Filtering by Category: Wildcard

Wildcard - Nathan Schram

Cimarron - Cimarron! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia

Joropo is the rural folk music of Venezuela and Colombia. Typical instrumentation includes guitar, cuatro (similar to a Ukelele), harp, various percussion, and multiple voices. I was fortunate enough to witness some of this infectiously energetic music first hand while in South America last year. Since that time it has baffled me as to why both this band and the style has not spread like other South American musics. This album will make you feel so good. Like a drunk college freshman hearing your first live funk band. You’re gonna wanna dance.

Richard Straus - Metamorphosen (from the album Six to Seven - Hyperion Ensemble)

Richard Strauss is your man for drama. Having mostly written ostentatious orchestral “tone poems” his Metamorphosen (arranged here for 7 strings) is a very intimate look back at the end of his life. The sometimes overwhelming amount of detail and harmonic manipulation gives way to one of the most complex, sensitive, and rewarding emotional dialogues in western classical music.

Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia

I am one of the 5 billion people that heard about Dawn of Midi through RadioLab. I’m still trying to figure out why I love these guys so much. Personally, as a classical musician constantly dealing with my roots in popular music I feel these guys got it right. They have the sensitivity of the great minimalists, the sound creativity of fresh indie bands, and the need to just rock out. There is also a flexibility in how I listen to their music. If I’m feeling brainy I can focus on pinpointing every rhythmic modulation and meter shift. Or I can let go into a luscious musical hypnosis. Both are completely satisfying.

Nate Schram is the violist of the Bryant Park Quartet and Decoda. He is also the founding director of Musicambia, an organization devoted to providing artistic development to incarcerated communities.

Wildcard - Brad Mulholland

Baden Powell and Vincius de Moraes - Os Afro-Sambas (1966)

Listening to the original classics from Brazillian pop in the 1960s and 1970s makes me realize why this music excited so many other musicians around the world.  There is a great balance between the traditional and the modern, the the improvised and the composed, and the accessible and the serious.  While I only recently learned about Baden Powell, one of the many insanely virtuosic guitarists from Brazil, I was familiar with the work of de Moraes as his name is found next to the likes of Jobim and Bonfa atop lead sheets as their lyricist.  Os Afro-Sambas draws inspiration from the music of the Bahia region of Brazil and the heavily African influenced traditions of the region.  The percussion, the plainly incanted vocals, and the use of the bassoon cast a dark and exotic shade over many parts of the album, but the more familiar bright and sunny Brazillian sound breaks through from time to time.

Mississippi John Hurt - D. C. Blues: The Library of Congress Recordings, vol. 2 (1963)

The story behind this recording is that Hurt had fallen into obscurity after making some recordings in the late 1920s and went back to his home town and was working as a farmer by the time the folk revival really got underway in the early 1960s.  He was rediscovered and after moving to Washington, D. C. recorded these sessions at the Library of Congress.  He then had a successful career on the folk circuit but it was cut short when he died in 1966.  These recordings have the roughness and the intimacy that I love about so many of the field recordings of folk music that have been made.  Hurt’s style is centered on the guitar; he usually plays bass and melody simultaneously creating a duo-like sound in the accompaniment.  I feel like he is hearing his vocals as being tucked inside what he is playing on the guitar, almost accompanying the guitar, and this gives his performance a much different sound than most other guitarist-vocalists.  The blues tracks are atmospheric and moody, but he really shines on the ballads like My Creole Bell and You Are My Sunshine.

Olivier Messiaen - Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (comp. 1944)

Olivier Messiaen’s music is often overshadowed by two very dramatic stories from his life: the writing of Quartet for the End of Time inside a Nazi prisoner of war camp during the darkest days of WWII, and the tragedy that befell his first wife Claire and his subsequent love and marriage to pianist Yvonne Loriot.  For this reason I’ll avoid going into the details but if you are unfamiliar with the story of this mystical and enigmatic musician you should read about his life.  Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (“Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus") is my favorite piece by Messiaen, and it is the apogee of the unique musical language he developed throughout the 1930s.  Like Beethoven, Miles, and Coltrane, Messiaen had the courage to leave an approach behind in the quest to move his music toward new ground.  With all of these artists, there is something really special to me about the music they make right before they turn the corner; a timeless, virgin quality that is only emphasized by knowing now, in retrospect, where they will be going next.  I recommend listening to this piece with the ears that you would approach minimalist or ambient music with rather than with an analytical mind.  It is really music about contemplation, the vastness of time, and the depths of the emotional spectrum.

Brad Mulholland is a saxophonist and composer living in Brooklyn, NY.

Wildcard - Brooks Frederickson

Phillip Glass - Glassworks

Recently, my listening has been focused more on music that isn't afraid to just do one thing. Phillip Glass' album Glassworks is a great example of this. Him and his ensemble lay out six relatively short pieces that do what they do, and don't try to do anything else. The music on the album is so bare-bones, so stark, that the listener has no choice but to focus on the little details - the voice leading, the subtle changes in texture, the rhythmic counterpoint, the phrase length.

Beethoven - Symphony 7, Movement 2

People jokingly call this the first piece of "minimalist" music. Beethoven uses the same phrase for the majority of the movement. What he does with it, though, is what's interesting. Each time the phrase comes back around, he's changed something in it - sometimes it's something so small, the listener doesn't even really realize what's different.

Pete Seeger - Banks of the Ohio

I've fallen for Murder Ballads. There is something is so beautifully tragic in a song about killing someone you love. This song, like most Murder Ballads, is about a man killing a woman who doesn't love him. Pete sing it with such innocence, that the first few times I listened to it, I didn't realize how horrific the story is.

Brooks Frederickson is a composer living in Brooklyn, NY. According to the New York Times, he has "a good-natured catalog of potentials."

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.

Wildcard - Josh Sinton

“You’re a Big Girl Now” - Bob Dylan - From Blood on the Tracks.

It’s been an exceptionally hard winter. And I’m not talking about the weather. One of those times where I’ve been feeling cast adrift and left flailing for anything that might provide solace. Weirdly Bob Dylan has ended up being that solace. I say weirdly because I grew up with his music around me (my parents are life-long fans), but I’ve never had the slightest interest in his music. I’ve heard a ton of his music and none of it ever moved me in any direction, positively or negatively. Then this winter I started feeling a compulsion to listen to his songs. I have no idea where this compulsion came from, but I tend to follow these notions when they strike me since finding certainty in this life is a rarity. I have only a handful of his records (about 5), so I’ve just started with those: Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. I can’t say all of these records have given me the company I craved, but a couple of songs have really stuck out. “You’re a Big Girl Now” is one of ‘em. I like how for the first 5 seconds you almost think it’s gonna be some 70’s Marvin or Stevie soul jam, and then that weird clumsy guitar fill comes in and you know it’s gonna be something else. Dylan’s got really incredible phrasing here, pivoting from his croaking croon to that trademark yowl in a blink of an eye. And the lyrics are really terrific. Sometimes I find his rhymes claustrophobic, but they work here.

“Sand of Sea” - Cloud Becomes Your Hand - Rocks or Cakes

I’ve met these guys. They’re the kind of nice, quiet guys that you can tell are up to some weird shit when they’re out of eyesight. The video’s really dope and the song’s a pretty terrific slice of 21st-century Brooklyn pop music. I like how no matter how strange the song gets (like the breakdown from 2:00 - 3:00), you can tell this is a really carefully structured song. In a lot of ways it’s like a Brian Wilson tune but one that takes more risks. The mix is super-tight as well, one of the few times where putting the vocals behind the band sound works beautifully. You all should check these guys out as soon as you can.

“Quiet Dog” - Mos Def - from a Late Night with David Letterman performance

I CAN NOT STOP LISTENING TO THIS. I really, really can’t. It’s one of the most mesmerizing and captivating things I’ve found in a long time. I blame Tomas Fujiwara. He posted this on his Facebook page over a year ago and since then this has been in regular rotation for me. It’s an unbelievably deep and simple (and therefore even more deep) groove. Mos Def’s tympani playing might seem like a cheap stunt, but it really, really works. I can’t imagine the tune without it. And that’s Chris “Daddy” Dave on drums. No, seriously, let that sink it: Chris, Daddy, Dave. Dude has chops to burn. He could be playing all sorts of crazy busy stuff, but he absolutely refuses to do that. What he does is play something so stripped down that one wonders how much technique he actually does have. And he does this because it’s what the music demands, it’s what makes the song really work.

Sonny Rollins - Live at the Village Gate 1962

“Dance of the Reed Pipes” - Sonny Rollins & Co. Live at the Village Gate 1962

Ingrid Laubrock posted this on her Facebook page a couple of months ago. I clicked on it and when I saw how long it was, I assumed I would just check 5 min. of it and then be on my way. 32 minutes and 16 seconds later I finally got up from computer. This track has everything I desire: groove, weirdness, mystery, distinctiveness, risk taking that makes you question the ability of the players. This is from my favorite period of Rollins playing. I have a bootleg of this group playing in Stuttgart and that combined with this might make them one of the greatest jazz bands in the world to me (along with 60’s Ellington, 50’s Charlie Parker, late 70’s Steve Lacy, early 90’s Braxton, etc.). You can never guess what decisions these guys are going to make, but every decision they make is just so right.

The Rat Cave

“The Rat Cave” - Dan Leo

For this last pick I almost chose Future Island’s Letterman performance of “Season (Waiting on You),” but I think they’re getting enough play these days (n.b. if you have not checked that performance, you have to do that right now) and these guys are friends of mine and I want all of you out there to know about them ‘cause they’re all kinds of awesome. Dan is the saxophonist Dan Blake and Leo is madman keyboardist Leo Genovese. They made an album together a couple of years ago and it’s great hidden gem, kind of like getting Anthony Braxton together with Hermeto Pascoal in a villa owned by Ornette Coleman and Joe Zawinul. They’re music’s really organic, which is to say it’s an honest and homemade kind of weird, my favorite kind of weird.  “Rat Cave” isn’t actually my favorite tracks, it’s my 2nd favorite. My favorite is “We are there” but you can only hear that one if you buy the CD. So yeah, you should probably go and do that. Buy the CD.

Josh Sinton :: composer, performer, student.

Wildcard - Darius Christian Jones

1. Q-tip - The Renaissance, track 10 "Life is Better"

I rediscovered this album while enjoying coffee on St. Patricks Day in the Village with Yuma Sung. Everything the bartender was playing was gold. When I heard the track "Life is Better" I was captivated by the singer, and had this uncanny feeling that I knew who she was. Her soulful phrasing and sweet voice was in a new context. To my surprise, it was Nora Jones!

2. James Blake

When I listen to J.B. I am launched into an electronic freeze-frame. Time is no longer linear, but it's rotating and swirling. Blake's incredible production and ethereal voice is harmonized, displaced, and effected with various filters and reverb. At the most fundamental level his voice is incredibly dynamic and stands alone. His voice reminds me of a sensitive British Alien robot who absorbed the soul of Tracey Chapman and any great gospel singer from space.

3. Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit

Hands-down, and yet somehow simultaneously extended towards the sky in joy; Gregory Porter is one of my favorite male jazz/soul crossover vocalists. His phrasing, resonance, and wonderfully-simple instrumental arrangements are on point for me. There is a rawness in his story-telling, and the nostalgic listening can run free. Preach it!!

4. Opsvik and Jennings - A Dream I Used to Remember

My dear friend, Cam Collins, turned me on to this recording. I must admit this was the first recording of Eivind Opsvik that I had checked out. I didn't know what to expect. I put on my jazz-school listening ears, which of course is setting oneself up for failure when it comes to listening to any kind of music. I was delightfully tricked and thrown into a new world, where there were rainbows, acoustic instruments, and dancing melodies. Was that a leprechaun surfing on a cloud? In summary, this is one of the most joyful records I have ever heard in my life. One that will transform any cloudy day into a moon bounce.

5. Pharrell Williams - G I R L

Williams has probably had one of the best two years of commercial success. From his work with Robin Thicke, to Daft Punk, to Justin Timberlake, everything he touches as of late seems to become gold! This latest record doesn't disappoint. The Title track "Happy" stands alone as a means for celebrating life. All I have to say about this record is: Production, POCKET, and shameless pop love.

Darius Christian Jones is a trombonist, composer, and educator who currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Wildcard - Ben Thomas

I owe my current listening to a fatal day last August when my the left side of my head phones inexplicably stopped working. I was forced into a world without music accompanying me wherever I went. World of people watching on the train, safely riding my bike, and even falling asleep to street traffic.  Because of lack of funds, I decided to see how long I could go until I absolutely needed headphones again and was pleasantly surprised by December that I had gone almost four months without music in the background of my daily activities. Music had become something that I plopped down on the couch to enjoy, sitting through an album like back in the good old days of listening parties in school.

1. Marty Robbins - Gun Fighter Ballads and Trail Songs

An album that I revisited during that time was Marty Robbins’ Gun Fighter Ballads and Trail Songs. I first heard this album in high school from a friend who would drag me into his room to share his recent musical findings.  It was painful in the beginning of hearing Big Iron again and again as I would always think of it as music my grand parents like, but it wore a hole in my ear and found it's way to my iPod.  Years later I’m still enjoying it and it was a great start to enjoying other country western artists.

The reason that I keep coming back to this album is because of it’s honesty.  Simple music with catchy melodies, tons of reverb, no frills, three part harmonies, all to tell the intricate and tragic stories of cowboys in the wild west. I love that the songs never reach five minutes, there’s only guitar/violin solos as introductions, and the rhythm section provides a squishy cushion for Marty’s luxurious pipes.  Its clear to hear why this music reached outrageous heights of popularity as it wasn’t trying to be anything it wasn’t. Heck, El Paso was no. 1 on the charts in 1960 and won a grammy!

2. João Gilberto - João Gilberto

João Gilberto’s Self-titled album from 1973 came to me last month when I complained to my friend of needing some new music (after I received new head phones for Christmas). It took some time of sifting through dozens of other albums acquired along with the Gilberto, but when I finally had a listen, I had never heard anything like it.

My ignorance of boss nova kept me in the dark until hearing hearing João. Bossa nova was never thoroughly covered while at school and whenever a bossa tune was called, it was more like an opportunity for a break before we were back to bebop. Anyway, there are many reasons this album is so fantastic.  I love the album cover, the font, colors, and picture almost depict what the music inside will be like, simple on the surface but deep if given any attention.  The music is mainly João singing and playing guitar, with some extra percussion and singing on a few of the tracks.  João is primarily an interpreter of other people's compositions on this album with two originals that are the most interesting on the album.  I usually don't go for cover albums, but when you compare João's version of Aguas de Marco to Elis Regina's, it's almost as if they are different songs. And he does this with almost every song with his uniquely quiet whispering voice.

Only after trying to play along with these recordings did I realize just how special this music is.  It's very easy to listen and enjoy the relaxing melodies and beautiful chords, but switch on the musician ear and these compositions take on a whole new life. Its a real challenge to keep track of long forms where each A has different substitutions and hardly anything repeats! This is music not to be taken lightly!

3. Skuli Sverrisson - Sería II

Skuli Sverrison's Sería II is another album obtained recently from a friend.  I'm really lucky to have friends with excellent tastes in music!  I've mostly listened to Skuli in Ben Monder and Jim Black's bands so hearing this was an ear opener! The music is extremely beautiful, exploring lush string texture and voice. As corny as this will sound, it actually transports you to another world when you close your eyes, with memorable, singable melodies, and layered guitars.  I think this is what a lot of Philip Glass' music would sound like with melodies over the top.  There's always pulsating rhythm underneath and everything is tonal! You don't even have to listen to the entire album, but why wouldn't you, it's only 40 minutes! Definitely check out Her Looking Back and Le Feu.  These tracks are goosebumps guaranteed. Also Eyvind Kang sounds great.

Now living in Brooklyn, Ben Thomas is an active member of the creative music scene playing in the bands of Angela Morris, Nate Reit, Gillian Bell, as well as John Crowley's Heart of Darkness, and is a member of Ensemble Mise-en.

Wildcard - Rob Garcia

I feel that different types of music serve different purposes and require different qualities of listening, and there are many examples of music that will serve multiple purposes. Rob can be heard leading his new project called Soapbox featuring Jean Rohe on Saturday, March 22 at the Brooklyn Conservatory (in Park Slope, Bklyn) as part of the Brooklyn Jazz Wide Open series.

This is an album I've listened to in spurts over the past 20 years or so, so kind of an all-time favorite. I was listening to a radio program on a local jazz station talking about George Duke shortly after he passed away. I got kind of bugged because they were talking about his time in Frank Zappa's band as if it were just any old rock gig that didn't challenge him how the jazz gigs he did like with Cannonball Adderly. One would only write off Zappa as some rock star guy if they had never heard any of his music. This album is a masterpiece of music that challenges, amuses, grooves and rocks the listener. It's all in there perfect for multiple listenings and the multiple levels of listening. George Duke also really shines through in his playing and singing on it. Zappa was a true genius, visionary and innovator and certainly transcends musical categories.

I've been listening to this album recently and thinking that I still need to get Ben's new album "Hydra". Ben Monder is a master and innovator of the guitar and music. His playing and composing are uniquely his. This music commands a more focused listening experience that is well worth the attention. A beautifully produced album with no wasted moments. Soundscapes, overtones!, innovative harmonic progressions and voicings, math metal!, mature and patient compositions that deliver… A beautiful album featuring Theo Bleckmann, Kermit Driscoll, Skuli Sverrison and Ted Poor.

I've never heard anything quite like this album. Steve is a composer and trumpeter. He played in Gerry Mulligan's group among many others. I first met him on some gigs we did together at Detour back in the late 1990's, but got to know him more recently through playing with his friend Noah Preminger. I always enjoy the opportunity to hang and chat with him. He is a wealth of knowledge of western music…jazz, classical, contemporary classical, rock, etc! And his music on this album draws from all these cannons that he is so familiar with and has created something unique. It's a blend of recorded acoustic instruments and electronically generated sounds so more post-production work than a regular jazz album (which this is not). My 9 year old son really digs this album and often requests to hear it on car rides. Fantastic work!

I recently got into some folk artists such as Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. This is Dylan's 3rd album released in January 1964 when he was 22 years old…just him singing and playing acoustic guitar. I find it mind boggling that someone so young can articulate these messages and stories with such depth and feeling. Some songs on the album are commenting on the breakdown of small farming and mining communities and exposes the experience on a personal human level. There are also songs dealing with civil rights, and of course the title track putting the word out that shit is changing and you better be ready for it. I find this album very moving.

Scott Robinson Doctette - Bronze Nemesis

This album covers a lot of ground and is a very bold artistic statement. Scott is some I've played with many times in traditional jazz settings as well as some in more modern and experimental. He is a musician who can play and be fully himself in the various musical situations he's in. Bronze Nemesis gives you the unbridled genius of Scott Robinson. Many overtones of retro futuristic electronics. Fantastic horn arranging that pushes the envelope but masterfully constructed. It swings, it's out, it's fun. Much time and care went into this album, as anything that Scott would put out on his own label. Again, no wasted moments….Get it if you don't have it.

Wildcard - Nadje Noordhuis

 *Nadje Noordhuis can be heard tonight, March 4th, at The Douglass Street Music Collective295 Douglass St, Brooklyn, NY, with James Shipp at 9:30pm. snarkypuppy

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.

Wildcard - Adam Hopkins

I've been a little all-over-the-map in terms of music consumption lately. Is consumption the right word for listening to music? I go through periods of time where I REALLY check out an album and nothing else for an extended period of time. The last time that happened to me was with Snakeoil's Shadow Man. It was basically on repeat for a month without me listening to much else. Currently I'm more in a phase of checking out a lot of stuff and moving on...I think it's because I broke my iPod, and my phone has limited space. I'll just put 5 albums on my phone at the beginning of the week for when I'm driving or riding the train, then switch it up the following week. It's been fun!

1. Cheap At Half The Price - Fred Frith

This album and the album below go together in terms of what I wanted to hear this week, which was Fred Frith. I love Fred Frith, from his bass playing in Naked City to his more freely improvised music. But this album is my absolute favorite...more like his take on pop songs. It was recommended to me years ago by my good friend TJ Huff (who did the recent album art for Signal Problems and the upcoming Ideal Bread release), and I return to it at least a couple of times a year. This week was one of those times. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite track, so I'd recommend everyone in the world get this record and listen to the whole thing all the way through.

2. Learn To Talk/The Country of Blinds - Skeleton Crew

Skeleton Crew was the joint project of Fred Frith with the amazing improvising cellist Tom Cora (who passed away far too of the musicians that I most would have liked to have had the opportunity to see live), and very often Zeena Parkins. Everyone in the band plays percussion, but there's no set percussionist as they are all playing other instruments simultaneously. Wikipedia can be awesome sometimes, and this is one of those times...the history section of the band is quite informative. Instead of me typing it out, you can just check out this link! I actually do have a favorite Skeleton Crew song. The whole double set is great, but here's a link to my favorite track, entitled We're Still Free.

3. Strange Negotiations - David Bazan

I am kind of in a constant loop of David Bazan albums right now, and it seems like there is always one in my phone at any given time. It might be the Headphones album, or Pedro The Lion (maybe a little less likely), but it is often one of the solo albums under his name. I rarely listen to lyrics when I check out an's almost always the last thing that resonates with me. I'm not sure if this means I don't have a soul, but it's just the way I am. The point is that I listen to David Bazan lyrics more than most other artists that I check out (with the exception maybe being Tom Waits). I've been slowly working on a solo bass set, although I'm not sure that I'll ever present it. David Bazan has been an inspiration in a lot of ways, and one of his songs may make its' way into the set if I ever do decide to reveal it to the general public. For now it's just been good for me to try to play a bass part and sing independently.

4. Waiting For You To Grow - Kris Davis

This is a very recently obtained album, although I have checked out all of the albums under Kris' own name. Rye Eclipse was probably the first one I got really into, and this is her most recent trio release. After one or two listens I'm really enjoying it. The record is trio with John Hebert on bass and Tom Rainey on drums. and it's one of the few trio albums I've heard in a while that keeps me engaged throughout texturally. Very cool so far! I'd definitely recommend it, along with pretty much everything else on the Clean Feed label.


5. Jeremiah Cymerman's 5049 Podcast

Is this cheating? I'm not sure, because I don't remember what the requirements for the Wildcard are. Even if it is cheating, I'm including it! I'm sure many of the followers of Wing Walker are also familiar with Jeremiah Cymerman's 5049 Podcast. He interviews musicians and they get into it, simply put. This is what I've been listening to on the train for the past couple of months. Some of my favorite past interviews are those with Chris Speed and Nate Wooley, but this week I checked out the episodes of Ellery Eskelin (Baltimore represent!) and Matt Bauder...both very, very good, and well worth the listen.

Adam Hopkins is a bassist, composer, and educator born and raised in Baltimore, MD and currently living in Brooklyn, NY.