Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Steve Tallis, Where Many Rivers Meet


Australian singer-songwriter-guitarist Steve Tallis has been around the block more than a few times. His life-chops no doubt help reflect, underscore and burnish his music these days. The most recent has been on my playlist and I am glad to talk a little about it today. It is a pared down Steve, just his voice, a Gibson SC and an acoustic guitar (a Guild 12 String), plus some foot stomping for the hollers, and a getting to the core throughout. The title evokes getting to a good place, Where Many Rivers Meet (ZOMBIE).  It is his 8th self-produced album (see index for some others) and undoubtedly one of his best.

Steve takes on a transformed sort of Blues-Folk-Rock solo attitude. There are some classic roots songs performed as acapella hollers mostly, so "Black Betty," "Early in the Morning," and so forth. All get their rooted dueness of direct feelingful delivery.. Then there are Steve's originals, filled with a bluesiness and a kind of solo advancement of his style into a place more and more rooted, yet original too with a kind of directness that owes something to early Dylan and middle Captain Beefheart, yet Steve is consistently a new thing unmistakably as one hears him, as I have over a good number of years.

This one places him comfortably and happily as rooted in a hard Blues tradition and yet it is not as much a matter of Blues changes as a strong riffing and stomping presence, Hooker and early Waters more than the turnaround centric Jimmy Reed, for example. This is not a matter of virtuoso wowing as it is of hitting a power accompaniment that is just right for the stylistic complex involved.

It is with the 25 originals and classics combined a considerable jolt of music energy. If you give this a few listens I suspect you are going to grow into it all as I did. Happily recommended for roots fans.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Michael Bisio, Kirk Knuffke, Fred Lonberg-Holm, The Art Spirit


Michael Bisio is among today's very most important contrabassists in Avant Free Jazz. Similarly Kirk Knuffke is a cornetist of great stature, a master artist. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm may not automatically call up associations with the greatest living improvisers, yet he shows us in the company of Bisio and Knuffke to be in every way a potent third voice, a master of line and sound in himself. All that we hear in a recent trio recording of the three called The Art Spirit (ESP 5053).

The general breakdown on this eight segmented improvisational suite is a kind of natural grouping together of bass and cello against a very horn-like set of utterances from Knuffke's cornet. Three of the works are by Michael, the rest are collective compositional endeavors.  It makes for a cohesive and dynamic energy trajectory and a way of expression clearly with the roots in a jazz tradition, yet free and open too.

It is one of those sessions where everything clicks, where all three in tandem define a way to explore simultaneous lines and textures. 

The album is dedicated to modern artist Robert Henri (1865-1929).

Happily the aesthetic underpinnings are at the forefront. This is ART MUSIC, Jazz rooted excellence throughout. Do not miss it!