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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Proper cast

In August, I was invited by Proper Music to join a discussion panel, talking about 3 new jazz releases.  It was an incredibly interesting experience, and I feel honoured to have been asked to be amongst such great company: Ronnie Scott's Paul Pace, LondonJazz Editor Sebastian Scotney, and engineered by award-winning presenter Trevor Dann.

Here is the link on the Proper site:

And here it is on Soundcloud:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Top 10 Stevie Songs

Sector7 is preparing for a UK tour, and we've got two new singers on board.  As rehearsals get underway, the most common comment is "I love that song... I've never heard it before!" - referring to Stevie Wonder's brilliant Superwoman.  Superwoman is from the album Music Of My Mind, and is the first half of a song which then moves straight into Last Winter - another beautiful and little known Stevie composition.

So for this month's top ten, I've sought out versions of Stevie songs (some sung by Stevie, some sung by others) that are fantastic - and possibly slipped under the radar among his greatest hits.


1. Stevie Wonder - Ribbon In The Sky (from the album Natural Wonder - first on Original Musiquarium)
This live version is so fantastic, and so spontaneous that at one point Stevie is about to bring it to an end, but then some of the crowd start singing along so, saying "Oh, OK!" Stevie launches into a call and response with his band and the crowd before bringing it to a close with one of the best and most spine-tingling vocal lines I've ever heard.
It's about 15 minutes long so it's in two version on YouTube... and the best bit is in the second video at about 5 mins.

2. Stevie Wonder - Visions (from the album Innervisions)

(I also really like this version from the SF Jazz Collective)

3. Carmen McRae - Last Winter (from the album Music Of My Mind, actually entitled Superwoman - Where Were You When I Needed You)

4. Ian Shaw and Claire Martin - Knocks Me Off My Feet (from the album Songs In The Key Of Life)
The perfect jazz duo!  Light-hearted yet touching.  Recorded live (legally?!) at the Purcell Room at their annual Christmas concert a few years ago.

5. Stevie Wonder - For Your Love (from the album Conversation Peace)
Stevie is the king of key-changes, and this has no less than 4.  Incidentally, here's a question for you: how many key changes are there in the entire Beatles catalogue?  Answers on a postcard! (or in comments below!)

6. Nina Ferro - Creepin' (from the album Fulfillingness' First Finale)

7. Stevie Wonder - Dancing To The Rhythm (from the album Natural Wonder)
This excerpt is from a Japanese broadcast of a concert which was later to become the album Natural Wonder.  (So there's an interview at the beginning that you have fast-forward through!).  At about 4:40 you'll see the string section command an absolutely ridiculous soli which is probably the hardest thing they've ever had to play in pop!  They nail it though.

8. Gretchen Parlato - I Can't Help It (from the Michael Jackson album Off The Wall)

9. India.Arie - Wonderful (from the album Acoustic Soul)
This song is India.Arie's tribute to Stevie Wonder, which she wrote using as many title from Stevie tunes as she possibly could.  This video is a live version, and India is actually singing it to Stevie in the audience (cringe!)

10. Sector7 - Superwoman (from the EP Sector7: The EP)
Here I am again!  - well it's my top ten after all!  So here is Sector7's version of Superwoman.  Arranged by me, but made incredibly hip by the genius that is Shakka.  Enjoy!