i share my passion and enthusiasm with people every day, through performance and education. every once in a while, i am overcome with school girl excitement about a small detail in a particular recording. these giddy moments remind me of why i consider myself the luckiest guy in the world, except for those folks that win the lottery. that would be nice.
* bill frisell "live to tell" - have a little faith in me
he's my favorite guitar player, hands down. my friend matt bernemann turned me on to this record in particular, which is replete with a variety of wonderful tunes. this madonna track rides alongside pieces by sonny, sousa, copland, muddy waters, dylan and ives. joey baron's brush work is sublime. my favorite part is the guitar riff that bill cops from the recording and inserts at 2:37. frisell plays the figure once, contrasting the original version while planting it in my ears.
* branford marsalis "doctone" - requiem
i'm not a big branford guy, but took a chance on this album about ten years ago. the first track is an homage to pianist kenny kirkland, who passed away before the record was released. this quartet has played together a ton, and it certainly shows. the trust and interplay between all parties is tasteful and precise. i love the way drummer jeff watts plays time on this track, so buoyant and fiery. the fill he plays out of the head is refined chaos. my favorite part is the way branford releases from the spinning opening of his solo at 2:42. tain finishes with branford and helps launch him into his next idea, a testament to how dialed in these guys are to each other.
* take 6 "god rest ye merry gentlemen" - he is christmas
wow - where do you start with these guys? this group is unparalleled, and this record is my #2 christmas album of all time (right behind kenny rogers and dolly parton). the yelllowjackets join the vocal jazz guys on this track, perfectly augmenting a group that needs no assistance. my favorite part is "day" at 1:46, which transitions out of a vocal chorale and into an instrumental interlude.
* a tribe called quest "check the rhyme" - the low end theory
tribe is where it's at. clever rhymes that artfully feather intricate rhythms and intelligent street verbiage together. it's about the music, not booty shakin' videos (which i'm perfectly fine with, btw). i've loved there stuff since i got into hip hop, digging records like the love movement, midnight marauders, and especially the low end theory. the volley of "you on point" between q-tip and phife dog (the second time around) sets up my favorite part at 2:31, when phife passes the mic to tip with the line "play the resurrector and give the dead some life".
* jill scott "golden" - beautifully human
the title track is a little wordplay on her big ticket vocal quality. my friend erin fishler turned me on to this record several years ago, and i was instantly infatuated (plus, i find her intoxicatingly gorgeous). jill scott is a power house in the most literal sense of the word. kale used to be hooked on this youtube clip of lupe fiasco on letterman, routinely asking me to play the video with "the girl who is really going for it." i dig a lot of what's going on in this tune, especially jill's force and sense of purpose in her delivery of the line. but for me, the money is in that bass pop at 1:07 in the 2nd verse. it get my air bass out for this part, dressed with a smug look on my face.
* claude delange "rhapsodie" - a saxophone for a lady
my teacher studied with claude delounge (as one of my past majors mistakenly referred to him) at the paris conservatory. everyone knows that i'm not the biggest classical saxophone fanatic, but his talents are something to behold. my favorite part of this treatment of the debussy rhapsodie is the way he stretches & pauses without breathing between the two Bs that pull to the I chord at 1:42.
* aretha franklin "nessun dorma" - live at the 1998 grammys
as the story goes, the queen of soul sat in for pavarotti while he was out ill. i wept the first time i heard her sing this, and still get goosebumps each time i play it. i have no idea if she is butchering the italian and, quite frankly, i don't care. the amount of heart she is pouring into the aria is undeniable, and i'm certain that puccini would have been down with it. i love the way she phrases "my kisses break the silence" at 2:54. in my opinion, her finest hour.