Christmas 2012


This will be as close to serious - or sincere - as you can expect out of me, so: hang on. First: liner notes.

         Artist                     Song                                  Album                       Composer

  1. 1)Lighthouse                   Nam Myoho Renge Kyo                  Peacing it All Together         Skip Prokop/Paul Hoffert

  2. 2)Third World                           Arise                                         Arise in Harmony                      Cooper/Clarke

  3. 3)Barbra Streisand                Gentle Rain                            Love is the Answer                   Luiz Bonfa/Matt Dubey

  4. 4)Bad Manners                Inner London Violence                       Dance Craze            Marsen/Hyman/Farren/C.Kane/Trendle

  5. 5)Bebel Gilberto             August Day Song                                Tanto Tempo             Bebel Gilberto/Nina Miranda/Chris Franck

  6. 6)Melody Gardot                       Mira                                          The Absence                           Melody Gardot

  7. 7)Absolute Ensemble        Ice Pick Willy                                Absolute Zawinul                        Josef Zawinul

  8. 8)Astrud Gilberto            Who Needs Forever                       Girl from Ipanema            Howard Greenfield, Quincy Jones

  9. 9)Brian Setzer Orchestra    Rumble in Brighton                        Guitar Slinger                Brian Setzer/James McDonnell

  10. 10) Melody Gardot                      Lisboa                                        The Absence                           Melody Gardot 

  11. 11) Acoustic Alchemy           The Beautiful Game                    The Beautiful Game                   Greg Carmichael

  12. 12) Eric Andersen               Is it Really Love at All?                        Blue River                                Eric Andersen

  13. 13) Alabama Shakes                I Found You                              Alabama Shakes EP            Brittany Howard\Heath Fogg

  14. 14) Aqua Velvets                     Surfmania                                        Surfmania                     Miles Corbin

  15. 15) Steve Goodman              Red Red Robbin                           The Easter Tapes                     Harry M. Woods

  16. 16)Jonathon Edwards            Sometimes                                 Jonathon Edwards                 Jonathon Edwards

  17. 17) Atlanta Rhythm Section    Doraville                                 3rd Annual Pipe Dream        Buie-Cobb-Shapiro-Middlebrooks

  18. 18) Book ‘em, Danno           Gilligan’s Island                               Hawaiian Swing                       George Wyle

  19. 19)  T J Kirk                        Damn Right I’m Somebody            If Four Was One                        James Brown              

Please check your firearms at the door, for yet another oddball stumble through the vacuum of my mind. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, some of you may know, is a Buddhist mantra, now used as a chant by the Nichiren sect. Long ago, in another time (1969) and place (Toronto) - in a galaxy far, far away - the Canadian group Lighthouse recorded this. Four years later found me at Georgia State University as a DJ - among other things. This was the Buddhist phase in my search for truth, and I look back fondly and hold fast to the idealism here displayed. Now we fast forward to 1986, where Macca’s Broadstreet version of The Long and Winding Road was the processional for our wedding; Arise from Third World would be the invocation: to life, joy, marriage - fill in your own bliss.

From here on it is the original Andreessen hyperlink (Mark Andreessen jump started it’s use with the Gopher protocol in Netscape about 89. Thanks, Sheldon..) Gentle Rain is yet another masterpiece from Louiz Bonfa, and thank you again to Kent Lindsey for steering me in his direction. I’ll digress briefly: Streisand sings it. Call me gay, call me weird: I hear what I hear. The woman is seventy. She no longer has the power I associate with her, but listen to the control, and her musical choices. This is Diana Krall’s first production, and her shared vision here is jaw dropping. (Her second production was McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom Live: I guess she wanted to start small and build up.) Ultimately this is personal taste, but: listen. without. prejudice.

Bad Manners is ska from the beginning of my new life in Jax Beach at Crustaceans, courtesy of my New Jersey roomates to be. As my Mom would say: rude, crude, uncouth and unattractive, but a killer rhythm section and energy to burn.

August Day Song is another Brazilian song I love from this amazing Gilberto family: Bebel’s Tanto Tempo from Y2K updates the Brazilian sound, looking forward and back. A lot like us. Thanks to Robert Ward for expanding my musical horizon with this.

The Absence is probably my favorite album from 2012. Melody Gardot attracted attention with her first two albums: jazzy, coffeehouse style vocal stuff. (I have noticed as I get older I begin to appreciate the music my parents played around the house when they were together.) The Absence was a quantum musical jump: enlisting Brazilian Heitor Pereira as producer/arranger/guitarist, she transcends style, genre and herself. Hear (as opposed to see) what you think.

Absolute Ensemble is the brainchild of Estonian-American Kristjan Jarvi. Since 1993 the Ensemble has performed the music of the Beatles, Zappa, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, John Adams and Michael Daugherty, spearheading the new serious contemporary music without borders. This album is all Josef Zawinul, who you may know from Weather Report. I’m gonna guess the John Adams he worked with isn’t the one I’m thinking of.

Yet another Gilberto (Joao’s wife, Bebel’s mom: we’re gonna show you the family picture), Astrud’s Who Needs Forever is trance before trance existed as a genre, from her release in the late seventies The Girl From Ipanema. Quincy Jones wrote it. Is the man capable of anything other than spectacular?

Brian Setzer is one of the few guitar players I would love to see play electric with Tommy Emmanuel. He kicks ass. The huge impediment would be getting an electric guitar in Tommy’s hands again.

Melody Gardot returns with Lisboa, also from The Absence.

Acoustic Alchemy is next with The Beautiful Game: a reggae instrumental with a Brazilian theme (The Beautiful Game is the style of futbal they have perfected, but the British insist they invented). With their ability and a recording like this - who cares?

Eric Andersen’s Blue River is another coming of age album for me. In 1972 I was beginning college at Georgia State University, playing soccer (which did not contribute to any of my educational goals) and beginning a lifelong love affair with acoustic music. This album holds near religious symbolism for many people, me among them. Joni Mitchell contributes vocals on the title song (this would have to be her pre-goddess stage), and Norbert Putnam produced and plays bass. Putnam was part of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm section that played with Presley on his first recordings, developing into a brilliant producer at this point in time. Anyway, Is it Really Love at All? opens Blue River.

Alabama Shakes is from last year’s CMJ music expo in NYC, where they walked away with many awards. Hear if you can understand why.

Surfmania from the Aqua Velvets is surf music from the nineties: no vocals, just Dick Dale style Fender guitar and amps with oceanic swells of reverb. Think Wipe Out! with technology and taste.

Steve Goodman has been one of my heroes for a long, long time. He was a brilliant songwriter; until I saw Tommy Emmanuel I thought he was the most amazing guitar player ever to draw breath, and words fail me attempting to describe his performance. Exuberant is a good place to start; truly, startlingly spontaneous; otherworldly pacing between thoughtful and joyful, and he would pull out old jump blues tunes from the 20s and 30s that just turned you inside out. Red Red Robin is one of those.

Jonathon Edwards is remembered only for Sunshine (Go Away Today), but there was much more to him than that. This a fun little diatonic riff in E with a lot of room for harmony, but you have to supply your own.

The Atlanta Rhythm Section was a fun little band in the late seventies that put Doraville on the map. Listen to the jazz influence and marvel at the pocket the rhythm section creates. Unsurprisingly, I can’t remember much about them except the vague recollection of a previous group....

I always wanted to see somebody who knew what was going on musically do a reggae version of Gilligan’s Island (remember when it was obligatory for bar bands to do a cover of The Flintstones? Thanks, Branford!): Windjammer, Pili Pili, Decoy. It’s such a perfect fit. And these guys do it proud.

Thanks to Noel Millan for showing this to me! Take 8 string guitar player Charlie Hunter, add slightly more conventional 6 string guitar players Will Bernard and John Schott and drummer Scott Amendola and you have a cover band that does Thelonius Monk, James Brown and Rashaan Roland Kirk. (Ah! It all makes sense, now.) I am told they originally wanted to name it James T. Kirk, but couldn’t get the rights from Roddenberry. 

So - alternatively:

Change Your Mind          2:48Hampton, Alan         The Moving Sidewalk        Alan Hampton

River's Gonna Rise          6:52Haynes, Warren         Man in Motion                Warren Haynes

The '59 Sound          3:10Gaslight Anthem        The '59 Sound                     Brian Fallon

Tidal Wave                     4:18Husky                              Forever So                  Husky Gawenda

Tempo de Amor wCeu       4:44Hancock, Herbie         Imagine Project Vinícius De Moraes/Baden Powell

The Sweetheart Tree3:56Hanson, Mark    Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar    Henry Mancini

Elvis At The Hop           4:37Vital Tech Tones            Vital Tech Tones         Scott Henderson

Joyeaux Anniversarie4:56Vitalone, Peter                     In the No ‘L’            Peter Vitalone/Rich Tozzoli

Here Comes The Sun3:33Simon, Paul wCrosby/NashR&R Hall Of Fame         George Harrison

Variation on a Theme1:50Blood, Sweat & Tears    Blood, Sweat & Tears            Erik Satie

Fade Into You             3:31Bowen, Clare/Sam Palladio   Nashville (OST)  Trevor Rosen/Shane McAnally

Watch What Happens3:48Castro-Neves, Oscar Playful Heart        Legrand/Demy/Gimbel

Train in Vain (Stand by Me)3:12Clash                               London CallingJoe Strummer/Mick Jones

Twin Cities                 4:31Everything But The Girl82-92 Essence and Rare   Ben Watt

"45"                                3:25   Gaslight Anthem            Handwritten                             Brian Fallon

8 Estrela (Live)          4:45Gil, Gilberto                     Quanta Gente Veio Ver          Gilberto Gil

Steppin' Out (Live)          5:39Jackson, Joe                        Live 1980/86              Joe Jackson

Moonlight Kiss          3:04Kennedy, Bap                 Serendipity (OST)   Bap Kennedy

Hey, Louis Prima          2:57Brian Setzer Orchestra        Guitar Slinger            Brian Setzer

Tchavolo Swing          4:06Latcho Drom                            Latcho Drom             Django Reinhart

I discovered Alan Hampton at the beginning of this year, playing bass and guitar in Gretchen Parlato’s (I’m not sure how she has avoided international fame or an entry here) band: inventive, tasteful and rhythmically complex. Amazon alerted me when his first CD was forthcoming, and it’s been a growing joy with me for some time. Mary thinks he sounds vocally like Graham Nash.

Warren Haynes is the most recent and perhaps worthy of the guitar players hoping to fill Duane’s sizable shoes in the Allman Brothers. River’s Gonna Rise is my favorite tune from his solo album Man in Motion.

Can’t remember who turned me on to Gaslight Anthem, but I recall reading an article about Springsteen showing up backstage at a show to ask if he could play along on this song. Sounds like a perfect fit, to me.

Husky is courtesy of Amazon’s weekly newsletters. I still know next to nothing about them/him, so let me do a little research... Not much: he’s an Aussie, on world tour, and sounds like he was born in another time. Look:

Herbie Hancock’s The Imagine Project is yet another in what-I-hope will be an endless series of collaborative genius projects. This features Brazilians: singer Ceu and a composition from legends Baden Powell and De Moraes.

Mark Hanson is a guitar teacher and performer I know from my pilgrimages to Nashville. Elegantly spare, tastefully inventive, this is his take on a Henry Mancini song from Blake Edwards film The Great Race.

Tribal Tech is, at least in my mind, a supergroup: guitar wizard Scott Henderson, otherworldly bass player Victor Wooten and drummer Steve Smith. For people who need to categorize, they would be rock fusion. Look ‘em up on YouTube.

Peter Vitalone is a friend of ours from New Jersey. He and Rich Tozzoli are now in...Montserrat? Somewhere in the Caribbean. This is from a Christmas disc they did in NYC about a decade ago.

Paul Simon is a genius, from almost any perspective. Memory is typically fuzzy, but I seem to remember he and George Harrison played on the first show Saturday Night Live did. Here, in honor of George. he plays a Harrisong with two of the most wonderful harmony singers on the planet.

Just my opinionated opinion, but I always thought BS&T were the best orchestral collective since the Dorsey Brothers. From their first album, this is an interpretation of French impressionist Erik Satie.

I have been recording episodes of Nashville (TV), but have only seen snippets from individual shows. I was impressed enough by the songwriting to search this out from two people of whom I am completely ignorant.

Thank you to Al McGuire for exposing me to the genius of Oscar Castro Neves, first through Toots Thielmann’s Brasil Projects and later through this masterpiece. He was close to Jobim personally and musically, played guitar with Sergio Mendez in Brazil 66, and is now a prominent producer. Watch What Happens brings back my misspent childhood and memories of my mom.

The Clash changed everything, for me and the world. I was young and stupid enough to relate to the Sex Pistols energy, but these guys brought ability and social conscience to the party. London Calling (the song), and the album were instrumental in pulling me from the haze of the seventies into the completely different haze of the eighties.

And you probably thought I was done with Everything but the Girl; they evidently weren’t done with me. Still one of the most evocative voices I have heard.

45 (the song, not the medium) reprises Gaslight Anthem. I didn’t have to, but I had to.

I spoke with for hours with Jim Crowley on the phone before I actually met him in early 2K. He introduced me to this brilliant live album from the former Minister of Culture and stellar songwriter/musician/co-inventor of Tropicalia from Brasil.

Joe Jackson is notorious for his spontaneity, particularly onstage. Without reading beforehand, how long would it take you to realize what this song is going to be?

Bap Kennedy is from Northern Ireland. Other than this song, from the soundtrack to Serendipity, I know nothing else about him. The film is a bit of fluff, but the soundtrack is brilliant!

Hey Louis Prima closes our set with typical blow-out-the-doors Brian Setzer.


“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.”             A Christmas Carol               

”You blockhead, Charlie Brown!”                      Charlie Brown’s Christmas    

That's his life - selling people things they don't want for more than they can afford to buy.”   We’re No Angels        

The bitch hit me with a toaster!”        Scrooged

Claire Phillips: Taxi! Can you get me to the IBC building in three minutes?

Ghost of Christmas Past: Which floor?                 Scrooged

Herman: Boy, that Dick sure knows how to drink, huh?

Frank Cross: Why do you keep calling me "Dick"?

Herman: I'm sorry, Mr. Burton, I guess we don't know you well enough yet to call you Dick.         Scrooged

Daughter: Mom, when are we gonna get a real Christmas tree?

Grace: When they're free!             Scrooged