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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Financing a JazzFest: Marciac reveals

As the following from NPR shows, financing a major jazz fest like France's annual Marciac Festival really comes down to one thing: keeping an army of volunteers happy.

  • Jazz in Marciac generated over 7 million Euros' worth of economic benefit for the Marciac region.
  • The festival's overall budget is 3,455,000 Euro. Public financing makes up 421,000 Euro, while private sponsorship provides 354,000 Euro. Thus, the festival is 72.1 percent self-financed, accounting for additional revenue.
  • 225,000 people came for the festival (up 2.3 percent), and 66,500 tickets (up 8.46 percent) for paid shows were sold.
  • The festival depended on its 800 volunteers. They would have cost 950,000 Euro to employ at minimum wage alone. However, the festival did host 400 of those volunteers on site for a total of 6,000 person-nights.
  • 17,500 meals were served in all, including musicians, technical crew, staff and volunteers. The volunteers accounted for 11,190 meals alone.
Currently, one Euro is worth around 1.31 U.S. dollars, which is about the exchange rate at the time of the festival this past summer.
I've never studied the accounting sheets in depth for other festivals, but one element looks to me to be rather extraordinary. For a festival of such magnitude to generate 72.1% of its revenue by itself — largely in ticket sales, one imagines, though "l'autofinancement" isn't exactly defined — is a serious achievement. Even Jazz in Marciac says that 2010 was a banner year (an "année record") for them.
But it isn't shocking that these sorts of things bring in so much money for their communities. The arts seem to require a lot of money, especially when you bring in Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Jamie Cullum, Chucho Valdes, Ahmad Jamal and Esperanza Spalding, plus tons of other artists. (That was just in 2010.) But the arts can also be even more massive economic engines; in this case, the economic benefit to the area far outstrips taxpayer cost. Plus, how do you put a value on human creativity? [La Dépêche du MidiFestival Jazz in Marciac tient la forme (French) / Jazz in Marciac festival takes shape(automated English translation)]

Primack's Time: Year-end Notes from the Jazz Video Guy

Tireless jazz advocate Bret Primack, otherwise known as the Jazz Video Guy,  has put together another excellent package in service of the sound.

This time around, it includes a recent interview with saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins; an EPK for Joe Lovano’s new Charlie Parker tribute; a report on Jazz in Taiwan; a preview of the Yellowjacket’s first studio recording in three years; and, a Message to the Jazz Community from the Jazz Video Guy.

The numbers:  Bret posted 172 videos in 2010.  There are now 600 videos available on the Jazz Video Guy YouTube channel, which has 15.5 million views, 18,546 YouTube subscribers and friends.

Sonny Digs Groucho:  Bret interviewed the Saxophone Colossus on December 23rd via phone and put together this video using John Abbott’s remarkable photographs.
 Lovano Digs Bird:  Joe Lovano’s Bird Songs, coming January 15th from Blue Note Records, explores the music of Charlie Parker.  Bret put together an EPK:
Joe’s group US Five will be featured in a live webcast from the Village Vanguard on January 12th, to celebrate the release.  Bret created a trailer for the webcast:
Bret Digs Taipei:  During a recent trip to Taipei, Taiwan where his daughter teaches English, Bret sampled the local Jazz scene and came up with this report, featuring an American currently based in Taipei, Louis Goldford.
A Message to My Friends:  The Jazz Video Guy will be participating in next month’s JEN Conference in New Orleans.  Reflecting on the importance of solidarity, Bret offers a Message to the Jazz Community.

- form Jazz Promo Services

Monday, December 6, 2010

From Avant-Garde and "Straight Ahead to 'Moonlighting" and Dubwise

This go-round, we have a mix of American and Jamaican releases, include the headline debut from longtime, part-time performer (when he's not helping entrepreneurs) Harold Davis (above), and a longstanding and still exciting release from guitar whiz Robert 'Dubwise' Browne (left). We also have the aptly named "Straight Ahead" (though not in the least predictable) from horn virtuoso and journeyman player Mac Gollehon and the latest from avant-pianist Bob Gluck.

 Pianist Bob Gluck has assembled a strong trio (Christopher Dean Sullivan on bass and Joe Giardullo on soprano sax) for this, a gently insistent and compelling collection  for which the term "rewards repeated listenings" is definitely apt.  The sound is potent yet expansive and open-ended. Beginning with the crystalline cascade of "Waterways" the listening experience is quite broad. On song after song, notably the by turns haunting and uplifting "October Song" Gluck & Co. keep the listener delightfully off-balance; tinkling sequences give way to percussive piano runs, with the plaintive wail of the soprano both counterpoint and accompaniment. This is music for those who want a little more - heck a lot more  - than the comfort of familiar melodies and chord changes. Gluck recognizes that dissonance - applied judiciously - can result in an illuminating musical experience, given the presence of excellent and committed players.

While the vagaries of the music business may see him doing duty in the service of globe-trotting artists like Shaggy, Robert 'Dubwise' Browne is actually a blazingly talented guitarist in the mode of a Joe Satriani or Steve Vai - except of course, for the fact that he has a far greater sensibility for reggae (and its pesky but resilient offshoot, dancehall) than either of those two gents.
Indeed, his Birth CD, first release several years ago, remains - despite its reliance on programmed background tracks - a visionary work in its ability to restore the longstanding instrumental credibility that reggae established in the heyday of dub, but sound contemporary at the same time. Indeed, his virtuosity was sufficient to draw the master himself, Ernie Ranglin, into a duet on the Marley classic, "Sun Is Shining". But there's more to this startlingly original collection than old hands and cover songs. On Birth, we get to hear the beginnings of a truly remarkable sonic vision, one that deserves to escape the confines of current conventions in the homeland to find more receptive ears around the globe.

With a resume that encompasses Madonna and Chaka Khan as well as Lester Bowie, multi-hornist (pardon the coinage) Mac Gollehon gives new meaning to the term journeyman.

His latest both typifies and departs from the premise of its title, with the opening track, Roy Eldridge's "Fish Market" hewing to the former, while the leader's original "Mac straight Ahead"  throws in a funky organ treatment to complement the stratospheric 'Maynard Ferguson-type' flights.

Indeed, the overall mood is propulsive; his "Lush Life" has a bit more forward momentum than some renditions, and Gollehon's trumpet work, along with some stellar solo runs, make for an intriguing listen. Of course, the support cast is more than up to the task. Baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber delivers a strong performance. The soloists on this one could easily be walking the bar as they deliver their spirited lines. Gollehon and company further crank things up on "Strange Behavior,"  and practically nuke a reading of "After You've Gone." They only catch their collective breath a bit at the end, with a soulful take on the Mingus dirge, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Gollehon's trombone and Cuber's baritone smoldering. Gollehon has certainly been around, but on this excellent release, he shows that he knows how to take it home.

Though a journeyman in his own right, you'll find no signs of wear in vocalist-keyboardist Harold Davis. Its one thing to be trained as a musician, and even to play music on a regular basis; its another thing entirely to bring a seemingly boundless and contagious joie de vivre to one's work -a spirit that says "hey I love this stuff!"

Of course, Davis is far from among strangers on this outing. The consistently excellent drummer Andrew "Pregs" Thompson shares both playing and producing duties on this disc and the rest of the personnel is drawn from what may be referred to as "the usual suspects" in Jamaican live music: Dale Brown on bass (with Davis doubling on a few tracks), Steve Golding and Winston 'Bo Pee" Powell guitars; and on saxophone (various tracks) Tony Green and Warren Harris. The latter player in particular enlivens all of the tracks he's on, especially the live-recorded closer - a combination of Sting's 'Englishman in New York" and the Shinehead adaptation "Jamaican in New York."

Davis' own keyboard work sparkles throughout, but vocally, the album is best served when he collaborates with others, including DJ Royale on "Sunshine" (from Bill wither's "Ain't NoSunshine") and with Third World vet on the much-travelled Randy Newman gem "Baltimore."

Well-known though he may be on the cabaret scene, the smartly conceived and joyfully executed Harold Arthur should serve as a neat recorded introduction to his manifold musical talents.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New reviews come Monday

Its avant-garde piano and straight-ahead horns as we feature two new CDs come Monday

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Moody's Grammy Mood: 4B scored a nod

we reviewed this excellent CD earlier this year. glad to see the Grammy selectors share our good taste

Nominations for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced last night by The Recording Academy

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group

James Moody
[IPO Recordings]

Complete List Of Nominees here:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spain's Sketches, Israeli Swings, here's Johnny (Mercer) plus Kelly does Nina : latest CD reviews

Dan Adler: Back To The Bridge

Israeli-born, New York City-based guitarist Dan Adler more than hits his stride with this latest organ trio outing. Ably partnered up with Hammond B-3 titan Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Byron Landham (more on him in a minute), he shines on this 65-minute, 10-track workout, covering wide stylistic territory, encompassing four originals, five standards and an adaptation of an older Israeli folk tune. 

Listening them dissect classics like Oscar peterson's The Smudge, and Clifford Brown's Joy Spring, its easy to get the impression that the three have been jamming and even performing for years. In fact, while Landham and De Francesco are well acquainted, Adler is ironically the "third man" in this group. Landham, in particular, burns comet-like through most of the selections, simmering when needs be, only to explode again at a perfectly timed decisive moment. His dexterous brushwork also gels perfectly with and Adler’s clean, deft picking and fluid chordal streams. Of course, there's the 'incomparable' comping of Joey D, again perfectly in sync with the two cohorts. 

Adler's strength is his ability to veer from the wry affability of “Between Jobs,”  to the intense melancholy of the exodus ballad “Yatsanu At,” without losing credibility. 

With this kind of start, this is a combo that music lovers could be seeing and hearing a lot more of. 

Harmonie Ensemble NY feat. Lew Soloff: Sketches of Spain

Its sweep and cinematic majesty have inspired writer, actors, directors and, of course musicians, since it was first released a half-century ago. Now, Miles Davis and Gil Evans' epochal collaboration has been lovingly recalibrated. At the jazz church, St. Peter's Church, NYC, Steven Richman conducted the masterpiece Sketches of Spain, with renowned jazz trumpeter Lew Soloff, who played with Miles and was soloist with Gil Evans and his orchestra. This historic event was attended by Anita Evans, Gil Evans' wife, as well as their son, Noah, as well as uber-producer George Avakian, who was behind the boards on the original.

But so much for the biographical stuff. The sound is what we're really after and right from the very first note, its evident that the Harmonie Ensemble of NY, are equal to the weight of tradtion and jazz iconography. Under Richman's direction, Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez pulls you into a vortex of intensity and alternately soaring and cascading notes (and spaces) that 12 miutes pretty much go by before you even blink.

Its a suitably grand start, but this renewal of Sketches doesn't let up. All through the repertoire, the orchestra maintains its commitment to serious, but not stuffy musicianship. Yes, the pace is leisurely, but deceptively so.

Sketches of Spain will lull you - but in a very good way - to a state to which you'll want to return.

Tom Culver - I Remember you: The Music of Johnny Mercer

While the lounge balladeer is not the ubiquitous staple that he may have been even 40 years ago, several exemplars still sustain and even extend the tradition, and Tom Culver certainly belongs in that elite.

This Mercer tribute is, at 18 tracks, fairly extensive, and Culver, enlisting a host of musical collaborators,  does a fantastic job with updated arrangements of Mercer's classics. Most notable among them are 'Skylark" "Midnight sun" And "Fools Rush In"

Culver applies his honest, unfussy sonorities to the task and also has a hand in determining the musical arrangements. The sonic palette is surprisingly rich, encompassing bossa nova, conventional swing and various pop stylings, but never losing the feel for Mercer's sense of wonder and wit.

I Remember You is that rare tribute project that does both its subject and its performer proud. 

Kellylee Evans - Nina

Even in the jazz/improvised genre, there's such a wide array of product (especially in the tribute bracket) that its a special thrill to put on a record and get the kind of immediate visceral pleasure as that provided by bassist Francois Moutin on "Feeling Good" (the fifth track on this spirited and unselfconscious collection of Nina Simone gems).

While he shines throughout the disc, its not Moutin's name on the front cover, nor is  he alone in the service of Canadian vocalist Kellylee Evans. Since earning a runner-up spot in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Compettion, Evans has been building a solid body of work.

On this, her third outing, she has brought in the fine guitarist Marvin Sewell and drummer Andre Ceccarelli to join Moutin in helping to dissect, reassemble and put her own stylishly sultry stamp on the Simone catalog.

Other standouts include "I Ain't Got No...I Got Life" the unabashedly sensual "Wild Is the Wind" and the poignant "I Loves You Porgy" the lead off in a two-song suite of short ballads (less than 3 minutes) about midway through the disc. (the other is 'July Tree").

Smart, but not too polished, energetically performed, but never out of control, Nina serves, for this writer as a welcome intro to a an artist (Evans) that we seriously anticipate hearing more from.

Monday, November 15, 2010

back for the 1st Time: AAJ redesigns

All About Jazz, 9-time winner of the Jazz Journalist Association award for “Best Website Covering Jazz," has officially relaunched its website with a sharper, easier to navigate design.

Readers who visited All About Jazz over the last three weeks observed the transformation firsthand, as upgrades were implemented on a daily basis. “It's a much cleaner interface and it's more robust. We made significant changes to the home page, and removing the left panel really opened up the design possibilities," said Michael Ricci, All About Jazz's founder, publisher and website designer. “There's a lot under AAJ's 'hood,' and the sheer size of the site makes it a challenge to present, but we feel the new design does a good job of balancing form and function. We also upgraded our article page, our news page, our musician page, our calendar page, our photo gallery... we made a point of upgrading or retooling every page from the very top to the very bottom. And we were able to reduce the height of the home page by nearly 1,500 pixels without sacrificing content or ads."

In conjunction with the new look, All About Jazz has launched a handy new toolbar that appears at the bottom of every page. In addition to providing convenient access to content, the toolbar allows AAJ to broadcast important messages to its readers.

Ricci adds, “The purpose of the redesign was to modernize the appearance and bring new technologies to the site that would improve navigation and raise the awareness of our calendar of events and our photo gallery. And with more features coming, we needed the additional flexibility to accommodate expansion. It's hard to believe it's been 15 years, but All About Jazz continually embraces new technologies and always finds ways to reinvent itself. There's nothing like it on the jazz web."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Serious' Star power as London Jazz Kicks off

Tomorrow night, the Festival’s opening Gala Jazz Voice puts the art of song in the spotlight. Guy Barker leads some of the world’s most distinctive jazz voices through timeless classics such as Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By, and Etta James’ At Last, in a sparkling evening that tells many stories, finds some surprising musical highways and byways, and above all celebrates the expressive richness of the human voice. This year’s concert will be hosted by actor Dougray Scott, known for films such as Mission Impossible II, Ever After and Enigma. We’ve just added Hamish Stuart to the stellar line-up of vocalists, which includes Jacqui Dankworth, Georgie Fame, Noel McKoy China Moses, Gretchen Parlato, Charlie Wood and Nikki Yanofsky, plus special guests to be announced on the night.
On Saturday afternoon, join us at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a tasty fusion of food and music, as gourmet chef Ivan Vautier creates a meal in front of the audience, echoed by the music of saxophonist Andy Sheppard and percussionist Michele Rabbia. Andy Sheppard goes on to perform with his group Movements in Colour at the Rose Theatre in Kingston that evening.
On Saturday night, tickets for both Brad Mehldau and Esperanza Spalding are completely sold out. If you’ve missed your chance to see Esperanza this time, you can catch her next April, as she returns to play a one-off UK concert at the Barbican. Over at the Royal Festival Hall, there are a handful of choir seats left for Herbie Hancock. Herbie plays a second show on Sunday. There are some seats available at £45, and we’ve just released some extra seats at £35.
Catch Grammy-nominated Terence Blanchard and Blue Note pianist Robert Glasper at the Barbican on Sunday night – tickets for this are selling fast. Fellow Blue Note artist Jason Moran pops back to London after a sell-out show at Ronnie Scott’s last week (read 4* review here) as a member of Charles Lloyd’s brilliant quartet a couple of days later. The roll call of pianists continues with Latin jazz hero Chucho Valdes, stunning virtuoso Martial Solal – limited tickets left - and straight-ahead jazz pianist with no holds barred, Jeremy Monteiro.
If you’re here to see the vocal greats, you can catch Miles Davis’ muse, Juliette Greco, the peerless Cleo Laine, who returns to the Barbican after a show-stopping performance back in July and, from the next generation, rising star Nikki Yanofsky, who plays a sold out show at the Purcell Room. If you didn’t manage to get your tickets in time, don’t fret - Nikki will be back in January, to play the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, look out for Hidden Orchestra, who bring deep and soulful grooves to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, to open for Murcof and Francesco Tristano; a boundary-smashing blend of electronics, jazz and baroque.
Looking to learn a little bit more about the music? Look out for Way Into the Way Out - a concise history of jazz according to Shabaka Hutchings and Soweto Kinch, two of the hippest artists on the scene. Follow our Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya pre-concert talk series, and our new strand in this year’s Festival - An audience with – which gives you the rare chance to meet some of this year’s Festival artists in an intimate setting, as they take you through some of their techniques, speak about their careers to date, and answer your questions.
Here’s a list of shows that are sold out, and selling fast:
Sold out:
Hugh Masekela, Royal Festival Hall
Paco De Lucia, Royal Festival Hall
Esperanza Spalding, Queen Elizabeth Hall
Palle Mikkelborg & Marilyn Mazur, Purcell Room
Marilyn Mazur, Jazz for Kids, Purcell Room
Nikki Yanofsky, Purcell Room
Polar Bear, Westminster Reference Library
Ian Shaw & Juliet Roberts, 606
Sonny Rollins, Barbican
AfroCubism, Barbican
Chris Potter, Ronnie Scotts
Natalie Williams: Big Sing, Barbican
Brad Mehldau, Barbican
Nearing sell out:
Herbie Hancock, Royal Festival Hall
Billy Jenkins & the BBC Big Band
The Benny Goodman Quartet and Beyond, Purcell Room
Strayhorn the Songwriter, Purcell Room
Ute Lemper, Queen Elizabeth Hall
Brass Jaw Workshop, Blue Room, Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall
Arun Ghosh Workshop, Blue Room, Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall
John Etheridge, Artsdepot

Friday, November 5, 2010

More reviews coming

we  haven't forgotten about new jazz - lookout for a trio of great new records: a fresh take on the Miles Davis-Gil Evans classic Sketches of Spain; guitarists Dan Adler's fine new trio disc (featuring Joey DeFrancesco and Byron Landham) and lounge king Tom Culver's homage to Johnny Mercer, all coming your way on Monday

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Young talent for Steel Pan and Jazz Festival

A primary objective of the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Pan and Jazz Festival (TTSJF) continues to be the showcasing and development of TT’s talented young musicians.
On Friday and Saturday TTSJF will present several of the country’s finest young artistes at the Steel Pan and Jazz Festival at Queen’s Hall, each demonstrating that TT’s musical future is in gifted hands.

Etienne Charles leads a new generation of bandleaders displaying innovative approaches to jazz and traditional Caribbean music genres. The winner of the 2006 National Trumpet Competition in the US, this New York City based jazzman has plied his expressive phrasings at festivals throughout the world.

Described by as possessing “the fire and spice that emanated from African roots, to the Caribbean and, ultimately, to the womb of jazz, New Orleans,” Charles’ many achievements include writing the arrangements for Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander’s celebrated “Lords Of The West Indies” presentation at NYC’s prestigious Jazz At Lincoln Center. Consistently a TTSJF favourite, Charles and his quintet will perform pieces from his critically lauded CD “Folklore” on Friday.

Also appearing on Friday will be Élan Parlé, led by keyboardist/composer Michael Low Chew Tung, aka Min. Élan Parlé is a Trinidad-based ensemble that effortlessly blends local rhythms with global influences, in a sonic delivery aligned with the meaning of their name: spirited conversations. Since their formation in 2000, Élan Parlé has independently produced/released six CDs and has produced music for other artistes through their company Parlemusik. They have also taken their contemporary jazz interpretations of TT’s musical traditions throughout the Caribbean, including an appearance with Dave Samuels and the Caribbean Jazz Project in the Virgin Islands and a celebrated 2006 set at the TTSJF, opening for Terence Blanchard.

Pianist Chantal Esdelle, a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, founded Moyenne in 1998 with pannist Glenford “Kevin” Sobers; shortly thereafter they recruited percussionist Donald Noel and bassist Douglas Redon. On Saturday, the group will deliver their distinctive Caribbean jazz-fusions, incorporating calypso, bossa-nova and Cuban son into compositions described by veteran pannist Earl Rodney as “the African experience in the Americas”. Moyenne will also preview selections from their sophomore CD “Imbizo Moyenne”, a live recording to be released on November 15.

Natasha Joseph began playing pan when she was a 15-year-old student at the Malick Secondary Comprehensive School and before long she was the arranger for the school’s steel orchestra. In September 2010 Joseph, who plays double second pan with Tobago’s Carib Dixieland Steelband and is their stage side arranger, was a special guest performer at Fall Into Jazz: Kim Waters in Concert in Delaware. She also led a music workshop for over 350 students at Delaware’s WT Chipman Middle School. Joseph will assist keyboardist Jeremy Ledbetter and trumpeter Alexis Baró with the First Citizens sponsored Young Musicians Workshops series to be held in various locations throughout Trinidad with an expected 400 participants. “These workshops help young musicians to appreciate jazz by showing them how much fun it is to play,” Joseph observes.

- T&T Newsday

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sounding Dizzy

he was known to be a bit of a clown in his heyday, but John Birks Gillespie has left a serious musical legacy. Bebop. Afro-Cuban. The United Nations Orchestra are but a few of the gems. There was his uptruned trumpet bell, now copied by adherents the world over. And who could forget those bubblegum cheeks.
But beneath the jocularity was a master musician and a man with serious concerns for all humanity. Though his 1964 US presidential bid started out as a stunt, Dizzy soon took it seriously. His agenda did have some wacky items, but he was a champion for free health care (and free education)   long before anybody ever heard of Obama. see this link for more

Our good friend, the Petchary   did pretty all the legwork but kindly allowed us to share her post in honour of the late trumpet legend's birthday 

At the Monterey Jazz Festival there is a venue called “Dizzy’s Den.” It’s named after the one and only Dizzy Gillespie, who would have been 93 years old today (October 21). Dizzy died in 1993 at age 75. But today Google did something delightful, a great doodle with Dizzy’s famous inflatable cheeks, puffing out as he played his trumpet with verve and gusto.

Google's delightful Dizzy doodle

John Birks Gillespie was born in 1917 in Cheraw, North Carolina.  His father was a band leader and music was all around.  He learnt to play piano at age four, and trombone and trumpet by age twelve.  Music was fused into his being from a very early age.  He made his first recording, “King Porter Stomp,” with the Ted Hill Band in the late 1930s.  He went on to join Cab Calloway‘s band the “Cab Jivers”, but their relationship was sour, ending in a nasty little fight in which a knife “came into play” over a spitball thrown on stage.   Calloway was a bit of a bully, it appears.

Dizzy Gillespie with a picture of Cab Calloway, 1939
Dizzy looking as sweet as pie with a cartoon picture of his boss Cab

But that’s just a naughty piece of gossip.  Let’s just state it plainly:  Dizzy was one of the “kings of bebop.”  No doubt about that.
One other nice fact:  He met his wife Lorraine in 1940 and they were together until his death.  Their only daugher, Jeanie Bryson, is a jazz singer and is currently working on a “Dizzy Gillespie Songbook” in honor of her Dad.

Jeanie Bryson
The lovely Jeanie, Dizzy's daughter

Salt Peanuts.”  ”A Night in Tunisia.”  Jamming with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane in smoky jazz clubs.  There is too much to write about his career.  He became involved in Afro-Cuban jazz, a genre which is really still flourishing, and became close friends with the Latin trumpeter Mario Bauza.  He discoveredArturo Sandoval while traveling in Cuba.
In 1989 Dizzy gave 300 performances in 27 countries and 100 cities in the U.S.  Amazing energy.  Other little facts about the great Dizzy:
Did you know he became a follower of the Baha’i faith in 1970?  No more knife fights or drinking after that.
He was the inventor of the “bent” trumpet – which apparently came from someone sitting on it.  But he liked the sound.

Dizzy Gillespie
The ineffable Dizzy, with his famous puffed cheeks and his bent trumpet
Above all, there was his serious musicianship mixed with a kind of brimming-over humor.  Just beneath the surface.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barbados, Jamaica in the new Year

The annual renewals of the Barbados Jazz and the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival take palce as customary in January.

watch for our previews starting soon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Herbie to play for Peace in Oslo

If you’re wondering where Herbie Hancock and his Imagine Project band will be on December 11, well, they’ll all be in Oslo, Norway, performing a concert during the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Academy..

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Taking Cities for Jazz....with your support

Thanks to Jim Eigo for drawing my attention to this great initiative. Will be pursuing similar project here soon.

Jazz in the City is a group for local jazz aficionados, which introduces you to the finest musicians performing at some of the most elegant venues in cities around the globe.

The group’s organizers manage, book and produce both established and up-and-coming recording artists, so we have our finger on the pulse of the jazz scene!

We started this group because we want to share our passion for jazz with other fans. However, the group is not exclusively for jazz connoisseurs. Anyone who has an interest or would like to just sit, listen, and maybe sway to some great jazz tunes, can join us as well.

We will endeavor to offer our members live jazz events without a cover. However, in cases when we can’t, we will try to broker with clubs and venues special reduced admission fees for our members.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mutliple Reviews Part II: the ladies

Cynthia Felton - Come Sunday: The Music of Duke Ellington

Vocalist Cynthia Felton's affinity for the Ellington catalog and her overall joie de vivre shine through clearly on this endearing collection. Indeed, one fancies that her enthusiasm in no snall way influenced her stellar line-up of contributors: Jeff 'Tain' Watts Yoron Israel and Terri Lynne Carrington on drums; Robrt Hurst, Ryan williams and Tony Dunas on bass; Wallace Roney (who offers a truly exquisite solo on "I Got It Bad") and Nolan Shaheed on turmpet, and many more.

Felton, who's alos responsible for production and distribution (under her Felton Entertainment label)of the record, pulls it all together with aplomb, even down to the packaging and the vintage-style groove-marked CD. She more than matched style with substance. From her drums-only opening on "It Don't mean A thing" through the anthemic title track on tothe near whisper of Prelude To A Kiss, Felton's diamond-bright, trumpet-like tone cuts through the arrangments without sacrificing balance or depth.

Guaranteed to uplift the mood at any gathering, or even if enjoyed alone.

Joyce Cobb with The Michael Jefry Stevens Trio
How does one fully encapsulate the manifold delights of Joyce Cobb's voice. Slinky, texturally rich, versatile. Such descriptions only hint at the pleasures to be had from this reading of standards.

Cobb is perfectly in sync with accompanists Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, Johnathan Wires on bass and drummer Bernardo Ward, especially on ballads like If You Know Love and the Brazilian classic "If You Never Come To Me". Elsewhere her sprightly harmonica line serves as a clarion call for "Moanin'" and her phrasing drips sweet acid on the kiss-off "Its Over Now" (Well You Needn't)" hat appropriately closes the album.

her best showcase is the melancholy Ellington-Strayhorn "Daydream" where the sad longing of the song is fully realized, supported by the tender rise and cascade of Stevens' piano notes and the sad shuffle of the rhythm section.

Barb Jungr - Every Grain of Sand: Songs of Bob Dylan
Having interpreted the works of Nina Simone, Elvis, and -on her current disc The Men I Love, male singer-songwriters from the Monkees to David Byrne, we took on a bit of flashback to hear Barb Jungr sing the songs of Bob Dylan. From "Forever Young" to "Born In Time" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" Jungr imbues the selections with a combination of breeziness and gravitas that really only she can muster. She's ably supported by musical partner Simon Wallace and a multi-part band that includes string section and accordion (no mouth harp, though)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good stuff

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Greg Lewis - Organ Monk

Dave Bass - Gone

James Moody - 4B

You'll be hard-pressed to find a CD in any genre with a more provocative photo than this leader debut by organist Greg Lewis. The inside fold depicts a shirtless Lewis seated, his nude wife (and co-executive producer) sitting astride him and their infant soon, oblivious to the scene, in a baby rocker nearby.

Whether artistic statement or cheap publicity, Lewis has a lot more to recommend him than lurid photography. Indeed, this is an inspired set, and not just because the music of Thelonious Monk travels so well.

Lewis, on the first-call list of several renowned vocalists, has this time brought together two top-notch collaborators i the persons of drummer Cindy Blackman and guitarist Ron Jackson. The interplay between the trio keeps the nergy up throughout the disc. Even on ballads like Monk'd Mood and Light Blue, there's a palpable feeling of the artists diving into the material.

Jackson adds some buttery licks on the aforementioned Light Blue, but also on the revved-up "Four-in-One" which also gives us a stunning dialogue between the leader and the future Mrs Carlos Santna. Blackman's ferocious work on the kit pushes the other two but none of the artists can be accused of hogging the time. The action is always dynamic, organic and respectful of the music.

Whether you're new to the organ trio format, or a longtime devotee, Greg Lewis & Co have crafted a solid addition to the canon.

By day, Bass is a deputy attorney general for the state specializing in civil rights enforcement. Nights and weekends, he indulges the jazz jones that supported him a few decades ago, when he became a familiar figure on the Bay Area jazz scene backing artists such as Bobby McFerrin and Babatunde Lea.

Somehow, the longtime Bay Area resident has also found time to play around in the recording studio. His new album, "Gone" presents 11 tracks (Astor Pollozza's Libertango being the sole non-original) that showcase Bass' considerable gifts asa composer highlight Bass' sharp compositional skills, generosity as a bandleader and understated charm as a pianist.

He begins in fairly conventional mode with "Le Grand" and takes on a Latin tinge on Mi Guajira" with additional percussion from conguero Harold Muniz.
The leader aside, Watts is clearly the preeminent soloist, whether on the aforementioned Libertango, or on the haunting, bluesier "Someday."

Vocalist Mary Stallings shows up for two tunes that provide a welcome kick in intensity, especially as they are inserted on the album, with 5 tunes between them. Her big voice leaves the listener wanting more but ironically, its to Bass' credit that on this occasion h doesn't over-do the vocal numbers. A vocal-piano duet with Stallings may, however, pay dividends in future.

Gone doesn't quite have the "instant stickiness" of some other contemporary jazz group dates, but its a disc that slowly unfurls its understated charms over the course of repeated auditions.

Of course, the "textbook"reference is cliche, but its the cliche that fits best on hearing Moody's crystalline communication on this outing and the cohesive yet expressive support that he gets from the likes of Barron, Coolman and Nash. As one pundit writes, "hearing James Moody playing so well is an experience akin to having Abraham Lincoln still around to re-deliver the Gettysburg Address with undiminished oratory power."

Indeed, the maestro shows on this disc no signs of ageing, but rather the benefits that accrue from having "been around" and lived to tell. Even on standards like "Take The A-Train" recorded undoubtedly thousands of times, there is clarity. and a knowingness that in and of themselves make the tune fresh.

Of course, Moody and pianist Kenny Barron go back 50 years, to Dizzy Gillespie's legendary quintet, and are amazing together.

Another gem is "Speak Low" beginning as it does with a "St Tomas-style" calypso drum phrase then moving silkily in and out between Latin groove and swing. The rhythm men, Todd Coolman and Lewis Nash, make their own sterling contributions, Nash in particular with his deft brushwork.

But this is clearly the master's show.Much has been made -rightly so - of fellow sax legend Sonny Rollins' entry into the octogenarian ranks. Here, as he did with 4A, Moody proves that his own combination wit, energy and intelligence remain undiminished. Age really is just a number.

Multiple reviews coming

Coming Soon reviews of new CDs by Greg Lewis; Joyce Cobb, James Moody and more.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sonny @ 80....almost

Is this the look of an 80-year old?

Testament to the endduring power of jazz' "Saxophone Colossus" Theodore Walter 'Sonny' Rollins, who turns 80 on September 7, 1930.

To great acclaim and adoration, but with little fanfare of his own, Sonny Rollins has built a jazz iconography as instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and thought-leader over a career that spans 7 decades.

Born in New York City (to parents who had emigrated from the Us Virgin islands),he grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Still Bitchin' (That Means Great) After all these years

From my former writing home, Jazz Times

"Four decades have passed since Bitches Brew was released in 1970, and Columbia/Legacy Records is marking the occasion with a new box set, Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. The set includes two CDs containing the landmark recording in its original eight-track studio mix plus alternate takes and single versions, a 180-gram vinyl replica of the original double-album, a DVD of a 1969 Copenhagen concert, an audio CD of a 1970 Tanglewood performance, a booklet and more memorabilia"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As the Smoke Trails upward

Farewell to a great jazz photographer

His Dexter Gordon Pic (shown here) is one of my all-time faves
Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer

THERE WERE three musicians on stage before a near full house at RedBones the Blues Café, Braemar Avenue, New Kingston, on Friday evening - one bass guitarist, one drummer and one keyboard player.

However, the music Maurice Gordon, Deleon 'Jubba' White and Harold Butler respectively made was more than their number, the last especially being the focal point of the evening billed as 'Harold Butler and Friends'.

And near the end, before the encore of What's Going On, Gordon, who did almost all the talking that night, said: "the Butler himself, Mr. Harold. He did it. He did it."

And he had, rocking and smiling on Fly Me to the Moon in the first segment of the concert, mouth open as he played, then sitting quietly and looking at Gordon and White in turn as they took solo turns.

Excellent playing

Butler started off Feel Like Making Love, playing very softly near the end of Gordon's solo run on bass, then compressed his lips as he played lower and lower notes, leaning in the direction of his right hand as it moved away from his body and then returning to an upright position as the song ended.

The trio went into Reggae with Money Maker, which started off with drum and bass, Butler first playing with his left hand only, then his right, then both. He rocked in his seat as Gordon rocked back on his right leg, poised on the ball of his left foot, closed his eyes and let the bass go and, in the end, White tinkled on the cymbals, Gordon laid down the bassline and Butler's fingers danced as they took the volume down and down and down.

Gordon announced a special tune and there was applause as Love Me Forever, Butler's composition, originally sung by the late Cynthia Schloss, was recognised instantly.

The music intensified from its calm beginning and, as it hit a peak, Butler swept the keyboard from the high notes down and then the low notes up, then came the calm playing again.

Intermission song

After a half-hour intermission, the trio returned with Gordon lodging a complaint about the difficulty in opening a bank account for Butler, what with the bank's requirements for a Justice of the Peace and accounting for the source of funds.

It was back to music with The World Is A Ghetto, Butler's tongue sticking out on the second post-intermission song. He sat with his hands in his lap, watching Gordon and White as they combined bass, hi-hat and rimshot, his hands darting up and forward intermittently to play a few notes.

On Blue Velvet Butler swept his hand across the keyboards from the higher notes once, then twice, thrice and then a fourth time in succession, then the trio went very slow on Midnight in Vermont.

A diner from Norway ditched her cutlery and took to the microphone for Summertime, her little black dress serving both activities nicely.

She started out high and the applause came after the second line, her hands moving from their hanging position to more expressive positions as the song progressed.

But there was someone in the audience who was not satisfied.

Good ol' summertime

"When you play Summertime uptempo you know what's what!" he shouted.

Gordon shaded his eyes against the stage lights and demanded who was speaking.

"Every time we play somebody is shouting about Sunmertime," he said good-naturedly and, without announcement, the three duly delivered the uptempo version of the song.

"OK? OK?" a smiling Gordon demanded of the shouter when it ended.

"We're going to take one step ahead on the next song," Gordon said and the Butler composition, sung by Beres Hammond was duly delivered the reaction from the audience did not indicate recognition of the outstanding song.

Woman No Want No Bangarang and Kiss Me Once kept the Jamaican flavour going and, on the uptempo closing note, the shouter became the dancer, literally talking to the floor in front of a large fan whirring against the summer heat.

"Never you on the floor while ago? What happened? You had a seizure?" Gordon asked before the encore.

"The Butler Did It" again on VP

Our second HB entry for the day, comes courtesy of the Gleaner and VP Records

THE BUTLER Did It, the 1978 album, featuring troubled keyboardist Harold Butler at his creative best, will be reissued next month by VP Records. This marks the first time the set will be released on compact disc.

A release from VP said The Butler Did It will be released on August 28. It is part of the Queens, New York company's extensive reissue roster, which also includes titles from producers Joe Gibbs and Henry 'Junjo' Lawes.

The new-look, The Butler Did, It has 13 songs, some written or arranged by Butler and performed by artistes who recorded mainly rhythm and blues-type reggae.

Among these artistes are Cynthia Schloss whose Love Forever is on The Butler Did It. Other songs include Beres Hammond (One Step Ahead), Ernest Wilson (Let Love Be Your Right-hand Man) and Pam Hall and Orville Wood (Book of Life).

Those songs were released in the late 1970s when Butler was an in-demand session musician, arranger and producer. The Butler also contains, Crying In Soweto, Butler's moving tribute to the South Africa township which was a hotbed of activity during the years of apartheid in that country.

Harold Butler is from a musical family. His older brother, Leslie, was also a noted keyboardist who played at the prolific Federal Studio in the 1960s and 1970s.

Leslie's younger brother followed in his footsteps, recording and touring with Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Culture and Judy Mowatt. Harold Butler played on some of the seminal reggae albums of the 1970s and early 1980s, including Culture's Two Sevens Clash and Mowatt's Black Woman.

In recent years, Butler has recorded and performed with guitarist Maurice Gordon at jazz events, including Jazz In The Garden, and at the Red Bones Blues Café.

"The Butler" mini-bio

Pianist, composer, arranger, and producer Harold Butler is one of Jamaica's finest musical talents whom throughout his career has performed, composed, arranged and produced some of Jamaica's most popular music. As a pianist, Butler has recorded, worked and toured with a long list of musicians including Bunny Wailer and Jimmy Cliff.

He has recorded, co-produced and produced with and for some of Jamaica's best musicians and singers. Hits for singers include Pam and Woody (Book of Life), Beresford Hammond (One Step Ahead), Cynthia Schloss (Love me Forever) and Ernest Wilson (Let True Love Be). His solo albums, which include and feature both vocal and instrumental tracks, are: The Butler Did It, My Life : Part 1, Meditation Heights, African On My Mind, and the soundtrack for the movie Children of Babylon.

Jason Moran - Jazz Iz.........not ded!!

Jason Moran

From new website called made possible. Check it.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Abby's Road" : RIP Abby Lincoln

Link to a ABC news obituary about the exemplary jazz singer and civil rights activist Abby Lincoln.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What the Butler did: A List of credits

As a pianist, Butler has recorded, worked and toured with a long list of musicians including Bunny Wailer and Jimmy Cliff. His older brother, Leslie, was a keyboardist who played at the Federal Studio during the 1960s and the 1970s. Another brother has recorded and toured for Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Culture and Judy Mowatt.

He has recorded, co-produced and produced with and for some of Jamaica’s best musicians and singers. Hits for singers include Pam and Woody (Book of Life), Beresford Hammond (One Step Ahead), Cynthia Schloss (Love me Forever) and Ernest Wilson (Let True Love Be). His solo albums, which include and feature both vocal and instrumental tracks, are: The Butler did it, My Life : Part 1, Meditation Heights, African On My Mind, and the soundtrack for the movie Children of Babylon.

During the 70's he recorded for the most important Jamaican artists and producers. The list of artists he played for is huge and we want to remember a few names at least. As a keyboardist he played for Beres Hammond, Bunny Wailer ("Black Heart Man"), Culture ("Two Sevens Clash" and "Cumbolo"), Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown ("Visions Of Dennis Brown"), The Meditations ("Guidance"), Sylford Walker, Toots & Maytals. As a pianist he played for Cedric Im Brooks ("United Africa"), Derrick Harriott, Ernest Ranglin, Ken Boothe. As an organist he played for Joe Gibbs ("African Dub All-Mighty" and "African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 3"), Pablo Moses, Trinity ("Three Piece Suit"). On synthesizer, he played for Beres Hammond, Ken Boothe. And finally we must remember him on melodica for Judy Mowatt's "Black Woman".

His solo albums are: "The Butler Did It", "My Life : Part 1", "Meditation Heights", "Africa On My Mind", and the soundtrack for the movie "Children of Babylon". By the late 80's some mental problems forced him to retire from the activity, but in recent years he has reappeared onstage with good acclaim. The present set collects some material recorded around 1978. The mood is quite puzzling. The recipe is made of Jazz, some light Roots, Soul and some so called African reminiscences on the background. The tracks are basically instrumentals, in some cases sustained by vocals and chorus. Apart from some tracks listed below, this risky mixture of sounds and atmospheres is uncertain and at the end almost disappointing. On nine tracks emerge "Liberation" (featuring Beres Hammond), "South Africa", "Crying In Soweto" and "Out Of Bondage" as a great Jazz track. The album was produced by Herman Chin Loy and recorded at his legendary Aquarius Studio. It was engineered by Mervyn Williams and Stephen Stanley; and mixed by them with the addition of Boris Gardiner


Appears on

* Children Of Babylon
o Pass The Fire
o White - Slave Lament (Trad.)
* Jah Children Invasion
o Dedication Rock
* Real Authentic Reggae Volume One
o Smile Orange Reggae

As a musician

* B.B. Seaton - I'm Aware Of Love [1979]
* Barry Biggs - Sincerely [1977]
* Beres Hammond - Let's Make A Song [1981]
* Bunny Wailer - Black Heart Man [1976]
* Culture - Cumbolo [1979]
* Culture - Two Sevens Clash [1977]
* Dean Fraser - Black Horn Man [1978]
* Delroy Wilson - Sarge [1976]
* Dennis Brown - The Best Of Dennis Brown Part 2 [197X]
* Dennis Brown - Visions Of Dennis Brown [1978]
* Harold Butler - Gold Connection [1978]
* Lord Laro - Yu Have Fe Dread [198X]
* Meditations - Guidance [1978]
* Sylford Walker - Nutin Na Gwan [1975-79]
* Toots & Maytals - Live At Reggae Sunsplash [1982]
* Toots & Maytals - Toots Live [1980]
* Various Artists - Jah Children Invasion [1983]
* Various Artists - Jah Children Invasion Chapter II [198X]
* Various Artists - United Dreadlocks Vol 1 [1977]
* Various Artists - United Dreadlocks Vol 2 [1980]


* B.B. Seaton - Colour Is Not The Answer [1976]
* Beres Hammond - Soul Reggae [1976]
* Cedric Im Brooks - United Africa [1978]
* Cedric Myton & Congo - Image Of Africa [1979]
* Cedric Myton & Congos - Face The Music [1981]
* Congo - Congo Ashanti [1979]
* Derrick Harriott - Reggae Disco Rockers [1979]
* Derrick Harriott & Revolutionaries - Reggae Chart Busters Seventies Style [1977]
* Ernest Ranglin - Ranglin Roots [1976]
* Harold Butler - Africa On My Mind [1978]
* Harold Butler - Gold Connection [1978]
* Joe Higgs - Unity Is Power [1979]
* Ken Boothe - Blood Brothers [1976]
* Meditations - Greatest Hits [197X]
* Pat Kelly - Lonely Man [1978]
* Prince Junior - On Top [1980]
* Ruddy Thomas - First Time Around [1981]
* Toots & Maytals - Just Like That [1980]
* Toots & Maytals - Knock Out ! [1981]


* Audley Rollens - Role Model [1984]
* B.B. Seaton - Colour Is Not The Answer [1976]
* Cedric Myton & Congo - Image Of Africa [1979]
* Cedric Myton & Congos - Face The Music [1981]
* Congo - Congo Ashanti [1979]
* Derrick Harriott - Reggae Disco Rockers [1979]
* Harold Butler - Africa On My Mind [1978]
* Harold Butler - Gold Connection [1978]
* Jerry Johnson - For All Seasons [198X]
* Joe Gibbs - African Dub All-Mighty [1975]
* Joe Gibbs - African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 3 [1978]
* Joe Gibbs & Professionals Featuring Errol Thompson - No Bones For The Dogs [1974-79]
* Ken Boothe - Blood Brothers [1976]
* Pablo Moses - Tension [1985]
* Trinity - Three Piece Suit [1977]


* Beres Hammond - Soul Reggae [1976]
* Harold Butler - Africa On My Mind [1978]
* Ken Boothe - Blood Brothers [1976]
* Ruddy Thomas - Reggae By Ruddy Thomas [1983]

Strings Synthesizer

* Derrick Harriott & Revolutionaries - Reggae Chart Busters Seventies Style [1977]
* Harold Butler - Gold Connection [1978]
* Willie Lindo - It's Not Too Late [1977]


* Derrick Harriott - Reggae Disco Rockers [1979]

Electric Piano

* Congo - Congo Ashanti [1979]
* Harold Butler - Gold Connection [1978]


* Judy Mowatt - Black Woman [1980]

Serving Up "The Butler"

he's had some up and down times, for sure, but one thing has never waned: Harold Butler's master of the piano; his staggering range of material and sensitivity and soulful connection to the music.
Starting next week, extensive coverage on the life and times of Jamaica's piano man.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Barb Jungr CD review: The Men I Love

While in no way denigrating the preceding tunes, to get a full feel for the transformative powerof Barb Jungr's musical and vocal vision, go straight to the final track on this CD, Geln Campbell's "Wichita Lineman". To hear her alternately draw in tenderly and unfurl the tune - ably aided by pianist Simon Wallace - is a wondrous experience.

Indeed, its one of many on what is a well crafted, but soulful, intimate and contemporary sounding set that should resonate equally with jazz vocal purists (although the material in the truest sense is not jazz, no matter), coffeehouse hipsters or nightclub veterans.

Whether individual tuiens, like the Monkees' "I'm A Believer" or medleys like "This Old Heart of Mine-Love Hurts" the Brit chanson gets inside the song, a cliche, we admit, but if you follow my directive at the beginning of this review it should become obvious. Her empahty is clear on the Holland-DOzier-Holland classic. When Jungr coos the "I love you-ou-ou" line first made famous by the Isley Bros. all the palintive yet defiant commitment of the origianl is magically transposed.

Separate from the vocal hijinks, the album also succeeds musically. While most of the material is taken at an easygoing ballad pace, those expecting lullabies will be wowed by subtle shifts in tempo and the varied sonic palette that Jungr and Wallace have put together. One of this writer's favourite pop songs is Briab Eno and David Byrne's "Once In A Lifetime" a song I thought it would hard, if not impossible to successfully update. But here, Jungr's lyrics are gently dunked amid a swirl of sometimes Oriental, sometimes Southwestern sonic patches. Also she makes good use of the song's refrains and repeated phrases ("Same as it ever was" is one example)to transport the listener into an experience with even more gravitas than the original suggested.

As another reviewer has stated "Jungr needs no added ingredients to improve her communication of the intense feelings contained in these great songs." Given this lush attention, her "men" should be feeling pretty stoked - same goes for music lovers everywhere

Track listing:Once in a Lifetime;
I'm a Believer;
Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache;
Night Comes On;
Can't Get Used to Losing You / Red Red Wine;
The River;
I Saw the Light;
This Old Heart of Mine / Love Hurts;
Everything I Own;
You Ain't Going Nowhere;
My Little Town;
Wichita Lineman

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