Most of my recent mixes were made during the summer. So I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would sound different about a winter mix. A summer mix is all about beach, cocktails, and sunset. So what is a winter mix about? I’m still not sure, so the result is a variety of moods.
Herb Alpert was one of my first musical obsessions, so I’ve included a track from the mid-1960s, the era when Tijuana Brass albums dominated the US charts. Vegas is one of many overlooked projects by the multi-talented Terry Hall, currently working again with his best-known band, The Specials. Nordic pop is one of my current obsessions, so I’ve chosen a track by The Radio Dept. from Stockholm’s highly reliable Labrador Records. I’ve been exploring the vast world of 70s New York salsa and finding many inspiring artists that are new to me; Cheo Feliciano is a perfect example. Yes, that’s THE Michael Stipe, from R.E.M., collaborating with one of the originators of the downtempo sound that was the early inspiration for Between Two Islands. Another of those originators, Thievery Corporation, make one of their regular appearances with a track from 2003. Goldfrapp made yet another great album in 2013, and provide a reflective (wintry?) conclusion to the mix.
Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.
1. D’Angelo – When we get by
2. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – And the angels sing
3. Young Galaxy – Sleepwalk with me
4. The Mighty Diamonds – I need a roof
5. Tycho – Daydream
6. Vegas – Walk into the wind
7. Phyllis Hyman – Give a little more
8. Francis Lai – Snow frolic
9. The Radio Dept. – Sleeping in
10. Laidback – Fly away
11. Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra – It only happens every time
12. The Bird and the Bee – Witch
13. Candi Staton – Halfway to heaven
14. Cheo Feliciano – Esa es la que es
15. Stéphane Pompougnac with Michael Stipe – Clumsy
16. The Foreign Exchange – On a day like today
17. The Shadows – Wonderful land
18. Thievery Corporation with Lou Lou – Language symbolique
19. Johnny Hartman – Let me love you
20. Goldfrapp – Clay
You can tell by this list that I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s music lately. I start with The Style Council, one of my favorites from that decade. (Of course Paul Weller is also responsible for some of my favorite music from the 70s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s!) Later in the mix, there’s more 80s pop-soul from Everything But The Girl and Sade.
I continue the Nordic pop trend from my last mix with Casiokids and Röyksopp, both from Bergen, Norway. Röyksopp are joined by the stunning voice of Jamie McDermott from London band The Irrepressibles.
Carla Bley must have raised some eyebrows with her three small group albums from the mid-80s. They are very polished, unlike some of the challenging music she made earlier or the raucous big band music she made later. There may be a touch of irony, but the compositions and performances rank with her best. This track has engaging solos from Hiram Bullock on guitar, Larry Willis on piano, and Carla herself on organ.
Heights of Abraham is one of many projects involving Steve Cobby, who got his start with Fila Brazillia. He is also one of my favorite Mixcloud DJs: mixcloud.com/stevecobby. Wrapping up is Bobbi Humphrey with a classic Mizell Brothers production from 1975.
Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.
1. The Style Council – You’re the best thing
2. Grant Green – Ease back
3. Bombay Bicycle Club with Lucy Rose – Home by now
4. Crazy P – Keep on
5. Everything But The Girl – Oxford Street
6. David Ruffin – Walk away from love
7. Casiokids – Elefantenes hemmelige gravplass
8. Tito Puente – Maria Cervantes
9. Sade – Keep looking
10. Röyksopp with Jamie McDermott – Something in my heart
11. Carla Bley – Brooklyn Bridge
12. June Christy with Pete Rugolo – Irresistible you
13. Heights of Abraham – Blackout
14. Tamba Trio – Sonho de Maria
15. Neil Finn – Dizzy heights
16. Bobbi Humphrey – Uno esta
The first song I picked for this mix was the last, a tribute to trumpeter Kenny Wheeler who died in September. He left a large and impressive catalog of jazz recordings, but also did a handful of collaborations with pop and rock artists. His contributions to David Sylvian’s first two solo albums showed that they were truly kindred spirits. His gorgeous solo is at the end of the song, so be sure to listen all the way through (to the song and the mix!)
In contrast to the gentle, sparse ending, I chose two big tunes for the beginning. First is lush electronics from Washed Out, followed by lush orchestration from Philadelphia’s master of symphonic soul, Thom Bell. (Music geek detail: Thom’s brother Tony did the arrangement for this Spinners track, but Thom was behind the mixing board and on the conductor’s podium.)
There’s a hint of autumn in these stately opening tracks – nostalgia, melancholy, something like that. There’s more than a hint of autumn in several moody, minor-key selections. These include a spooky Richard Dorfmeister mix, an ethereal classic by The Beloved, cinematic grandeur from Michel Legrand, and the dream duo of Césaria Evora and Caetano Veloso.
Despite the title, “Haunted jukebox” by Saint Etienne, from their latest album, is not one of the moody tracks. In fact, it’s pretty warm and sunny. I made the mix shortly before Halloween, so I think the idea of a “haunted jukebox” is very appropriate!
Finally, what a pleasure to include two legends from different eras and different styles: Sonny Rollins, with one of his searching and imaginative melodic journeys; and the late J Dilla, providing his usual warm, dusty beats for this remix.
Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.
1. Washed Out – Eyes be closed
2. Spinners – (Love is) One step away
3. Sofa Surfers – Sofa rockers (Richard Dorfmeister mix)
4. Saint Etienne – Haunted jukebox
5. Dungen – Ingenting är sig likt
6. Billie Holiday – Speak low (Bent mix)
7. Janelle Monáe – Look into my eyes
8. Sonny Rollins with Oliver Nelson – On impulse
9. Lemonade – Durutti shores
10. N’Dea Davenport – Whatever you want (J Dilla mix)
11. Roxy Music – True to life
12. The Beloved – Time after time
13. Caia – Afterwards @ the bar
14. Michel Legrand with Claude Nougaro – Sa maison
15. Broadcast – Come on let’s go
16. Lawrence – Jill
17. Bobby Hutcherson – Little angel
18. Cesária Evora with Caetano Veloso – Regresso
19. David Sylvian with Kenny Wheeler – Nostalgia