A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…
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“Can’t Keep My Cool” by Durand Jones & The Indications

Keeping it cool is overrated…  

Let it happen.

Title: Can’t Keep My Cool/ Artist: Durand Jones & The Indications

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“Sparks” by Royksopp

Pleasure and melancholy are not often used in the same sentence.  With this song, Royksopp is able to establish a positive relationship between the two.  While the lyrics are born out of a painful situation (the loss of a loved one), the music itself is so exquisite that you have no choice but to find pleasure the song’s melancholy.  It’s a case of celebrating past good times, instead of grieving the painful reality of the present.

I could probably write a thousand words about how amazing the production of this song is, but for now, I’ll just point to the amazing drum breaks and gorgeous pads that drive the song.  The drums are “dusty”, understated and even tentative, but they pull you into the song and the melodies from the pads keep you trapped.

The vocals on “Sparks” come courtesy of Norwegian singer and actress Anneli Drecker who blesses the song with her poetry…

Title: Sparks / Artist: Royksopp / Album: Melody AM (2002)

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“Underwater Love” by Smoke City

Underwater love…

Smoke city began to develop somewhat of a cult following after “Underwater love” was featured in a ‘Levi’s Jeans’ tv commercial in 1997, a few months before the group released its first album “Flying Away”.

I really like the analogy used in the title of the song to draw a parallel between the overwhelming feeling of newfound love and the all consuming physical sensation of being well…..under water.

“This must be underwater love

The way I feel it slipping all over me”

“This is it, Underwater love

It is so deep, So beautifully liquid”

I find it really difficult to categorize or place a stylistic label on this song.  The tempo is typical of trip-hop, the drums elements (shakers, brushes) of brazilian samba, the sound effects of electronica and there is a hiphop verse in there just for good measure.  All this from a British band with a brazilian lead singer !!???! Nina Miranda is equally fluent in English and Portuguese and she navigates between the two almost playfully on this song.

Underwater love has been in every playlist I’ve created since the first time I heard it.  I’ve never been able to resist the positive vibes emanating from the song….It always takes me to a happy/sunny place.

Title: Underwater Love / Artist: Smoke City / Album: Flying Away (1997)

“Spend a lifetime” by Jamiroquai

Like the morning sun has just begun, Girl, Like the rain on my window pane, Girl, If I could make you stay more than one day..

Title: Spend a Lifetime / Artist: Jamiroquai / Album: Traveling without Moving (1997)

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“Blue in Green” by Miles Davis

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  

You know: about the “big” questions.  What’s next? How to approach that potentially life-altering decision, and of course the biggest of them all: what does it all mean?

Such an exercise is less about finding exact answers than it is about developing self-awareness.  After all, as James Arthur Ray pointed out: “The journey of true success and lasting leaderships begins with the inward journey to the soul.”

What’s a journey without music to accompany you? Better yet, what’s a moment of reflection without Jazz?  

As I take the road on this “inward journey”, I’m bringing along Mr Miles Davis on the trumpet, Mr John Coltrane on the saxophone, Mr Wynton Kelly on the piano, Mr Paul Chambers on the bass and Mr Jimmy Cobb on the drums.

Good travel companions indeed.

Title: Blue in Green / Artist: Miles Davis / Album: Kind of Blue (1959)

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