|My son Liam, giving me some lessons|
Some of my previous posts have been quite lengthy and verbose. This time, I thought I would just give you the highlights of what I have been checking out. I admit, it can be hard to stay focused in this youtube- itunes-futuristic-information-superhighway kind of world we live in. Not to mention my students are always reminding me of some album or musician that I haven't listened to in a while, or perhaps some prog rock band that I need to check out. So at times, I find I'm all over the map when it comes to my "research". But here are a couple of things that I found some time to focus on more this week.
|author Bill Milkowski|
While the brutal, honest portrayal of Jaco's substance abuse and mental illness is sad and unflattering (and I am aware, controversial to some), it doesn't diminish Jaco's greatness or importance: I came away from the book inspired to search for my own innovations, and to channel my own inner Jaco, so to speak. I also can't help but think that if Jaco had come up more recently, maybe he wouldn't have been as tempted by drugs or alcohol; since musicians are generally living healthier lives these days-not to mention that there is much more awareness of mental illness like Jaco's. (My own experience with people with these kinds of conditions is that they tend to self medicate if they are undiagnosed.)
Milkowski's final paragraph, regarding which song he thought of first after Jaco's untimely death, is particularly touching to me; Three Views Of A Secret is, for Milkowski is " the one song that best captures the complexity of Jaco's character and the depth of his soul. In the course of six minutes,[this tune] reveals more about Jaco's character than any other piece he ever wrote. It's as if he had composed his own requiem." I've been a fan of that piece for a long time, and I actually play a solo piano arrangement of it. (I recorded it on my second Criss Cross release, Past Present Future.) I believe it has many emotional layers, and composing like that elevates Jaco from merely a bass prodigy up higher to the level of true artist.
Moving on: speaking of true artists, the great jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has a new CD out entitled Our Secret World. If you are already a fan of Rosenwinkel, you will delight in hearing this virtuoso composer and improviser in a surprising context: in front of a big band. The Orquestra Jazz De Matosinhos (OJM) from Portugal does a fine job in backing Rosenwinkel, and the arrangements definitely do justice to the original compositions. The sound is quite lush and modern-highly appropriate for this cross section of Rosenwinkel's music. While some might lament the lack of small group interaction, I compare it to Herbie Hancock's Speak Like A Child or Inventions and Dimensions; albums which seem to truly feature Herbie and his writing more than any other players. If you are a first time Rosenwinkel listener, hopefully this enjoyable collection will inspire you to investigate his many earlier recordings.