Friday, April 07, 2006

Julian Priester / Sam Rivers - Hints on Light and Shadow (Postcards, 1997)

This is a most unusual album - multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers and trombonist Julian Priester accompanied by Tucker Martine on electronics spin through a series on avant-garde soundscapes. There are moments of old-school clarity where Rivers slides onto the piano bench to back up Priester's trombone slurs, but also moments of science fiction cinematography where Martine plays back loops of swirling sporano saxophone and gives them echo effects juxtaposed against a wall of synthesizers. Although the music sometimes flies outside of the realm of "jazz" entirely, it is interesting to see how these two veterans react and improvise in this new and alien environment. Hearing Rivers magical flute playing multi-tracked and remixed was a treat, although his scat singing may startle the uninitiated. Fans of either Rivers or Peiester or followers of the music outside the mainstream should enjoy this out-of-the-ordinary disc.

Newport Jazz '05 (PBS, 2006)

PBS ran a nice little documentary on last years Newport Jazz Festival last night with some good footage of a few bands and what looked like a pretty large and supporting audience. They kicked it off with some clips of the Wynton Marsalis and Patricia Barber groups - they sounded OK, but I would have liked to have heard Marsalis in that hothouse jam environment that produced last years surprisingly excellent House of Tribes CD. There was some great footage of the Dave Holland Big Band playing a blasting track featuring superb baritone saxophone and trumpet solos as well as crack ensemble playing. They Medeski, Martin and Wood track that added some grease to the proceedings, and then founded things out with a track from Joshua Redman's Elastic Band. It made for a decent snapshot of the festival, but left me wishing they could have skipped the rest and sown the whole Holland set. But I guess in this day and age, beggars can't be choosers and getting *any* real jazz on TV is a feat in and of itself.

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