Musical Snapshot II

November 08, 2007

So, after almost 2 months since my first Musical Snapshot, I think it’s a good time to bring an update of what I’ve been listening to. In general, I’ve focused more on jazz artists.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some general aspects of music production nowadays. I have this feeling that the recent (good) albums have been failing (in different levels) on bringing a more emotional and deep musical experience. Today, most albums have this annoying super-high level of perfection. There’s almost no space for those wonderful little mistakes, improvisation, background noises, emotion, … When you listen to a jazz album from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, you have this feeling of a deep musical engagement from the musicians. The recordings were kind of noisy but very powerful. When I listen to some modern jazz albums, even with very good musicians, I have the impression that the technique comes first, nothing really groundbraking.

Another aspect that I’ve been thinking a lot is the use of electronic elements in music. Electronic music is cheap, it’s easy. In my opinion, there’s this natural tendency of electronic music to be shitty. The cultural relevancy of electronic music is undeniable. But not everything is music. This is why I tend to prefer artists who play with a band with real instruments instead of just a DJ. For entertainment, electronic music works fine most of the time but for listening, rarely. At least this is my experience.

Update: By all wrote above I do not mean that: 1) any jazz music is wonderful (independently of the period); 2) any electronic music is crap; 3) I’m a purist and only enjoy music with accoustic instruments; 4) I only enjoy the “old stuff”. My point about electronic music is that with very little effort and knowledge, you can come up with “something”. Culturally speaking, this is amazing (power to everyone to express themselves). However, musically speaking, this can be really bad in many cases. On music, what I really care is the “mood”, the “feeling” and the “truth” in it.


I have this long road ahead with the fundamentals of jazz. So, I’ve been choosing the “classics” to “understand” some of the major artists. Coltrane is still on the top of my favorites. I’ve listened to more than 7 of his albums. Wes Montgomery was a wonderful finding for me (I’ve listened to 6 of his albums so far). Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” album is freakingly amazing. Here are some highlights (from the quite long list of albums I’ve listened to):

  • Blue Train (John Coltrane)
  • Bitches Brew (Miles Davis)
  • Full House (Wes Montgomery)
  • The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Wes Montgomery)
  • Alive (Chick Corea Akoustic Band)
  • Complete Live at the Five Spot (Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane)
  • Plays Duke Ellington (Thelonious Monk)

Funk and Acid Jazz

Following the acid jazz path, I’ve listened to 2 albums of The Brand New Heavies. Interesting stuff. On the funky front, I’ve tried some more albums of Earth Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, Parliament, Maceo Parker, and others. The Meters is really root-ish funk music. If you like funk, you gotta listen to some of their albums.

  • All about funk (The Brand New Heavies)
  • Spirit (Earth Window & Fire)
  • Funk Overload (Maceo Parker)

R&B and Soul

Not many news here. I’ve listened to 3 albums of Amel Larrieux. Good music, sometimes too “cheap”.

  • Infinite Possibilities (Amel Larrieux)

Brazilian music

I’ve been re-trying some old albums of Djavan. There are some recent albums that I don’t really enjoy but the older stuff is amazing. Specially “Luz”, “Coisa de Acender” and “Novena”. The new Maria Rita album “Samba Meu” is quite good (as usual). If you want to get a taste of modern samba, you should try it.

  • Samba meu (Maria Rita)
  • Luz (Djavan)
  • Clara Nunes (Clara Nunes)

Ongoing stuff

I’ve started a research on mexican and african music. My initial names on the mexican field are Lila Downs, Chavela Vargas, Lola Beltrán, José Alfredo Jiménez and other “ranchera” artists. On the african side, the initial ones are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Thomas Mapfumo, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Richard Bona, Mulatu Astatke and others. I’m still “digesting” them. Soon, I’ll write a new Musical Snapshot with some comments and impressions about them. If you have suggestions, please let me know.

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