My Kind of Music
Basically my musical tastes are quite specific but wide-ranging and I tend to either love something or hate it.
Listing my tastes in order of preference they are:
jazz-funk and soul
30's dance-band music
classical organ music
Jazz-Funk and Soul
I group jazz-funk and soul together because my favourite band, Earth Wind & Fire, excel in both areas. Their version of soul is what I would call 'smooth soul' as opposed to Motown which I don't like. I've been a fan of Earth Wind & Fire since 1975 when I first heard the track 'Shining Star' from the album 'That's The Way Of The World' on Saturday morning radio at work.
I have most, if not all of their albums since 1975 and am prepared to admit that some are better than others. I tend to prefer their classic stuff so some of the experimental productions are not my favourites. The 2003 CD 'The Promise' took them back to their original style and, in my opinion, is by far the best album of recent years. Over the years I've been privileged to catch several of their live UK concerts and they are amazing.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not exclusively obsessed with EWF. There are lots of modern soul artists around that I love and I'm a sucker for 70s disco classics. Yes, I know it's sad, but I'm a disco dancefloor freak. Bolton comedian Peter Kay would have a field-day mocking me in one of his hilarious comedy routines. That said, those party DJs who never play more than one track of a particular rythm and are constantly leaping from one music style to another leave me stone cold.
There's just something about blues that gets to me. When I hear tracks such as Carlos Santana/John Lee Hooker's 'The Healer' I'm well gone. I also love the minimalist blues playing of the legendary B B King - he makes it sound so easy and yet it's an incredibly beautiful sound. Other well-known artists who really can play blues but don't play enough of it are Gary Moore and Eric Clapton.
Blues is a very emotive style of music, stemming from its roots in the American deep south, and is as much a feeling experience as a listening one.
Traditional jazz takes me back to the dancing days of the bop. When trad jazz crossed over to the pop scene with tracks such as 'Stranger on the Shore' and 'March of the Siamese Children' it brought the likes of Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball and Chris Barber into the popular music stream.
With a trumpet playing melody and trombone and clarinet playing harmonic counterpoint it comes across as a wonderful blend of improvisation and strong melody. The fast numbers certainly get your feet tapping whilst the slow numbers have a real blues feel to them - I just love it.
30s Dance-Band Music
In the days before the big bands of Duke Ellington and Ted Heath with their discordant saxaphones, dance bands were more harmonic with more emphasis on the melody. Rightly or wrongly I compare them closely with trad-jazz bands - to me they sound very similar.
One such band with that dixieland sound that sticks in my mind is the Sid Phillips band. I remember them having a regular morning radio programme and there was always one number performed solo by the pianist. Sid Phillips himself was a highly talented composer and arranger, having at one time worked with the Bert Ambrose Orchestra and is probably the most underrated clarinetist of all time.
Classical Organ Music
I suppose that my love of organ music has a lot to do with the fact that my father played a church organ for 40 years. I'm talking about a proper pipe organ here, not an electronic keyboard. The resonance and sheer weight of the sound of a pipe organ on full wellie rattling around the walls and pillars of a church is awsome.
Once, after attending mass at the Sacre Coer in Paris, I sat mesmorised by the music totally enveloping me as the organist did his thing. How these people manage to play multiple keyboards and pedals (two hands and two feet) at the same time amazes me.
It's sad that so many churches these days don't have a regular organist, or even an organ in some cases. I still think that the traditional hymns with the organ leading the singing are the most inspirational. I have to say that I find some of the modern hymns appalling and more akin to children's pop songs.
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