Sari Schorr has been a favourite of MV’s for years. Recently she has provided the vocals on Robin Trower’s brilliant new record “Joyful Sky” (our review is here:https://maximumvolumemusic.com/review-robin-trower-ft-sari-schorr-2023/) , so it seemed like an ideal time to ask the Brooklyn native about her favourite albums.
As you’d expect from such a soulful voice, there’s plenty of variety.
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
When Miles recorded this album in 1959 at Columbia Record’s 30th Street Studio in New York City, he had now idea that he was recording one of most influential albums ever made. Miles grew disillusioned by his earlier hard bop style of jazz. He felt his solos were restricted by the complicated chord changes so, he turned to using musical modes (scales) instead which provided a rich palette of harmonic and melodic possibilities that allowed a much freer form of musical expression. That newfound freedom expressed in ‘Kind of Blue’ revolutionized the genre with its innovative approach to improvisation.
The album’s impact transcends the realm of jazz, resonating with rock and pop luminaries like David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, and Sting. They’ve found inspiration in the album’s unfettered spirit of improvisation. Personally, I frequently listen to “So What” in my dressing room before a performance to ignite my creative energies. The song’s enchanting melody, cool ambiance, and the seamless interplay among the musicians render it a timeless and invigorating masterpiece.
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
This ambitious double album shows no signs of aging despite being released in 1976. I would attribute the albums longevity to Stevie Wonder’s genre-blurring innovation. He created a musical fusion that was groundbreaking at the time by blending R&B, soul, funk, jazz, and pop.
My favorite song from the album is “Village Ghetto Land” with a poignant lyric by Gary Byrd. I gravitate to songs with social commentary and this track describes a world where people battle poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Stevie played a Yamaha GX-1, which at the time was an experimental polyphonic synthesizer, to create the string orchestration. It provides an opulent backdrop that contrasts with the songs lyrics emphasizing the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The song remains relevant today, making it a timeless anthem for those seeking to address inequality.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Let Love In
Nick Cave makes me feel ok about feeling bad. His dark, intense vocals and poetic lyrics captured my attention back when Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their debut album in 1983. Nick is a consummate storyteller, adept at conveying the depths of desperation. In “Do You Love Me (Part Two),” a poignant narrative unfolds about a boy enduring a harrowing experience, rendering it a profoundly melancholic masterpiece. To endure the seemingly boundless stretches of road on the tour bus, I’ve played this song repeatedly and found myself miles aways
Nina Simone – Live At Montreux 1976
Raw and even difficult to watch, Nina Simon’s performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976 captures the essence of Nina. The pain is palpable. The emotion unfiltered. It takes courage to be that vulnerable. The power of music to transform and heal is a shared experience between Nina and the audience.
I’ve watch Nina’s performance of the song, “Stars” too many times to count. Nina’s exceptional talent as both a singer and pianist is on full display here. The lyrics are both poetic and contemplative and Nina’s delivery infuses the song with an authentic emotional depth. Nina leaves you thinking, questioning, wondering.
Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
Woody Guthrie said Lead Belly is “the hard name of a harder man.” Lead Belly was a pioneer of American folk and blues music that helped shape the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s. He styled himself, “King of the Twelve-String Guitar,” and few would dare to argue with the man who lived a notoriously violent life. He lived the blues. His lyrics often told stories of the hardships of African American life in the early 20th century and serves as a valuable documentation of the times.
“Black Betty” is a stand out song. The origin and meaning of the lyrics are subject to great debate. Some say black Betty is a bottle of whiskey, others say it is a whip, or a penitentiary transfer wagon. I have reinterpreted the song with a very different interpretation and featured it on my debut album, ‘A Force of Nature.’ After performing “Black Betty” at Carnegie Hall it became one of my signature songs.
JOYFUL SKY IS OUT NOW. BUY HERE: https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/robin-trower