Be Good

I had some great time off with my wife and my mother of 84 years, visiting us in Madrid – time for family and people who are important in my life. Time to talk and visit exhibitions, places we like and time for good food and drink. Time well spent.

After focusing a bit on the private side of my life, back to music and to a few new records and a show I recently saw/heard. Be Good is the title of singer Gregory Porter’s second album and good it is indeed! The title song is simply amazing and so are most of his compositions; I love his version of Nat Adderley’s Work Song as well and especially the final song on the album, the perfect ending for an incredible record – an a capella (night cap) version of God bless the child! One of the most promising jazz singers around.

Conversations with Christian is a collection of duos Mr. McBride recorded with his musical mentors and friends, including Hank Jones and Dr. Billy Taylor, who both didn’t see the release of this album, as they passed away before the recording was issued. On this record Christian really shows how versatile a bass player he is – from African rhythms to classical music, pop, some fun jazz duets and a bit of Latin, he is at home in every genre. He listens and then adds what he has to say about the music – that makes it work when he plays with either Sting or Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roy Hargrove or Chick Corea. A gem.

We all miss Esbjorn Svensson, there is no doubt about it. While on tour in Australia in 2007 the band went in to the Studio 301 and recorded some jams and tracks, out of which they released the album Leucocyte in 2008. 301, as the new release is titled, is more material from this session and fully deserves to be listened to as a proper e.s.t release. The material chosen is strong and unique, emotional and challenging – typical for the trio. If the rest of the material from these days in the studio is as strong as this one, there should be at least another record waiting for us … and rumour says that there is a some solo material by Esbjorn as well to come out in the future. 301 is a timely reminder of what we are really missing and maybe to what unknown boundaries this trio could have gone. Highly recommended!

Medeski, Martin & Wood made a stop on their current tour in Madrid. I hadn’t seen the guys for a while, the last time actually with John Scofield a few years back and looked forward to the show – and they did not disappoint me! For someone who came to get funked up, yeah, there was obviously some of that, but there was as well a lot of free improvisations, throwing in some references of own and other works and then taking off in all directions of groove. As a trio they are so tight and can react quickly to anything anyone of them is doing – often one could see John Medeski just nodding his head or raise his hand to conduct a change in the music. His playing was immaculate – piano (of which I would have liked to hear a bit more) and Hammond equally under his control, sometimes powerful, sometimes quiet and emotional.

Radiolarens I, II and III were there last proper releases of the group (and the box set combining the three records plus live material and a DVD and vinyl) and should be heard by all MMW fans. Substantial recordings! All three guys have been busy lately with their own projects, but hopefully there will be a new album soon.

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