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Respecting the Music With Phil Baker : MY Top 10

Meet Phil Baker –

Apple isn’t knocking down my door to do my top ten list for iTunes so I’m going to subject you guys to it. So here it goes:

1. Hide and Seek – Imogen Heap
This is probably the best and most artistic use of new technology I have heard in a long time. I heard this song for the first time on a TV show and spent days trying to find it on Itunes.

2. In A Silent Way – Weather Report

3. In A Silent Way – Miles Davis
This is a two parter. I was stunned when I heard the Weather Report’s version (both live and recorded). Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter are both iconic musicians that are brilliantly unpredictable. Zawinul’s chords on this song are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. Miles’ version, conversely, is stripped of all chords except for a drone E provided by the bass with just a sprinkling of Rhodes on top. This was Miles’ genius: distillation to perfection.

Even though John McLaughlin’s guitar is out of tune (unusual!) Wayne Shorter plays perfectly in tune. This is the mark of high musicianship: intonation or good time amidst the lack of either.

4. The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines – Joni Mitchell
It’s hard to imagine that all this music is coming from three musicians. Joni’s stunning vocals are perfectly complimented by Jaco and Mike Brecker’s adrenaline driven romp.

5. Don’t Let It Bring You Down – Neil Young
This song knocked me out the first time I heard it. The best songs are usually simple and seem to have written themselves. This one has both melody and haunting lyrics. I love the simplicity of the rhythm section on Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush” and “Harvest” albums.

6. A Map Of The World – Pat Metheny
Again, just a great tune, beautifully recorded, brilliantly played, and masterfully orchestrated. Very moving.

7. Madan – Salif Keita
I’ve been getting into world music quite a bit lately, especially African music. Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour are my two favorites. Writing about this song does not do it justice. Just check it out.

8. Come To The Well – Gino Vannelli
OK, everybody who does one of these lists works in something they played on. Diana Ross, my former boss, had only her songs on her list. I wouldn’t have included this if I wasn’t proud of it and if the tune wasn’t great. Gino is one of the most brilliant musicians I’ve ever met. It was like musical boot-camp to work with him. It didn’t kill me so I guess it made me stronger. Randy Porter came up with the sublime voicings on the piano and I played a Caruthers electric upright bass.

9. Bag Lady – Todd Rundgren
Todd, like Stevie Wonder on his “Talking Book” album, played virtually every instrument on his “Hermit Of Mink Hollow” album. This song is one of my favorites. This CD sounds amazing enough but is still even more stunning when you realize that it, like the Steely Dan classics, was recorded in the 70s.

10. I Was Made To Love Her – Stevie Wonder
Speaking of Stevie… I couldn’t let this list go by without having something James Jamerson played on. This song makes me pull over to the side of the road every time it comes on.

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