Yang

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This is an album I really do find strange for a few reasons. Not because you would expect the album to be amazing because there is no reason to think that about any album or anything until you really experience it. Instead, I have the German guitarist Markus Reuter and Benjamin Shafer in mind when I think about this. They are world class musicians who are able to really enhance and enable world class, brilliant music. You could easily expect any song or any album that they create to be some of the best in the world, and I’m sure you could compare them to the famous German footballers of Ozil and Muller. Despite where they are or what they are doing, you can always guarantee a world class performance and a truly entertaining time. Sure, you may think it a bit cheap that I compared them to other Germans, but instead of laziness I like to think of it as making an homage. There isn’t really a perfect way to sum this up so I’ll just say it this way. Using a soundstage, they used a modern way to deliver less modern work. I think that is probably the easiest and best way for me to sum it up since I don’t really have a great way of words, but for a Jazz song I will say I didn’t entirely feel the jazz.

I will say that the explosive and yet somehow disciplined way Yang has been created is something that I really do find truly impressive, especially once you realise that the album is really created as if it is a prog-rock album. And I really do mean that as literally as possible since it comes off like one. The songs are unsurprisingly sharp and cutting, yet while at the same time being really assertive without dulling the senses. It is also hard to deny that the movement and fluidity of the songs are also just as amazing to behold. I could talk for hours explaining how it is a Jazz infusion of prog-rock but really it is just a great album.

I was listening to it the other day with a few friends and while they are able to very eloquently describe the album in only a way a really shitty critic would, the fact is it is an enjoyable listen if you are a fan of that music. It obviously does not appeal to everyone in the Jazz audience or further but songs don’t really have to. Albums don’t really have to. Nothing has to cater to people’s whims and wants and that is not what life is really about. Great songs and great music is fun to listen to and fun to experience because you can take your own thoughts and own feelings into it without having to have expectations. Nobody wants to have drilled into them how good an album or a song is and how much you need to listen to it and enjoy it. Everything is relative and you are supposed to take these things and enjoy them for what you can, not for what everyone else can.

If you are a fan of prog rock music and if you are a fan of Jazz you will enjoy this album. That doesn’t mean that you will love the album and that doesn’t mean that this will be the greatest album of all time and you must love it or otherwise you are a liar. Take it for what it is and you will enjoy it. There have been many, many bad songs that have been released recently and I hated to listen to them let alone have to review them but I did. It is my job and I really don’t have a choice. I love jazz and that is really all that matters, so I love the music that I love and any music that I don’t enjoy I just won’t listen to again. So give this album a try if you want to hear something unique and you will not be disappointed.

By the way, Jazz Song Book is sponsored by Merton Loft Conversion, so check them out please! http://www.mertonloftconversion.com/ They have guest blogged for us a few times and they asked for a shout out!


Ola Onabule

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Onabule is a very interesting person with an even more interesting career. For example, he was actually going to law school when he was young but then decided to turn that down and instead became a singer/songwriter in Jazz. But this is the one thing that is really different about him. Although you know that he originally wanted to do something else, it becomes really clear really quickly his real muse and his real talent is all music. It isn’t just about the songs and the music that he writes, but it’s also his body language. You can feel it and see it through his dance moves and through his swagger. You can see from the way the music and the rhythm flows through him. You can see it and feel it in the way he emulates legends of the past. There is this awareness in his body and in his music that shows just how much it means to him, but also just how much talent he really has in his body and his soul. It is almost as if he punctuates his love and his skill through the way he moves. His performances and his songs are just so full of energy that brings Jazz to life. It is just something else, and you cannot compare it to anyone else. I saw someone say it is like James Brown decided to take steroids, but that isn’t a good comparison because they just aren’t the same.

He recently created a new album by the name of ‘Seven Shades Darker’, and you can just tell from the name he plans to really bring out his life and soul within the album. This is not going to be simply a throwaway album to him but instead an album where he really wants his talents, feelings and songs brought to life to stay for the history of Jazz. He wants to create an album that is going to referred to as an album that matches old jazz pioneers while also being the future of the Jazz genre. One thing that is amazing about Onabule is that he wants to put all energy that he possibly can during a Jazz performance, but wants to match that same energy within his song writing. He is not an artist who believes in second best and just as obviously, he is not an artist who feels that music or art should be brought out without the utmost care.

There are also a few songs released by Onabule that shows just how much he cares for where he came from as much as where he is going. He recently released the song ‘Desperate Ones’, which he describes as a message to help black youths. It is clear that he still thinks and cares about his roots and he does not believe that anyone should be put in a position where they are still down when they don’t need to be. He actually explained upon this when saying that he fears for black youths who are leaving school before receiving an education, but also before they are even able to write or read. He also thinks that this is an issue that should have been solved a long time ago and is saddened that it hasn’t. This is a meaningful message and could be applied to anyone in the same situation or circumstances, and really does not matter about where the person has come from, but more about where the person currently is.

Strangely enough, one interesting story about Onabule is that David Beckham of all people contacted him to play at his wedding. The obvious statement is that you are sure it was probably good money, but apparently Onabule was more excited because he was able to play in front of the entire England National team and the spice girls. That is quite a lot of names to be able to live up to, so you can only hope that he did during the wedding!

I hope you enjoyed todays blog post, and there are still many more posts to come in the future! Please also check my previous posts if you have yet to get the chance! Especially the one about Nicholas Payton!


Jazz Song Book

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I’ve discussed this a few times within my blog posts but I’ve never really got into detail to them. But I have my own Jazz Song Book that I regularly write new songs within or I write ideas that I have for songs. Usually when I write the ideas for songs I don’t actually write the songs themselves, I write what I would like to see or hear from a song. I know that that sounds incredibly nonspecific, but by that I mean I write the mood of the song.

If I am in a funk or I feel really bad about myself, then for whatever reason I write in my song book a jazz song that is really low too. Usually it will be a dark song using darker instruments. When I say darker instruments I would include things like pianos and trumpets because I feel that they connect with the sadder soul much more than other instruments do. But usually it doesn’t just come down the instrument that is being used but also the keys of the songs used. When I feel in a lower mood the instruments would play a lower or bass key rather than a high pitched key. Unless I am thinking about pain and suffering or something morbid, in which case a higher key does actually work better than most other keys. When I am in a happier mood, in general I imagine the songs to be in both different instruments like a saxophone, and more often or not a flute since a flute is a lot more light hearted of an instrument.

I don’t know why I use specific instruments or keys for the mood that I am in, but I feel like for me that is what Jazz is about. Being able to identify your thoughts and feelings, and then being able to convey and express those feelings is what works. The real mastery of Jazz music is being able to let your audience listening know how you feel and being able to deliver your message without having to use words at times. If you are a musician that focuses on instruments and not lyrics, being able to convey a message to the audience is what makes you a great artist. in fact, being able to accurately convey your feelings through any medium is what makes you a great artist. It is having a vision in your mind or in your heart that you want others to know about, and for you to be able to explain through that medium.

At the end of the day, there is no perfect way for an artist to express themselves. There is not a specific medium that you must use, nor is there a specific way you must convey the message. At times, the vision that you have and that you want to communicate doesn’t even have to be to anyone’s tastes and you don’t have to have anyone really enjoy it. You just have to be able to do it and you have to want to do it. As long as you understand what it is you are trying to say, others will be able to as well. Just like in life, some may confuse the message or misunderstand it, but that is just a fact of life for the most part anyway.


My thoughts

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I know that in my last post I promised I would review another jazz album, but there is something that has been bothering me with the jazz song community for a little while now that I feel I must get off my chest. A lot of people seem to think that Jazz musicians make the music specifically for them. As if they are the only customers in the world or the only fans of jazz in the entire world and that all music can only be enjoyable to them and if they do not like the music, then the artist is at fault. I suppose you could say this about any music genre and beyond music, you could probably say this about any entertainment platform. But there is almost a sense of entitlement that these people have who believe that only their tastes or opinions matter and they will fight you if they do not agree and they will try to beat their point into you since only they can be right.

It is possible to have a favourite instrument that you feel connects better to your soul than someone else favourite instrument. It is possible to believe that one musician is better to you since you can connect with their music and their songs better than you may be able to with another. It is possible to enjoy a Jazz Song Book or a Jazz Song CD more than you can enjoy anthers. These aren’t mutually exclusive. It is possible to enjoy something that quite honestly, someone else may not enjoy and you should not have to feel guilty, wrong, stupid or anything else apart from enjoyment. It is a very self-absorbed behavioural pattern that many seem to have and I really do feel that it comes from a place of insecurity, as they almost seem to think that they are better than you or can be better than you because they like something they deem to be superior.

I know this is an overly serious topic to discuss but I was having a discussion with a friend who I told that I believe my favourite instrument is the trumpet because I seem to get the biggest emotional connection out of it. I know that it sounds both stupid and difficult to understand in a way, but it is true. For whatever reason I can derive more satisfaction when I hear a trumpet than I may do a Piano. And that isn’t to say I can’t enjoy a piano because I absolutely love it as an instrument too. It just doesn’t hook me in the same way.

As a response, this “jazz maestro” begun to explain to me for around 2 hours over wine exactly why I was wrong, and why I need to listen to this musician or that musician or read this song book or that jazz song book. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. I enjoy who I enjoy and I like what I like. It shouldn’t go further than that, nor should it even be an argument which we are having. I am allowed to like my own things, I believe that is the benefit to being an adult. You get to be your own person that doesn’t succumb to the needs and wills and whatever satisfactions others may get for entirely unnecessary reasons. The fact that I am actually talking about it right now clearly shows that it’s gotten to me and I think that is what I am upset about the most. The fact that I allowed this person to frustrate me is stupid but sadly I can’t help my emotions or how stupid people make me feel.

I don’t want to just moan however. I really did start this blog from my love of Jazz, and the name of the site and the blog actually came from something quite meaningful to me. I have my own jazz song book I write songs in, and I thought what better way to share that love? So with that, I leave you with this.


My love of Jazz

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My love of Jazz

Before I start to review other Jazz songs, I wanted to state my love for Jazz and the reasons why I love it too. I could be simple and just describe all of the songs I’ve loved to listen to and my favourite artists, but I don’t really feel like that is me nor do I feel that I am even being very different. The fact is that I love all music, and that Jazz is not the only music genre that I love to listen to. I like to listen to rock music from all eras, from the 60’s to the 10’s now. I love to listen to R&B and I love to listen to rap. It doesn’t really matter what the genre is nor does it matter who is the artist creating the song. All that matters are how it sounds and if it is trying to do so, what the message is that is being conveyed.

With Jazz songs, there is a special feeling I get when I listen to it that’s much different from the vibes I get when listening to other music. With older pop songs or rock songs, I usually just intake the message or listen to the words and how they clash with the music. With Jazz songs, I can just take in and enjoy the music’s and instruments that I usually wouldn’t with other music. It’s almost like I can take or receive the message that is being conveyed with the notes and instruments in Jazz music. With jazz music, there is a message being conveyed through the notes and the songs almost as if you are listening to a blues song. You know what they want to tell you and you know that they are trying to convey a message that is important to them, and you can feel it and process it from the notes themselves.

The array of instruments that are used in Jazz songs are also just as great. The different variety of brass instruments is especially impressive to me. Being able to convey messages through trumpets and saxophones or even just a flute or piano is so amazing to me. Jazz songs are so emotional and have a deeper meaning to it than you would think. The trumpets are also so strikingly dissimilar to most music types and often the greatness of the musicians in Jazz songs are able to very simplistically merge the different instruments together and make it easier to process the songs because of it. In fact, the variety and the versatility of Jazz musicians and their ability to play different instruments and meld them together is amazing. I used to have a book where I wrote songs or potential songs in them, and I would always include what types of instruments I would or could imagine hearing with them.

In that same book, I used to write what I would like my jazz songs to convey and the meanings that they would have. When I was in a happier mood, my songs in my book would usually be more uplifting or more upbeat, but when I was sadder my songs were for the more part more dark and deep listening. Often when I was depressed I would create dark and much more slow beat songs in my mind, since I was trying to explain and convey my feelings into the song. I think all artists do this to an extent, even if they are hiding behind a mask within their songs. The great thing about Jazz music is that you can and are able to convey whichever music you would like to listen to yourself.

Jazz songs are song of the greatest songs that have been made in history. They are the easiest to listen to by far and they can be very enjoyable depending on the artist. Last week I spoke about Nicholas Payton and his amazing album and I would definitely suggest giving that a listen. Throughout the weeks I will have more songs to write and my plan is to create almost an online book of reviews for you to listen to and gain inspiration from too.


Nicholas Payton – In Conversation

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If there is one artist who has never conformed to anything or anyone, and never changed himself it would be the trumpeter from New Orleans by the name of Nicholas Payton. If you read any of his Facebook posts or tweets, you could see that for yourself. He is someone who will always speak his mind, and when others may try to challenge his views, he will always retort. This same outspoken nature of his is what allowed him to create the great material with most likely the most controversial title and tracks that he has ever created in the name of “Bitches”.

Now, you may be thinking that “Bitches” would be hard to listen to. However, what a listener can expect to hear is a pleasant and unique take on Jazz that will not conform to the traditional boundaries this genre would expect. The trumpeter does not stick to his famous instrument and instead uses any and all within the collection of music provided in “Bitches”, while also bringing on many others to be featured on the track. Artists and singers include Chinah Blac, N’Dambi, Cassandra Wilson and even the Grammy award winning Esperanza Spalding, making this probably one of the greatest listens that I’ve ever had.

It is a mixture blend of Funk, Jazz, Neo Soul and R&B with the inclusion of pop music to create such an enthralling listen, you would be surprised to have loved it so much. It is a mixture of music with a hint of love, and you cannot possible hope to listen to anything else once it has begun, with songs such as “By My Side” which is shades of 80’s funk, it is surprising you haven’t heard this track before. There are others such as “Freesia” which was clearly made with groove more in the mind, becoming a catchy number that features Esperanza Spalding. It is definitely considered one of the catchier and probably better tracks on the album. The song “Togetherness Foreverness” includes N’Dambi and is definitely the best song on the entire album. It is so melodic and sexy, letting Jazz become what it truly is. A collection of instruments designed to tug at a musical chord in your heart and mind that you cannot truly grasp.

“Shades of Hue” is a song on the album that features Payton’s classic trumpet solos. This is the most classy, elegant and attractive solo you can imagine, which is his signature style. Perhaps that is a bit hyperbolic, but you can imagine what I am trying to convey about this solo. Before we hit the middle of the album we also have “Indigo” and “You Are The Spark”. While they are eloquent and wonderful numbers, as good as they are it is easy to say they are the worst numbers on the album. What I need to stress however in this case, is the worst on this album is definitely the best on other Jazz albums.

Jazz Song Book ensures to show as much love to jazz songs as possible, so one incredible song I must not skip is “The Second Show (Adam’s Plea)”. This goes almost beyond a true jazz song, almost turning into a synth song with a mixture of early 2000’s R&B. What I can say is just how much I love this song. It is so inorganic but in an almost organic way. It is incredible. It is a song that I would listen to anywhere and I would always take the same mood out from it. And that mood is thrilled and delighted. Another song on this album that is an under looked gem is “Flip The Script”. I am sure I have heard a hundred remixes of this song since it came out, but this is by far one of the more modern jazz songs I’ve heard in a while.

This album is wonderful, and us here at Jazz Song Book cannot recommend it more! Listen to this album! 5/5

 


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