The Line-Up 12-18-2009 by retronius

Tonight's episode is all about collaborations.  This was a late realized concept but I sort of like how it worked.  I've been playing Gretchen Parlato's In a Dream pretty constantly lately and I've become so engrossed with it that I wanted to share a few of my favorite tracks on the show, so this is really a big excuse for me to play a lot of her new work.  But what really got to me was noticing that Robert Glasper arranged her cover of SWV's "Weak" and that she sang backup for Esperanza Spalding and Justin Vasquez and that Aaron Parks did all the piano work on her album.  This little cluster fascinated me and since many of them are getting their attention in the modern jazz scene lately, I figured I'd play that cluster tonight.

This type of collaboration is pretty common. Joe Sample is often produced by Tommy LiPuma. He'll work with George Benson, Michael Franks, Anita Baker, and others often.  Folks will move from album to album and quite often and it's always a treat to hear.

Anyway... to the show and the playlist!


Vijay Iyer - Big Brother
This song was supposed to play last week and I still don't know why it didn't.  Instead of dwell on the mystery, I chose to play it this week at the top of the hour.  I'm glad that worked out.  "Big Brother" is a Stevie Wonder tune off his Talking Book album.  Playing a Stevie Wonder composition transitions nicely into...
Gretchen Parlato - I Can't Help It
Parlato has a very nice, simplistic cover of this Stevie Wonder composition.  Everyone knows this song as being performed by Michael Jackson but I'll always call it a Stevie song.  Parlato strength comes in never overplaying her voice and in making sure the arrangements in her songs use space and beat well.  She reminds me of Al Jarreau's work on the songs he did for A Twist of Jobim with Oleta Adams.  Sure he could probably do more, but he accomplishes more by being rather understated.  Parlato is the same way on the In a Dream album.  You can catch more of her vocals in the background of...
Justin Vasquez - Triptych
Triptych is the kind of album that needs a few listens but when it has the chance to breathe, it's a good showcase of talent for Vasquez's writing and arrangements.  This album is a great first effort for him and I really do look forward to what this saxophonist will do in the future, if only he'll play a little more than he'll write.  Vasquez seems to defer to the other players on his album a lot, one of those players is the young lion...
Aaron Parks - Riddle Me This
I've only known of Aaron Parks for a few months but I feel those few months are all the better for knowing about him.  Parks is the kind of guy who makes me kick myself for never practicing the piano when I was a kid.  This 26-year-old virtuoso is able to play on the scores for Spike Lee joints under Terrence Blanchard, make sure Gretchen Parlato is able to shine, and bring depth to Justin Vasquez's compositions.  He's done so much in so little time and shows no signs of slowing down.
Jason Moran - Planet Rock
I can't really come of with a logical reason for why this is here other than I like the song.  I couldn't come up with a connection between Moran and any of the other songs played this evening.  Still, it's a good cover and I hope you enjoy the song.
Gretchen Parlato - Weak
When I first ran across Gretchen Parlato, this was the song that really wowed me.  I was amazed by the beat and the total wave of sound that came in the latter end of the song.  When I learned it was arranged by Robert Glasper, I felt that explained everything.  I was hooked.  Beside the fact, if you don't already know, I'm a sucker for a good cover and one must be rather auspicious to cover SWV.  It's one of the prime R&B hits of the '90s and reinventing the song will either win you fans or enrage masses.  Just ask The Bad Plus.
Robert Glasper  - Maiden Voyage/Everything in its Right Place
As I said before, Robert Glasper did the arrangements for a couple of tracks on Parlato's In a Dream.  His appreciation of all forms of music come out in his body of work.  The track before indicate his R&B knowledge. This track highlights his jazz chops and rock ability, beside he knowledge that anybody who's anybody in modern jazz will eventually cover a Radiohead tune.  What better plan than to transition a Herbie Hancock song with the work of Selway, Greenwood, O'Brien, Greenwood, and Yorke?
Gretchen Parlato - Butterfly
The last Parlato tune transitions back because it's a Herbie Hancock song (my favorite one, at that).  This is probably the best cover of "Butterfly" I've ever heard.
Herbie Hancock - Butterfly
Of course, I had to play the genuine article off the Thrust album with the Headhunters.  Frankly, his best rendition of this song is off the Japanese import live album, Flood.  It's rare but it's out there.  This really is my favorite Hancock song.  Never have I heard a song fit so well with its title. I have not heard the original Headhunters sound so good together.  In fact, I can't be alone in this sentiment. Other than "Watermelon Man" (which on the Head Hunters album, Hancock reinvented his own piece and both versions by him have their own distinct accolades), I cannot think of another Hancock tune in the Headhunters period that has been covered with more frequency. This is a spectacular piece which is why I don't feel bad playing essentially the same song back to back. Besides, sometimes you just have to know with what you're working.
Also, special thanks to Galen of The Distance once again. I wasn't looking at a clock with a second hand but due to a late placed spot in the show, I have a feeling this song went maybe 30 or so seconds over time and he still played this song to the end. Between that, birthing this show, his own show, and probably other things I don't even know about, Galen is pretty awesome.

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