Colder days were made for jazz!Posted: November 20, 2010
This week has marked a shift in the seasons, and that always excites me. I have always welcomed change, because with it offers opportunities of new adventures and connections. I am use to shifting seasons (environmentally and emotionally). In this world you have to adapt to survive or be left to the wayside, and I prefer to get some livin’ in when I can despite the sometimes dire conditions. The days have grown shorter, and more recently quite cold and damp. I am not the biggest fan of feeling cold, but I welcome the corresponding shift in my behavior. The rain brings more time inside, with tea, some tree burning (fireplace and otherwise), bedroom company, and lots of Jazz!
I come from a family of jazz musicians, and have always loved the music since I was a child, but there is something about the rain and jazz that does it for me and fuels my fall/winter months creativity. When the weather is overcast I love to stay inside and play Coltrane, Monk, Davis, Coleman with good low lighting and coffee and pretend that I am in another time period, preferably the late 60’s/70’s, and I am no longer in Oakland, but in NYC or Brazil or Paris. When I was six I would do the same thing, but wear my great grandfather’s fedora’s and bowler hats, and pretend that I was a jazz musician in the Harlem Renaissance or Kansas City in the 1930’s. My grandfather was a well known jazz saxophonist back then and although I never met him I carry his soul deep in my heart. I was fascinated with the Jazz world around him in the 30s/40s in Kansas City, Kansas, where my father’s family is from, and I always wanted to be apart of it hence the dress up and time traveling fantasy. I have always been a daydreamer; it fuels my creativity and helps me cope with the unpleasant aspects of life. I am also an old soul with appreciation for art and time periods that have occurred before me, which Is why I love early Black American music, whether it be Blues, soul, bop, jazz, and the places where this art has been concentrated in movements, such as in NYC, Kansas City, the South, ect.,
The other night, which was a cold and rainy one, I was at a friends house sipping on whiskey in front of a fire. Quite a lovely evening. The music had stopped due to his dying lap top so he went to put on a record, and it was the 1970 album Red Clay by the late and great jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. I was immediately intoxicated by the opening title track; it’s rhythm, the opening drum beat with the funk of the bass lines, the bluesy soul of the trumpet, and those clean jazz keys. My head was reeling from the brilliance of the fusion; it’s jazz, but man is it funky. The solo’s are amazing. Herbie Hancock’s piano solo is SO soulful and funky; he really slows the rhythm down then picks it up right when the horns come back in leading in to Joe Henderson’s sax solo, which is no joke either. He lays it down over the keys and Hubbard comes in to build it back up with these almost wild horn solos over the grooving jazz beats that have you climaxing. Then they bring you back down with just the rhythm section of Ron Carter’s bass and Lenny White’s drums. Pure musical orgasm that leaves you wanting more. I could get drunk off of the rhythms from this song and the entire album. It really is a 1970’s jazz masterpiece. And for you hip hop heads out there A Tribe Called Quest samples Red Clay in the song Sucka Nigga off of their classic third album Midnight Marauders. Tribe often sampled dope jazz songs and musicians, and Red Clay bassist Ron Carter has been sampled on other tracks. Both Red Clay and Sucka Nigga are linked below. Please listen to both, especially Hubbard. The rhythm will warm you up on these cold days.