Spain

Love that piece of music, onto which I stumbled again lately. And I’ve actually played it myself half a lifetime ago, together with Christian Hecker (p), and with Sven Thomsen (dr), when we formed a band for a theater group.

It begins – as so often – with Rodrigo‘s Concierto de Aranjuez (which I also have on CD, played by Narciso Yepes), but the rest of the piece is Chick Corea‘s most well-known composition.

And tho I’m no Patitucci (and played a 4-string bass only), it’s immense fun to play it, and also to see the “old guard” plaing it (Chick is 75 by now). Enjoy…

Thanks for reading.

35:15

If you want to lose yourself for about a good half hour, listen to these guys:

Emile and Vincent are marvelous. Extraordinaire! Merçi…

R.I.P. Toots

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans died yesterday, aged 94. I heard and saw him some 40 years ago in a Jazz club in Cologne called “Subway”, together with the young and aspiring bass player Jeff Berlin (who was unbelievably good).

Although you might not have heard of him, “Toots” was a superhero – and you did in fact hear him, like in Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t she lovely?”, or in Sesame Street.

Here is his most famous composition, “Bluesette”:

And here he plays with Jaco, who died almost 30 years ago, and who was one of these superheroes himself:

Merçi Jean, and rest in peace. (picture © Ron van der Kolk, CC-BY-2.5)

Nice analysis of a lovely song

This. It’s from their 1977 album “Aja”, one of their best ever. Oh, and “Aja” is pronounced like “Asia”. Couldn’t have done this any better.

Here is the song without explanations, and here is the album.

Enjoy…

I agree with Downbeat, about Marilyn

At work I’m just listening to Jan Garbarek’s “Rites” CDs again to blend out some background noise with something not as disturbing, so I can keep concentrating.

And as always, I’m most impressed by that music, and by the musicians. The drummer is exceptional – it’s Marilyn Mazur. The Wikipedia page states:

“Down Beat has on six occasions rated her No. 1 Jazz Performer”

– and they’re so right. Wonderful music, wonderful musicians.

The photo of her is © by Hreinn Gudlaugsson, under a CC 4.0 license.

Thanks for reading.

Sennheiser HD598 SE

This one has a bit of history, for context…

First you’ll have to know that when I was younger, I used to be a musician. I played bass guitar (and my brother Willi even had an acoustic double bass). I was in the studios (EMI Electrola, no less) at the age of 19, so I’m used to good amps, speakers, and headphones and know how music sounds either directly or through very high end equipment.

Some years ago, we needed headphones for Mitchie, and so I bought what I knew was good: AKG K-240 – we’ve used that one in the studios a lot. But for Mitchie it was a bit big and heavy, so later I ordered a slightly smaller K-141 Mk2 for her, and I took the big one.

Alas, it broke. Without any apparent reason. And I thought wow, they used to be a lot more sturdy during my times. Mitchie had some smaller earplugs which she preferred, so I got her K-141.

But that one has a problem as well – it loses its colour on your ears, and it even gets sticky during summer when it’s hot – can’t be healthy, and I thought damn, they now cost more in Euro than they used to cost in German Mark, and still they’re much worse than they were in the good old days. Definitely some cost savings through cheapest material going on here, so AKG doesn’t seem a good choice for the next one…

The next ones were Sennheiser in-ears. I was used to and knew Sennheiser as well, but I’ve never tried in-ears before. And I must say I don’t really like them as much as my brother does. They’re like a plug in your ear, something which disturbs me – don’t know if I could get used to that.

At work I have a Sennheiser HD201, and I bought a second one which Zuleikha uses at her digital Yamaha piano, so she can practice without disturbing anyone. Looks like this:

7df_6181234-zuleikha

These are cheap (around 20€) and sturdy, and they’re good for the purpose like at work or on the piano. But I still was thinking about some better ones.

Our friend Thorsten from Bonn knew that I was looking and found the perfect ‘Black Friday’ deal for me. These ones:

hd598se

These are called Sennheiser HD598 Special Edition, and right now while I write this they are offered for 229€ at Amazon Germany, or for $164.72 at Amazon.com. I’ve paid 99€. So how are they?

In a word: fantastic.

I’ve read that they would lack some bass, so what I tried first was – of course – some bass. Started with Ham Hocks and Cabbage from the Christian McBride Trio album Out Here, and wow – that is some double bass! Nothing missing at all, and I thought hmmm whoever thinks these lack bass probably never heard, felt, or even played one. But maybe they meant something like dynamics? Ok – next I tried Panther from Marcus Miller‘s The Sun Don’t Lie. And again, wow, shake yer booty baby, this was almost unbelievable. Hm, something more melodic? Next was A Remark You Made from Weather Report, with the unforgettable Jaco Pastorius, and by now I was convinced. This was music like it should sound, nothing missing and nothing added, just perfect.

Ok, something else. Maybe guitar? I started Ulf WakeniusBretagne, followed by their very percussive Breakfast in Baghdad. The guitar was perfect, as was Vincent Peirani‘s accordion (and scat vocals), and – again – the double bass played by Lars Danielsson. For comparison, I chose the same song with vocals by Youn Sun Nah, and after that it was Momento Magico, which Ulf Wakenius composed just for her.

Wonderful. Smooth and high-endy, very detailed but never too much of anything, so you can just close your eyes and concentrate onto the music. Definitely the best headphones I’ve ever had, and that by a large margin. Oh, they’re comfortable as well, so maybe I’ll try them on the TV (which is attached to an Onkyo stereo receiver) next. The “SE” (for Special Edition) in the headphone’s name stands for the fact that these are black instead of brown, and they come with two cables – one with 1.2m and small plug, perfect for computer or mobile devices, and one with 3m and big plug (and adapter to small) for the tele or wherever you need some distance.

Perfect. Thanks again to Thorsten for finding that offer. They’re better than my AKG were, so even for the higher price they’re recommendable – but for under 100€ that was a steal definitely. Thanks mate!

It’s all about Jazz

“Music is life and death. A life without music is meaningless. It’s very important because it can carry you through your life, in good and bad times” — Ulf Wakenius

Here. Don’t wanna lose that link myself… or this one

Probably the best gig they did together was in Vienne. Awesome.