Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor
Charles Mingus, Oh Yeah At home, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mingus while reading, picking things up off the floor, doing dishes, petting my cat, writing, and waltzing on my own. I don’t really have a “favorite” album when it comes to Mingus, though if forced to pick I’d probably be lame and go with Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. But the record I’ve played most frequently is 1962’s Oh Yeah, where Mingus forgoes double bass entirely in favor of piano. I dig the brassy, sweaty, elegant music, and I admire Mingus’s underrated piano playing—sometimes he hits what seem like off notes, and at other times he glides gracefully on the ivories. He also contributes vocals: grunts, moans, spoken-word snippets, and scratchy singing.
My girlfriend’s painting of the cover of Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece I’ve written and spoken often of my love for this album, but my girlfriend outdid herself with this birthday present to me (we share the same birthday). The painting is 30 by 30 inches, and I can’t believe how well she captured the dogs. It now hangs gloriously in a study.
Fact’s list of the 100 best albums of the 70s This anticanon collection trolls hard: It ranks Klaus Schulze’s Moondawn at number two, Tom Waits’s Blue Valentine in the top 20, and Autobahn over Trans-Europe Express and The Man-Machine. But it’s nevertheless the kind of list I love, challenging notions of what one considers “best” and shining a spotlight on relatively unheralded albums (such as Millie Jackson‘s Caught Up, at number six).
Tal is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Ehsan Ghoreishi, front man of Bad Mashadi and accordionist for Black Bear Combo
Doug Abram He’s unnecessarily tall, oddly young looking, rugged yet smooth, and the softest-voiced yet loudest saxophone player in town. Doug Abram has stood shoulder to shoulder with President Obama after a gig at the White House, and once lived with a broken wrist for a month without noticing it. He leads Chicago Balkan-punk-party-brass band the Black Bear Combo, in which I sometimes play. Without giving a shit about all the promo, networking, and record-deal games—and without a manager or any representation—Black Bear manages to play the oddest, most exciting gigs in and out of town.
The AUX stereo connection in the Flash cab I drive on weekends When I’m out picking up wrecks of spoiled college kids, I play music that helps my mashed brain make it though a 12-hour shift—Ravel, maybe, or Taraf de Haidouks. And if they make a move to touch my stereo—as if the $10 they throw at me buys them the right to my peace of mind—I grab their hands and say no. I will not change it to bullshit FM radio. Oh, AUX cable, without you, I couldn’t bear to watch the pink mustaches and Uber cars pretend to be in it for the love of community while they steal my fares.
The old California Clipper If you were lucky, you experienced this bar and music venue before it was bought—it’s now due to be Maude’s-ified.
Ehsan is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Joey Spilberg, bassist in Lamajamal
Goran Bregovic, “Gas Gas” Nothing makes me more hyper than this postmodern take on a Roma wedding tune. It’s hard to tell if the tuba line is from a real horn the size of a car engine or from a cheap 90s keyboard, but either way its farty pulse propels lyrics that repeatedly refer to something “sexy” (I think) in between the recurring sing-along chant of the chorus. “Gas Gas” is the kind of tune that makes you want to jump on a table with a kefta kebab in hand and dance like you just drank an entire bottle of slivovitz.
Caetano Veloso, “O Leãozinho” It’s tough to pick favorites from among Caetano Veloso’s vast body of work, but the universality and nostalgic force of “O Leãozinho” are undeniable. Something about the ultrasimple guitar line, the sweet lyrics and vocals, and the slightly out-of-place musical saw in the background transports you to the sort of calm, meditative state that would normally take years of self-denial and yoga to attain.
Ziad Rahbani, “So Danso Samba” On first listen, this track might sound like the kind of hold music that you struggle to ignore on the phone while impatiently waiting to pay your overdue proctologist’s bill. But pay closer attention, and you’ll realize that you’re listening to an Arabic version of a bossa nova classic, with a nuanced, detailed arrangement typical of the musical-prodigy son of Lebanese superstar Fairuz.