The Neighborhood Orchestra – In A Little Mood
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Unless you grew up in a house where eating chocolate was viewed as a sin and watching television was only permitted on Sundays, then jazz is not your first musical love. Starting off listening to jazz is the equivalent of having “Gravity’s Rainbow” be the book you used to learn to read. It’s impractical and confusing.
But what about later? Ah, later on, things like jazz music, post-modern literature, and fancy shrimp dinners are the sorts of things that you can use to fashion a better life for yourself. But you can’t simply have it be your whole diet. And, in order to fully appreciate these sophisticated things, you need to have first seen and lived through the worst alternatives.
Yet, having said that, The Neighborhood Orchestra’s “In A Little Mood” is a neat, fun little track. You may even feel inclined to engage in a little dancing when you hear it. The music is expertly played, sure. But it also sounds like a recreation of 1970s funk, especially African music, a la Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.
It’s all meant to make you dance, sure. But if the people in charge of the grooves hadn’t taken the time to learn their jazz-inducing techniques, everything would just fall apart in front of you. And who would be able to pick it all up again and put it back together?
Marco Paul – Grinnin (Son House Cover)
Genre: Americana, Jazz Fusion, Classic Rock
There’s a school of thought that says music really died on the day that the first big-name producer walked a rock band into an upscale recording studio. Those who entertain these kinds of ideas simply do not believe that music of any great substance can be made under these kinds of surfaces. And, to be honest, listening to the Top 40 in almost any era is enough to convince you that there might be some truth to that.
Still, some of the greatest, most soulful songs were written and recorded during periods when fancy equipment and good recording techniques were simply unavailable. Like looking at grainy black and white photos and filling out the details in your mind, it is tempting to listen to these retro recordings and imagine them with just a little bit more color blooming from their cheeks.
Son House’s incredible “Grinnin’ in Your Face” is one of the most moving blues songs ever written. It’s also an exercise in restraint and leaves plenty of room for an imaginative performer to imagine what it might be missing. Marco Paul’s “Grinnin” takes Son House’s classic and gives new clothes, a new name, and practically a whole new identity. The arrangement of the song is fascinating, as well as the vocal mannerisms that Paul adopts. Frankly, it shouldn’t work as well as this does.