Posts filed under “Friday Night Jazz”

Friday Night Jazz iPod’s guilty little pleasures

I will be incommunicado today, winging my way back from Berlin for acht und halben stunden (8 1/2 hours).  I wrote this back in 2005, but never published it widely.



What sort of crap do you have lurking hidden on your iPod?

That’s the question I stumbled across from my old essays & effluvia blog. It was based on an article from The Arizona Republic, which asked:

“Those saccharine pop tunes and schmaltzy ballads cloaked from friends? There’s no excuse anymore. No blaming it on a CD that had just one song you liked. No claiming it belonged to your wife, husband or friend.You selected each and every tune. Like it or not, these are your greatest hits.

Now, let the melodic mocking commence.”

Those of you who have read me for a while know my musical tastes are wide-ranging, sharp, and ahead of the curve. (New visitors to TBP should check out our annual “best ofs” from the past few years).

But saccharine pop tunes and schmaltzy ballads hidden on the iPod?

Guilty as charged.

Not only do I have a slew of really embarrassing guilty pleasures on my pod, but they have actually found their way on to various mixes I’ve made. That means, no excuses.

How about you? What embarrassing ditties would your close friends be aghast about — if they knew? Since our big interactive musical discussion — Greatest American R&R Band — was so much fun, let’s take another swipe at it:

What are the most horrendous, embarrassing, guilty pleasures on your iPod?

I’ll start the HD spinning with my hidden collection of pathetic guilty pleasures (‘tho music snob that I am, I foolishly believe my guilty pleasures are superior to most people’s — indefensible as that position might be).

These lists go from least (10) to most (1) embarrassing.

Generally embarrassing pop orotherwise awful commercial song:

0911ipod 10. Semi-Charmed Kinda of Life, Third Eye Blind
9. Undone – The Sweater Song, Weezer
8. Horndog, Overseer
7. Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me), Blessid Union Of Souls
6. I Touch Myself, Divinyls
5. Closing Time, Semisonic
4. Complicated, Avril Lavigne
3. (I Hate) Everything About You, Ugly Kid Joe
2. She Hates Me, Puddle of Mudd
1. Mmmm Bop, Hanson

These are the utterly embarrassing songs on my “Gym Mix” :

10. I’m Just a Girl, No Doubt
9. Groove Is In The Heart, Deee-Lite
8. Take It Off, The Donnas
7. Fantastic Voyage, Coolio
6. Murder On The Dance floor, Sophie Ellis Bextor
Ipod_01a3lf56x564i5. Good Vibrations, Marky Mark
4. Steal My Sunshine, Len
3. That Don’t Impress Me Much, Shania Twain
2. I Just Want to Make Love to You, Foghat
1. Rico Suave, Gerardo

And lastly, a mix I named “Bad radio from my Youth” — and it is utterly ghastly:

10. Bad Time (for Being in Love), Grand Funk Railroad
9. Keep On Loving You, REO Speedwagon
8. Day After Day, Badfinger
7. Without you, Badfinger

A two way tie of simply awful for 3rd place:

6. (Shake, Shake, Shake) Your Booty, K.C. & The Sunshine Band
5. Keep It Comin’ Love, K.C. & The Sunshine Band
(I’ve actually grown to like some other KC stuff, but these 2 — shudder — sheesh!)

Ipods06212004A three way tie totally lacking any redeeming qualities for 2nd place:

4. Cover of the Rolling Stone, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
3. When You’re in Love (with a Beautiful Woman), Dr. Hook
2. Sylvia’s Mother, Dr. Hook

Last, and actually least, a song beyond bad:

1. Coconut, Harry Nilsson

There, I’ve outed myself and my misspent youth . . .

There are some interesting comments on this issue over at kottke, which is where I originally saw the pointer for this. Since then, there have been over 100 entries of guilty iPod pleasures, including what must be the playlist from Hell.

Check it out . . .


iPod guilty pleasures
Don Fernandez
Cox News, Sept. 11, 2004 12:00 AM

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Humor, Music

Friday Night Jazz: Newport Jazz Live



This is truly a Friday Night Jazz: Via the NYT, we learn that Wolfgang’s Vault has a substantial collection of pristine audio recording from the Newport Jazz Festival.

Some of the recordings will blow you away — I suggest the Count Basie concert, but all 3 are excellent (free registration required).

There is also Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (1959) and Dakota Staton (1959).


Thank me after you’ve listened to some of these gems . . . more stuff after the jump


Historic Sounds of Newport, Newly Online
NYT, November 10, 2009

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music, Web/Tech

Friday Night Jazz boss nova

I’ve only come across a handful of compelling discs this year. Mo’ Horizons …And the New Bohemian Freedom is one of them. It is hard to describe this bizarrely compelling mix of acid jazz, bossa nova, soul, and electronica. Yeah, there is also some Brazilian funk in the mix as well. But the songs, while…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz

Friday Nite Floyd: Pigs Might Fly

Lately, I have been combining two of my favorite past times into one multimedia experience: Books & Music. This began over the summer — I was done with my book, and I really wanted to read something mindless, having nothing to do with Wall Street or Washington DC. That’s when I started reading Pigs Might Fly:…Read More

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Markets

Friday Night Jazz: 50th Anniversary of Kind of Blue

KINDA blueThe long awaited return of Friday Night Jazz!

Last year, we took an eclectic look at some of the lesser known works of Miles Davis.

Tonight, I want to go in the opposite direction, and simply focus on one disc: Kind of Blue.

Why? Well, it is the 50th anniversary of the recording of Kind of Blue.

If that is not reason enough, then consider the simple fact that it is Davis’ best-selling album. Indeed, it may very well be the best known jazz record of any artist, of all time.

Even though it was released almost 50 years ago, it still sells over 5,000 copies per week today.

In addition to its commercial success, it has come to be described by many Jazz critics as the greatest jazz album of all time.

Writing in AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted:

Kind of Blue isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence. Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of “So What.” From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily. Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It’s the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from the overall key, not chord changes, giving the music a subtly shifting quality.”

And Charles Gans of the Associated Press takes a look behind Davis’ masterpiece:

Today, the five tunes on “Kind of Blue” — particularly “So What” and “All Blues” — have become deeply embedded in the musical landscape. But at the March 2 and April 22, 1959, recording sessions, nearly all the tunes were new to the band members, who didn’t even have a chance to rehearse them. Davis gave the musicians written sketches of the scales and melodies, offering brief verbal instructions about the feeling he wanted on a particular tune.

Davis was moving away from bebop with its complex harmonies and improvisations structured around chord changes. The trumpeter asked his musicians to play in a modal style — a concept developed by pianist-composer George Russell — in which the musicians improvised on scales, with the soloists having more freedom to explore long melodic lines.”

The one jazz record to own even if you don’t listen to jazz — the band is extraordinary: John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on saxophones, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. I recently received a remastered CD of kind the album, thus retiring my scratchy hiss and pop laden vinyl version. (And another intelligent CD pricing: $6.99 at Amazon)

For those of you looking for some , check out NPR: Kind of Blue (54 minutes)

videos after the jump . . .

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

Quarterly Review

I have the lead quote in the this page one NYT Business section article on the Markets — which came out prior to this NFP: “Less-worse isn’t the same as better,” said Barry Ritholtz, chief executive of FusionIQ, a research firm. “We want to see ‘good.’ In order to grow profits, in order for earnings…Read More

Category: Economy, Federal Reserve, Finance, Friday Night Jazz, Media

Continuing Claims “Exhaustion Rate”

Last week, we saw Continuing Claims decrease — proof, said the green shooters, of the imminent economic recovery. Only, not so much: Those of you (who can still afford the luxury of) a trusty Bloomberg will note the ‘exhaustion rate’ for jobless benefits – EXHTRATE – reveals that people are not leaving the pool of…Read More

Category: Film, Finance, Friday Night Jazz, Investing, Markets

Friday Night Jazz: Madeleine Peyroux

barebonesI’ve mentioned Madeleine Peyroux in the past — most recently, in our Best of for 2007, where we noted “Her smoky voice and fresh soulful delivery are perfect for the mix of acoustic blues, country ballads, classic jazz and torch songs she sings.”

I happened to notice she is playing Town Hall on 06/18/09 (123 W. 43rd St. in New York) and that was enough of an excuse for a summer Friday Night Jazz.

For those of you not familiar with Peyroux or her fabulous vocals, she careens from a very Billie Holliday-like sound to Josephine Baker, Edith Piaf, even k.d. lang.


Her latest album, Bare Bones, is a mellow, enjoyable foray into the Peyroux mix of Jazz, Blues and Country.  The odd song out that stands out compared tot he rest of the disc is the Steely Dan feeling song, “You Can’t Do Me.” Peyroux sings:

“You know I get so blue
And I go down like a deep sea diver,
out like a Coltrane tenor-man,
Lost like a Chinese war baby ? (gone, gone, gone!)
Blewed like a Mississippi sharecropper,
screwed like a high-school cheerleader,
Tattooed like a popeyed sailorman ? (gone, gone, gone)

I am glad to see she is having a little lyrical fun.

This album stands in stark contrast to her debut disc — 1996′s Dreamland — a stripped down showcase for her musical chops. The spare arrangements set off her voice well; most listeners were stunned to learn Peyroux was just a 22-year old Georgian living in Paris.

Her breakout album was Careless Love — a contemplative, moody, jazz foray filled with delightful moments of jazz perfection. For newbies and on a FNJ session, I would go with this disc. Its the album that can make you ask “Norah who ?


Half the Perfect World was a little softer jazz-pop. Its filled with familiar covers, a few surprises, and most of all, that wonderful voice. It is still worth a throw.

videos after the jump


Official Site

My Space

Other Sources:
Singer Peyroux Returns with ‘Careless Love’
NPR, October 3, 2004

Madeleine Peyroux’s Nearly ‘Perfect World’
NPR, January 16, 2007

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

A Different Kind of Music List: Best of 2008

It’s that time of year again!

Following our successful outings the past four years, we’re at it again. Our (belated) Different Kind of Top 10 Music List for 2008.

If you missed prior versions (2007 and 2006 and 2005 and 2004), then here’s the deal with what makes this list different:

There are a gazillion Best of Lists out there (and one list to rule them all). Most of these lists aren’t relevant to adults (yes, I am now putting myself into the category of adult, about 26 years late). If you have a family, career, hobby, you probably don’t watch a ton of films or listen to 200 new CDs each year.

Hence, this list. Rather than cranking out yet another list of CDs you likely never even heard of (much less even heard), this is a more useful list: What a relatively informed music fan has been playing the hell out of all year. These are what was most frequently spinning in the car/ipod this past year — my personal soundtrack for 2008.

Let’s get busy:

Elvis Costello & The Imposters Momofuku: One of the greatest rockers of all time returns to form. This disc reminds you why Elvis was so great — hard edged yet hook laden, rock-n-roll with catchy tunes, and as Elvis always does, lyrics that are both witty and acerbic. His none-too-subtle wordplay remains as clever as ever.

Is Costello really that curmudgeonly Englishman? His recent US television appearances (A Colbert Christmas, ) somehow belies the acerbic anger of his music. Perhaps writing whimsical melodies as counterpoints is the way he exorcises his raging demons.

Regardless, much of this disc sounds like the The Attractions have reunited, none the worse for the passing of the years. The classic early-Attractions organ, the driving rhythms all give Momofuku its familiar feel.  I am a huge fan of Elvis, but especially the early work: My Aim Is True, Armed Forces, and This Year’s Model. No Hiding Place, American Gangster Time, Flutter And Wow, Stella Hurt and Pardon Me, Madam, My Name Is Eve could have fit in easily on any of those classic discs. Its a return to his 1977 song writing punk, and is Costello’s most straightforward album since Punch the Clock.

This CD has the added attraction (no pun intended) of being one of the most overlooked albums this year.

Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters:  Speaking of overlooked: The mellowest selection this year is this gorgeous stunner that slipped by nearly everyone. That is, until it won both Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album atthe Grammy Awards in February 2008.

The disc is lovely — cool and richly textured all the way through. As both a pure Jazz disc, and as a reinterpretation (homage really) to Joni Mitchell, it is a delight to listen to. The guest musicians are terrific: Hancock’s delicate piano playing matches well with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and they are joined by guest vocalists Leonard Cohen, Tina Turner, Norah Jones, Corinne Bailey Rae and Luciana Souza, as well as Joni Mitchell herself. The sublime recording perfectly captures the poignancy and melancholy of the songs in their languid new jazz format.

Trivia:  Not only did this disc face stiff competition from Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Amy Winehouse, and Vince Gill, but River was the first jazz album to win “Best Album Grammy” in over 4 decades. The 1965 winner was the brilliant Getz/Gilberto (Stan Getz and João Gilberto). Time will tell if River has the staying power of Getz/Gilberto — but its off to a good start.

I guarantee that any jazz fan will find this disc a wonderfully enjoyable diversion.

Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs: One part King Crimson, One part Coldplay, 2 parts Ben Gibbard.

I find this album vastly more satisfying than 2005′s Plans, which was too uneven, but had a few great songs. Narrow Stairs is more open, consistent, and has less of a restrained formulaic feel to it. Like Plans, it has a few high points, but doesn’t suffer the same weaknesses of the last album.

The first two songs — Bixby Canyon Bridge and I Will Possess Your Heart — are immediately recognizable as Death Cab’s, but have have a harder edge and a better (for lack of a superior word) flow. No Sunlight is a typical DCFC pop song, as is Cath…

Where the disc really soars is on Grapevine Fires, a song I played compulsively all year.  Its a gorgeous melody, deftly using subtle instrumentation and lush harmonies to full effect.

If this is what Chris Walla’s production does, he should have been used by Coldplay (rather than Brian Eno). No one is going to accuse this disc of being overlooked. It haunted me most of the year, with melodies I could not get out of my head.

Bonus — the MP3 version is $5.

Adele 19: Imagine a smarter, sober version of Amy Winehouse, and you get Adele Adkins. Her voice is bluesy, rich, voluptuous. In addition to Winehouse, her other influences include the likes of Etta James, Dusty Springfield, and Billie Holiday. Those 4 alone are reason to give this disc a whirl.

The jazz influence gives her voice a timbre, almost a world-weariness, far beyond her 19 years. Much of the disc itself is spare, stripped down. You can only produce songs like “Best For Last” or “Crazy For You” with just a bass, a piano, and Adele’s vocals with a very special voice, and she delivers.

Despite being a technical virtuoso, she knows what to do with her instrument, as opposed to the histrionics of a Mariah Carey. For those who say she has no Winehouse influence, listen to “Chasing Pavements” or “Cold Shoulder”).

David Byrne and Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today I was such a big Talking Heads fan that I bought the last Eno/Byrne disc, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and actually listened to what was essentially an early experiment in mash ups, loops and recording technologies.

This disc is nothing like that earlier effort. First off, it was made to be listened to, a huge improvement over the prior effort. The new album is intriguing and surprising in how accessible and interesting the songs are.

Surprisingly, this is the closest to a Heads album we have heard from him since the end of the T-Heads. Given how prolific and eclectic Byrnes has been since then, that’s saying something.

Byrne himself has described the music as ”folk electronic gospel” to which I would add new age, pop and ambient.The music is slow-to-midtempo, and Eno’s effervescent sonic gloom always nearby. Yet despite this, the disc is uplifting. Its sublime, kinda bizarre — and very listenable.

Bonus: $5 MP3 download of the album too good a deal to a pass up.

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Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

Another Retail Discount: MP3s Slashed in Price

I got off to a late start working on my annual “different” music list. I have about 10 discs this year that qualify, and I wanted to see what I missed over the last few months.

One thing that surprise dme were the number of discs I went to check out that they were all available in MP3 format at Amazon — 50 Albums for $5 dollars or less.

At the same price, I prefer the physical format — but at $5 and under, the MP3s are a no brainer.

Amazon has a number of promotions going on. One is 25 days of free holiday music in MP3 formats. I downloaded Calling on Mary by Aimee Mann, Midnight Clear by Andreas Vollenweider, Ave Maria by Heart, Coming Home For Christmas w/Victoria Shaw… by Jim Brickman.

And if you haven’t grabbed these freebies, do so:

100 Days, 100 Nights (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings)

Strange Overtones (by David Byrne and Brian Eno)

Here’s a few highlights from the increasing selection of reasonably priced ($5.00) downloads:

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
David Byrne and Brian Eno

Viva La Vida

Narrow Stairs
Death Cab For Cutie

Vampire Weekend
by Vampire Weekend

In Rainbows
by Radiohead

Sleep Through The Static
by Jack Johnson

One Kind Favor
by B.B. King

Modern Guilt
by Beck

by Duffy

Blame It On Gravity
by Old 97′S

Stay Positive
The Hold Steady

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Category: Consumer Spending, Friday Night Jazz, Music