My wife Nicole and I have a long-running routine when we find ourselves sitting rapt in the midst of musical mastery.
Say we’re listening to The Stooges’ Funhouse. Characteristically, we will sit silent as the waves of thick riff-heat rifle through us and Ig’s hell-fired hollers wash around and over us, then one of us will break the silence by saying:
“I dunno–if these guys weren’t such sensitive pussies they’d be really good.”
Or Howlin’ Wolf:
“Honestly! I don’t know why they make a big deal about Wolf. His singing is so laid-back, and I need some intensity when I listen to the blues.”
Or The Ramones:
“This shit needs some synths or some strings or something. It sounds like demos, plus it drags.”
I love how the routine emerges unprompted–as it did again yesterday. We had just endured some absolutely horrid music at a local Chinese restaurant: either we were hearing some godforsaken album or a satellite radio station programmed by Satan, but the dreck was super high-school-choir-y a capella, the final song being a medley of hit movie themes for which some twisted asshole had written lyrics which summarized said movies! When we got home, I knew we needed to cleanse our minds and ears in a special way (no, DeBarge would have been the exact wrong thing), so I queued up Jimmy “Mr. 5 x 5” Rushing’s wonderful The Jazz Odyssey of James Rushing, Esq, a neat concept album that “tours” the locales–outside of Kansas City–where the great jazz singer made a major dent: New Orleans, Chicago, and New York. Rushing is backed on the record by a crack Buck Clayton-led band (his entire output while on Columbia is worth your time, especially a long-time house favorite, Rushing Lullabies), and is his usual irrepressible, high-spirited self. At the time of the recording, Rushing was already almost 40 years into his career, and sounds like he’s making his first record!
Nicole: “I wish we had a CD of that a capella movie tribute stuff. This Jimmy Rushing is so…uninspired.”
Me: “Yes. It lacks…buoyancy.”
Hey, click the track at the top, as well as the hyperlink for Rushing Lullabies, and you be the judge.
Jimmy Smith: Bashin’–The Unpredictable Jimmy Smith (Arrangements by Oliver Nelson)–“Bombastic” might not seem to be a good arrangement idea for a Smith session, but it actually works. A neat tension.
Shirley Scott: Queen of the Organ–She was, and here Stanley Turrentine weaves some serious blues sax in and out of her lines.