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The Best Hold Music Ever (Pt 2): Five Albums While You Wait

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A couple weeks ago, I suggested listening to Steve Lawson‘s new album Invenzioni while you wait for Sephyra to be released. If you haven’t heard it yet, now’s a perfect moment.

And here are a few more to whet your palate. There are only a couple days now til the Kickstarter ends, so you’ll want to start listening right away, because if you’re anything like me, you may end up spinning each of these several times.

And then before you know it, my album will be out. For pledgers, that’s this Friday October 12 at 3:33pm Pacific Time. Everyone else will have to wait just a little longer.

A nice thing: all these records are on Bandcamp. Which means you can listen before you buy, and in many cases when you do buy, you can decide what it’s worth or what you can afford, and just pay that for it. It’s like getting to jog around in your new runners a few days before actually having to pay for them. Now wouldn’t that be clever.

 

Scott McLemore – Remote Location

I first heard Scott play in his wife Sunna Gunnlaugs‘ trio – he is an incredible jazz drummer, and a wonderful composer as well, as I discovered when his new album came out a few weeks ago. I swear I gain a few IQ points with each listen. Complex and thoughtful yet laid back melodies interweave between piano, bass, guitar and saxophone, while Scott’s spacious rhythms create the warm, wide open spaces for this intelligent yet heartful conversation.

I’m admittedly not someone who normally listens to a lot of jazz. It’s clever but often leaves me cold. But Scott and Sunna have turned that perception squarely on its head with their intricate and inviting, sensitive music. And did you hear me say saxophone? I’ve always had a bit of an aversion, but this album made me fall in love with the instrument. I’m actually leaning in, waiting for the next delicious note. I guess in music as in life, anything is possible, and things can change in a moment.

Out of the whole exquisite album, my favorite track is Citizen Sitting Zen. For me, the slow rolling beats and fuzzy, lazily meandering saxophone paint a family of hibernating bears, snuggled down under winter snow, keeping each other warm. Bumping around in the dark they nuzzle in slumber til eventually sunshine creeps over the horizon, sleepy bear eyes blink and yawn as a rhythmic guitar line rolls happily in, and then the music blooms like cubs tumbling down a hillside of flowers and spring birdsong.

I have to say, I also hope I get to hear more of Sunna playing wurlitzer as she does so beautifully on Balkelero. She’s got a new album in the works, so maybe we’ll get lucky.

 

Emily Baker – All At Sea

I’ve had the distinct and hilarious pleasure of getting to know Emily on Twitter, and she also happens to be one of the most genius singer-songwriters I’ve met. I heard her debut album House Of Cards earlier this year and fell utterly in love with her introspective yet bright and bold lyrics, melodies and harmonies, cradled in lovely, crystal clear instrumentation and production. It was just perfect, that’s all. Her new album All At Sea is all that and better. It’s heart-on-sleeve raw, intimate, open, free and honest like a clean breeze brushing cobwebs of thought and worry from your brow. When I want a shoulder to put my weary head on, Emily’s album is it. She’s plumbing the depths of something, and we’re blessed to get all these pearls on one string.

While this album stunning as it stands, it’s another thing to know she recorded it live in just three days, with very simple, sparse instrumentation and few overdubs.

Listen to Cold Turkey and Coast Is Clear and tell me Emily is not every bit as brilliant and innovative as Joni Mitchell, and yet absolutely her own woman. I can’t wait to hear what she does next.

 

Søren Dahl Jeppesen – Route One / Red Sky

Yet another example of saxophone-laden, understated, ambient jazz that absolutely mesmerizes. Icelandic saxophonist Óskar Guðjónsson plays on both of these albums as well as on Scott McLemore’s recording. Jeppesen is a guitarist from Denmark whose richly sumptuous, organic tones echo the sultry soulfulness of Ry Cooder, singed by a Buckley-esque slow dark burn. This music is marvelous for melting luxuriously into the floor, or whatever surface you may find yourself lying upon. Because if you’re listening to this, you’ll likely find yourself lying before long.

Amidst the sophistication, there are also moments of tender repose as in the track ‘Sound Bite’ on Route One, and ‘The Lives Of Others’ on Red Sky, as well as relaxed, sunny moments such as ‘At Ease’ on Red Sky, creating sweet interludes of light amidst the shadows, like one might glimpse fleetingly across a Scandinavian horizon.

 

All these albums get a lot of play in my world lately, most often during morning yoga practice or while driving around, which seem to be the places where I listen best. Music tends to soak up my full attention when it’s on, which is probably the way it should be, but it means I’m not much good at having music on while I work. Unless the work is the music. Hey, I think I’m on to something there…

I hope you enjoy the playlist as much as I do. Your call is important, and I want you to be smiling if I have to keep you waiting. ;)

I’d love to know what you think of these albums, especially if you’re not normally a big jazz listener or sax fan…I seem to have gotten converted…did you?

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