It is March. A month named after Mars which is etymologically related to War, and symbolically related to the male gender.
With that in mind, here is this month’s playlist:
Also available on Spotify
…and on youtube!
Mars, the Bringer of War
Relentless. Quintuple meter. Holst.
Low Rider: War
Space in between sounds. Staccato makes this happen.
This is from the Movie Mars. I haven’t seen the film so, I cannot begin to tell you where Hexadecimals makes its appearance.
Haitian Fight Song – Mingus Big Band
The more I hear this, the more I read about it, the more I’m appreciative of its spirit. Some reviews of this particular rendering are not so favorable, implying that it is not true to the original. So far, without my hearing the more authentic recording, I’m good with it.
Find the Cost of Freedom – CSN
So Long, Mom – Tom Lehrer
With so much war themed music here, let’s have some comic relief in the form of a WW3 soldier bidding adieu to his mother. No one will ever sing the word Armageddon quite like Mr. Lehrer does here.
King of the World – Steely Dan
Up Tempo. Bass lines. Release date: July 1973. Later in the track, I’m hearing variations of that synthesizer line. My research in to the possible meaning of King of the World brought me to A Canticle for Leibowitz
Magic Man – Heart
Moving on the the maleness, the “man” of this month’s program, here is a 1976 offering from Canadian based Heart. Enjoy the luscious warmth of the Minimoog.
Linienbusse – Studio Pankow
Sorry, I am unable to explain the inclusion of this track on to our playlist focused on Mars and men and war. It happens to serve as a nice interlude.
Shout – Miles Davis
From the album: The Man with the Horn, the album marking Miles’ return from temporary retirement. We hear, a deceptively simple melody. I hear in this, a hint of what will happen in subsequent recordings, specifically Miles’ treatment of pop hits like Time after Time and Perfect Way. Impeccable time. Check out those closed hi hat quarters.
Natural Man – Lou Rawls
I’ve already expressed my admiration for the voice of Lou Rawls. Everybody should sing along to the words “I want to be” each refrain. Listen for the sus chord, as well as those quarter notes on the closed hi hat.
Fat Man – G. Love and Special Sauce
O.K. this is at least a little offensive.
Watermelon Man – Herbie Hancock
The hard bop style trumpet and tenor duet grabs your attention. Yikes that is Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon no less!.
Wichita Lineman – Bobbie Broom
A jazz trio gently covers this Jimmy Web song first made popular by Glenn Campbell. Webb describes the scene that inspired the song as “the picture of loneliness” I think the rendition heard here, with the snare turned off the drums, and the minimal instrumentation captures that feeling. The Wikipedia article compels me to listen to how the harmonic major-minor dichotomy matches the vocational-romantic dichotomy of the lyrics.
Man with the Horn – Nina Simone
I have to admit, the piano is slightly out of control but, it’s part of a very exciting performance.
River Man – Nick Drake
I guess I am a sucker for quintuple meter. I’m liking the strings too.
Garbage Man – G. Love & Special Sauce
You will no doubt notice the relentless pair of (sixteenth?) notes in the bass, doubled with the kick drum. (Compare this to a kinda similar thing in Magic Man.) Also approaching excessive repetition is the wailing, bending guitar lick that leads in to that bass-kick motif.
Wichita Lineman – Sergio Mendez
This time, it is sung in the third person. I heard once, that the singer who worked with Sergio, was not Brazilian. In fact, she understood no Portuguese and sung the native tunes by sound, without really understanding the words. This is obviously in English.
The Champ – Shelly Manne and His Men, Live at the Manne Hole
Shelly Manne and His Men, Live at the Manne Hole. Get it? That should qualify this recording for our playlist without having to make any sexist assumptions about “the Champ.” We are treated to utterances, presumably from the band’s leader, Shelly Manne himself, calling for “something fast” and then queuing the solo breaks. This is an all star band with Richie Kamuka tenor, Conte Condoli trumpet, Russ Freeman piano and Chuck Berghofer on bass. So much flatted fifth to be found here.
Spoonman – Soundgarden
That filtered spoken word stuff is a little cliché right? If I’m counting correctly, there’s some fifteen beat meter here. But who cares? I think Soundgarden gets to these whack meters similar to how Burt Bacharach did on some of his songs – I think they just played and sang it that way and then later maybe realized it was not at all regular. Let me be clear: this is a good thing.
Wichita Lineman – Johnny Cash
Interesting that Johnny Cash felt it necessary to cover this song. I could do without the strings. Guitar, piano, voice – that would be great!
Third Word Man – Steely Dan
From the gargantuan studio effort, Gaucho. No less than 42 musicians appear on the album.
Man with the Movie Camera – The Cinematic Orchestra
I’m hearing lots of control wiggling but, in a nice manner.