music clip of the day


Month: June, 2010

Thursday, 7/1/10

looking back

Today, celebrating our 300th post, we revisit a few favorites.



Both Chicago blues artists. Both guitar players. Both influenced by other kinds of music.

Musical personalities? They could hardly be more different.

Buddy Guy, “Let Me Love You Baby,” live


Fenton Robinson, “Somebody Loan Me A Dime,” live, 1977


Back in the 1970s, when I was at Alligator Records, I had the pleasure of working with Fenton, co-producing his album I Hear Some Blues Downstairs (a Grammy nominee). He didn’t fit the stereotype of a bluesman. Gentle, soft-spoken, serious, introspective: he was all these things. He died in 1997.



What other pop star has made such stunning contributions as a guest artist?

Sinead O’Connor

With Willie Nelson, “Don’t Give Up”


With the Chieftains, “The Foggy Dew”


With Shane MacGowan, “Haunted”



two takes

“La-La Means I Love You”

The Delfonics, live, 2008 (originally recorded 1968)


Bill Frisell, live, New York (Rochester), 2007



musical thoughts

Music . . . carr[ies] us smoothly across the tumult of experience, like water over rocks.

Vijay Iyer, liner notes, Historicity (2009)

Wednesday, 6/30/10

The other night, after falling asleep, my older son Alex (now 22) had an unexpected visitor—this guy showed up and began to play.

Vijay Iyer Trio (VI, piano; Marcus Gilmore, drums; Stephan Crump, bass)

“Galang,” recording session (Historicity), New York (Systems Two Studios), 2009


“Questions of Agency,” live, New York (The Stone), 2007


Playing and Talking about Historicity, 2009



Presto! Here is the great new jazz piano trio.

—Ben Ratliff, New York Times (9/9/09)

Tuesday, 6/29/10

Some folks talk sports when they get their hair cut. Rachael and I talk music. And invariably I walk out of there not only with shorter hair but bigger ears, having heard about someone from this 20-something stylist* that, walking in, I knew nothing about—like these guys, for instance.

The Books, “Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again” (2008)

Want more of Rachael’s picks? Here. Here.

*Rachael Zalutsky, Couvert, 2217 N. Halsted, Chicago, 773.248.6101

Monday, 6/28/10

Muscular, unadorned, direct: his playing conjures the old Chicago, when there was no Millennium Park, no flowers blooming in the middle of the street, no dining al fresco (unless you had nowhere else to eat).

Fred Anderson, tenor saxophonist, co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), club owner (Velvet Lounge), March 22, 1929-June 24, 2010

Live, with DKV (Ken Vandermark, tenor saxophone; Kent Kessler, bass; Hamid Drake, drums), Chicago (Hideout), 2008

(Hamid Drake is among my favorite drummers; he’s the perfect foil, in his buoyancy and drive, for Anderson’s dark, searching, sometimes brooding lines.)


“Spirits Came In,” live (with Kidd Jordan, tenor saxophone; William Parker, bass; Hamid Drake, drums), live, New York (Vision Festival), 2002


Live (with Jaribu Shahid, bass; Hamid Drake, drums), France (Le Mans), 2005

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6

Sunday, 6/27/10

Two minutes not enough?

Do what I just did—play it three times.

Five Blind Boys of Alabama (featuring Clarence Fountain), “Too Close to Heaven,” live (TV broadcast), 1960s



Five Blind Boys of Alabama, “Send It On Down” (1969)/mp3

This is another track from The Widow’s Might, the wonderful DVD—nearly 700 (!) gospel songs in mp3 format (everything played on Sinner’s Crossroads [one of my all-time favorite radio shows] in 2009)—that’s available as a $75 premium from WFMU-FM.



What I want to do is sing so good that the people who don’t believe in God will have an idea that there is a God . . .

—Clarence Fountain

Saturday, 6/26/10

replay: a clip too good for just one day

Performances like this usually fall somewhere between disappointing and disastrous. So many things can—and usually do—go wrong when you take a bunch of folks who’re used to leading their own bands and throw them together onstage. People trip all over each another; flash trumps feeling. But this performance, with Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Paul Butterfield, and (at the end) B.B. King, has plenty of strong moments—some funny ones, too. Listen to Albert bark at Paul: “Turn around!” (0:39) And watch Albert outfox B.B. First he invites him back onstage (4:40) and then, just when B.B.’s about to take flight (5:55), he cuts him off—faster than you can say “wham”—with his own (wonderful) solo. So much for Emily Post.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Paul Butterfield, B.B. King, “The Sky Is Crying,” live, 1987



A radio station that’s well worth checking out, if you’re not already familiar with it, is WKCR-FM, which broadcasts from NYC’s Columbia University. Like pretty much everything else these days, it’s available on-line. Among other things, it features a daily dose of Charlie Parker on “Bird Flight” (M-F, 8:30-9:30 a.m. [EDT]), hosted by Phil Schaap (profiled last year, by David Remnick, in the New Yorker), as well as, on Sunday, two excellent shows devoted to Indian music (6:00-8:00 a.m. and 7:00-9:00 p.m. [EDT]). (Another nice thing: the folks there are readily accessible; while listening yesterday, for instance, I heard an intriguing piece [by Alfred Schnittke] that I didn’t get the name of; I emailed them a query and, by the end of the night, had a response from the DJ.)

(Originally posted 9/18/09.)

Friday, 6/25/10

The other day, as I waited for a train at an underground station in downtown Chicago, an older black guy started singing this song, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, and at that moment everything—this song, this singer, this place—seemed all of a piece and I was no longer waiting.

Curtis Mayfield (with David Sanborn, alto saxophone; Hiram Bullock, guitar; David Lindley, steel guitar; George Duke, piano; Phillipe Saisse, keyboard; Tom Barney, bass; Omar Hakim, drums), “It’s All Right,” live (TV broadcast [Sunday Night]), 1989

Want more? Here. Here.

Thursday, 6/24/10

Greatest prison band of all time?

No contest.

Who could beat the one that Art Pepper and this guy—both followed Charlie Parker down the path of heroin addiction—led in the 1960s at San Quentin?

Frank Morgan (alto saxophone, with Claude Black, piano; Clifford Murphy, bass; Sean Dobbins, drums), “Well You Needn’t,” live, Ohio (Toledo), 2006


The greatest big band I ever played with was in San Quentin. Art Pepper and I were proud of that band. We had Jimmy Bunn and Frank Butler [whom Jo Jones called “the greatest drummer in the world”], and some other musicians who were known and some who weren’t, but they could play. We played every Saturday night for what they called a Warden’s Tour, which showed paying visitors only the cleanest cell blocks and exercise yards. But people would take that tour just to hear the band.


Art and I played more when we were in San Quentin together than when we were on the outside.


Art led the way for me to recover. He got out of prison before me and started traveling all over the world before I did. He showed me by example that it could be done, and I’ll always love him for that.

—Frank Morgan

Wednesday, 6/23/10

You could listen to his music, and nothing else, every day for the rest of your life and never touch bottom.

Bach, Chaconne in D minor for solo violin (Partita for Violin No. 2 [BWV 1004])/Gidon Kremer (violin), live

Another take? Here.

Tuesday, 6/22/10

Wealthiest state in the nation?

If music were money, it might be this.

Nathan Abshire (accordion), “Ma Negresse” (AKA “Pine Grove Blues”)

Take 1

With The Balfa Brothers (Dewey Balfa, fiddle), live, Louisiana (Dedans le Sud de la Louisiane [1974])


Take 2

Live, Louisiana (Mamou [Fred’s Lounge]), 1976




Thanks, Richard, for another tremendous clip. Art Pepper [6/21/10] left us way too soon. Along with his music, I loved his autobiography. Keep up the great work.


Thanks so much!

—L. [Laurie Pepper, Art’s wife, in response to an email letting her know that Art’s music was being featured here [6/21/10]]

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