Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Shining - Live Blackjazz
I drove right up to the hotel entrance. It was the day the Undersight Hotel shut down for the winter season. The hotel manager walked out to meet us with a big smile on his face.
“Ah Mr. Penfold. I see that you’ve brought your wife.”
“Ha, good heavens no! I’m not married. This young lady’s name is Sonja. We’re simply complimentary workers based on what we each do well. Together we form the perfect hotel-caretaker.”
“I see? Well this must certainly be your child.”
“Wrong again sir. I’m only this young man’s mentor. The Big Brother branch director thought it would do Knut good to get out of the city for a while. He’s under some delusions about seeing ghosts. Crazy huh?”
“Ha…ha…crazy…yes.” He clears his throat. “May I ask what you’ll be doing to keep busy?”
“Certainly. I am a saxophone player and I intend to work diligently to improve my improvisational skills.”
“That’s fantastic! I love jazz. It’s so much better than that barbaric filth produced by those rock and rollers. You know we had another jazz musician watch over the hotel a few years ago, but he…”
“Oh never mind. It’s not important. You just stick with your saxophone Mr. Penfold.”
“Good morning Penfold. How is your practicing coming along?”
“Good morning to you as well Sonja. My improvisation is improving greatly! Thanks for asking. I am feeling a bit restless musically however. Say, how’s Knut doing today?”
“It’s the strangest thing Penfold. I went to his room earlier and I saw that he had taken a tube of my lipstick and scrawled LATEM on the wall. I don’t know what it means, or even what language the word belongs too.”
“Well I don’t think it’s profane so I say we forget about it.”
“Okay Penfold. That seems wise.”
“Penfold, is something wrong? Why did you stop playing your rhythm changes? You need to keep practicing so you can perfect your craft.”
“Sonja, maybe I need a break okay? I love jazz, but I love other music too! Wanna know something? It’s hard to focus on only one genre of music for so long. Besides, who are you to tell me what to do? I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you GET OUT OF HERE!?!?”
Sonja enters Penfold’s practice space and picks up a piece of discarded sheet music from the floor. She recognizes Penfold’s handwriting and quickly reads the first few lines of text.
All jazz and no metal make Penfold a dull boy…ALL JAZZ AND NO METAL MAKE PENFOLD A DULL BOY…All jazz and no metal make Penfold a dull boy
Horror consumes her, and she turns white as a sheet when she looks up to discover Penfold tuning a guitar. “Oh my! Penfold, is that an electric guitar?”
“You know it Sonja!”
“What happened to your saxophone?”
“I gave it to Knut. He’s in the other room working out how to best play it through a distortion pedal.”
“A distortion pedal? You’ve gone mad Penfold! Mad!”
“Mad? Nah, I don’t see it that way. I just want to rock!”
Sonja ran screaming from the room and subsequently the hotel. She got in my car, and sped away. I looked over at Knut who had reentered the room after Sonja’s departure. He gave me the two handed devil’s horns salute and spoke one word. “Metal!”
“Yes Knut! Metal!”
I’m pleased to say that together we rocked the very foundation of the Undersight Hotel!
Friends, humans, waveriders, this is your trusted servant Penfold. I’m here today to give you the lowdown on a band that I’ve recently introduced into my personal listening universe. They go by the name Shining. Unfortunately the introduction of said band has created nothing but chaos and tumult. You see waveriders, the first time I heard Shining a massive black hole was created inside my mind that quickly devoured every other orbiting musical entity! To put this catastrophic event into perspective let’s get a little background information.
Shining is a quintet of talented musicians out of Oslo, Norway. Their ringleader is Jorgen Munkeby, a musical chameleon. He composes the band’s songs, and he plays multiple instruments (mainly saxophone and guitar) to help bring his musical vision to life. Shining debuted back in 2001 as an acoustic jazz quartet. Two years later another acoustic jazz album was released. Around this time Mr. Monkeby was inspired by a band named Motorpsycho to change his musical approach to incorporate progressive rock and metal along with jazz. The first album incorporating this new approach, In The Kingdom Of Kitsch You Will Be A Monster, was released in 2005. Not satisfied Mr. Monkeby continued to evolve his music, making it catchier and heavier over Shining’s next two albums. In fact the latter of those albums (the band’s most recent studio output) was named after the style of music coined by the band, Blackjazz. That album came out in February of 2010. Fast forward almost two years and we have the new live album, appropriately titled Live Blackjazz, which is the topic of discussion here today.
Folks I listened to Live Blackjazz a few weeks back and I was befuddled. Why had I never heard of this band before now? What kind of unjust world am I living in which would deny me this knowledge? Honestly, I became quite enraged. Allow me to explain why this music so tickles my fancy. First off I played the saxophone for many years, so any music which incorporates a strong saxophone player will always catch my attention. Second, I love jazz and I love metal. It is not often that these two great tastes are combined into a delicious aural meal, but Shining delivers the goods. I honestly believe that fans of both genres can find common ground with this band. Yes some songs are more metal than they are jazz, but the opposite is true too. Trust me, we can all get along.
Apparently there have been questions regarding whether or not Shining can reproduce their recorded output onstage. Live Blackjazz succinctly puts those concerns to rest. You may ask how I’m able to make a statement like that considering I was unaware of the band until recently. I understand your question. To clarify, thanks to the magic of facebook and soundcloud I’ve gone back and listened to several of the studio versions of these live songs. The bottom line is that not only is Shining fully capable of reproducing their songs, but like other great bands these live reproductions are more ferocious than their original versions!
True to its title the majority of songs that make up Live Blackjazz emanate from the Blackjazz album. “Fisheye” and “The Madness And The Damage Done” crush any resistance under their massive metallic assaults. “Madness…” especially gets my head furiously banging back and forth. “Exit Sun”, “Healter Skelter”, and Shining’s cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” rewrite the definition of the word epic. Look it up before and after listening. I guarantee your dictionary will have changed. Four other songs from the two previous studio albums also make the cut, essentially making Live Blackjazz a greatest hits package. And what a package it is!
Waveriders don’t let the same thing that happened to me happen to you. Expose yourselves to the greatness that is Shining right now! But why stop there? Do you know anyone who likes jazz? Do you know anyone who likes metal? Expose them to Shining too! Trust me, they will thank you! I do have one warning however. Anyone with a history of epileptic seizures should steer well clear of the DVD of this concert. Remember folks, strobe lights can be dangerous. You’ve been warned. Now get to listening!