Monday, January 31, 2005

Fast 'n' Bulbous - Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind (Cuneiform, 2005)

Fast 'n' Bulbous is a jazzy group put together by guitarist (and Beefheart alum) Gary Lucas to play instrumental versions of Captain Beefheart's music arranged for a "little big band" of seven pieces. Although Lucas only played with the Captain on his final two records, the selections on this disc come from the the entirety of Beefheart's musical career, 1966 - 1984. After '84 he went back to his first love, visual art and has been off the music scene. His former sidemen are still active though, several reunited as The Magic Band for the superb tribute disc Back to the Front in 2003 and now this band will do it's share to keep Beefheart's musical legacy alive.

Beefheart's work always contained interesting music and structures so there's much material for the band to work with and improvise on. There's the New Orleans like feel to "When I See Mommy I Feel Like a Mummy" complete with backbeat and chanting. "When It Blows Its Stacks" is one of the more ominous pieces in the Beefheart canon and here it keeps that feel with a smeared trombone solo leading into a cacophonous collective improvisation. Two songs from the Beefheart epic Trout Mask Replica are represented, "When Big Joan Sets Up" and "Veterans Day Poppy" keep the quirkiness that made the original music so interesting while allowing the soloists to inject fresh ideas. The disc ends with a wonderful version of "Tropical Hot Dog Night," Beefheart's send-up of lounge music that anchored the Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) album. The fanfare horns and excellent guitar work take the disc out on a high note.

This was a very successful album and the Beefheart catalog is deep, so I hope there is a sequel in the works. There was a time when jazz musicians borrowed from pop music with abandon finding new songs to improvise on. This disc shows that there is still plenty of great material in the pop and rock world that is just waiting for the right group to come along.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, January 28, 2005

Pianists in the Times

The venerable New York Times has a review of Geri Allen performing live at the Village Vanguard:

Ms. Allen's musical temperament stayed with you after the music was over: the sound of her melodies and harmonies, a gently dissonant, old-world quality. She worked Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" into her set, after her own tune "Angels," and it seemed as if much of her own work descends from the mood of that pretty, floating, inscrutable piece of music.

Jason Moran, who has a hotly anticipated album due out shortly, also gets the Times treatment:

Many jazz musicians regard blues as a harmonic structure in which to fit swing rhythm and jazz-group interaction - as, for example, John Coltrane did on one of his best records, "Coltrane Plays the Blues." But when Mr. Moran thought blues, he also thought of shuffle beats and Texas guitar players; blues-as-blues style, not jazz-as-blues or merely blues form. To that end he hired the guitarist Marvin Sewell as a fourth member of his band, Bandwagon.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Charlie Musslewhite - Deluxe Edition (Alligator, 2005)

Harmonica player, guitarist and vocalist Charlie Musslewhite has had a long and successful career ever since he blew out of Memphis in the early 1960's. The 1990's saw an even bigger resurgence in his career - free from booze and ready for a fresh start, he signed to Alligator Records for a three disc contract which culminated in one of his finest albums In My Time. This best of draws heavily from that album and cherry picks some of the best tunes from the two others to present a cohesive picture of a blues musician at the peak of his game.

One of the things that made In My Time such an interesting album was the variety of material on it. While Musslewhite is mostly known as a crack blues harp player, on this album he's playing some deep delta style guitar as well, and backed by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama on some soulful gospel like the haunting "Bedside of a Neighbor." The blues boogie is never that far away however and Musslewhite shows his extraordinary harmonica ability and laid-back soulful vocals on cookers like "Lotsa Poppa" and "38 Special." The disc ends with a fascinating lo-fi home recording of Musslewhite with legendary Memphis bluesman Will Shade. It doesn't really fit in with the rest of the music, but as a curio it's very interesting. Now if they can uncover some of Musslewhite's work with the idiosyncratic nine string guitarist Big Joe Williams, that would be extremely cool.

If you are a fan of the modern blues, this is well worth your while. Musslewhite has released a string of excellent music lately and this is where he really started to find his groove. Either this disc or In My Time are highly recommended as prime examples of his art.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The New York Times has a very positive review of a concert from the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the Village Vanguard:

Branford Marsalis's opening set at the Village Vanguard on Tuesday night was regular by his standards: no high concept, no new instrumentation, no theory or argument via fancy choices of repertory. But in some cases, that's what you want. In the case of this band, one of the better in jazz these days, there's a reassurance in hearing something maintained.

Digging back into the blues, the Asbury Park Press presents it's favorite blues and roots albums for 2004:

Thank God for independent record labels. Were it not for them, some of the best blues releases of 2004 would not have seen the light of day, much less the inside of your CD players.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

William Parker's Tribute to Curtis Mayfield - Rome, Italy 4/6/04

This is a concert I downloaded from easytree with a band led by one of the hardest working men in the jazz business, William Parker. He works in many different contexts and this one is with the band with whom he recorded the excellent Thirsty Ear album Raining on the Moon a couple of years ago. The band is a group that mixes the spaciness and experimentalism of Sun Ra with old-school rhythm and blues. The most interesting aspect of the group is it's vocalist, Neena Conquest who sounds very much like Ra's old vocalist, June Tyson. The band locks into what may best be described as a "progressive R&B" groove with some advanced jazz mixed in. R&B - free jazz fusion!

One of the most amazing aspects of this recording was an epic performance of Mayfield's classic song "People Get Ready." Conquest's deeply felt and soulful vocals play off against a signifying male vocalist as the song stretches out into a deep soul groove with interjections of free improvisation. While the vocals get more impassioned, the music gets more propulsive until it finally breaks the moorings of the R&B structure to lift off into an estatic free improvisation. It's an inspiring performance, let's hope the band goes into the studio soon so everyone can hear how great it is.

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Ornette Coleman – Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic, 1959)

Ornette Coleman blew into New York from Los Angeles riding a tidal wave of controversy. “Established” musicians walked off the bandstand when he tried to sit in. Some stepped up to bat for him like the composer Leonard Bernstein and pianist John Lewis, who sponsored him at a music workshop in Tanglewood and brought him together with Atlantic Records for a record contract. By now, Coleman had solidified his “classic” quartet with Charlie Haden on bass, Don Cherry on trumpet and Billy Higgins on drums.

This is Coleman’s opening salvo for Atlantic and of all of the albums he would subsequently record for them, this remains his best known and most respected. It’s hard to see in retrospect how this music was so controversial, as it has been by now so thoroughly assimilated into the fabric of jazz. Some of Coleman’s best known compositions are here. His R&B tinged alto saxophone comes blasting through in “Focus on Sanity,” undoubtedly a rebuttal for all those who had accused Coleman of having lost his mind. Coleman and Cherry play are nearly telepathic in their ability to play together without getting in each other’s way. “Peace” is a mournful, bluesy theme which allows the band to stretch out at medium tempo and dispels the notion of the group being involved in simply formless improvisation. “Lonely Woman” is Coleman’s most famous theme, deep and dark with the saxophone just jumping out of the speakers.

This was one of the most influential albums of post-war jazz. The compositions, improvisations and performances are really amazing and add up to what is simply a timeless record.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Jean Luc Ponty - King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa (Pacific Jazz, 1969)

Ponty first performed the music of Frank Zappa during the sessions that made up Zappa's mostly instrumental album Hot Rats. Zappa returned the favor by arranging some of his new music and composing a new quasi-classical suite for Ponty's group which included George Duke on electric piano, Wilton Felder on electric bass, John Guerin on drums, Ernie Watts on saxophones and Zappa himself on guitar on one track and the leader throughout on electric violin.

The title track leads off the album with a funky electric piano riff juxtaposed against Ponty's violin. "The Idiot Bastard Son" gets a strange yearning feel during Ponty's solo. "How Would You Like to Have a Head Like That" is a Ponty original arranged by Zappa, it moves with a much more traditional jazz feel and allows for some collective improvisation from the group. The most interesting track on the album is the nearly 20 minute "Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra" which adds several classical players to the ensemble for a multi part suite that stands as one of Zappa's earliest long form classical compositions. Ponty does very well in his role as the featured soloist using both his jazz improvisational ability and his classical training to navigate the different parts of the composition which has different tempos and feelings throughout each of the segments.

I originally heard this album during a Zappa tribute on the Princeton University radio station WPRB. Pacific Jazz, which originally released this album has it's catalog controlled by Blue Note and Capitol Records so one would hope that it would be re-released on compact disc eventually. As one of the earliest fusion recordings it fills a historical niche as well as an interesting chapter in the careers of both Ponty and Zappa.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Gary Bartz - Harlem Bush Music (Milestone 1971, 2004)

As we start to pile up to an expected 20 inch snowfall, I have plenty of time to listen to music and watch videos that have been piling up. I downloaded this from Emusic a while back, and it's a re-issue of a very interesting album from alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, featuring vocalist Andy Bey. The album is a mix of R&B, social protest and burning Coltrane-influenced acoustic jazz.
Bartz had just recently completed a stint in Miles Davis' electric band, so he had learned a thing or two about taking chances with the music and that is reflected here. While socially conscious lyrics are the order of the day, there is still some burning saxophone especially on "The Warrior's Song" in which scalding group improvisations are broken up by snippits of spoken word.

Some of the finest songs that combine all of the adventurous aspects that the band was investigating were "Uruhu Sasa," an song of defiance for Bey's smooth but strong vocals and "Vietcong" an anthem of the times which still has relevance in today's political situation. This is a very interesting album; while not always completely successful, it was quite ahead of its time in some repects, prefacing the melding of rap and hip-hip with jazz in the late 80's. If you're a fan of jazzy R&B, this is well worth checking out.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, January 21, 2005 has an interesting article on jazz vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson:

Hutcherson speaks of the feelings and experiences the music evokes, often
displaying a poet's touch with detail. With such a high-powered group, he
can take technical mastery for granted, so he says the group's single
rehearsal will be more about each musician finding his emotional
attachment to each song.

Also, if you have some (actually quite a bit) of disposable income you'd like to get rid of there will be an auction of rare jazz memorabilia:

Other items at the Feb. 20 sale will include unreleased tape recordings of music by Parker and handwritten compositions and arrangements by composers John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, representatives for Guernsey's Auction House said.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

A big surprise

Thanks to Brian P. for the heads up that this blog was mentioned in the "Point and Click" column of the January issue of Jazziz Magazine. Of course, now that I'm looking for that issue to see it, I can't find it anywhere. If anyone has an extra copy, please let me know - thanks!

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough (Fat Possum, 2005)

Tribute albums are a dime a dozen these days, but Fat Possum takes a bit of a different track in this tribute to Mississippi juke legend Junior Kimbrough by recruiting a bunch of indie rock heavyweights to interpret his songs. The musicians take things in a number of ways, some working better than others, bit all in all this is one of the more memorable tributes of recent years.

Iggy and the Stooges bookend the record with two different versions of Kimbrough’s “You Better Run,” and really make quite an impact spitting out Kimbrough’s lyrics about a woman on the run from a rapist. Iggy may not be eating glass any longer, but he is still as disturbing as ever. The blues influenced bands like The Black Keys and the Blues Explosion have the easiest time slipping into the material doing nice versions of “Meet Me In The City” and “My Mind is Rambling” respectively. Some of the most interesting tracks on the disc come from bands you wouldn’t expect. Spiritualized does a spaced out and trippy version of “Sad Days and Lonely Nights,” while art-poppers The Firey Furnaces cover “I’m Leaving.”

While not every track works (what tribute would be complete without a few clinkers?) most of the material works surprisingly well. Kimbrough’s drone based music and ominous lyrics offer a wealth of possibilities for the musicians to use. Hopefully this will inspire the fans of the bands in this collection to go back and discover Kimbrough’s own superb work.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The New York Times has a review of the new CDs by Tortoise member Jeff Parker and trumpeter Dave Douglas:

The jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas powers all his various groups through highly structured compositions, and the will to combine different styles and instrumentations. He also plays a much more forthright note than Mr. Parker... has a lengthy interview with Sam Rivers:

No real secret ... I'm a jazz musician. That means I'm not confined to just one style of music. I'm blues, I'm swing, I'm bebop and I'm free!

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Monday, January 17, 2005

The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (Sanctuary 1968, 2004)

This re-release is one of the most extensive issues of a rock and roll album ever produced. A 37 minute album is expanded to no less than 3 full compact discs, containing both the mono and stereo mixes of the album as well as a large number of singles, B sides and rarites. Village Green is one of the most whimsical and beautiful rock albums ever recorded. It just came out at the wrong time, The Kinks were turning away from the nasty garage rock that gave them their early hits and moving toward a more narrative oriented approach. The album's songs focusing on quaint villages an sentimental releationships was miles away from the psychedelica that was popular in England at the time and the record sank without a trace except to become an underground favorite and critics darling.

The music itself is some of the most varied of the band's career mixing rock and roll, rhythm and blues and the English music hall tradition and allowed the band a broad palate to frame Ray Davies' short story type lyrics. Village Green is a loose concept album, in which the band gives a tour of a traditional English village and the people that inhabit it. The lyrics are often nostalgic, as if Ray Davies is trying to-conjure an England that no longer exists. In "Do You Remember Walter" he writes a pean to a childhood friend who he is sure is "fat and married and always home in bed by half past eight." In the title track, he lists a number of thigs in English society that he thinks need to be saved. They are still a rock and roll band though, and charge through numbers like "Last of the Steam Powered Trains" and the sinsiter "Wicked Anabella" with abandon.

The re-issue is well done, with a lengthy liner note booklet packed with essays, photos and interviews with the band. The extra material is interesting, but ultimately it's the original album you keep coming back to, one of the most fully realized in rock music. While this three disc set may be for the obsessive-compulsive Kinks fan, the original album is still available as a single CD and anyone who hasn't heard it is in for a real treat.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Couple More Interesting Articles

Downbeat's web site has an article on the new record label trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas is starting:

Opening another chapter in his award-winning career, trumpeter, composer and bandleader Dave Douglas has announced the formation and launch of an ambitious new record label, Greenleaf Music. Douglas will follow his successful recording career at RCA-Bluebird by producing his own projects for Greenleaf, continuing his vision of an American Music moving forward in all directions. He will also serve as Artistic Director for the label, providing a supportive platform for other cutting edge artists involved in new music.

There's also a press release on the Concord Records web site concerning their recent purchase of the holdings of Fantasy Records:

Concord Records, Inc. and Fantasy, Inc. today announced that Concord has completed its acquisition of Fantasy and has merged the two companies to form a new entity called the Concord Music Group, Inc...

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Friday, January 14, 2005

DVD Review – The Clash: Westway to the World

This is a fascinating video that combines extended interviews with the band members with snippets of concert footage. The format of the documentary is loosely chronological, following the band’s formation in London in the mid 1970’s to its eventual dissolution in the early 1980’s from substance and personality problems. The history of the band is a little sketchy due to the time constraints of a 90 minute program, but there are still some fascinating stories along the way. Joe Strummer in particular is a superb storyteller, and it’s a shame that his early death robbed us of what would have been a fascinating autobiography should he have chosen to write one. There are a couple of extra items in addition to the original film, more interviews and a short 20 minute film chronicling the band’s epic 17 night stand at Bonds in New York City. This is essential viewing for anyone interested in rock and roll history.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, January 13, 2005

DVD Review

Miles Davis - Miles Electric: Another Kind of Blue - This DVD is an excellent mix of interview footage with a 38 minute performance video of the Davis band live in concert at the 1970 Isle of Wight pop festival. The band played before 600,000 people... the set of music is interesting, as the band was in transition from a "jazzy" outfit with members like Dave Holland and Keith Jarrett to a more "funky" outfit, with future additions of bassist Michael Henderson and Pete Cosey. The interviews are quite illuminating as well, with lengthy question and answer sessions with Miles electric stalwarts like Herbie Hancock and Gary Bartz along with Miles admirers like Carlos Santana and Joni Mitchell. This is highly recommended to fans of Davis' electric period.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

There's an interesting column in entitled "Call and Response" in which the artist covered by the article gets to respond to it. The most recent article features Ellery Eskelin.

This review was sent to Ellery Eskelin before its publication along with an invitation to respond. The ground rules were simple: The review itself would not be revised after being sent to Mr. Eskelin and in return, any reply would be published along with the review in unedited form. The goal is to present the reader with two points of view -one from the outside and one from the inside of the music- to give a better look at the subject matter.

WNYC's "The Next Big Thing" has a short solo performance and interview with Marc Ribot archived on their web site. Scroll down to the article Marc Ribot Himself at the bottom of the page.

Avant-garde guitarist and composer Marc Ribot has played with Tom Waits, the Lounge Lizards, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello and many others. Here, host Dean Olsher invites him to do his own thing. And so he does – ranging far and wide, from cowboy tune to mutated jazz standard.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

Nels Cline, Andrea Parkins and Tom Raney - Ash and Tabula: Out Trios Vol. 3 (Atavistic, 2004)

This is the latest volume in Atavistic’s experimental music series “Out Trios” and features electric guitarist Nels Cline along with pianist, accordionist and samplerist (?) Andrea Parkins and drummer Tom Raney on a series of freely improvised pieces. The group conjures up some very interesting musical textures – Parkins plays a key role with her ability to shift between different instruments on the fly and use the sampler to mix and match different sounds. She is something of an unheralded improviser and composer (and in integral part of Ellery Eskelin’s fantastic trio) who will hopefully get more exposure for her efforts on this CD. Her use of the piano on some tunes provides a quiet interlude amidst the improvisational chaos, something like the eye of a hurricane.

That’s not to say the entire disc is just squealing free music, the songs included all have melodic moments. Cline is a veteran of this type of setting with his own groups and also his discs with Kevin Sarno which have focused on the outer fringes of improvisation. Raney anchors the music on drums, encouraging the music forward. This is challenging music to listen to, but fans of free improvisation should find much to savor here.

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Interesting Articles

Francis Davis has written an article on Matthew Shipp for the new issue of the Atlantic. Their web site only offers an abstract, so here's a link to the Jazzcorner Speakeasy where the full text is available in the Speak Out forum in a thread called "Francis Davis on Matt Shipp in The Atlantic."

Bespectacled and tall and still wiry in his early forties, Shipp is the most dynamic and advanced of a growing number of pianists his age and younger whose starting point is the turning, elongated approach to melody and the inching, fragmented rhythms that Cecil Taylor introduced to jazz in the late 1950s, in the aftermath of bebop.

There was also an interesting article in the New York Times by Ben Ratliff about the new group being led by drummer Jack DeJohnette.

Half of the Wayne Shorter quartet has temporarily broken off, like a meteor separated from an asteroid, and landed in a new group led by Jack DeJohnette. In its first performance, on Tuesday night at Birdland, that glowing chunk illuminated whatever was set before it.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Interscope, 2004)

I had fallen away from U2 over the past several years. After Achtung Baby, the band's endless genre experiments came to strike me as pandering and I kind of drifted away from their music toward rock bands that were more edgy and less self absorbed. But like true-believers Neil Young and Elvis Costello, their experimentalism eventually gave way to the realization that the music that best expresses their vision is the straight-ahead rock and roll that brought them an audience in the first place. In this case they are aided by one of their finest and catchiest singles in years, “Vertigo,” and you can’t get away from it considering their deal with Apple and Itunes.

It works well though, and ushers in an album where the band at least takes a stab at returning to its roots. Blasting, anthemic rockers such as “Vertigo” and “All Because Of You” are mixed up with plaintive ballads like “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” to make a very successful CD. It will be interesting to see how they carry on from here. U2 is such an institution now that they’ve gone beyond being a band and have become a product. Maybe now that they don’t have anything left to prove, they can get back to what they do best.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, January 07, 2005

Odds and Ends

The Village Voice has started a Consumer Guide for jazz, much like the one the rock critic Robert Christgau has for the pop music world:

Jazz Consumer Guide Updates: Not Throwbacks Gypsies and Jews, Afro-Cubans and avant-gardists, led by two smashing piano players.

Also, Ken Vandermark has posted a new entry in his tour diary.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Interesting Articles

The always interesting Francis Davis has his top records of the year printed in The Village Voice:

Counting double picks, a Top 10 ballooned into a Sweet 16—suggesting that despite nothing new from Shorter, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, or Henry Threadgill, this hasn't been such a bad year for recorded jazz, even if a tragic one politically.

The Pi Records web site has a brief article from Rudresh Mahanthappa, talking about his new CD Mother Tongue:

(snip) my goal was to somehow musically convey the fact there is no single Indian language. I did this by creating compositions that are directly based on melodic transcriptions of Indian-Americans responding to such questions in their native Indian tongues. As you can see, most of the titles are simply named for a particular language (snip)

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

David Murray – Live From the Village Vanguard, Vol. 6 (DVD)

This is a nice snapshot of David Murray in a quartet setting with John Hicks on piano, Fred Hopkins on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums, recorded on an unknown date at the famous Village Vanguard in New York City. This is part of a series of performance DVD’s from the Vanguard, other titles include Lee Konitz and Freddie Hubbard. The video is well shot and clear and uses a couple of different camera angles to focus in on Murray and the band as well as a few shots of the audience.

The set (the video only shows one approximately 45 minute set) is made up of Murray originals for the most part, from the ballad “Ming” written for his wife to the joyous and upbeat “Morning Song” which contains several excellent solos from the band. This group had been recording and touring on and off for the past several years so they are very tight. Murray in particular sounds like he’s thrilled to have such accompaniment and takes several extended solos. This is an interesting DVD and one only wishes it were longer. Recommended!

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, January 03, 2005

Art Ensemble of Chicago - Certain Blacks (Inner City, 1970)

This rare Art Ensemble album was cut just prior to the band's extended stay overseas (which was documented on the Americans Swinging in Paris CD, as well as some BYG albums.) This album provides a fascinating glimpse into the varied influences that made up the group. The opening title track is very long, clocking in at over twenty minutes, and is a fascinating piece of avant garde music, employing both traditional jazz instrumentation and the so-called 'little' percussion instruments the band was fond of. This was also a plea for African-American pride and unity during the civil rights struggle.

The rest of the album is no less interesting. "One for Jarman" is, as you may expect, a spot for saxophonist Joseph Jarman to shine, and the most abstract piece on the album. Rounding things out is "Bye Bye Baby" a rare example of the Art Ensemble playing the blues, complete with a harmonica solo! When the band said its motto was "ancient to the future" they weren't kidding. This is a fascinating album, and deserves to be on a fast-track to reissue.

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, January 02, 2005

James Carter Organ Group - Darmstadt, Germany 10/15/2004

I found this concert on a usenet newsgroup and was pretty excited to hear Carter playing in an organ group again - I liked his studio organ album In Carterian Fashion quite a bit and was interested to hear what a Carter organ group would sound like live. Here he’s joined by Gerard Gibbs on the Hammond B3 and Leonard King on drums with Carter switching between his vast arsenal of saxophones. The concert opens with "Tricotism" which is very fast paced with Carter employing a lot of overblowing and "honking and bar-walking." Never exactly a shrinking violet, this really finds him going full-blast.

A couple of long explorations of classic Benny Golson themes come next, with the band improvising on "Killer Joe" and "Along Came Betty." These are lengthy versions too, with each clocking in at over 20 minutes, giving Carter plenty of time to launch exploratory improvisations over grinding organ and a heavy backbeat. This was a pretty interesting concert - Carter is very talented, and I hope that he settles in to making good records again. I wasn’t to impressed 2003's string drenched Gardenia’s for Lady Day, and while last year’s Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge had it’s moments, it felt like a stopgap release. Here’s hoping that ‘05 finds him recording and touring with the strength he is capable of.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Albert King - Let’s Have a Natural Ball Modern Blues, 1989)

This is a crackling compilation disc of the 45's Albert King cut for the Bobbin and King labels in the mid-1950's. Even before King became known for his soulful excursions on the Stax label and his epic concerts at the Fillmore, he was well known a potent guitarist and singer. Much like the other King (B.B.) Albert was a patient guitarist who never forced the music and allowed everything space to breathe. Combining this with a few horns as his music often did, gave him a very fluid and soulful sound, and led to his burgeoning popularity.

A couple of instrumentals on this collection, "This Morning" and especially the explosive "Dyna-Flow" focus attention on King’s guitar playing, while the jump-blues of the title track and "Going to be Some Changes Made" bring the vocals to the fore. King was uniquely talented at slow tempos with the patience that allowed him to make emotional pleas like "Don’t Throw Your Love Away On Me So" into three minute works of art. Albert King was the complete package and this disc is recommended to anyone with an interest in electric blues.

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