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A Jazz Immuno-Booster: Part 7

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The immuno-booster series continues, and confirms its wide-ranging nature. In this seventh installment the selections range from Stevie Wonder to Mahalia Jackson, passing through Myra Melford, Lyle Mays, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, John Coltrane, The Weather Report and Lea Bertucci, who surprisingly seems to take off where Jacobus Gallus left a few hundred years earlier. Mina and Tindersticks provide surprising juxtapositions and some good old Sergio Mendes wraps things up.

The selectors this week were Ben Allison, Scott Amendola, Vincent Courtois, Kaja Draksler, Jonathan Hoard, Mimi Jones, Dave Liebman, Roberta Piket, Otis Sandsjö, Jenny Scheinman, Alister Spence and Helen Sung.

Happy listening! Stay safe and sane with the help of great music!

For details on the tunes see the playlist below. If you're curious about the rationale behind these choices, here is what the selectors had to say [comments listed in chronological order, by reference to the songs they refer to].

Helen Sung
My heart goes with Stevie Wonder's "As," from his classic double album Songs in the Key of Life. That song, with its lyrics (that are like a download from heaven), breaks and re-makes my heart every time I hear it. Stevie sings with so much heart, humanity, love, and truth. Timeless. Simply awesome.

J Hoard
"Come Sunday" from Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige is a prayer for all humankind. Sang by Mahalia Jackson, the lyrics describe the human experience with the most beautiful, singable, memorable melody. Not too fancy, or too gospel, or too sad; the song is just right. A person can receive a ton of peace from this song by simply reciting the lyrics. A person can receive tons of joy from the triumphant melody and perfect chord progression. A person can receive a portion of heaven from the divine vocals of Queen Mahalia. This song transcends the mind, body, and soul to a place where there is no worry, no fear... "Come Sunday," or Tuesday, midnight, winter... "Sunday" is any day a person receives perfect peace.

Alister Spence
Myra Melford's live performance of "Evening Might Still" is a wonderful, joyous, energised gateway from the composed towards freer musical expression. It helps to lift spirits and remind that we will be able enter these spaces again with friends before too long.

Mimi Jones
Healing songs are just what we need right now! It is hard to choose, though, because I have so many! I would go with Lyle Mays' "Teiko." I love this song because it has a very happy, and hopeful uplifting section in the beginning and end, but there is a middle section that is so painful and intimate. This is the perfect emotional cleanser, to warm you up, go deep and release. I also feel much better after listening to The Weather Report's "Black Market." The drums and rhythms just put you in a true cleansing state where you have to get up and shake it off. Wayne Shorter's sounds is sooo sweet, Joe Zawinul wrote a perfect memorable melody, it's for everyone.

Vincent Courtois
More than music, I am thinking about some sounds that make me feel good, like the guitar of Bill Frisell or the voice of Stuart Staples of the British band Tindersticks. Sometimes, in my ramblings during this lockdown, I imagine how well those two sounds would blend together. So, my suggestion for this mixtape is an imaginary mix of Bill Frisell's ""Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa"" and "Medicine" by Tindersticks.

Otis Sandsjö
I found myself awake at 3AM the other day, got up, and listened to "American Dreams," by Charlie Haden, loud in my headphones while watching the sunrise. I never felt more at ease in these weird times.

Ben Allison
I'm totally obsessed with Mina these days. I'm working my way through her 150+ albums (knowing I'll never get to most of them). She reminds me of a Flamenco singer in terms of her emotive tone. It's basically the blues, but with a pop flair. She sings with a fearless power that also reminds me a little bit of Shirley Bassey (another of my all-time favorite singers). I'm wondering if Lady Gaga has been heavily influenced by her, especially in terms of her look. This live version of "Io vivrò senza te" is one of my favorite tracks of hers. I love how the band plays—with wicked organ lines and great dynamics. The band really breaths as one, especially with the tempo changes. I love everything about it!

Kaja Draksler
Jacobus Gallus is Slovenia's most respected composer. He had quite a success in his time, during the Renaissance, with his choir music. Voice is something I can connect very strongly with, and this type of choir music is soothing for my soul, my ears, my mind. It is profoundly spiritual, mysterious, and at the same time very intelligently written. The interpretation of the Huelgas Ensemble is incredible.

Jenny Scheinman
Everything on Lea Bertucci's album Resonant Field is brilliant. It creates space in my soul. It makes me believe in magic. Soothing and uplifting? Yes!

Dave Liebman
John Coltrane's "Crescent" is pure fire and poetry. It sounds like Trane's solo was written out, but it was improvised!

Scott Amendola
"Blackthorn Rose" is an improvisation between Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. I listened to this track over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Every time it sends me to cool places.

Roberta Piket
I've chosen "Mais que nada," written by Jorge Ben and made famous by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66. It has a great groove and a melody that stays with you. It always makes me want to dance. The unique sound of Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 was ubiquitous in the late 1960's, television, elevators, offices, etc. At the time, I wasn't consciously aware of what I was hearing, but now I remember the sound as a backdrop for my toddler-hood. Hearing it now returns me to that simpler time.


  • Helen Sung: Stevie Wonder "As" Songs in the Key of Life (Motown) 0:00
  • J Hoard: Duke Ellington "Come Sunday" Black, Brown and Beige (feat. Mahalia Jackson (Columbia) 7:10
  • Alister Spence: Myra Melford "Evening Might Still" Alive in the House of the Saints (hatART) 12:54
  • Mimi Jones: Lyle Mays "Teyko" Lyle Mays (Geffen) 24:08
  • Vincent Courtois: Bill Frisell "Tell Your Ma, Tell Your Pa" Ghost Town (Nonesuch) 31:28 / Tindersticks "Medicine" The Something Rain (Lucky Dog) 36:43
  • Otis Sandsjö: Charlie Haden "American Dreams" American Dreams (Verve) 41:39
  • Ben Allison: Mina "Io vivrò senza te" Live (YouTube) 46:24
  • Kaja Draksler: Huelgas Ensemble "Mirabile Misterium" Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591): Opus Musicum—Missa Super Sancta Maria (Sony Classical) 51:14
  • Jenny Scheinmann: Lea Bertucci "Wind Piece" Resonant Field (NNA Tapes) 54:43
  • Dave Liebman: John Coltrane "Crescent" Crescent (Impulse!) 59:35
  • Scott Amendola: Weather Report "Blackthorn Rose" Mysterious Traveler (Columbia) 1:08:18
  • Roberta Piket: Sergio Mendes "Mais que nada" Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (A&M) 1:13:01



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