Experiencing Music as a Musician Part 3

Back at it with a piece of music to dissect the way a musician hears the music.  A few months ago I posted a piece on experiencing music as a musician that got a ton of response.  I followed it up with a second post on that theme with the same results.  So I figured maybe this kind of a blog posts strikes a chord as it were with the readers and thought why not keep the theme going every once in a while.

This below clip is the UK based band Incognito playing at the 2008 Jakarta Jazz Festival with what was then a new tune called N.O.T.  This tune is an amazing blend of soul, funk, house, and jazz, with a cool mix of 1979 meets 2008.  The leader of this band, “Bluey” (on guitar) writes superb grooves and what I like best about the music Incognito puts out is that its ‘dense”, that is to say they effortlessly put layer on top of layer of groove over melody over syncopation over vocals over percussion – you get the idea.  All of these elements fuse together into a solid piece of music but if you were to hear any of these parts isolated they’s still work.


What’s nice about this live version is how they open it up with that dreamy Rhodes keyboard with the chords sort of hinting at what’s coming.  Then 1:08 they hit the start button and launch into the opening groove at 1:14.

Performing a tune live is a mix of telling a story with the music itself (not so much the words but the actual underlying music).  At 1:34 the “story” of the song starts.  You can hear the song dip into a verse that is a bit dropped from the energy that brought it up to that point only to recall it at every chorus thereafter.  The verse is the story and the chorus is the anthem to that story.  This goes on a few times throughout the song.  Playing live is as much about listening to what’s going on around you as it is playing your part.

Also throughout every part is the stellar horn section that sort of peppers the song with it’s punctuation marks.  The horns pop in like a boxer throws lefts and rights and are used for the transitions too (like just before the keyboard solo at about 4:22.

Also – listen carefully to the bass notes during the keyboard solo that are only slightly tweaked from the main song but add a whole new dimenesion to the mood during the solo – much jazzier.  You can even see the bass player do this during that part.  That’s the cool thing about music, the difference between one feeling or a totally different feeling dished up can literally be a single note.  Again like from the earlier posts, it’s math.   Music is an art and a feeling and even if you have no clue what your really playing there is math floating all over that stage disguised as notes.

The verse/chorus thing goes on until about 5:45 when the groove switches over to a house/disco groove all thanks to the drummer changing the way he’s playing the hi-hat.  That’s it – one small tweak from the back and the tune moves into it’s resolution wind down phase with the flute player taking it home.

If incognito ever comes to your city – go see them.  There are not many bands like this left anymore.


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