Spring mix

It was a sad day for music when Scott Walker passed away on March 22nd. For me, this song from 1969 has a perfect spring feeling in the music and the words. The album is Scott 3, one of the beloved series of solo albums he released between 1967 and 1970.

For my last mix, I went back to the explosion of midtempo electronic music that occurred in the early 2000s. I didn’t get to some albums that were an important part of that explosion, the Verve Remixed series that started in 2002. It’s dangerous messing around with artists like Ella Fitzgerald, but for me, re-interpretations like this one combine the old and new successfully.

The 1972 track by prolific percussionist Airto Moriera is noteworthy for the involvement of Keith Jarrett, who didn’t do much work as a “sideman”. He wrote this song as well as providing a piano part that sounds like nobody else. You might also be surprised to find George Benson on guitar, but before his pop stardom in the late 70s, he put in years as a jazz bandleader and soloist.

Thanks to Lou Rawls, Kenny Gamble, and Leon Huff for a perfect Philly classic with a spring theme!

I’m not afraid to admit that I love Mike Oldfield. In the 70s he went from super huge to super uncool pretty quickly. As with any musician whose career becomes defined by fashion and/or commercial success, I like to ask: what about the music? I’ve been revisiting his many releases of the 70s, 80s, and 90s and enjoying them thoroughly. After listening to Hergest Ridge from 1974, this guitar and oboe duet got stuck in my head.

Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.

1. Scott Walker – Copenhagen
2. The Dream Academy – Hampstead girl
3. Vinicius Cantuária with Michael Leonhart – Cubanos postizos
4. Jex Opolis – Fifth wind
5. Minnie Riperton – The edge of a dream
6. Toro Y Moi – Mirage
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Wait till you see him (De-Phazz mix)
8. Airto with Keith Jarrett – So tender
9. BadBadNotGood & Little Dragon – Tried
10. Claude Nougaro – Cécile ma fille
11. Ray Barretto & New World Spirit – Guaji-Rita
12. Bonobo with Andreya Triana – Stay the same
13. Ennio Morricone – Invito allo sport
14. Vetiver – Backwards slowly
15. Lou Rawls – Spring again
16. Cantoma with Javier Bergia – Abando
17. Cocteau Twins – Cico buff
18. Mike Oldfield – Hergest Ridge (excerpt)

Summer mix

For as long as I’ve been making mixes, I’ve never been quite sure what to do with “four-on-the-floor” songs. That means a bass (or “kick”) drum sound happens on every beat, as in most disco or house music. Because my mixes are for nodding your head or tapping your toes, but not actual dancing, the “boom-boom-boom-boom” of a four-on-the- floor track can be jarring. Yet a lot of the music I listen to fits the description, although usually with a more relaxed feeling – although not necessarily a slower tempo – than full-on house or disco.

This time, instead of sneaking them in as an afterthought, I started by picking two four-on-the-floor songs that fit the summer vibe I wanted and then chose the other songs to put around them. I’m happy with the result, but of course you’ll be the judge of whether it all flows successfully.

The first song I’m talking about is #8, “Time to reflect” by Moomin, a German producer I learned about through his association with the Hamburg label Smallville. I’m a big fan of the label, which has a playful aesthetic and specializes in melodic deep house.

The other four-on-the-floor song is the last one, “Mercy of means” by Frank & Aakmel. Frank is Brooklyn resident Francis Harris, who has also released music with another duo, Frank & Tony, as well as under his own name. He’s one of those musicians with amazing ears, by which I mean his productions have subtle touches that for me provide a consistent warmth and beauty.

That’s the last song, now on to the first: I’ve *almost* played British singer/songwriter Hollie Cook in several previous mixes. This time, I decided to let her go first so she wouldn’t get squeezed out again. Hollie’s mother sang with Culture Club; her father was the drummer in a little combo called The Sex Pistols. “Survive” is from her third and most recent album Vessel of Love.

I was a superfan of the French duo Air when they started releasing music in the mid-90s. Since then, their albums and solo projects have been, for me, very hit or miss. So I was pleased to learn that member Nicolas Godin was behind the retro lounge music in the delightful Netflix series “Au Service de la France” (“A Very Secret Service” is the English name). The series is set in the 60s, and Godin captures the swinging Paris vibe perfectly. “Clayborn” is from the soundtrack album.

If you aren’t familiar with the group case/lang/veirs, this is your notice that it’s a collaboration between Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs. If you like any of these artists, the album, from 2016, is essential. “Honey and smoke” gets a lead vocal from k.d., one of my very favorite singers; and I’d say this is one of her very best songs.

Listen to this mix at Mixcloud.

1. Hollie Cook – Survive
2. Johnny Hartman – The day the world stopped turning
3. C Duncan – Holiday home
4. Roy Ayers – Destination Motherland
5. Tosca with Anna Clementi – Honey
6. Freddie Hubbard with Hubert Laws and George Benson – Naturally
7. Pizzicato Five – The world without you
8. Moomin – Time to reflect
9. Bebel Gilberto – Tranquilo
10. Nick Drake – One of these things first
11. Nicolas Godin – Clayborn
12. Beach House – Majorette
13. Shirley Horn – Return to paradise
14. James Blake with Rosalía – Barefoot in the park
15. Dennis Brown – Hold on to what you got
16. case/lang/veirs – Honey and smoke
17. Willie Bobo – Night song
18. Frank & Aakmael – Mercy of means