Wildcard - Nick Grinder

St. Vincent - Actor

I can't believe that I hadn't ever listened to St. Vincent before. I got this album just two days ago and I have been listening to it non-stop.   I feel that there is a certain formulaic aspect of pop music that we have been conditioned to expect, and she totally breaks that mold, in a way that reminds me a bit of Stevie Wonder's "Innervisions."   She sets up expectation with almost all the tracks on this album, then takes it on a totally different direction that paints this picture that is just so, so beautiful and completely indicative of an artistic point (she doesn't throw in random shit just to be different.  There is a point and a picture we are left with).  The shifts in the music are all unexpected and attention grabbing, yet they make so much sense.

I was discussing the album with a friend the other day, and he said it was like "Debussy with a beat," which I think is pretty apt - the heavy orchestral elements of this album are perfectly mirrored with the richness of texture she finds in other elements, lyrics included.  I love this album - I really haven't been this inspired to compose in a while.

Nat Adderley Sextet - Much Brass

This is an album I picked up a while ago but keep coming back to.  It sounds like one of those great old jazz records where the guys went in, read the stuff and sounded great, partly because of how spur of the moment it was.  Now, I don't know what the circumstances were surrounding the session, but there is a roughness that I think musicians today might be less inclined to show but allows this raw swing to come through.  Nat Adderley is such a fierce guy, and these arrangements (presumably done by Slide Hampton, who plays both trombone and tuba (!) on this album) are an awesome vehicle for him, as they are both intellectually stimulating but also really soulful.  With Nat Adderley - cornet, Slide Hampton - Trombone, Laymon Jackson - tuba/bass, Sam Jones - Bass, Wynton Kelley - Piano,  Tootie Heath - Drums.

Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran - Hagar's Song

This is one of my favorite records of the past year.  It's so beautiful - what can I say?  Listening to stuff like this makes me want to find these gentleman and see what they are all about, see how they have such insight and are able to find it and show us so easily.  I want to figure that out. To me, it's especially evident in Jason Moran's playing - his framing of Charles Lloyd's playing is where it's at, the music goes to the place where it all makes sense.  Really, there's not much I can say about this except that you should listen to it, probably while spacing out on the train or sitting on a bench outside.  Actually, those are great places to listen to any kind of music, but with this album I feel a distinct love for others and the space around me, which I feel is one of the noblest goals for any sort of art or person, really.

 Nick Grinder is a trombonist, composer, and educator based in New York City, and is one of the most versatile young musicians on the scene today.