Monday, July 21, 2014

Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart, Ramshackle Serenade

I was more or less minding my own business sometime in the early '90s, attending a free outdoor jazz festival in the courtyard of Lincoln Center in New York, when the opening act came on--organist Larry Goldings with guitarist Peter Bernstein and a drummer whose name I do not recall. I did not know these players then but I listened intently and liked what I heard.

From that time on Goldings became one of the more important, more acclaimed jazz organists on the scene. Peter Bernstein eventually went his own way and now is a highly respected player as well.

But they belong together! I am glad to have the new album in my hands of Larry Goldings and Peter Bernstein in a trio with the gamer drummer Bill Stewart. The album is Ramshackle Serenade (Pirouet PIT 3077), a collection of Goldings and Bernstein originals and a few standards, played loosely but very much in the evolved tradition of the organ trio.

To my mind Goldings and Bernstein very much are capstone cohorts in this context (and so also Bill Stewart) for their very simpatico interplay, for their facility in getting great lines going, for the way they extend the organ trio sound with some soulful but sophisticated utterances of real strength.

It is music that has enough grits and gravy to satisfy the traditionalist, yet takes it to high places that ramify what today's world is like.

An excellent recording on all levels.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fred Hersch and Julian Lage, Free Flying

If you follow the contemporary jazz scene you are probably familiar with pianist Fred Hersch, since he has been doing some very exciting work. You may be less familiar with guitarist Julian Lage. But in fact Julian is in many ways Hersch's equivalent and equal as the "complete" contemporary jazz guitarist.

So it was a fortunate gathering when the two got together to make an album, Free Flying (Palmetto 2168). These are Hersch compositional vehicles, very good ones, with the exception of Sam Rivers' classic "Beatrice" and Thelonious' "Monk's Dream". The twosome are caught live in a NYC club Jazz at Kitano and that adds to the energy and spontaneity it would seem.

They both are on a roll here, both individually and as a group. Julian Lage can spin original and complex lines on changes with the best of them, in an original way no less, and then can get subtle and nuanced in the quieter balladic moments.

Fred Hersch is in every way himself here and so the two get quite a rapport and make for an every-moment-counts set. It's rather wonderful.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joel Harrison/Anupam Shobhakar MULTIPLICITY, Leave The Door Open

Fusions of Indian and jazz music go back a pretty long ways. I wont rehearse the history for you right now. Suffice to say that there are commonalities musically and cultural convergences that have made it so.

Today we have another effective confluence between the two musical cultures--guitarist Joel Harrison joins forces with the classical Indian sarod master Anupam Shobhakar and their co-led group MULTIPLICITY on the album Leave the Door Open (Whirlwind).

What's nice about this album? Plenty. Shobhakar is an excellent player and his influence gives more real Indian flavor than can be sometimes the case with these sorts of gatherings. Drummer Dan Weiss has real facility with Indian music, as anybody familiar with his work knows. Dave Binney, Hans Glawischnig, Gary Versace and Todd Isler make good contributions as sidemen and give the music a real push. Joel Harrison sounds excellent here, especially on slide guitar but otherwise as well.

The compositions have real jazz-Indian heft and that also goes a long ways to putting the music in a special orbit.

Anyone who digs the Indian-jazz nexus will find this one among the best of such projects. That's enough to make this essential listening.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Melingo, Linyera

Argentianian songwriter-singer-instrumentalist Daniel Melingo takes traditional Argentianian song and more-or-less turns it on its head. His album Linyera (World Village) gives your ears a cabaret-tango-cum-expansive music of dramatic impact and unexpected twists. So that suddenly you think Pink Floyd may have had a reincarnation of sorts, but no not exactly. It is beyond classification.

There is a pre-rock feeling to his music that manages to sound old-school while also projecting a new take on Weil's theater music and a contemporary quality. Then it can get downright psychedelic.

I honestly don't know what to make of this guy. I've been listening with interest. You may like this a lot or you may hate it. I cannot say what you'll think. Avant crooning? Composer-iconoclast? Argentinian post-post.

Oh and he apparently plays the electric guitar--nicely here and there in an atmospheric way.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Present, Triskaidekaphobie (Remastered / Expanded)

Belgium's avant rock outfit Present was one of the prime "Rock in Opposition" "chamber" groups of the '80s. Cuneiform has reissued their first album Triskaidekaphobie (1980) in a remastered-expanded edition that includes live tracks and lots of music, 20 minutes of previously unreleased live cuts plus the original album.

The brainchild of Roger Trigaux, composer, guitarist, keyboardist, Present comes through here as a band that does not show its age. The music sounds absolutely current, with intricate avant ensemble sounds that combine minimalist mesmerizing with avant rock and classical landscapes.

There are some of the intricacies of the serious side of Zappa, not necessarily alike in sound but equally committed to progression.

Triskaidekaphobie remains central to the avant rock lineage. If you missed this first album now is the time to catch up. Essential in its own way.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mario Adnet, Um Olhar Sobre Villa-Lobos

This album has some nice guitar work on it but that is not its primary function. Composer Villa-Lobos wrote masterpieces for the guitar. But this album is more in line with a re-arrangement of some beautiful Villa-Lobos for a Brazilian popular mode. There's a full orchestra, some samba touches with percussion and whatnot, some nice guitar parts, and vocals that fit into the bossa-samba saudade feel.

It is Mario Adnet in charge. The album is Um Olhar Sobre Villa-Lobos. Of course Villa-lobos wrote music so Brazilian that the music survives this transposition not only well, you would think it was made for this treatment. In a way it was.

I can't say enough good things about this music and the arrangements and performances. They haunt. It is a blockbuster of lyric and vibrantly rhythmic Braziliana. Beautiful.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rebel Tumbao

Rebel Tumbao has the social awareness of Bob Marley and a reggae feel that is compounded by an equally vibrant Latin groove and a touch of hip-hop. Their album Rebel Tumbao (self-released) shows us what they can do. It's a band with a full Latin percussion section, various lead singers who deliver and a two-trombone brass punch. Matt Jenson seems to be the musical leader on keys, assorted percussion and arrangements. Joe Claussell does arrangements as well and plays a wide assortment of percussion instruments. The arrangements are well done and give us convincing fusions of the three strains mentioned above and at times a pronounced jazz flavoring.

The program covers some Bob Marley classics, some good Matt Jenson originals, and Trane's "Love Supreme" juxtaposed with Marley's "Exodus".

It works and works well. I know of no better reggae-Latin compounding out there. And the music gets to you in the best ways. Auspicious beginnings!