The Trick Is To Keep Going

Tag: Latin music

Island album released at cdbaby

by on Sep.07, 2017, under Music

When Pulse was finally finished at the end of 1970, three of the members moved to Manhattan, Beau Segal, Peter Neri and Paul Rosano. We started writing in a slightly different direction from the original blues-oriented Pulse and the quartet that followed. It’s more of a pop direction but there are elements of rock, country rock and blues, jazz and even yes Island music. We recorded these tracks at Blue Rock and Capitol and signed a publishing deal with Sam Gordon through the Grossman-Glotzer management office. Sam set up the studio time and was really quite supportive. He even managed to get Todd Rundgren to come down to Blue Rock and help us produce three of the tunes in this collection. It was a cool ride. You can purchase this album or individual tracks at

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Spalding infuses Latin jazz with strings

by on Oct.18, 2010, under Music


I was taken aback by the title of Esperanza Spalding’s latest offering, Chamber Music Society. So when I sat down to listen, I was expecting a left turn from Spalding’s self-titled jazz solo debut of 2008, which was one of my Top 5 albums of that year.

Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music CoverThree string players are indeed included here, added to Spalding’s doublebasse, and they underpin all of the tunes on the album. But she retains her Latin leanings in a jazz setting, an enchanting fusion of glorious melody, infectious rhythms and inspired musicisianship. All of the string arrangements, meticulously written and executed, are collaborations between Spalding and Gil Goldstein.

The album is also more of a showcase for Spalding’s fluid voice, with its extended range in the upper registers, and her accomplished bass playing for someone so young, 26. Many of her compositions are written sans lyrics, which at once frees the singer to explore more complicated melodies and imbues the songs with her natural scatting ability.

One with lyrics opens the album and is a 3-minute marvel consisting of voice, bass and strings. A delicate, lilting melody embraces lyrics written by the 19th century poet-artist William Blake on Little Fly. From Blake’s Songs Of Experience, it captures just the right touch of simplicity and vulnerability. (continue reading…)

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Return engagement for Steve Winwood

by on Feb.15, 2010, under Music

At various times in his career, Steve Winwood had gone extended periods during which he rarely played live, the most recent from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. But since his exceptional return album, About Time in 2004, he has toured relentlessly in the States and Europe, including stints with Eric Clapton.

Steve Winwood at the Hammond B-3 with Karl Vanden Bossche on drums and Jose Neto, guitar, in background.

Steve Winwood at the Hammond B-3 with Karl Vanden Bossche on drums and Jose Neto, guitar, in background.

I’ve seen Winwood about a dozen times in his career since 1968, seven times since 2004. Winwood played the MGM Grand Friday night, his third trip to Foxwoods since the release of About Time, with his usual five-piece band that includes a percussionist and sax player but no bass player. Winwood handles that with his left foot at the Hammond B-3, while providing adept, funky and soulful keyboard playing and still delivering with one of the best voices in the music world.

After the second song in his set, Hungry Man, from his Top 10 album from 2008, Nine Lives, he noted all the returning customers he spotted in the front of the 5,000-seat house, which was about 90 percent filled. He added that he and his band would be returning customers for a while also, a pronouncement that was received very enthusiastically.

The musicianship complementing one of the bonafide great talents in rock history is impressive: Jose Neto, who has been with Winwood since About Time, is on classical-electric guitar, as well as a Fender Strat for some tunes; Paul Booth plays tenor and soprano sax, flute, whistle, organ and sings background vocals; Richard Bailey handles drums with a fierce, worldly rhythmic fire; and Karl Vanden Bossche is the percussionist center stage on an array of congas and other embellishing tools of the trade.

Winwood’s band, with the exception of Neto, has changed personnel several times in the last six years, but this unit, which I saw open for Tom Petty at The Meadows in Hartford in 2008, has been together at least that long. And it sounds it. It’s a tight-knit, rocking, funky lineup that burns through a set of old and new songs with equal polish. (continue reading…)

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Bebel Gilberto brings it all together

by on Oct.30, 2009, under Music

Bebel Gilberto has been singing professionally since she was seven, but she really made her first unforgettable mark on the solo debut Tanta Tempo (2000), which sold more than a million worldwide.

bebel-gilberto-all-in-oneTanta was the perfect blending of bossa nova with modern sensibilities, infused with tasteful electronica. Produced by Suba, the album was a wonderful collaboration with a mix of songs sung in Portuguese and English, including Brazilian classics, standards such as So Nice as well as Gilberto’s original material.

The two albums that followed — Bebel Gilberto (2004) and Momento (2007) — both after Suba’s death and both more in a traditional bossa vein, were very good but didn’t quite reach the heights of Tanta Tempo. Her latest, All In One, is perhaps her most varied and eclectic work and it equals, and at times, surpasses the debut.

The disc includes six songs written or co-written by Gilberto and includes musicians and producers such as Didi Gutman, of Brazilian Girls, Daniel Jobim, son of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Carlinhos Brown, a star in his own right in Brazil as well as one-third of the landmark Brazilian album Tribalistas with Marisa Monte and Arnaldo Antunes.

All In One works best on tracks that Gilberto, daughter of bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto, either produces herself or works in concert with Gutman and/or Brown. Where Suba brought atmospherics through electronics, Gutman brings it with keyboard layers, effects and impeccable arrangements, and Brown, with an acoustic array of tribal and traditional instruments, particularly percussion, his specialty.

Gilberto’s voice is suited so well to the material. Soft, cool and sultry at times but also capable of reaching demanding heights on some of the tunes. The rhythms are infectious and brilliantly played by a core of musicians that includes Masa Shimizu, acoustic guitar, Thomas Bartlett, keyboards, and John King, synth and some production work, among many others. (continue reading…)

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Pieces of Stephen Stills

by on Oct.06, 2009, under Music

One of the most talented musicians and songwriters of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Stephen Stills is also a confounding one.

manassas-piecesIt’s hard to think of an artist who had a better streak of songwriting from 1966-73 while playing with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills & Nash and CSN & Young, followed by a stunning first solo album, an almost-as-good second and a year-and-a-half with the eclectic rock-country-Latin mix of Manassas.

Then decades of ups and downs, a few hints to rival past triumphs but mostly downs. Unfulfilled promise? Perhaps that’s a little harsh. Stills did give us a wealth of creativity during that roughly seven-year span.

Since 2007, Stills has released three albums from his vault, most recordings about 40 years old. And all three are better than anything he’s produced since. First Just Roll Tape, an extraordinary demo of songs he dashed off following a Judy Collins session in New York, several to appear on the first CS&N album.

Then Demos, in a similar vein, from CS&N, with his contributions undoubtedly the highlights. And now Pieces, early Manassas tapes, with some solo work and early jams with members of The Flying Burrito Brothers mixed in, a collection so good it makes one wonder why it’s taken so long for this material to see the light of day.

The group Manassas grew out of Stills’ frustration with CSN&Y and his contacting ultimate rock ‘n roll sidekick Chris Hillman (Byrds, Burritos) to get together and jam in Miami with members of the Burritos post-Gram Parsons.

The tracks from these sessions are mostly at the tail end of Pieces, Panhandle Rag, which shows off Byron Berline on fiddle and Hillman’s blazing mandolin, Uncle Pen — a Bill Monro tune on which Berline takes the vocals — Do You Remember The Americans and Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music), a Burritos live staple. (continue reading…)

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