*Nadje Noordhuis can be heard tonight, March 4th, at The Douglass Street Music Collective, 295 Douglass St, Brooklyn, NY, with James Shipp at 9:30pm.
1. Snarky Puppy We Like It Here
I was playing DJ at a party recently, and someone commented that I only listen to music written by my friends. I don't know Michael League but am friends with two of the vocalists who told me for years how hard this band has been working in building something very special. Their recent Grammy win was a fantastic payback for their efforts. Their compositions are funky, intricate, polished, fun, and they have that coveted “band-sound”. This album was recorded in front of a live audience, and I feel like this approach always delivers the results of an energetic and inspired concert with some spontaneity thrown in. I've listened to this album on repeat for a week and I'm still trying to work out some of their rhythmic ideas.
2. Lake Street Dive Bad Self Portraits
Another jazz/crossover success story, this band from New England Conservatory are doing ridiculously well. I saw their appearances on Letterman and the Colbert Report because of the dozens of supportive Facebook posts from my friends who went to school with them. I find it really exciting when jazzers do well! This has been another gym/commuting favorite. The songs are well crafted and solidly played, the lyrics are great, the grooves have some jazz-inflected subtleties, Rachael Price sings beautifully, and there isn't a weak composition on the album. I love that. No fillers. Onwards and upwards for this group, which is very encouraging.
3. The Pixies Dolittle
One of my favorite indie-rock bands from my high school years has been making an unexpected resurgence in my life recently. I played arrangements of their music from their Surfer Rosa album in January with the Asphalt Orchestra, as a supporting act for The Pixies themselves. It was SO much fun. For a month or so, I felt like every cafe I was in was playing “Hey” from Dolittle. Someone reminded me about the greatness of the entire album, and I found myself listening to it regularly again. It's difficult not to have flashbacks to being sixteen when I hear it, but I always have a grin on my face when the guitar starts up in No. 13 Baby.
4. Louis Armstrong's All-Time Greatest Hits
I remember when I first moved to New York ten years ago, I went to a party where the hosts played recordings of Duke Ellington in a small and crowded walkup apartment. It fitted the locale perfectly, and I find this is also the case with Louis Armstrong. It's difficult for me to listen to him on the beaches of Sydney, but as I walk around the streets of Brooklyn, he warms my heart with his super tasty trumpet lines and friendliest vocals in the world. It is impossible to have a bad moment when listening to him. Therefore, this album comes in handy when you are anywhere near New York's subway system.
5. Rudy Royston 303
I can't tell you how happy I am to be a part of this group. Rudy's compositions are eclectic and unique, and I listen to this album on repeat so I can get better at playing his music. There are some surprising twists and turns, and some ridiculously amazing solos by Jon Irabagon, Nir Felder and the rest of the crew. Rudy himself is undoubtedly one of the best drummers I've ever heard in my life. If I could transcribe and learn all the solos on this record, I'd be a much stronger player. The reviews from this new album have been fantastic, and deservedly so. Rudy has taken the energetic music from the east coast and blended it with the cool from the west coast. He has created an original and well-crafted statement in this album that will hopefully connect with many listeners.
Australian-born trumpeter/composer Nadje Noordhuis possesses one of the most unforgettably lyrical voices in modern music.