Another social media challenge fad is circulating around these days and I got tagged. The challenge is to post an album cover of a record that’s important to you every day for 10 days. I’m having fun picking albums that were particularly influential to me, so I’m repeating it all here.
Day 1 – On Time, Dave Brubeck
This is a Dave Brubeck compilation record that includes tracks from Time Out, Time Further Out, and probably some others. My dad’s friend gave it to me when I was 15 when I was first discovering jazz. It’s one of the first jazz records I owned, if not the very first.
Day 2 – El Rumbero del Piano, Eddie Palmieri
Afro-Cuban jazz was my first love. I got this record at the library in high school and burned a copy (eventually went and bought one). I listened to it so many times. I always wanted to learn how to play montunos like Eddie does on this, but never had a chance to learn how until I got to UW. By complete chance, I got assigned to play with Joe Santiago in the UW Latin Jazz Big Band, who played bass on THIS EXACT RECORD.
Day 3 – 西雙版納的晚霞 / Sunset-Glow of Xishuang Banna
I’m not really sure when I first heard this record, but I do know that I got it out of my grandfather’s CD collection. It’s a from a concerto for 琵琶 (pipa) and Chinese orchestra. The main theme out of the first movement is gorgeous and really stuck with me for a long time. I eventually wrote a reharmonized version for jazz trio, which ended up on my first ever record as a solo bandleader.
Day 4 – The Way Up, Pat Metheny Group
Right when trumpeter Cuong Vu was hired to teach at the University of Washington, I picked up a copy of this record to hear what the fuss about this really famous band he played with was all about. This veritable jazz symphony of a record changed my perspective on everything that jazz could be. I did an internship in Dallas, Texas for a summer, and had 3 CDs with me, and this was one of them.
Day 5 – Brad Mehldau, Anything Goes
Also one of the only 3 CDs I had for a summer in Texas, this record defined for me what a modern piano trio should sound like. I love the way he lays back the melody on ballads like Tres Palabras and I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face. It’s still my favorite Mehldau record.
Day 6 – Richard Galliano and Sylvain Luc, La Vie en Rose
Around the time that I started playing the accordion, I did a lot of Googling to find examples of jazz accordion, and one name kept coming up: Richard Galliano. This gem of a duet record showcases accordion playing the melody with accompanying guitar, accordion serving as the accompaniment, and some solo sections too. It’s served for my inspiration for so many contexts of accordion playing!
Day 7 – Dave Douglas, Charms of the Night Sky
A friend recommended this album because it had accordion in it. I really love the harmonic language in this, and the simple blend between trumpet and accordion. A couple years ago, Ray Larsen came over to play through a tune I lifted off this record, and I’ve really enjoyed playing music with him since.
Day 8 – Snarky Puppy, We Like It Here
I discovered Snarky Puppy while watching youtube video after youtube video of organists and finding Cory Henry. I’m lucky enough to have seen them live more than once. Their approach to music and the way they talk about it is infectious. It’s not an exaggeration to say my musical output has tripled since discovering this band.
Day 9 – Cannonball Adderley, Fiddler on the Roof
I love Cannonball’s playing and I love Fiddler on the Roof and this is both in one neat little package. There’s so much beautiful arranging on this record that bucks the standard formula of “horns play the melody in unison, they take turns soloing, horns play the melody in unison and maybe tag the ending”.
Day 10 – Dave Brubeck, A Dave Brubeck Christmas
Around the time I was 15, I got a book of solo piano arrangements transcribed from this record before I ever even heard it. Although some of the reharms were a little too spicy for me at the time, I really loved hearing (and playing) what Brubeck could do with solo piano. I break it out at least once a year to play through these arrangements.