Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Feature: 2012 in Review – New, New to Me, and those we lost

Reflecting on my musical discoveries in 2012, there were many but the theme that emerges is squarely in the 1970’s. That decade pre-dated my musical awareness, which only sprung in the Eighties. But thanks to great DJs and musical curators like Gilles Peterson (@gillespeterson), Jason Palma (@jasonpalma), Kon (@Kon1200), and Huggs (@huggs), I rediscovered an amazing slice of musical magic from the 70’s.

So here are my favourite finds, some new releases, and a reminder of some of the musical greats we lost this year:

New Releases:

New to Me: Re-discovered

  • Leon Ware – An impressive body of work from the 70s that blends soulful vocals, jazz-influenced arrangements, and a dose of disco. The track, “What’s Your Name,” in particular, kills.
  • Ahmad Jamal – Calming, patient jazz that I overlooked in my younger years
  • The Philly Sound – Velvety
  • Donald Byrd – My 70s music hero and a mentor to the Mizzell Brothers, my other 70s heros. Not mention Harvey Mason, a spectacular jazz drummer. Mason’s beats on “Flight time” drive that track more than any other instrument in the arrangement. Not a lot of drummers can do that.
  • D-Train – Groovy synth funk from the early eighties; Credit the keyboard genius of Hubert Eaves III. “Keep on” is simply addictive.

Notable Passings

  • Don Cornelius – Host of Soul Train
  • Donna Summer – Queen of disco
  • Jose Roberto Bertrami – Azymuth keyboardist, one of the world’s best on the Rhodes
  • Sam ‘The Record Man’ Sniderman – Toronto record shop pioneer
  • Dave Brubeck – Legend of jazz
  • Ravi Shankar – Legend of Indian Classical music

Most Anticipated Release in 2013: New album from Alice Russell (expected February 2013)

Happy and Peaceful New Year!

Advertisements

Concert Review: Spoons Arias & Symphonies 30th Anniversary, Toronto, Revival Bar, November 30, 2012

When the Spoons announced a show dedicated to their 1982 classic album, Arias & Symphonies (Ready Records, 1982), it immediately made sense to thousands of fans who still follow the band, myself included. You see, Arias & Symphonies is not just an album but it is also a milestone. For those of us who grew up in Southern Ontario in the early 1980’s, our musical awareness sprang from a number of influences, the deepest of which was this album by a band that was ‘of us’ and, at the same time, from the ‘otherworld’ of modern music. In a previous post, I even argue that Arias was the best album of the 80’s.

poster

The Spoons delivered a solid show musically that Friday night in Toronto. Joined by original recording members, Rob Preuss and Derrick Ross for select cuts from the album, the band was tight and did their repertoire justice. Preuss was flawless on the intricate “Blow Away” and even used a vintage Roland 808 drum machine for the show. Gord Deppe and Sandy Horne interplayed as adeptly as ever, still masters of their voices and instruments. The current keyboardist and drummer, Casey MQ and Chris McNeill, were in their stride as well. McNeill in particular reminded us how vital a strong drummer is to the Spoons’ music and how a good drummer can complement, rather than compete, with the signature programmed beats in their music.

The most remarkable thing about that night however, was not the music, great as it was. It was the chemistry of the crowd, the band, and the event. Spoons fans are a loyal bunch. We are in our 40’s and 50’s now (although a younger set was on hand as well). We have “grown up,” leaving to nostalgia our youthful memories of early Spoons concerts in small spaces and summer nights in the Ontario Place Forum. Those “old emotions” well up pretty fast at a Spoons show. Suddenly, we are transported, not to our past per se but to a place where music is really really important and seeing it performed live is bliss. There is a unity of sorts when you’re among true fans who were imprinted, like you, when this music found them so many years ago.

This is not to say that the Spoons are purely about retro-music. Their latest release, Static in Transmission (Universal Canada/Fontana North, 2011) is a progressive album with a refreshed Spoons sound that makes it both contemporary and authentic. Read my short review of that release here.

Leaving the venue that night, I was utterly satisfied with the show. My favourite songs were played. The band had some fun with an alternate arrangement of “Tell No Lies” and entertaining tom-tom solos on “Walk the Plank.” Several fans even got to meet and greet the band before the show. But the most important part of why I was feeling good on that cold walk back to my car was the camaraderie I had felt with a roomful of strangers for two blissful hours.

Setlist

1. Trade Winds; 2. Arias & Symphonies; 3. Smiling in Winter; 4. One in Ten Words; 5. No Electrons; 6. Nova Heart; 7. Walk the Plank; 8. Blow Away; 9. You Light up; 10. Escape with You; 11. Old Emotions; 12. Tell No Lies; 13. End of Story; 14. Romantic Traffic; 15. Nova Heart (Singularity mix); 16. Rodeo; 17. The Rhythm; 18. Symmetry

Players

Gord Deppe, Guitars/Vocals; Sandy Horne, Bass Guitar/Vocals; Chris McNeill, Drums; Casey MQ, Keyboards; Rob Preuss (special guest), Keyboards; Derek Ross (special guest), Drums.