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Gota – Man of Many Talents

Continuing the short series of posts on some of the newer artists and groups that I listen to regularly, I have to give a big shout out to Gota. His full name is Gota Yashiki, but he performs and records under his first name only.

I am listening to this guy all the time. Whether it’s CDs in the car or the big system at home, earbuds stuck into the laptop, or the SanDisk player on an airline flight, a little Gota always perks me up.

Gota Live

Gota Live

Born in Kyoto, Japan, a young Gota learned traditional Japanese Drums. In 1982, at the age of 20, he moved to Tokyo and became a drummer in various reggae groups and started experimenting with electronic dubbing. By 1988 Gota was based in London and heavily involved in studio remixing and working on film soundtracks. He also worked with a number of top recording artists and groups.

Moving beyond just his talent for drumming, Gota became heavily involved in the programming of electronic instruments and remixing. He recorded and toured with Simply Red, and contributed to recordings by Seal, Soul II Soul, Swing Out Sister & Depeche Mode. Alanis Morissette has called him the “Groove Activator” on her brerakout album Jagged Little Pill. He played drums and programmed all the electronic instruments on Sinead O’Connor‘s smash hit Nothing Compares 2 U.

Let's Get Started cover

Let's Get Started cover


In 1999 came the American release of Gota’s second album, Let’s Get Started, where I first discovered him. Lend an ear to the title track:

The third track on Let’s Get.. became a No. 1 hit on Jazz radio. Listen to In the City Life

In 2001, Gota released day & night, a strong follow-up to Let’s Get..
Still working in the style of electronic, fusion Jazz, day & night is another strong collection of tunes and one of those rare albums that are great to play just straight through. Track 1, Cruisin’ Your Way is absolutely one of my favorite up-tempo Jazz pieces. Give it a listen:

I hope these samples of this terrifically creative artist motivate you to buy his CDs. I am believer in artists getting paid and the music I put up here is meant only to whet your appetite and turn you into a paying customer.

thejazzmonger
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Down To The Bone – the non-band

DTTB logo

When I am looking to get groovy, get funky. When I am in one of those moods where I want my shoulders shaking and my head bobbing, I put on a little Down To The Bone. I call them a non-band because DTTB is essentially the genius of Stuart Wade – DJ, mixer, producer – pushed through a varying mixture of musicians.

Stuart Wade

Stuart Wade

Wade never studied music, nor does he play any instrument. He is not a composer, in the traditional sense. Rather, he “creates music” by humming tunes and grooves into a Dictaphone, or face-to-face with musicians in the recording studio. Over several years he has collaborated with a sizable group of musicians in producing three very successful albums with a new one about to be released. If this sounds kind of bush-league to you, take a few minutes and listen to the two sample tracks below.

My favorite is From Manhattan To Staten, released in 1997 by nuGroove Records. This is a collection of funky beats and cool Jazz. Take a sample of the opening track, Staten Island Groove:

My favorite DTTB track, without a doubt, is Brooklyn Heights. In fact, it is one of my favorite Jazz tracks of all time. I defy you to keep still with this track going at a decent volume. I love to listen to this one through my Sennheiser headphones, getting every note from every instrument. My grandson, Evan, when he was just a wee tot, became a groovy dancer when I would put on a little Brooklyn Heights. Cutest thing ever. If you’re holding a beverage, put it down before you listen to this tune:

Manhattan to Staten cover

Manhattan to Staten cover

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Some Newer Guys I Listen To

I have been writing a lot about the Big Band & Swing eras and, consequently, featuring a lot of performers who did their best work many, many years ago. I have been pushing Hoagy Carmichael‘s Stardust, Swing bands like those led by Larry Elgart and Walt Levinsky. I do love the old stuff, and play a lot of Dizzy, Brubeck, Benny Goodman and Satchmo.

But I have been asked a few times, recently, if I don’t listen to any “new stuff,” anybody young who is writing arranging and recording now. I do. I definitely do. So, over the next few days, or weeks, I am going to try to feature some of the newer stuff I like to listen to. In no particular order of preference, just beginning with what is closest at hand today, I like:

LEE RITENOUR

I have been listening to Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour for several years. I first knew about him as one of the founding members, along with pianist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason, of the top Jazz group Fourplay. But, in truth, I had been hearing Ritenour play long before I knew his name. he worked as a key session guitarist with talents as diverse as Pink Floyd, Steely Dan (on Aja, which has been a recent topic), Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Peggy lee, and Herbie Hancock. How good do you have to be on the guitar to be requested by B.B. King?

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour

I have several Fourplay CDs, my favorite being Between the Sheets. Of Lee’s solo CDs, I like This Is Love, from which the song Ooh-Yeah has continued to get major play on jazz radio.

My favorite Ritenour effort, however, is his collaboration with Dave Grusin on the CD Two Worlds. These two have done a good bit of work together, producing several albums. Two Worlds is a thing apart because of the musical selections AND the involvement other talented collaborators, like soprano Renee Fleming, violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. The album opens with J.S. Bach’s Concerto in A Minor for Four Keyboards and Strings:

Concerto in A Minor

Dave Grusin

Dave Grusin

Track 3 – Sonatina is, according to the Album Notes, “an homage to the genius of Andres Segovia (1893-1987) the Spanish guitarist whose artistry was almost single-handedly responsible for the 20th Century revival of the guitar as a ‘classical’ instrument.” Segovia’s legacy is well-served here. Listen up:

Sonatina

Track 11 _ Siciliana has cellist Julian Lloyd Webber joining ‘our boys’ for another Bach piece, as transcribed by Dave Grusin. This is nice:

Siciliana

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