Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Scrapomatic – Alligator Love Cry (Landslide, 2006)

Mike Mattison and Paul Olsen are the men behind Scrapomatic, a rootsy duo that takes inspiration from the blues, old-time swing and rough and ready singer-songwriters like Frank Morey and Tom Waits. Much like those two gentlemen, Scrapomatic draws character studies and working class tales of love, work and play in its songs. Their music has a rustic feel with acoustic instruments and little brass and other instrumentation on occasion. The up tempo tracks are the ones I believe work the best, because they put Mattison's gruff vocals to better use than the ballads like “The Other Side” which drains the scruffy energy out of the music. Stomping fast paced tracks like “Graveside Blues” and “Goddamn Job” make the best use of the duo's minimalistic setup making for a scrappy and endearing sound. This is a fairly good album and shows that the group has a lot of promise. If they can develop some more nuanced songwriting that avoids cliches and develop a sound unique from their influences, this group could make a real statement on the roots music scene.

Duke Ellington – Reevaluations: The Impulse Years (Impulse, 1973)

Duke Ellington's orchestra never officially recorded for the Impulse label, but the Duke and his men still left quite a mark on the label as this double LP indicates. The music here is made up of music from the Duke's collaborations with Impulse artists John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins and tracks led by Ellington sidemen like Johnny Hodges. Also featured are Ellington compositions performed by other Impulse artists. Alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges gets some wonderful solo opportunities in this collection, like the melodic and dreamy solo he plays on “Mood Indigo” from a session led by fellow Ellingtonian Lawrence Brown. Hodges' own Impulse session as a leader is featured throughout this collection, and he gets the chance to float over a septet on a fine version of “A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing.” The Duke himself weighs in on “Take The Coltrane” sitting in with Coltrane's group without a hitch. His collaboration with fellow pioneer Coleman Hawkins leads to equally excellent results on “The Jeep is Jumpin'” and “Wanderlust.” This is an excellent collection of music and while it's not avaliable on CD it should be widely available in used record shops or on the Internet.

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