Saturday, November 22, 2008
Blue Monkee - Not a Belew Monkee
My first impression of the new Saul Zonana CD surprised me... in a good way. I wanted to play it for my son who's critical ear would either confirm or deny what I was hearing, so when we were alone in the car, I played it for him and didn't tell him what we were listening to, because I didn't want to influence his critique in any way. He asked, "Who are we listening to?" I replied, You tell me." He listened intently for a few moments and proclaimed, "It feels like Belew, but I know it isn't... Is it Saul Zonana?" he asked with rhetorical uncertainty. "Good job!" I affirmed. I was impressed that he guessed correctly. He had only heard Saul Zonana live on one occasion, and it had been a couple of years previous.
As we discussed the music on the CD, we agreed that it didn't really sound like Adrian Belew at all, but rather felt like Belew. Crisp, clean honest music with a side of lyrical irony, perhaps Zonana and Belew are kindred spirits. It may also have something to do with the fact the the CD was mastered at Studio Belew, and we were picking up on the feel of the equipment.
Either way, Saul Zonana's Blue Monkey stands on it's own and shouldn't be compared to anything else. A very comfortable listen. I've played it a dozen times now, and I like it better every time. Every song is good enough to become a commercial hit, and I wouldn't be surprised if someday Mr. Zonana's music is known to the masses.
I've had a chance to see Saul Zonana perform live on two separate occasions. I'm impressed by anyone who can stand up in front of a huge crowd with nothing more than a guitar and carry the show solo. Bravo!
Most recently, I saw Mr. Zonana open for Adrian Belew at Slims in San Francisco. I spoke with him at the products table where he was setting up a list and money jar so that for only one dollar, everyone who signed his list would receive his new CD when it was released. I signed the list, and reached into my wallet for a dollar, but didn't have one. Unfortunately, I had spent all my cash on pizza before the show. I figured that Mighty Mo would have a buck in her purse, but when she checked, she didn't have any cash with her either. Bummer! My name was on the list, but I hadn't paid for the CD, and by the end of the show I had forgotten all about it... until I got home and downloaded the photos from the show. There among the photos was a picture of the empty money jar. I felt terrible.
Not long ago, the new Blue Monkee CD that I didn't pay for arrived in the mail, and I've been listening to it since. It is certainly well worth a dollar, so I've decided to send a one hundred cent note ($1) to Mr. Zonana, and hopefully alter my karmic trajectory for the better.