Jazz Loop Update

The Jazz Loop officially turned 4 on Sunday and I’m so thrilled this blog has been running for so long. Writing these posts and interacting with all of you online and in person has truly been a joy. Now as we begin a new year on The Jazz Loop, I’ve made some adjustments to the site.

First is the look. I always make yearly changes to the aesthetics of the website and this year is no exception. Hopefully you find the new look clean and improved. All previous categories are staying and operating as they have in the past year. The only exception is First Listen which should be much more consistent as I will be live tweeting my First Listen of an album on the first Monday of each month. A blog post on the experience and my overall views of the album will be posted shortly after. Follow me on Twitter here to be part of the experience.

Things are always subject to change on the Jazz Loop. I might change the site if I find I find a better theme, a category might be redone if it proves ineffective, and new categories can be introduced. The adjustments made this year are minor, but will hopefully improve the site and improve your experience reading it. Can’t wait to see how this site will grow, and can’t wait to talk to all of you about all things Jazz in 2017.

Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section



The first time I heard anything about Art Pepper was in college. A professor was telling stories of Art Pepper’s life; the multiple wives, the jail time, and of course, the music. My professor spoke fondly of the album Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section. He mentioned how it was the rhythm section for Miles Davis and how well Art Pepper played as the lead. The title stayed stuck in my mind and I purchased it the first chance I got. Now several years later, I’ve decided to revisit the album and give it a full review.

The album is fairly short being nine tunes long and clocking in at 43 minutes. The opening track “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” Starts with a Red Garland piano intro and Pepper takes care of the melody from there. This is a classic jazz album and this is a classic jazz quartet. With such an experienced rhythm section Pepper is really able to express himself and plays the head eloquently. His solo is inspired and blends beautifully with the head. Garland solos next followed by bassists Paul Chambers. The band then proceeds to trade fours before going back into the melody. A classic tune and a fantastic start to the album. There are a couple of other tunes I’d like to highlight from this album, “Waltz Me Blues” is one of my personal favorites. I especially like the piano line that accompanies Pepper. It’s a nice texture that I rarely hear during a solo. “Straight Life” swings so hard! Fast tempos, burning solos, can’t recommend it enough. “Tin Tin Deo” is a fantastic Latin tune and I love Garland’s solo on it.

If you’re in the mood for some classic jazz music in a combo setting this album should suffice. I really don’t have many complaints. Nice variety between tunes, great solos, excellent selection of standards. My only complaint is with audio quality. I have the album on CD and listened to it on Apple Music. The bass lines and even bass solos felt a bit muddy to me. I’ll have to check and see if there is a remastering that solves this issue. Other than that I highly recommend this album.

 

 

100 blog posts. Thank you! 


Wow we have just broken past 100 blog posts for the Jazz Loop! Amazing that this milestone was reached just as 2016 drew to a close. When I started this site back in 2013 I really just wanted to reach out to my fellow jazz heads and discuss different topics in the genre and the music industry as a whole. It’s been an amazing 3 plus years and I’m just as dedicated as ever before to bringing you the best content I possibly can. I’ll have a thorough Jazz Loop update later in the month where the website will be revamped and I’ll go in depth on what I have planned for 2017. 
 I’m exited (musically) for this year. I feel I’m ready to bring you more posts than ever before, some of my personal artistic projects are going to be released this year, and being officially done with undergrad, I’m pumped to fully immerse myself in all my works. 

So for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you for those of you that supported this site from the beginning, and thank you to those of you who just began reading The Jazz Loop. Without your comments and views I’m just a madman yelling about jazz. So let’s kick off 2017 and post 101 with positive energy and optimism for the future! 

Best Albums of 2016

2016 had an overwhelming amount of good jazz music. Creating this list of the “Best Albums of 2016” was one of my most challenging blog posts to date. Still, I managed to bring my list down to the top 23 albums of the year. Before my list gets torn apart let me explain a couple of things. One, I have no remastering or reissues on the list. I feel there is enough current music going on that doing so would just take up a spot that could go to actual new music. Same goes for live shows that had no intention of being albums. Some of your favorites probably didn’t make the list. (No Bad Plus! No Jacob Collier! No Joey Alexander! Gasp!) Just because it didn’t make the list doesn’t mean it wasn’t of quality. I just wanted to make a nice, possibly consumable, list and I feel I’m already pushing that idea with 20 plus albums so some albums I loved had to be cut. Also some of those albums weren’t of quality. I didn’t rank the albums I provided my top album of the year first and then the rest of the list is in no particular order. Finally, somethings I just missed. It’s impossible to listen to everything regardless of how much time one spends listening to the latest releases. So this is my list, my favorite albums of 2016, may you enjoy reading about and exploring these albums as I did finding them.

Joshua Redman& Brad Mehldau- Nearness

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Saving the best for first. Nearness is my album of the year. Right from the beginning with “Ornithology” we have a special album. The interaction and interplay between these two masters, is a treat to hear. Nearness is the perfect title for this album. With no other instrumentation this is a very intimate album with both musicians only having each other for company and interaction. I feel they complemented and challenged each other equally pushing their limitations, and creating a masterpiece in the process.

Lara Downes- America Again

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Brilliant record, a beautiful solo jazz piano performance that will keep you entranced the entire time. Can’t recommend this one enough, especially in the times we are in. “24 Negroe Melodies…” is one of my favorite tunes on this album.

 

Donny McCaslin- Beyond Now

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Saxophonist supreme hailing from New York, Donny McCaslin played a major role in the creation of David Bowie’s Blackstar. He picks up where that record left off and creates one of the most expressive, forward thinking, albums of 2016.

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque- Oddara

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This collaboration project blends Cuban rhythms and groves in a jazz setting Continue reading “Best Albums of 2016”

First Listen: Jaco Pastorius Big Band:Word of Mouth Revisited 

  
Earlier this week I did a First Listen of the album Jaco Pastorius Big Band Word of Mouth Revisited. I’ve never listens to this album before so I live tweeted the experience and placed these tweets below.      

   

  

  

                                                                           

I went into the album with little to no knowledge of what this albums was about. The album is essentially a homage to Jaco Pastorius as the project was recorded post humously using several different bassists and some Jaco arrangements. The album has some really bright spots such as “Havona”, “Teen Town”, and “Punk Jazz Revisited”. “Havona” and “Teen Town” captured the energy of those Weather Report tunes and put these pieces in a big band setting very nicely. The bass playing was also superb. “Punk Jazz Revisited” was fantastically arranged by Marcus Miller and, in my opinion, turned out much better than the original. The liner notes and in depth comments on each piece makes owning the physical copy an added treat. 

Still, despite all this album did right there are somethings I’m not a fan of. The “Jaco Speaks” interludes are distracting, unnecessary, and bordering on tasteless. Your using someone’s voice after there death and making it sound like he’s commenting on the tracks. It just doesn’t sit with me well and makes me wonder if it should even be done. Tracks like “Punk Jazz” and “Barbary Coast” were fairly weak and this album would’ve been much more enjoyable if you just got rid of those tracks completely. 

Overall, I throughly enjoyed listening to this album and will absolutely go back to it again. However, I can’t flat out recommend it to everyone. I think this albums will resonate better with Jaco fans and big band enthusiasts. As long as your expectation is just a nice enjoyable album and you’re not going in thinking you’re going to hear seminal work, you should be fine.  

Also, moving forward, I will be doing First Listens every 1st Monday of the month. So keep an eye out for that and follow me on twitter @EdwinGarcia88 if you’d like to be apart of that experience.  

Ellington at Newport

 

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This album is another case of a jazz classic that somehow I have avoided most of my life. I understand the importance of this performance to Duke Ellington’s career, but somehow I never picked up this album and have only heard a couple tunes randomly throughout the years.  So I’ve taken some time the last couple of weeks to really dig into ELLINGTON at NEWPORT and here are some of my thoughts on the album.

The track listing is long and really captures the feeling of hearing this performance live at Newport. I love hearing the announcer speaking and Ellington briefly taking about certain pieces or soloists on given tunes. This gives the recording an added charm and personality that is lacking from many live albums. Just about every tune on here is gold, but “Pt. I- Festival Junction”, “Diminuendo in Blue”, and “Tulip or Turnip” stood out from the rest.

“Pt. I- Festival Junction” I love the introduction with just the lead melody and piano. The tune slowly builds and integrates the rest of the band. The solos here are spectacular and some of my favorite in the album. “Diminuendo in Blue” is known for the Paul Gonsalvez solo,  making this a must listen to track ok the album. “Tulip or Turnip” is classic jazz. This tune is the kind of music most people think of when they think of jazz. Me not being a fan of big band music, or singers, this tune still resonated with me. Not much else to analyze, on paper this tune wasn’t set up for me to like, but I love it. Swings like hell.

A part of me is embarrassed that it’s taken me so long to listen to this album. A bigger part of me is happy I still have classics left to dig into. Despite being fully involved in my Jazz Studies for several years there are still many classic albums left for me to explore, and that exploration and mystery continues to drive my passion for this art form.

Best of November 

Slim pickings for the month of November. Not really sure as to why, can only speculate as to the reason such fewer, new albums, were released. Still, there are a couple of good releases I’d like to briefly talk about so let’s get right to it.

 
Yussef Kamaal: Black Focus

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A fresh, modern sounding album this is. Some would say this album is an indicator of what jazz music is going to be in the future. You can hear some soul and hip hop  influence throughout this recording. “Strings of Light” is definitely a highlight on this album for me. A prime example of fusing hip hop, electronics, and jazz music together to create a unique genre bending experience.

 
Rudy Royston: Rise of Orion

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Continue reading “Best of November “

A Couple Blogs I Got Wrong

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With the anniversary of this blog a couple months away and nearing my 100th blog, I’m getting a bit sentimental. Writing this blog has become a joy in my life and I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve ever read it. But before we get all mushy and teary eyed I thought we could look at a couple bloopers I’ve had since writing The Jazz Loop. So without further to do here are a couple blogs I got wrong.
Jazz Loop Updated:
I do a Jazz Loop Update nearly every year. Year by year I make adjustments to this blog whether it’s a background change or a new category. Last year I made some dramatic changes to this website which I addressed on the blog post JAZZ LOOP UPDATED. One of my errors was creating the Category CHICAGO JAZZ ARTISTS SPOTLIGHT. It’s not that the category was a bad idea, it’s just that month after month I ignored the category. We are now entering the final
Month of the year and I have 0 blog post on this category. One of the issues is since I am a Jazz musician in Chicago I feel like I have a bias to essentially every musician here. Haven’t figure out a solution on how to use this category without it just feeling like a promotional tool. If I don’t figure it out by the end of the year it will be taken down for 2017.

Save the CD
I really dropped the ball on this one. I have awful lines here such as “Streaming music as your primary way of listening to music will have dangerous consequences” and “This decline in album releases will result in a stunting of creativity in then jazz community.” On the first quote I no longer agree with. Yes, I understand the consequences of streaming, but saying it has “dangerous consequences” is dramatic and I provide no evidence. Speaking of no evidence “decline in album releases”  has no evidence whatsoever. I just make up these theories and don’t back it up with actual data. For the record I still want to “Save the CD”, but I’m not as anti-streaming now as I was then and I didn’t make a compelling argument for the CD on this. post. https://thejazzloop.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/saving-the-cd/

Thankfully I’m pretty happy with the vast majority of my blogs. Still, it’s good to criticizes yourself, try to get better, and even laugh at your past mistakes. I had a blast writing this one, but hopefully I won’t have to write another blog like this one anytime soon. What are your thoughts? Any blog posts from the past you think deserved to be here? Place the comments below.

Best of October

Best of October 

The month of October was, in my opinion, the best month of jazz music we’ve gotten all year. Several releases were worthy of being labeled as album of the month. I had more trouble picking the top releases for October than I had for any other month. So let’s get right into it. Here are the best albums for the month of October. 

Lara Downes: America Again 

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After much debating I came to the conclusion that Lara Downes released the finest work of the month. This solo piano masterpiece was some of the most virtuosic, inspiring, and uplifting music I’ve listened to all year. Even though I play the piano, I am usually disinterested in solo piano recordings. Usually after a track or two I feel like I’ve gotten all I can get out of the recording. Lara Downes goes through the history of American music on this recording. She does so by writing this music inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again”. This music was always changing, always keeping the listener intellectually and emotionally invested. This is a must own recording, can’t recommend it enough. Only have time for one tune? Try “24 Negro Melodies, Op.59: No. 10 Deep River”. 

Donny McCaslin: Beyond Now 

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Liked, loved, or even thought about listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar? Then this album is a must listen? Any other month this would have easily been the best release. The only issues this album has is if you are a bit conservative/ not a fan of jazz music that pushes past traditional swing, I can see this being less enjoyable for such a person. For everyone else though this is a top album. Recommend the opening track “Shake Loose” put on a good pair of headphones and check out the transition at the 3:50 mark. 

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque : Oddara 

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Bunnett, a Canadian soprano saxophonist and flautist collaborates again with Maqueque for their sophomore releases. This All-Female Cuban sextet helps creates a beautiful and cohesive record. Different tunes have different instruments/voices in the forefront adding to the intrigue. No two songs sound the same, and the energy and chemistry this group has together is to be admired. Hard to pick out a standout tune since I love them all so much, but try “Tres Golpes- Pa Eleggua” .

BEST OF THE REST

Takuya Kuroda: Zigzagger 

Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter The Planet