Fred Hersch – In Walked Bud

I recently came across “Giant Steps: Survival of a Great Jazz Pianist,” David Hajdu’s January 31, 2010 New York Times profile of Fred Hersch (which is to be republished in Alex Ross’s upcoming collection Best Music Writing 2011). I think I’m a little behind the times in just starting to listen to Fred Hersch now.

Hajdu describes Hersch as a leader in a new post-Marsalis kind of jazz, a tradition less concerned with the canon and instead more interested combining elements of jazz, classical, pop, and folk music to create something new and exciting (this is a very compelling idea that deserves more time than I am willing to give it in this blog entry).

To illustrate what kind of musician Fred Hersch is, I could showcase any number of his compositions, but instead, this performance of Thelonious Monk’s “In Walked Bud” from October 10, 2010 (Monk’s birthday!) shows the versatility of his playing rather well. Midway through his improvisation, notice how Hersch combines swing eighth notes in his right hand and Baroque sixteenth notes in his left (around the 2:00 mark) and how he seems to move into a more classically influenced allusion to the original melody with a straight 6/8 feel (around the 3:45 minute mark). Then, listen as Hersch continues to alternate passages that seem to be influenced by Bach with stylistic elements more akin to Bud Powell and other be-bop pianists and even some traditional blues techniques. Hersch takes his improvisation much further away from tune than Monk normally would, but he does return at the end to restate the melody.

Young Liars – Marathon

Today is a good day. I just reached a pretty major milestone on a personal project I’ve been working on for months. I’ll spill the full details when it’s all finished and ready for the world. But for tonight, we celebrate. And how? With Young Liars. Because good days deserve great music.

“Marathon” by Young Liars has been the anthem of my commute home for weeks now. I love how the song doesn’t waste any time by getting to the point- this is a catchy pop song, and you’ll recognize that fact by the 5th second. I invariably start dancing and grooving in my driver’s seat on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway once the snare drum enters partway through the first verse.

Young Liars haven’t updated their Tumblr in almost a year, and other information about them is relatively scant. I’m going out on a limb to say that they’re not currently touring, but when they do I’ll likely post again and let you know. In the meantime, G’night!



Atlas Genius – Trojans


Sometimes I all want in a song is catchiness. That’s my requirement for this post. It’s not the most inspiring criteria but it definitely is a lighthearted, optimistic view on music, which is all that music needs to be sometimes.

I guess I should note the elements of the song or make some profound observation about the song itself but I’m just going to tell you I like it I guess.

I’m not sure if that’s a quality music review. Actually, I know it’s not but what’s there to say when you know you like something but aren’t quite sure how much? Sure I like it enough to feature it here but it’s not exactly trailblazing or breaking edge to just say I like something. If I was reading this, I’d be like, “c’mon Ian, that’s a pretty bad job at describing something you supposedly like” but sometimes words elude me. It’s easier to be honest (and just say I like it but why am I still rambling? I’m not sure).

What I want to know is whether my (rare) fits of eloquence counter my seeming tendency to say nothing in a lot of words. Granted, it’s an exploration of music, thoughts, and words that lead to each of the extremes. It’s just, I don’t know–the ability to kind of send out my thoughts without the inconvenience of trying to confine and limit them to words, yeah, that’s what I want.

Anyways, there’s a soft spot in my heart for dancy rock and Trojans fits in so well. This post is actually about a bit more than I’m letting on and it was an exercise in wordplay; not that it makes a difference in liking this awesome song anyways.

Trojans by Atlas Genius

Diego Garcia – You Were Never There

I’ve been a tad stressed out this week, and I haven’t exactly been able to dedicate my time to starting a new book or discovering new bands. But that’s what boyfriends are for! And since mine is in the know, he suggested approximately 28 bands instantly. He could replace me here if I’m not careful.

One of the bands he suggested is Diego Garcia’s “Laura”–a song I know I’ve heard driving to and from work, but only ever in the background of my cursing at other drivers. Upon further inspection, this song is just what a stressed out me needs. Its mellow, longing feel puts me right at ease, and the Latin touch doesn’t hurt, either. It’s a simple song, kind of a classic structure, and the lyrics were even co-written by George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison, who attended Brown University with Garcia.

Formerly of the band Elefant–whose music is pretty different from Garcia’s current style–Garcia seems to be pining after a lady. I’m guessing someone named Laura. “Laura” is the title track, after all, and “You Were Never There” sounds like someone not yet over his first love. Even though I hate James Blunt with a passion (“You’re Pitiful,” anyone?), this kind of longing is not only tolerable, but enjoyable.