I Happened To Hear…
… Good Morning by Adam Palma
At Bass Day 2009 in Manchester I met Polish guitar wizard Adam Palma. He
has worked with many of the top pop and jazz artists in Poland and with
international names including Chris de Burgh and the Average White
Band’s Hamish Stuart.
This is a startling album of solo acoustic guitar played fingerstyle
with no overdubs or studio tricks – I say startling because at times you
would think there were two or even three guitars. Many of the songs are
originals, such as the bluesy opener ‘Rocky Mountains’ which displays
dexterity I’ve only heard on records by the world’s finest players. I
also love the chord changes in his gorgeous ‘When Tommy meets Chet’ and
here Palma’s sense of humour is in evidence.
That same sense of humour surfaces on his rendition of the ‘Inspector
Gadget’ theme. And it’s impossible not to smile during his staccato
version of ‘Love and Marriage’. I’d love to hear this as part of a movie
soundtrack – it really does bring something new, warm and endearing to
an old song.
He offers a respectful take on Joe Zawinul’s ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ and
how one man and one guitar bring the drama of this song to an audience
I’m struggling to understand – but he does it. His arrangement has the
melody line and bassline crossing in a way I’ve not heard before. And
his use of harmonics leaves me speechless. The Average White Band
connection is here: ‘Pick up the Pieces’ chugs like it should with one
guitar providing rhythm, bass and melody. There’s nothing missing here…
Fans of fingerstyle guitar and imaginative arrangements should check out
this CD and the site: http://www.adampalma.net/index.php
… Lookin’ for a Change by Joe McBride
Pianist and singer Joe McBride is also full of surprises on his latest
Heads Up release.
Gnarls Barclay made people sit up with ‘Crazy’ and Joe’s version of this
song has the same bounce but the vocals are smoother and there’s a
sophistication there that allowed me to focus on the lyric more. It’s
superb, really superb. A jazz trio setting for this song seems so right.
I can also home in the beauty of Coldplay’s lyrics on this version of
‘The Scientist’. The song has been transformed seamlessly into a jazz
standard right in front of your eyes.
‘Word Up’ which made Cameo popular beyond funk circles is delivered in a
sassy, punchy way and I swear I’d love to experience this song live. The
swing is absolutely unstoppable. McBride’s piano chops are just amazing.
The ebb and flow of Seal’s ‘Kiss from a Rose’ are just right and the
intense romanticism of the song remains intact – I’d say it’s even
There are three originals on this album and I particularly enjoy ‘Secret
Rendezvous’. It washes over me and the wistful harmonica seals my fate –
this is timeless jazz and don’t be surprised to hear other singers pick
this up in the future. It’s damned hard to pick a favourite song from
this twelve-song package but the version of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘1000
Miles’ takes it for me. To my shame I don’t know Vanessa’s music and so
I hear this song on its own terms, and it’s sublime and haunting.
This is the first Joe McBride album with vocals on every song and it’s
notable for that alone, but for his jazz interpretations of other
artists’ songs, well-chosen songs, this really should expand his
audience and please his existing fans. Sit back, be transported…
Read more about Joe here:
… It is What it Is by Brian Bromberg
A new Brian Bromberg CD is always an event for me. For a start, his
songs are fantastic and often have witty titles and you’re never sure if
he’s going to be concentrating on acoustic or electric bass.
Here he’s electric – in more than one sense. The barnstorming title
track moves at high speed and he has luminaries such as Jeff Lorber,
Patrice Rushen, Alex Acuña and Eric Marienthal (to name a few) for
company. I’ve loved the B52’s ‘Love Shack’ since the first time I heard
it: Bromberg’s version will knock your socks off. The horns, arranged by
Nathan Tanouye, are blazing.
There’s heavy funk on ‘Excuse Me?’ and ‘Elephants on Ice Skates’. The
bass gets down and, let’s be honest, dirty. Oh Lord, bass-heads gather
in the temple for ‘Slap Happy’ – yes, do I need to say any more?
Those who want to hold back from the ultimate freakout are going to
drool over ‘Martinis at the Velvet Lounge?’ – it gives all it promises
with Gary Meek’s sexy flute trickled over that tight Latin rhythm. And
you’ve got strings, man. Lush. The mood is more sombre for the solo bass
piece ‘The Mirror’. So much light and shade on one album is something
truly to marvel at.
The song which sticks in my head and won’t let me go is ‘Heaven’. The
fretless bass takes the lead on much of the song which, despite the
layers of bass guitar on the track, never gets cluttered. The beautiful
string section soothes you while you marvel at the sounds that a soulful
player can extract from a bass. The song is – heaven. It’s close to
being transcendental. I live to hear things like this…
More about the astonishing Mr Bromberg here:
… the first album by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
I have been fortunate in recent weeks to be in touch with Robin Duhe,
Maze’s bass player for over 30 years. I’ve heard both of his solo CD’s
and had the most enjoyable interview with him.
Maybe I didn’t need to remind myself why Maze had such an impact on soul
music fans in the 70’s and 80’s but I went looking anyway. ‘Colour
Blind’ was the first maze song I ever heard – I had it on a 7” single
and the funk that grabbed me then still grabs me now, thanks in no small
part to that Duhe groove. The opener ‘Time on my Side’ is funky too and
puts you in a great mood that is maintained throughout the album.
Several of Maze’s songs could rightly be called anthems and ‘Happy
Feelin’s’ for me is one of those. It has the spirituality of Earth, Wind
& Fire songs from the same period and of course the incomparable husky
vocals of the Frankie Beverly. You’ve got eight minutes to get wrapped
up in the lovely midtempo and hypnotic ‘You’ which features some
particularly tasty lead guitar work from Wayne Thomas.
The song that always slayed me was ‘While I’m Alone’. I love the sway of
the rhythm section, I love the vocals, I love the lyrics. I think I’ll
always feel the same. In its 24-bit remastered version, this album
really has the power to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand
I apologise if I’m telling you stuff you know. If you have this album,
play it today and if you don’t have it, do yourself a favour and go
Whet your appetite here: