Sunday Sampler Week 2: Jazz Roots with Many Branches
Title cliche aside, this week is about jazz! Aside from a couple of tunes on the list, many of these tracks are related to jazz! We have contemporary crossovers, a classic quintet, some great examples of fusion, and some interesting takes overall of how to base tunes around jazz elements. You can hear influences ranging from how jazz approaches rhythms to harmonies, from style to common practices from musicians (i.e. improvisation). Feel free to make other suggestions and to check out the accompanying videos. Enjoy your week of tunes!
Dean Town by Vulfpeck
This track has a bass groove that couldn't escape my ears this week, having seen their music video of the track on Facebook before listening to it with the full release of their new album, The Beautiful Game. Vulfpeck has a lot of internet hype boosting the success of their albums and live show experiences. The Ann Arbor based group formed at the University of Michigan with the idea of emulating the legendary session artists from the 1960s (Funk Brothers, Muscle Shoals, etc). This funk band is made up of Jack Stratton (keys, guitar, and drums), Theo Katzman (guitar and drums), Joe Dart (bass), Woody Goss (keys), and they are the contemporary response to classic groups like Pleasure. Get down with this track, and those of you who are musicians, join me in learning the tune on bass!
Arithmophobia by Animals As Leaders
I've loved Animals As Leaders from the minute I finished listening to their debut release, originally just a solo project from guitarist Tosin Abasi. Now, with a trio including guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Gartska, the band has blazed a trail with virtuosic instrumentals, inventive compositions, and an engaging display of talent in their live shows. This track from their upcoming release, The Madness of Many, is clear that while the group continues to push themselves musically, you can hear the roots of their sound from the first album release. If you're curious as to how Tosin Abasi navigates an extended range guitar, check out this video of him showing some very interesting guitars in his collection of custom instruments.
Saturn Hola Hoop by Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra
This group was a very unexpected finding from my Spotify Discovery playlist this week. The Berlin-based group includes 18 high-demand musicians dedicated to feeding their various musical experiences through an experimental machine. Each concert, festival, and album is entirely curated around their music, which now includes over 80 orchestrated works. Their sound explores various textures, sounds, and fluid compositional structures. Their director, Daniel Glatzel, gives a more in-depth interview explaining the group. If you don't believe that they can perform a tune like this live, check out this live performance video!
Bus in These Streets by Thundercat
Thundercat has made a name for himself in so many music fan circles. His sense of creative style, his synthesis of funk, fusion, and electronics into a distinct musical sound, and his increasing collaborations (George Clinton, Herbie Hancock, Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar to name a few) have made him a household name. He's constantly surprising me with his inventive compositions and virtuosity on his 6-string bass guitar. This track is also co-produced by KNOWER member Louis Cole, which is definitely clear when you listen to the drumming and the samples used. This song definitely reminds me of some sort of old-school 70's children's TV show! If you want to check out a music video, here's a video of a track from his recent EP release, a tune called Them Changes.
Overtime by KNOWER
KNOWER is a Los Angeles based group that continues to excite the internet with their cool videos and their ability to fuse dance music, funk, electronics, and jazz (some say electropop funk). Both artists started working together after Louis Cole was encouraged by Jack Conte (Pomplamoose, CEO of Patreon) to start producing his own music. Since the group's inception, they have made several albums and have collaboarted with a host of artists, including Dennis Hamm (keys for Thundercat), Tim Lefevbre (Tedeschi Trucks, Donny McCaslin, etc), and Snarky Puppy (on Family Dinner Volume 2). While they often perform as a duo, they have recently been touring with additional members for KNOWER Live Band, which you can check out here1
On Green Dolphin Street by The Miles Davis Quintet
This live recording is part of a 2-volume set entitled In Person Friday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco. The legendary quintet features performers Hank Mobley (sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Wynton Kelly (piano), and Paul Chambers (bass). The collection, re-released digitally by Sony Records, charted at #9 on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums Chart. If you're a fan of great musicianship, or if you are looking for an album to study as a jazz musician, this is definitely one for you to check out!
Amphibians Night Out by Mattias IA Eklundh
Mattias Eklundh is a Swedish musician that has made a name for himself in the world of virtuosic electric guitar playing. His sound revolves around almost comically displays of expert guitar playing, including a strong command of extended techniques, variety in his sound, and technical facility used to facilitate crazy compositions. He has worked with a variety of artists worldwide, and is known for his "Freak Guitar" approach to life, whether it is playing on his custom Applehorn guitars or giving guitar summits on his playing style. If you want to see this man in action, check out the music video for this tune!
Stella By Starlight by The Robert Glasper Trio
Last week, we had Robert Glasper Experiment bassist Derrick Hodge featured in the playlist, but this group is an entirely different unit. We have Robert Glasper on piano, Vicente Archer on bass, and Damon Reid on drums. This jazz classic comes from an album called Covered, which features a collection of arranged cover tunes from the group spanning from John Legend to Radiohead. The album was recorded, audio and video, live from Capitol Records, so feel free to browse!
Seven Ways Til Sunday by T.R.A.M.
This supergroup includes Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes from Animals As Leaders, Adrian Terrezas Gonzalez (Mars Volta, Transient) and drummer Eric Moore (Gospel Chops, Suicidal Tendencies, etc), and it features a distinct blend of styles to create an entirely new sound. They compromise their various influences to creatively display each player's talents, and the Sumerian Records release stands out as a an album that left fans wanting more. You can check out a rare live performance of another tune, HAAS Kicker, from 2011 in this video!