Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters - Spread the Love (Stony Plain, 2010)

Guitarist Ronnie Earl is a longtime fixture on the modern blues scene playing a classy brand of roots music with his band The Broadcasters. With this album they meld the blues with jazz to create a nice all-instrumental hybrid of the two great American musics. His backup band consists of David Limina on organ and piano, Jim Moradian on bass and Lorne Endress on drums. He covers a couple of well known jazz compositions, beginning with Kenny Burrell's "Chitlins Con Carne" originally recorded on Burrell's wonderful Midnight Blue LP, and Duke Pearson's "Christo Redentor" which is well know in blues circles through harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musslewhite's version. Their brand of jazz is subtle and well done with the bass and drums developing a nice pocket for Earl to craft a subtle improvisation over while Limina adds texture and shading. He digs deep into the uptempo blues as well, with the wonderful "Spann's Groove," dedicated to the great blued pianist Otis Spann. The band lock in with some deeply thoughtful interplay, featuring Limina's rippling piano. Also of note are the album's leadoff track, "Backstroke" which comes out of the gate strong with an excellent quartet performance headlined by stinging guitar work. This well rounded and lengthy disc should appeal to fans of subtle blues guitar, and ensemble work. Limini in particular was excellent on organ, adding riffs and commentary to the ensemble and backing passages and soloing well. Jazz sprang forth from the wellspring of the blues and the two musics still mesh very well together. this album works quite well and should appeal to fans of both genres. Spread the Love -

Send comments to Tim.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alexander McCabe - Quiz (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2010)

Alexander McCabe is a rising alto saxophonist on the jazz scene, gaining experience in the big bands of Ray Charles and Chico O'Farril before striking out on his own as a small group leader. McCabe is joined on this album by Uri Caine on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and either Rudy Royston or Greg Hutchinson on drums. The music has a nice straight ahead swinging feel, grounded in bebop and hardbop but amenable some experimenting as well. Led off by "Weezie's Waltz" the music has a gentle swinging feel, with mild and accessible saxophone playing a lilting melody. The standard "Good Morning Heartache" is the centerpiece of the album and it is a fascinating performance as McCabe uses a rougher and earthier tone that references mid-60's John Coltrane in the exploratory patches of the performance that bookend a swinging and melodic middle section. This makes for some excellent dynamic tension and a powerful performance. "Lonnegan" has an uptempo boppish feel, with tart tongued saxophone and a rippling piano trio section. McCabe digs in deep for a powerful solo, building into a section where he trades curt phrases with Hutchinson. "Kalido" fast paced builds back to mid-tempo swing. McCabe develops a questing solo over solid accompaniment, then lays out for a nice bass and drum interlude with piano comping. "Quiz" probes the musical environment developing into a fast powerful saxophone centered improvisation dropping back for a calmer piano, bass and drums interlude. "St. Pat" has a spry and nimble melody opening to a deeply toned saxophone solo, building very fast and furious. Rippling fast piano keeps the pace fresh, making way for a thick and strong bass solo. "How Little We Know" opens as a mid-tempo swinging tune, a light and nimble swinger there is a nice, full bodied mid tempo piano trio improvisation, that keeps the mood flowing well. This was a very solid and consistently well played album. The musicians flirt with open ended settings and some closed swing patters, but for the most part drive wright down the middle of modern mainstream jazz, making their own statement and sounding good doing it. Quiz -

Send comments to: Tim.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jim Rotondi - 1000 Rainbows (Posi-Tone, 2010)

Trumpeter Jim Rotondi is a commanding presence on the mainstream jazz scene, both as a leader and a member of the collective One for All. On this album he leads a hard hitting ensemble consisting of Joe Locke on vibraphone, Danny Grissett on piano, Barak Mori on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. Being the only horn in the lineup gives Rotondi plenty of room to stretch out and using vibes gives the music a nice full sound. The evocatively titled "Bizzaro World" opens the album with an uptempo urgent melody. After a fast statement of the theme, the leader takes a spitfire solo well supported by Mori's propulsive bass before returning to a fast and nimble full band improvisation. "We Can Work It Out" is nicely arranged from pop into strong hard bop. After a fast and nimble vibes solo, Rotondi takes command over strong piano, bass and agile drumming. The title track, "1000 Rainbows," has a mid-tempo and bluesy feel with rock solid bass and vibraphone accents fluttering around the trumpet. Locke's vibes increase the pace with his solo spot culminating in a strong and dexterous swing. "Crescent Street" begins with a strong hard bop melody, with fast vibes over thick, strong bass (Mori is excellent throughout this album) then Rotondi taking a lengthy solo supported by the piano trio. After a trio interlude and a brief drum solo, the band completes an excellent performance together. Most of the tracks are of the uptempo variety, but there are a couple of ballads, including "Born to Be Blue" which has slow lyrical brass over subtle brushwork, and the finale "Not Like This" where Locke's spare open vibes shimmer like the sun setting over water with slow, longing trumpet in support. Rounding out the performances are the burning "Gravitude" and the medium boil "49th Street" both of which feature strong this bass and drums forming a deep pocket setting the stage for vibes and trumpet to trade passages on the former, and a nice pinched sounding trumpet solo on the latter. All in all this was a consistently well played album, that will be a treat for fans of mainstream jazz and hard bop. The musicians work together very well in both ensemble and solo passages and make for a very accessible and exciting album. 1000 Rainbows -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet - Natural Selection (Sunnyside, 2010)

After making a name for himself with some excellent albums featuring his electric guitar playing (notably 2009's Things to Come) Rez Abassi decided to move into a different direction forming an all acoustic quartet that was featured at the Newport Jazz Festival with Bill Ware on vibraphone, Stephan Crump on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. The group achieves an intimate and thoughtful sound that is very interesting to listen to. "Lament" opens the album with a nice rhythm, featuring dark toned guitar with bowed bass. Swirling vibes give the music an unique and cool sound with guitar slithering around the edges, the music sounds like is would be an excellent accompaniment to visual art or film. "Pakistani Minor" has a complex melody with Ware's vibes probing over a nice beat, occasionally breaking into showers of notes. Abassi takes an intricate solo that leads to a full quartet improvisation. The open ended mood continues with Keith Jarrett's "Personal Mountains" which is melodic and fast paced. Rapid quartet improvisation leads into a dramatic conclusion. There are a couple of solo guitar interludes, "When Light Falls" which features a slow and contemplating feel and the ending track "Ain't No Sunshine" which approaches the blues in feel with a haunted and oblique tone. "Bees" has fast paced, swirling vibraphone that moves deftly in sync with the drums. "Blu Vindaloo" is bass centered, with Crump setting a deep pocket for the rest of the band to pivot around. After a nimble guitar solo, the band fills in with strong and dexterous playing. This was a really well done album from a group that has found a unique sound and really made the most of it. The front line of acoustic guitar and vibes makes for a very compelling sound that is light and nimble. Natural Selection -

Send comments to Tim.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scott Colley - Empire (CAM Jazz, 2010)

Scott Colley is one of the first call bassists on the modern jazz scene, having played with everyone from Andrew Hill to Chris Potter. On this album he is joined by a first class unit consisting of Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Bill Frisell on guitar, Craig Taborn on piano and Brian Blade on drums. The work on this album is atmospheric and subtle, with Frisell using effects to his guitar to add texture, and Blade keeping the percusssion shifting and dexterous. Highlights of the album are "The Gettin' Place" where Blade's spare brushes mesh well with Frisell's guitar accents making space for delicate trumpet. Nicely textured guitar work abetted by strong drums builds to a very exciting performance and then strong quartet improvisation. The ballad "For Sophia" has a slow and spacious opening anchored with thick bass and yearning guitar accents. Alessi's trumpet glides in for a slow and stately solo, building patient and thoughtful. "5:30 a.m." has a loud - soft dynamic, with piano rippling in waves over bass and drums. Trumpet builds in as the music increases in tempo to a strong conclusion. There are a couple of duet features like "Tomorrowland" where Colley and Frisell build an unusual soundscape and "Glut" that features a trumpet and bass duet that builds to a dynamic full band section. The music on this album is thoughtful and trim, with any extraneous ornamentation kept at bay. Colley's bass is rock solid at the center of it all and the interplay between Frisell and Blade makes me hope that they can meet again on future albums. Empire -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

James Cotton - Giant (Alligator, 2010)

A legend on the blues scene for many years, harmonica player James Cotton began his career by cutting a series of great early singles for the Sun Records label, and then moved on to become a member of the Muddy Waters Blues Band. He's barely slowed down since, and even though health problem have caused him to cede the singing duties to others, his harmonica playing remains as boisterous and powerful as ever. Cotton is supported on this album by Slam Allen and Tom Holland who share the guitar and singing duties, Noel Neal on bass and Kenny Neal, Jr. on drums. The band deftly tackles twelve standards and originals, ranging from the harp centered instrumentals "With the Quickness" and "Blues For Koko" which show Cotton's powerful playing at its most unfettered, to a couple of performances of songs originally associated with B.B. King. "How Blue Can You Get" and "Since I Met You Baby" have been staples of the King band and blues in general for decades and the band does very well with them, taking the former as an uptempo shuffle, and the latter as a lovelorn lament that wrings all of the emotion out of the old warhorse. "Buried Alive in the Blues" shows the whole band getting involved, Cotton is generous with his band, giving them space, but he picks is spots well and really blows with great savvy and verve. He recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and is playing very well as this album shows. Giant -

Edit: correction (hat tip: In a Blue Mood)

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Henry Grimes and Rashied Ali - Spirits Aloft (Porter Records, 2010)

This recoding documents a live meeting between two of the legends of the "new thing" free jazz movement of the 1960's, drummer Rashied Ali, who was best known as John Coltrane's last drummer, but was also a loft jazz club entrepreneur and label owner, along with being musical pioneer and longtime band leader. Henry Grimes, playing bass and violin here, played with everyone from Sonny Rollin to Alber Ayler back during the first phase of his career, then famously dropped out of music before staging a remarkably successful comeback in recent years. This album is bookended by two spoken word poems, "Moments" and "The Arch Stiarwells," which set the meditative and spiritual tone for the music within. The music appears to be completely improvised and works quite well, with Grimes deftly switching from plucked to bowed bass and adding swirls of violin to the action while Ali continually shifts the music. Ali was not a thunderous drummer, but his strength was in the subtle nature in which he would manipulate rhythm and flow of the music. "Rapid Transit" begins with a feature for Grimes violin, scraping and sawing against the percussive flow, the music builds to a high intensity duo, with the tension building nicely. Each man will occasionally strike out for an unaccompanied section, like Ali's fascinating solo interlude "Larger Astronomical Time" but the most exciting moments of the album come when they lock in together to explore the musical space around them, like on "Priordained" where Grimes alternating on plucked and bowed bass and Ali call forth a multitude of textures and hues. This was one of Ali's final recordings before passing away in 2009, and it is clear that he was a creative for right up until the end. Grimes continues to amaze, as his storybook comeback to the musical Universe continues unabated. Spirits Aloft -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bobby Watson - The Gates BBQ Suite (Self-released, 2010)

Alto saxophonist and composer Bobby Watson was at the forefront of the New York jazz scene from the late 70's to the late '90's playing with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and recording a series of albums as a leader. In 2000, he returned home to Kansas City to teach at the local university and re-connect with the big band legacy of the city's past. On this album, five years in the making, he leads the University's big band on a set of originals that pay tribute to the great culinary delight of the southwest: Barbecue. "May I Help You" opens the album with with bold brass and drums settling down to mid-tempo swing, while "Beef on a Bun" really gets things moving with fast, propulsive swing making way for a nice understated guitar solo against bass and drums. Watson's solo comes in fast and boppish, trading sections with some hot tenor before the fast and swinging full band returns to take things out. The strutting "Heavy on the Sauce" has a medium tempo swing feel setting the stage for a soaring light alto saxophone solo. Swaggering trombone also muscles into the mix before the end. "Blues for Ollie" has the horns wading on over light piano, bass and drums. Bright sounding trumpet breaks out for a solo as the horns riff joyfully underneath. Punchy horns poke and prod with nicely arranged section work. After a cool sounding hand percussion opening, "The President's Tray" sways to gently swinging horns. Textured crosshatched riffing is well orchestrated, and sets the stage for a mild and nimble alto solo over interesting rhythm. "One Minute Too Late" slows the pace to a mellow feel with majestic horns building to a brassy yearning feel. "Wilkes' BBQ" wraps up the program with an opening bass solo evolving into some fast funky swing and a soulful saxophone interlude. This was a nice and swinging big band album that speaks well for the students of the jazz program, and Watson's ability as a band leader, player and composer. The music fits in well with the riff based swinging big band music that made the city famous in the pre-war years, deftly updating that sound while staying true to its traditional roots. Gates BBQ Suite -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, September 20, 2010

David S. Ware - Onecept (AUM Fidelity, 2010)

Saxophonist David S. Ware's comeback from serious health problems has been inspiring, and he continues an amazing run of music with this excellent trio album, designed to celebrate 50 years of playing the saxophone (he started at age 9!) Joined by bassist William Parker and drummer Warren Smith, Ware breaks out an arsenal of horns: tenor saxophone along with stritch and saxello. This gives him a range of sounds to call on during the course of this collectively improvised album. These men have been performing together in different context for several years and the experience that they have gained really comes through with an extraordinary album. All three musicians are deeply spiritual and the titles reflect that, and the music as well, coming from a post-Coltrane free jazz groove. Songs like "Astral Earth" develop slowly and patiently with Ware blowing long low tones over a rumbling foundation of bowed bass and percussion. The music develops more intensity as it heads for the cosmos, building to a majestic free jazz collective improvisation. They develop a torrid improvisational freedom on "Celestial" and "Desire Worlds" and Ware sounds like a man speaking authoritatively from great experience and humility as he weaves fast textures through the air. Parker and Smith are locked in with an ever shifting and evolving rhythm. The music is deeply woven and thoughtful and develops a completely unique sound that is amazing to hear. The have the tautness of the great Sonny Rollins trios of the 1950's combined with the freedom and elasticity of the music as it has evolved since that time. This joyful album is the consummation of Ware's art and is breathtaking to behold. Onecept -

Send comments to Tim.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Charles Lloyd - Mirror (ECM Records, 2010)

As saxophonist Charles Lloyd moves into his third decade with ECM records, he does so with an excellent and well respected band including Jason Moran on piano, Ruben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. The music is a thoughtful and meditative mix of spirituals, originals and a couple of Thelonious Monk covers. Loyd is a deeply spiritual man, and finds great solace in hymns like "Go Down Moses" which features his slow saxophone developing over deep rhythm. Rogers' bowed bass and a cool drum beat give the music a deep and processional feel. Lloyd develops a tone of nostalgia and longing that is quite affecting. He has covered "The Water Is Wide" previously and this is another effective version with deep bass and piano forming a great groove. Patient saxophone builds to a duet section with bass. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has fine drumming with light saxophone, developing to a collective improvisation with a skittish feel. The fast improvisation develops to an intense near free section. The Monk tunes are a joy to listen to, with Lloyd caressing the melody to "Monk's Mood" backed by strong bass, brushes and piano accents. Everyone sounds confident and patient on "Ruby, My Dear" with strong and thoughtful bass and saxophone leading the way. There are hinds to Coltrane in Lloyd's tone here and they add a nice darkness and light dynamic to a subtle, thoughtful performance. The original "Being And Becoming, Road To Dakshineshwar With Sangeeta" develops a lush and evocative piano, bass and drums pocket for Lloyd to glide over building to a strong sax and drums feature before downshifting to a soft and gentle conclusion. This is a well done album that reveals its secrets slowly over repeated listening. There's noting flashy about the music here, just a well centered quartet that has a vision for the music that they are seeking and a commitment to see the journey through. Mirror -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book review: The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of WomenThe Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by James Ellroy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James Ellroy's crime and political fiction is by turns compelling, awe-inspiring and annoying as hell, so it stands to reason that his non-fiction should follow the same pattern. Ellroy's mother was murdered in Los Angeles when he was a young boy and he has carried feelings of guilt and responsibility throughout his whole life. These feelings imbue his fiction with desperate tales of passionate strong willed women and have also led him to search in real life for a woman to fit this model. This book is a quasi-autobiography that glosses over his life as a writer for a painfully in-depth description of his relationship with women and his search for the ultimate soul mate. As always Ellroy writes with a gargantuan egotism, but also like many narcissists, he is at heart, a deeply lonely, haunted and troubled man. His descriptions of failed relationships, and self-imposed exile are alternately heartbreaking and cringe inducing. Ellroy lays it all on the table: love, sex, spirituality and the need for companionship are examined in excruciating detail. What makes this palatable and even enjoyable is his absolutely unique command of language and writing style, born of hard-boiled crime fiction, but evolved as something all his own. His shuck and jive dark humor survives intact, making this something more than an excoriating lovelorn self flagellation. Love him or hate him, the man can tell a tale, and when he's talking about his favorite subject (himself) it makes for a wild ride.

View all my reviews

Send comments to Tim.

Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green - Apex (Pi Recordings, 2010)

This is an auspicious meeting between great alto saxophonists of different generations. Rudresh Mahanthappa who has burst on to the scene in recent years with a series of progressive and thoughtful albums drawing on mathematics and linguistics along with a deep knowledge of the history of jazz is joined by Chicago based improviser and educator Bunky Green. Green came up in the shadow of bebop, developing his own sound as a recording artist and as a respected teacher. They are supported in this collaboration by Jason Moran on piano, Francois Moutin on bass and either Damion Reid or Jack DeJohnette on drums. The music on this album is continually exciting and exploratory, the two saxophonists trading ideas and swirling about. While the to men clearly have a lot of respect for each other, they push and pull at each other throughout building the tension and release that makes for great dynamic music, aided and abetted by the rhythm section that is exemplary, providing a firm foundation for the front line improvisers and making their own statements as well. The introductory "Welcome" sees the saxophonists intertwining and providing an opening for the music to come. Moving into "Summit" the music grows fast and complex with the saxophonists bobbing and weaving and creating streams and textures of music that are cotinually evolving. "Soft" and "Playing with Stones" develop in suite like formations, as the music patiently spins out and tells fascinating stories. The saxophones are tart and bright and maintain a jubilant tone, as if both men are thrilled to find a conversation partner they have so much in common with. The deep and blue "Lamenting" is a powerful ballad that is set by the piano, bass and drum team before the saxophones drift in with a yearning cry of loss. The appropriately epic final track "The Journey" is a lengthy collective improvisation that evolves in two discreet parts that demonstrates the development of the alto saxophone in jazz over the past half century. This was a very exciting and continually interesting album that filled the whole 78 minute length of the CD and left the listener wishing for more. Mathanthappa and Green were a wonderfully complementary team and the music that they created along with their fellow band members was thrilling and memorable. Apex -

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interesting articles

Destination Out continues an excellent string of posts, inaugurating a new series called Lost Tones with an essay and examples from Billy Bang’s Survival Ensemble New York Collage. "Recorded live at Columbia University on May 16, 1978, the Survival Ensemble is a showcase for Bang’s talents as a soloist, leader, and composer. The stark album cover of Bang perched in a seemingly derelict building evokes the gritty feel of 1970s New York City, though the music inside is far more colorful. Although his work would mature, becoming more complex, the trademarks of his instrumental sound and compositional acumen are in place from the jump." BTW, they had a great post on the late Noah Howard too.

NPR has an excellent interview with saxophonist Bobby Watson regarding food (!) and music. (Watson) "The Gates BBQ Suite is thematically oriented around the legendary Kansas City restaurant Gates Bar B. Q. As a native Kansas Citian myself, the record combines two of my favorite things: jazz and barbecue. Watson's songs both honor Gates and wink at those who most closely know the restaurant. I recently spoke to Watson to chat about his new recording, the barbecue connection and his — our — hometown."

Send comments to Tim.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Bad Plus - Never Stop (E1 Entertainment, 2010)

Coming into their tenth year as a band, The Bad Plus: pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King have grown from a band notorious for their covers of rock and pop songs to a group that has carved its own original niche through unique original compositions. This album features all original compositions by each member of the group, and shows them exploring a wide range of musical textures. "The Radio Tower Has A Beating Heart" opens the album with a lush and full trio sound and deep seated emotion. Rippling piano and simmering drums with a strong bass pulse move things along before a shift around the four minute mark, builds a lighter swinging theme. Fast pace and a strong beat usher in "Never Stop" where Iverson is improvising over a static beat that weaves texture and builds tension. The tension releases with a loud dynamic section propelled by excellent King drumming. "You Are" begins with a lush medium tempo anchored by thick, strong bass and nimble piano and drums. There's a section of light and agile collective improvisation led by bright sounding piano before the group finishes up with a flourish. More excellent thick and elastic bass powers "My Friend Metatron" with the piano rippling by and drums biding time. Dynamic shifts of tempo keep the music fresh and alive. The ballad "People Like You" slows the pace using open space well in a spare and slowly developing performance. Subtle bass and drums provide a backdrop for the piano whose notes fall like gentle drops of rain on a fall evening. The impishly fun "Beryl Loves to Dance" is fast and happy with a killer beat. The song is about an imaginary young girl who loves to cut loose and dance, personified by the fast rolling piano and wild beat, which shifts back to a slinky funk groove. "Snowball" is a slow and spacious ode to winter, featuring a think bass solo and to my ears a little Jarrett influence in the piano. "2 p.m." bounces back with a fast and full sound with strong piano and drums. Full sounding collective improvisation builds to a frenetic pace, fast and free. Slower and with a feeling of emotional longing, "Bill Hickman at Home" is a character study in music. Slowly morphing into a bluesy melancholic feel, the music has subtle brushwork and Monkish piano that builds in a probing and shifting manner. "Super America" takes things out on a happy note, with a bouncy and poppish performance that has a propulsive and funky nature complete with synchronized hand claps. This was a very successful album, after ten years of excellent music that band has carved an instantly recognizable sound and approach to their music. One of Ethan Iverson's heroes, Lester Young, always implored musicians to tell stories with their music. The Bad Plus offers little vignettes or short stories with each of the tracks on this album with add up to an impressive narrative whole. Never Stop -

Send comments to Tim.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marc Ribot - Silent Movies (Pi Recordings, 2010)

Guitarist and composer Marc Ribot is an eclectic soul equally at home playing punk rock, free jazz or more melodic fare. This intriguing album presents Ribot in a solo context with some subtle overdubbing or sound manipulation added to give the music an atmospheric feel. He writes in the liner notes that this project was inspired by films, both real and imagined, and he hoped to explore the nether regions between language, images and sound. What results is a dreamy and atmospheric meditation on the music of film. Tracks like "Flicker" have a mysterious soundscape built on a repetitive figure. It builds an ominous power from a medium tempo beginning, then high pitched notes float above a reflective strum. "Solaris" recalls the enigmatic story of the film and book with spacious and stark probing guitar floating through space. "Requiem for a Revolution" moves through an eerie winter landscape with subtle sounds framing Ribot's guitar in a spare and subtle nature. Cool loping strides of music coming dusty and wide usher in "Fat Man Blues," reminiscent of some of the soundtrack work of Ry Cooder. "Radio" also keeps the dusty time worn feel, placing the guitar at a distance, like something heard from an old time cylinder or cracking 78 PRM record on an old time blues radio show. Science Fiction informs "The Kid" with swirling sounds developing a spare and longing backdrop for Ribot's guitar probe. This was a very thoughtful and imaginative album that mocks at the idea of categorization, drawing on many different genres and musical ideas in order to create a world all its own. Silent Movies -

Send comments to Tim.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah-Um (Columbia, 1959)

Revisiting an old favorite is a treat, and this Mingus masterwork is one of my most favorite jazz albums. Pulling together a little big band consisting of John Handy, Booker Ervin and Shafi Hadi on saxophones, Willie Dennis and Jimmy Knepper on trombone Horace Parlan on piano, Mingus on bass and piano and Dannie Richmond on drums, he combined the frenzied music of the sanctified church with the blistering pace of bebop and ever present swing to create one of his finest albums. Some of the most memorable Mingus compositions and performances adorn this album, beginning with the blasting gospel swing of "Better Git It in Your Soul" where Richmond's deep rhythms and the leaders vocal exhortation whips the horns into a fury. The great dedication to Lester Young "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" has an unforgettable melody, giving way to a slow and steady, yet ever lyrical performance. Brawny and urgent, "Boogie Stop Shuffle" has the horns riffing over fast paced piano, bass and drums. Tenor saxophone and drums are spotlit here with solo spots. "Open Letter to Duke" demonstrates Mingus' admiration of the great Ellington with a rapid and swinging performance pouring waves of alto saxophone over driving bass and drums. Abruptly, the music shifts to a lush multi-horn section featuring rich and vigorous tenor. "Bird Calls" shifts the bands attention to Charlie Parker with some furiously fast paced collective bebop, the horns riff wildly before torrid tenor saxophone spins out. The great anti-segregation anthem "Fables of Faubus" is stripped of its satirical lyrics, but none of its power as the moaning, mocking horns and abrupt shifts and turns make for a remarkable performance. In fact it is hard to find anything on this album that is not remarkable; Mingus was playing and composing at the peak of his powers with a heart-on-sleeve passion and his Jazz Workshop had honed a powerful band able to match him step for step. This is a wonderful classic LP that should be savored again and again. Mingus Ah Um -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Danny Frankel w/ Nels Cline and Larry Goldings - The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference (Self-released, 2010)

On this short, spontaneous album, drummer and percussionist Danny Frankel draws on a wide variety of musical inspirations. From the open ended cosmos exploring improvisations to abstract inner-space ruminations, the music he creates with guitarist Nels Cline and organist Larry Goldings has a curious and exploratory edge. The most successful passages include "That Spider on the Wall" in which mysterious and haunting organ swirls around jagged guitar accents and light, ever shifting percussion. "Apple Cider Vinegar" touches on film and television music, especially the great soundtracks made for police and spy shows in the 1950's and '60's. Goldings swirls ominously while Cline improvises at a distance over an insistent beat. The pace stays fast on "Blue, Black and Silver" before dropping off abruptly to Sun Ra inspired section featuring empty echoing keyboard with skittering percussion. An off kilter yet funky beat anchors "Dark Bob" with organ and guitar accents manipulated by electronics and delay effects, making for a cool and unusual sound over nice percussion work. Frankel's percussion is also the focus of a series of short miniatures, "Nefarious, Parts 1-3" where he sets up a brief hint of a rhythm and uses it as transition point to the next piece of music. Overall this was an interesting and brief (LP length) series of short musical vignettes. The musicians respond the the open space well, creating some interesting and unusual sounds that should be compelling to open eared listeners. Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

William Parker - I Plan to Stay a Believer (AUM Fidelity, 2010)

Bassist William Parker believes that within every song, there is a special "inside song" that conveys a deeper meaning, and it is up to the musicians to get in contact and bring the inside message to the surface. Parker has spent the last several years playing in many different bands including this unit, whose goal is to play the inside songs of soul and R&B legend Curtis Mayfield. The music presented here was recorded live at a number of concerts, some featuring special guests. Opening with "I Plan to Stay a Believer," the template is set for the recording with Leena Conquest singing in a beautifully strong gospel tinged voice, as the band expands and expounds upon the music, spinning their improvisations to considerable length. "If There's a Hell Below" is an awesome performance, featuring powerful message of togetherness in the lyrics, but that is nothing compared to the awesome potency of the music. Saxophonist Sabir Mateen takes off for the cosmos on an awesome solo recalling the late period music of John Coltrane and the thirst for true freedom. The track runs for twenty plus minutes, but builds to a climax dynamically, making it a real highlight. "We Are the People That Are Darker Than Blue" is one the tracks that focuses on poet and activist Amiri Baraka who recites freeform poetry and vocal exhortations on several selections. "I'm So Proud/Ya He Yey Ya" begins with a straight rhythm and blues feature for Conquest before moving to an interesting African influenced feel with chanting and plucked string instrument. "People Get Ready" and "This Is My Country" have the addition of the New Life Tabernacle Chior of Brooklyn, giving the music even more of a gospel feel. They sing the lyrics and allow Conquest and Baraka to improvise and scat against them for an interesting effect. The R&B anthem "Freddy's Dead" gets a fascinating makeover with Baraka using the lyrics as a starting point for commentary about life in the inner city and in 21st century America in general. This was a very interesting "big tent" project that draws on many aspects of music: R&B, blues, rap, gospel and jazz all come together in Parker's quest to get inside the music and find the deeper truths that lie within. I Plan to Stay a Believer -

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kurt Rosenwinkel and OJM - Our Secret World (Wommusic, 2010)

Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has worked in a number of settings, mostly with small bands so his collaboration with the Portuguese large ensemble Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (OJM) makes for some interesting music. The band and featured soloist explore seven of his original compositions, and use subtle shading and texture to throw these performances into interesting relief. "Our Secret World" opens the album and is a true statement of purpose with the subtle shadings of the large band putting a mirror to the everyday world that reflects the music back in a different and unusual way. Taken at a medium tempo with distinctive guitar tones, the music has a majestic feel that is confident and soaring. Rosenwinkel's guitar breaks out for solo, probing the music and the setting, and the horns glide along underneath providing a stable foundation. "The Cloister" has guitar exploring and horns building to a lush feel. The music moves to an open setting, building back up with full dynamic sound, crescendos and uses of loud/soft contrast. The performance develops to a guitar solo backed with piano, bass and drums, building up to lyrical and almost vocal feeling before very majestic guitar backed by full band return the music to a pastel setting. The guitar in a quartet configuration builds darkly on "Zhivago," with the horns adding subtle additions to make to the melody. The music builds tension nicely with repetition, variation and horn encouragements developing into a guitar solo framed against subtle horn. A fast paced and strong guitar solo arcs through the music like electricity while swinging horns add depth and dimension before returning to melody. "Dream of the Old" has a subtle melody stated by horns and lightly strummed guitar building a light feel which is gentle and probing with subtle vocalizations. The pace is dynamic and shifting tempo and texture weave a complex symmetry. Spare and drifting, the music engenders a haunting sensation of suspended floating. Rosenwinkel's guitar solo breaks out supported by urgent piano, bass and drums. The guitar solo builds nicely driving a quartet feature that builds at a fast impressive pace, before shifting back to a setting of subtle harmonizing horns that are well arranged. The music builds to a powerful conclusion with full band backing guitar. Horns riff in swinging fashion with guitar building in fast on "Turns." A fast paced guitar solo develops with a strong pulsing neon sound, giving way to tenor saxophone solo against the piano trio, developing a strong medium nimble tone. Guitar returns shooting sparks against the back drop of the musical sky and to take things to their conclusion. "Use of Light" has a slightly sad, dreamy feel with guitar smears against light backdrop developing a melancholy feel, patient and thoughtful. Texture and shading develop and subtly shift over the course of the performance. Rosenwinkel's guitar tone remains a rich mystery, with a sense of individual development and thoughtful stature. "Path of the Heart" concludes the program with a nervous light drum opening, making way for spare and open guitar. Slow building and atmospheric, the music on this performance is cinematic and mysterious. This was a consistently interesting album, shedding new light on Kurt Rosenwinkel as both a guitarist and a composer. The arrangements are subtle and well done and they add just the right amount of texture and shadow to focus the music's power. Our Secret World -

Send comments to Tim.

Intersting articles

Journalist and blogger Marc Meyers is on quite a roll, interviewing jazz greats... starting with Sonny Rollins, who will celebrate his 80th birthday with a performance at the Beacon Theatre: (Excerpt) "Given the pending milestones, I had suggested to Mr. Rollins that we revisit the Harlem of his youth from the comfort of a Lincoln Town Car. The point was to see the turf that helped shape him as an artist. He agreed."

Myers also profiles the great singer and songwriter Mose Allison: (Excerpt) "Growing up, Mr. Allison listened hard to his cousin's Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines and Albert Ammons records. There also were formal piano lessons from a teacher who lived "right across the creek." In high school, he played trumpet and boogie-woogie piano."

NPR hosted a "Tiny Desk" concert from the Nels Cline Singers: (Excerpt) "Don't let the name fool you: His supporting players, bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola, do not sing. Instead, Cline creates spacious and highly textured, simultaneously beautiful and discordant instrumentals. They're also wholly original. To an untrained ear, these jazz-inflected songs could sound like formless improvisations and bursts of noise. But amidst the sharp single-note runs and occasional feedback, there's a lot of complexity and structure to these dynamic compositions."

NPR is also streaming the new album from The Bad Plus: (excerpt) "That Bad Plus "sound" offers little in the way of jazz as popularly imagined. The band's compositions, which come from all three members, have a sophisticated architecture; they also have an impish, understated glee that can be mistaken for irony ("Beryl Loves to Dance," "My Friend Metatron"). There are big, throbbing beats ("Never Stop"), free-improv spasms ("2 p.m."), non-bluesy but harmonically intriguing chord voicings (like, everything). It's an improvising piano-bass-drums group — a celebrated jazz layout, with musicians fluent in the standard tongues of jazz — which probably wouldn't mind if you called it a weirdo instrumental rock band."

Saxophonist Ellery Eskelin blogs about the intersection of art and music: (Excerpt) "So what if we had more situations in which this music were available during waking hours and made easier for the public to encounter? I gotta think it would be nothing if not completely positive. Sure, not everyone will like everything they hear. But there are few more deeply rewarding experiences for listeners and musicians alike as when someone is emotionally moved by music that they might otherwise never have even imagined. Just the act of attentive listening in and of itself seems almost a subversive act in our culture."

Send comments to Tim.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Cookers - Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2010)

This is a veteran supergroup that puts their egos aside to create a very nice album of hard-bop and post bop modern jazz. Consisting of George Cables on piano, Billy Harper on tenor saxophone, Billy Hart on drums, Cecil McBee on bass, Eddie Henderson and David Weiss on trumpet and flugelhorn and Craig Handy on flute and alto saxophone, the band has a wealth of experience upon which to draw. Opening with "The Core" McBee and Hart establish a powerful and propulsive groove over which the horns riff and swirl. There is a fast trumpet solo with the other horns riffing encouragement and then a rippling fast piano solo. For a band named after the torrid live album Night of the Cookers, they establish a statement of purpose right at the start. Billy Harper is one of my all time favorite tenor saxophone players and two of his compositions are featured on this album. "Priestess" has a nice piano intro that sets the stage for the music as the horns enter with the fanfare melody. Harper breaks out on one of his extraordinary solo flights, his sound is huge and bold, swooping like a powerful eagle over the musical landscape. His lengthy solo is supported by riffing horns and a ripe trumpet interlude. Harper's great early composition "Capra Black" is also featured, with a brassy horn opening, protean and deep launching his powerful tenor into solo space against a frame of accompanying horns. Punchy trumpet glides into to keep the pace moving fast and true before the full band returns to take things out. The group shows their dynamic range by slowing things down on Cables' original "Spookarella" which opens at a lush mid-tempo and features nice melodic and dexterous flute from Craig Handy. Having the flute backed with majestic horns and full rhythm gives the music a nice sound reminiscent of a large ensemble. Another Cables composition, "Sweet Rita Suite 2: Her Soul," is a nice ballad again featuring horns and flute in a tight arrangement. Handy floats in a lyrical fashion supported by the horns and subtle rhythm section. This was a fine album is solid mainstream jazz played by a veteran ensemble. It's great to see these experienced musicians getting a chance to play with each other and create vital and interesting music. Warriors -

Send comments to Tim.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bill Frisell - Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz, 2010)

Guitarist Bill Frisell is an inquisitive soul always looking for new formats and challenges to explore. On this album he is playing in a small group format with Eyvind Kang on viola and Rudy Royston on drums. The music is slow moving and gentle, passing by as pleasantly as a summer breeze. Occasionally the music gets a melancholy tinge, especially in the tracks that mine Frisell's penchant for Americana and blues, and its these moments when the emotion is palpable that are the most memorable. The most enjoyable tracks included "Winslow Homer" which has choppy clucking guitar and viola developing a vaguely Monk-ish tempo. The music builds with an impish grin, developing a skewed cool swing over a funky beat. Blind Willie Johnson's gospel blues classic "It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine" has a deep and mysterious feel, with the melody developing at a funeral tempo that is bleak yet compelling. Benny Goodman's "Benny’s Bugle" features Frisell playing some jazzy swing guitar against swirling and swaying viola accents. "Better Than A Machine" opens gently swinging, then feels the pace increase, building to a nice three way collective improvisation. "Keep on the Sunnyside" mines Frisell's country and Americana fixation to the fullest with a folky back porch performance that develops into a straight up hoedown. Things get serious again with "Sweetie," featuring more Monk influenced jazzy probing. Frisell solos nicely over plucked viola and subtle drums. This is an interesting and intimate trio that takes a very multi-faceted view of music, embracing and combining music of several genres into an interesting mix. This album may not appeal to the fans of Frisell's more energetic recordings like those with the Naked City ensemble or his Gramavision recordings. But fans of his more mellow recordings will find the melodic content to their liking. Beautiful Dreamers -

Send comments to Tim.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Dave Douglas and Keystone - Spark of Being: Expand (Greenleaf, 2010)

Earlier this year trumpeter Dave Douglas and his band Keystone released the soundtrack to an experimental re-interpretation of the Frankenstein story by film maker Bill Morrison. This is the second album in a trilogy devoted to this material, and this album contains the bands original uncut improvisatory versions of the compositions. Along with Douglas on trumpet and compositions, the band consists of Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone, Adam Benjamin on electric piano, Brad Jones on bass, Gene Lake on drums and DJ Olive on turntables and laptop. They make an interesting mix of electronic and acoustic music that draws on many influences: fusion period Miles Davis, movie music and electronica. Among the most successful tracks are the title composition, "Spark of Being," which features electronics and probing trumpet, then saxophone and trumpet improvising over the shifting beat. "Tree Ring Circus" has a fast, percussive pace over which trumpet and saxophone confidently strut. The horns riff across the electronics and pulsing drums in an exciting performance. The song builds ever faster powered by muscular bass and drums. A fast tempo also enlivens "Travelogue" with Benjamin's electric piano comping over a funky broken beat. Horns add discreet riffs over the strong drumming (Lake is just killing on this track) and then Douglas takes over, soloing atop electric piano making a cool sounding update of the late 60's sound of Miles Davis. This was an interesting departure for the band, showing the raw source material from which the previous soundtrack album was drawn. While a few of the tracks do run a little too long, the focus was to mine them for ideas, much like Teo Macero did with Miles, and the band does succeed in creating some interesting soundscapes. Spark of Being: Expand -

Send comments to Tim.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sonny Fortune - Last Night at Sweet Rhythm (Sound Reason, 2009)

Influenced by John Coltrane and many others, saxophonist and flautist Sonny Fortune was a featured soloist in the groups of McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis and Elvin Jones before starting a lengthy career as a leader and recording artist. This live recording on his own label features him on alto and soprano saxophones and flute playing a fiery yet accessible version of post bop jazz accompanied by Michel Cochrane on piano, David Williams on bass and Steve Johns on drums. "It Ain't What It Was" opens the album in a fast uptempo swing backed by bright piano and solid bass and drums. After a brisk piano led interlude, Fortune returns to trade phrases with Johns. After introducing the band he leads them into "The Blues Are Green" which has spacious mid tempo backing framing patient, breezy alto. Fortune builds a powerful Coltrane-esque solo, building deep swirling lines against rolling drums, developing emotional peals of sound. Switching to flute on "Never Is Such a Long Time" gives the music a light and milder feel, and Fortune uses this to dance and weave textures, swirling and swaying in a delicate fashion. Mid-tempo piano, bass and drums set the stage for a soprano saxophone feature on "In Waves of Dreams" with the pinched sound of the instrument probing and pushing against a lush backdrop. "The Joneses" is a lengthy performance that serves a the centerpiece of the album. Two sections of exotic sounding Eastern tinged flute frame the performance at the beginning and the end with a burning alto saxophone solo featured in the middle. This is Fortune at his most intense, playing fast and very deep, tapping a wellspring of inspiration to create a memorable performance. They keep the pace fast for "Laying It Down," the final selection on the album. The music is fast and bebop inspired with Fortune playing a scalding alto solo, really bringing passion to the music over strong piano and drum accompaniment. The band builds to a strong and confident conclusion to the generous approval of the audience. This was a well played snapshot of a assured band playing strong improvisational music live and in the moment. They sometimes wear their influences on their sleeves, but this is not a bad thing as they draw on the power of the music that has come before them to make their own statements in the continuing evolution of jazz. Last Night At Sweet Rhythm -

Send comments to Tim.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Jon Irabagon - Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon is no stranger to audacious projects, he jumps back and forth with ease between the avant-garde and mainstream jazz. On this project he hooks up with drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Peter Brendler for a massive 78 minute non-stop performance. This is an endurance test and the ultimate blowing session - imagine John Coltrane's epic "Chasin' the Trane" stretched out to cover the length of an entire compact disc and you get the drift. The track titles are markers within the continuous performance starting with "Foxy" which fades into to a strong trio improvisation showing the band bootin' hard in a modern JATP mode. Deeply digging bass and drums power "Poxy" and the action drives Irabagon to keep going, tossing in little riffs and phrases and then stirring the musical soup like a chef. "Chicken Poxy" keeps the ball rolling faster and faster with non-stop hard riffing saxophone supported by agile bass and drums. Altschul spent years with the Sam Rivers trio so he is reveling in this type of action. "Boxy" is a little more spacious and swinging, building little crescendo like phrases from low to high. "Hydroxy" eases in subtle dynamic shifts and rolling skronking circular patterns of saxophone. Irabagon moves up fast and high on "Biloxi" enveloped in a torrid backbeat. The saxophonist and drummer lock in as honks are laid atop beats for percussive overload. "Tsetse" has deep swirls of saxophone over broken rhythm as the drums challenge and the saxophone responds. Raw peals of saxophone are woven against rolling drums as Brendler's bass scrambles for purchase. "Unorthodoxy" moves into boppish phrases, making things interesting and deeply swinging. The bass sounds great and serves to anchor the saxophone and drums and keep them from flying off into the cosmos. Irabagon builds back up, waling and gregarious like the over-caffeinated guy at coffee shop who has to tell you everything. "Epoxy" is the centerpiece of the album, as Irabagon punctuates is saxophone phrases with little honks and subtle variations. Rolling guttural honks and driving drums take the music to a new level of intensity, then opens back up to allow the bass the lope along. "Roxy" shows the band pushing through exhaustion like a boxer in the late rounds of an epic brawl. Peeling off short repeated riffs of saxophone and worrying a few notes as the drums get stronger and the bass drones. The repeated notes are anxious warnings, but they're not out of gas yet. "Foxy (Radio Edit)" is an absolute riot, as the band delves deep into the blues grinding like they are supporting bizarre floor show in the bordello of the mind. "Moxie" brings the finale with strong trio improvisation rolling home like a musical locomotive, ever faster. The music stops abruptly as if the pace the gotten so frenetic that band had burst into flame and ascended. A fitting end to one of the most exhausting (for the listener as well as the musicians) albums that I can recall. As wild and wholly as the whole spectacle is, this isn't just an exercise in grandstanding. The band sees how far they can push a simple form of music and find in their exploration that there is a lot of room to move and explore. In the process they create some of the most exciting and provocative music of the year. Foxy -

Send comments to Tim.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Vijay Iyer - Solo (ACT Records, 2010)

Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer has been on a very successful roll lately with well received albums and collaborations. He has also been re-examining his music, and paring away anything that is superfluous or unnecessary to his music. That aesthetic really shows on this album, featuring him in a solo context and honing his own music and the music he interprets into a well defined crystalline clarity. He opens with a surprising cover of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," but there is nothing coy or ironic about this choice. The music is taken at face value with a melodic, almost meditative melancholy. The music is built on strong bass notes, becoming open and haunting. Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" has a faster rippling improvisation, hinting at the famous melody, giving us glimpses, like a beautiful building seen from a fast moving car. Low bass notes and a hint of stride piano also anchor a beautiful version of Duke Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy" which builds to the melody shorn of any excess or ornamentation. Percussive piano keeps the piece moving briskly and provides a fascinating modern window into an older composition. After probing musical deep space with "Prelude: Heartpiece," Iyer moves to "Autoscopy" building fast free-ish piano in a skittering downpour of notes. The music moves dynamically into a spare and delicate middle section before the energy rebuilds for the finale. Two more originals, "Patters" and Desiring" follow, which are both patient, spare and open. Iyer allows the music to flow naturally, building dark and deep shades of music that are crystal clear yet mysterious. Another Ellington composition, the beautiful "Fleurette Africaine" is an awesome performance, beginning slowly and respectfully with the spare and melodic improvisation moving through a deep emotional resonance, developing a beautiful yet achingly sad performance, with a haunting and elegiac vibe tinged with longing. A dedication to Sun Ra, "One for Blount," ends the album on a hopeful note, with Iyer building the music to a faster percussive feel, yet still maintaining a deep melodic nature. Rippling waves of notes move quickly as the improvisation glides to a strong conclusion. This is a deeply powerful and personal statement from one of the most interesting musicians on the contemporary scene. The music really comes from deep within, and at times you feel as if Iyer has opened up and allowed you to peer into his own musical soul. The music touches on many emotions from joy to pain, yet remains steadfastly honest and genuine throughout. Solo -

Send comments to Tim.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pat Bianchi - Back Home (Doodlin' Records, 2010)

One of the benefits of paying a outrageous amount for cable television in my area is that the package service comes with a bunch of music channels that you can play through your TV. The jazz station is pretty good, playing a mix of mainstream classics and new releases. A few weeks ago while cooking I heard some really nice old school organ playing, and returned to see it was from a young musician named Pat Bianchi, so I downloaded his new album and was pretty well impressed. He is supported by Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Terrell Stafford on trumpet, Ralph Peterson or Carmen Intorre on drums and Gilad Hekselman on guitar. The album opens with "Fifth House" featuring fast swinging organ and drums with guitar accents. Hekselman has a strong, clean sounding guitar tone, and builds his solo to an exciting and logical conclusion. The band is most impressive on the up-tempo performances like "Litha" where the horns introduce a fast swinging pace, and Escoffery steps out for a vivid and blue solo. Organ and drums develop a nice rhythmic interplay before Stafford gets to spar with the drums. "Blues Connotation" has a very fast boppish feel, with Peterson taking center stage, pushing and prodding the music ever forward. Horns and strong, swaggering drums are the focus of "Hammer Head," with Stafford's trumpet taking a solid spitfire solo. The mid-tempo title track "Back Home" works well too, featuring a classy and patient tenor saxophone over swirling organ led swing. Placing the two ballads "Portrait of Jenny" and "Just in Time" back to back slows the momentum of the album a little bit, with the musicians sounding cautious and light before coming together to breathe more life at the end of the latter track. Quibbles aside, this was a nicely swinging album of organ jazz. Bianchi has a nice full sound, clearly influenced by the likes of Larry Young and isn't afraid to tackle varied and challenging material. Escoffery and Peterson are excellent as well, playing with a deep seated authority that lends credence to the music. Back Home -

Send comments to Tim.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Terje Rypdal - Crime Scene (ECM, 2010)

If you've read this blog for a while you know that besides music, I'm really into crime fiction as well. This fascinating album combines both genres, taking some noirish jazz-rock with occasional big band overtones and adding dialogue clips from classic crime films like The Godfather and Taxi Driver. As an homage to noir cinema and the possibilities of music and film, it is a splendid success. Guitarist and composer Rypdal is joined by Palle Mikkelborg on trumpet, Paolo Vinaccia on drums, and Stale Storlokken on Hammond B3 organ with the Bergen Big Band providing the extra heft. The opening track, "Clint - The Menace" sets the tone for the album with the gravelly voice of Clint Eastwood and a snippet from Marlon Brando over low reeds. Music takes center stage with "Prime Suspects" with fast Coltrane-ish saxophones weaving anxious and raw swathes of sound. Swirling organ keeps the action edgy, and the saxophones build in deep. Rypdal joins in the fun and energetically propels the music to its climax. "Don Rypero" keeps the stinging guitar moving briskly in a trio setting developing muscular and exciting jazz-rock culminating in some nasty skronk that would make Sonny Sharrock fans smile. Storlokken takes center stage on "Suspicious Behavior" with swirling organ, adding a filling intensity with the grinding organ and drums keeping things hot. Mikkelborg's trumpet keeps the music moving well with uptempo electric Miles Davis inspired smears of musical color. Things slow back down with the dialogue centered "Parli Con Me" with tough guys like Robert DeNiro intoning famous lines over a funky beat. "The Criminals" and "Action" ramps the music back up with the former featuring strong saxophones jousting and turning deep and free over organ and drums. The latter has throbbing bass and guitar screeching with an electric sheet metal sound, developing a very cool driving fusion. The lengthy and atmospheric "It Has Not Been Written Yet" takes a little patience developing a very cinematic sound with light and spare horns evolving to spacey guitar and trumpet with movie dialogue snippets bubbling up through the mix. "Investigation" adds one last burst of color with funky drums and trumpet developing a full and strong groove. The is was a very nice and consistently interesting multi-media experiment. It would be fascinating to see Rypdal develop this even further live with clips from famous films and a live band. Lots of potential here and a very fun album for open-minded jazz fans. Crime Scene - amazon.vom

Send comments to Tim.