Herbie Hancock – Cantaloupe Island
In celebration of his birthday this past Friday, we start off this week with “Cantaloupe Island”. This piece has become a standard in the jazz community and may be heard in academic and professional settings. The piano and bass have repeating patterns known as a vamps, which allow the horn melody and solo sections to particularly satisfying. Herbie Hancock is responsible for pushing boundaries and blurring lines between styles. His catalogue of works include over 40 studio albums and collaborations with other musicians on over 100 projects.
Animals As Leaders – Inner Assassins
While this band can be appreciated for their extensive technical capabilities, an equal amount of appreciation can go towards their ability to compose and arrange music. Their sound is a blend of metal, jazz, and classical music. Their projects, The Joy of Motion and The Madness of Many, are superb listening experiences full of memorable melodies and complex time signatures. The drummer Matthew Garstka is a real joy to watch. I strongly encourage checking out any drum play-through he has on YouTube. It may give you a deeper appreciation for what these artists are doing.
The Goat Rodeo Sessions – Quarter Chicken Dark
This project was inspired by the challenge of blending classical music with bluegrass/folk. When such a challenge is undertaken by masterful musicians, you get a project that wins a Grammy for best folk album and a Grammy for best engineered album. With an all star ensemble of Stuart Duncan, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer, I think this track is the perfect one to get you hooked and reel you in for further exploration.
Ravi Shankar – An Introduction to Indian Music
Ravi is arguably the most famous and known figure in traditional Indian music. He was one of the first artists to break into the Western world with his powerful and masterful playing. This is the opening track on his album The Sounds of India. He starts with dialogue and explanation of what we are about to hear. He breaks down expectations and encourages us to keep an open mind. I absolutely love this and think it’s an amazing way of tapping into cultural music which preserves respect and appreciation.
Hucci – Panic Cord Remix (Gabrielle Alpin)
The original track by Gabrielle sounds light and playful with a country/pop vibe and is paired with contrasting lyrics about a relationship that didn’t go as planned. I first heard the remix of the track about 7 years ago before listening to the original. It’s very bass heavy and sounds like it could make for a great hip hop beat.
Peter Tosh – Downpressor Man
Peter Tosh is one of the forefathers of reggae music. He was one of the core members with Bob Marley in the Wailers and is responsible for some of the most popular songs in the genre. The main themes of early reggae music are about the legality of a particular illicit substance and the civil rights of the people. This song is no exception.
Berta Rojas – Un Sueno en la Floresta
I had the pleasure of attending a masterclass with Berta at the Guitar Foundation of American Festival in 2013. She is an active international performing guitarist and gives clinics at festivals all over the world. She is one the greatest names in classical guitar and her recording of Augustin Barrios’ piece is 7 minutes of pure joy.
Stanton Moore – Driftin’
Stanton is another example of a musician with the perfect blend of technique and musicality. He created his own drum academy and has been actively contributing to the music world since 1991. Although the drum work on this track is great, the piano stands out even more. David Torkanowsky delivers a stellar performance and really made me fall in love with this track.
Lupe Fiasco – Mural
Lupe Fiasco has long been considered a heavy hitting artist in the hip hop community, but his project Tetsuo & Youth has been drastically overlooked. It’s divided into the four ‘seasons’ separated by tracks of the respective names. The album was designed to be played forward or backwards. In it’s original order, “Mural” is the powerful opening track and it is full of dense word play, references, and internal rhymes, keeping you engaged for the entire 8 minutes.
Talking Heads – Take Me To The River
Closing out this week’s playlist is a familiar artist to classic rock radio fans. Talking Heads would maybe just be considered an average rock band if it weren’t for their eccentric front-man David Byrne. Their live film, Stop Making Sense, has received high praise and the YouTube clip of David playing “Psycho Killer” is a great example of why they’re a band worth knowing.