Thursday, July 15, 2004

Short Takes:

• The worst part of buying records at my library’s used book sale is that I pick up things I normally wouldn’t because they’re only a quarter each.
• The new version of the All Music Guide isn’t winning very many admirers. It’s still very early in the update, but a buggy system that’s difficult to navigate is a huge disappointment for one of the most valuable music sites on the web.
• I finally got a chance to start listening to some of the records I picked up at Princeton over the weekend. The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Full Force has received some pretty mediocre reviews in the Penguin Guide and the All Music Guide, but I rather enjoyed it. If anything, it’s a “typical” AEC record, with a long percussion section on the band’s “little instruments” along with a fiercely free blown section. Along the way, there are parts of considerable melodic beauty and very subtle interplay among the musicians. Keith Jarrett’s Death and the Flower comes from a series of records he made for the Impulse! Label in the mid 1970’s with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. The first side of the record is entirely made up of the title composition which starts with spare percussion and slowly moves into a full band improvisation. Jarrett’s piano throughout the record has a haunted and fractured quality. It’s too bad Impulse hasn’t re-released the records this band made during this period – they are all of high quality and this one is no exception.

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