Hi again to all. I’m back for the final round three of my short commentary on the whys and wherefores of my recent ‘inspiration’ playlist …but before we get started, just a big thank you to everyone for the many birthday greetings recently received.
We’d got as far as #20. What to say about Louis Cole? When I’m getting bleak about modern popular music I listen to this, F it Up, or ‘Bank Account’, or anything by Cole, and I feel GREAT. He represents the new DIY world that technology affords us and he wants to do it all – write it, tour it, play all the instruments on it and get it done to his satisfaction. And he does. Something in that resonates with me – and Jacob Collier, obviously. Plus he gets a high standard of commentary on YouTube; always a good sign. Chick Corea, RIP, was one of these people, like Louis, who found music-making easy. The trick is not to dwell. Write it, get a noise out of it, move on. That’s your job. Three Quartets was half a century before F it Up – Live Sesh, but if the two men had changed places in time, they would still have produced something of high skill while smashing a lot of sacred cows in the process. Did I say the incomparable Steve Gadd was on drums on this? Light as a feather, tons of dynamic control, exerting and releasing pressure on the music like a masseur.
Joshua Redman is the son of the great tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman. I was looking for a direction for a second edition of my band Earthworks, after a heavily electronic first edition. Judy Burn played me Joshua’s Streams of Consciousness at her party and the idea of a muscular but all acoustic band blossomed. The inspiration was acknowledged in the title of the Earthworks track ‘Dewey-eyed, then dancing’.
Sounds like Keith Tippet (RIP) playing piano (King Crimson’s ‘Cat Food’ era) on black midi’s John L. Hard to believe there is half a century between current King Crimson and black midi. The young guys pick it up where the older cats stop. Of course, if the older cats never stop, the younger guys can’t pick it up. I’m doing a shared Talkhouse podcast with black midi’s drummer Morgan, in a few days, so stay tuned to find out that goes down.
I couldn’t have a playlist without drummer Mark Guiliana, in two wildly different contexts. First, he’s in mean funk mood on David Bowie’s Black Star, and then light and airy until explosive, on bassist Avishai Cohen’ Feediop I saw Mark with this group at Ronnie’s in London several times and he was predictably and unpredictably stunning.
Drum’n’bass meets jazz on Brad Mehldau’s rendition of Radiohead’s Knives Out. I was listening to this a lot around the time of my duo with Dutch pianist Michiel Borstlap, and it was the inspiration for our track ‘From the Source, We Tumble Headlong’. Drum’n’bass became a welcoming stylistic home for some of the great jazz players in the noughties who found mainstream popular music just too confining and needed a place where they could really play their rear ends of, as does Jeff Ballard on Knives Out. Drummer leader Jojo Meyer has always been a renegade, too, and his band Nerve, like so many of the outfits on this playlist, pushes boundaries. Check out the complete change in timbre and texture on Loot at 0’25” as the filthy big intro sound of the drums turns on a dime into a spiky neurotic, jittery percussion set, complete with some seriously fancy playing.
On this playlist Ginger Baker, Art Blakey, Joe Morello, Tony Williams and Max Roach represent an old guard of inspirational players, from whose emblematic creativity I have drunk for years. A new guard of equally powerful players are inventing a new language that speaks to me with equal force. We’ve come so far. Cole, Guiliana, Meyer, Ballard and Sorey cruise effortlessly between styles and genres, mixing a bit of this with some of that, stirring the pot, seeing what it tastes like. Long may they continue to provide inspiration for the rest of us.