10 Seconds: Part One (picks 1-16)
"I think all record companies should be run by a musician.
Just as you wouldn’t trust your health to an electrician." Paul Bley
I've always liked that quote (even though Einstein was an electrician and did a mean line in honorary doctorates for medicine) and I sort of believe the same could apply to music writing, so for the rest of this lockdown, I'm handing over the house keys to some of my favourite musicians. For 10 seconds each.
10 seconds: My concept, but their choices, their words.
10 surefire stupendous sonic seconds that may or may not have been influential on their music, but certainly left an impression.
The selected tunes are played out in their entirety and the chosen 10 seconds are written above each link. A click on the selecting musician's name takes you directly to a clip of one their own recordings or live appearances.
Enjoy and look out for part 2 in a few days time.
Bill Lee - Opening Credits (1:17-1:27)
Bill Lee - She's Gotta Have It OST (1986)
"From the beautifully haunting "Opening Credits", the first track from the soundtrack to Spike Lee's film "She's Gotta Have It" written by the criminally unsung composer, bassist, and father of Spike, Bill Lee.
Not that it necessarily sounds like them, but this piece always reminds me both of the 1970's style horror movie soundtracks that I heard as a kid - like "Don't Look Now" (1973) - and something Thelonious Monk would/could have written. It's pure eerie tension, beautifully held on a C-minor chord and finally released to B-flat and onward." - Larry Bartley
John Coltrane - Out of this World (0:00-0.10)
John Coltrane - Coltrane (1962)
"It’s quite a personal one, but the first ten seconds of “Out of this World” on Coltrane’s “Coltrane”.
This was one of the first jazz records I bought on a whim when I was flailing around without any guidance on what I should listen to. I was used to 90s production values, so everything about the sound was so unfamiliar:
Elvin’s drums tuned really high, the sound of the room, and then that
rolling groove he plays from the start - was it 3/4, 9/8? Where did it come from? The way it hung off Jimmy Garrison’s bass part. There were deeper things going on here that I had to investigate. It drew me into that world in a big way.""
- Jon Scott
Igor Stravinsky - Symphonies: Symphony Of Psalms Part 3 (5:38-5:48)
Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky
"This section has the most inexplicable feeling of repose after turbulence.
I can’t understand theoretically how he makes it work, almost like coming home in a strange town. You feel you have arrived, but it’s a weird place.
Stravinsky rewrote all the rules and kept the music something you can
feel and touch, sensual and angry and grooving like crazy.
First heard this piece when I was sixteen and am still trying to figure it out. Hope I never do!" - Liam Noble
George Benson - Billie's Bounce (0:48 - 0:58)
George Benson -
Giblet Gravy (1968)
"First of all, I think this is one of the grooviest jazz recordings of all time.
The band is incredible: George Benson - guitar, Herbie Hancock - piano, Ron Carter - bass, Billy Cobham - drums, Johnny Pacheco - congas.
The way this tune builds is amazing and the contrasting styles of Benson
and Hancock make it so interesting. This 10 seconds is the most subtle but intense lift-off I’ve ever heard. The moment it switches from just congas, guitar & bass to the full band, all tying in seamlessly with Benson’s flawless bebop & blues lines. The drum roll sets it up so nicely but still comes as a surprise & the introduction of swing time on the ride is such a release. Herbie doesn’t come in on beat one either, he waits until the last quaver of the 4th bar to come in exactly with Benson’s phrasing.The first time I heard this it blew my mind and I learnt to play the guitar part, enjoying this moment again and again imagining I was playing in the band." - Oscar Jerome
Thelonious Monk - Teo (0:00-0:10)
Thelonious Monk - Monk (1965)
"Perfect intro statement and they swingin' from the down beat.
Both simple and sophisticated to the extreme. The Greatest." - Ruben Fox
Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter (2:58-3.08)
Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969)
"This 10 second excerpt from Gimme Shelter is one of my all time favourite moments in any song. It’s a song about war (specifically about Vietnam). The instrumental part just relentlessly chugs along. I feel like there’s a wall of unstoppable sound. It feels like a representation of war as its own entity full of many parts and chugging along unstoppably.
Then the human element comes in…Sung by a woman. You visualise the victim rather than the perpetrator, but the lyrics “Rape, Murder, it’s just a shot away” is ambiguous (picture a man singing it and you get a different image…at least I do!). This brutal lyric perhaps suggests that someone was turned into a rapist or a murderer with a shot that was either fired on them or one that they fired. This ambiguity is a very real part of war where people do things they would never have imagined they were capable of. I also love that unlike a lot of
anti-war songs, it feels as though it carries the terror and helplessness both of the victims and perpetrators. There are no heroes, no righteous persons, no resolutions, no suggestions, it just captures the madness of a war machine.
I chose this specific time Merry Clayton sings that line because when her voice cracks it’s so primal, so brutal, so desperate. A scream so fierce that it doesn’t quite come out. Pain and rage. Then one of the band members whoops in the background. My sentiment exactly. It’s just all so human. Action, reaction, energy, goosebumps, rage and release. - Emine Pirhasan
Kano - Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil (1:09-1:19)
Kano - Hoodies All Summer (2019)
"I chose this part of this song because of its integrity. Kano lived through the things he is talking about and as an older coming out of certain environments he is talking about the truth of the situation, disregarding the materialistic elements of his background." - Ife Ogunjobi
Pete La Roca - Turkish Women at the Bath (2:32-2:42)
Pete La Roca -
Turkish Women at the Bath (1967)
"I've always been a really big fan of tenor saxophone player John Gilmore, I saw him play with the Sun Ra Arkestra three times back in the day. His sound always spoke directly to me - had so much soul and expression in it.
He had a very original style and this record is one of the first that I bought with him featured that wasn't a Sun Ra record.
John Gilmore's solo on this track has always been one of my absolute favourites, by him or by anyone. It has such logic to it, one phrase moves beautifully to the next and he really builds the energy as the solo progresses. From about the middle he starts to ramp up the tension and by the time he gets toward the end it has become a masterpiece of melodic and rhythmic development. The ending has a three note phrase repeated eight times and then a six note phrase repeated three times. A master class in how to use repetition to create tension." - Nat Birchall
Wynton Marsalis - Just Friends (1:25-1:35)
Wynton Marsalis -
Live at the House of Tribes (2005)
"I chose this 10 seconds of the tune because I love how Wynton makes such a simple line sound - and feel -so good. He is known to be a strong believer of the tradition in jazz, and a lot of his language is derivative of the great
Louis Armstrong. Every note has soul and meaning behind it, and all this mixed with the obvious joy of the audience makes this one of my favourite records."
- Maddy Coombs
Marvin Gaye - Save The Children (2:40-2:50)
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On? (1971)
"On what would have been Marvin’s 81st birthday (April 3rd), my thoughts turn to that great soulful artist. I could have picked almost any 10 seconds from his masterpiece ‘What’s Going On’ but there’s something about this impassioned cry from the heart for the children of the future and for a world we’re so bent on destroying. He could see the ways things were going when he recorded it 50 years ago.
The rhythm section play in insistent double time, notably James Jamerson’s brilliant walking lines, while Marvin talks and sings, floating above in half time as the chords seem to continuously ascend. It builds to its heartbreaking climax over full orchestra, percussion, celeste, harmony vocals and a burst of saxophone as Marvin cries “Save the babies!”
Beautiful, powerful and indispensable." - Jessica Lauren
Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Haje Latha Nahion Akhia Da Cha (1:57-2:07)
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan -Back to Qawwali / Nusrat Forever (1995)
"The voice of Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, illuminating the Sufi way -
to restore the primordial state of Fitra (initial disposition of purity).
Devine experience of the present moment. ." - Yusuf Ahmed
Charles Mingus - II BS (0:00-0:10)
Charles Mingus -
Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (1964)
"Ah man, that's easy... The very first 10 seconds of II B S, It's like he's going to war with the bass, but not just him, the whole of humanity, with all of its blues and aggression and love and passion. For a short bass intro it's so loaded with emotion and power and showcases how perfect Mingus's playing is, whilst setting the vibe for the whole tune!" - Joe Boyle
Stevie Wonder - Golden Lady (0:52 - 1:02)
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions (1973)
""One of the prettiest tunes I’ve ever heard, from start to finish. Its among the more obscure Stevie tunes but I think its his best work. The 10 seconds I’ve chosen house the ending of the first verse. I love that the melody he sings (twice) is very simple - yet with every chord change that occurs beneath, it changes colour, which creates a beautiful sense of continuity without it feeling overly repetitive. To follow suit, he plays an organ pedaling one note over these changes, each chord giving it a different context.
Lastly, the changes are beautiful - some serious harmony going on without making your ears jump, one of the O.G’s!" - Yohan Kebede
The Camberwell Now - Working Nights ( 2:58-3:08)
The Camberwell Now -
The Ghost Trade (1986)
"I love the drumming, the switches in the whole song, the ambience of what I think is a synth, and the calm it brings combined with the energy and slight erraticness of the drums" - Cecil B
Endangered Blood - Uri Bird (0:00-0:10)
Endangered Blood -
Endangered Blood (2011)
"There are so many great 10 second moments in jazz, also the more we listen to something and acquaint ourselves to, we fall deeper in love with those moments. I very nearly picked John Coltrane’s opening to Sun Ship or Keith Jarrett’s solo from In Love In Vain (Standards Volume 2), but my 10 seconds are from the very first note of Endagered Blood’s tune Uri Bird. This record hit me the first time I heard it, so much joy and probably the album that revitalised jazz for me. The first 10 seconds is just bass and drums, but I can hear so much joy and also elasticity between Trevor Dunn and Jim Black, also how it hits the ground running with such focused energy.
This is the moment in recorded music I go to if I ever need cheering up."
- Huw Williams
Alexander Scriabin - Three pieces op.45: I. Feuillet (0:03-0:13)
"Does it have to be Jazz? Because to me Scriabin is Jazz..
In these 10 seconds of music there is beauty, strength, love and fragility: the rich harmony and melody balance perfectly with the curved trajectory and the peaceful statement of this piece. Everything evolves but it comes back from where it started." - Maria Chiara Argiro