Tag Archives: Miles Davis

Kurt Elling’s The Gate

AKIE BERMISS: In my opinion Kurt Elling is probably the jazz singer when it comes to the last 15 years or so. No one else is as prolific, as innovative and improvisatory, or as superbly talented. No one in his generation at least. You list to Kurt Elling and hear a host of great male singers from jazz past (many who are still working today) like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Mark Murphy, Al Jarreau and Andy Bey. With his broad, almost too rich voice and stunning range Elling is the cat to beat when it comes to jazz singing. Indeed, he has been so good that many of us have gotten spoiled by just how great those first few albums were. His past two or three records have been excellent to be sure, but they haven’t been what I consider to be homerun Elling stuff. But when I heard about The Gate I knew it was going to be a perfect fit. Tunes by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, The Beatles, and King Crimson? That’s the kind of stuff that is right in Kurt Elling’s strike zone.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I largely agree with Akie, both on Elling generally and The Gate in particular. There are a few nitpicks I’d add, however, that I think are symptomatic of where Elling has been less innovative than his first few albums-simply because they are innovative in the same way. Continue reading

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Janelle Monae

Eric: I did not sign up for this topic because I had something coherent to say about Janelle Monae. Rather, it was blind and overwhelming enthusiasm.

AKIE BERMISS: Well, on the one hand, I too and writing from sheer, unbridled fandom. I think I heard a snippet of Monae’s “Tightrope” a few months back and I thought it sounded pretty funky. In fact, it led me to look up her bio and read reviews of her previous record — the self-produced Metropolis EP. And, as a geek and funkster, I have weakness for all things alien, cyborg, and futuristic. Funk is, after all, that futuristic music. Its the blues for robots. And, if you’ve ever read any Isaac Asimov you’ll know, when robots get the blues its heavy.

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Julia Child

AKIE BERMISS: Sometimes it hard having a specialized job. Being a chef or a poet or a musician by trade normally means you’ve had some sort of training, be it formal or informal. And probably means you take your job seriously. Still these are not things people are complete unaccustomed to doing for themselves. People write, people cook, people play music. I try very hard not to be dismissive of someone who calls his or herself a musician but actually just does it as a hobby. It a fair title, if you take something seriously, then you are quite obviously someone who does that thing. And yet, not every person who picks up a guitar a musician, not every person who writes in verse is a poet, and not everyone who cooks is a chef.

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Basically, don’t buy Julia Child’s classic cookbook, because you’re too lazy and stupid to cook from it. Continue reading

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90s: The Golden Age of Music?

AKIE BERMISS: I should make it clear from the outset that it is not my position that the 90s was THE golden age of music. Just perhaps one of many golden mini-eras that come and go with the tides. And I should also make it clear that there is very little scientific evidence to back up the arguments I am going to presently make. What follows is, rather, a pseudo-scholarly attempt to draw up a basic outline of musical trends in the last half century or so.

I speak, of course, of music. Of the last great golden age of music: the 90s. But not as an isolated incident, rather, as a the most recent evidence of a decidedly unproven trend of artistic flowering under a Democratic presidency. It seems curious to me that we can so often think of artistic artifacts as being simply art’s domain when, in fact, we all know that outward influences are always at play. That often art is a sign of the times. Or art can act as a cultural and societal artifact as potently as an “artistic” one. Certainly anthropologists look to art in order to gauge the tenor and timbre of a civilization. Why shouldn’t we (albeit on a more micro-level)?

STEPHON JOHNSON: While the 90′s could be considered last real golden age for music, the way music was consumed and experienced back then might cloud our judgement of the decade. Continue reading

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