I have no words. This is just the sublimest of the sublime. “Turn me loose! We shall overcome! Where’d you get that funk from, huh?”
I know this “ode” is tongue-in-cheek at best, but I still grew up listening to it and still mean it when I sing out the chorus. Given I’m planning a trip home next month, I have to post some home-town love.
And, hey – do you like apples? On this day in 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new constitution. How d’you like them apples?
I could be wrong about this, but I feel like Janet Jackson is one of the most under-appreciated feminists in pop music. This song, off of her “Rhythm Nation 1814” album, proceeded her musical “coming out” of sorts, her album “Control,” which announced her emancipation from her father and manager. That record was such a success that she was counseled to make a kind of “Control 2.” Instead, she made an album whose focal point was social injustice, racism, sexism, and the state of the world. Proving wrong those who said that such a heavy topic would tank , “Rhythm Nation 1814” generated seven Top Five singles – a record-breaking number at the time – and the record as whole ended up going sextuple platinum.
So, y’know, trust your instincts, or something.
Oh Sharon Jones, you magnificent bastard. Every component of this song works together. It’s so tight. There isn’t any extraneous mess. That bass guitar, that bari sax…I’m having a hard time typing this…while standing up…and dancing…
Shameless Friend Promotion! Portia, aka Piz, is the best chef I know. If you want to try your hand at her kind of culinary mastery, boogie on over to Portia’s TurnTable.
Here’s an antidote to the ebola hysteria. “Every man, woman and child is catching it. It’s called the Dap Dip, and they say you get it in your pants.”
This guy has one heck of a voice. The range and the control is just gorgeous. I love how spare the song itself is, too. There’s no unnecessary production – just a man with a sexy song and a guitar. Effective, soulful, and different. I’m a fan.
Shameless friend promotion! If you like humor, sexy songs, and haikus, check out Ryan over at the wonderful blog, The Wheelhouse Review.
I present to you Mar, a
Dutch Danish Dutch soul singer from Amsterdam. Dutch soul, you ask? I was skeptical at first too when I first came across his “Mar Variations.” Although I am as worldly as I am handsome, I assumed the Dutch only did wooden clogs and red light district(s), certainly not soul music. But after hearing his ridiculously smooth voice on the second “variation” he released, 1st session, I was hooked. He is now firmly in the category of artists I’d pay for an album of them singing names in the phone book. Or to quote Michael Bolton on Michael Bolton, “I celebrate his entire catalogue.”
Given his Michael Bolton status, it was hard to pick one song, but I decided to go for this one because it’s just a guitar and his voice. This version of “Man x Woman” is a stripped down, acoustic version of the original song, which as all things Mar I celebrate, but had a club/EDM beat that didn’t showcase his voice as much as this version does. The acoustic rendition has all the features of his music, and especially his voice, that find him prominently featured in two of my most-played iPod playlists “head noddin’ pre party” (check out 2u4u for that) and “baby makin’ music” (check out “our attempt” for that). You hear the jazz-inspired ad libbing, the impressive falsettos, and just the absurdly soultastic smoothness of his voice. Seriously, it’s like a silkworm dipped in cocoa butter, topped off with a sprinkling of baby powder. As a bonus, he belts out some falsetto and upper register notes (especially starting at the 3:08 mark) with power you normally don’t hear him show off. Enjoy. And hit me up if you want either of those playlists. You’ll thank me later.
Original 1947 recording:
Fun 1970 live performance with the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band in Denmark:
Oh now this is a sassy little number. It makes me wish for swingable hips, tossable hair, and a rooftop (or even a fire escape). God bless my wonderful K-Smash for picking this tune. It sounds kind of lounge-y but it doesn’t have the sleaze of 1950s or 1960s era lounge music, though it’s decidedly raunchy (those horns…dang). Thank the good Whomever for American culture that created this kind of music.
Shameless friend promotion! K-Smash, aka Kendra, is an absolutely phenomenal photographer. Should you ever need an A.P.P., give her a ring. http://kendrajoyphotography.com
Tasked by our beloved Yankette with spreading the good word about a favorite jazz tune, I knew immediately I wanted to share my love of Afro-Cuban jazz. (We’re dipping a bit into tomorrow’s Worldly genre, but I’m calling the shots today, and I say it’s ok.)
“Manteca” – literally “lard” in Spanish, but used as slang for marijuana in Cuba – is one of the earliest tunes to weave Afro-Cuban influences into American jazz. (See, we didn’t dive head-long into the “Worldly” realm; we’re keeping at least one foot on American soil.) This tune, co-written by Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo and Gil Fuller, is among the most famous of Gillespie’s recordings. Gillespie, who was introduced to Afro-Cuban music by trumpeter/composer Mario Bauza, added Cuban conguero Chano Pozo to his big band in September of 1947. Until Pozo’s untimely demise just over a year later, he made a lasting mark on both the jazz and Latin American music worlds; this tune was part of that legacy.
Though Gillespie made a concerted effort to mesh percussion-driven, rhythmically complex Afro-Cuban themes with passages more akin to the melodic and harmonic conventions of American jazz, early performances of “Manteca” revealed that despite their enthusiasm for collaborating, Gillespie and Pozo were quite unaccustomed to one other’s music. Gillespie’s band, for example, was unfamiliar with guajeos – syncopated phrasing common in Cuban music – and they overdid the swinging with atypical accentuation. As it turns out, complete assimilation of Afro-Cuban rhythms and American jazz improvisations was still a few years away for the beboppers in 1947.
Personally, this early stab at combining Cuban and American musical vibes takes me back to the Fall of 2005 when I – a young American girl with absolutely no dance skills – spent an evening dancing on a rooftop in Havana with a ridiculously attractive Afro-Cuban man. My hips, much like Gillespie’s band, were unfamiliar with the rhythms and moves which came so naturally to my newly-made Cuban friends. Nevertheless, I improvised, and we danced the night away. I hope this tune makes you want to get up and move, even if you’re not on a Havana rooftop sipping a mojito.
Jackie Mittoo was a baller keyboardist from Jamaica. This is my favorite song of his, and has been on heavy rotation today, seeing how I need continuous energy injections for this last leg and the last leg of this trip.
Sort of apropos of this song, I want to call your attention to an interesting story going on this week. In a suburb of Denver, Colorado, this week, a group of high school students staged a walkout to protest changes to how American history is taught. The local school board had voted to turn the dial down on certain portions of American history that, according to the school board, “encourage or condone civil disorder.” I think these students are gutsy heroes. Civil (emphasis on civil) disobedience is one of the highest forms of patriotism because it shows you are actively engaging with your country. To read more, go see the good people at the Christian Science Monitor.
This is your intrepid Yankette, coming to you from lovely Los Angeles. I managed to get a wicked cold in Hawaii so I’m more or less running on fumes, caffeine, and Tylenol this week. But with the help of my buddies AC/DC, I’ll get it done.
Making it happen. That’s what we do here at the Tune-Up. We make things happen. We also use our powers of analysis, persuasion, and charm to convince others that no only do we know what’s up, but that others should follow our lead. And, we drink cocktails on city rooftops. Thought leaders, thing-happen-makers, cocktail-drinkers. How very soignée.
Before Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, Kirby Puckett, center-fielder for the Twins and my childhood idol, gathered his teammates around for a quick talk before they took the field. “You guys should jump on my back tonight. I’m going to carry us.” Puckett made good on his promise. The Twins had been behind 3-2 to the Atlanta Braves before Game 6, during which Puckett hit the game-winning home run and made the best outfield catch, against the center-field wall, possibly ever seen in baseball. (Puckett, who was a very stocky 5’8″, had incredible and surprising athleticism. What was so jaw-dropping about that catch wasn’t just the air he got, but how powerful his arm was. Look how far he throws that baseball! He totally windmills his arm around to get that distance. Just amazing.) That game propelled the Twins to a World Series win.
I miss you, Kirby. Whenever I hear “Goliath,” I think of you.