Dog days of summer, but some excellent music

As the summer comes to a close, I’ve been really fortunate to see some excellent music in the last few weeks.  My run of concerts started out amazingly (and surprisingly) well, when I won tickets to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band at my favorite Philly venue – The Tower Theater.  Seeing an 11-piece band playing swampy funk, blues, and soul music from the 3rd row (!!!) was an incredible experience, not to mention that Derek Trucks might be the best guitar player alive right now.  However, this is truly an all-star band.  Susan Tedeschi’s voice is like raw honey – sweet but a little gritty, and I think Oteil Burbridge is one of most tasteful yet virtuosic bass players on the scene.  The band’s encore consisted mostly of a medley of Sly Stone songs – no argument here.

The following week, I went to see My Morning Jacket at the Mann Center, which is a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre in Philly.  I’m ashamed to say I had never been, but was really glad I chose this show as my first venture to the Mann.  MMJ does a crafty blend of psychedelic rock, folk, and indie that they manage to make very appealing.  It can be epic and then intimate, and the Mann was a proper venue for the vibe of this band.

Locally, I went to see my good friend Tim Wolfe, Jr. play with pianist/composer Jason Newman at a great cafe in Newtown Square.  This was a preview concert for their upcoming album, and I was completely impressed.  The trio (with a drummer) played an entire set of Jason’s tunes, which sound like a mix of The Bad Plus with a more contemporary/classical structure and harmonic language, and with moments of Radiohead spaciousness.  Those are all things that I love, and the group pulled it off flawlessly.  I’m really looking forward to that record when it comes out.

Which brings me to last night.  Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound continued their monthly residency at the Tritone with a great set of tuneful, yet highly dissonant big band music.  And I mean big, like 14 players big.  Their last release, “Ceremonies of Forgiveness,” is in my collection and I listen to it regularly.  It’s got flavors of the Mingus big band era in that it is highly compositional with big brash, unapologetic motives, but Zankel is not at all derivative – he’s got his own thing going on that I highly recommend.

What was the point of this post?  To gloat about the awesome live music I’ve seen recently?  An appeal for people to go see more live music?  An attempt at saying that good music is still being made, you only have to go find it?  Maybe all of the above, maybe none.

Also, I’ve got some projects on my desk that I’m pretty excited about, including an experimental mixed media piece and scoring a comedy about the love between a man and his junk food of choice.  More on that later.


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