  I guess pain is a part of life and something we all must go through.  I know I personally have been guarding myself against it for years and once I finally realized I had dropped that guard it was too late.

I’m sorry for crying in my Cheerios again, this is not what surfingruinedmylife.net was suppose to be.  Its late and Im going on another sleepless night awaiting an answer I feel more and more to not hold the outcome I would like.  Time heals all wounds and if we can learn something from them then just maybe it was worth it.  I know I have learned a lot in a short period of time about myself and how I want to experience the world from now on.  For right now I’m going to have get through this period of melancholy first.

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