Ten Songs from 2015 that you should be listening to: #6 Mocky’s Tomorrow Maker

Mocky-by-Vice_Cooler-15_04_29_1[1]The whole reason I’m writing these post about by favorites from 2015 is because of Mocky’s Key Change. I was mousing around online a few weeks ago, and, by chance, came across Mocky’s 2015 release in iTunes. I’m not new to his music: Saskamodie’s “Music To My Ears” has been part of my iTunes library since 2009. So given than, I should have been on the lookout for his new album.

Key Change is a gorgeous, gentle blend of songcraft that recalls classic pop and soul records but still feels decidedly modern.

Well, I missed it, and many of the online blogs I read missed it as well. So, I’m making up for lost time by telling the world how great this album is. There are a number of stand-out tracks: “When Paulie Gets Mad” sounds like it could be the main theme in a Woody Allen film1; “Soulful Beat” makes me long to zip around town on a hot summer night with the car windows down; the sparseness of “Weather Any Storm” is beautifully haunting.

My favorite track is the three-minute “Tomorrow Maker”. Mocky starts out with a slow, burning groove that’s custom-made for a blaxpoitation flick. He then flips the script at the 1:58 mark, turning the late-night jam into a funky, bass-thumping, hand-clapping, piano-scatting romp

Mocky – Tomorrow Maker

The Great American Songbook Countdown – #5: In a Sentimental Mood

John-Coltrane-Duke-Ellington[1]Note: I typically made small edits as I posts from my old blog to this platform. Usually, these tweaks are limited to spelling mistakes and additional footnotes. However, as I made edits to a series of posts about the Great American Songbook, I realized that I forgot to publish a post. So, here’s the final post in my top-10 countdown of my favorite GAS songs.

Duke Ellington originally recorded “In a Sentimental Mood” in 1935. Multiple artists have covered the track over the years: my favorite rendition is the 1962 version recorded by Ellington and John Coltrane1. This version shows shows a delicate and sensitive side to Trane’s brilliance. Duke Ellington is a master on the keys; this is a perfect pairing of two musical geniuses.

Shame on me: I didn’t hear this track until 1997’s Love Jones was released. For a self-professed jazz aficionado, that’s way too late.

In A Sentimental Mood

My Favorite Albums: Incognito’s Positivity

Spring 1995 41WTQ5EAWZL[1]: I was a senior in high school, preparing for graduation, submitting college applications… and getting ready for my senior prom. My senior year had turned out to be pretty good, and I was aiming for Senior Prom to be my magnum opus. I wanted to be the best dressed, smoothest, most sophisticated cat in the building.

By April, I had just about everything in order: Date confirmed. The ride on lock (my mom’s brand new Buick LeSabre). A black, single breasted tux with a midnight blue vest1. A day-of appointment to get a fresh cut.2 All that remained was completing my mixtape. Continue reading “My Favorite Albums: Incognito’s Positivity”

My Favorite Albums: Sketches of Spain

Miles_Davis_-_Sketches_of_SpainSketches of Spain isn’t overly sentimental to me (that honor belongs to the first straight-ahead jazz album I purchased – Terence Blanchard’s Billie Holiday Songbook). Sketches isn’t Miles Davis’ best work (that would be Kind of Blue). Heck, it’s not even my favorite Miles Davis album (Porgy and Bess).

So why is Sketches of Spain on my list of favorite albums? I’ll answer that in a minute. First, let me take you back to the summer of 1994.

I was 17 when I first heard Sketches of Spain. It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was a just discovering straight-ahead jazz. I knew of Miles Davis and other jazz greats because of Quincy Jones’ Back On The Block. I wanted to explore Davis’ recordings, but I couldn’t – there were just too many to choose from. I had no idea where to start. Fortunately, a very cool professor pointed me in the right direction. 

Continue reading “My Favorite Albums: Sketches of Spain”

The Great American Songbook Countdown – #1: Night And Day

dancing3[1]“Night and Day” isn’t number one on my list because it’s Cole Porter’s best work (though make no mistake: its Porter’s best work by far.

Nor is it number one because of a long history with the song (I first heard this song in 2002, well after first hearing most of the other songs on my countdown).

Quite simply, “Night and Day” is my number one song from the Great American Songbook because it’s the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding. It’s a beautiful song and for the rest of my life I will always think of her when I hear it. I chose the song for the wedding because I thought it perfectly summed up my affection for my wife. Check out these lyrics:

Night and day, you are the one
Only you ‘neath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
No matter darling where you are
I think of you, night and day

Day and night, why is it so
That this longing for you follows wherever I go
In the roaring traffic’s boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you, night and day

Of it’s many recordings, I believe Frank Sinatra’s version from Sinatra and Strings (arranged by Don Costa) is the most elegant (as it is a ballad instead of the upbeat version usually heard).

Frank Sinatra – Night And Day