Maybe it is the warmish breezes. Maybe it’s the filing of taxes, the ides of April. Suddenly I’m in the mood for jazz–specifically piano jazz.
I must have listened to Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert about 100 times, so I thought I’d put Jarrett’s Rio in the top spot of the Listening Station in the Library. This CD came out in 2011 and is a complete document of Jarrett’s show at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never been to Rio but I certainly get an impression of the place while listening to this evocative and imaginative CD. Beautiful. If you’re wandering by the Listening Station listen to track 5 and try not to think about Rio.
In the middle slot of the Listening Station I’ve chosen Voice by Hiromi. This 34-year-old, Japanese-born musician graduated from the Berklee School of Music and has already released nine CDs. That’s a lot. Per Allmusic.com, “Voice is best described as an electro-acoustic effort that is more post-bop than fusion but has its rock-influenced moments.” Right? Improvisational jazz can be difficult to define, which is part of its allure. Hiromi is praised for her eclectic taste and ability to incorporate different genres into her work. Listen to tracks 3 and 9 and you’ll get the idea.
Filling out the Listening Station we have Eric Reed and his CD Something Beautiful. Mr. Reed is in his early 40s and has been on the jazz scene since he was a teenager. A piano prodigy, he eschewed classical training for jazz. Can you blame him? Sorry Beethoven. He joined Wynton Marsalis’s band, replacing the great Marcus Roberts when he was only 19. He’s been inspired by Brubeck, Lewis, Blakey and a host of other geniuses. The CD is truly Something Beautiful. Tracks 1, 2 and 10 are favorites.
When one thinks of the Chicago rock scene, Smashing Pumpkins may come to mind. If you enjoy listening to the Smashing Pumpkins, it might be ideal to look into Madina Lake. Madina Lake was founded by twin brothers Nathan and Matthew Leone. The twins were in another Chicago band but had this vision of creating a story through three albums. To earn the money to start Madina Lake, the twins competed, and won, all three competitions on the reality game show Fear Factor.
From Them, Through Us, to You is Madina Lake’s first full length album produced on the RoadRunner label, and the first album to tell the story of the fictional town of Madina Lake. The music is described as “alternative hard rock with pop undertones.” Some of the songs included on the CD are “Here I Stand,” which is about not giving up on your dreams, and “Adalia,” the fictional character created by the band who has “disappeared,” and needs to be found by the fans of Madina Lake. With their blend of rock and pop, guitars and drums, the band molds an entire town battling good and evil in the search for Adalia.
This post is from Joanna B., guest blogger from the the SCPL IT department.
Fountains of Wayne exceed at setting the scene. There is no ambiguity within their musical universe. Everything is so oddly specific that it makes the songs even more relatable. In Sky Full of Holes, the band’s latest album, the details come out in full force. In “A Road Song,” the singer laments being away from his significant other while making sure to mention their stops at Cracker Barrel and “forty movies with Will Ferrell.” They also tell the tale of “Richie and Reuben,” who decide to open up their own bar despite their incompetence. Fountains of Wayne take their name from an obscure lawn ornament retailer in New Jersey (featured on camera in a scene from The Sopranos), so it’s no surprise that their lyrics are as specific as they come. They don’t just write songs, they write stories. I can guarantee you, that each and every one of them deserves a listen.