The Line-Up 12-11-2009 by retronius

Tonight, I went with the theme of actually playing my Jazz Now list.  I think before I can even delve into the best albums of the year (I'm still trying to mull that over) or play a bunch of jazz Christmas music that I think would work in the auspice of this show (I actually have a show on Christmas), I first need to truly define this show even more than I already try to do and make it clear to folks how jazz is truly growing and changing to this day.  I'd like to think I'm doing some good here already, but there's work yet to be done.  This show is a prime example of what The Line-Up really is, what I think jazz really sounds like today, and would be the example of what I think you should spread around to all your friends about why you think they should listen to jazz.  It's also the test to see if I'm pronouncing the name Jarenwattananon correctly. There's plenty of stuff that sounds really nice and springboard from tracks like these.  This hour shouldn't be intimidating and the expansive body of jazz, its listeners, its history, and its foundation shouldn't be either.  It's fun music.  It has a groove.  You can dance to it.  Don't be scared.  If anything, this show of all shows shouldn't be scary.

Vijay Iyer - Big Brother
I had intended for this song to start off the hour.  Iyer's Historicity has been the talk of the town since before it even released.  While I still don't have the album (which would be great if someone could get a hold of that for me for Christmas, pretty please), I still listen to his set at this year's Newport Jazz Festival.  This cover of Stevie Wonder's tune was rather excellent and a good primer for folks, as well as the rest of this album.
Since I can't find this song on YouTube, I'll post my favorite track on this album, Iyer's cover of Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew" (sampled for A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" and reimagined for Madlib's "Mystic Bounce" off Shades of Blue which I'll go into next).

Madlib - Funky Blue Note
Do I even need to talk about Madlib any more than I already do?  Go listen to Shades of Blue right now.  Well, hear the rest of this show in the player at the top of the post, then go listen to the rest of this album.
The Bad Plus - Flim
The highlight of this track isn't even Ethan Iverson playing a straight-ahead cover of the Aphex Twin tune but Dave King being rather frenetic but still controlled with his drumming.  As I said in the original post, when it comes to introducing people to The Bad Plus, it's probably best to let others come in the same way we all have, shocked at their wide taste and prowess.
Brad Mehldau Trio - Day is Done
As much as I love Brad Mehldau, there are times when I see him in interview or hear him playing when I think he's just a tad full of himself.  I'm probably reading him wrong.  But when you get down to it, there are certain songs that the trio play in which Mehldau is extremely equitable in his arrangements.  This song is on the top of that list.  Starting off this song so heavily with Larry Grenadier on bass doling out the mainline of the melody of the classic Nick Drake tune was quite clever.  It's a great showcase of Grenadier's talents, although it's also a tad risky to so prominently begin a song with a bass solo (since apparently, not everyone is crazy about bass solos).  The risk pays off here and fades quite well into Mehldau taking it all home for the rest of the piece.
Jaspects - Goodbye Love (feat. Fonzworth Bentley)
When I first heard this song years ago, I had to shake my head at including Fonzworth Bentley for this song.  The previous track on the album is a mere interlude but a brilliant bass solo by Jon-Christopher Sowells (who reprises "One Last Cry Before I Say..." at the end of this song) and transitions perfectly into this piece.  Once while talking with fellow DJ, Galen of The Distance, even he had to marvel at how great this song is, even with the awesomely corny line, "You're a mass communications major / and that's major."
Miles Davis - Mr. Pastorius
I have spoken highly of Davis's Amandla album, but there are two tracks in particular that really shine for me.  The title track to this album is great, not just because it sounds so good but also because it features Joe Sample, the greatest man ever to lay hands on the piano (take that, Chopin).  On "Mr. Pastorius," Miles plays the other standout track on this album in tribute to Jaco Pastorius, someone I'm fairly certain never had the opportunity to play with Davis.  Thinking about that and typing that sentence saddens me just a little.
Aaron Parks - Nemesis
Aaron Parks has been on the scene for a little while now, which is very shocking when you think about how young he is.  This 26-year-old virtuoso is able to create musical landscapes with his songs and back whoever he's around with astounding adeptness.  Whether he's working with Terrence Blanchard to ensure Spike Lee Joints have the right mood, backing Esperanza Spalding and creating a perfect unity of youthful brilliance, or going all out with his spectacular original compositions, it's certainly something to listen to him play.  It'll be even more of an experience to see where he'll be down the line.  This guy has a long career ahead of him and I look forward to the ride.
Esperanza Spalding - Precious
I've spoken before about how I feel late to the Esperanza Spalding party.  It may not even mean much right now to her that she's playing on a jazz station in San Antonio when she's just now coming back from playing the Nobel Prize concert in Oslo.  Still, she's great and I love her and you should love her, too.
As it pertains to this song in particular, I thought specifically about my mom when I heard it.  When I first heard this song I thought, "I could definitely hearing Tom Joyner or Steve Harvey playing this in their morning shows."  This is the kind of song that they would play.  Sure the Obamas love her but I'm still not sure everyone is up on the Spalding game.  This little talked about track off the Esperanza album isn't really the best fit for KRTU, but it's probably the most commercial radio-friendly song on the album.  If there's a track that'll bring people from the folds to Spalding and the rest of jazz, "Precious" is that track.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - Phobos
This frenetic tune (based on the great percussion work by John Wikan) takes a bit to warm up, but when it does it's a wild ride.  Darcy James Argue's Secret Society is the jazz version of Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai.  If bands like these can be on the forefront of a new post-rock movement, is Argue at the front of post-big band?  Does he move the sub-genre and medium forward, does he redefine it altogether, or is he striking out into all new territory?  You be the judge.

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