One of the great things about hanging out with other musicians is that you get to see what music they are checking out; you might have much of the same music in common, however, they might be into some stuff you have never heard, which means that you are going to learn something. One of the things I enjoy about touring with musicians from different backgrounds, and also different age brackets, is that you get exposed to a wide range of things. Hanging out with Don Byron, Jerome Harris, and Jack DeJohnette is truly an education; they are constantly referring to different tunes, albums, or artists who I'm not as familiar with, if not totally unfamiliar with. It's also wonderful that I can go to my trusty computer and research these things very easily. For example, the other day we were in waiting for our performance in Luslaviche, Poland in the wonderful European Art Center of Krzysztof Penderecki. Jerome Harris asked me if I had ever checked out any of Polish born composer Penderecki's music. I didn't believe so; Harris mentioned a piece called "Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima." I checked it out on youtube: it's an extremely powerful piece right from the start. Written for strings and using extreme special effects, the evocative nature of the piece really struck me. After that, I moved on to Penderecki's "Symphony No. 1" and also his "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra." Penderecki's music has a lot of overt passion; he is fairly prolific and there is much more of his music to hear.
Harris also referred me to a tune by Joni Mitchell from an album I was unfamiliar with; "The Jungle Line" from "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns." This song is known for the rhythm track, which happens to be Moog Synthesizer and a drum ensemble from Burundi. The background is a very strident contrast to Mitchell's gentle mezzo voice and clever lyrics. I have yet to check out the rest of the album, but Harris and Don Byron counted it among their favorite Joni Mitchell albums.(Also, from the youtube comments, it appears that 80's pop synth master Thomas Dolby covered this song. I'll have to find that version..)
Another track I was unfamiliar with is an Eddie Harris performance: "Theme from 'Exodus'" is somewhat reminiscent of Harris' take on "The Shadow Of Your Smile." It's a beautiful minor key theme, and features Harris' spot-on phrasing and an almost Stan Getz like softness. The movie is from 1960 and stars Paul Newman and Eve Marie Saint; it looks like it's a pretty epic telling of the founding of the state of Israel and how many Jews end up in Cyprus because they were exiled from Europe. I guess I'll have to set aside 3 hours to check it out.