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Monday, April 15, 2013

Mr. G's Top 10 Musical Sounds

1.      Bonnie Raitt’s voice -Bonnie must be the perfect woman because she has the  perfect voice.  She finds all the depths of human experience and it pours out her mouth.   She respects and salutes her sources - the great blues poets of the 20th Century and the R&B pioneers.  And she seems to like harmonica players - they play on a lot of her records.

2.      Stevie Wonder’s chromatic harmonica  - They say that the harmonica is a perfect instrument for a blind person since you don't need to see anything to play it.  Everybody knows the sound of Stevie Wonder's harmonica. All it takes is just a few notes - his exuberance and technical mastery, the glissandi and melismatic approach to the instrument is unique.

3.      Tower of Power’s horn section - These guys are as tightest and funkiest horn section that has ever existed.  High-end trumpets, bari sax honking out the bottom, trombones and saxes filling out the middle - sounds like  single instrument.  Nothing is more hair-raising that the TOP horns in full cry.

4.      Gary Valente’s trombone - Raucous, braying, insistent and heart-breaking - Valente nails it every time.  His work with Carla Bley will live forever.

5.   The Count Basie band - This sounds weird, but the Basie band is tightly connected to the Tower of Power horn section.  Basie invented the concept of a group of talented instrumentalists playing as one.  Nothing swings harder than the Basie band.

6.      Anthony Palmer’s guitar - He may not be terribly famous, but Tony has fantastic technique and a unique voice on his instrument.  He has absorbed and re-assembled so many fantastic sounds.  And he is my neighbor and former band mate.  It was an honor to work with him.

7.      Miles Davis’ trumpet - Miles was the king of expressing the unexpressible in an economic, perfect series of musical phrases.  His trumpet sound was wistful and yearning.  Listen to the live version of "Stella By Starlight," and try not to weep.

8.      Jimmy Smith’s Hammond B-3 organ - THE GROOVE!!! The B-3 is the singing keyboard.  It is also an instrument for over-achievers, with bass pedals, multiple stops and techniques   Jimmy Smith created a marvelous sound, - soul jazz by an organ trio (B-3,drums and guitar).  

9.      Tito Puetes’ timbales - He generated excitement and joy for everyone when he started banging on those drums.  He was an unbelievably fine showman.  Pull up one of his videos on YouTube and see if you can sit still.

10.  Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s clarinet - R. Kirk played many instruments (often 2 or three at the same time).  His work ranged from interesting to "fall-down and worship him" material.  But I have to say that my favorite Rahsaan Roland Kirk sound is his clarinet.  Check out Blue Rol on the Verve album, "Now please don't you cry, beautiful Edith."  his circular breathing and intense tone on this jazzy blues tune is enough to cause your brain to explode

That's all, folks.

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