You are the Sunshine of my Life
2016
Where were you when you first heard Stevie play this track? That's why Stevie, and this track in particular means so much to me. I've always wanted to play this track but had to wait until now to be cool enough to do it! ? Another of the great Fender Rhodes riffs ever. Another great Stevie ballad!
Nite Cruiser (vocal version)
2015
The unmistakeable Mark Dorricott takes it to the next level with a superb piano solo (half way through). This is the vocal version of this featuring me singing!
Smooth Criminal
2016
This was one of the MTV breakout tracks for MJ, one of the first to combine R&B with rock and pop. Previously conventional wisdom kept the two apart and made MTV a dull rock channel. MJ changed all that for good!
Celebration
2016
Kool and the Gang were another band from the disco era that have stood the test of time. They transcended the disco genre and their material still sounds fresh today. They had great musicianship and great songs, a killer combination over a dance beat. Their horns were second only to Earth Wind and Fire's horn section.
Willin'
2016
This song means so much to me I've always wanted to record it. It's my generation's 'My Way' - a statement of resilience for the human spirit. I'm no singer but I sing on this one exactly because it is so personal to me on the soundtrack to my life! The Late Lowell George, who wrote Willin', was playing with Frank Zappa when he wrote it. Legend has it that he took the song to Frank for his band to play. Frank's told Lowell that Willin' was such a great song he should form his own band.
Europa
2016
A definitive guitar piece from Carlos Santana
Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis Collaboration #3 Foxy Ladies
2016
WHAT IF... Jimi and Miles had played together on a high energy instrumental in the style of Foxy Lady? I play or sequence all instruments on my pastiche in the style of the classic track off Jimi's 1967 debut album Are You Experienced. This is my respectful imagining of just one possible outcome. Miles and Jimi would have undoubtedly brought their energy to play off each other. As I create these Jimi and Miles Collab's I think I get closer to the spirit of what they would sound like together. I feel this one is the best yet at weaving the two together.
Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis Collaboration #2 If 6 were 9
2016
This is what it might have sounded like had Jimi survived to play with Miles Davis during Miles' Tutu/Amandla period (1986). For the first time Miles could embrace synthesizers, sequencing, and drum machines. No doubt Jimi would have too. Add to that a producer who could play bass every bit as well as he could produce, Marcus Miller, and you have a recipe for some awesome music. On this track I play guitars and sequence Miles trumpet. I am ably assisted by the immensely talented Steve Shone on bass. Don't miss his bass solo at 3 minutes in, Marcus would be proud!
Reelin' In The Years
2016
Michael Herndon (Moody Mo) and I have already done one version of this so we thought why not do an acoustic version too! This time I sing vocals on the verse and Michael does those cool harmonies on the chorus. Steely Dan Trivia... This song is about recalling times with a girlfriend and a romantic breakup. It's one of the most popular Steely Dan songs, but also one of their least favorite. In Rolling Stone, September 17, 2009, Donald Fagan said, "It's dumb but effective." Walter Becker added, "It's no fun."
She's Out of my Life
2016
MJ did such a great job of this track. Remember how his voice breaks down at the end? To do this justice you need that same emotional investment. I'm not sure I could take it as far as him but, for nylon strings, this is as expressive as I dared! DYK It was not written by MJ but by American songwriter Tom Bahler. Jackson's version was released as the fourth single from his 1979 album Off the Wall. It peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time any solo artist had ever achieved four Top 10 hits from one album.
Come back to me
2016
I was enticed to this track because it has such a haunting melody and general vibe. It has always reminded me of "I'm only Human" by the Human League. It has some very similar chord progressions. I use a nylon stringed classical and electric guitars, as well as bass to pick out the tune. "Come Back to Me" is by Janet Jackson, taken from her fourth studio album, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). It was written by Jackson, while James Harris III, and Terry Lewis co-wrote and produced the song.
Maputo
2016
I fell in love with this track way back in the '80s when it first came out. I was on a scuba diving holiday in Bermuda when I bought the 'Double Vision' album (on tape cassette) in a music store in the capital, Hamilton - so it always invokes some great memories. Don't you just love the way music can transport you back in time. Double Vision is a 1986 collaboration by Bob James and David Sanborn. The album was a successful smooth jazz release receiving frequent airplay. The track Maputo (a town in Mozambique) was written by Marcus Miller. Look who was on that original album. Only me playing all instruments on my version Bob James: keyboards, synthesizers David Sanborn: saxophone Marcus Miller: bass Steve Gadd: drums Paul Milton Jackson, Jr.: guitar Paulinho Da Costa: percussion
Alone together
2016
Miles Davis did this tune on his Blue Moods album (1955), released on Charles Mingus' Debut Records label. It brings Davis together with Mingus on bass, trombonist Britt Woodman, vibraphonist Teddy Charles, and drummer Elvin Jones. The arrangement of "Alone Together" is by Mingus, while the other tracks were arranged by Charles. "Alone Together" was composed by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Howard Dietz. It was introduced in the Broadway musical Flying Colors in 1932 by Jean Sargent. The song soon became a hit, with Leo Reisman and His Orchestra's 1932 recording being the first to reach the charts. It is the most popular of Schwartz and Dietz's collaborations and has become a jazz standard.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
2016
I cannot believe that this track was written in the sixties, a great time for pop but a barren time for jazz. This was half a decade before jazz went electric and Joe founded Weather Report with Wayne Shorter. To really date it look at the Youtube video, it's in black and white! Joe you were a genius man! Mercy has got to rate as one of the best ever Fender Rhodes parts ever. On a par with Joe Sample's part on 'put it where you want it'. Maybe even Stevie's 'livin' in the city' It was written by Joe Zawinul in 1966 for Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and his album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at 'The Club'. The song is the title track of the album and became a surprise hit. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" went to #2 on the Soul chart and #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 a feat that Joe would repeat with the track Birdland.
On Broadway
2016
I'm very fond, as you are probably aware, of strong bass lines on piano and this one has a great one. I use NI's session horns extensively to carry this track. The obligatory guitar solo is somewhat short and erudite but gets the job done. Check out the fun rhythm guitar underpinning the track. "On Broadway" was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in collaboration with the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. George Benson's version is probably the most recent recognised cover. It was on his 1978 album Weekend in L.A., hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the soul chart.
I just can't stop loving You
2016
This is a very accomplished piece of song writing by Michael Jackson, reminding us that he didn't just cherry pick material from others, he really was a true master. The chord progressions are unusual and complex, changing key subtly and confidently like a modal jazz composition. I approach it by keeping it clean for the intro, following Jackson's melody line. I then explore with piano and light acoustic guitars. The hook gets a typical jazz technique of playing octaves for the line. The solo is then restrained to keep the song's beauty. The middle eight gets a guitar solo with a tougher tone. It's a joy to play over by following the key changes. Originally this track a 1987 ballad by Michael Jackson featuring a duet with Siedah Garrett, and was the first single released from his seventh album, Bad. The song was written by Jackson, and co-produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, R&B and adult contemporary charts
Aja
2016
Deacon Blues is another classic Steely Dan track off the Aja album.
Beat It
2016
OK, I'll stick my hands up! I went a bit OTT with the guitar on this one! Watch out Eddie Van Halen, the jazz guy's got overdrive too! My version is not as rocky as Jacksons, it's peppered with jazz chords rather than rock riffs. See if you can spot the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section parts. From a guitar players point of view the original had one of the top 5 guitar solos of all time. On this occasion I didn't bother to learn it note for note, just the spirit of it (so loads of fretboard tapping). I do a second solo later on, which is pure me! It is the third single from Jacko's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982).
A Night In Tunisia
2016
I'd had this track in mind for some time but couldn't see how to approach it - until I actually did! It's another great jazz standard with that strong piano bass line. I put a House beat over the top, keeping the acoustic drums. I gave up on the guitar playing the main melody line, opting for synth instead. The solo fell into place quite naturally and, a couple of mixing hours later, it was done. Well as far as any track is done - they say you never finish a track, you just stop working on it! "A Night in Tunisia" or "Night in Tunisia" is a musical composition written by Dizzy Gillespie circa 1941-2 while Gillespie was playing with the Benny Carter Band.
My Funny Valentine
2016
I struggled with this track for some time. All the versions I'd heard before didn't really grab me. I knew I should like it but couldn't get a handle on it. But when I tried it anyway I fell in love with it straight away! "My Funny Valentine" was originally a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists, including Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald (my fave), Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Miles Davis, Etta James, Nico, Chaka Khan, Elvis Costello, Sting, and Rickie Lee Jones.
Yardbird Suite
2015
I tackle this jazz standard by Charlie Parker with my first Big Band arrangement! The lush horn section chords on sound very contemporary and I can see a direct line drawn from this to Steely Dan's blend of rock jazz. Indeed they did a track called "Parkers band" on their third album, Pretzel Logic. It was written by Charlie Parker in 1946 hence the title derives from Parker's nickname "Bird", respectively "Yardbird". Far from being a suite, the song follows an AABA form. The "graceful, hip melody, became something of an anthem for beboppers."
FM (no static at all)
2015
This is a song that was specifically written to order to be the title theme to the 1978 film FM. It made the US Top Forty that year when released as a single. It had been recorded during the same sessions as Aja and employed some of the same studio musicians and recording personnel, in addition to band members and songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Among them were saxophonist Pete Christlieb and drummer Jeff Porcaro; several members of the Eagles sang backing vocals. It only appears on compilation albums.
Walk Between The Raindrops
2015
This is typical Steely Dan territory, even though it was on Donald Fagen's Nighfly album (which I contend is the best album Steely Dan never released!). I use my American Clean tone on guitar for the melody, it's quite a complex piece but very satisfying whenever, in typical Steely Dan style, it changes key momentarily like modal jazz. It's short, but sweet!
Everyone's Gone to the Movies
2015
On this one I start off on guitar with playing octaves on the melody, a typical jazz technique. I then get naughty and change the guitar sound to a shredding, highly flanged sound for the rest of the track. This is another track off the 1975 Katy Lied album.