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Staff Picks: Music

The Voice of Christmas

Bing Crosby's famous rendition of White Christmas may well be the most beloved and well known holiday song. It's a song that every December becomes an ubiquitous element of everyday life, almost inescapable as it leaks into existence from mall speakers, headphones and television sets. A new biographical portrait of Crosby's personal and professional life as well as his pop cultural significance will be featured on the PBS television program American Masters this Tuesday (December 2nd). Interested in more than just his holiday songs, check out more here.


Christmas… and All That Jazz

Winter is here in all its glory and with the holiday season (and, of course, Record Store Day) right around the corner, it’s time for another Bargain Basement adventure. This time there are two worth bragging about… well, ok, maybe more like five or six but who’s counting?

First, if you’re in the mood for some new jazz (and who’s not?), Friends Bookstore has a whole cart full of new acquisitions. Seriously. A whole cart full. Ok, even I’ll admit that there’s some pretty obscure stuff in there, but for a couple of bucks each, you definitely can’t go wrong. I made out like a bandit with three killer titles by local (but nationally famed) jazzman, Tom Knific; Siena, Lines of Influence, and Home Bass. Siena features a full cast of heavies, including pianist Fred Hersch and one of my longtime favorite guitar artists, John Abercrombie. Impressive stuff, indeed. Lines is a quartet record with pianist John Knific, drummer extraordinaire Keith Hall, and tasty sax work by Chris Geckstrom. Lastly, Tom’s “Duos and Trios” release, Home Bass, boasts an equally impressive cast, with Billy Hart, drums; Trent Kynaston, sax; and others. All are wonderful recordings and terrific finds.

And… just in time for the holidays, Friends have so cleverly set up a cart chock full of holiday music and seasonal videos. Sinatra and Bing and all the classics are there, of course, but as I’ve confessed here before, I tend to seek out the more unusual when it comes to musical holiday fare. (There’s even a new film about this strange obsession due to arrive in December. There’s a trailer below - thanks for the tip, Karl!) So, in between the Mannheim Steamrollers and the Gregorian chanters, along comes this cool collection called Maybe This Christmas Too? with Dave Matthews, Barenaked Ladies, Oh Susanna, and the Flaming Lips. Nice! I also grabbed a lovely disc from Utah with some wonderful guitar and violin works by Michael Lucarelli and Kelly Parkinson. And to top it off, I managed to secure a swingin’ copy of Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas. Priceless. 


Bargains in the Basement is an occasional series highlighting noteworthy items unearthed in the lower level of Central Library. What a treasure we have (quite literally) in the Friends Bookstore. When you can grab high quality books, music, and movies for little more than pocket change, life is good. And all the proceeds go to help support the library. So shop often; you never know what you’ll find. And stay tuned… I’ll let you know what I find!

 


Dave Brubeck

I have a pretty wide taste spectrum for the various jazz styles and movements that have unfolded over the past 50 years or so. One of those musicians that I enjoy listening to as summer turns to fall is the pianist Dave Brubeck. Along with Gerry Mulligan, Chico Hamilton, Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, and Paul Desmond, Brubeck was considered one of the most popular players associated with the "cool jazz" of the West Coast scene (his visage was famously featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954). Brubeck w as an adventurous innovator whose style could be characterized by unconventional time signatures as well as his warm tones and lyrical flourishes.His most famous album and composition (a commercial hit of its time) is the standard Take Five, which was written along side of the great alto saxophonist Paul Desmond who was a member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.


The Sound of Summer

Yes, summer is on the short end of its calendar life and soon the leaves will be falling and I'll want to listen to more brooding, pensive music. But for now, the sweet, melodic, and laidback sounds of Bossa Nova fit perfectly with the time spent in the hot sun and strolling along the lake's meandering surf. For those looking for a great introduction to the Brazilian music developed in the early 1960’s, check out Bossa Nova and the rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960’s.

This compilation contains a who’s who of artists of the period, when Brazilian musicians mixed American jazz influences with South American rhythms. If you’re searching for Bossa Nova artists in Hoopla or Freegal, then give these well-known artists a shot: Bebel Gilberto, Gilberto Gil, Stan Getz (made several Bossa Nova tinged albums), João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Charlie Byrd, Sergio Mendes, and Wanda Sa.


A Rainy Day Playlist

Oh rainy day, what should I play? If you’re anything like me and you appreciate the ocassional dark skies and leisurely fall of rain, your playlist is probably a reflective collection of moody and somewhat somber tunes. On days like today, Classical, Film Scores and Jazz reign (pun intended).

How about a little music from the film Magnolia’s soundtrack:



Keeping with film scores, nobody does gloomy and melodic better than Philip Glass:

 

Often lumped in with the French Impressionism of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, Erik Satie's hauntingly simple music evokes nostalgia and memory:

 

In her heyday, Billie Holiday's singular style was unmatched in expressing the depth of human emotion:

Two titans of modern music, Aaron Copland and Benny Goodman:

And lastly, the beauty and simplicity of The Beatitudes as performed by The Kronos Quartet and featured in the film The Great Beauty:

 

Music

Piano Works Satie
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Liked That, Try This (No. 1)

Looking for artists similar to those you already know about and enjoy? Well, we’ll try to make suggestions that expand your musical listening experience by connecting like-sounding artists together.

• Liked Jackson Browne, try Dawes 
• Liked The Avett Brothers, try The Felice Brothers
• Liked Neko Case, try Laura Marling
• Liked Miles Davis, try Chet Baker
• Liked MGMT, try The Flaming Lips
• Liked The Cocteau Twins, try Beach House
• Liked New Order, try The Knife
• Liked Bob Marley, try Peter Tosh
• Liked Billie Holiday, try Diane Krall
• Liked The White Stripes, try Wanda Jackson 
• Liked Wilco, try Fleet Foxes
• Liked Pink, try Robyn
• Liked Bon Iver, try Elliott Smith
• Liked Mumford and Sons, try The Head and the Heart
• Liked Frank Sinatra, try Kurt Elling

Music

the head and the heart
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The Only Jazz Compilation You'll Need

The 8-disc compilation The 100 Best Jazz Tunes of the 1950’s is an absolutely fantastic introduction to the music of jazz for both the well-versed aficionado as well as the eager novice seeking to expand their listening library (see: My co-worker Kevin King's previous post). This was a great decade for jazz development, ushering in various stylistic trends including Bop, Post-Bop, Cool and the first signals of what one might refer to as Free Jazz. It’s a who’s who of legendary musicians from Jazz's heyday, many of whom are featured playing their signature tunes. Included are Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Charles Mingus, and many more. If you just wanted to add a little bit of Jazz to your iTunes library, this is the one title to start with.

Music

The 100 Best Jazz Tunes of the 1950's
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Taking Time Out in 2014 for Jazz

One of my personal goals for 2014 was to try and find a way into jazz music. It has always been a genre of music I’ve had difficulty understanding, so I wanted to discover if I could learn to appreciate it. Another reason is that my 13 year old daughter, Abigail, is a HUGE fan of Miles Davis so I wanted to share something with her on the car rides to her various extra-curricular activities. On a whim, I checked out Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet which has become the first course in my jazz education. My instructor was Abigail who pointed out how the timing of each song was different. We continued to discuss the unique blend of cool and West Coast jazz that Brubeck made popular. I then had to research the story behind Time Out and discovered that the time signatures Brubeck used were very unusual and groundbreaking at the time. He was inspired by Turkish street musicians while touring Eurasia for the US State Department. I was amazed at the story behind the origins of the record as well as how my daughter was able to pick up on the innovative style of The Dave Brubeck Quartet. I am truly excited to enter 2014 looking forward to learning from a 13 year old jazz head. Maybe she will teach her old punk rock dad how to love the music that truly symbolizes the American spirit. If not I cannot find my way past Brubeck and Davis, I at least get to spend some time with my daughter. Whatever the result, I win.

Music

Time Out
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Jonathan Butler has a great sound!

Butler is a native of Cape Town, South Africa. He started singing on the streets of Athlone for food and began touring when he was 7 years old. It’s hard to peg him because he has so many great sounds. He’s a singer, song writer and guitar player and he’s been described as a rhythm and blues, jazz and worship performer. He would probably approve of those tags because he does all of them well but I think his heart is in his gospel music. He's good! His cool jazz blends well into a gospel. And as far as rhythm and blues is concerned, I had to look the definition up and make sure I knew what rhythm and blues was. Under R&B, I saw words like urban, soul, gospel and others that would classify Butler as a contemporary R&B artist. Well, one thing is for sure, he's definitely got rhythm and he knows his blues. Still, I think Jonathan Butler would like to be best known for his uplifting, spiritual sound, which he is highly respected for.

 KPL has several of his CDs. Some of his titles are Jonathan Butler, Surrender, The Source, Do you love me? He’s on a jazz CD called Summer Horns with Dave Koz and friends. Watch for his new CD Grace and Mercy. I'm sure it, too, will have a great sound.

Music

Jonathan Butler
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Happy Birthday iTunes Store!

In 2001 the way the world listens to music changed when Apple introduced the iPod. Two years later, the iTunes Store opened for business offering owners of iPods a virtual place to purchase music. Over the past ten years billions of songs have been downloaded to the many Apple iOS devices. Some would argue that iTunes has destroyed the idea of a “traditional” album, but others claim that more people listen to different music because it is easier to access music. No matter how you feel, it is hard to deny that iTunes is the “King of all Media Delivery Systems.”

I was curious to find out what the most played song was in the iTunes libraries of the staff at KPL. The answers not only provided me with insight on the listening habits of staff, but also inspired me to seek out the stuff in the library.

The most played song in my iTunes library is Matthew Sweet’s “I’ve Been Waiting” from his 1991 album, Girlfriend. When I think about why this particular song is on top of the list, I recall the summer when both my daughters requested to listen to it multiple times. They liked to roll down the windows and sing along to infectious tune. My guess is the top tracks from other staff have a similar story.

“Too Late” by Shoes, Karl Knack, Audio Visual
“Fluorescent Adolescent” by Arctic Monkeys, Anne Herrington, Law Library
“Plasticities” by Andrew Bird, Susan Lindemann, Facilities Management
“Teenage Riot” by Sonic Youth, Michael Cockrell, Adult Services
“Feels Like Home” by Edwina Hayes, Jill Lansky, Teen Services
“Gobbledigook” by Sigur Ros, Rick Hale, Patron Services
“Baby Girl” by Sugarland, Andrea Vernola, Youth Services
“Dirty Little Secret” by All-American Rejects, Wendy Hand, IT
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson, Angela Fortin, Oshtemo
“Myth” by Beach House, Ryan Gage, Audio Visual

Music

Girlfriend
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