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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Eric Clapton & Wynton Marsalis Play the Blues

This particular collaboration has a special place in my heart. Let me try to explain why. The music I primarily listen to is quite old and my favourite musicians are guys like Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Dinah Washington and so on. Which is absolutely fine but it also means that there are only a handful of musicians I enjoy, still living. So whenever I want to listen to something “new” I go and dig up the dusty old stuff. I don’t really expect a release of a new album which I’ll be crazy about. But sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised like with this album.

I can still remember how I found the album. It was a sunny Saturday when I was cleaning my room, which of course means I was doing anything but. So to be precise I was spending my time on facebook. I saw a good friend post a youtube video of 'Layla' played by Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis! I couldn’t believe it and what I didn’t realize was that this was just the beginning. I anxiously waited for the video to load and the moment I heard the sound of the band I was blissful. I was asking myself what had I done to be so lucky. I mean just the idea of two of my favourite living artists working together is something wonderful, but to think the result would be so amazing? After this striking piece of music was over I found out that it wasn’t just one song but that they’ve made a whole album together. I immediately got the whole thing and started listening to it. It may sound weird but all of this made me so happy. I was literally dancing around the room. And it was just getting better and better. The music was exactly the kind I love, all of the songs were great and I was savouring every single note of them. And then came the fourth song and something amazing happened. It was a Louis Armstrong song. As soon as I heard the opening line on the clarinet and actually realized it was a Satchmo song I got deliriously happy. By the end of it, it was too much for me. I couldn’t take any more of it, so I finally relaxed and just sat back with a huge smile on my face and enjoyed the rest of the album. By now you can see that it doesn’t take much to make me happy and that I really get over excited about music. In the week that followed I actually carried copies with me so I could give them to my friends, saying “you have to listen to this!”.

A year later I still think this is an amazing work and something both artists can be proud of. I just love the rich, full, vibrant sound of New Orleans - it seems like everyone in the band is playing something entirely different, but in the end it all somehow works together perfectly. To me, it’s a lot like New Orleans itself. In a small area you have so many different kinds of people, cultures and influences from all over and you would think there’s no way this can be good, but it all works great together.
I also like how Wynton and Eric took an old style of music and added new elements to it which gives it an amazing sound. And last but not least, I think Eric performs admirably. He somehow manages to sound like he’s been playing with this band for ages while still completely retaining his own sound.

Give this song a listen, to get a feeling of what you can expect from the album and then I  recommend, if I may, getting the whole album. I think it’s well worth it.

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