Monday, August 29, 2016

Albums of the summer

Every season has a playlist. From wintertime holiday songs to spirited summer songs, a season carries a sound.

This week I wanted to share some of the albums I listened to over the course of the summer, as well as what each album helped me realize along the way.

1. Lush Life - John Coltrane 

I listened to Lush Life almost everyday, on the way to work, at the gym, while reading, on car rides, etc. Singing along with Coltrane's solos in hour-long traffic and scatting along on the treadmill allowed me to start internalizing the music. This internalization not only helps me hear language, but also helps me start to realize the intention behind what I am hearing. I became aware that the trait that makes me resonate with Coltrane is honesty, and that when I learn this music I must also strive for honesty.

2. Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - Miles Davis

This album, along with Lush Life, is my most listened to album of the summer. Listening anywhere I could, the repetition of hearing this album allowed me to start singing along as well. There is a temptation to always want to hear new music or more music, yet by focusing on such a small body of works, I found that I started to hear details in the performances that I wouldn't have heard before. I realized the dynamic reach of Miles Davis, and while learning these songs and solos I noticed his repetition and how he comes back to similar thoughts.

3. Tangerine - Dexter Gordon

This album has taught me about the importance and strength of tone: Dexter Gordon is instantly recognizable by his broad, strong sound. While learning the melody to "Days of Wine and Roses" from this album, I noticed how Dexter is not in a rush to get the next note out - everything seems so assured and natural. This element of being natural encouraged me to continue learning songs and improvising by ear. By hearing how the melody and the chords fit together, and by practicing without accompaniment, I started to realize that I should play what I am hearing,  just as Dexter does, and that I don't need to overcomplicate anything. 

4. Solo Monk - Thelonious Monk

This particular album allows you to hear Monk solo, whereas many albums he is joined by a quartet. It is amazing to realize that every twist and turn in the music is solely coming from Monk himself. I particularly love how the pieces have a stride-piano influence, because it shows a bouncy, almost humorous side to Monk. This album taught me to pay justice to the melody of a song. Monk brings so much richness and depth to even cute songs like "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)" and shows how the solos come out of the beauty of the melody, instead of trying to create beauty from nothing in the solo section.

5. No Count Sarah - Sarah Vaughan

The first time I listened to this album was on a long car ride home from work. Stuck in traffic, I decided I would listen to something different, so I chose to put on Sarah Vaughan. When the track "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" came on, I couldn't believe what I was hearing! From the sliding opening saxophone solo to the buoyancy of Sarah's vocalese, I put this one song on repeat for the entire work week, only wanting to hear this one song. Sarah's richness combined with the support of the Count Basie Orchestra is haunting.

Final Thoughts: 
The sound of this summer was full of swing!

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