Friday, November 26, 2010

Bobby Hebb and "Sunny"

Hi kids,
       As you might know by now, if you follow the blog, is that I love analyzing songs that have multiple versions. This next tune under my lens is a R&B/Soul classic called "Sunny." "Sunny" was written by Bobby Hebb in 1963, after the Kennedy Assassination and the murder of Bobby's brother outside of a Nashville nightclub. Hebb wrote the song to highlight optimism instead of pessimism that was widely felt at that time in American history. The first release of the tune was actually by Japanese singer Miko Hirota.

Hirota's version, unlike future releases, doesn't modulate through keys and some verses are omitted, slightly changing the story line of the song.

The next version released was by marimba player Dave Pike in 1966. Pike release his instrumental version shortly before Hebb released his version, in 1966. At the time, Hebb was touring with the Beatles.

This version also doesn't modulate through keys like Hebbs does. Notice the very distinct key changes that occur throughout the Bobby Hebb version of the song:

This sparked a plethora of cover versions from some of the most respected names in music.
This cut by Marvin Gaye starts in the key of F minor. The original is in E minor:

Stevie Wonder cut his own version of it, in the original key. The remarkable thing about this version is the great orchestration and variations of the vocal melody:

Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and Jamiroquai have all performed stellar versions of "Sunny:"

Now, my two favorite versions are by two great musicians. First we have the album version of the great Philly guitarist Pat Martino. The album is "Pat Martino/Live" with he recorded in New York with Ron Thomas (keys), Tyrone Brown (bass) and Sherman Ferguson (drums). This combo kills it:

Being the Godfather of Soul, James Brown has also performed "Sunny." This clip is from Paris in the 70's with the J.B.'s as his backing band:

Now, My ALL TIME favorite version of this tune is a live video of Pat Martino with organist Joey Defrancesco at the 2002 Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy. The band invites John Scofield to join them on this tune. Unfortunately, Sco looks lost, and his solo is very weak in comparison. He seems to be feeling his way through the changes and doesn't give the listener any confidence. Joey D and Pat on the other hand. Pat Martino MURDERS the solo! He shreds this jam to bits! Watch:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Music Review

Hey kids!
     I know, it's been a hot minute since I've posted, but I've been getting ready for grad school auditions and that got more focus. So, I did some front line reconnaissance and asked around for some new music. I'm glad to hear back from people that there is some interesting new music out there. Big thanks to my buddy Josh Trupin for turning my attention to a bunch of new bands. Now, Josh has his ear more towards the indie sound, so all these bands were revelations!
     The first band to come to my attention were Gayngs from Minneapolis. More of a collective of musicians from the Minneapolis area, Gayngs have a strong ambient sound, based on the layering and overlapping of sounds. 
The members of Gayngs are:

  • Justin Vernon and Mike Noyce (Bon Iver)
  • P.O.S (Rhymesayers)
  • Dessa (Doomtree)
  • Michael Lewis (Andrew Bird)
  • Ivan Howard (The Rosebuds)
  • Ryan Olson (Building Better Bombs, Digitata)
  • Zach Coulter, Adam Hurlburt, and Shön Troth (Solid Gold)
  • Joe Westerlund, Brad Cook, and Phil Cook (Megafaun)
  • Maggie Morrison (Lookbook, Digitata)
  • Jake Luck and Nick Ryan (Leisure Birds)
  • Channy Moon-Casselle (Roma di Luna)
  • Katy Morley
  • Danny Krzykowski
Here are a few videos of their tunes:

No Sweat

Faded High

The Gaudy Side of Town

The next group is We Were Promised Jetpacks from Scotland. Their debut full length was released June of last year, so it's not really thaaaat new, but it's new enough. We Were Promised Jetpacks have a very generic "indie" sound. It seems like they're going of the sound of indie as opposed to the aesthetic of recording and touring independently.

Another band from Scotland The Twilight Sad lean towards a more experimental, ambient sound. Since 2009, they have one album and an EP. The album is Forget the Night Ahead. This album is much darker than their previous release. When asked about it, guitarist Andy McFarlane explained that they weren't looking for a polished sound, and that 3 bass heads were blown in the process.

Reflection of the Television

Made To Disappear