Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Interesting reading

Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus has posted a lengthy interview with pianist and composer Cedar Walton:
(excerpt) "I always tried to compose - just something I would try to do. They had some of the strangest titles, you know, “Trash Can.” They weren’t that memorable, but I was trying. I was just determined to come up with something original. I just never stopped trying. By the time I got to the Messengers - when I was just leaving the Jazztet with Art Farmer and Benny Golson – I composed a piece named “Mosaic.” In just a few minutes it came to me. I was having a beer up on Central Park West at Max Roach’s apartment and this thing came to me."
Burning Ambulance is an interesting quarterly arts journal recently begun by Phillip Freeman and some other contributing writers. The first issue is focused toward avant-garde jazz and featues Freeman profiling and interviewing Matthew Shipp, along with an annotated discography (from a fans perspective) of composer and instrumentalist Henry Threadgill and a session log of a recent recording project from trumpeter Bill Dixon.
(excerpt: Freeman on Shipp) "In the last few years, he’s made a point of throwing deliberately provocative quotes into his interviews at every opportunity. He’s done it with me, describing the Ware quartet as “infinitely superior to” Wayne Shorter’s group in a 2007 interview for the Village Voice, repeating it twice and making sure to tell me the line was for attribution, and saying of Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock (in relation to his own then-new, now-disbanded trio) in Jazziz in 2009, “They’re relics. We are why the music lasts right now. What this album represents is state-of-the-art piano trio music, and somebody like Keith Jarrett or Herbie Hancock cannot get on the level that something like this is on.” He was insistent that I use that one, too."
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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dreamers - Ipos: The Book Of Angels, Vol. 14 (Tzadik, 2010)

The Dreamers is one of saxophonist and composer John Zorn's most unique and interesting ensembles. Drawing on jazz and film music as well as world music and even lounge music, the group makes an intoxicating blend of genres and styles. Zorn himself does not play on this album, but contributes ten compositions from his epic Book of Angels songbook. The musicians on this album are Cyro Baptista on percussion, Joey Baron on drums, Trevor Dunn on bass, Marc Ribot on guitar, Jamie Saft on keyboards and Kenny Wollesen on vibraphone. The feel, themes and textures of this album are nicely varied from the abstract surf music of "Kutiel" to the softer pieces that rely on shimmering vibes and washes of fender rhodes electric piano. The group plays very well as a whole, but Marc Ribot deserves special praise, as he plays beautifully contributing well thought out and exciting solos on almost every track. The polyglot nature of the music and the selflessness of the musicians keeps this album consistently interesting and surprising. Vol. 14-Ipos: the Book of Angels - amazon.com

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thomaz Stanko - Dark Eyes (ECM, 2010)

Trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is a master of moody and atmospheric music that patiently develops and this album is reminiscent of a rain drenched night that is reflected in music that is spare and noirish. This album brings together a new band with Stanko accompanied by Jakob Bro on guitar, Alexi Tuomarila on piano, Anders Christensen on bass and Olavi Louhivuori on drums. The music throughout is haunting and thoughtful, like on the opener "So Nice" with spacious piano setting the scene for Stanko's sparse trumpet investigating a dark tone. The lengthy Stanko original "The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch" opens slowly and atmospherically before evolving into a more jazzy feel. Blasts of trumpet enliven the moody mature of the music as Bro's guitar bobs and weaves through the piece, at times recalling the hushed beauty of Miles Davis's In a Silent Way. "Samba Nova" is dark toned and slow developing evolving cinematically like music designed to accompany a moody crime drama on the streets of a city. The music is spacious and wide open, allowing the music to breathe in an organic fashion. The music on this album is patient and quite beautiful, rewarding repeated listens. It speaks eloquently, evoking atmosphere and subtlety over any kind of brashness. Dark Eyes - amazon.com

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Empirical - Out 'n' In (Naim, 2010)

Inspired by the groundbreaking music of the legendary multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy, British modern jazz band Empirical used compositions from Dolphy's classic album Out to Lunch as a springboard to examine his musical legacy and their own musical influences on this album. Consisting of Nathaniel Facey on alto saxophone, Julian Siegel on bass clarinet and tenor saxophone, Lewis Wright on vibraphone, Tom Farmer on bass and Shaney Forbes drums, Empirical mines a very exciting inside/outside sound and conception, much like Dolphy's own. They cover two compositions from the Out to Lunch album, the angular Thelonious Monk tribute "Hat and Beard" and the tender and lyrical "Gazzelloni." The focus of the album is the band's original compositions, starting with "Out But In" with the impact of the sharp cornered music being felt in the raw-boned saxophone and ringing vibes. "Dolphyus Morpheus" is the lynch pin of the album, combining Empirical's thoroughly modern conception of post-bop jazz with Dolphy's breakthroughs and the angular momentum of his best music. Out 'N' In - amazon.com

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Chris Kelsey 4 - Not Cool (... as in the Opposite of Paul Desmond) (Tzazz Krytyk, 2009)

Chris Kelsey's energetic and exciting album recalls the heady days of free jazz and is reminisicent of the open ended music that Ornette Coleman recorded for Atlantic Records in the late 50's and early 60's. Kelsey plays alto, tenor and soprano saxophones and is joined by Chris Dimeglio on trumpet, Francois Grillot on bass and Jay Rosen on drums. With a sub-title as provocative as "the opposite of Paul Desmond" you might think that this is a pedal to the metal blast fest, and while much of the music is fast and furious, it is very well thought out and the improvisations are exciting. "Femulate the State" has a fast Ornette-ish opening, with squalls of saxophone and drums. Kelsey's saxophone is fast and furious but still well in control. A fast, free full band improvisation leads to a bass solo that is like the eye of a hurricane. "Raw Sun" has a full band choppy improvisation, with the trumpet probing medium fast. Smears of trumpet and saxophone lead into open space, with Rosen's drums filling fast and nimble. The full quartet comes in fast and loose on "If Jazz is Dead (Can I Have Its Stuff?)" with saxophone and trumpet strutting grandly and making for a fast, free and exciting performance. "Sameness Is Way Better Than Differentness!" features Kelsey's swirling saxophone and some exciting open trumpet moving through an extended improvisation. This was an exciting and interesting album that should appeal to listeners interested in open ended free jazz. The band walks on a musical high-wire but the risks are well rewarded with exciting and thought-provoking music. Not Cool - amazon.com

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Christian Scott - Yesterday You Said Tomorrow (Concord, 2010)

Trumpeter Christian Scott has become of the most talked about mainstream jazz musicians, creating quite a buzz over the course of three earlier albums. For this album he enlisted the legendary Rudy Van Gelder to engineer the disc, and his band consists of Matthew Stevens on guitar, Milton Fletcher, Jr. on piano, Kristopher Keith Funn on bass and Jamire Williams on drums. The group mines some deeply textured sounds, and Scott's trumpet is very interesting. He never tries to be overly muscular and overwhelms the groups bus co-exists within the ensemble. Scott also focuses some of his compositions on social issues, reflecting issues he has faced as an individual and issues the country as a whole is facing. "K.K.P.D." written after a nasty racial profiling incident, opens with a guitar and drum soundscape with fast and nimble drumming. Williams ever shifting energy makes this track, and he plays very well throughout the album. Scott's trumpet slithers into the mix and builds to a punchy conclusion over some killing drumwork. "Angola, LA & The 13th Amendment" opens with strummed guitar and strong trumpet playing. Stevens takes a well paced liquid toned guitar solo, before Scott returns with one of his more powerful solos. "The American't" features more of Williams powerful drumming, with Scott's trumpet making stark declarative statements. This isn't just a one-dimensional protest album however, there are other tracks of note. His cover of Thom Yorke's "The Eraser" is particularly interesting, starting with ominous keyboards and trumpet making for a yearning and slightly melancholy hook. The track evolves with a moody subtlety that is indicative of most of the music on this album. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow - amazon.com

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brownie: The Complete Emarcy Recordings of Clifford Brown (Emarcy, 1989)

I was really surprised and excited when I saw a used copy of this extensive boxed set on sale at the Princeton Record Exchange for the princely sum of $24.99. The discs were scuffed and the labels were starting to bubble just a bit, but the discs are still very playable, so it was an amazing bargain. Trumpeter Clifford Brown was like a short lived comet that flashed across the jazz skies in the first part of the 1950's before passing tragically young (like other trumpet pioneers Fats Navarro, Booker Little and Lee Morgan.) Although he was active for only a few years, Brown left an astonishing amount of music on many formats. After recording as a leader and a sideman for Blue Note Records in the early part of the 1950's, he moved to the Emarcy label in 1953, co-leading a group with the great drummer Max Roach, and developing one of the most immediately identifiable hard bop sounds in jazz. Working with saxophonists Harold Land and later Sonny Rollins, the Brown-Roach Quintet made a series of records that were massively influential to future generations of jazz musicians and remain so today. But Brown didn't just record in a straight up jazz setting, as seen on this set he was a very sensitive and supportive accompanist for vocalists like Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Helen Merril. In this set we hear Brown in a number of different settings: blowing on standards in a quintet, playing in jam sessions, supporting vocalists and even playing with a string section. It's an amazingly varied body of work for just over three years of time for a young musician in his mid twenties. The music on here is at a very high level throughout, Brown sounds completely confident and full of ideas no matter what the setting. There are multiple takes of some tracks, which will certainly be on interest to musical scholars and trumpet players researching Brown's method of approaching improvisation. But the music remains fresh throughout the set, and is a wonderful treat to listen to. This extensive set in now out of print, but Hip-O has recently released a four disc set of the Emarcy Master Takes, and verve has several single discs that cover this period. Brownie - amazon.com

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ralph Bowen - Due Reverence (Posi-Tone, 2010)

This is a nice confident jazz album filled with compelling solos and well versed ensemble playing. Ralph Bowen plays tenor saxophone and leads the ensemble with Adam Rogers on guitar, John Patitucci on bass, Antonio Sanchez on drums and Sean Jones sitting in on trumpet for one track. "Less is More" opens the album with a mellow and patient groove and Bowen building a well constructed and thought out solo. Rogers guitar keeps the music moving nicely with well developed mid-tempo swing. "This One's For Bob" has a burning tenor saxophone solo along with some fleet and nimble guitar buoyed by a tenacious bass and drums groove. "Phil-osophy" slows things back down to a medium simmer and Rogers turning in a nice, nimble feature and Patitucci contributing a fine bass solo. Jones enters the fray for "Mr. Scott," adding his bright and burnished sound to prominent solos from saxophone and guitar. The album ends on an interesting note, with Bowen playing the title track unaccompanied. He has a patient and reverent sound on tenor making for a very impressive performance. Fans of straight up mainstream jazz will enjoy this quite a bit, Bowen has an excellent pedigree as a leader and a sideman with the like of Horace Silver and many others, and this is another fine addition to his discography. Due Reverence - amazon.com

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Nels Cline Singers - Initiate (Cryptogramophone, 2010)

Guitarist Nels Cline is one of the most interesting and innovating musicians on the scene today. Not only does he add much needed guitar muscle to the rock band Wilco, but he also is a vibrant and productive member of the progressive jazz scene on the west coast. This album has Cline with fellow "Singers" bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola in both a studio and live setting on two discs. There is an interesting dynamic flow to both settings where the group (and special guests on the live disc) move from fast paced, high octane burning improvisations like the aptly titled free jazz blowout "Floored," which is a fascinating and thrilling journey, and "Fly Fly" which builds to uptempo guitar overdrive, concluding in an Armageddon like finish, the likes of which haven't been heard since Miles Davis's epic masterpiece Dark Magus. "King Queen" is a trip all its own, sounding like disco from another galaxy, featuring massive funky bass and guitar channeling the slinky vibe of Sun Ra's late 70's records like Lanquidity. It's not all shredding blowouts though, the band plays very well at slower and more abstract tempos, even dedicating one of the live pieces to the great jazz guitarist Jim Hall. "Divining" takes a haunting vibe and moves Cline to construct a smearing abstract solo, more like a painter than a musician. "b86 (Inkblot Nebula)" takes us into deep space as well with the band using haunting drones to create a dreamy and spaced out soundscape. This was a very well done release showing the power of Cline and his colleagues in both a live and studio setting. The group has a huge range and a vision that incorporates not only jazz and rock, but a whole range of experimental music. The cover image of the Large Hadron Collider was well chosen, as this group is using power and dynamism to explore the fringes of the musical universe. Initiate - amazon.com

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

David S. Ware - Saturnian: Solo Saxophones Vol. 1 (AUM Fidelity, 2010)

David S. Ware has overcome some pretty serious health setbacks recently, but you wouldn't know it by the strong and deeply dignified music he makes on this album. In this intimate setting, just him and the horns (he plays saxello and stritch, two horns often associated with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, as well as tenor saxophone) and a small audience, he improvises three pieces that are built like fine architecture, with one musical brick fitting beautifully atop the next to make a cohesive and thoughtful whole. There is nothing rushed here, the music is patient and distinguished, and Ware's beautiful golden tone, echoing the masters like Hawkins, Coltrane and Rollins, shines like the light from a powerful star. The three selections develop over the course of eleven to fourteen minute lengths, which are perfect for Ware to spin what are essentially musical short stories, stories that link together beautifully to form a cohesive narrative whole. Ware probes at the silence with his horn, bobbing and weaving like a boxer. He never feels the need to overwhelm the silence, using the air around him as a partner, sculpting the very molecules into artworks of sound. This is particularly true on "Anthe," taken on tenor, where he juxtaposes high toned squeals with guttural low moans, to produce a very dynamic effect. The LP length of around forty minutes is perfect for a performance like this. It allows the listener to give his or her undivided attention, and that attention is awarded with hypnotic and absorbing music. Hopefully more volumes will be on the way shortly. Saturnian: Solo Saxophones - amazon.com

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Friday, March 12, 2010

John Ellis and Double Wide - Puppet Mischief (Obliqsound, 2010)

Taking inspiration from the carnivals, fairs and street life of his adopted hometown of New Orleans, saxophonist and composer John Ellis formed his band Double Wide with the unique instrumentation of Brain Coogan on organ, Matt Perrine on sousaphone, Jason Marsalis on drums, Gregorie Maret on harmonica and Alan Ferber on trombone. With this unusual combination of instruments, the group is able to get a lot of interesting textures and shadings from their music. "Okra and Tomatoes" opens the album with bumping organ and sousaphone, accented by wispy harmonica. Soulful tenor saxophone and trombone make for a happy sound before laying out for a spacey harmonica feature. "Dewey Dah" has a harmonica led melody with the other horns blending in behind. Swirling organ ushers in a dark toned saxophone solo. The title track "Puppet Mischief" is taken at an impishly fast pace, with Ellis stepping out for a well paced solo. Maret takes a breezy solo on harmonica with bumping horns underneath and a fast nimble drum feature. "Dublinland Carnival" has a fast and cartoonish theme, like something for a silent movie chase scene where trombone and saxophone trade phrases. It's not all go for broke uptempo performances, "Carousel" and "Chorale" have slower and spacious tempos and the music takes on a winsome at times mournful nature. This was an interesting and well played album. The band creates a sound that is unusual in jazz today, drawing from the New Orleans influence of old time jazz but in a thoroughly modern way that makes the music accessible and fun. Puppet Mischief - amazon.com

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The John Coltrane Reference by Lewis Porter, et. al. (Routledge, 2008)

This amazing piece of musical scholarship must be one of the most sublime pieces of obsession ever committed to print. Edited by Rutgers University scholar and musician (and Coltrane biographer) Lewis Porter, it is the work of a team of scholars and fans to collate everything known about saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. The book is broken down into two lengthy sections, Part One: The Chronology, which tracks Coltrane's life and music from his birth in Hamlet, North Carolina in 1926 to his death in Long Island in 1967. The Chronology tracks recording dates and personnel as well as tours and live concerts, and major events in Coltrane's life. The music is taken in even greater detail in Part Two: The Discography, which lists all known recording sessions and live performances in chronological order. While this would probably strike some as a dry list of facts, what makes this book even more valuable are the anecdotes that the researchers have collected from fellow musicians and from the media. For example, did you know that one evening at the Half Note in 1964 Coltrane wasn't feeling well after the first set of a gig, so he sat out the second set, allowing Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler, who had apparently been practicing together earlier in the afternoon take his place. Can you imagine! The mind reels just thinking about it. Critic Gary Giddins's reaction to the "joyful, terrifying noise" of Coltrane's band in 1966 is fascinating as well as the re-prints of newspaper advertisements for the band's upcoming gigs. This was a fascinating book to flip through and a very impressive work of scholarship and research this is endlessly interesting for both music fans and scholars. The John Coltrane Reference - amazon.com

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dave Holland Octet - Pathways (Dare2, 2010)

Inspired by the work of the great Duke Ellington, and his combination of horns and reeds, bassist and composer Dave Holland formed an octet to investigate a wide range of musical textures and colors. Anchored by his quintet with Chris Potter on tenor and soprano saxophone, Steve Nelson on vibes and marimba, Nate Smith on drums and Robin Eubanks on trombone, he adds Antonio Hart on alto saxophone, Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone. The album was recorded live during a week long stand at Birdland in New York City. "Pathways" opens the album with deep baritone saxophone leading the melody. Smulyan solos with the rest of the horns filling in for support. The horns riff hard with vibes accenting before trumpet takes over. "How's Never" has a feature for solo bass before the band kicks in. Hart's alto saxophone digs deep in a strong solo, before making way for a cool vibraphone, bass and drums section and an exciting drum solo. Chris Potter and Robin Eubanks are featured on "Sea of Marmara" with Potter's soprano saxophone shimmering like a golden sunrise and then switching to tenor saxophone on "Ebb and Flow" to take a stirring feature propelled by blustery horns. Spacious vibes and bluesy slow baritone saxophone usher in "Blue Jean" with Smulyan channeling the spirits of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins in a deep and patient solo over lush horn arrangement. "Shadow Dance" is the climax of the album, a lengthy improvisation that slowly builds from marimba and riffing horns to a potent tenor saxophone that Potter builds like a monument in a very exciting fashion. Alto saxophone and drum solos keep the spirits high as the band zooms to the finish line. This was a very exciting and well played album, the performances were polished but had enough of an edge to keep them constantly engaging and exciting. The arrangements were well done and framed the soloists who took advantage of their opportunities to create some very appealing music. Pathways - amazon.com

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Paul Motian, Chris Potter and Jason Moran - Lost in a Dream (ECM, 2010)

Drummer Paul Motian is one of the most enigmatic musicians in jazz. Whether as a leader or a sideman, his percussive work is instantly recognizable for its graceful spaciousness and the sense of mystery that his playing and composing revels in. That sense of space and mystery is on excellent display here with Motian in a collaboration with Chris Potter on tenor saxophone and Jason Moran on piano. The music is primarily focused on ballads and all three musicians play with great restraint and conviction throughout. The hushed late night vibe that runs through the album (recorded live at The Village Vanguard in New York City in February of 2009) begins with "Mode IV" which is spare and open, the music getting a spacious and lonely feel with Motian's light percussion whispering and Moran's probing piano. "Casino" also opens slowly with piano and drums, before Potter enters with saxophone that is expansive and reverent, almost hymnal. "Blue Midnight" has deeply yearning saxophone and lush piano chords, Potter's saxophone tumbles over gentle piano and drums in a majestic improvisation. Irving Berlin's "Be Careful It's My Heart" in the only cover on the album, and it is a beautiful set piece, a gently caressed ballad. The second half of the disc becomes a little more energetic, with Motian switching from brushes to drumsticks, even taking a lengthy solo on "Abacus." They return to the hushed ambiance of a lullaby on "Cathedral Song." to finish out the album. This was a very impressive album, the group played with great restraint throughout creating a deep and sensuous sound that was very appealing. The spacious and economical way in which the music was organized played to each of the musicians strengths and made for a very powerful performance. Lost in a Dream - amazon.com

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Moreland and Arbuckle - Flood Moreland and Arbuckle are Aaron Moreland on guitar and Dustin Arbuckle on harmonica and vocals. They play a high energy roots rock/blues that is akin in some ways to The Black Keys. The music hews closely to the blues but plays them in different styles, uptempo blues rock with the help of drummer Brad Homer really pulsing and pushing the music along like on the opener "Hate to See You Go." They play a blistering electric version of "The Legend of John Henry" which weds the folkloric narrative of the to a blasting roadhouse beat. The band mixes in some nice soulful numbers and acoustic blues for a well rounded sound. Fans of roots Americana music and gutbucket blues will find a lot to enjoy.

Mike LeDonne - The Groover First class straight ahead mainstream jazz from Mike LeDonne on Hammons B3 Organ, Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Peter Bernstein on guitar and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Just like they say on the tin, the first four performances are uptempo groovers with strong rich organ and deep swirling tenor saxophone. "Deep Blue" slows down to slow ballad tempo with washes of organ and patient probing saxophone. "Sunday in New York" is a medium tempo groove with a nice patient guitar solo and rolling organ feature. "Bopsolete" is fast paced bebop with Alexander taking a rapid and accelerated solo. LeDonne keeps the organ bubbling fast then makes way for a hot drum solo. The standard "On the Street Where You Live" has a nice flowing guitar solo and a soulful saxophone interlude. Listeners with tastes for organ and tenor work along the lines of of the template Jimmy Smith and Stanley Turrentine laid down in the 50's and 60's will be happy with the music here, it is consistently played at a high level.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Peter Bernstein Trio - Live at Smoke DVD (Mel Bay, 2005)

The longstanding trio of Peter Bernstein on guitar, Larry Goldings on organ and Bill Stewart on drums recorded this DVD at the New York City jazz club Smoke during the summer of 2004. This group takes a different approach to the standard organ trio format eschewing the "grits 'n' gravy" approach of earlier master like Jimmy Smith and Brother Jack McDuff and taking a subtle, dynamic approach. Their repertoire is made up of standards and originals, a nice mix of music running the gamut from "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "Spring is Here" to a moody and atmospheric cover of Ahmad Jamal's "Night Mist Blues." Quirky originals like Bernstein's "Jive Coffee" and "Bobblehead" feature the leaders strong blue tinged soloing over washes of organ and shifting percussive pulse. The film is pretty much straight ahead, with a few camera angles and occasional split shots. This keeps the action squarely on the musicians as it should be while still giving the feel of being in a small cozy jazz club. Fans of straight-ahead jazz or subtle organ grooves will find a lot to enjoy here, it is fine music played in a subtle and thoughtful manner. Live at Smoke - amazon.com

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops - Genuine Negro Jig (Nonesuch, 2010)

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a trio that brings back the tradition of old-timey string band music and takes it into the 21st century. The group has three members: Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson, who sing, and play banjo, fiddle and percussion and met in North Carolina in the early 2000's. The group uses old time folk tunes and reels as jumping off points to their own musical conception. "Hit 'em Up Style" shows this well, by taking what could be a modern sounding soul and R&B tune about revenge for infidelity and putting Rhiannon's strong and sassy vocals in front of a swirling raw toned fiddle. The effect works well, as does the more traditional sounding work like "You're Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine," with some deft kazoo work emphasizing the double entendre nature of the lyrics and "Cornbread and Butterbeans." "Snoeden's Jig" is a nice centerpiece for the instrumental work of the band, while "Reynadine" is a beautifully haunting a capella performance. This album is a little on the short side, clocking in at about an LP's length, but it feels right. There's nothing contrived about the music here, whether it is a remake of a traditional song or an original composition, the group plays with strength and conviction throughout. Genuine Negro Jig - amazon.com

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Giuseppi Logan Quintet (Tompkins Square, 2010)

It is fascinating when a legendary musician steps out of the mists of time and re-emerges on the music scene. A few years ago it was bassist Henry Grimes, coming back to reclaim the form that made him a first call bass player for the likes of Don Cherry and Sonny Rollins. Discovered playing for tips in a public park, and helped by trumpeter and bass clarinetist Matt Lavelle, saxophonist and pianist Giuseppi Logan makes his first LP since the glory days of free jazz in the mid 1960's when he recorded for the ESP label. Lavelle joins the group here along with pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Warren Smith, and Francois Grillot on bass. "Steppin'" opens the album with a fast paced group performance featuring a melody reminiscent of the music John Coltrane made for Atlantic. Swirling saxophone over bright sounding piano, bass and drums keeps the pace high before giving way to thick loping bass and a splintered piano solo. "Modes" has raw toned saxophone from Logan with strong piano accompaniment. Lavelle's bass clarinet bubbles up in support, before making way from a nice trio interlude with strong piano, bass and drums before Logan's unprocessed saxophone returns to take things out. "Bop Dues" has Lavelle on trumpet improvising together with Logan over a strong piano led trio. He steps out with an energetic solo, showing the influence he attributes to the music of Booker Little. "Love Me Tonight" ends the album with a nod and a wink, and Logan singing the blues in a raspy voice. Logan sounds a little shaky at times, but he is remarkably strong and enthusiastic when you consider he's coming back after a lengthy layoff. Hopefully he'll get a chance to continue his comeback at the Vision Festival this spring. Giuseppi Logan Quintet - amazon.com

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