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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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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Alright…I’m gonna write this..from a..stream of …….musical consciousness.
My beat..be.in..4/4 time..
Quarter note gets….65…..
Use this tune as your set…cause that is what I am talking in time toooo…ooooo
Oh yeah. Oh yeah
Im-a-talkin’ ’bout that…soooouulllll…..Muuuuussaaaaak…

Who better to put the soul on the track then D’Angelo?  Yeah that’s right not that many.  What am I rambling about?  I am talking about that soulful, easy groovin’ baby making music, that black music.  Yeah I know its been a while since I have written.  My only defense is that I have been bogged down in the out of control, door swinging in the wind life style all of you my readers have come to love.  I don’t even know where to start and I think that has been why I have not been able to get any constructive words on paper.  At the moment I still don’t have words for all that has happened in my life over the previous few weeks.  In the mean time while I compose myself and gather my thoughts and “mouth words” (two extra UCB points if you post in the comments where and what I am referencing in quotations.) you can enjoy this entry of Groovin’ High.

My new couch guy (yes that’s right after being vacant for over two months there is finally an intrepid soul up for the task of being completely Lisantified.  How many words have I made up here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net with my name somewhere in them? Talk about great moments in narcissism), Sean and I were discussing last night how the majority of America has no soul both musically and symbolically.  America is slowly diluting human ingenuity, integrity and individuality.   If the government had it their way they would start mass producing man like the Mustang and Costco, but that is a master piece blog for another day when I am at my most anarchistic.

What does this have to do with Music or D’Angelo?  Everything.  Americans on a whole have no appreciation for really good, creative and authentic music.  All the people want to hear is generic bullshit that has been re-recorded, re-produced, re-mixed, re-masterd, re-cycled and spit out the back end so they can shake their ass on the dance floor to the same song all night long.  Face it right now the majority of new music being made en mass no matter the genre is complete watered down, inaudible shit.  That is why the DJ’s turn the base real high and load it up with sound effects to make you forget how bad the song your listening to really fucking sucks.  Then people wonder why I cant bring myself to do anything with music anymore. What’s the fucking point?

I was first turned on to D’Angelo while playing with the Proximity Theatre Group this past summer by the music director and in my opinion one of the more brilliant cutting edge composers I have had to pleasure of working with, Ken Urbina.  He had this pre and post show music mix that always opened with “Lady” another great one by this fat cat, D’Angelo.  I used to jam out to it back stage on my soprano sax before each show.  Since then I have picked up a myriad of tracks from him and still jam out on all three of my horns to them.  If I was born black I totally could have been blowing back up for all these guys, but alas I am just a white boy trying too hard as usual.

“Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes”  is just such a passion filled tune.  That was the whole point of my ramblings earlier in this piece was how too many in this world around me lack passion.  “Whatever” although the one word phrase that should most likely go down as the tag line for my generation is a terrible state of being.  This is the kind music you get down with that special lady in your life to.  Slow dancing round the living room after a hard day at work, bumping and grinding.  Slowly caressing each other as clothing begins to be shed.  I hope you have experienced the passionate love making I am describing  at least once in your life.

When I had a girl friend there was nothing I loved more then sweeping her off her feet in a soulful dance unexpectedly out of nowhere.  Its a bit easier for me since I always have music playing in my house and 1 out 3 songs on my ipod is a soulful, baby making kind of song.  These days I just cross step and shuffle around my apartment by myself on occasion forcing poor Alfie to indulge in a dance on his hind legs with me.  It is after all “The Summer of Alf“.

I want to for a moment refer to the video for this tune as well.  Take a look just for a moment at the scene where this is all going down.  Notice how classy this little juke joint is.  I used to go to places like that to hear music just like this in NYC, NJ and Boston.  Take a good look at the clothing everyone is wearing.  Yeah that’s right they are all dressed fly as fuck.  I don’t see any flannel in this crowd, do you?   I love that the bassist is playing an upright.  When ever I show up to see a group I never heard play and I see an upright bass I know I am in for a solid show.  If I ever get shit going like I want this is the kind of place I want to open up.  I probably wont stay in business too long if I do it in Santa Barbara.

D’Angelo fucking shredding.

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I think this was an obvious choice for a Groovin’ High entry.   First off if you live under a bigger rock then I do let me inform you that Whitney Houston died at age 48 this past weekend as a result of drug and alcohol abuse.  I must say I was rather saddened by the news.  It is a real tragedy to lose someone with so much talent.  Some asshole tried to tell me that Whitney was never all that good.  The woman had a four octave range and could belt it out with the best of them.  She was a pure Diva.

If you cannot appreciate her ability as a singer then you must be deaf.  As far as her untimely death goes it is a real shame.  I hate to see good people succumb to their problems and then use substance as their escape.  I guess at the moment I am not doing all that much better with such, but I hope to one day be free of the nightmare I live.

When I was studying at Berklee I played a recital with this ensemble put together by a very talented female vocalist.  She was a Whitney fanatic and I believe she did three Whitney songs at the gig.  “Saving All My Love For You” was one of them and it has always been my favorite of her tunes.  It is a terrible song about cheating, but the emotion she sings it with really makes you feel the  true meaning of the song.  I think most of us have been in a position where we were feeling pretty bad cause we loved some one who was not worth it and just taking advantage.  Love is blind after all.  Yet seeing is believing.

We put on a pretty decent rendition of the tune.  I had a cool little intro to it on my sax and a solo mid song.  I later performed an arrangement of the tune on my alto sax while doing some solo work.  Whitney was an amazing vocalist, actress and person who unfortunately decided to take the easy way out instead of dealing with her problems.  She will be missed by all.  I wish her family and friends left behind the biggest of sympathy.  Listen to this live rendition of Whitney Houston performing “Saving All My Love For You” at the 1986 Grammy awards.  Enjoy and remember what she was and not how she left us.

Ah Whitney you will be missed.

I threw this one in just for fun.  They played it at the club Saturday night and everyone just got down in her memory.

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This weeks first UCB makes a winner of Mauriello.  Wow first he snags yesterday’s extra point and now the UCB, not to mention the whopper of a power of ten he put up.  Ladies and gentlemen watch out this guy wants the win for the year.  Mauriello picked a topic very close to my heart and that is “what is the soundtrack of your life”.  This is a topic which has certainly been in my head for as long as I can remember.

First off I have very deep roots in music being a prodigy on the saxophone as an adolescent, studying jazz performance in college and ultimately working in the business on and off for the last fifteen years.  The Groovin’ High section is a perfect example of my love for music.  I mean look how much random bull shit I write about just one song.  It always amazes me when I meet someone who has no real interest in music or what they listen to.  It blows my mind.  In Lisanti Land I have music going nearly all the time.  From the moment I wake up till I go to sleep I have some form of tuneage playing be it on my ipod or radio.

I used never turn my stereo off when I lived in Boston.  Back then I had a five disc changer and just had it on constant repeat all day whether I was home or not.  This way when I got home there was music on.  I even went to sleep with music on.  There is something about having grooves all around me all the time that just seems right.  As a matter of fact the only time I don’t want music is when I surf.  That is my spiritual time, please pardon the cliche.  In the water I am completely at peace or at least focused beyond the need for any distraction.

Why do I always have music playing you ask.  Mainly it is that I need something to allow my brain to slow down and focus on just one task.  If I do not have music playing my mind wonders all over the place with tons of different thoughts.  If there are tunes on then that captures half my mind leaving the other to stay on task.  It does not matter what type of music although I do prefer jazz, hip/hop, r&b and soul.  I will take any style of music over none at all.

The soundtrack of my life.  Well that is a tough one.  When I am just chilling at  the end of the night some Bill Evans or mellow Miles always relaxes me.  These days I have found quite the solace in sad love songs.  Corinne Bailey Rae, Nora Jones, Ashanti, Diana Krall, Billy Holiday all have a few tunes that have gotten me through the sad times these days. Now I finally have an appreciation of such.  Up until my own heart break I never really understood their meaning cause I do not believe I ever really had a heart.

Mostly my ipod is the sound track of my life.  I have nearly 4,000 songs on there and each one has its own special meaning to me.  Since it is always on shuffle it has become my life sound track.  I have it going right now as I write these lines, Dave Brubeck “So What’s New”.  What will come next I do not know,but one thing is for sure there will always be music.

 

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This edition of Groovin’ High, Cross My Mind, by Jill Scott goes out to a woman who will always have a special place in my heart.  In all actuality she was better then any them, better then most of the human race.  With out a doubt too good for me.  I did her the best favor I could have ever, by leaving her.  Back in those days I was real mess and an immature iconoclastic fool.   What she wanted of me was stability and at the time I could not offer such and as a result was a brick drowning her slowly.  I cut the rope she had tied to her ankle, allowing her to float back to the surface leaving me on the bottom where I belonged.

I think and hope that she has found the happiness she deserved and I am sorry I dragged her down for all those years.  Whenever I hear this song I always think of her and of us and how fitting the tune is of our situation.  The irony of it all is that she is the one who turned me on to both Jill Scott and Cross My Mind.   In a way I owe her a debt of gratitude.  Back then I was a parasite sucking the life out of her.  When we finally broke free of each other I learned how to exist on my own.  Everything that happens to us, man kind that is, is a stepping stone on the path to whatever it is we were meant to be.

I have met many a person who spends his days attempting to forget the past.  I know others who are stuck in a constant state of denial reliving the past.  I think we need to remember the past no matter how painful, cause it is how we got where we are at this very moment, while I am writing this and you reading this.  An old friend contacted me about a few weeks ago, whom I had unfortunately harbored some grievances with.  My first instinct (classic old Chris) was to tell her to fuck off.  My second was to ignore her all together.

I meditated on it for a few days and decided that life was too short to stay angry about anything.  I based nearly thirty years of my life on being angry and holding grudges.  It got me absolutely nowhere.  It made me a miserable, short tempered ill witted person.  I know I am not perfect, but I would like to believe I have come a long way from that guy.  I mean there is the occasional relapse. I am only human after all.  I decided to forgive her.  I don’t know why she did what she did and I don’t need or ask for an explanation. It is not my place to judge the actions of another.  I will gladly call her friend once again.

That was quite a tangent.  You see the insanity that goes through my head all the time.  Let me take minute to talk a bit about this song and Jill Scott.  Jill Scott is one of the more soulful female vocalists I have had the pleasure to listen to.  She sings beautifully, does amazing spoken word and can even throw down a sick free style jam as well.  Cross My Mind has become one of my favorite songs to jam out on my saxophone to.  I will put the tune on repeat and just blow over it for easily twenty minutes.  The groove is sick and the chords are super hip.  A picture is worth a thousands words so I emplore each and every one of you to listen to the track.  How could you not after all this jargon I wrote about a three minute, fifty five second long song?

Jill Scott captivated with the many thoughts that have crossed her mind.

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What can I say about Aaliyah?  Another great artist taken from this world far beyond her time.  Killed in a plane crash in 2001 at the tender age of twenty two.  She was a beautiful talented individual whose loss was deeply felt through out the world.  4 Page Letter is off of her album One in a Million.  The song itself really speaks to me.  A few years ago I was working a dead end job at a gas station, where surprisingly I only got paid a buck less an hour to do less then half the amount of work I do now.  Go figure.  But hey being a chef is a respectable job right?  I get paid to cut shit up into different arranged pieces all day and make sure food does not burn in an oven.  Its not all that complicated folks.

Back in the days of the gas station the only channel the radio we had behind the counter would get was the local hip hop one that basically played the same sixty songs on loop.  In the course of eight hours I got to hear everything at least twice, everyday.  You think with all the fucking songs out there in existence we could get some variety on the radio.  Alas the promotional and marking people need to sell, sell, sell!

4 Page Letter was one of those songs that came on at least once a shift and I did not mind at all.  I have written a few of these letters in my life.  Three to be exact.  The movies lead on to believe all you should have to write is one.  I guess I have not figured out how to word one correctly yet.  The first one worked quite well actually, but logistically we were doomed before even getting off the ground.

The second one I deep down inside knew was a lost cause, but did it anyway cause I am a romantic fool like that.  The third I was rather sure of an adverse outcome as well.  Like I always say “you miss 100% of the pitches you don’t swing at”.  My friends one thing you count on when it comes to Chris Lisati is that I will always no matter how bad the odds against me go down swinging.  Hey maybe the forth time will be the charm, or maybe I wont ever have to write a letter at all cause she will just get me as I am.

I think there is something to be said for having the ability to put such emotions down on paper and give it to someone else.  Opening up yourself to so much vulnerability.  I mean once its out there on cold hard paper there is no taking it back.  Your heart and soul put out there.  I have always found love letters to be things off great beauty in any form.  There was a time before phones, internet, text messaging and convenient travel  when all people had were letters.  Sometimes couples would write to one another for months or years with out any other contact then such letters.  Could you imagine how joyous a reunion between those two intertwined souls must have been after months of sharing intimate letters?

While you listen to this song think about that and the power of the written word when it comes straight from the heart.

 

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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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