New Feature - Album of the week!
20th May 2013
Here's a great album that I listened to while running last night, and while cycling to work. Aman Iman (Water is Life) by Tinariwen, a beguiling mixture of North African music with blues and rock. There are some great grooves, which despite being on a single chord usually, never feel boring, due to the changing textures above them. Also, I do love a bit of ululation every now and then!
8th February 2013
Wow, is it really nearly a year since the last recommendation? It was a tough year last year so the blog took a backseat. There are so many albums I could recommend, some of which helped keep me alive last year. Several are by Australian group Sons of Korah who, not surprisingly with that name, put the Psalms to contemporary arrangements. They are simply fantastic, I cannot recommend them highly enough.
I was hoping to see legendary American slide guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps at a hotel in Topsham in February, but as you can see from his website he has developed ulnal neuropathy in his right hand and arm, making it impossible to play the guitar. His style combines finger picking and slide in a mix of blues, gospel and jazz, along with an amzing voice. To comfort myself I bought his most recent album Brother Sinner and the Whale which is his most openly Christian album so far. What I love though is that it is still quite dark at times, not all happy clappy. Life is tough, but there is hope. I also picked up a best of collection Roll Away the Blues excellent value 2 cd set with 75 minutes of material on each disc. I really hope he gets better soon and can come and visit us. He is best live as he improvises so much - he never plays a song the same way twice, sometimes changing the chords or the melody, or the style of finger picking.
27th February 2012
There's been a long gap since the last recommendation - sorry about that. This week it's gospel-tinged! Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay It's an album that takes classic hymn lyrics and gives them a fresh treatment, making them relevant to a new generation. It's hard to classify the style, but it combines the best of gospel, folk, blues and rock. Quite similar to Ben Harper with hints of U2 occasionally. Really inspiring and uplifting, I've been listening to it constantly since getting a copy last week.
5th December 2011
This week's recommendation is Continental Stomp by Hot Club of Cowtown a live recording of this fabulous trio, combining Grappelli/Reinhardt style playing with Western Swing. You can't help but smile when you listen to this! Brilliant musicianship, played with gusto and a sense of fun!
30th November 2011
Thought I'd share my recent discoveries in the music world, and to celebrate the start of this, here's a couple of recommendations:
Aire and Angels and Aire and Angels II by Tord Gustavsen and Siri Gjaere are both wonderful, combining ethereal vocals with jazz piano to amazing effect. Hard to describe, just music to luxuriate in.
In a similar vein, last night I had my first quick listen to 50 Words for Snow , Kate Bush's latest offering, following relatively fast on the heels of Aerial (only 6 years!).As always, it's a captivating mix of musical styles, with a richness of texture that only she seems to possess. The tracks are long, allowed to spread out and develop a bit. I've only got four listens left on Spotify, so will have to add it to my wish list for when I can afford to buy it! I think it will deserve many listens, revealing more each time.
2nd January 2012
An old favourite for a new year! Slingshot Professionals by Kelly Joe Phelps , an amazing guitarist singer-songwriter with an earthy voice and a delicate touch on the guitar. Simply beautiful.Also his 2006 album Shine Eyed Mister Zen is an outstanding album, giving more prominence to his slide guitar playing.
A new discovery, thanks to a friend, The Sons of Korah and their album, Refuge. This is a lovely setting of various psalms, expressing both the despair and the joy of these wonderful poems, and the unshakeable faith in God they reveal. Some of them sound a bit like Kelly Joe Phelps, so I thought I'd put them together. Lovely acoustic settings with a hint of Middle Eastern style.
Music and me
I have a very wide taste in music, liking anything that moves me in some way. On these pages I'll be sharing some of my favourite performers and composers.
In the beginning was classical music, church music, then jazz. I didn't really discover that there were any other types of music until I went boarding school aged 12! I was very serious about my music, doing the first 5 grades on the piano before going to boarding school, and making a start on the clarinet. I have my Dad to thank for my love of Jazz, being taken to see Acker Bilk, the Dutch Swing College Jazz Band and Stephane Grapelli amongst others. My love of sacred church music comes from my three years as a Cathedral Chorister. These three are still foundational for me, but my taste has widened considerably since then, within those genres, but also in many others, too numerous to list. I remember in the Summer term at school, Easy Lover by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey blasting out from dorm windows. This led me to discover Genesis, and I discovered a lot of other 70s music in similar ways. Eric Clapton's Behind The Mask led me to his earlier playing with the Bluesbreakers and Cream. I didn't really like much of the music in the 80s, and wished I'd been a teenager in the late 60s, early 70s, an explosively creative time for rock music. I got into Led Zeppelin, for example, and Free and other great rock acts. And of course, there was Queen. My friend Hassan (see his page) could play the entire Queen back catalogue I think, and I remember a school band playing a lot of their classics. As for 80s synth pop, I loathed it! U2 were one of the best 80s bands for me. I also discovered and retrospectively got into Pink Floyd in the 80s. I've got a bit of a soft spot for prog rockers like Yes (and Genesis etc etc) as I respect their musical skill and quirky inventiveness. After all, there's only so many 3 minute pop songs about love you can listen to in one sitting!