#Writing #MusicMonday: AlphA, Research of Life by G.R.O.K.

alpha-coverThis album was intended for 1 August 2016.

Perhaps it is a sign of how I’ve been feeling over the months I didn’t actually post anything that the albums I selected during that time are, for the most part, in genres I go to for audio comfort food. My only real mandates for Writing Music Mondays are that the music be licensed for free download, preferably in the Creative Commons, and even more preferably under a Free Culture license, and also that the music strikes me as good, even if it’s not particularly up my alley.

Yet here we are, again, with ’80s-style new wave synth, an album blatantly intending to be space music in a retro mode. I can’t help it, I just love this stuff.

This is the first album by G.R.O.K. that I’ve given much time to listening to (I have at least two others downloaded), but I love it. It blends NASA recordings and original voice work into the background of the synth music, and builds a story of mankind exploring space and reaching out a friendly hand to any and all intelligent life that may be out there.

Yes, there’s a fair bit of talking, and even some very synthed singing on one track. Even so, I count it as essentially an instrumental piece, where the vocals are there to add feeling to the music, not intended to be the primary focus of listening.

The focus of the listening are the synth melodies, and they’re just about perfect. In the same way that the Turbo Kid soundtrack was a perfect distillation of mid-’80s film synth music, so does this hit that sweet spot, nostalgic yet fresh, with virtually no cheese factor larded on top.

I love it.

Download Alpha, Research of Life by G.R.O.K. free from the Internet Archive.

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AlphA, Research of Life by G.R.O.K. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Keep On Groovin’ by Federico Palmolella

CoverFederico Palmolella is another Argentinian jazz man I just recently discovered, and this album is something special.

Here’s why it was made:

Keep on Groovin´ was made in [memory] of Ezequiel Iturrieta, one of my best friends who [passed] away [recently], and was the principal inspiration of it. The meaning of Keep on Groovin´is the friendship, love and respect for all, and a motive for continuing.

It sounds like it should be a somber affair, but it’s not. It’s fairly mellow, but much more upbeat than last week’s share from the Agustin Strizzi Group. Celebratory, even.

And, like last week’s album, it has a distinctively 1970s feel to it.

In fact, it was only listening to this a week ago that I realized something. I am sometimes curious why I am so open to a kind of music that, on the face of it, I should hate. This type of jazz/funk/fusion really runs counter to my tastes in a lot of ways, and the more outre examples of the genre leave me cold. Yet I can listen to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew with little pain (it is, after all, Miles), and I keep finding albums like this, and last week’s from the Agustin Strizzi Group, that I like in spite of them getting pretty weird for a guy like me.

And the reason, I think, is Sesame Street. I watched it as a little kid in the late ’70s, and they often did little bits with jazz/funk/fusion, such as the following:

So, if you like that, you’ll probably like this.

And again, if you did not care for last week’s album, this one is far less melancholy and more upbeat.

Download Keep On Groovin’ free from the Internet Archive

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Keep On Groovin’ by Federico Palmolella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Urtzi Azkue by Urtzi Azkue

CoverBring the funk and make it upbeat.

I’m afraid I don’t have a lot to say about this. I know nothing about Urtzi Azkue outside of this album. But this album? It is the best kind of funk. It’s hard not to butt-dance in my chair when it plays.

It’s got that ’70s sound that I so often loathe, but it makes it work, and makes it optimistic and fun, rather than aggressive and negative, as I personally find so much funk to be.

If you like funk, you must give it a try. If you don’t like funk, you should still give it a try. That’s how good it is.

Download Urtzi Azkue free from Jamendo.

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Urtzi Azkue by Urtzi Azkue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Writing Music Monday: THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan

The Swing of Things CoverPaolo Pavan continues to be one of the treasures of Creative Commons music. His latest album, THE SWING OF THINGS, is no disappointment.

Pavan has been releasing new material into the commons since (at least) 2007, averaging a new full album every two years or so. And there has not been a dud among them, even as each collection of pieces has its own identity and style.

This album brings four guest musicians (including his collaborator on previous Writing Music Monday album UP, Pasqualino Ubaldini, a welcome guest indeed) to his usual quartet, and together they go exploring several themes in ways further from “smooth jazz” than and closer to what I would call real jazz than some of his other work.

And while it was recorded at his home and mixed by himself and Davide Roberto Pavan*, the whole thing sounds very professional with the exception of some deliberate personal touches. For instance, you can hear the valves working on the tenor sax in “Nobody Sleep”, which does not come off unprofessional at all, but rather intimate. Like you’re getting a concert for one, even.

In short: New Paolo Pavan — what are you waiting for!?

You can download THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan Quartet from Jamendo.

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THE SWING OF THINGS by Paolo Pavan Quartet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

* Note: I conflated two names, originally. Davide Roberto is the percussionist on the album, not the recording mixer.

Writing Music Monday: Galaxy by Jahzzar

Cover[Stupid me, I forgot to hit “post” last week. So, here, a week late, this fine fine album.]

We need to come to an understanding on something.

I hate disco.

Despise it.

There are a handful of good disco songs, but I mean that fairly literally — I can count the number of “good disco songs” on one hand.

So when Javier Suarez posted this “disco” album some time ago, I was leery. Figured it would be one of his projects that just didn’t click with me.

How wrong I was.

Galaxy somehow manages to be disco and excellent at the same time, and I still don’t know how Jahzzar did it. I can listen to the whole thing, beginning to end, without pause. Normally, I can’t even do that with a single disco track, let alone an album.

Of course, it’s not really disco. It’s Suarez taking influence from disco, as well as other, related sources, and doing his magic to create excellent, excellent music.

You can get Galaxy through Bandcamp in just about any format you want, as well as sending appreciative money Jahzzar’s direction. You can also download it from Jamendo in MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format, whichever is your default.

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Galaxy by Jahzzar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://betterwithmusic.com/contact/.

Writing Music Monday: Last Summer by Funkypipole

[cover] Funkypipole - Last summerFunkypipole is, I gather, a name used when another group is experimenting or messing around. That an album this good came out of it is very interesting indeed.

Many tracks do sound like messing around, but only one sounds even slightly amateurish. Or perhaps it was just too avant garde for me.

In any case, there’s a very nice mix and balance of funk and simplicity, and on the whole, in the right mood, I find this a pleasing listen.

Last Summer by Funkypipole is available for download from Jamendo.

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Last Summer by Funkypipole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: A Lil Sumthin’ Sumthin’ by The Good Lawdz

[cover] The Good Lawdz - A Lil Somethin' Somethin'Round about this time last year, I was afraid that RawBounce Records had been a shooting star. They released several albums in a short span of time around 2009, all of them great (and most already shared through Writing Music Mondays here), and then… nothing. I figured they must have closed shop and all gotten straight gigs, like The Blues Brothers Band.

Then I found The Good Lawdz on BandCamp.

Whoa, Nelly!

This is not yet another Organ Trio.

While deeply rooted in the Hard Bop and Soul Jazz tradition of Grant Green or Jimmy McGriff, don’t be misled: The Good Lawdz are not stuck in the past.

Combining the street attitude and Southern HipHop influences of Slikk Tim on guitar and the cutting edge Urban Gospel stylings of actual church organist Yoann Turpin, it only needs the versatile yet always swingin’ drumming of Yvan Keller to bring these 3 fellas to a very authentic mixture of old & new that’s sure not to disappoint.

Now, typically, I hate organ jazz. Or, at least, I’m grudging about it. Not sure why, and there are exceptions, but for the most part it sounds cheesy to me.

This is one of the glorious exceptions. It’s long, over an hour and all of nine tracks. And not a bad one in the bunch. Just amazing, amazing stuff.

So if you want to buy Slikk Tim and crew some beer, or want non-mp3 formats, head over and get it through BandCamp.

And if you just want a straight mp3 download, then it’s on Jamendo, too. (You can always throw money at them through BandCamp later. 😉 )

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A Lil Sumthin’ Sumthin’ by The Good Lawdz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.