Posted by flotz on Monday, December 16, 2013 | Year End List

Not necessarily in any order:

Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Waited for this record for many years. The songwriting is superb, living up to the bar she set on the last two records. Both structurally and lyrically, the record is full of surprises and bears many repeat listenings. And the production is exquisite, layered. Hope it doesn’t take this long for the next one.

Steve Lehman - Dialectic Fluorescent. Caught Lehman as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival and got hooked on his brand of avant garde jazz.  Record on repeat in the car for months, making sense. Love the covers of Coltrane and the tune “Pure Imagination.”  In fact, his playing is reminiscent of Coltrane, modal and abstruse. The record is definitely out there, pushing the boundaries of tone, melody, rhythm. Love it.

Father John Misty Fear Fun. Hat’s off to the producer, Jonathan Wilson, who took these songs, which are good, and helped make them great. Great backing band, great arrangements. Heard one of the songs in Seatac the other day piping through the airport. 

Hardcoretet Do It Live. Local musicians shine on this record. Love how the compositions unfold, morph. Can really hear the dynamics between the players on the tunes.

Lorde The Love Club EP. Gotta include it, even though “Royals” has been played to death. The rest of the songs on the EP are great. Shout out to Joel Little, responsible for the production.

Posted by flotz on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | Live Review

They play @jazz_alley every year. Lucky Seattle. Rightfully dubbed all stars. Consider the folks they’ve collectively played with: Blood, Sweat and Tears, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Cobham, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Parliament-Funkadelic, Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, David Sanborn, Horace Silver, Frank Zappa, John Mayer, Sting, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, The Blues Brothers Band, Leni Stern, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Richard Bona, Chris Botti, Wayne Krantz, Rudder, Harry Belafonte, Oz Noy, Larry Carlton, Clay Aiken, Rascal Flatts, Paula Abdul and Grover Washington Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Metheny, Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack, Chick Corea.  Damn.

They served it up to a packed Tuesday house at Jazz Alley, both floors nearly full. (The top booths are a pretty sweet incidentally.) Played about five songs that each lasted 15 minutes, odysseys and long solos, musicians really got to explore. First cut was “Out of the Blue” then followed by “Avenue B.” Didn’t catch the name of any other tunes. Third song was very major scale sounding, maybe a little mixolydian.

Stern was playing his signature Yahama guitar with Boss pedals (digital delay and overdrive) run through a Yamaha XPS 90 and then pushed to dual Fender Twin reverbs. See here for more on his set up. Great sound, killer tone and of course sweet technique. He did a lot of vocalizing with the melody, also some cool digital delay moments, and of course blistering, expressive solos mixed with some super pretty moments.

Bassist Anthony Jackson pioneered the six string bass, which he calls the contrabass guitar. super cool to see in action. Quite a range on the instrument tonally. It is tuned B-E-A-D-G-C. He did a lot of chording and played the hell out of it. Fun to watch him play too.

The drummer Keith Carlock was mesmerizing. Pushing the band with the beat and taking insane solos. He had two snare drums; similar set up as Steve Smith.

Overall, a great show. They kept it dynamic, lots of different modes and styles, musician configurations, just killer jazz fusion show. Catch their second show tonight!

Posted by flotz on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 | Video

13_12_15_seamonster600Stoked that Hardcoretet has a three show residency at the Seamonster – familiar spot for drummer Tarik Abouzied, whose there every Tuesday with McTuff. They are playing this coming Sunday, December 15th and again on January 19th and February 9th, showcasing new material from an upcoming album. Sweet!

Posted by flotz on Saturday, December 7, 2013 | Live Review

Ended up at Blues and Biscuits in San Francisco, cool spot right in the heart of SF tourist land. Stage is down in the basement, circular tables, candles, low ceiling. Pretty classic. Not a ton of people there on a Friday night, maybe 30 or so.  Nagy playing a mix of blues standards ("Backdoor Man," "In The Mood For Love") and originals, which have had some air play on XM radio.  Hi tunes had some nice chord changes and melodies, not just 12 bar blues. Nagy a shredder for sure, had that Fender Strat sound down.  Backup band was tight. Drummer was off the hook.  At the end of each tune, he'd jump off his stool at the end of each track, springing up a good 3-4 feet off the ground. Cracked me up every goddamn time. The best was when the band cleared out for him to solo and he took it into the club, leaving his drum set and playing on everything: seats, table tops, wine glasses beer bottles, pipes on the ceiling, anything. Didn't catch his name but he was super talented and fun as hell to watch. Overall, good spot. Recommend the grits highly.  

Posted by flotz on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 | Live Review

Virtuosity isn’t a term that should be thrown around lightly, but Eldar’s reputation lived up to prose surrounding his playing.  Fun night at Jazz Alley, which was looking very festive with icicle lights garlanding the balcony and ornaments behind the stage. He shared the stage with two musicians who were probably twice his age, Todd Straight on drums and Dave Gapteen on bass. They were like the elder (Eldar?) statesmen, backing him up.  Seemed like both were new to some of the tunes, which was cool, love to see players fresh on a piece of music, discovering where it can go on the spot in front of an audience, although Eldar did say he’d been playing with the drummer since he was eleven. 

Pretty diverse set, showing his range across genres, including some ragtime/stride playing, a Radiohead tune (“Morning Bell”), an Irving Berlin tune (“What’ll I Do”), a couple pieces in crazy meters, and closing with the opening track on his most recent record Breakthrough called “Point of View Redux.” The thing that’s striking about his playing is the classical influence. You can here it in his solos and phasing.  If yr a piano aficionado, definitely worth checking out his set tonight.