Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Heavy: The House That Dirt Built

Part of a BBC Review
The title of The Heavy’s first album, 2007’s Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, was the perfect trailer. Lifting Samuel L Jackson’s biblical quote from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction set their stall out perfectly; just like the director’s films, their music picked seeds from the past and ground them into a modern cut ’n’ paste cult classic, part Curtis Mayfield, part Isaac Hayes, part Led Zeppelin, all heart and soul.

The House That Dirt Built nicely builds the plot, opening up whole new musical storylines to explore. By the fifth track they’ve already gone through soul, garage punk, voodoo swamp revue, a bit of James Brown funk, Hendrix and balls-out rock; by album’s end they’ve also kicked rockabilly, reggae and even a closing ballad into the gumbo pot. The most surprising thing, however, is how good they are at making it all sound like the work of just one band.

The House That Dirt Built

Diana Krall: What Are You Doing New Years Eve

Diana Krall singing "What Are You Doing New Years Eve".

Diana Krall

Diana Krall @KK&R Music Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The cry of a guitar... the cry of a heart. "W. C." HANDY (Father of the Blues)

PHOTO: W.C. Handy Purchase Music:



( African American composer, bandleader, & publisher)

W.C. Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, November 16, 1873, the son of former slaves. His first instrument was the coronet, and he advanced from lessons in a barbershop to studying classical music. While still a teenager Handy began teaching school but left for better paying work in a factory. At the age of twenty, he organized a quartet to play the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a gathering that attracted other musical luminaries of the time, notably ragtime pianist Scott Joplin.

After the fair, Handy toured with various ensembles and taught music at Alabama A&M in Huntsville. He left teaching and joined Mahara's Minstrels in 1896 as a cornetist. Handy toured the country with the group, and quickly became their leader. In 1903, he moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi, to direct the Colored Knights of Pythias, an entourage that performed for both whites and blacks. During a performance for a white audience, a request was made to "play some of your own music." When the band resumed, the whites shouted that Handy was not honoring their request. During a break, three local black men with stringed instruments took the stage and played a primitive blues that brought an appreciative reaction from the crowd. The crowd's reaction caused the bandleader to reconsider the band's repertoire, noting the strong response that "primitive music" created. In 1903, while waiting for a train at a station in Tutwiler, Mississippi, Handy heard a black musician playing a guitar with a knife. The man was singing about going Where The Southern Crosses The Dog, and Handy recalled "it was the weirdest music I'd ever heard." The man's singing was answered by the crying sound that his guitar made as the knife slid along its metal strings. The influence of rural song forms on the classically trained Handy would find its celebrated outlet in his published work.

Teresa Biddle-Douglass, Nashville

W.C. Handy

Suggested Reading(s): Lynn Abbot and Doug Seroff, "'They Cert'ly Sound Good to Me': Sheet Music, Southern Vaudeville, and the Commercial Ascendancy of the Blues," American Music 14 (1996): 402-55; W. C. Handy, Father of the Blues (1941).

Musicians jamming with W.C. Handy (Memphis/Shelby Co. Public Library
Musicians jamming with W. C. Handy.

Memphis/Shelby County Public Library.

To purchase my music:

Praise You - Fatboy Slim

Dance Bitch

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eddi Reader - Love is the Way

Eddi Reader MBE is Scottish and formerly of Fairground Attraction. I think she has a wonderful voice - she is also respected for bringing the words of Robbie Burns to a new generation.

Part of a review by a contributor to AmazonUK
Once in a while, an album comes along which is a real joy to listen to from beginning to end, and Eddi Reader's latest album, "Love Is The Way", is one of those special recordings. A laid back, beautifully recorded and performed acoustic-based collection, all brought together by Eddi's gorgeous voice, "Love Is The Way" is the perfect soundtrack to any lazy day, an album to listen to when you need a bit of stress relief or perhaps even spending a little romantic time with a loved one. With a handful of songs from the always excellent long-time collaborator Boo Hewerdine (who also played guitar on all but one of the tracks) and John Douglas (who mainly plays ukelele on this album) plus a few co-writes from Eddi herself, this quality collection of songs will please any folk/rock loving ear immensely.

Eddi Readers Amazon Store

Love Is The Way

Sad Story of Susannah McCorkle...

At Carnegie Hall 11/20/98 with Skitch Henderson and an 80-piece NY Pops Orchestra.
© 1998 Steve Sherman

Background information:
Birth name: Susannah McCorkle
Born: 4 January 1946
Origin: Berkeley, California
Died: May 19, 2001 (aged 55)
Genres: Jazz
Occupations: Singer Instruments Vocals
Labels: Concord Records

To buy the music:

Widely acclaimed as one of the top jazz-pop vocalist of our time, Susannah McCorkle was noted for her repertoire of over 3,000 songs, her fresh interpretations of classic pop songs, her emotional warmth and depth, and her sly, spontaneous humor.

She performed with groups ranging in size from jazz duo to big band and symphony orchestra in the US, Europe, and Japan. Her many albums have earned international critical praise.

Her current CD, Most Requested Songs, was the last project she completed before her tragic death. It includes 14 songs, personally handpicked by Susannah, that were most often requested by her fans around the world, including "The Waters of March", "The People That You Never Get to Love" and "They Can’t Take That Away From Me". The CD quickly soared to the top ten list of the traditional jazz chart.

An earlier CD, "From Broken Hearts to Blue Skies," was on PULSE! magazine's Top Ten Vocal Album of the Year List. Reflecting what New York Times critic Stephen Holden called "her superb taste in songs," it featured a wide variety of great songs written over a span of seventy years sung in English, French and Portuguese, and included tributes to jazz greats Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Chet Baker, and Django Reinhardt.

Born in Berkeley, California, Susannah studied languages in Mexico, France, Germany, and Italy, graduating from UCB with a degree in Italian literature. She began singing professionally as a student in Europe after she heard Billie Holiday records in Paris and went on to discover vintage jazz and movie musicals.

On the verge of becoming a simultaneous interpreter in four languages for the Common Market in Brussels, she went to London to try for a singing career first.

Three-time winner of the STEREO REVIEW Album of the Year Award, she was named "Singer of the Year" by the LA TIMES and "Woman We Love" by ESQUIRE magazine.

Recent TV and radio appearances include NPR's "Fresh Air," "A Prairie Home Companion," "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz", and other appearances on Brazilian Network TV, "E!", Global TV, CBC, Bloomberg Network, and A&E.

She has published fiction in MADEMOISELLE, COSMOPOLITAN, and THE O. HENRY BOOK OF PRIZE SHORT STORIES, and non-fiction in the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE and in AMERICAN HERITAGE, including lengthy articles on Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Irving Berlin and Mae West.

She was also a gifted lyricist: her English versions of Brazilian, French, and Italian songs have been widely praised by both critics and the original writers, including Antonio Carlos Jobim.

She took pride in developing and writing all her own shows, which were packed with historical information, personal insights, and revealing anecdotes about the songwriters and their songs. Her 1999 sold-out Algonquin show, "From Broken Hearts to Blue Skies," was a complex one-woman theater piece in which, in the words of New York Times critic Stephen Holden, "keeping her tongue lightly in her cheek, she weaves 16 songs around a monologue about a sensitive urban Everywoman recovering from a broken relationship."

In recent years she developed interactive Music Workshops for children from 5 to 18. She gave her Music Workshops at Lincoln Center, at Borders Bookstores, and in public schools in New York, New Jersey and Florida.

She also gave interactive concert-lectures for college students and adults.

She played Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls five times and Carnegie Hall three times, most recently as featured soloist with Skitch Henderson and the 80-piece New York Pops in a concert of Brazilian music.

Her death in May 2001 was a terrible loss for friends, family, her many fans and the world of jazz-pop music. Admirers and music critics around the world continue to write moving tributes to Susannah’s extraordinary, multi-faceted talent and the unique mix of passion and intelligence that illuminated her work.

A survivor of breast cancer, McCorkle suffered for many years from depression and took her own life at age 55 by leaping off the balcony of her 16th-floor apartment on West 86th Street in Manhattan. She was alone in her home at the time. The police immediately entered her home after identifying her body and found no foul play. Suicide was ruled the cause of death.

One year later, in a New York magazine tribute "Jazz Bird" by Gwenda Blair, published May 27, 2002; Blair wrote: "Onstage, singer Susannah McCorkle exuded a sultry self-confidence that won her lifelong fans. But in private, she fought depression so deep -- and so well hidden -- that a year after her suicide, even some in her most intimate circle wonder how they missed the cries for help."

Haunted Heart, a biography of Susannah McCorkle written by Linda Dahl, was published in September 2006 by University of Michigan Press.


  • The Music of Harry Warren (1976)
  • The Songs of Johnny Mercer (1977)
  • Over the Rainbow—The Songs of E.Y. Harburg (1980)
  • The People that You Never Get to Love (1981)
  • How Do You Keep the Music Playing (1985)
  • Thanks for the Memory—The Songs of Leo Robin (1983)
  • As Time Goes By (1986) - with Jimmy Heath (ts), Ted Dunbar (g), Billy Taylor (p), Victor Gaskin (b), Tony Reedus (d)
  • Dream (1986)
  • No More Blues (1988)
  • Sábia (1990)
  • I'll Take Romance (1992)
  • From Bessie to Brazil (1993)
  • From Broadway to Bebop (1994)
  • Easy to Love—The Songs of Cole Porter (1996)
  • Let's Face the Music—The Songs of Irving Berlin (1997)
  • Someone to Watch Over Me—Songs of George Gershwin (1998)
  • From Broken Hearts to Blue Skies (1999)
  • Hearts and Minds (2000)
  • Most Requested Songs (2001)
  • The Beginning 1975 (2002)
  • Ballad Essentials (2002)


Listen here:

Suicide may also be regarded as an experiment -- a question which man puts to Nature, trying to force her to answer. The question is this: What change will death produce in a man’s existence and in his insight into the nature of things? It is a clumsy experiment to make; for it involves the destruction of the very consciousness which puts the question and awaits the answer. ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, Parerga and Paralipomena

Jars of Clay - Christian Rock Band


Jars of Clay has sold more than six million albums, won three GRAMMYS, headlined thousands of sold-out shows and festivals, and successfully launched the Blood:Water Mission, a non-profit organization promoting clean blood and water in Africa. Since the band's debut single, "Flood," astonishingly topped both the mainstream and CCM charts, Jars of Clay has built an extraordinary career based on the uncompromising integrity of its music, worldview, and humanitarianism.

But the members of Jars of Clay – Dan Haseltine (vocals), Charlie Lowell (keyboards), Steve Mason (guitars), and Matt Odmark (guitars) -- have never been comfortable resting on their past achievements, choosing instead to constantly challenge themselves and each other to grow and evolve as musicians, as songwriters, and as a band. Jars of Clay's last album, Good Monsters, was a blistering rock manifesto that managed to reinvent the band's sound while tackling subjects as diverse and demanding as social responsibility, spiritual doubt and the duality of the human heart.

Now, three years later, Jars of Clay returns with an album of shimmering, state-of-the-art pop that's as sonically adventurous as it is sly and soulful: The Long Fall Back To Earth.

According to Charlie Lowell, The Long Fall Back To Earth picks up where Good Monsters left off: "Good Monsters was in many ways a view of humanity from 40,000 feet above the Earth. During that season, we were learning about what it means to live in community, rather than in isolation. And one of the things we've learned is that our spirituality is our relationships -- our day-to-day, up-close-and-personal, skin-to-skin relationships."

Dan Haseltine elaborates: "Over the past several years, we've been walking with different people who've been in crisis and had a real opportunity to see the inner workings of relationships struggling to survive. That's what inspired the theme of the new record: the idea of people made raw by their relationships, baring their souls to one another other, being broken and being rebuilt."

Matt Odmark: "For us, this record was an intentional transition away from writing conceptually. We wanted to make an album about the business of daily life written in the language of human interaction. An at-close-range exploration of our relationships and the way they shape and are shaped by our spirituality."

Produced by Jars of Clay with longtime collaborators, Mitch Dane (Bebo Norman, Caedmon's Call, Kyle Matthews) and Ron Aniello (Lifehouse, Barenaked Ladies, Guster), The Long Fall Back To Earth is a relationship record from beginning to end -- an unflinching, unabashedly intimate look at the way human beings try to connect, and more often than not fail to connect with each other. At the same time, however, The Long Fall Back To Earth is a non-stop, pure pop thrill ride from beginning to end, with gleaming hooks, irresistible choruses, and a retro-futuristic setting where acoustic guitars and 80's synth textures come together to create an entirely new sonic palette for the band.

The album's first single, "Two Hands," is a muscular, soulful strut that artfully builds on the duality theme from Good Monsters. Haseltine's lyrics observe, "I use one hand to pull you closer / The other to push you away," before going on to suggest that this internal conflict can be overcome with a simple, but profound course of action:

"Two hands doing the same thing / Lifted high." Like "Weapons," "Two Hands" works as both a song about human relationships and a call for social change.

Steve Mason agrees: "With ‘Two Hands,' there's a service aspect to the song, as well. When we reconcile the warring aspects inside us, we can bring the full weight of who we are into our relationships, our work, our families -- loving well, serving the poor, and making a difference."

Jars of Clay continues to make a difference through its non-profit Blood:Water Mission. As of now, the Blood:Water Mission has nearly completed its 1,000 Wells Project, providing clean water and sanitation to 1,000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The water side of Blood:Water feels like it's working," says Dan Haseltine. "So the blood side -- the HIV/AIDS side -- is where we're putting our focus this year. We're spending time in African communities to find out what's working for them as far as prevention and care for people with HIV and AIDS, and then doing what we can do to support them rather than imposing western models on them. It's a vast, broad approach, but it's exciting as there are so many more human stories to connect with."

That desire to connect is the primary theme of The Long Fall Back To Earth and nowhere is it more explicitly stated than in "Closer," the first song recorded for the record. With its Depeche Mode-inspired programming, playful vocal effects, and disarmingly forthright lyrics, "Closer" became the sonic template and lyrical point of departure for the record that grew out of it. When Haseltine sings "I'll drop out of the race for more personal space / ‘Cause the rockets we're in get so cold, and I miss your skin," he's never sounded more direct, unguarded, or more eloquently human. And the longing he's expressing is wedded to a pop song so deliriously melodic it features not one, but two separate choruses, each more ecstatic than the last.

One of the last songs written for the record is the ethereal, instrumental opener "The Long Fall," which gently introduces the theme of the record -- as well as its unique sound -- before giving way to the insistent, marching wake-up call of the song "Weapons." With its rousing, anthemic chorus, "Weapons" might at first seem to be a timely, straightforward plea for world peace. But the nuanced observations Haseltine makes in the verses suggest that the same human dynamics that cause wars are present in even the most intimate human relationships. Here -- and throughout the record -- the personal and the political are the same. "Weapons" is less a plea for peace than a joyous, defiant rallying cry: "There are no enemies in front of you"; a realization that has every bit as much relevance in love as it does in war.

The euphoric pop energy of "Weapons" illuminates the entire album, even the sweetly elegiac "Boys (Lesson One)," a techno-acoustic lullaby of lessons passed from father to son over an insistent electronic drum pattern that suggests these lessons can't be taught quickly enough -- time marches on and childhood ends too soon.

"Adults aren't calling children up into adulthood in a way where they can ask hard questions about what real life looks like," Steve Mason says. "Questions about the things that come along and break hearts and move them into adulthood. ‘Boys' captures the desire of a father to talk to his son in a way that doesn't lie about how hard living is. And it does it with love and a radical trust in the belief that God isn't afraid of our questions."

The song that follows, the searing rock anthem "Hero," has already been featured in NBC's promotional campaign for its blockbuster series, KINGS. Like "Weapons," "Hero" sounds at first like an earnest, impassioned plea for salvation. But in the context of an album about human relationships, "Hero" suggests that the most heroic thing we can do -- in fact, the only thing we can do "to save us from ourselves" is to connect with one another.

With The Long Fall Back To Earth, Jars of Clay has done just that, crafting a sophisticated pop record that goes out of its way to be revealing, honest, and vulnerable, inspiring everyone who hears it to pursue a deeper connection with the band and one another.

Go here to listen:

I love this band and sing a lot of their music myself. I know that you'll come to love them too. If you enjoy Christian Rock you can't find much better...


My Heart Sings by Gloria (Glo) Smith - Rhapsody Music

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Australian Pink Floyd Show

Extracts from Wikipedia
The Australian Pink Floyd Show (aka TAPFS) were formed in 1988 in Adelaide, South Australia. Their live shows attempt to recreate the look, feel, and sound of Pink Floyd's. The shows typically follow the format of one hour of music, followed by a 20-minute intermission, resuming with another hour of music, and often concluding with an encore of "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell". Sometimes the band will play certain Pink Floyd albums in their entirety during a show, usually as a first set. To date they have performed in this format The Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Wish You Were Here and on the 2008/9 tour, The Wall. When not performing a specific album the band will perform songs from all periods of Pink Floyd's oeuvre including early material by Syd Barrett and longer songs such as "Dogs" and "Echoes" to later material from the albums The Wall, The Final Cut, Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell.

Jack Rose and the Black Twig Pickers (ragtime)

A very bluesy feel - I enjoy this a lot.

Worth reading this review, part of which is reproduced here
This record will stick with me for a very long time. It’s the kind of music I’d like to play to my kids when the oil has run out. It’s the kind of music you’d want to hear at a wedding. It’s the kind of music that could help you grieve. It’s the kind of music you can sink a bottle of rum to before going out to do stupid things with a spray-can (regrettable, immature things). I have a lot more of those sound bytes primed and ready, involving cooking, sex, fights with the police, shooting rats and doing tax returns, but you’ve likely had enough.

Jack Rose & The Black Twig Pickers

Ellie Goulding - Hot Tip 2010

She has a lot to live up to - but a very pleasant sound.

Ellie Goulding has been tipped as the breakthrough act of 2010 by industry experts in a highly regarded poll.

The 22-year-old, whose music has been branded "folktronica", topped the BBC Sound of 2010 list which has previously heralded the careers of artists such as Adele, Mika and 50 Cent.

Ellie Goulding, "Under The Sheets" from Neon Gold Records on Vimeo.

Amazon MP3's


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Please Come Home

Please Come Home For Christmas
Bells will be ringing this sad sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby's gone I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again
Choirs will be singing Silent Night
Christmas carols by candle light
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Years night ......

Taylor Swift - Last Christmas

Taylor Swift singing Last Christmas.

Taylor Swift MP3s

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wynton Marsalis: Go Tell It On The Mountain

Personnel: Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Victor Goines (clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophone), Wessell Anderson (alto saxophone), Walter Blanding (tenor & soprano saxophones), Paul Nedzela (baritone saxophone and bass clarinet), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone and tuba), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Don Vappie (banjo, guitar and vocals), Dan Nimmer (piano), Reginald Veal (bass), Herlin Riley (drums), Roberta Gumbel (vocals)

Christmas Jazz Jam

click image

Wynton Marsalis

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Lady Day" Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday remains (four decades after her death) the most famous of all jazz singers. "Lady Day" (as she was named by Lester Young) had a small voice and did not scat but her innovative behind-the-beat phrasing made her quite influential. The emotional intensity that she put into the words she sang (particularly in later years) was very memorable and sometimes almost scary; she often really did live the words she sang.

Her original name and birthplace have been wrong for years but are listed correctly above thanks to Donald Clarke's definitive Billie Holiday biography Wishing on the Moon. Holiday's early years are shrouded in legend and rumours due to her fanciful ghost written autobiography Lady Sings the Blues but it is fair to say that she did not have a stable life. Her father Clarence Holiday (who never did marry her mother) played guitar with Fletcher Henderson and abandoned his family early on while her mother was not a very good role model. Billie essentially grew up alone, feeling unloved and gaining a lifelong inferiority complex that led to her taking great risks with her personal life and becoming self-destructive.

Holiday's life becomes clearer after she was discovered by John Hammond singing in Harlem clubs. He arranged for her to record a couple of titles with Benny Goodman in 1933 and although those were not all that successful, it was the start of her career. Two years later she was teamed with a pickup band led by Teddy Wilson and the combination clicked. During 1935-42 she would make some of the finest recordings of her career, jazz-oriented performances in which she was joined by the who's who of swing. Holiday sought to combine together Louis Armstrong's swing and Bessie Smith's sound; the result was her own fresh approach. In 1937 Lester Young and Buck Clayton began recording with Holiday and the interplay between the three of them was timeless.

Lady Day was with Count Basie's Orchestra during much of 1937 but, because they were signed to different labels, all that exists of the collaboration are three songs from a radio broadcast. She worked with Artie Shaw's Orchestra for a time in 1938 but the same problem existed (only one song was recorded) and she had to deal with racism, not only during a Southern tour but in New York too. She had better luck as a star attraction at Cafe Society in 1939. Holiday made history that year by recording the horribly picturesque "Strange Fruit," a strong anti-racism statement that became a permanent part of her repertoire. Her records of 1940-42 found her sidemen playing a much more supportive role than in the past, rarely sharing solo space with her.

Although the settings were less jazz-oriented than before (with occasional strings and even a background vocal group on a few numbers) Billie Holiday's voice was actually at its strongest during her period with Decca (1944-49). She had already introduced "Fine and Mellow" (1939) and "God Bless the Child" (1941) but it was while with Decca that she first recorded "Lover Man" (her biggest hit), "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache" and her renditions of "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do," "Them There Eyes" and "Crazy He Calls Me." Unfortunately it was just before this period that she became a heroin addict and she spent much of 1947 in jail. Due to the publicity she became a notorious celebrity and her audience greatly increased. Lady Day did get a chance to make one Hollywood movie (New Orleans) in 1946 and, although she was disgusted at the fact that she was stuck playing a maid, she did get to perform with her early idol Louis Armstrong.

Billie Holiday's story from 1950 on is a gradual downhill slide. Although her recordings for Norman Granz (which started in 1952) placed her once again with all-star jazz veterans (including Charlie Shavers, Buddy DeFranco, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Ben Webster), her voice was slipping fast. Her unhappy relationships distracted her, the heroin use and excessive drinking continued and by 1956 she was way past her prime. Holiday had one final burst of glory in late 1957 when she sang "Fine and Mellow" on The Sound of Jazz telecast while joined by Lester Young (who stole the show with an emotional chorus), Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan and Roy Eldridge, but the end was near. Holiday's 1958 album Lady in Satin found the 43-year old singer sounding 73 (barely croaking out the words) and the following year she collapsed; in the sad final chapter of her life she was placed under arrest for heroin possession while on her deathbed!

Fortunately Billie Holiday's recordings have been better treated than she was during her life and virtually all of her studio sides are currently available on CD.

Scott Yanow

Purchase her music and enjoy it for yourself... Let her magical blues style put you under its spell today!

Gloria Runyons Smith