Monday, July 15. 2013
Music: Current count 21705  rated (+40), 599  unrated (-9).
Another big rated week, split between the Jazz Prospecting below and stuff that will go into July's Rhapsody Streamnotes column (the latter file currently at 27 titles). I'll probably try to slow down over the next month or two -- maybe do that basement remodel work I started on back in January and never did much with. Also need to work on some non-music writing: yesterday's post on the self-defense fetish, and Saturday's on the Kochs, and the one a week ago on civil rights -- Buckling Toward Injustice, you might want to re-read that with the Zimmerman trial fresh in your mind, as well as the post-Zimmerman Weekend Roundup just below -- are all things that could be expanded greatly. Also thinking about a long road trip, which would really throw a wrench into the music machinery. But the jazz queues are down to about half-full. No Monday records in the "unpacking" this week, because I didn't get any.
No A-list records this week, and only David Murray at high B+, so I'll re-run a cover from last month's Rhapsody Streamnotes. Don't have the actual record, which is why I reviewed it there instead of here. Other new jazz records I didn't get, but are in the Rhapsody Streamnotes, file: Eliane Elias: I Thought About You (Concord); Zeena Parkins: The Adorables (Cryptogramophone); John Scofield: Überjam Deux (Emarcy); Miguel Zenón: Oye!!! Live in Puerto Rico (Miel Music). I used to be on all those lists (not that it hasn't always been a chore to get Zenón's records) -- more evidence that we're in an age of diminishing returns.
Susanne Abbuehl: The Gift (2012 , ECM): Singer, b. 1970 in Switzerland; third album since 2001. Group includes Matthieu Michel (flugelhorn), Wolfert Brederode (piano, harmonium), and Olavi Louhivuori (drums, percussion) -- rather spare accompaniment. Abbuehl wrote the music for poems by Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale, and Emily Bronte, plus one each by Wallace Stevens and Wolfgang Lackerschmid. So spare that it seems to all hang on the words, something I often have trouble following. B [advance]
Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel: San Francisco (2013, Bacalao): Drummer, based in San Francisco, second album, with a large band, including several who contributed songs: Aaron Germain (bass), Jamie Dubberly (trombone), Javier Cabanillas (conga), Carlos Caro (bonga, other percussion), Gloria Amaral (vocals). B+(**)
Tim Bedner: Of Light and Shadow (2012, self-released): Guitarist, teaches at Carleton University, seems to be his first album, a trio with Norman Glaude (bass, chromatic harmonica, percussion, synth strings) and Jeff Asselin (drums, percussion). Back cover suggests the whole thing is meant as a suite. Hangs together fine, the harmonica a nice touch. B+(*)
Michel Camilo: What's Up? (2013, Okeh): Pianist, b. 1954 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; twenty records since 1985. This is solo, something he's done more than a few times in the past. Seven originals, four covers, his "Take Five" especially enjoyable. B+(**)
Raquel Cepeda: I'm Confessin' (2012 , Peonia Music): Standards singer, from Venezuela, holds a degree in geological engineering and a daytime job in the Texas oil industry. First album, some in Spanish, some sambas, "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Didn't care for the languorous "Bésame Mucho" but later cuts are winning. B+(*)
Ryan Cohan: The River (2013, Motéma Music): Pianist, studied at DePaul, based in Chicago, fifth album since 1997. Uses three horns for a frequently lush sound -- John Wojciechowski (tenor and soprano sax, flute, alto flute), Geof Bradfield (tenor and soprano sax, bass clarinet), and Tito Carrillo (trumpet, flugelhorn) -- and adds Samuel Torres' percussion to Kobie Watkins' drums for that Latin tinge. Still, strongest when the piano is out front, as in "Last Night at the Mannenberg." B+(**)
Dan DeChellis Trio: Strength and Anger (2013, self-released): Pianist, b. 1970, twelfth record since 1999. Nearly everything here is built on rumbling chords, a rhythm-first approach that sustains interest. With Scot Hornick on bass, Steve Decker on drums. B+(**)
Eldar Djangirov: Bach Brahms Prokofiev (2012 , Motema): Pianist, b. 1987 in Kyrgyzstan; moved to Kansas City at age 10, and was touted as a prodigy at age 18 when his first Sony Masterworks album appeared (after two previous records on D&D). It may be unfair to typecast him as one of those Soviet products who moved from classical to jazz -- he's said the first piece he recalls playing was "C Jam Blues" -- but he's paid his dues on the classical repertoire, and probably figured "why not?" when the label asked for a classical release. Solo piano, moldy classics from obvious sources with no discernible jazz interest, capped with 1:07 of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee." B- [advance]
Eldar Djangirov: Breakthrough (2012 , Motema): His classical album is a snore, but the trio cuts here establish both his primary interest in jazz and his prodigious command of the piano. Two cuts with a guest -- Joe Locke on vibes, and Chris Potter on tenor sax -- are even better: I'm not sure I've ever heard Potter so frenzied, and I've heard him play a lot. Also promising that his closing "Good Morning Heartache" holds your attention even after he slows it way down. Two caveats: when he gets cranking he's still more likely to remind you of Rimsky-Korsakov than Tatum or Hines; and the last time I can recall that title was on an exceptionally great Don Pullen album, and this isn't anyway near that. B+(**) [advance]
Michael Hackett Quintet: New Point of View (2012 , Summit): Trumpet player, originally from Oregon, spent some time in New York but not clear where he is now -- most side credits are with Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, so maybe Indianapolis? Second album. Quintet with sax, piano, bass, and drums -- the classic hard bop lineup but more of a postbop feel, especially in the harmonics between the horns. B+(*)
Drye & Drye: Open Letter (2011 , NCM East, 2CD): Baritone saxophonist Howard Drye and trombonist Brian Drye -- the latter is better known, playing in groups like the Four Bags and Bizingas. Each wrote a full CD's worth of songs, for a sextet adding Jeff Hermanson (trumpet), Nate McGinniss (clarinet, alto/soprano sax), Dan Fabricatore (bass), and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums). Several songs have dedications, mostly to Ellingtonians, also Horace Silver, but the interplay is more free -- especially on Howard's disc. B+(**)
Alan Ferber: March Sublime (2012 , Sunnyside): Trombonist, fifth album since 2001, previously with septet and nonet groups -- here he goes whole hog with a big band. Six originals, two covers -- Björk and Hoagy Carmichael, the latter the nicest piece here, perhaps because it comes off a bit lighter, but also it comes late in the album, after the postbop murk started to cohere, and the star-packed NY band -- the reed section: John O'Gallagher, Rob Wilkerson, John Ellis, Jason Rigby, Chris Cheek -- has started to shine. B+(*)
David Murray Infinity Quartet: Be My Monster Love (2012 , Motéma): Paul Krugman likes to refer to Joseph Stiglitz as "an insanely great economist"; Murray, for much the same reason, is an insanely great tenor saxophonist: his solos here are monumental, taking off in flights of fancy that no one else can think of much less do. Unfortunately, he decided to do songs here, or more precisely, of texts improvised into something song-like. Three of the texts come from Ishmael Reed, whose own deadpan authority made them work on Conjure. Here, Macy Gray sings the title piece in her own idiosyncratic mien, and Gregory Porter tries to croon the others, plus a bit by Abiodun Oyewode on the importance of children. The texts mean well, but the hymn about "making a joyful noise" is doubly ironic: if only Porter would shut up and let the sax man wail. B+(***)
Carline Ray: Vocal Sides (2008-11 , Carlcat): Singer, b. 1925; father played in James Reese Europe's band. She studied at Juilliard, playing piano and bass. She joined the International Sweethearts of Rhythm in 1946, sang in Erskine Hawkins' Orchestra, and eventually formed a trio with Edna Smith and Pauline Braddy. She married Luis Russell in 1956. No previous albums under her name, but I see a few widely scattered credits: Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Ruth Brown -- those three on bass -- and more recently vocals for David Berger and Catherine Russell (who took an interest and produced this album). Not a notable voice, but she can get to you, and while I don't care for the gospels, at least I've heard her vitriolic version of Williams' "Lazarus." B+(**)
Kristin Slipp + Dov Manski: A Thousand Julys (2013, Sunnyside): Singer and keyboardist, both from Maine, studied at New England Conservatory, now based in Brooklyn. First reaction was that this may be some kind of joke: Manski's arrangements of very familiar standards are sketchy at best, and Slipp has trouble finding all the notes. Then it started growing on me, partly because so many of the songs are irresistible -- "I Get Along Without You Very Well," "You Go to My Head," "The Way You Look Tonight," "I Concentrate on You," "Just One of Those Things," "End of a Love Affair," opening and cosing takes of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" -- and partly because something in her approach reminded me of Lisa Sokolov. Nowhere near that audacious, of course, and not all that unlikely this will turn plain annoying. [PS: Some further research: I have her Twins of El Dorado record at B-; also didn't like the one cut I sampled from The Adorables, but I don't have the record.] B+(**)
Rick VanMatre: Lines Above (2013, Summit): Saxophonist, lists soprano before tenor; first album, backed by piano (Kim Pensyl), bass, drums, vibes on five cuts, percussion on one. Mostly postbop, occasionally cutting in something a bit more avant. B+(*)
Brahja Waldman's Quartet: Cosmic Brahjas/Closer to the Tones (2011-13 , self-released, 2CD): Alto saxophonist, from upstate New York but based in Montreal. Second album (or second and third), the quartet on the first disc including piano (Shadrach Hankoff), bass, and drums; on the second, the pianist is replaced by tenor saxophonist Adam Kinner. Both discs are loose-free, soft-edged, interesting, with a few more interruptions on the first. B+(**)
Mike Wofford: It's Personal (2012 , Capri): Pianist, b. 1938, about twenty albums since 1966. Solo, four originals (including one for Earl Hines), nine covers (including a medley of two songs named "Once in a Lifetime," including the Talking Heads one). B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: