Jazz Consumer Guide (16):
Funk Fusion, Bebop Terrorism in New Jazz Records
Talents old and new throw stuff against the wall and see
by Tom Hull
Spaceways Incorporated bassist Nate McBride sets up a steady
rolling platform for Pandelis Karayorgis's flights of pianistic
fury by fetching seductive riffs from Sun Ra, Duke Ellington,
and Hasaan Ibn Ali. This Boston trio was originally formed to play
in a rock club, churning out punk-Monk fusion with electric piano.
Now, with the piano unplugged and McBride continuing to develop
as a subtle and grooveful bassist, they've moved into
something new: free jazz boogie woogie?
Mostly Other People Do the Killing:
Leonardo Featherweight's liner notes introduce many of the jokes:
leader Moppa Elliott emulating the "classic slap-style bass playing
of Milt Hinton and Victor Wooten"; Kevin Shea's drums shifting from
"Gene Krupa-esque tom-tom facility to Shaggs-style freedom"; trumpeter
Peter Evans' "dog whistle shrieks, Buddy Bolden quotes, and coffee
grinder tone"; saxophonist Jon Irabagon's knack for "seamlessly
melding Najee and Zorn"; numerous references to "livestock at
slaughter." Abbreviated MOPDTK, billed as a "bebop terrorist band,"
they rip up history and make it anew while reusing proven hooks.
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin:
The Swiss pianist moves his minimalist rhythmic figures along
with the grace of his namesake outcast samurai, his ascetic
awareness imagining an ecstatic groove, but arriving at something
more sublime. The six modules start sparse but gain weight as
Sha's bass clarinet emerges from the shadows, lifting a group
that improvises with the beat, not against it.
The Complete On the Corner Sessions (1972-75,
Six discs collecting 16 indecisive and inconclusive studio sessions
at least explain why *On the Corner* was Davis's most disparaged
album: the edits tried to force excitement out of a minimal funk
groove that needed long stretches of time to breathe. Davis never
watered his fusion down for the masses. They came to him, and he made
them wait before frosting the groove with brief bursts of piercing
(Fresh Sound New Talent)
Early on, the guitarist lurks in the background of his debut
album, letting MOPDTK terrorist Jon Irabagon clear the field
with slashing, scratchy tenor sax thrusts. Gulbrandsen's
licks accentuate, then insinuate. He turns the corner with
the Police's "Message in a Bottle": slow refrain, and crafty
deconstruction turning the song to a distant memory. Finally,
he emerges clearly in a closing duet with bassist Eivind
Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette:
My Foolish Heart: Live at Montreux
The dozens of albums Jarrett's "standards trio" have released
since 1983 blur together, but here two Fats Waller pieces jump
out, brightening the day. Jarrett is every bit as adept with
"Four" and "Straight, No Chaser" and the inevitable ballad,
and DeJohnette demonstrates why Jarrett has stuck in his trio
rut all these years: Who else would you rather play with?
Latin jazz with all the bells and maracas and a few old-fashioned
vocals; the songs broken down by style and country, ranging from
Brazil to New Orleans, with Cuba predominant. The leader is an
Israeli trombonist whose island is Manhattan. Occasionally a
klezmer vibe slips in.
William Parker/Raining on the Moon:
Corn Meal Dance
Parker's lyrics can get preachy or plain didactic, and singer
Leena Conquest amplifies the slightest hint of gospel all too
predictably. But his sweeping melodies lift them into the cosmos,
and the avant-garde virtuosos in the band never wander: They
fill in and extend so expertly (Lewis Barnes' trumpet stands
out) that this might even be compelling as an instrumental.
Unreleased Art, Vol. 1: The Complete Abashiri Concert  /
Unreleased Art, Vol. 2: The Last Concert 
Widow Laurie Pepper lays claim to a pair of bootlegs, recorded
at a time when the great alto saxophonist was walking dead but
playing miraculously. At Abashiri, even Art is taken by his
"Body and Soul," proclaiming it "one of the nicest things that
I think I've played in my life." He closes with a hard swinging
clarinet feature: "When You're Smiling." Can't help but.
I Ain't Looking at You
A journeyman drummer (who broke in with Wild Bill Davis, then
graduated to Horace Silver and George Benson) emerges from
the trenches with messengers who fuse the best of soul jazz
and hard bop: groove from Mike LeDonne's B3 and Peter Bernstein's
guitar, two-horn fireworks from Terrell Stafford's trumpet and
Jesse Davis's sax.
L'Imparfait des Langues
I can't find a thread that ties this record together. Working
with a familiar drummer and three upstarts -- Marc Baron on alto
sax, Paul Brousseau on keyboards, Maxime Delpierre on guitar --
it's as if the veteran clarinetist is just throwing stuff at the
wall to see what sticks. It pretty much all does: electronic
drones, free sax riffing, rocksteady beats, airy meditations,
noisy fusion. The sounds of tradition passing down, and
Twice she sings, but her focus is piano jazz, which she organizes
as a pyramid: Mary Lou Williams is her special interest; Ellington
and Monk are her guiding lights; Fats Waller, Ray Charles, and Jimmy
Rowles provide further amusements. She writes things like "The
Brilliant Corners of Thelonious' Jumpin' Jeep" to stitch it all
together, but what moves this beyond concept is the dream band
she commands in units from duo to sextet: Jeremy Pelt, Steve Wilson,
Joel Frahm, Peter Washington, Lewis Nash.
(McCoy Tyner Music/Half Note)
The Coltrane Quartet pianist's first investment in his own label
is both low-budget and surefire: a live album with a new quartet
that rivals the old one but fits a little more comfortably around
his own substantial songbook. Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano rises
to the occasion, but Tyner can still muscle in to make a point.
Live at Newport '58
Minor archive find, fills a gap with Louis Smith and Junior Cook
rehearsing classics, the choicest "Señor Blues."
Messin' Around Blues
Classic Chicago piano from the 1920s, extracted from pianola rolls.
I Must Be Dreaming
Trading dreams for blues, protesting that "living's hard when
it doesn't come easy."
(Fresh Sound New Talent)
Guitar-sax quartet: Cantor's guitar rocks harder, Frederik Carlquist's
sax honks softer.
Joe Temperley/Harry Allen:
Cocktails for Two
Hits with Brits, the baritonist setting the tone and pace, Allen
as ever respectful of his elders.
Alvin Fielder Trio:
A Measure of Vision
With the González clan helping out, the 70-year-old master of "The
Cecil Taylor-Sunny Murray Dancing Lesson."
The Words and the Days
Louis Armstrong never went anywhere without a good trombonist;
Gianluca Petrella shows trumpeter Rava why.
Sequel (For Lester Bowie)
Wish he played more trombone, especially for Bowie, whom he
treats as obliquely as his Homage to Charles Parker.
A brothers band like the Adderleys; too bad Antoine doesn't have a
nickname to match his flair, like Cannonball.
Nicki Parrott/Rossano Sportiello:
People Will Say We're in Love
A charming standards singer who also plays bass, plus a gawky,
For Alto redux, 35 years to the wiser, no longer shocking,
but still a contrarian puzzle.
Temple of Olympic Zeus
Archetypal mainstream tenor-saxman aims for the gods, hits hubris.
Awkwardly forcing his voice through vocalese mazes, finally destroying
"Body and Soul."
Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani:
The Third Man
Wizened trumpet player, upstart pianist, they sail past one
another, giving us interleaved halves of two solo albums.
This table provides a working guide to how the JCG is shaping up.
This does not include anything moved to bk-flush: these include items
relegated to Surplus, reviewed in Recycled Goods, or just passed over.
Entries in black are written, gray graded but
not written, red ungraded but with prospect
notes (all these are at the bottom of their approximate grade levels,
alphabetized). A-list, B-list and Duds are alphabetical; HM lists are
ranked, with breaks for three-two-one stars.
- MI3: Free Advice (Clean Feed) A
- Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Shamokin!!! (Hot Cup) A
- Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Holon (ECM) A-
- Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Columbia/Legacy) A-
- Jostein Gulbrandsen: Twelve (Fresh Sound New Talent) A-
- Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette: My Foolish Heart: Live at Montreux (ECM) A-
- Rafi Malkiel: My Island (Raftone) A-
- William Parker/Raining on the Moon: Corn Meal Dance (AUM Fidelity) A-
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. 1: The Complete Abashiri Concert (1981, Widow's Taste) A-
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. II: The Last Concert (1982, Widow's Taste) A-
- Alvin Queen: I Ain't Looking at You (Enja/Justin Time) A-
- Louis Sclavis: L'Imparfait des Langues (ECM) A-
- Joan Stiles: Hurly-Burly (Oo-Bla-Dee) A-
- McCoy Tyner: Quartet (McCoy Tyner Music/Half Note) A-
- Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58 (1958, Blue Note) A-
- Jimmy Blythe: Messin' Around Blues (Delmark)
- Nanette Natal: I Must Be Dreaming (Benyo Music)
- Ila Cantor: Mother Nebula (Fresh Sound New Talent)
- Joe Temperley/Harry Allen: Cocktails for Two (Sackville)
- Alvin Fielder Trio: A Measure of Vision (Clean Feed)
- Enrico Rava: The Words and the Days (ECM)
- George Lewis: Sequel (For Lester Bowie) (Intakt)
- Wallace Roney: Jazz (High Note)
- Nicki Parrott/Rossano Sportiello: People Will Say We're in Love (Arbors)
- Anthony Braxton: Solo Willisau (Intakt)
- Eric Alexander: Temple of Olympic Zeus (High Note) B-
- Kurt Elling: Nightmoves (Concord) C+
- Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani: The Third Man (ECM) B
Album count: 27; Word count: 1360 (graded 17: 1128; additional 10: 232).
I try to write up an informal note on every jazz record I hear the
first (or sometimes second) time I play it. Those notes are collected
over the course of a week, then posted in the blog. They are also
The surplus file collects final notes
when I decide that I cannot realistically keep a record under active
consideration for the Jazz Consumer Guide. These notes are mostly
written at the end of a JCG cycle and posted to the blog when the
column is printed. In effect, they are the extended copy to the
column. There are various reasons for this. For especially good
records, it is often because Francis Davis or someone else has
already reviewed it and my two cents would be redundant. For old
music it is often because I wrote something in Recycled Goods and
figure that was enough. Sometimes good records have just gotten
old. Most of the time the records aren't all that interesting
anyway. I can handle 25-30 records per column. It just doesn't
make sense for me to keep more than 60-80 graded records in the
active list at the start of a new cycle. In many cases, I decide
the prospecting notes or Recycled Goods review suffices, so note
that in the file.
Working on the following (both new and old). When done they will go
to the print or done
or flush file. When the column is published,
the done entries will be dumped into notebook.