Singer-songwriter Rob Nicholas on an album every jazz fan should own | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Music » In Rotation

Singer-songwriter Rob Nicholas on an album every jazz fan should own

Plus: CPS teacher Paul DeNovi on a bassist who recorded more hits than McCartney, the Reader’s Tal Rosenberg on the best radio freestyle in years, and more

by

comment
Action Bronson - ALEXANDER RICHTER
  • Alexander Richter
  • Action Bronson

Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor

Wussy The existence of this great Cincinnati band addresses an important question: What if Yo La Tengo sounded more like Archers of Loaf and Drive-By Truckers? I'm not sure Wussy have matched the galvanizing fuzziness of their first two albums, but 2011's Strawberry comes close, and "Teenage Wasteland" (off last year's Attica!) is the finest song they've ever cut.

Action Bronson's Hot 97 freestyle on Funkmaster Flex's show This is the best radio freestyle in years, recalling Big L's insane appearances on The Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show. At one point Bronson raps so hard his headphones fall off, and he drops jewels such as "You might see me lookin' homeless / Hoppin' out the Rover, parrot on my shoulder." I don't care about Range Rovers, but I love the gloriously weird ideal of walking around with a parrot perpetually perched on my shoulder while I dress like I've totally given up on everything.

Louis Armstrong, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1923-1934 Armstrong was pretty much the only artist I played while I was reading Isabel Wilkerson's mandatory The Warmth of Other Suns. Some of his work in the 1920s is incredibly strange, preceding such similar-­sounding oddballs as Michael Hurley, the Raincoats, and Kid Creole & the Coconuts, all of whom seem like they're mimicking some aspect of Armstrong's music and showmanship—and who'd blame them?

Tal is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Bartender Jason Cole and the Green Mill's iconic sign - RICHARD A. CHAPMAN/SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times Media
  • Bartender Jason Cole and the Green Mill's iconic sign

Rob Nicholas, singer-songwriter

The Green Mill When's the last time you went to the Green Mill? I hadn't been there in a few years. Recently I've made new acquaintances, and we started talking about jazz, which prompted the question. My new friends, as it turned out, had never gone. I decided that this drought needed to end, for all involved. A few drinks later, we made it up to the Green Mill to see one of my favorite groups, the organ quartet Sabertooth. I was pleased to find that they're still the house band on Saturday nights from midnight to 5 AM. The Green Mill is truly one of our city's treasures.

Brad Mehldau, The Day Is Done Speaking of jazz, there's one album that every fan of the music, whether novice or enthusiast, must have: Brad Mehldau's The Day Is Done. This 2005 record is very unassuming and approachable yet artfully crafted. Mehldau does a wonderful job of deconstructing classic songs such as the Beatles' "Martha My Dear," Radiohead's "Knives Out," and Nick Drake's "The Day Is Done," giving them his own voice but still retaining the integrity of the original melody.

Punch Brothers, "Familiarity" "Familiarity" is the opening track off Punch Brothers' newest album, Phosphorescent Blues. The song is reminiscent of a modern rhapsody, through composed and with wonderful twists and turns. For me, there's no greater musical pleasure than when an artist crafts a complex harmonic and melodic structure but somehow makes it so easy to listen to it's as if I'd been hearing it my whole life.

Rob is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Chicago Music Exchange - COURTESY PUBLIC DOMAIN
  • Courtesy Public Domain
  • Chicago Music Exchange

Paul DeNovi, CPS music teacher, local musician

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings live at the Vic Theatre By far the best show I have ever seen. We danced through the whole set. With a horn section, bass, two guitars, drums, percussion, and backing vocals, the band brought the house down. As the New Queen of Soul, Sharon Jones, was leaving, she leaned over the stage, looked into my eyes, and stroked my beard. I met the band after the show and told Sharon I loved her.

Chicago Music Exchange I would spend my entire paycheck there if I could. So many guitars and basses! I am totally the customer who comes in, plays everything, buys nothing, and returns the next week. They know my name, but sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. I do plan on buying a Sandberg bass within the next few months. Maybe.

Dr. Licks, Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson It's a biography and transcription book. Jamerson played bass on more number one hits than Paul McCartney did with the Beatles. According to legend, Jamerson was on his back when he recorded What's Going On, so when I visited the Motown Museum, Hitsville U.S.A., I tried to find the spot where he might have recorded it. I think I found it, and I did lie down.

Add a comment