Sunday, January 14, 2007

[Jazz] Jimmy Raney - (1976) Live in Tokyo

Finally, our second real Jazz review has arrived. Our maestro for this class will be Jimmy Raney, a personal favourite of mine. This concert recording, featuring a more extensive intrument line-up than Barney Kessel's Plays for Lovers, will hopefully give you a more lively impression of the unique atmophere that Jazz creates.

Jimmy Raney - Live in Tokyo
Jazz - 1976
1CD - 11 tracks
Total running time: 57:21

This great live performance offers a nice mix of melodic, romantic songs and more lively, up-tempo tracks masterfully interpreted by Jimmy Raney and his band.


Jazz used to be a festive type of music, an aspect which this CD illustrates perfectly. After the pleasant, yet somewhat academic playing on Barney Kessel's compilation, this live recording brings you the 'real thing'.

Technically, the recording does a great job of making you feel part of the audience. The band line up includes more instruments, such as a piano, more adventurous drums and a saxophone. Additionally, Jimmy Raney displays his talents both as a reflective, slow and complex chord player and as an up-tempo beepop style player. The two make this concert a great combination of feel-good and moody, laid-back atmosphere.

A walk through this performance

The show starts off, as do a lot of shows in general, with some up-tempo favourites such as How about You and Watch what Happens to get the public going. Always refreshing to hear those few openers. Just goes to show you that you can also use Jazz to get yourself kicking again after an exhausting or depressing day. In Anthropology, Jimmy displays his speed skills.

Later on, things slow down and Jimmy gets right into it with a really wonderful version of Autumn Leaves or Les Feuilles mortes as the original title is. You'll also find yet another version of Here's that Rainy Day. Jimmy's interpretation is livelier and grittier; I'm pretty sure most of you wouldn't recognize it without some insider hints. Another notable interpretation on this record is the one of Charlie Parker's classic, Just Friends.

Towards the end of the show, the saxophone makes its entry and the band play some more cheerful, croud-pleasing songs.

To sum it all up

These performances don't require any deep analysis. Just put the CD on, one lazy Sunday afternoon and I'll bet ya, it'll have you tapping your feet or even doing a little dance in no time.

They're simply a great example of the uniqueness of Jazz. Jimmy and his band manage to create this jolly, energetic atmosphere, yet maintaining the characteristic laid-back sound of Jazz. It just shows you: you can have lots of fun without even breaking into a sweat.

More of Jimmy

Jimmy is one of the 'old dogs' of Jazz guitar, and also one of my favourites. He has a classic, old fashionned playing style which tends to be punchier, grittier than the more modern players. He's a great example of how real Jazz used to sound.

The wonderful thing about him is that he's also excellent at playing the modern, reflective, more complex, slightly intellectual music which I also apreciate. With his background as a classic Jazz guitarist, he manages to pack loads of emotion into the sometimes 'empty' sounding modern compositions, as he does to perfection in one of his last releases, But Beautiful.

Track list

How about You
Darn that Dream
Watch what Happens
Just Friends
Autumn Leaves
Stella by Starlight
Here's that Rainy Day
Grovin' High
Blue 'n Boogie


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

[Jazz] Here's that Rainy Day

For those of you who are finding the first step into the World of Jazz a little too steep and can't quite gather up the courage to go and hunt for Barney Kessel's compilation, here is an audio-visual appetizer - your first taste of real Jazz.

A simple bloke playing a simple tune in his own home... but it sounds wonderful. That's Jazz Guitar for you!

My profound views on this video

I won't bore you with my usual, highly spiritual statements this time. This video is only intented as an appetizer. We'll have lots of opportunities to get "intellectual" with future material.

Here's that Rainy Day is another example of a standard. You'll probably get to hear hundreds of versions of this piece if you dig into Jazz a little.
The guy playing is no professional, ...although he is damn good if you ask me. That's years and years of practice.

I certainly hope it has stirred your curiosity...


Monday, January 01, 2007 upgrades - We make the switch

It's nearing that time of year again where tradition wants us to make plans for the future. That task has been made very easy for me this year since I've posted a mind-boggling total of 1 posts this year (probably a record!). So the plans are the same as last year's with a little extra determination to actually carry them through this time.

This traditional event coincides with an
upgrade made by our host,, to its service. We bravely made the switch to the new system. We will be telling you what changes and improvements you can expect from this upgrade here at Pifflez's comprehensive guide to musical literacy.

The switching process

Changing from the old Blogger system to the new one was no easy task. In fact, for quite a long while, we snobbed the new system known as "beta" because we couldn't get our page to look the way we liked with it. After a little research, we figured out how. The new editing philosophy is very different to the old one. However, in the long run, it will make updating this blog, adding new features and keeping its content and layout fresh, easier.

Anyone else with their own blog going through the transition at the moment should check out these sites - in my opinion, the most helpful:New features

Appart from a few minor esthetical changes, the switch has brought us 4 new features
  • The Blog Archive (located in the side bar) is a new tree structure menu that allows you to freely select the period you wish to see. Click on the name of a post to see the individual post page. Click on a month to see that month's archive page, listing all the posts made during that month. The MainPage will list only the 7 most recent posts. You can either use the Blog Archive or the "older posts" link at the bottom of the page to view previous posts.
  • Just below the Blog Archive, you will find a handy Search bar. Give in a keyword, click "Go!" and the 7 most recent posts containing your keyword will be displayed. Use the "older posts" and "new posts" links at the bottom of the page to display the rest of the search results.
  • The sidebar is home to a third novelty: a list of recent comments. The five most recent comments made by site visitors will be permantly shown in the side bar. This will hopefully improve interaction between posters and readers.
Categorized posts

The 4th feature is really the one that makes this switch worthwhile.

In the sidebar, you'll see a new section called "Topics". This is because all posts are now categorized by "Labels". Labels associated to a post are displayed at the end of the post. By clicking on one topic in the sidebar, all posts associated with that topic will be displayed.

So far, our music guide covers the following topics:
  • Blog developments
    Posts presenting general information, updates, changes on this music guide
  • Reviews
    Album reviews. These will be subclassified into genres according to the list presented in the post Plans for the future
  • Wako talk
    Whenever I feel the need to express my opinion on something, and feel passionate about it, be it musical or not, I will post some "Wako talk"
  • Videos
    Links to amateur music videos from Google Videos or YouTube or other such sites
  • Technology
    My technical advice on how to get the ultimate Audio experience from your laptop or PC

A glance into the future

As said previously, this new blogging system should allows to add new, exciting content and features, more often and more easily.

We're looking forward to it!