Top 10 Favorite Jeff Beck Tracks

Upon learning of guitarist Jeff Beck’s passing, I find myself reflecting on the significant impact his music had on my development (in addition to, of course, the impact he had on music itself). I encountered his music in passing here and there as a kid (hearing a Yardbirds song here and there, watching the MTV…

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Tragedy and Choosing to Remember

This week I will turn 49 on the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, a grim milestone to which I’ve been mentally counting down since December 15 of last year. I do not aspire for it to be a “happy birthday,” and I am rather ambivalent about even acknowledging the personal milestone in public, lest I subject myself to wishes to that effect or, worse, shift attention to me beyond the minimum extent necessary to share these thoughts and experiences that might have some relevance to others. I choose to remember this tragedy, on this and all other days, and below I’ll reflect a bit on what that looks like in practice.

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Top 10 Favorite Yoron Israel Tracks

Next weekend (11/19/22) I’ll have the honor and privilege of playing some of drummer/composer Yoron Israel’s music at Resonant Motion’s “Jazz Up Close” series in Middletown, CT, and I’m thrilled. I have been a fan of his music for thirty years, with some of his early recordings playing a significant role in my own formative…

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Top 10 Favorite Pharoah Sanders Tracks

This weekend we lost the tenor saxophone giant Pharoah Sanders. Much is said about music as a healing force, and I can think of few people who’ve remained as steadfast in their commitment to that as Pharoah was. Thankfully, he left an enormous body of documented work so we can continue to heal from life’s…

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Top 10 Favorite Holland-Dozier-Holland Tracks

With the passing of Lamont Dozier, I felt compelled to hurriedly complete this list-in-progress, documenting my own love affair with the music written and produced by Mr. Dozier along with his partners Eddie and Brian Holland. Each of the three has other noteworthy accomplishments, but their work together is truly stunning, particularly their groundbreaking contributions to the development of the Motown record label. Without any further ado and in chronological order, here are some of my personal favorites.

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Top 10 Favorite Jack DeJohnette Tracks

Happy 80th birthday to Jack DeJohnette! While he is objectively one of the great drummers in modern jazz history, I’ll admit I don’t look at him first and foremost through that lens. To me he is a creator of sonic universes – that sounds weird but there are just so many examples of records he’s on (some of them iconic, some of them in the should-be-iconic realm, some just under-the-radar) where as great as the drumming is, what you really notice is the vibe he creates. So acknowledging the ridiculous number of things I had to omit, here are some personal faves from his vast discography.

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Top 10 Favorite Tony Bennett Tracks

Happy 96th birthday to Anthony Dominick Benedetto. It’s a gift that he’s still here, even if (after his triumphant farewell performance at Radio City Music Hall last year) he’s no longer performing due to his struggles with Alzheimer’s. Tony’s long, winding career was as unique as his artistry was commanding. I came to his music primarily through the jazz lens (and had the privilege of hearing him with his trio in an intimate setting in the early ‘90s, shortly before he “blew up”) and even if one looks only at that (and obviously it’s just one facet), there’s so much in there. Some debate whether Tony should be classified as a jazz singer (a can of worms I sometimes allow to be opened when I’m teaching) but if we address the question through the lens of his mastery of the craft, the two part answer is clearly 1) yes, and 2) he’s a giant, so who the heck cares? Here is a small sampling of some of my own favorites over a 60+ year span.

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