Thursday, October 5, 2017

John Zorn's Bagatelles Marathon

This weekend!

I'm extremely excited to be a part of this amazing lineup.

Go to the site and check it out: https://nyuskirball.org/events/john-zorn-bagatelles/


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

10 Albums for AAJ Italia

I was asked to write this list of 10 albums I've been digging on recently for All About Jazz Italia.

It was translated into Italian here: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/i-10-cd-nel-cd-player-di--nick-millevoi-nick-millevoi-by-vincenzo-roggero.php

But here it is in English:

Jeff Parker - The New Breed (International Anthem - 2016)

I've been listening to this album at least once a day for a week. Jeff Parker's latest album features a combination of loops, beats, and live playing. The tunes are great and the whole record grooves really hard. I really like how fun this record is and how unique it sounds.

Grant Green - Goin' West (Blue Note - 1969)

I love country-jazz hybrid albums, and this record is Grant Green playing cowboy tunes with Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman, and Billy Higgins. I only got into this album in the past year and it's probably the album I listened to most in 2016. The version of "Red River Valley" on here is great. This has probably become my favorite Grant Green record.

Lou Donaldson - Gravy Train (Blue Note - 1962)

Blues-y straight ahead jazz with congas. I can't get enough of it. Donaldson's approach is very direct and there's no extra notes to be found anywhere on this record. The version of "South of the Border" falls into the cowboy-jazz genre for me, which is what got me listening to this record in the first place.

Various - Shazam! and other instrumentals written by Lee Hazlewood (Ace Records - 2016)

This is a great compilation of mostly guitar-based instrumentals written by Lee Hazlewood. A lot of Duane Eddy on here, as well as The Ventures, Hal Blaine, The Astronauts, Jack Nitzsche, and others. I happened upon this album just searching around on the internet and it's been in steady rotation. Music like this makes me with that the epic guitar instrumental still held the cultural value that it did 50 years ago!

John Zorn - The Painted Bird (Tzadik - 2016)

The fourth album by Zorn's group Simulacrum, with my friends and collaborators Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski, with John Medeski. I love all of the Simulacrum records, but this one is my favorite. Kenny Wolleson plays vibes on here and I think his addition to the group really opened up the sound. Zorn's recent records have really been blowing my mind and this one maybe most of all. Such great writing and playing on this one.

Ana Hogberg Attack - Ana Holberg Attack (Omlott - 2016)

I don't know much about this album. A friend told me about it the other day and I've listened three or four times since. The only player on here I'm familiar with is the bass player, Elsa Bergman, who contributes a really heavy feel to the album. The rhythm section has a loose hookup that works really well with the dark melodic writing. I'm looking forward to checking out more of Hogberg's records! 

Willie Nelson - Teatro (Island - 1998)

More cowboy music. Willie as produced by Daniel Lanois, around the same time that Lanois did Dylan's Time Out of Mind and Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball. A student of mine got me into this record and it's become one of my favorite Willie Nelson albums. The playing is really sparse - there's not even a bass on a lot of the tracks - but with some great drumming that gives it a Tex-Mex feel. 

Joni Mitchell - Hejira (Asylum - 1976)

A classic that I come back to every now and then. This is the first Joni Mitchell album I got into after seeing The Last Waltz. Every song is great and so is the playing. I watched the Jaco Pastorius documentary recently and it reminded me how much I like this album is and I've been stuck coming back to it for the past couple months. 

Ahmad Jamal - Trio and Quintet Recordings with Ray Crawford (Definitive Records - 2016)

It's the trio recordings on here that particularly get me. The arrangements and playing are so tight and perfect and Ray Crawford's playing is unparalleled. I think Crawford is and extremely undersung and underrated player. For years, I thought he was putting down his guitar and playing bongos, but I finally realized that he's hitting the guitar. Only a couple people ever did this like Crawford and it's definitely something that's fallen out of style, but contributes so much to the music! And on top of that, his line playing is so perfect and in the pocket. Essential guitar music!

Cal Tjader - The Latin Kick (Fantasy - 1956)

I've found myself listening to a lot of exotica and vibraphones recently and this record has it all. The cover is really what made me gave it a listen. There's a great picture of a cactus on the cover that screams mid-century jazz-western crossover music. The selection of tunes is great, the arrangements are really tasteful, and Tjader's playing is impeccable. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sleepwalk

This week I take on "Sleepwalk."

"Sleepwalk" is a guitar standard. I originally heard this when I was 13 on Brian Setzer's album, Dirty Boogie. He plays a great version of it.

It's originally from 1959, by guitar and pedal steel playing Italian brothers from Brooklyn, Santo & Johnny. Their uncle plays drums on the tune and Santo's wife Ann co-wrote it with them. Their record was a #1 hit.

It's been covered by so many guitar players that I'm not going to bother even listing any. YouTube can tell you all about that. For my tastes, I'm sticking with the original, Danny Gatton, and Brian Setzer.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Poinciana

Poinciana - Song of the Trees

POINCIANA - Song of the Trees

I thought "Poinciana" was an Ahmad Jamal tune because of his iconic version from At the Pershing. I never looked for an earlier version until a couple years ago. Turns out it's from 1936 and was based on a Cuban folk song, "Song of the Tree." There are lots of great versions of this, including ones by the Four Freshman, Frank Sinatra, and one by Vulfpeck that's all on vocoder.

Ahmad Jamal trio guitarist Ray Crawford used to play his guitar percussively to imitate the sound of congas, which is another thing about Ahmad Jamal that I didn't realize for a long time. I thought he was switching off and actually playing a percussion instrument, but he was hitting his guitar. Even though Crawford was out of the band by the time of At the Pershing, I included some "conga guitar" at the top of this arrangement as a tribute.

#poinciana #ahmadjamal #raycrawford #congaguitar #guitar #sologuitar #sologuitarist #telecaster #atthepershing #crestonguitar #songofthetrees #songofthetree

Posted by Nick Millevoi on Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Your Cheatin Heart

YOUR CHEATIN HEART

The first time I played this song was from a copy of a handwritten chart of Bill Frisell’s that Dan Blacksberg brought back from a summer program in college. I realized that learning country tunes was just as cool as learning jazz tunes and went on a bender learning songs by Hank and Willie.

I just learned from Wikipedia that “Your Cheatin Heart” was the B-side to “Kaw-Liga,” which seems completely ridiculous now (if you don’t know that song, give a listen and you’ll get why). This song was recorded in September 1952 and released in January 1953, shortly after Williams’ death on New Years. The original recording features Chet Atkins on lead guitar.

I have a real thing for jazz and r&b versions of country tunes. I really dig the Ray Charles version from 1962: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G68gA72y6fU and the James Brown version from 1969’s Soul on Top: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=462TXP95oVU. “Can ya feel it?”

#hankwilliams #yourcheatinheart #guitar #sologuitar #telecaster #countryguitar #twang #twangy

Posted by Nick Millevoi on Friday, March 17, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

20 Creative Songwriting and Composing Prompts Courtesy of 'Every Song Ever'

Here's my newest article I wrote for Flypaper that comes from a lesson I've done with a few of my students that's based on Ben Ratliff's book, "Every Song Ever." As I mention in the article, that's probably the best book I read in the last year and I think there's a lot of wisdom in there. 
Let me know if this helps you write some music!