Roddy Ellias – 5 Desert Island Album Picks

Regardless if you’re a beginning student of Jazz Guitar or an established player, we all have at least five albums that we cannot be without! With that said, Jazz Guitar Life has asked Canadian Jazz Guitarist Roddy Ellias what his five would be (assuming that he knew before hand that he was going to be stuck on a desert island and that said island had electricity and a full component stereo system) 🙂

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1) Kurt Elling – Secrets Are the Best Stories: Music definitely tells stories, even when there are no lyrics, but with lyrics there seems to be another dimension to how the story is conveyed. Especially when there’s a singer that can put across every word with sincerity and emotional expression. Kurt Elling’s powerful words/stories, married with music by Jaco Pastorious, Wayne Shorter and mostly co-collaborator Danillo Perez, as the title suggests, convey stories from and to the heart.

https://kurtelling.com/music/12647/

2) Aka Pygmy Music: This incredible music was recorded in 1973 in the Central African Republic by Simha Arom (who studied and wrote about African music his whole life). This music sings and it dances and I wish I understood the language because I’m sure the stories are beautiful. The music seems to flow out in an incredibly natural and deep way. I am a lifelong student of counterpoint, particularly that of J.S. Bach, but the counterpoint here comes from a different place. Like Bach’s music, this music sings or it dances, or both. Here’s a little information from the liner notes written by Arom, “Music is a key element of the social and spiritual life of the community, and each person is introduced to musical practice at an early age with counting rhymes and singing games. Since the Aka lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, music is usually only vocals, leading to a complex polyphonic system with rich harmonies from a chorus. Any accompanying instruments—small drums, iron blades, plant stalk whistles—are easy to carry, used for other daily purposes, or immediately discarded.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKLxFmnYO_I

3) Miles Davis – Sorcerer: I love this album, recorded in 1967, for so many reasons – the tunes are like haiku (short, to the point, open, evocative and beautiful melodically, harmonically and rhythmically), the interaction between Miles, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams is sublime – they’re like a school of fish or flock of birds moving together telepathically. No-one in the band ever brings an agenda in terms of “this is what I’m going to play”. They are in total conversation and total agreement. Total communication. Things get a little out there here and there because they are going for things, beautiful things, but they all float through it together without anyone saying “this is where we are supposed to be.” Instead, the feeling seems to be: “Okay, so that’s where we are now, cool, let’s keep making music”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zFrnk5-kKE

4) Angela Hewitt – Ravel, Complete Solo Piano Music: Ravel is a constant inspiration for many, especially harmonically and especially (at least for me) in Le Tombeau de Couperin as well as the Valses Nóbles et Sentimentales. By the way, her album of J.S. Bach’s sublime (I know I used this adjective earlier) Well Tempered Clavier is probably my favourite.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKsc5MOWVYA

5) Ralph Alessi – Baida: The compositions are so playful and expressive, the playing by Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Jason Moran (piano), Nasheet Waits (drums) and Drew Gress (bass) is also totally expressive and playful and goes to lots of imaginative places.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwYDYX66dfk

Please consider spreading the word about Roddy and Jazz Guitar Life by sharing this article amongst your social media pals and please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to support all the work I do on Jazz Guitar Life, please consider buying me a coffee or visiting the Jazz Guitar Life sponsors. Thank you and your patronage is greatly appreciated regardless if you buy me a coffee or not 🙂

About Lyle Robinson 265 Articles
Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/publisher and editor of Jazz Guitar Life, an online magazine dedicated to the Jazz Guitar and its community of fine players worldwide.

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