Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Presents

I have been sick literally all year and then some. Actually, since the day after Christmas. So I am pretty excited to be up to lashing words together at length.

Today we are going to talk about the a glorious convergence of two of my favorite things.
Christmas and music. God bless us Amazon. Let me get this straight. I live Christmas probably more than anyone you know not named Buddy. I just realized I wrote live instead of love back there but both are true so I'm leaving it. Also, it's not about the presents. Ask my kids, they will probably still be able to tell you what I want is world peace. Meaning for everybody in the house to be getting along and truly happy and honestly pleasant... But we have a big wonderful family, so the Amazon wish list is indispensable. All that to say I scored all the way around but I just happened to actually review two presents formally during my convalescence.

First, Sting's The Last Ship Super Deluxe Amazon Exclusive

5.0 out of 5 stars Great change of venue! Typical genius! One caveat !,

I am a full-time professional singer, songwriter, bassist and keyboardist. Sting has always been my gleefully dark side, so to speak. He's such a storyteller. Better yet, in keeping with the adage that a picture paints a thousand words, he's a master painter. Top to bottom The Last Ship carries you in a bittersweet, raucous, heartbreaking AND heartwarming journey through the seaside town, the ships being built and the Theater, for which the songs have been crafted.

For me, Sting's music tends to be a tasty dish that is constantly comfortingly familiar yet filled with surprise. He has themes and threads he loves to weave thru his entire body of work. From winks, nods and suggestions to direct self quotations in various songs across the decades it's like a musical train tour through England. From The Last Ship, to The Night The Pugilist Learned How To Dance (my current favorite), to Practical Arrangement he takes you there. It's like A Christmas Carol except you're whisked around by a spirit into the lives of the characters in the song, not your own past, present and future. What more could you ask for?

Well, there is ONE thing I could've asked for. There are two F-Bombs in Jock The Singing Welder. I could've lived without them, particularly, as my first listen was with my wife and early adolescent son. Not so much that they are there or gratuitous or whatever. We just didn't see them coming. As you can see, I still gave the album five stars. I just would've appreciated a heads up.

In the words of the truly great, Reverend Gordon Sumner, "It may not be the romance that you had in mind,
But you could learn to love me,
Given time."

Gordo, you had me at Roxanne and you have me at The Last Ship. I can't imagine how you could lose me...
In fact, If I Should Lose My Faith...

P.S. I'm a devout Christian with the terrible habit of honoring great turns of phrase by designating the author "the Reverend" "Right Reverend" "Reverend Dr." etc insert wordsmith's name here. (It's usually Donald Henley, American Treasure) I love words, so it's essentially my personal version of a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar or the Congressional Medal of Honor. They aren't necessarily or necessarily not given to preachers and I mean disrespect to no one ( nor the above honors) on any level. That's just how I roll. For the uninitiated, Gordon Sumner (Also referred to as Gordo) IS Sting and is NOT, nor is likely become a minister. The same goes for "THE DON".

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality time with your music teacher AND your wife/girlfriend that SHE will EAGERLY sign up for...

Marcus Miller: The ONLY Artist I can consistently expect to still be playing when I get back in the car when my wife has been driving at length! I was reminded of this album when I was looking for a Christmas present for my pastor, who happens to be a phenomenal bass player. Long story short, he already had it, it ended up on my wish list and subsequently among my presents. We put in A Night In Monte Carlo for our annual pilgrimage across California on Christmas afternoon. That was over two weeks and a thousand miles ago. I've been sick and laid up in the house most of that time (including the trip home). Marcus is still playing... And at least during one of the few times when I was both in the car and conscious I heard my wife say, most appropriately, "That's just sick!"

Marcus and the Band plus Roy Hargrove & Raul Midon AND the Orchestra.
Plenty of nasty and tasty improv. Interwoven are some sick unison lines that carry so much force with the weight of Marcus' Bass (capitalized intentionally) the band and orchestra. Stanky, quirky, butter smooth, lyrical, haunting, jaw-dropping, ruthless, beautiful, funky....SIQUE! In all it's a work of art, a master class in multiple bass techniques and arrangement, composition, orchestration, interpretation...AND great for DATE NIGHT!

Granted my wife is musical, but not nearly the funk/fusion head that I am. I play a lot of "musician music" around the house and in the car, Yellowjackets, Karizma, Ricky Peterson, George Benson, Miles, Trane... But I only expect Marcus to still be playing when I get back to the car.

...and thereby hanger a tale...

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