Snarky Puppy ft. Jayna Brown – I’ll Do Me – Family Dinner Volume One

Music:

Most of the music-savvy folks out there already know the name of Snarky Puppy. The band has pretty much become a benchmark in terms of jazz bands and they truly deserve the exposure. The individual level of proficiency that the members demonstrates can certainly account for that. All of their albums are recorded and filmed live, and the band director and composer, Michael League shows-off his genius on every occasion. This song, I’ll Do Me, is a blues tune. It’s not the usual style that Snarky usually performs in, they’re more of the big band type of register. But this whole album is more than just Snarky Puppy. Family Dinner volume 1 showcases talent from the MusicLab at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, VA. and plays arrangements of one of each guest’s songs; the result is phenomenal. Back to this song however. The tune was written by a 12 year old girl named Jayna Brown and boy can she sing. She belts it like she has had a lifetime of experience at singing blues. Gabriel Morales, a 15 year-old guitar student, also from the Jefferson Center, joins her and takes a solo that is all blues and taste. It is truly amazing to see two young musicians playing alongside others twice their age, and show an equal level of musicianship. It is also reassuring and comforts the idea that not all talented young musicians set themselves on a path to become the next Bieber or Cyrus and grow up to get in fights with paparazzis or do drugs on stage. But this is another battle.

Video:

The whole concept for this DVD stays true to the vibe Snarky usually sets for their live recordings and even brings it forward. The live setup usually consists of the 20+ piece-band playing in a circle around a reduced crowd of 25 (or so) people. This time the band is set on a stage, and the crowd is scattered around it and sat on living room sofas and comfy cushioned chairs. Half of this record was shot and recorded on the one evening. On the second evening, around 800 people were invited to attend the performance, recording, and video shoot session. The vibe that seeps out is that of a cosy evening at a local jazz bar, minus the gin & tonic. And the picture matches the quality of the music, it captures the atmosphere perfectly and complements it with slow pans and occasional close-ups of players pulling faces that evoke groove and concentration.

Definitely a band to check out if you haven’t already, and this encompasses the entirety of their music. They touch upon all styles of grooves and melodies, and have just enough jazz to get the undivided attention of most musicians without losing that of non-players who aren’t generally attracted to that type of music.

Music Video Of The Week – John Mayer – ‘Where The Light Is’ – Live in L.A.

Michael McDonald – Executive producer

Lindha Narvaez – Producer

Danny Clinch – Director

Chris Zimmer – Production Supervisor

Vance Burberry – Cinematography

Music:

This week’s music video segment is focused on John Mayer. He is better known for his pop/corny/cheesy songwriting skills and the broad audience of listeners generally think they got him all figured out from the start. One thing I can assure you, is that by the end of this show you will have seen a brand new facet of the artist you’d probably never thought you’d see. Mayer is just out right phenomenal in this performance. The show consists of three acts : John Mayer acoustic, John Mayer trio, and the John Ensemble. With this approach he is able to showcase the full spectrum of his musical abilities. The opening act is him interpreting some of his famous acoustic songs from some earlier days. You find songs such as Free Fallin’, Stop this Train, Daughters, Neon, and In Your Atmosphere. The second act features Mayer, Pino Paladino (world-class bassist), and Steve Jordan on drums (Steve also helped Mayer produce some of his studio work); and no one grooves quite like Jordan. The set-list for this act is more blues-jazz oriented, with covers of Hendrix (a flawless rendition of Bold As Love if it weren’t for the overly corny interlude) as well as Mayer originals. There his Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque playing blended with BB. King and Albert King licks just ooze out of the man’s fingertips. From single line hooks, to wah-powered rapid fire licks and phased out triplet double-stop runs, he covers it all. It is almost unreal the tone this guy gets. And I’m going to have to be honest; this show is probably the reason why I got a Fender Strat. This part of the show will definitely hit home for the blues aficionado. In the third act, Mayer showcases his songwriting forte and directs a 10+ man ensemble. The big band plays songs from Mayer’s Continuum mainly, but also Room for Squares. And again, his tone, feel and interpretation are without comparison. The band exchanges solos on I Don’t Need No Doctor and show-off a funk/jazz end of their repertoire. The final song to close off the ceremony is I’m Gonna Find Another You, a Mayer take on a jazz/blues standard. In other words a blues/jazz song about yet another failed relationship. But regardless, Mayer solos through the chords as an introduction and the man’s playing is just as impressive in jazz as it is in blues. This performance just goes to show how much of an accomplished singer-songwriter, musician and guitarist John Mayer is.

Video:

The opening and ending credits see John Mayer on a hill that overhangs the city of Los Angeles, sat on a stool, with an amp set-up and a guitar in his hands. The scenery is just an taster as to what is to come in terms of cinematographic composition. The picture is there to match the quality of the playing, that’s for sure! With travelling panoramic shots, close-up sequences, you get a really good grasp on the dynamic interplay between members and the vibe Mayer was aiming for. The colour palette chosen for the lighting matches the changes in camera angles and the vibe of the performance tremendously. During the trio performance, Mayer, Paladino and Jordan are all dressed to the nines in fancy black suits and ties; bringing back the authentic feel of early blues days. You also get great insights on Mayer’s personality on and off stage; the camera crew follows him around as he prepares for the show, between sets and through off days. And the spectator really gets to see how much of a kick he gets out of being a performing and recording artist. But we also get to see the downside of fame where paparazzi take the fun out of it. But the main point that he is trying to get across is that this performance is about highlighting his talent as a well-rounded musician and to change people’s preconceived opinion that they ‘have seen the whole reveal‘.

A definite recommendation if you’re into guitar-playing, blues in general or even just plain and simple GOOD live music.