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Baker's Dozen

By Design: Jim Jones Of The Righteous Mind's Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , September 15th, 2015 13:23

Before they headline Walthamstow's Stow Festival this weekend, The Righteous Mind's leader gives Julian Marszalek an insight into "where my head is at right now" with a tour through his current top 13 albums

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Duke Ellington - Concert In The Virgin Islands
This is an album that was given to me by a friend and I was like, "Yeah, I'll give it a listen", and now it's turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all time. For me, it's an example of how people can play so brilliantly that it sounds like a natural conversation but not in a polished muso way. It still sounds very raw and earthy. These guys can so play so good that they can do something that's brutally recorded with all the clicks and pops, but they're playing so well that it's almost as if every click and pop is there on purpose.

With that band on that album, every song is like a multi-layered conversation. That said, I don't want to put anybody off that hasn't heard this album by having them think that this is a high-level muso thing because it really isn't. It's very earthy but played at a level that I can only dream of. Duke Ellington, as a composer, is on another world for me. On one level it's so natural and obvious but on another level I can only dream of being in band that plays at that standard.

There are a couple of songs on here that sound like jazzy jazz but everything else has unusual rhythms and unusual grooves and it was recorded during a really cool time in jazz. It has elements of bebop and experimentalism and it uses those melodies that are unresolved with Latin sounding scales and melodies that are very different from Western music. It's played in this very seductive, film noir-side of jazz style. It has all my favourite elements of bebop and it goes off on tangents but it stays within the melody. It flirts with both sides of that and it's very sexy and slinky.

Duke Ellington did a lot of really cool soundtracks and this has a lot of that content but it also flirts with Eastern scales as well as the Latin ones and it's done in a way that's never too highbrow, even though it's massively fucking highbrow. And again, it's all by design. You never get the sense that these guys were just chilling out and jamming; you know that everything there is for a reason. There's no fat on here either, and it's as lean as it can be.

Above all, for me, this is just really exotic. It has that sexiness that rock & roll has and it's so soothing. It's like musical morphine and I don't say that lightly. It takes you on a slinky journey to other realities. It's so well-realised and played by guys who are obviously at the top of their game.


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