I will begin by stating the obvious: Sarah Vaughan was an amazing, amazing singer. To paraphrase Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, if you don’t believe me, just listen.
I was surprised to realize that I’ve never played anything by Johan Angergård in one of my mixes. He is the head of Stockholm label Labrador, and member of several bands with overlapping release and touring schedules: Club 8, Acid House Kings, The Legends, Pallers, and the charmingly named Eternal Death. He maintains the quality of the music along with the quantity, including plenty of catchy pop melodies like the one in “The next step you’ll take”.
There is a lot to learn from Mo’ Meta Blues, the sort-of-autobiography by Questlove of The Roots. I added many albums to my collection after reading the book, including Rufus’ 1977 album Ask Rufus. Questlove: “Chaka Khan undersang everything. She wasn’t up to her usual wailing tricks.” (Although personally I don’t always mind Chaka’s “wailing tricks”, like the end of “Through the fire”.)
Zero 7, best known for their lush downtempo music in the early 2000s, continue to demonstrate their songwriting and production skills on several recent singles and EPs. “On my own” came out in 2013. They also have a relaxing new mix on Mixcloud that is a true music lover’s selection, full of variety, warmth, and surprises (as you’ll read in the comment I posted!)
If you’ve ever wondered where the name Between Two Islands comes from, the answer is song #11. Not many artists can afford to toss a gorgeous melody and a guest appearance by Johnny Marr on a b-side. But with Pet Shop Boys, the musical abundance has always been impressive. That includes the generous contributions of Mr. Marr who has provided many of the guitar parts on Pet Shop Boys songs over the years.
I’m a big fan of trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and his quartet in the 2000s, which included pianist Marcin Wasilewski. I’m also a big fan of Manu Katché, who I believe is one of the greatest drummers alive. Peter Gabriel’s “In your eyes” is one of the best and best-known examples of his playing; I think that song would fall flat without the gravity-defying percussion. For his 2005 jazz album Neighbourhood, Manu recruited Tomasz and Marcin, who both play beautiful solos on “No rush”.
I remember the moment when I learned that Ryuichi Sakamoto was going to produce an album for Aztec Camera (which, by 1993, was Roddy Frame’s one-man band). The resulting album was as good as I had hoped it would be; “Birds” is the opening track. Another example of their work together can be heard in my Spring mix 2003.
Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.
1. Sarah Vaughan – Slow hot wind
2. Lindstrøm – Arp she said
3. Lisa Stansfield – Never gonna fall
4. Arto Lindsay – Reentry
5. Oddisee – Skipping rocks
6. Elis Regina & Antonio Carlos Jobim – Chovendo na roseira
7. Club 8 – The next step you’ll take
8. Cal Tjader – Black orchid
9. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Close the door
10. Zero 7 with Danny Pratt – On my own
11. Pet Shop Boys – Between two islands
12. Bhundu Boys – Wafungeyiko
13. Wye Oak – Logic of color
14. Manu Katché with Tomasz Stańko and Marcin Wasilewski – No rush
15. Aztec Camera – Birds
16. Bebel Gilberto – Cadê você
17. Tom Browne with Carol Woods – Brighter tomorrow
18. Leif – Dinas oleu