Musical Snapshot II

So, after almost 2 months since my first Musical Snapshot, I think it’s a good time to bring an update of what I’ve been listening to. In general, I’ve focused more on jazz artists.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some general aspects of music production nowadays. I have this feeling that the recent (good) albums have been failing (in different levels) on bringing a more emotional and deep musical experience. Today, most albums have this annoying super-high level of perfection. There’s almost no space for those wonderful little mistakes, improvisation, background noises, emotion, … When you listen to a jazz album from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, you have this feeling of a deep musical engagement from the musicians. The recordings were kind of noisy but very powerful. When I listen to some modern jazz albums, even with very good musicians, I have the impression that the technique comes first, nothing really groundbraking.

Another aspect that I’ve been thinking a lot is the use of electronic elements in music. Electronic music is cheap, it’s easy. In my opinion, there’s this natural tendency of electronic music to be shitty. The cultural relevancy of electronic music is undeniable. But not everything is music. This is why I tend to prefer artists who play with a band with real instruments instead of just a DJ. For entertainment, electronic music works fine most of the time but for listening, rarely. At least this is my experience.

Update: By all wrote above I do not mean that: 1) any jazz music is wonderful (independently of the period); 2) any electronic music is crap; 3) I’m a purist and only enjoy music with accoustic instruments; 4) I only enjoy the “old stuff”. My point about electronic music is that with very little effort and knowledge, you can come up with “something”. Culturally speaking, this is amazing (power to everyone to express themselves). However, musically speaking, this can be really bad in many cases. On music, what I really care is the “mood”, the “feeling” and the “truth” in it.

Jazz

I have this long road ahead with the fundamentals of jazz. So, I’ve been choosing the “classics” to “understand” some of the major artists. Coltrane is still on the top of my favorites. I’ve listened to more than 7 of his albums. Wes Montgomery was a wonderful finding for me (I’ve listened to 6 of his albums so far). Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” album is freakingly amazing. Here are some highlights (from the quite long list of albums I’ve listened to):

  • Blue Train (John Coltrane)
  • Bitches Brew (Miles Davis)
  • Full House (Wes Montgomery)
  • The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Wes Montgomery)
  • Alive (Chick Corea Akoustic Band)
  • Complete Live at the Five Spot (Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane)
  • Plays Duke Ellington (Thelonious Monk)

Funk and Acid Jazz

Following the acid jazz path, I’ve listened to 2 albums of The Brand New Heavies. Interesting stuff. On the funky front, I’ve tried some more albums of Earth Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, Parliament, Maceo Parker, and others. The Meters is really root-ish funk music. If you like funk, you gotta listen to some of their albums.

  • All about funk (The Brand New Heavies)
  • Spirit (Earth Window & Fire)
  • Funk Overload (Maceo Parker)

R&B and Soul

Not many news here. I’ve listened to 3 albums of Amel Larrieux. Good music, sometimes too “cheap”.

  • Infinite Possibilities (Amel Larrieux)

Brazilian music
I’ve been re-trying some old albums of Djavan. There are some recent albums that I don’t really enjoy but the older stuff is amazing. Specially “Luz”, “Coisa de Acender” and “Novena”. The new Maria Rita album “Samba Meu” is quite good (as usual). If you want to get a taste of modern samba, you should try it.

  • Samba meu (Maria Rita)
  • Luz (Djavan)
  • Clara Nunes (Clara Nunes)

Ongoing stuff

I’ve started a research on mexican and african music. My initial names on the mexican field are Lila Downs, Chavela Vargas, Lola Beltrán, José Alfredo Jiménez and other “ranchera” artists. On the african side, the initial ones are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Thomas Mapfumo, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Richard Bona, Mulatu Astatke and others. I’m still “digesting” them. Soon, I’ll write a new Musical Snapshot with some comments and impressions about them. If you have suggestions, please let me know.

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lucasr

Lucas Rocha is just a brazilian guy who loves hacking and music. He lives in the frozen lands of Finland with his lovely wife Carol. He works for Nokia in the development of Hildon and Maemo. In his free time, he's a happy GNOME contributor. He has a mustache, a beard and big smile in his face.

11 thoughts on “Musical Snapshot II”

  1. Earth, Window & Fire? :) That aside, it appears you have excellent taste in music! I’m going to have to try and listen to some of this stuff, the funk in particular… If you haven’t already listened, you might also like Erykah Badu (soul/acid-jazz kinda), Shock (old-skool funk), Zapp & Roger (same with this) and The Ohio Players (parliament style funk) – Shock can be quite hard to find, nudge me if you want a few tracks and the moral issues don’t bother you ;)

  2. Some jazz is Bad for entertainment and listening…. I’m glad you like jazz from certain time periods, but there are many examples of unlistenable junk from back then too.

    You are just coming off as elitist, not insightful. Thumbs down. in fact people probably made arguments about electrically amped instruments too.

  3. @Chris, don’t you like EW&F? They are groundbraking in many ways. Anyway, I’m already a big fan of Erykah Baduh and I’ll definitely look for albums of Shock, Zapp & Roger and The Ohio Players. :-)

  4. @Vax, by all I wrote I don’t mean that any jazz music is wonderful (independently of the period). Also, I don’t mean that any electronic music is crap. My point about electronic music is that with very little effort and knowledge, you can come up with “something”. Culturally, this is amazing (power to everyone to express themselves) but musically speaking, this can be really bad in many cases. And, in my opinion, your comparison with the amped instruments critics doesn’t apply. I’m not being purist (I don’t really care “what” is being used to make music), I just care about the mood, the feeling and quality. Maybe I didn’t express myself accurately.

  5. As someone who listens almost exclusively to electronic music, I agree entirely. There’s a lot of overproduced rubbish, a lot of average songs made fantastic by production, and a lot of decent songs ruined by terrible production.

    One thing that’s really moved me lately is Burial. His first couple of albums and EPs were great, coming with a different style, but his last one is just something else altogether, and has been the first album in a while that has a very deep, emotional feel. Part of the reason I love it is summed up by this quote from the late great John Peel: ‘Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, “Listen, mate, life has surface noise.”‘

    The last Burial album (Untrue) really captures that more than most: the samples and patterns are left to stand as they are, surface noise and all (instead of being cleaned and polished to death), and it’s not sequenced at all, which adds an extremely different feel. Grab me at work if you want a couple of bits to listen to. Long shot, but eh. :)

  6. Re: electronica

    Have you tried listening to Squarepusher/Music is rotten one note or Ultravisitor. Or Amon Tobin/Bricolage ? Imo they started from jazz music but tried to push it to the next level. Early Air is also heavily influenced by jazz, and Autechre or Boards of Canada are also really interesting ;)

  7. Hey, while you are researching African music, you might want to research the South African Jazz scene. it’s quite good listening! Some names to look out for are Abdullah Ebrahim (aka Dollar Brand), Hugh Masekela, and Basil Coetzee.

  8. Djonie, remember to try these 2 albuns of JTQ: In The Hands Of The Inevitable and Hammond Ology. The first one i think you already know. The second one is a JTQ anthology (two discs special edition).

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