Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Music Purchases from Dubai

I was in Dubai over the Eid holidays, and as usual it was another great week off. I noticed that this time, the jazz and blues selections at Virgin Megatstore were limited than before, I was able to find some gems within the sea of mediocre:

1) Prestige Profiles - John Coltrane 
2) Blues Greats - Memphis Slim 

I already spoke about the Coltrane compilation previously, so it was worth getting at the low price (AED 45) and it contains music from albums I don't have. The record compiles music from the mid to late '50's work of Coltrane, which featured a slight stylistic shift before moving on to modal jazz.

 The Memphis Slim compilation is a mix of songs from his career spanning from the '50's to the '70's. I love the piano/vocal work of Slim so any more music from him is a plus.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big Bill Broonzy - Pillar of the Blues

Big Bill Broonzy is a centeral figure in the Delta and country blues. His licks and fingerstyle playing, along with his rhythmic thumb work, has influenced tons of musicians, even the old blues masters.

 He was active from the 20's until his death in 1958... and his many recordings stand the test of time as pillars of the blues.

 Below is a live version of "Willie Mae" from 1953:


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Psychedelic Blues from Chile: Aguaturbia

I have never heard of the Chilean band Aguaturbia before, until I listened to one of their songs on an online radio station.

After reading about them a bit, it turns out that, other than being from Chile, which is rad, they were pretty big in the psychedelic scene of the 60's and 70's in Chile, and they did gain some international recognition because of it.

Their music sounds a lot like that era of music, especially with the guitars of Carlos Corales. The vocalist, Denise, Carlo's wife, sings in English and Spanish which gives it a nice touch.

Here's a bluesy number for you called "Blues on the Westwide" from 1970:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Popular Memes and the Bass Guitar

I'm a bassist myself... so I know how it feels for these folks.

Remembering Barbecue Bob

Today in 1931, Robert Hicks, otherwise known as Barbecue Bob, died in his home state of Georgia.

His nickname was actually given to him because he was a real cook at a barbecue joint. In the mid-to-late 20's he was discovered by Columbia Records and he recorded many songs for them.

His career was short-lived however, as he died at the early age of 30, but his musical legacy goes on; his unique country and Piedmont (a guitar playing style originating from the Virginia - Georgia regions) blues.

The song below, called "I'm on my Way Down Home" was one of the origins of Robert Johnson's "Come on in to my Kitchen".

Can't get more old school than this.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blues for Achrafieh

I don't usually write anything political on this blog, but yesterday's events in Lebanon are too serious to ignore.

Yesterday's car bomb in the Achrafieh district of Beirut was devastating. The area is one of the main and historic districts home to a huge population of the city. Innocent lives were lost and dozens wounded. Adding fuel to the fire was that Wissam Al-Hassan, the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Chief, was assassinated, and clearly he was the main target. Al-Hassan uncovered a major conspiracy regarding involvement of the Syrian regime in plotting bombings in Lebanon.

Beirut is my hometown (I'm from the Mseitbeh district), and my grandmothers and uncles houses are across from Achrafieh in Ras El- Nabaa. I have many friends from there or have family living there. I used to spend a lot of my time in Achrafieh. I even performed in it's pubs in Monot Street. 

I am very saddened about this news, as it makes us remember the old times (not only the civil war, but the political assassinations as recent as Rafik Hariri, Walid Eido, Samir Kassir, Pierre El-Gmayel etc).

Many Lebanese started blocking roads and burning tires in several areas, including Tarik El-Jdideh, where our old home was. I'm not for inciting violence, however you must understand that the Lebanese are fed up by the inefficiency of the Mikati government, which is run by Hezbollah in actuality. 

I send out my heartfelt condolences to the lives lost in this horrible explosion, and I wish all those affected by the blast a speedy recovery.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Chuck Berry!

Today in 1926, Charles Edward Anderson Berry, also known famously as Chuck Berry, was born. 

In the early '50's, he joined some bands and was playing the blues. Through blues legend Muddy Waters, he was signed to Chess Records and started recording and his music took a more R 'n' B approach, to what later became rock n' roll.

His signature songs are "Maybellene" and "Johnny B Goode". He's still rocking out until today. 

Here's the timeless classic from 1958, "Johnny B Goode", and just for fun, I've also added the video from "Back to Future" with Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly performing this song with hilarious results!

 Have a good one Chuck... here's for more and more years of music!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Speakin' the Blues Makes Top 101 Blogs in Lebanon!


2famous.TV is a highly popular blog in Lebanon, run by a bunch of Norwegians (I shit you not). They have worked hard to compile a review and ranking of the top 101 blogs in Lebanon.

 I'm happy to see Speakin' the Blues on that list; yes, I don't blog about general topics or even about Lebanon... mostly about blues and jazz, but it's refreshing to know my countrymen actually read the stuff I post on the blog.

 You can see the full list right over here... and try to vote for me please... just to get the message of the blues out there!

 It's a huge list and it must have taken them moths to compile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

7 CD Charles Mingus Box Set to be Released

via Mosaic Records
Mosaic Records has announced that they will release a 7 CD limited edition by one of the greatest jazz musicians Charles Mingus.

Here's what they had to say:
"We are pleased to announce "Charles Mingus - The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (Town Hall, Amsterdam, Monterey '64, Monterey '65 & Minneapolis)." It chronicles the essential live performances of this genius of modern music as his compositions achieved a depth and complexity we would come to know as Mingus's most signature work. It includes (on the earlier recordings) the brilliant Eric Dolphy, along with Jaki Byard, Dannie Richmond, Johnny Coles, and Clifford Jordan -- certainly one of the best assemblages of musicians ever.
And the music, recorded across the world's concert stages and intended for release by Charles Mingus Enterprises, dashes once and for all every previously-held notion about what is, and isn't, jazz."
Here's the full link with more information: Mosaic Records

Monday, October 15, 2012

Walter "Furry" Lewis - Blues from the Country

Walter "Furry" Lewis was was enigmatic country blues singer... he started his career in the mid 20's but retired and worked out of the spotlight until 1966, where he was asked to perform again (after the blues/folk revival).

He had a wacky style but it all deep blues.

Here's a song called "When I Lay my Burden Down", live from 1971 when Furry was a lot older. He is playing stuff that Bukka White would do, as he was in the audience at the time (as a friendly nod):

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Life of a Bass Player

Muddy Waters' Other Famous Son, Mud Morganfield

Previously I discussed about Big Bill Morganfield, one of Muddy Waters' sons. Recently I became aware that his eldest son, Larry "Mud" Morganfield released his first album this year called "Son of the Seventh Son".

Not only does he LOOK like Muddy, he even SOUNDS like him. I'm very impressed to hear him keeping his father's tradition much like Big Bill is doing.

Here's the Willie Dixon tune "Son of the Seventh Son" performed by Mud Morganfield:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Obama-Inspired Jazz Album Covers

There's a Facebook page called Barack Obama's Jazz that has creatively posted pictures of classic Blue Note jazz album covers, but with an Obama twist!

Inspired albums from Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and more, it's a smart way to get people talking.

Here are a couple of them:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bluesiest TV Intro Music: Becker

Anyone remember the TV sitcom Becker? It was friggin' awesome... Ted Danson is one of the best actors ever ; it was smart and witty compared to other shows.

But one of the things that I remember as well was the intro; it was performed by Jason T. Miller with smooth and sweet blues guitar.

Hope you enjoy it; I'm gonna go find the ringtone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Thelonious Monk!

If you have a name like Thelonious, you are already a winner. Jazz pianist and leader extraordinaire Thelonious Monk was born on this day in 1917. Thelonious Monk's career started early from the days of bebop in the 40's, and the mid-50's with hardbop. He recorded with many greats including Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Max Roach and Miles Davis. Later on he also recorded with John Coltrane.

with John Coltrane, 1957
His album of 1964, "Monk's Dream" was released and it remains his best selling album. He was featured on the front page of TIME magazine in the same year (only 1 of 5 jazz musicians ever to grace their cover). He continued performing and releasing albums up until his death in 1982. 

His legacy lives on with such recordings as "Straight, No Chaser", "Round Midnight", "Well, You Needn't", and "Blue Monk", shown below.

Have a great one Monk!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jazzy Hip-Hop : "Life is a Traffic Jam" - 2Pac / Eight Mile Road

You might be wondering "why in God's name is Ali writing about 2Pac?".

Well yes, why wouldn't I? Only hardcore fans of the late rapper would know this song; it's off the movie "Gridlock'd" which also stars 2Pac, Tim Roth, and Thandie Newton. It's actually a jazzy fusion of 2Pac rapping and playing (faking) the bass (a Fender Precision no less), while Tim Roth plays (fakes) the piano, and Thandie Newton sings about traffic jams and wasted life.

I thought you might enjoy a different take on 'Pac who was mostly known for being a gangsta rapper. The bassline is also simply amazing, and I do not know the real credit for the musicians (in the movie, their band is called Eight Mile Road).

So check it out and enjoy this track... it's really good trust me!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What to Drink while Listening to Blues / Jazz

Last week I wrote about Booze and the Blues; and picking up from that post... I present to you the drinking guide for truly enjoying blues & jazz music.

 This list was created using Drinkify; click on the pics for larger size. (Good luck finding the ingredients if you live in Kuwait):







Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jazz Great George Benson Gets a Signature Fender Amp

Jazz guitar legend George Benson has designed a custom Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp; including such  features as: "12AT7 tube in V1 for cleaner tone, Jensen C12K 100-watt speaker for clarity and range, solid-pine cabinet for tonal resonance and reduced weight, gray-black vinyl covering, silver-strand grille cloth, "GB" logo badge".

You can see the promo video for it below:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Gig Tomorrow!

Last week I had a gig at the British Embassy, and we have been asked to perform again tomorrow!

I will be singing 3 or 4 songs as well, mostly blues covers. The band has been named by the way to "Point of Gravity" as a throwback to one of the Lounging Criminals songs we recorded back in the day.

Here's my "blondie" American Precision Bass ready and packed for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Double Birthday! Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins!

Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV) was born on this day in 1954, and Albert Collins was born on Oct. 1 (excuse my delay) in 1932.

Each blues legend added his own touch to the genre; SRV for his sheer brilliance in guitar technique and Collins for his unusual guitar setup (open F minor tuning?!) and feel.

And, both are from Texas!!

So I thought to celebrate why not show a video of them playing together, with another blues legend, BB King?!

Happy birthday boys, hope you're jamming up in heaven!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Japanese Man Publishes a Book of Coltrane Memorabilia

Yasuhiro Fujioka has been collecting John Coltrane memorabilia since 1970 (he was 17 at the time). And now, he released a picture book called Coltrane Chronicle that contains photos, record covers, and other souvenirs.

It's in Japanese, however the English translation is available [here]. For more information checkout Disk Union.

Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd Selects his Top 11 Blues Artists

Over on Music Radar, Gary Rossington, one of the founders of Southern-Rock band Lynyrd  Syrnyrd, and the only original member still in the band, shared his thoughts on who are his top 11 blues artists.

I consider he put a nice balance between  British and Blues-Rock artists with the "originators", it's a good list (I would not have included Ray Charles, but I digress)

The list is below, and go to the article here for a more in-depth analysis by his own words for each blues musician:

1. Duane Allman
2. Paul Butterfield 
3. Ray Charles
4. Eric Clapton
5. Buddy Guy
6. Robert Johnson
7. Albert King
8. BB King
9. John Mayall
10. Keb Mo
11. Muddy Waters

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gambling and the Blues : Hand in Hand


Negros From Cotton Plantation Gambling, Clarksdale, Mississippi, 1939

I spoke about alcohol and it's relation to the blues previously... another vice I have to bring up is gambling.

Gambling has always been associated with nightlife; the sleazy backroom, the bright casino... and with the night comes music! Back in the day wherever there was jazz there would be some kind of dealin' going on... especially during the Prohibition & the Great Depression in the USA in the 20's and 30's. 

Of course, playing craps, poker, blackjack, and other games usually lead to barfights, murder, loss of money  and debt... and all these things lead to the blues. 

Several musicians have sang about gambling... and here are a few I put together for you. Keep those songs in mind the next time you gamble your life away (and put me in on 32 red please).

Blind Willie McTell

The Dying Crapshooter's Blues

Jimmy Rodgers 
Gambling Bar Room Blues

Lightnin' Hopkins
Gambler's Blues

Otish Rush
Gamblin' Blues

Eric Sardinas
Gambling Man Blues