Here are 10 tunes I’ve been loving throughout April:
Kendrick Lamar – DNA.
Since Kendrick dropped his fourth studio album ‘DAMN.’ on the 14 April, I’ve found myself continually returning to it. The beat on this track particularly drew me in, and its sense of urgency adds to the overall politically charged theme of the album. Kendrick is definitely one to watch – with an online publication even naming him ‘the best rapper alive’ there is a lot of pressure surrounding his music, however he continues to bring out original, meaningful tracks.
Thundercat – Them Changes
I love the beginning riff of this track, which sets a firm groove for Thundercat’s vocals to glide over the top. This track is taken from his latest album ‘Drunk’ which was released in February. You can hear all sorts of influences in this tune – I detect a Bee Gees-esque vocal line above the firm groove, which samples a beat from ‘Footsteps in the Dark‘ by the gospel/funk/soul group the Isley Brothers. A middle, retrospective section of the song features Kamasi Washington’s floaty sax line alongside Thundercats’ oohs and ahhs, providing a temporary release from the relentless plugging of the bass line. Grounded in a genre that has been defined by some as cosmic funk, this song certainly takes you out of the stratosphere.
Kamasi Washington – Truth
Washington’s latest single release Truth is the first song from his upcoming 6 track EP (or ‘six-movement suite‘) ‘Harmony of Difference’. An epic 13:30 minutes long, this tune is also accompanied with a short film. I’m excited to watch Kamasi for the second time at Love Supreme Festival this summer, and hope that he’ll play this track!
Oscar Peterson Trio – Tonight
I was listening to Oscar Peterson on Spotify recently, and got through a few of his albums. Suddenly, I heard ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story being played. I love the music of West Side Story, and it was so interesting to hear Oscar Peterson’s take on the music.
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – Count Bubba
I recently bought tickets to see Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band live in Manchester in the summer, and I am so excited to see their first ever UK performance! I have played their compositions in big bands before and really love this track – the sax soli in the middle is great (if not rather difficult to play!) The writing and arrangement is so clever, and I never get fed up of listening to this tune.
Theo Croker – Realise
After happening to catch Theo Croker at a jazz jam in Berlin, I’ve been exploring some more of his tunes this month. A particular one that caught my attention was Realise, which has you hooked from the opening line.
Dinah Washington – Teach Me Tonight
I was introduced to this song by the Bristol Hornstars, the big band that I played in whilst at university. They played it at the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival in March, and I was hooked. I love being introduced to new tracks (of course even if they aren’t recent – Teach Me Tonight was first recorded in 1954, and Dinah’s recording was a top hit in 1954). There are some other great versions of this song out there, including one by Nat King Cole.
Snarky Puppy ft. Lalah Hathaway – Something
The Bristol Hornstars also played this at the jazz festival, and it reminded me how much I love this song. Lalah’s singing ability and range is spectacular – and at one point she even sings chords. Yep – multiple notes sang at the same time. I love watching that part of the video, and seeing the rest of the band looking incredulously at her like ‘whaat?!’. The arrangement by the drummer Robert Searight is incredible (have a listen to Lalah’s original track ‘Somethin’‘ released in 1990 to see how masterfully he has tweaked it to create a whole new vibe for the song.
Miles Davis & Robert Glasper ft. Phonte – Violets
I’ve been listening to Glasper’s Album ‘Everything’s Beautiful’ a lot – it’s perfect for a relaxing mood. Written for the film Miles Ahead, this album poses Glasper’s interpretation of Miles’s music with a refreshing modern twist.
Jason Rebello – Summertime
I’ve listened to Jason’s music for quite some time, and had the privilege of playing in a masterclass that he led whilst at university. I watched him recently perform at the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, and am always drawn back to this track by him.I love his re-working of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’, utilising hip-hop, jazz, funk and soul influences. In fact I loved it so much, that I recorded a cover of this arrangement on sax with a quartet. Have a listen below:
You can listen to the Spotify playlist of these songs here.