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10 Seconds: MettaShiba

An Alien Called Harmony drummer-producer-singer-composer-storyteller-human MettaShiba guests this week, and I'm suddenly all tempted to do the hype man thing. Listen to After the Dance and N​.​H​.​H. and you might get why.

1. Sonny Clark Trio - I'll Remember April (3'48" - 3'58")

From Sonny Clark Trio (1957)

"Sonny Clark’s rendition of ‘I’ll Remember April’ is my favourite piece to listen to when I’m outside, alone in a big open park around dusk. This is the soundtrack to me watching leaves turn colour, remembering I too will die someday, alone (not in an ‘I have no friends’ a ‘death is a solo activity’ way…), and feeling some peace with it, maybe even contemplating the beauty of that.

3.48-3.58 is probably when I’ve picked up a curly brown leaf and seen myself in it."

2. Wayne Shorter - Juju (4'59" - 5'09")

From Wayne Shorter - Juju (1964)

"The world needs transcendental music, and for me this is one of the most powerful examples of the ‘fire’ variety of transcendental sublimeness. I feel that words like ‘transcendental’ and ‘spiritual’ tend to be associated with a watery and meditative kind of sound--which I also love--but I feel that it’s quite rare to find this level of execution of fiery sublimeness...I think it takes a series of magical aligning of stars to draw out this explosive chemical reaction even from these already quite magical musicians. I picked the moment that sounds like Wayne Shorter is purging out the tenacious remaining demons from the bottom of his gut."

3. Fela Kuti - O.D.O.O. (Overtake Don Overtake Overtake) (3'19" - 3'29")

From Fela Kuti & Egypt '80 ‎– O.D.O.O. (1989)

“Such a beautiful and joyful tapestry of sound...and what a multidimensional approach to critique (of government corruption/coloniality/military usurpation of power, themes of much of Fela’s music). The syncopated parts all weaving beautifully and cacophonously together makes me visualize a merry-go-round. A lot of my favourite music has this kind of quality of many people and elements bouncing loosely and joyfully together."

4. Ray Charles - Hard Times (2'22" - 2'32")

From Ray Charles - The Genius Sings the Blues (1955)

"I love The Genius Sings the Blues which this piece is from and always come back to it. ‘Hard Times’ is just the realest... you think you’re at the pinnacle of realness when he sings the verse about the woman who was always around leaving him when he lost all his money, but then he hits you with ‘yeahhh lawd, one of these days... / there’ll be no more sorrow when I pass away/ then no more hard times…’ I picked that moment when the blues gets turned up an extra existential notch."

5. D’Angelo - I Found My Smile Again (0'04" - 0'14")

From Various - Space Jam OST (1996)

"This song gets me pumped for the day. If the communal rhythmic tapestry like the one on O.D.O.O is the sound that grounds me in the earth and humanity, the hierarchical (hats-snare-kick) simple hip-hop beat, sonically perfected on this track, is the sound that gets me pumped as an individual person in her own little room, needing to get out of bed. This song is the soundtrack to me getting ready at my own pace for the outside world. I picked the beginning...the raw, phat, spacious, heavy yet relaxed, perfect entrance."

6. Steely Dan - Kid Charlemagne (2'28" - 2'38")

From Steely Dan - The Royal Scam (1976)

"The Royal Scam is one of my all time favourite albums because it’s got a lot of the grit and rawness of their early music but also the masterful and detail-orientated composition and arrangement they develop over time, as well as the whole enlisting the most killing musicians around to perform each instrumental role to its utmost potential, thing. I am in no way the first person to comment on Larry Carlton’s solo on this track...but I think I love this moment because of its eloquence. The lyrical story is eloquent, the musicians have been serving the story masterfully and respectfully, and here a soloist and the instrumentalists around him marry the eloquence, mastery and respectfulness, through the ability to interpret a story then putting themselves into it fully. I love how bouncy and locked-in the guitar and drums sound here."

7. MF DOOM - Rhymes Like Dimes (3'03" - 3'13")

From MF DOOM - Operation: Doomsday (1999)

"Mashed potatoes! Apple Sauce! Buttery...Biscuits!

MF Doom brings me so much joy...the part I picked was where DJ Cucumber Slice is bringing totally unhinged silliness. I just love the whole thing. All that is fun about recording music is captured in these 10 seconds. As a side note I also grew up loving the James Ingram song sampled which adds to my total enjoyment of this song."

8. Aretha Franklin - Call Me (0'41" - 0'51")

From Aretha Franklin & King Curtis - Live at Fillmore West (1971)

"I couldn’t complete this list without picking a moment from one of my favourite albums of all time (I did try...didn’t feel right) and I chose this moment because Aretha’s backing vocalists (Brenda Bryant, Margaret Branch, Pat Smith) knock me off my chair right from the get-go. I like that this song doesn’t particularly ‘go anywhere.’ It feels like one loose yet incredibly soulful and powerful jam. For some reason the way the horn comes in off-key but with great power and confidence around 2.02 always comes to mind as another highlight of this song, and album too."


9. Aretha Franklin- You’re All I Need to Get By (2'37" - 2'47")

From Aretha Franklin & King Curtis - Live at Fillmore West (1971)

"Aretha’s Fillmore West recordings give me this feeling of… The Ultimate. It’s the final chapter. It’s music I’d want to be played at my funeral. The band is so loose, with no tension obstructing their channels of expression: they’re giving it everything they’ve got, in a way that’s only possible when you’re fully surrendering to a moment and the whole. I mean, how could you give anything other than everything when you’re enlisted to contribute to Earth’s nuclear reactor of soul for everyone’s sake? Thank you!

Bernard Purdie on drums and the backing vocalists feel just that bit closer to Aretha, dynamically catching and elevating the feeling. I chose this moment when Purdie does a massive drum fill to complement Aretha expressing the ease of opening any door when you feel something ultimate and divine—in this case passionate love. This moment expresses the infiniteness of energy born of inspiration."

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