Monday, January 31, 2011

Zed Trio Heads for the Beyond on "Lost Transitions"

Somewhere in Toulouse, France in October 2009, the Zed Trio recorded their album Lost Transitions (Ayler 102). The CD showcases some out sounds from Heddy Boubaker on alto and the lesser-heard bass sax, David Lataillade, electric guitar, and Frederic Vaudaux on the drums. With a bass-less trio of this sort, the bottom comes through in the form of the bass drum, and Frederic has the "drop the bomb anywhere" approach, which means that the bass drum punctuates the music at any and potentially all possible places in any given phrase. He fills out his statements with churning figures that engage contrapuntally with freely devised alto or bass sax and the post-Sharrock-Bailey sound complexes of Lataillade.

There are ten different improvisational segments, many of which get pretty dense and robust at points.

It's a bit of a honk-out with the energy component one has grown accustomed to expect since the days of Albert Ayler himself. The Zed Trio goes more in for abstractions than the folkish qualities of Albert, and so they align a little more with Evan Parker, the pioneering Improvisation Company and those in that camp.

All that having been said, the Zed Trio most definitely hold their own. If you'd like to furnish your aural living space with an hour of wall-to-wall outness, and like the electrical charge a bit of noise-shred guitar brings to the equation, you'll dig this one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Uz Jsme Doma, Czech Alt Rockers Celebrate 26 Years and their 7th Album "Caves"

Uz Jsme Doma, the Czech rock outfit now working on their 26th year together, do not fit neatly into a ready-made pigeonhole. Their new, 7th N American-Western European album release Caves (Cuneiform Rune 312) shows that wildly eclectic does not always mean derivative. Not with Uz Jsme Doma at any rate. There is a strong flavor of Eastern European dance/folk forms, a punk directness, the intricacies of prog rock and a healthy, hefty infusion of avant rock.

Mirek Wanek, leader and principal composer for the group, crafts some very original music. Like Zappa before him, he does not stay in any one place for very long, and also like Zappa the rock song form manages to accommodate some seriously involved musical variations with some of the heft and substance of modern classical music.

I don't suppose it should come as a surprise that Czech culture should spawn a mastergroup of this sort. After all there has been a tradition of Czech excellence in music, literature and the arts for many centuries.

Guitarist Romek Hanzlik stands out as a very dynamic thrasher on these sides. The band as a whole is put through hairpin-turn gymnastics (to mix a metaphor) that tell beautifully what a long-time tenure can do for a band. They work and breathe as one on the musical plane. And the vocals are quite impressively brash and bravura.

It's an album that gives you faith in the regenerative power of creative musicianship. This is music for today and, I believe, music that will be appreciated long in the future. Highly recommended!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica Enters the Space Age

The advent of modernism took a giant moonwalking leap forward in the late '50s-early '60s, as the space program took off and post-war optimism and "prosperity" briefly brought on positive thoughts of a new world to come, where everybody was going to wear tin foil suits, eat their meals from a toothpaste tube and wash it down with a load of Tang while they gazed wistfully onto the universe out of the panorama window of their space station dining room. There would be more leisure, pundits told us, and we would have to fill it up with something fun. Like modular easy listening phonograph albums.

The world and history took a turn in another direction and the future came. It was different, not what was envisioned. The mood ended but not before creating a body of musical pop that is now referred to as "space age bachelor pad music." That moniker is a bit of a misnomer. Space age yes, but this was not exclusively for bachelors. It had much to do with owning a hi-fi system (later stereo) and having music on LPs that showed off your system to good advantage. I grew up in those days and my father was one of those enthusiasts. He had the obligatory hi-fi "system," which in today's terms produced music that a good boom-box can match. The point is that he was no bachelor, nor were the male head-of-household neighbors who shared in his enthusiasms. Frank Sinatra albums were far more likely to be what a space-age bachelor put on to impress his date. Or perhaps Julie London.

Of all the things to be revived, so called "space age bachelor music" has been to me the most perplexing. It started sometime in the '80s and came out of thrift shop culture, a hippie thing that underscored a disconnect with the very mechanisms that pop culture used to continue updating modernism through ongoing consumerism. Our local free-format station here in Jersey, WFMU, began playing, with irony, albums by Les Baxter and Martin Denny, two of the more interesting of the hi-fi exotica band leaders. I suppose it was happening on other stations with an anarchic bent as well, outside of Jersey, but I never encountered it.

On the surface I was involved. I would occasionally grab dusty albums of the stuff for 10 or 25 cents at my favorite thrift outlet, mostly as a goof, but I didn't realize it was part of a trend until FMU . . . and some of my friends started purchasing expensive box-set CD packages of the stuff.

Well so it goes and this has been a rather long prelude to today's CD, Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica Presents Exotica for Modern Living: The Unforgettable Sounds of Esquivel (TIKI 001). Everything about this production is authentic, right down to the space-cheese cover art and typography, even the running time of around 30 minutes, which was often about right for the LP releases of such music.

Mr. Ho (aka Brian O'Neill) has done a marvelous job recreating the arrangements of one Esquivel. Now I'm not really sure if we are being put on here or not, whether one Equivel really existed, but the idea is that Mr. Ho has been forced to reconstruct the best of Esquivel's arrangements from scratch, since they have all been lost.

So you get the obligatory 11 cut LP in the guise of a CD with all the trappings of the space-age exotica music of the era. A 23-piece big band with the "oohing" chorus, xylophones, bongos and a "full fidelity" menagerie of sound colors designed to make your hi-fi impress all the neighbors.

As I said earlier I never have quite understood this revival. But that's because it is not something you grok on an intellectual level. Like the very astutely done TV series "Madmen," it gives you a certain ironic nostalgia and the realization that the age had complexities that only now seem apparent. Namely in this case, space age music had a certain dash to it; the best arrangements brought a sound into the various living rooms, a sound that had an aesthetic that, by becoming extraordinarily passe, serves to remind you that the pre-rock age was not without its cult achievements, it's totally distinctive elements that were completely associated with the time that existed (we're talking strictly pop here; jazz was and is another matter altogether).

Mr. Ho brings it all back with totally idiomatic arrangements, beautifully performed. And there are no skips, pops and ticks there as one would find on the thrift shop albums! It's like owning a reproduction of a totally tacky, huge-finned 1959 Dodge. Totally passe, yet it speaks for an age now long gone in ways nothing else could.

It's a hoot!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gary Husband Comes Through with "Dirty and Beautiful, Volume 1"

Gary Husband has impressed me in the past as a dynamically lively and exciting drummer and a musical mind as tunesmith, keyboardist and all-around positive force in the universe. Some of Allan Holdsworth's albums made with Gary are of the very best sort, and Gary's doing good things as keyboardist and drummer with John McLaughlin's new group (see earlier posting for a discussion of the latest album).

That's all true, but what of his new solo album, Dirty and Beautiful, Volume One (Abstract Logic 027)? The answer is, "Wheeew, yeah!"

This is one of those albums whose personnel alone is something you can't help but take note of in anticipation. There's both Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin, which is saying much; then Steve Hackett and Robin Trower; then there are the old Mahavishnu heavyweights Jan Hammer and Steve Goodman. There are other significant cats too. Does the music live up to the promise of who is involved? In every way it does.

Gary has put together a program of solid originals plus a brief look at a Miles Davis perennial and an engaging Allan Holdsworth piece. They all have melodic substance and serve as excellent platforms for some eloquent songbirds to gather and achieve ensemble and solo excellence. This is good rocking fusion the way you might anticipate it but with the Gary Husband flair for subtle sophistication. Allan Holdsworth sounds like you expect him to, beautiful tone and line as always. John McLaughlin lets out with a couple of solos that are some of the best I've heard from him in a long time, showing rock-crank-velocity and gritty tone. The other Mahavishnus (Goodman and Hammer) make appearances that show you they have not lost a thing, and, well, everybody else makes good contributions.

It's the cumulative effect of the Husband smart-fusion way that makes this album a thrilling experience, if you love fusion. This is what fusion is and still can be, a real art form. I can't recommend this highly enough!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Andres Villamil Plays Guitar Music From Colombia: Chicaquicha

Like most Latin American countries, Colombia has a long tradition of guitar music. There are folk ensembles and, as guitarist Andres Villamil shows so vividly, a body of solo classical guitar pieces of great beauty and character.

Villamil's Chicaquicha (Oehms Classics 778) includes representative works for solo guitar by eight Colombian composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, from Jaime Romero to Villamil himself.

The pieces have genuine appeal and Andres Villamil is a player of consummate style and dash. The recording sounds great too.

Throughout there is a lyrical bent as well as gentle suggestions of the dance. It's the kind of composing and performing that brings out the beauty and expressiveness of both the idiom and the instrument.

This is an auspicious debut for Mr. Villamil. May this be the beginning of a fruitful career.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trey Gunn Retrospective: I'll Tell What I Saw

Trey Gunn, integral later King Crimson member, touch guitarist and musical composer-conceptualist has created some important music in the last two decades. He has made eight solo albums (1993-2010) and collaborated with many artists. Some of the fruits of those efforts can be heard in his new 2-CD retrospective I'll Tell What I Saw (7dMedia 1012).

The cumulative effect of repeated listens to the more than two hours of music on this set is impressive. There are world-music-meets-Gunn-progressive-music excursions with musicians and singers from Mexico, Italy, Russia and elsewhere. There's the progressive rock-funk that relates to and extends what he was doing in his King Crimson days. There are soundscapes of a deep sort. And much more besides.

What strikes me listening to the back-to-back highlights of his solo career is the sheer musicality and sonic originality of it all. It's a style that needs your attention because the soundstage is commonly packed with musical colors and events. The time spent is rewarded with much to savor and linger over. There is wonderful guitar and bass work, there's the orchestral conception and the layering, there is compositional brilliance.

Trey Gunn may well be rock's premier sound-artist of the past 20 years. Certainly he is one of the very select few at the very top of the game.

Revel in this one. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Richard Pinhas Rules My Stereo with "Metal/Crystal"

From the first snarly bass riffs and a killer space rock groove to the very end, French guitarist-electronician Richard Pinhas more than just fills two CDs, he rivets the listener to his/or/her chair (or even "its" because your pets will no doubt notice too).

Metal/Crystal (Cuneiform) is what I refer to. Richard mans the electric guitar (and electronics) and he gets some big collaborative input from two heavy electroacoustic noise titans: Merzbow and Wolf Eyes. There is bass and drums too, as I've noted, especially at the beginning and middle of the first CD and the end of the second, and the playing is very right for what's happening.

The results are nothing short of beautiful. There is a thick blanket of supercharged acoustic-electric poetry that begins a few minutes into the first CD and slowly evolves over the course of the two-hours-plus of the program. The music is noisy. yes, but in such a musical way that you begin to experience the wonderwall of sound tapestry as something otherworldly, as a music of tone and noise where the two work together in the best sort of way.

It has the same ear-grabbing qualities of Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting, only it goes for a more orchestral sonic ambiance. There's less emphasis on loop motifs and more on horizontally unfolding landscapes that drone and layer in complex ways.

The sound design is enthralling as is the psychedelic guitar work. The two fit together beautifully.

I'd venture to say that this is one of the most invigorating and astonishing examples of psychedelic soundscaping I've ever heard. An instant classic? Only if people listen to it. If you want your mind blown this is the music to check out. Oh, yes, I am not exaggerating!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Smooth Danger" from Grand Pianoramax

Genres don't hold steady if you look hard enough at them (or listen, anyway). The edges begin blurring and soon enough you feel that, with certain artists, it's really all about following a musical vision wherever it might lead, and that "where" does not always stay in one place docilely but circles around and doubles through any manner of possibilities.

Such is true of the duo Pianoramax, a Berlin-centered pairing of key virtuoso Leo Tardin and drummer Dominik Burkhalter. Their third opus Smooth Danger (ObliqSound) lands on hip-hop, rap, progressive rock, a hint of electronica, fusion and funk with a kind of anything goes attitude. That wouldn't matter if the music was just ordinary mass-cranked pablum. And there's plenty of that out there, music that was devised first and foremost to cash in on some horse-hockey fad. That's not what Pianoramax is about.

Rather they devise key-drum music rich in nuance, rhythmically vital, melodically and harmonically irregular with the kind of crystalline beauty you might find in a pile of shattered glass under an archaically humming arc streetlight at night.

I perhaps like everybody make assumptions, many of them, before I even listen to an album. I wont go into what they were for Smooth Danger. Suffice to say that the music wasn't at all what I expected, and that it grew on me as I continued to listen. It's a bit of a treat, dead serious about itself but affording a good ride into some idiosyncratic world that would not be there if it weren't for these two musicians.

You can nab this one as a download at your favorite downloadary.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hypnotic Clambake for the Shell-Shocked

Today, a look at another jamband and a free legal download from I must admit I checked out Hypnotic Clambake because I liked the name. They have been together apparently since at least the mid-90s. The show I listen to was from an appearance at the Sunshine Daydream Festival in Terra Alta, West Virginia on July 21, 2000.

They are a curious mixture of country fiddle two-steps played with electricity, some klezmer influences, novelty tunes, and some more rock-oriented items. As for jams there aren’t all that many, with perhaps the fiddle spots the strongest. There are some arranged moments that have some finesse. Their stoner and novelty tunes left me a little flat. The group didn’t strike me as having strong enough material to carry them, although their musicianship is good. Hypnotic Clambake, or at least this particular show, didn't send me through the roof, I’m afraid.

Originally posted on March 31, 2009 at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Studebaker John Returns with Some Blistering Chicago Blues

The Chicago blues have never died. Judging from some choice recent releases, it never will. Studebaker John (and His Maxwell Street Kings) have a new one. It is one of the affirmations that proves the rule, so to speak. That's the Way You Do (Delmark 810) literally teams over with 15 original gems that bring to the fore all the Delta-come-up-to Chi-town sounds that helped define American music over the years.

Studebaker John Grimaldi uses his powerful vocal attack, full-throated harp wielding, and electric-electrifying slide guitar to give you the blues the way it was meant to be heard. Raw, exciting and in-your-face. He's joined by the hotly supportive Maxwell Street Kings, which consists of second guitarist Rick Kreher (who was with Muddy Waters at the end) and drummer Steve Cushing (host of the Chicago radio show Blues Before Sunrise). They give Studebaker the real deal with churning power blues chording, crackling backbeats and relentless shuffle grooves.

But it is Studebaker John himself that puts the music into orbit. He has BECOME the tradition and gives it back in ways that remind we why Little Walter, Muddy, the Wolf, and Jimmy Reed set me on my tail when I was young. The blues may be deceptively simple in form, but playing them with style and conviction isn't. Studebaker John DOES. Yes, he does.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Warpaint and "The Fool" Release

Warpaint, an "all-girl" post-punk outfit, came out with their full-length release The Fool (Rough Trade) towards the end of last year.

It's an electric outfit with lude-ey vocals working within the rock-song form. They come across as sincere and genuine. Instrumentally they are not displeasing.

What you think of them will have to do with your view of the post-punk scene. They are rough edged rather than polished. Vocals may waver from standard pitch references. These ladies are not so much head-bangers and thrashers as they are purveyors of songs on the dark side, delivered in a laid-back, unfiltered, off-kilter fashion.

I respect that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

John Goldman's Quadrangle Dwell "Outside the Box"

John Goldman lives in Chicago (and I'll bet it's COLD there today) plays a pretty cool sounding alto, writes good jazz music and has an interesting group called Quadrangle. Their new album just came out this month, Outside the Box (JG Music).

The first thing that struck me about the band and their music is the rather unique sound they get out of their instrumentation. It's John on alto and flute, Kendall Moore on trombone, Leslie Beukelman on mostly wordless vocals, Scott Hesse at the guitar, plus Patrick Mulcahy, Cory Healey and Juan Pastor on bass, drums and percussion, respectively.

John makes good use of voicings for sax-trombone and sometimes vocals and guitar in various combinations for a full-bodied yet translucent melodic vehicle. Hesse's close voiced comping in a burnished zone also gives the group a special sound. The band runs through seven Goldman originals plus "Monk's Mood." In the process they cover many bases. Some numbers have the classic horn frontline sound of some of the classic Blue Note Shorter and Hancock charts, but with the guitar and/or voice in there it's something slightly different sounding. And he goes somewhere with the sound regardless. They do some loosely hip bossas, a funk number, a latin groove, a ballad and so forth. Goldman, Moore and Hesse play some very decent solos and do not waste notes. It's not a blowing session though, so there is a balance between group musical arrangement and individual solo. There are moments of freedom too.

It's all quite captivating and enjoyable jazz from the middle US. Mr. Goldman is to be congratulated for forging a sound and picking strongly individual musical-sound personalities to realize it. This music is a pleasure to hear.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Humanization 4tet "Electricity": Lopes, Amado and the Gonzalez Brothers Ring It In!

There are some CDs that are so charged with life, so immediate, so vibrant, that the music literally jumps out of your speakers from the first note. That's what I am feeling with the album Electricity (Ayler 113) by the Humanization 4tet.

This band has potency stockpiled in reserve. It's Luis Lopes on a very electric guitar, a player who knows how to create cosmic envelopes of sound and bring depth and space into a quartet such as this. Then there's Rodrigo Amado on tenor, who I've enthused about at length in the course of several reviews on the sister site, He has a terrific sound and abundant musical brains to realize some beautiful, fiery lines. The Gonzalez brothers, Aaron on bass and Stefan on drums, are long-time members of father Dennis's Yells at Eels (see the other site for a review or two of that band) and their lengthy tenure together has given them the kind of simpatico interaction that is rare these days. And they are great players to boot.

Electricity contains eight originals, all very stimulating vehicles for the players to launch off of. All four group members contribute worthy compositions.

And so to the music. It is totally modern, brimming over with life, and breathtaking in its combination of freedom and propulsion. It should make you a believer as to the strength of the quartet, individually and collectively. This is up there as a high point of the many new releases I've heard in the past year. Ring it in with the Humanization 4tet! It will be a great year if this is any indication.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jair-Rohm Parker Wells, His Electric Bass and Trio Live

This morning I do my review after a significant snowfall has hit our area overnight. It effects nothing in terms of my review-writing, except it seems pretty white outside my window.

We look today at a trio led by electric bassist Jair-Rohm Parker Wells, live in Philadelphia, 2008. Brotherly Love in Philadelphia (Ayler DL-101) is a good contribution to the Ayler download-only series. For $10 you get a full download plus all the CD art for printing out.

It's Jair-Rohm plus Elliot Levin on tenor and flute, Eric Slick on drums. Mr. Levin recites some rather surreal verse now and again, but it is not the central focus of the set. Instead you get some very extroverted out bass conjuring, funk-to-free settings well covered by Eric Slick's heated drumming and some excellently fired-up tenor from Elliot Levin. Levin has an appealingly gruff open sound on his horn and the three together get into some rock-funk jamming that builds up plenty of steam.

I rather like this one. It took a few listens but it's all there. Go to and click on the "Download-Only Releases" to pull up the album.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

John Scofield Sounds Terrific On "New Morning" DVD

I am afraid I am guilty. I am guilty of taking guitarist John Scofield for granted. That is, I WAS until I checked out his new DVD New Morning: The Paris Concert (Inakustik 6478-1). I've always thought of him as a very good, important stylist in the rock-funk-fusion mode, and of course he is that. The DVD, a long set with his quartet live at the New Morning club in Paris last year, lays out, song for song, the case for Sco' as the complete jazz soloist.

First off, the quartet. They are in the pocket. They get a giant kick in the butt from drummer Bill Stewart, who swings like a daemon, with the kind of kicking accents Elvin Jones and Jack DeJohnette did and do so well, only it's Bill's personal amalgam of what can be done. His bass drum and ride cymbal work hard throughout, putting the swing into high gear. Bassist Ben Stewart lays into that pocket too. The two together make for a formidable team! Relative newcomer pianist-organist Michael Eckroth drives and solos with taste and fire and makes for a great foil to the Sco' presence.

Next the pieces. You get bop standards like "Steeplechase" and "Woody "N You" plus originals that have modern connotations, some rock-funk played with fire, some movingly poignant balladry and a soundscape feature for the more electric side of Scofield.

The man of the hour is most definitely John S. He gets a beautiful electric bluesy tone, plays changes like he was born to it, and brings out the full dimensions of who he is as a guitarist. As you watch and listen over the more-than-two-hours of the DVD, it becomes increasingly clear that Sco' really has it. And his band makes the kinetics that much more supercharged.

This is a wonderful disk. Absolutely recommended! Encore!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adam Haworth Stevens Scores with Solo Debut "We Live On Cliffs"

I don't usually cover alt folk-pop but today I have something. It's the first solo album by the singer-songwriter of Two Gallants, Adam Haworth Stevens. We Live On Cliffs (Saddle Creek) has some nicely quirky folk-rock songs with plenty of interesting acoustic and electric accompaniment, lyrics worth thinking about and the good vocal presence of Mr. Stevens.

Comparisons don't come readily to mind, which argues for his originality. His is a new voice on the scene and the music has just enough edge to it that it blows away the slick pop that is so all-pervasive out there. Thank you Saddle Creek for putting out this worthy music. And thanks Adam for coming up with it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Universe Zero and Their Intriguing Album "Heresie"

Belgian enclave Universe Zero crafts a highly original concatenation of rock drive, expanded-tonality modern-classical part writing, doom drone (without the drone), minimalist cyclicality and the feel for long form that Zappa put across in the pioneering of such a hybrid music. They don't sound like a Zappa group, though. The way they combine distinctively long wind and string lines that contrast with drums, keys, etc. counterlines puts them in a class all their own. The passages of contrapuntal writing are quite exciting; the level of compositional invention is high. All this for a rock outfit? Not just any rock outfit. I doubt there are many bands that could match the sustained pitch of sophisticated composition-performance on continual display. They don't improvise much. OK so you can't have everything and it's not meant to be a jam, surely.

Some of it sounds Stravinskian, some does not, but it is all weighty music.

The foregoing applies to their recently reissued album Heresie (Cuneiform), which originally came out more than 30 years ago. There are four long pieces and the cumulative effect is really quite overpowering (in the good sense). The tracks have been remixed and though I've never heard the original version, I must say I am impressed with the sharp focus and clarity of the sound stage.

The masterpieces of this genre are not many. Zappa's "Music for Violin and Compact Orchestra" with Jean Luc Ponty (from around 1968-69) was no doubt the first. Heresie is another. It is monumental. Thank you Cuneiform for putting this into our heads again!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ana Popovic, An Evening at Trasimeno Lake DVD

Ana Popovic plays some mean blues-rock guitar. And her voice is strong, a little like early Bonnie Raitt in the growl and fire department. If you already know this, then you'll have some idea what her recent DVD An Evening at Trasimeno Lake (ArtisteXclusive 001) is like.

Ms. Popovic puts on a good show. And that's what she does for this full DVD of a night (two plus hours) at Italy's beautiful Trasimeno Lake. She uses an eight-piece lineup for some of the numbers; other times it's her working quartet and they put it all together with her.

Most of the time she presides from the stage with her Strat, and gets off some hot licks; she also plays several numbers on an acoustic. Either way she pleases.

The songs are strong, the sound mix is quite good, the atmosphere is dynamic and the camera work is very well sequenced.

Is this blues, you might ask? From a strictly academic viewpoint, some of the songs are blues, many are blues-drenched rock numbers. It's the chord changes that don't always fall in line with traditional blues form. It's all in the categories we use, and what counts ultimately is the music, right? So if you don't expect Muddy Waters and listen to the music on its own terms, you'll be fine.

This gives you a very good introduction to Ana playing and singing the songs from a good cross-section of her book. Confirmed converts to the Popovic sound will also no doubt appreciate this one. It's a good way to while away a couple of hours. Recommended.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gene Pritsker and Sound Liberation's First

Anyone who reads this blog knows that there have been a number of review postings on composer-performer Gene Pritsker and his ensemble Sound Liberation. Today a look at the first Sound Liberation release from a few years back (self titled, no label listed).

It's not quite as excellent as the later releases. That's understandable. Gene and the band were finding their voice. Actually they had found it, a most unusual combination of hip hop, bebop, rock shred, show tunes, punk, funk and classical (both quotations and resituations of the standard and not-so-standard repertoire), and original contemporary compositional elements. There's also some very nice guitar work here. So they had found their voice, but were in a process of extending that unique combinatorial ethos and further developing the songwriting.

The resituations are well thought-out. The combinations are well integrated into a fresh and invigoratingly singular context. The end result is something very compelling. I would recommend starting with the VRE Suite, then for contrast, the second Sound Liberation disk. Finally, check this one out as the basis for the later things. Sound Liberation's view, MUSIC FIRST. Then, if you like, slap some labels on it. I totally agree with that!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bill Bruford's Summerfold Collection

We continue with the second volume of the Bill Bruford retrospective. The first installment discussing volume one was posted earlier (see August 24, 2010 entry on this blog). This concluding release, “The Summerfold Collection” (Summerfold), covers Bruford’s recordings under his own name from 1987-2008. The emphasis during this period shifts away from vocals and guitars. Keyboard-horn ensembles and a well conceived brand of Fusiony sounds dominate these sides. With two loaded CDs in the set, there is much music. Generalization ends up being a little diffuse as a result. Suffice to say that Bruford’s drumming is the key element here. The compositions and arrangements do not function as a simple foil for a set of drum solos however. The music is subtle and well put together and the drumming is fully integrated into the routines. The drumming is without cliche and gives testimony to the creative musical mind at work.

It is the work with the bands Yes and King Crimson that gave rise to his reputation. It is by way of these latter recordings that he fulfilled the promise of his talent and showed himself a very productive, capable leader and musical conceptualist. Those who enjoyed his work with others will most certainly not be disappointed with the more personal side of his music here. Those coming to his music for the first time will be pleased with the wealth and quality of music offered. Good sailing to Mr. Bruford in his retirement. He’s deserved it.

Originally posted March 24, 2009 at