A Five-Song Playlist, From 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' Host Guy Raz checks in with Jason Bentley, host of KCRW's influential music program Morning Becomes Eclectic. Bentley spun five cuts, including music from Jose James, Avi Buffalo, Johann Johannsson, Frazey Ford and Delta Spirit.
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A Five-Song Playlist, From 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'

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A Five-Song Playlist, From 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'

A Five-Song Playlist, From 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'

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GUY RAZ, host:

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

(Soundbite of song, "Love Conversation")

RAZ: This is music from jazz-tinged vocalist Jose James. It's a song called "Love Conversation." This recording is from a live performance on the legendary music program "Morning Becomes Eclectic" out of KCRW in Santa Monica.

The show's host, Jason Bentley, is here with me at NPR West in Southern California, from where we're broadcasting this week. Jason, thanks for coming in. It's great to finally meet you.

Mr. JASON BENTLEY (Host, "Morning Becomes Eclectic"): Pleasure to be with you.

RAZ: So Jose James, the guy we're hearing, he was a recent guest of yours on your program. Tell me about him.

Mr. BENTLEY: You know, as you mentioned, he's a jazz singer, but he has more of a hip-hop sensibility about him, and so it's a fresh voice in the jazz scene and it's exciting.

(Soundbite of song, "Love Conversation")

Mr. JOSE JAMES (Musician): (Singing) Searching all my life to find her and leaving all the past behind her (unintelligible).

RAZ: Where's he from?

Mr. BENTLEY: Well, he lives in London. But he's from Michigan and he's of Irish and Panamanian descent. His U.S. debut is on Verve, which is a venerable jazz label, really recording standards on this release. But his previous work is much more underground, and this was a magical session.

RAZ: Now, Jason, you are not here just to talk about jazz-tinged vocalists. We actually asked you to bring in some new recordings that have caught your ear recently. And I want to hear this band, Avi Buffalo, and the song is "What's In It For?"

(Soundbite of song, "What's In It For?"

AVI BUFFALO (Music Group): (Singing) I didn't understand I was a cold tear in your eye. What's in it for someone with nothing to do? What's in it for me?

RAZ: To me, Avi Buffalo sounds like an Israeli dude from Montana, but it is actually led by a guy named Avi, right?

Mr. BENTLEY: That's right, from Long Beach here in Southern California.

RAZ: So it's a local guy.

Mr. BENTLEY: Yeah. And, you know, for me, this is a real pleasure because I first heard this and played it as a demo from a local artist. He then went on to be signed by alt-rock label, Sub Pop.

RAZ: And they met in high school.

Mr. BENTLEY: Right.

RAZ: They're just a couple years ahead of high school.

Mr. BENTLEY: They are. They are. So I just like there's a real throwback sound with them. It has this '60s pop sensibility to me. And his lyrics are really unique. There's one lyric where he's singing to a girl and saying that her lips look like pieces of bacon.

RAZ: Yum.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BENTLEY: Exactly.

RAZ: I'm speaking with Jason Bentley. He's the host of the music program "Morning Becomes Eclectic" on KCRW here in Southern California. You can hear it online as well and around the world. Jason, what do you have next for us?

Mr. BENTLEY: Johann Johannsson. He is a composer. He's from Iceland, but he lives in Denmark now. And he's just I guess he could be considered a classical crossover artist but he's always weaving in electronic atmospheres along with his orchestral production.

(Soundbite of song, "Rainwater")

Mr. BENTLEY: And I just love the sound. It's so distinct.

RAZ: There's something about Iceland that just, like, infuses this kind of stark sensibility in all the music that comes out of there. I mean, it's great.

Mr. BENTLEY: Very true. And I don't even remember the name of this album because it's like a sentence or two long, but this particular piece is entitled "Rainwater."

RAZ: This is what you want to be listening to when you're trudging through a moonscape and volcanic ash.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BENTLEY: Exactly.

RAZ: So there's another piece of music you brought for us, Jason. This is a solo record from a member of the alternative bluegrass band The Be Good Tanyas, who had some critical acclaim. Her name is Frazey Ford, and this track is called "Firecracker."

(Soundbite of song, "Firecracker")

Ms. FRAZEY FORD (Musician): (Singing) (Unintelligible) laughing so hard.

RAZ: So I've got a soft spot in my heart for this band, The Be Good Tanyas, Jason, because they have a track on a children's album that I play for my son and he listens to it over and over again. I'm a little bit sick of it, but I have to say that I also love them. She's gone out on her own now and put this all together.

Mr. BENTLEY: Yeah. I mean, she - her voice has always stood out to me. Reminds me of Dolly Parton in a certain way. And so I'm glad she's done this record. It's called "Obadiah," and it's not quite out yet, but this is the first song that we've heard from the record.

(Soundbite of song, "Firecracker")

Ms. FORD: (Singing) And I'll never (unintelligible).

RAZ: Jason, we've got time for just one more, unfortunately. What do you want to leave us with?

Mr. BENTLEY: Let's do Delta Spirit, really good time for blues rock right now. And you feel that infusion of blues in their rock stylings, also a lot of '60s soul to it. And this particular track is called "Bushwick Blues."

(Soundbite of song, "Bushwick Blues")

DELTA SPIRIT (Music Group): (Singing) All the other guys that you meet were nothing compared to me. Cause my love is strong and my heart is weak after all.

RAZ: The music is by Delta Spirit. My guest and co-deejay, or I should say I've been his co-deejay, was Jason Bentley. He's the host of "Morning Becomes Eclectic." It's heard on KCRW in Los Angeles and around the world on KCRW.com. Jason Bentley, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming over.

Mr. BENTLEY: Thanks, Guy.

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