Articles by: S. Victor Aaron

Gimme Five: Say what?!? Jazz’s most surprising albums

“Jazz is the sound of surprise”–jazz critic Whitney Balliett, 1926-2007 Sometimes you think you know a musician and his tendencies, or that he’s always played the kind of music you’ve known him to play. Over the course of pursuing my curiosity about certain artists, I’ve stumbled upon some rather peculiar recordings that went totally against my preconceptions of the artistRead More

One Track Mind: McCoy Tyner "Once I Loved" (1975)

by Pico Back when I was a young man in my twenties, I had frequent cravings for testosterone-driven jams—just like any young man does. But while some of my buds got their fix through the likes of Van Halen, AC/DC or Metallica, I often turned to McCoy Tyner. McCoy Tyner? Absolutely, why not. He’s brash, in-your-face, and percussive, just likeRead More

Julie Dexter/Khari Simmons Moon Bossa (2007)

by Pico Ever since Stan Getz, João Gilberto and Charlie Byrd have introduced American audiences to the Brazilian-flavored cool-jazz sounds of Antonio Carlos Jobim, bossa nova has assumed a permanent and prominent place in jazz history. For generations now, people have danced, swayed and just chilled out to the distinctive, 8/4 time and romantic vibe. But the sub-genre has beenRead More

One Track Mind: Mike Keneally "Draconian Blump" (1999)

Mike Keneally is one of those quirky, super-talented guitarists who can be creative in just about any setting. Part of a line of Frank Zappa inspired axe men that includes the likes of Buckethead, the late Shawn Lane and Steve Vai, Keneally also excels on keyboards and percussion…and even sings. His instrumental Nonkertompf album of 1999 is a real jerky,Read More

Gimme Five: Five fantastic debut albums of jazz

by Pico A while back we looked at some of jazz’s most notable swan songs, a short, but certainly not complete list of the best last recordings of some jazz greats. So, what about some of the best beginnings? Here I will list five of what I’d consider some of the finest debut albums in jazz. As before, this isn’tRead More

Heidi McCurdy, "Fickle Mind" (2006)

by Pico Out of the vibrant music community of greater Vancouver, British Columbia, the same scene that gave the world Diana Krall and Sarah McLachlan, is another female vocalist who’s been influenced by both but has forged a style of her own. And unlike the other two, she is waiting to be discovered. Her name: Heidi McCurdy. Heidi is aRead More

Machine & the Synergetic Nuts – Leap Second Neutral (2005)

by Pico “Machine & the Synergetic Nuts”. What kind of music does that band moniker conjure up in your mind? New wave? Neo-prog? Goth metal? Vintage psychedelic rock? How about avant jazz-rock? At least that’s the closest I can come to describing this compelling instrumental music. This isn’t the first time this space was used to pimp an album thatRead More

One Track Mind: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" (1993)

by Pico I’ve never been much of a movie watcher, and less of a fan of movie soundtracks. But back in 2000 I rented the then-new release Finding Forrester, a movie that featured Sean Connery. And while the movie itself was good, I couldn’t help but to notice what an outstanding and adventurous collection of songs chosen to adorn theRead More

The Soft Machine – Middle Earth Masters (2007)

One of the greatest unheralded rock bands to come out of the UK in the sixties was a group of musical misfits called The Soft Machine. This combo was among the earliest and most influential bands from Britain’s Canterbury Scene in the middle of the decade; a loose fraternity that also provided the genesis for Gong, Caravan and Henry Cow.Read More

Livingston Taylor – Grandma's Hands (1993)

by Pico The other day I was digging Bill Withers’ gentle folk-soul masterwork from 1971, Just As I Am. A week later I still find myself occasionally warbling “Ain’t No Sunshine” when there’s no one else around save for my daughter and nearly sat down to write about it in this space. But then I started thinking about the songRead More