Ryuichi Sakamoto, Art Blakey & More: My Albums of the Week #34

I would consider myself an “albums guy” and my taste in music is very varied. In this new feature, I list the albums that I listened to most intensely during the week. The list will include albums old and new, and the number of albums listened to every week will most likely vary on a week-to-week basis.

Ryuichi Sakamoto
Esperanto
(School, 1985) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – A Wongga Dance Song // 2 – The “Dreaming” // 3 – A Rain Song // 4 – Dolphins // 5 – A Human Tube // 6 – Adelic Penguins // 7 – A Carved Stone // 8 – Ulu Watu

Fascinating work by Ryuichi Sakamoto, at least partly written for ballet. Described as ethnic fusion, the album partly found him clipping samples of ethnic instruments electronically modified to create what sounds, as the title implies, like a universal and modern universal language. Tracks range from rhythmically exciting to atmospherically soothing. Dare I say, ahead of its time?

The Ralph Sutton Quartet
Jazz at the Olympics
(Omega, 1960) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Winter Wonderland // 2 – Button Up Your Overcoat // 3 – I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm // 4 – I’ll Follow You // 5 – Hot Buttered Rum // 6 – Let It Snow // 7 – I’m Shooting High // 8 – Winter Weather // 9 – I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Falling // 10 – Squaw Valle Blues

A fun live set of old-style jazz versions of classic compositions associated with the coldest season of all. Recorded by Ralph Sutton, considered as one of the best post-war stride pianists, with a quartet ahead of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.

Santo & Johnny
Santo & Johnny
(Canadian-American, 1959) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Caravan // 2 – Summertime // 3 – All Night Diner // 4 – Blue Moon // 5 – School Day // 6 – Sleepwalk // 7 – Tenderly // 8 – Slave Girl // 9 – Dream // 10 – Canadian Sunset // 11 – Harbor Lights // 12 – Raunchy

A vintage and iconic meeting of “twangy” and “slidey” guitar by a couple of wops. Some of these tunes probably served as background music many a-make-out sessions back in the day.

Oscar Feldman
Gol
(ZOHO, 2017) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – I Let a Song Out of My Heart // 2 – La Cancion Que Falta // 3 – Viva Belgrano // 4 – Murmullo // 5 – N. N. // 6 – Nobody’s Fault but Mine // 7 – Is That So? // 8 – I Feel Fine

Really good straight-ahead acoustic modern jazz set from Argentinian saxophonist Oscar Feldman. Swinging and sophisticated.

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
Selections from Golden Boy
(Colpix, 1964) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Theme from Golden Boy // 2 – Yes I Can // 3 – Lorna’s Here // 4 – This Is the Life // 5 – There’s a Party // 6 – I Want to Be With You

Another record featuring a fabled jazz ensemble’s versions of selections of songs from a musical. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ takes on songs from the Golden Boy musical are wonderful and most impressive when the music is at its most muscular, reflecting the story of the musical itself, which is about a prizefighter. This overlooked date in the rotating ensemble’s history also includes some amazing names, like Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter to name but a few, headed of course by the drum machine Art Blakey himself.

 

Yung Bae
Bae 5
(The Future of Funk, 2019) ⭐⭐⭐

TRACKLIST (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Pacific Standard // 2 – Must Be Love // 3 – Start from Nothing // 4 – You’ve Got Me // 5 – Bad Boy // 6 – What You Need // 7 – Up All Night // 8 – Laa La Laaa // 9 – We Came to Boogie // 10 – Fell in Love // 11 – Welcome to the Disco

Future Funk is an interesting modern type of elevator music, which is fine because I have a fascination with this much-maligned genre. Some of the grooves are quite nice and if it wasn’t for Yung Bae’s apparent fascination with messing about with the volume knob like some type of transistor radio troll, I’d give it a higher Bae 5 a higher rating.

Leave a Reply