On the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books (this year the event is on my wife’s university stomping grounds on U.S.C.’s campus), the subject pairing of reading and the other pleasure in my life, music, arose. The two somehow coalesced into a disconcerting realization on my part. Though audiobooks have become the primary delivery platform for my reading material these days, all due to the hectic nature of commingling marriage, work, and parenting, it registered that the audio format I so enjoy had come with a hidden cost. I could no longer blend those treasured two.
Hear me out on this. How many times have you read or heard someone start an adage with these words?:
“There are two kinds of people…”
Well, in this case, there exists some truth to that. Many enjoy the act of reading matched with nothing else — see Paul VanDeCarr’s post explaining this. Then, there are those, like blogger Sharazad (and myself), who find magic in the melding of “notes and pages” for the ear and eyes. I can’t seem to do that with just an audiobook. I guess actual books will stay in my life, come what may. Sharazad’s fine music/reading list accomplished one other thing. It sparked a memory of mine to a favorite tune used for my music and reading enjoyment (among other reasons*).
As I confessed awhile back (in a post far, far away), it was during the mid-70s when I entered my jazz fusion music period. The likes of Bob James, Sadao Watanabe, and the original members to Return to Forever grew in stature and importance to my listening habits. Besides the music they produced, I would point you to one breakthrough recording from the era that won me (and a boatload of others) over to this music genre. Saxophonist John Klemmer ‘s 1975 album, and its lead song, Touch, became the soundtrack to my Seventies existence.
Arguably, John Klemmer’s career, and the genre that would eventually morph decades later into the entity that is Smooth Jazz, took off with this LP. Although, you could perhaps opine this jazz artist plateaued here, too. I believe writer and percussionist Stanton Zeff covered it best in his CD review of this seminal work, nevertheless:
“In interviews at the time, John Klemmer indicated he had taken a yearlong sabbatical of sorts to decide which musical direction he wanted to head in while writing the material for Touch. He then went into the studio to record with a stellar group of musicians, many who had not previously appeared on one of his releases to date. These included key sidemen from Tom Scott’s L.A. Express (John Guerin on drums and Chuck Domanico on bass) as well as established solo artists Dave Grusin on Fender Rhodes and David Batteau on backing vocals. It was a case of the right music, with the right musicians, at the right time.”
A John Coltrane inspired artist, the crossover appeal of his song influenced this and the next generations of musicians and listeners to a significant extent. Touch still sounds fresh, even more than 35 years later. Scott Wilson’s blog post offers another keen look to what makes this melody so hypnotic. If you’ve not heard the instrumental, it is worth catching.
* I’d also contend Touch along with Marvin Gaye‘s Let’s Get It On were the preeminent ‘making out’ albums for that decade [but since my wife reads this blog, I'll leave it at that].