I think Larry Coryell (1943-2017) has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in modern music. Aside from his clear historical significance in melding jazz and rock guitar traditions and techniques, the pure artistic brilliance with which he straddled those lines is rather stunning. While nowadays it may be more common for guitarists to be fully fluent in both of those arenas, Coryell broke tremendous ground for all of the youngins. Many rock guitarists lack the rhythmic nuance and harmonic fluency to play jazz authoritatively, and many jazz guitarists sound comparatively wimpy and/or cerebral when they play rock. Larry pulled off both with utter conviction, and I’ve always been particularly enamored of the contexts in which he has been able to do both.
The music world lost one of the most prolific providers of bottom end when bassist Bob Cranshaw passed away yesterday. These are some of my favorite performances of Bob’s.
10 (+1) favorite tracks by the great saxophonist Steve Wilson. Enjoy!
Aside from being in shock that Bobby Hutcherson is gone, I struggle to figure out a way to summarize his musical contributions. For me his music will always be defined by the way his infectious warmth and rugged creative searching shattered any listener’s capacity to put the resulting music into a rigid box. Here is a small sampling of my favorites from his discography.
My biggest “eureka” moment as a budding jazz musician (or, to be accurate, the moment when I decided I needed to BE a budding jazz musician and not just a dabbler) came the first time I heard “Magical Trio 2″ by James Williams, like the moment in the “Wizard of Oz” where it goes from black & white to color – in a flash I heard everything I wanted music to be, all in one place. If life were just, the Soulful Mister Williams would’ve been 65 today.
Every few years I dust off Ted Dunbar’s “A Nice Clean Machine for Pedro” and challenge my students at Wesleyan to learn it – such a gorgeous and deceptively challenging tune. Last year I wrote about Ted’s impact as an educator, but now it’s time to talk about his unique and powerful voice as a guitarist and composer.
It seems that with each year it gets harder to keep up with all the great music being released. I began with a Top 10 list, and in the end struggled to narrow it down to even 20.
RIP Phil Woods – here are 10 of my favorite moments by one of the greatest saxophonists jazz has ever offered the world.
A pair of top 10 lists, featuring the brilliant and sadly departed violinist John Blake, Jr. and his son, the powerhouse drummer Johnathan Blake.
November 25 marks the release of A Beautiful Life, a musically brilliant and emotionally potent new album by Jimmy Greene in tribute to his murdered daughter, Ana Grace. I could write a long essay about Jimmy the human being – we’ve been friends over half our lives by now – his humility, his strength, his faith and his caring responsibility. But that’s not what this is. Instead, I wanted to whet your appetites with some personal highlights from the catalog of Jimmy the musician. Though he is my friend and a major formative figure in my own development as a young musician, I have also been a fan of his music since I first heard his soulful, mature playing when he was 16. It has of course only gotten better. As a saxophonist and composer he has developed a distinct and important voice.