What I'm Currently Listening To

A brief look at what I’m currently listening too. 

Count Basie – Taxi War Dance. The Count was popular in Jazz back in the 30s through the 50s and his swing-style music continues to inspire enthusiasts today. I love the rhythm section in Count Basie’s big band and their newly developed style of using the high hat for establishing the beat – it opened up many new possibilities for the lead instruments. Listen sometimes to ‘Taxi War Dance’, or ‘Swingin’ the Blues’, for instance. 

The Dixieland Allstars – When the Saints Go Marching In. The old standard, you must think of New Orleans when you hear this tune. The chords are quite simple, but it’s what the lead, back up and rhythm instruments do in a typical jazz context like this that makes the song work. Listen to it sometimes and see what lessons are there for a bluegrass band. 

Tony Trischka and Alison Brown – Arcadia. This is from Tony’s very successful bluegrass CD ‘Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular’, in which Tony collaborates with many top Bluegrass talents on the songs. Very similar to what Carlos Santana did with his monumentally successful CD ‘Supernatural’; collaboration proved a successful tool for both these musicians at least in part because they at the top of their game, so to speak. I don’t think such collaboration would work for just anyone. Tony and Alison’s styles are very similar in many aspects, but you can pick out who’s playing if you listen closely or if you already know their styles. I’ll have more to write about Alison’s music in a forthcoming blog. 

Candy Dulfer – Lily was Here. I just have to admit it – I love a lot of songs simply for the groove that lays a foundation for the rest of the song, and this is one of them. It’s almost like a jazz version of ‘Dueling Banjos’ (‘Dueling Guitar and Sax’?) that works so well in showcasing those sophisticated licks. 

Carlos Santana – Samba Pa Ti. I’ve been listening to this since, oh, 1969. I think I know every single note in the original version. A classic in every sense of the word. 

Dave Grusin – Mountain Dance. Here’s another tune that just amazes me. Listen to the chords, the melodies and the changing rhythms! How did Dave put them all together so effectively, I want to know.

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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