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Van Morrison

September 28, 2021 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

“Have you got my latest record project?” asks the king of Celtic soul on the title track to Latest Record Project Vol 1, his one in a million, straight-to-the-heart baritone sitting in the pocket of a warm organ hum and the sha-la-la doo wop from the backing singers. “Not something that I used to do. Not something you’re used to.” So begins a 28-track delve into Morrison’s ongoing love of the blues, R&B, jazz and soul, which forms the setting for his most dynamic and current album in years. Whatever Morrison may have achieved in the past, however much you may love his classic albums that gave the late 20th century its most transcendental moments, he’s living in the present. And he’s taking note of what’s been happening.

“I’m getting away from the perceived same songs, same albums all the time,” says Morrison. “This guy’s done 500 songs, maybe more, so hello? Why do you keep promoting the same ten? I’m trying to get out of the box.”

Morrison’s productivity is one of the more positive outcomes of our enforced period of isolation. Normally he would be on the road for much of the year, losing himself to the power of performance. With that taken away, he had to stay busy in other ways.

“I would never have written this much if we hadn’t been locked in. Normally I’d be travelling, which takes up a lot of time, and this is what was left to do. Sometimes I’m writing on piano, sometimes guitar, sometimes saxophone, and you don’t imagine the song right away. It’s a process of trial and error. You try different chords, rhythms and tempos, before you go: that’s how it’s going to work. And by the time I bring people in, I have something to show them.”

The secret to Latest Record Project Vol 1’s directness and vibrancy lies in the synchronicity that comes with having a band who know Morrison — and each other — well enough to lock into a groove. “The key is to have a rhythm section who can read me,” he explains. “It’s not just about having good musicians in a room because that can lead to personality conflict. When you have a rhythm section that can work together you’re ahead of the game, and the way I work is spontaneous and fast. The sessions for the album that included Brown Eyed Girl were done in a day because all the guys on it worked together. If you’re on the same page musically, if people like what they’re playing, you’re off.”

A standout product of this approach is Jealousy, a saxophone-led R&B gem about dealing with the things people say about you; their reasons for saying it is implied in the title. “I write songs from a 1950s concept: keep it simple,” says Morrison. “I let the lyrics tell the story.”


September 28, 2021
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
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Blue Note Napa
(707) 880-2300
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Oxbow Riverstage
1268 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA 94558 United States
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