Three Broken Records, Vol. 4
It's been a while since I've written a Three Broken Records post, and there's some catching up to do. I've been writing a lot about Tributary recently, and it's time to talk about other people's music! I have a lot of friends that make great music, and now that I have a new album, I've been trading CDs. Today's post is sort of a Friends & Neighbors edition--you may not have heard of these artists, but I highly recommend you take a moment to hear their music.
Vocalist Natalie John and I first played together in the now defunct jazz ensemble Collective Pursuit. We've played a number of duet or small group gigs. She's the type of vocalist musicians love to accompany because she can blend seamlessly into the band as easily as she nails a lead vocal. All of this is apparent on her debut album, Unveiled. From her fresh interpretation of Rodgers and Hart's "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" to the last note of "Nothing Else," an original by Natalie and the album's keyboardist and co-producer Dominic Fallacaro, there's a lot to love here on repeated listens.
Earlier this year I started playing mandolin alongside Matt Haden in a band called the City Billies. Matt plays banjo in the band, but like me, he's a guitar player first and leads his own group. We traded albums at rehearsal a couple weeks ago, and I left A Slow Death & Loneliness in my car's CD player for a solid week, listening to it over and over. You might expect somber, dark music from the title, but you actually get a really nice, varied set of music landing somewhere between Johnny Cash and Tom Waits. After getting to know Matt as a serious and talented musician, and a very nice guy with guns tattooed on his chest and big sideburns that drives a pickup truck with a cooler of PBR in the back, his music is incredibly appropriate. On top of this, the songs are well produced and the pacing of the album is excellent. It leaves me wishing there were a few more songs every time I put it in.
My apartment building has about 250 units. A lot of people live here, and while I see many of them every week, I don't know most of them. Sometimes when I'm walking through the lobby with my guitar case strapped to my back, somebody will stop me and ask, "Are you Mike?" I had no idea who they were talking about until I finally met trombonist Mike Fahie, the other musician in the building. Mike and I look nothing alike, but I guess if you've seen one musician carrying an instrument around Brooklyn you've seen them all (?). Anyway, Mike and I traded albums recently, and I absolutely love the sound on Anima. This is very much how modern jazz should sound, at least in my head. The set is truly about exploring music--everything from free improvisation on a melodic line to a re-working of a Paul Simon tune. It's as unforgivingly sophisticated as it is simple, a very rewarding album to an active listener.