Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Silver Spring: The New Brooklyn?

Odd how music intersects with life. I haven't listened to Branford Marsalis' award winning 1992 jazzy-blues effort I Heard You Twice the First Time for a loooong time, but it used to be a frequent listen, particularly during hot summer days (it always seemed like a disc designed for hot sultry summer nights). But then this past Monday a colleague from work and I were working hard to catch a cab since we were two of the thousands stranded in downtown D.C. due to the awful accident on Metro's red line which we ride daily.

We were at Union Station, but the taxi line there was a gazillion folks long, so we walked over to a hotel where cabs normally congregate only to find, well, no cabs. However, we were able to flag one down and jumped in quickly as we were, of course, competing for the driver's attention. From there, the conversation went something like this:

Us: We are going to the Silver Spring Metro stop.
Cabbie: Uuuhhh . . . .
Us: Silver Spring Metro stop?
Cabbie: Pulls over toward hotel where someone is shouting they need a ride to a recognizable location nearby.
Us: Silver Spring?
Hotel Bellman: These guys are going to Cleveland Park.
Cabbie: Hmmm, I know Cleveland Park.
Us: No, Silver Spring.
Pause . . .
Us: Do you know where that is?
Cabbie: No.
Us: Ah! We will direct.

And we did and he was gracious about it all--weaving in and out of DC streets to get to that foreign land known as Maryland (and yes, we made it worth his time). But the whole time, I kept thinking about the opening track of Branford's album. Now don't get me wrong--I am not suggesting there was anything remotely racial going on as is the case in this tune, it just made me think about it and made me break this album out.

It is a great set of blues driven jazz tunes with Branford's band at the time including Kenny Kirkland on piano, Jeff "tain" Waits on drums and Robert Hurst on bass. The guests on the album are a who's who of blues: B.B. King, Russel Malone, John Lee Hooker, Brother Wynton, Linda Hopkins and others. Neats and I also had the pleasure of seeing a version of this cast of players during our first stint here in DC.

The album runs the gamut from Branford's boppy jazz orientation to the KC/Chicago blues sounds of B.B. and John Lee to New Orleans jazz scene and generally explores all the connections between jazz and blues even looking back at working songs brought over from the fields of Africa. So here are a few samples for those of you who dig that wonderful intersection of jazz and blues (although it is hard to pick enough samples to represent the whole diversity that is this disc).

So why not just pick it up for yourself over at Branford's page.

Brother Trying to Catch a Cab (On the East Side)
Rib Tip Johnson

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