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Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014
Blue Note, one of the foremost jazz record labels, is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a vinyl initiative, releasing highlights from its massive catalog over the course of two years. Here are some picks to get you started.

Blue Note was one of the, if not the, titan of jazz releases for much of the past century. This year marks the label’s 75th anniversary, and with that anniversary comes a huge initiative on the part of the Blue Note team to reissue many of its seminal works on vinyl. Their goal is a simple one: produce quality-sounding vinyl that faithfully reproduces the sound of the original recordings. Many of these LPs are available now at your local record store or for sale via many online retailers. It should be noted that these albums are available in traditional formats of CD, MP3, and box sets, but for the best listening experience possible, I highly recommend the vinyl reissues. Their clarity and workmanship is apparent in nearly every track—and, for purists, there really is no other way to listen to jazz from Blue Note except on vinyl.


Tagged as: blue note, jazz, list this
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Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014
by PopMatters Staff
Glenn Tilbrook is back with his latest, Happy Ending, and some quips for PopMatters 20 Questions.

PopMatters caught Glenn Tilbrook‘s acoustic set at Nashville’s unassuming, friendly 3rd and Lindsley in September 2013, while in town for the Americana Music Fest. It gave us a thrill, to see the Squeeze man up close in such a laid-back, comfortable setting, far removed from his stadium shows’ past.


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Monday, Jun 9, 2014
Likely the first song written for The Beach Boys Today!, "She Knows Me Too Well" is surprisingly sophisticated and unique.

“She Knows Me Too Well” was technically the first song recorded for The Beach Boys Today!, before the band’s All Summer Long album had been released or recording for The Beach Boys Christmas Album had begun. But the song got re-recorded later for Today! and that initial June 8th, 1964 recorded has never been subsequently released (like so many other alternate takes from this and other Beach Boys albums). It’s safe to assume, though, that not much changed between the June and the August recording of the song, compositionally at least. If we look at other tracks from Today! for which earlier recordings that have been released, the changes between versions tend to be in the arrangement and occasionally the lyrics. So while we can’t be sure exactly what changed from the first version of “She Knows Me Too Well” to the final released version, we can imagine that they are fairly similar.


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Friday, Jun 6, 2014
Hey, how you doing. Sorry you can't get through. Why don't you leave your name and number and I'll get back to you. In the meantime, a 1991 hip-hop milestone is the week's Counterbalance. You could read that.

Klinger: A couple months ago, the news broke that venerable hip-hop artists De La Soul were offering up their entire catalog for download free of charge. Because De La Soul’s albums are, of course, chock full of samples, some of which are buried so deeply that it would take a sonic archaeologist to sort it all out, placing them on iTunes would present copyright headaches that could stretch out for decades and singlehandedly employ all of the nation’s attorneys. Offering them free of charge neatly sidestepped the issue—at least for the time being. Needless to say, not only did my dial-up modem get quite the workout, but the news also led to an inevitable flurry of internet thinkpieces about De La Soul and their place in hip-hop history.


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Thursday, Jun 5, 2014
A dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and something extra.

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Jelly Roll Morton, Isidore “Tuts” Washington, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Allen Toussaint, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, Henry Butler—and those are just some of the best-known keyboard masters. All the great players have distinctive, individual styles, but there are traits they share, and that characterize the New Orleans sound. Deep roots in in the blues, gospel, and jazz, of course. But since New Orleans is a multicultural port city that has had a long association with Latin America and the Caribbean Sea, its pianists were exposed to, and have assimilated, idioms other than African-American. They’ll play syncopated bass lines derived from boogie-woogie, the blues, and stride. But they also incorporate rhythmic and melodic influences from Cuban rumba and habanera – the “Spanish tinge”, as Jelly Roll Morton famously, but inaccurately, called it.


As they pump out bass patterns with the left hand, the right hand unfurls melodic flourishes and cascading rolls. That mixture produces a sound that is immediately recognizable as originating in the Crescent City—funky and driving, yet easy rolling and relaxed. Think of the second-line dancers following the band at a New Orleans parade or funeral procession: Everything they do is funky, but they do it with unhurried grace and style.


The following list comprises ten standout performances by New Orleans pianists, past and present, plus a lagniappe, as they say in NOLA – a little something extra.


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