Afro-Cuban Con Soul: The Sound of Motown & Irakere Featuring Caramelo de Cuba & Raul PINEDA
A New Shade of Waltz for Debby
Though the album has been much talked about, if someone I know seriously wants to listen to Jazz, I always suggest Bill EVANS' Waltz for Debby. Whether you're setting the mood for a date or trying to find comfort after a breakup, you can't go wrong with this album. Nine times out of ten, my friends get helplessly hooked on jazz.
Once they've heard the album, they always ask if EVANS has other albums that are just as good. So I have a good laugh at their need for another fix and start suggesting a whole bunch of jazz piano albums.
But one time, it was different.
An old friend of mine who goes by the name "Goody Goody" is crazy about repeatedly playing his hi-fi music on state-of-the-art sound equipment.
Upon listening to Waltz for Debby, he fell in love with the album's pleasant, unmatched double bass, which he described as absolutely intoxicating and soothing, like a deep massage for the ears.
After listening to Paul CHAMBERS' Bass on Top and Ray BROWN's Superbass also recommended by me, he really wanted to hear a live performance and asked if there was any in Taiwan.
I immediately thought of Vincent HSU.
The one who makes it all come together
Jazz from Taiwan in…New Orleans?
HSU hosts the radio program Jazz Supreme, which won the 2020 Golden Bell Awards for Best Non-Pop Music Program and Best Non-Pop Music Program Host. Have you ever heard of any other jazz-related Golden Bell Award-winner? I haven't!
If that's not enough for you, HSU also won a silver medal at the Global Music Awards for In Our Blood.
Still not enough? Do you know where jazz was born? New Orleans. HSU's Afro-Cuban jazz band Soy La Ley was the first Taiwanese band to be invited to play at the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once said that Black Americans tend to hold the idea that only Black people have what it takes to understand jazz. Regardless of what produced that bias, a requested show at the Museum really says something that HSU made it past that threshold and has received praise from the most hypercritical of his peers.
Hearing all that about HSU, Goody Goody's eyes widened.
But this isn't what I view as HSU's biggest selling point.
HSU's greatest appeal has never been his superlatively outstanding skill at solos. Yeah, he can jam incredibly in a song, but even more importantly, he provides a strong foundation for those he plays with, which gives the whole band that sense of security they need on stage to just go wild.
This is what he's always been. A real team player. No, he's the ultimate team player.
Upon first listening to his band's music, you might think the bass isn't that necessary, but the break between each musical phrase is supported by the strong, solid frequency of his instrument, endowing the song with poetic imagination and soul.
You can see so much more while standing atop the shoulders of a giant. With HSU, his bandmates fly.
If the band's albums and live shows didn't have HSU, they'd be fine. With another double bassist, the phrases would still get played. But you'd soon realize it's like a boat sailing on the sea: Is the boat aimlessly carried about by the will of the current, or is there a solid helm that the sailors work with to keep the boat moving steadily forward? After just three measures of a song, you’d be able to tell the difference.
This is why EVANS was so heartbroken days after Waltz for Debby was recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York: his 25-year-old bassist, Scott LAFARO, died in a car accident. EVANS found many replacements at different time in his musical career, but the shows were never as expressive or magnetic as they had been. He would never get past the greatness of what they had accomplished that weekend at the club.
HSU is no LAFARO, but whenever he's there, the other musicians are ecstatic about playing.
I have no band and in fact am not even a musician, so who am I to tell you all this?
The answer is easy: I always go to HSU's shows.
2023/1/2 (Mon) 14:30
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