Wildcard - Josh Holcomb
I love the sound of acoustic guitar (pretty much acoustic anything!) and to me that sound is captured perfectly in this recording. Eddie Lang came from a time before amplification and, as a result, he set up his guitar for maximum projection. This projection had its costs though, the very high action and thick strings on his axe would be considered virtually unplayable by today's standards. While Eddie had dazzling virtuoso technique on both guitar and violin, he almost always opted to play beautiful, subtle and lyrical solos that made the most use of the instrument's natural sound. I always try to promote Eddie Lang in the hope that unamplified acoustic guitar makes a comeback in jazz!
Maxo was a high school classmate of mine and he's been one of my favorite composers for many years now. Back in 2010 (when he was only 19) Maxo began releasing a series of albums he dubbed "Level Music". Each album features 5 tracks, each track capturing the mood of a fictitious video game level. The titles of the "levels" are always incredibly appropriate to each track. Maxo even creates 8-bit graphics for each level on his album covers! This recording always transports me to an old abandoned and frozen world with mysterious and regal relics of its once glorious past. (epic!) I find it very interesting to see an example of a modern composer using programatic devices in such an accessible and effective way. He is extraordinarily prolific and ha released a dizzying amount of level music albums, check him out!
Founded in the early 1920's, the United House of Prayer For All People boasts a rich and unique musical history. The church's founder used Sousa style concert bands playing gospel hymns for his services, a very unique sound. In the 1960's, a young trombonist in the church received a revelation from God granting him the vision of an all trombone gospel choir. He made that vision a reality and soon the rest of the denomination followed his example. Today there are 135 churches in the House of Prayer, each consisting of at least one "trombone shout band" as they are called. While their music is largely commercially unavailable, there are a few great youtube clips out there. Enjoy and prepare to be amazed!
What can I say about this recording? It's one of the most striking examples of musical conversing I've ever heard. The way the musicians give all of their hearts is beyond beautiful to me. I can feel how much they trust each other. The kind of freedom and abandon this band plays with will never cease to inspire me.
Josh Holcomb is a trombonist native to Queens, New York.