Monday, March 31, 2014

add 0823 Billy Cobham

Drummer Billy Cobham was fresh from his success with the Mahavishnu Orchestra when he recorded his debut album, which is still his best. Most of the selections showcase Cobham in a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and electric bassist Lee Sklar. Two other numbers include Joe Farrell on flute and soprano and trumpeter Jimmy Owens with guitarist John Tropea, Hammer, bassist Ron Carter, and Ray Barretto on congas. The generally high-quality compositions (which include "Red Baron") make this fusion set a standout, a strong mixture of rock-ish rhythms and jazz improvising.


add 0822 Raimundo Amador

The son of a local traditional musician, Spanish contemporary flamenco guitarist Raimundo Amador started playing live in Sevilla's streets under the name of Sargento Platillo at the age of 13. Soon, he began participating in a project called Los Gitanillos, forming Veneno in 1977, who recorded a self-titled album that was released by CBS. After teaming up with his brother, Rafael Amador, a new flamenco band called Pata Negra was born, issuing four albums. When Raimundo Amador decided to start a solo career, he sent a demo to B.B. King, who invited him to New York. The two were playing songs together such as "Bolleré" and "Ay Morena" soon after. In 1995, the talented guitarist formed Gerundina, recording En la Esquina de Las Vegas in 1997 and Noches de Flamenco in 1998. Two years later, Universal released Un Okupa En Tu Corazón.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


Until now, the official recordings of Miles Davis' performances at the Fillmore East between June 17 and 20, 1970 have been limited to Miles at the Fillmore, released as a double-disc. That album's producer Teo Macero edited the recordings to create medleys of each night's music to four 20-minute selections. This four-disc set contains the full concerts. There are 100 minutes of previously unreleased music from Wednesday through Saturday, and an additional 35 minutes of unreleased music from a previous gig at the Fillmore West. These concerts featured the Davis band opening for songwriter Laura Nyro. Bill Graham regularly booked jazz acts to play on bills with rock and pop acts. The rock-pop context is significant because Davis was actively courting that audience -- aided not only by Graham but by FM DJs playing the just-released Bitches Brew. The band -- saxophonist Steve Grossman, Dave Holland on electric bass, drummer Jack DeJohnette, percussionist Airto Moreira, Chick Corea on electric piano, and Keith Jarrett on organ -- was loud and driving, and its sound was drenched in wah-wah pedals; distortion was employed when necessary. Both keyboardists played in the group for only three months. The program for each evening was basically the same: "Directions," "The Mask," "It's About That Time," "Bitches Brew," and "The Theme." But each disc offers a different bonus: an encore, an unexpected performance, or tracks from the Fillmore West. The charts are loose but focused, and the group's improvisational dynamic is breathtaking and entirely different each night. Davis is exceptionally strong. His playing is inventive, full of questions and muscular statements. Some notable solos occur on Wednesday's "It's About That Time," the Fillmore West's "Footprints" and "Paraphernalia," and the searing intensity displayed on "Directions," from Friday. Grossman's soprano playing is stunning on each version of "Bitches Brew"; his bluesy tenor playing is at its best on Thursday's "Spanish Key." Individually and collectively, DeJohnette and Holland add an extreme funkiness to the band's bottom. Their interplay is canny, full of unlikely yet nasty grooves -- check Thursday's "The Mask," or the throbbing pulse and roiling breaks on Friday's "Directions." Jarrett's colors, textures, and stabs add an entirely different dimension to the band's attack. Check the spooky, sinister vamping and soloing on "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" from the Fillmore West. Corea is alternately knotty and atmospheric. He can push the horns hard -- listen to Thursday's "Directions" -- or paint through Jarrett's wah-wah organ with an expressionist brush -- as on Saturday's "Willie Nelson" -- and his solos are risky. Airto's vocal and percussion arsenal is wildly different, not only from tune to tune, but night to night! The sound here is fantastic: balanced and detailed. The box includes a 28-page booklet with an essay by Michael Cuscuna and producer's notes with Richard Seidel, along with rare photographs and a poster. Miles at the Fillmore - Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3 is an essential addition to the Davis canon.


add o820 panda bear

Starting an album with a clattering of industrial rhythms sliding into a huge clap-and-stompalong with angelic vocals and what sounds like the Brotherhood of Man on a vocal loop tip not far removed from Suicide or Laurie Anderson is one way to make a mark. The fact that Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox himself, sings like Brian Wilson and produces his voice to sound like it is another, though it has to be said that it just makes his Animal Collective membership all the more clear at this point. Person Pitch is very much an end product of a variety of musical trends in whatever can be called indie rock in the early 21st century -- big-sounding, absolutely dedicated to texture and sonic playfulness, and somehow aiming to make a lot of interesting ideas seem kinda flat. There's no question there's both an audience for Panda Bear's work and the sounds he's playing around with, and to his considerable credit he creates a series of moody and memorable loops throughout. Songs like "Take Pills" and "Good Girl" are miles away from the rhythm-by-numbers of many of Panda Bear's contemporaries; importantly, after so many bands that just want to sound like late-'60s Beach Boys lock, stock, and barrel, the fact that there's a recognition that production and beat technology didn't stay frozen in time stands out. At its best, with the song "Bros," there's a beautiful transcendence that lives up to all the promise that has surrounded Panda Bear's work, the song slowly but surely evolving into a fantastic epic that could easily stand on its own as an EP. Still, the sweetness is almost too gooey, and what should be providing a healthy contrast ends up dragging the best instrumental moments down more than once, almost literally getting in the way of the striking sonic collages. It may be heresy to some, but conceivably Person Pitch would be at its best if it were strictly instrumental.


add 0819 mice parade

The one-man-band project of Adam PierceMice Parade's The True Meaning of Boodleybaye is a winsome piece of jagged D.I.Y. indie pop. Though the heavy drum kit and overall recording approaches the lowest of the lo-fi, Pierce floats a series of precious melodies over the top on tracks like "A Dance by Any Other Name" and "My Workday in May." The impression is oddly similar to what an emo band might sound like if they tried to do their own version of electronica: halfway between Add N to X and Sunny Day Real EstateaCá

add 0818 piano magic

Hunting down old girlfriends or treasured childhood television shows can seem like a good idea at the time, but bands likePiano Magic recognize that after the initial warmth of nostalgia washes away, most memories are best left fantasized about. With a formula that perks curiosity -- artless experimentation, revolving bandmembers, using old-tech toys in new-tech situations -- Popular Mechanics is less about what kind of music you really listened to as a kid and more about what you remember what you listened to. "Revolving Moth Cage" takes a painlessly childish keyboard melody and inserts it into a complex canvas of ambient trickery while the friendly Eraserhead interpretations on "Birth of an Object" are just on the right side of despondent, electronic reinvention. The self-proclaimed Kraftwerk and drum 'n' bass influences are disguised as well: to be sure, there's a certain antique thrust to the badly spoken word "Wrong French" or a Kid 606-like junkyard scream to the "Metal Coffee" red herring, but it's how mainman Glen Johnson strives to "aim for the heart" that really makes the album worthwhile. This is splayed-out Krautrock dub with a newly found sense of compassion. Much like the reconstructionist vibe of comic book writer Kurt Busiek, Piano Magic seem intent in rediscovering a childhood that never existed, reexamining those memories that never happened -- all with an innovative, electronic zeal that would make most any fellow auteur flush with admiration.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

add 0817 Jukka Tolonen

Published: April 9, 2006
  If Coltrane is an acquired taste for you, this album might be a palatable way to start. Cool Train sounds like what one expects from a rock/fusion player who's been performing for nearly four decades. Whether this spoon-feeding of well-known songs is a good thing is very much in the ears of the beholder. Hooks snag listeners easily, and the playing is more skillful and reverential than the fusion-oriented arrangements might suggest. But the rockish sounds and thoughts may clash with the tastes of some like salsa on steak. Jukka Tolonen, promoted as "Finland's national guitar hero," has written most of the material for the estimated forty albums he's been a prominent part of, including music by the Tsavallan Presidentti fusion group. His versatility cannot be questioned: He gets popular mention at heavy metal fan sites, and blues guitar legend John Mayall said during the 1990s that Tolonen has "the best Django style guitar playing (that) I have heard for ages."
This Coltrane album shifts between fusion and traditional during most songs. Most are comfortingly familiar, a somewhat contradictory and disconcerting concept when dealing with Coltrane's music. Some of this is the selection of well-known pieces, but there's also a sense the sharpest edges have been filed off during their stay at the halfway house of fusion.
The opening "Giant Steps" features a mellow minute-long piano prelude, a simple guitar chorus that shifts to a distorted electric tone the second time through, then retreats to the first tone for a solo that follows the Trane form nicely. About halfway through the distorted electric is back for a brief appearance, followed by Joonas Haavisto's commendable emulation of the era on a Rhodes.
"Lonnie's Lament" provides a mellow canvas for Tolonen's West Coast-like note-by-note enunciation, again shifting from jazz electric to rock near the end. The split formula returns and are already starting to sound weary on "Impressions," although drummer Jaska Lukkarinen contributes a series of rolling solos near the end that are strong on articulation and tastefully restrained in volume.
Something of a welcome departure from formula comes on "Naima," which is dominated by subtle melodic touches from Tolonen's chorused guitar and Haavisto on piano, their lines at times intertwining with pleasing compatibility. Double bassist Jaska Lukkarinen gets his moment in the spotlight by taking lead voicing duties on "Afro Blue," although his long-note solo gets more points for being easy to follow than evidencing artistic technique or originality. The mixed approach continues through the final three songs, with the inclination to praise checked by a sudden shift in mood and/or timbre (although the closing "Resolution" has an extra kick in energy worth hearing).
Ultimately, the problem with Tolonen's album isn't the concept of frequently shifting ideas as much as execution. Instead of feeling like a logical evolution, these songs seem like separate pieces assembled slightly awkwardly, disrupting positive moments rather than building on them. But its accessibility is a plus, especially for modern listeners who find the classics too much to digest.

Track Listing: Giant Steps; Lonnie's Lament; Impressions; Naima; Afro Blue; Lazy Bird; Moment's Notice; Resolution.
Personnel: Jukka Tolonen: guitars; Joonas Haavisto: piano and Rhodes; Teemu Keranen: double bass; Jaska Lukkarinen: drums.
Record Label: Prophone Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock

add 0816 Joe Henderson

Joe Henderson's follow-up to his hugely successful Lush Life disc is another concept album, this time involving ten songs (including many lesser-known ones) associated with Miles Davis. Henderson only actually played with Davis for a few weekends around 1967 but he shows a great deal of understanding for this potentially difficult music. With particularly strong assistance from guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Al Foster, Henderson revives such forgotten songs as "Teo," "Swing Spring" and "Side Car" in addition to coming up with fresh interpretations of "Miles Ahead," "Milestones" and "No Blues." He is to be congratulated for not taking the easy way out and sticking to the simpler material of Davis's earlier years.


add 0815 max roach

Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach entered the studio in 1977 with no preplanning of any kind, producing a powerful session of duo improvisation, Streams of Consciousness. Their long opener, the title track, is never dull, even at 21 minutes. Roach provides unaccompanied segues as Ibrahim repeatedly ducks out and returns with one after another powerful theme (each one complemented beautifully by the drummer), which touch on African chants, gospel-like themes, along with a bit of avant-garde. "Acclamation" has the feeling of being composed, building to a feverish pitch before ending quietly with Roach's unaccompanied cymbals. Roach is initially at the forefront of "Consanguinity," with Ibrahim inserting brief, choppy chords, though the pianist takes on a much greater role as it progresses, finishing with a wave of tremolo chords. Sadly, they have yet to record together in the decades following this making of this remarkable recording. Originally issued by the Japanese label Baystate, it was rather hard to find until Piadrum reissued this valuable session on CD in 2003.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

add 0814 Jim Hall

Guitarist Jim Hall has long been one of the most open-minded of the important stylists to emerge during the 1950s, and his harmonically advanced style remains quite modern while hinting at its foundations in bop. For this Telarc CD, Hall teams up with five major players on two numbers apiece: Guitarists Bill Frisell and Mike Stern, Joe Lovano on tenor, flugelhornist Tom Harrell, and Gil Goldstein on accordion. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Andy Watson are on the Frisell and Lovano tracks, and part of the Harrell and Stern performances. All of the compositions but "Skylark" are Hall originals and, although they are usually a bit dry, there are some exceptions: "Uncle Ed" and "Frisell Frazzle" are a little nutty. The emphasis throughout is on interplay between the lead voices and advanced improvising. Despite his strong sidemen (Stern and Harrell fare best), Jim Hall ends up as the dominant voice on virtually every selection, making this a set his fans will enjoy


add 0813 Hank Mobley

Often overlooked, perhaps because he wasn't a great innovator in jazz but merely a stellar performer, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley was at the peak of his powers on Soul Station. Recorded with a superstar quartet including Art Blakey on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and Wynton Kelly on piano, it was the first album since Mobley's 1955 debut to feature him as a leader without any other accompanying horns. The clean, uncomplicated sound that resulted from that grouping helps make it the best among his albums and a peak moment during a particularly strong period in his career. Mobley has no problem running the show here, and he does it without being flashy or burying the strong work of his sidemen. The solidness of his technique means that he can handle material that is occasionally rhythmically intricate, while still maintaining the kind of easy roundness and warmth displayed by the best players of the swing era. Two carefully chosen standards, "Remember" and "If I Should Lose You," help to reinforce that impression by casting an eye back to the classic jazz era. They bookend four Mobley originals that, in contrast, reflect the best of small-group composition with their lightness and tight dynamics. Overall, this is a stellar set from one of the more underrated musicians of the bop era.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

add 0812 pharrell williams

At some point between In My Mind and this album, tracking Pharrell's accomplishments became more difficult than ever. His 2013 alone must be considered historic. That February, he accepted a Grammy for his role in Frank Ocean's Channel Orange. March brought the release of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," a Pharrell production that eventually topped the Hot 100. In April, there was Daft Punk's Pharrell-fronted "Get Lucky," a number two hit. From June through December, the Top Five of the Billboard 200 featured ten albums that involved him, including the number ones Random Access Memories, Blurred Lines, Magna Carta...Holy Grail, and Beyoncé. He subsequently earned seven additional Grammy nominations and took home three awards -- presumably stowed in one of the compartments of his hat -- the following January, including the one for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Just prior to the March 2014 release of G I R L, "Happy," one of several songs he granted to the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2, topped the Hot 100. That carefree soul throwback appears here, almost smack in the middle. It doesn't sound out of place in a set of upbeat, candy-coated pop-R&B that is relatively modern-sounding, laced with some elements of R&B from the mid- to late '60s and that sweet late-'70s to early-'80s spot. One highlight that owes more to the past is "Gust of Wind," a midtempo disco-funk Daft Punk collaboration filled with soaring strings and one of Pharrell's most effectively wistful/yearning turns. On the sunny "Brand New," he adds horns and shares vocals with Justin Timberlake, and they deal out some rare male self-objectification: "Like the tags still on me, jumpin' 'round in your bag." Much of the material is gentlemanly -- appearances from Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, JoJo, and other women add to the approach -- but this wouldn't be a Pharrell album without some goofball moves. "Hunter," like a funkier and tinnier take on what he did for Usher's "Twisted," is steeped in his charm-way-over-ability falsetto and cartoonish boasts with topical references. "Gush," what sounds like an outtake from the first N.E.R.D. album plus strings, begins with "Make the pussy just gush" and references "Light Your Ass on Fire" while proclaiming "My mama didn't raise me that way" somewhere between. Compared to his albums with N.E.R.D. and In My Mind, this is easily Pharrell's second most enjoyable album, just behind the original version of In Search Of... from 2001. It's fun, frivolous, and low on excess.


add 0811 aloe blacc

All the promise of his debut comes true on Aloe Blacc’s sophomore release, Good Things, a vintage sound meets modern problems release with a way too modest title. Right from the opening “I Need a Dollar” -- which could be passed off as unreleased Bill Withers, no problem -- the album offers grand things, providing listeners with that solid, but not polarizing, style of social commentary Withers perfected. On the following cut, positivity is pushed (“Something special happened today/I got green lights all the way”) in a manner that’s far from sugary, but this singer who offers such warmth and humility on his smooth soul tracks is well aware of sin, and can get slinky in a Al Green style when warning against loose women on “Hey Brother.” An even better example of this is his cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale,” which becomes much more than a clever choice, thanks to a convincing performance that suggests he’s been there. The organic production, real horns and all, is left up entirely to the Truth & Soul Productions crew (Jeff Dynamite and Leon Michels) but Blacc’s delivery is less traditional with phrasing and some slang left over from when he was a 24-7 rapper. Anyone with a taste for neo-soul should try Good Things unique flavor. It comes on familiar and comfortable and becomes more rich and rewarding with every return visit.


Monday, March 24, 2014

add 0810 Mahavishnu

Recorded in London on June 25, 1973, these sessions for a planned third Mahavishnu Orchestra album were shelved when the band decided to put out the live Between Nothingness and Eternity instead. Bootlegged in the past, two-track mixes of the missing album were discovered in the vaults in the late '90s, paving the way for its official release in 1999. It's thus the last of the three studio albums done by the original Mahavishnu lineup (with Cobham on drums, Goodman on violin, Hammer on keyboards, and Laird on bass). Although McLaughlin had been the only composer on the first two Mahavishnu albums, he penned only three of the six tracks here, with Hammer writing two and Laird pitching in one. It's fiery, if perhaps over-busy at times, fusion, McLaughlin reaching his most feverish pitches in the frenetic concluding passage of the ten-minute "Trilogy." The numbers written by other members than McLaughlin tend to be a little more subdued, and perhaps unsurprisingly less inclined toward burning guitar solos.


add 0809 Michael Landau

Michael Landau has been a major force on the Los Angeles studio scene for 25 years: a
musical chameleon playing on hundreds of albums by artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell,
Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Julio Iglesias and Dolly Parton. In the j
world, he's played with Joe Sample, Tom Scott and George Duke... even Miles Davis
(Amandla, Columbia 1989).
But in all those years the guitarist has released only a handful of solo albums on small
labels. Millions of people have heard him play, but precious few would actually know his
name. Live, on the fusion centric Tone Center label, finally gives Landau a re
lease with
broad distribution, and the result will likely surprise even those who think they know
what he's about.
The real question, when a studio ace comes out of hiding and releases two hours of
visceral live material, is this: who is Michael Landau w
hen he's in total control of the
situation? While his stylistic breadth elsewhere would suggest that this is only one part
of the answer, Live posits him, amongst other things, as a powerful torchbearer for Jimi
Hendrix. While the late Stevie Ray Vaughan w
as most often saddled with that accolade,
Landau's broader language more accurately represents where Hendrix might be today,
since the late guitar icon was clearly moving towards his own view of jazz in the final
days before his tragic passing in 1970.
Landau's approach is unfettered, ranging from screaming feedback, swooping whammy
bar bends and rapid fire phrasing to warmer and more elegant voicings and lines where
space becomes an equal partner. Even at his most energetic, there's a concept at work.
Landau may play over the top at times, but he's never excessive. Culled from
performances at LA's legendary Baked Potato club over a period of two years and with
three different groups, Landau runs the gamut from in
the-gut blues ("Worried LifeBlues) and p
ower rock jams ("Underwear ) to his own take on swing ("The Mighty SB )
and free playing that's barely contained within a loose structure ("Ghouls and Goblins ).
He's also a surprisingly strong vocalist; half of the twelve largely self penned tunes
his sometimes gritty singing voice.
While Landau's playing is the glue that binds this music together, the two discs are
stylistically divided: the first leans towards powerful blues/rock, the second more overt
fusion. Landau's groups are as versatile a
s its leader, each represented on both discs
across the widest possible range of material.
Like fellow axe

John Kelman (All About Jazz)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

add 0808 Lyle Mays, Marc Johnson, & Jack DeJohnette

Lyle Mays, who came to fame for his electric collaborations with Pat Metheny, surprised many with this superior outing in an acoustic trio setting. On the liner jacket Mays thanks Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Paul Bley for their inspiration. If one adds in Chick Corea and especially Bill Evans, that should give listeners an idea of what to expect. However, to his credit (and with the assistance of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Jack Dejohnette) Mays avoids performing overly played standards and sticks mostly to originals (including two free improvisations). There is no coasting on this excellent set.


Add 0807 Scofield

In the jazz world, there are artists who are consistent but predictable and artists who are unpredictable but inconsistent. John Scofield, meanwhile, is an impressive example of a jazzman who is both unpredictable and consistent. You never know what the risk-taking guitarist will do from one album to the next, but he rarely provides an album that is flat-out disappointing. Überjam is a major departure from 2000's Works for Me, the Verve date that preceded it. While Works for Me is essentially a straight-ahead post-bop outing and employs acoustic-oriented players, like pianist Brad Mehldau and bassist Christian McBride, Überjam is pure, unadulterated fusion. This album always has a jazz mentality -- Überjam is as spontaneous, free-spirited, and uninhibited as any bop session that was recorded in Rudy Van Gelder's studio in the '50s -- but on Überjam, having a jazz mentality doesn't mean excluding elements of funk, rock, and, at times, hip-hop and club music. To those who fancy themselves jazz purists, the phrase "pure, unadulterated fusion" will sound like an oxymoron; if jazz is fused, how can it be real, authentic jazz? But then, George Duke hit the nail on the head when he asserted that jazz was always fusion; even back in the days of Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver, jazz had a variety of influences. It simply became more fused when Miles Davis recorded Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way in the late '60s. And speaking of Davis, much of Überjam reflects Scofield's years with that restless trumpeter. Like many of Davis' fusion efforts, Überjam has no problem being cerebral and funky at the same time. The material tends to be abstract and intellectual, but not at the expense of grit. Überjam is yet another excellent album from an improviser who refuses to be predictable.



This CD is a reissue of two previously released LPs by ICP, called, respectively, Program One: ICP Plays the Music of Herbie Nichols and Program Two: ICP Plays Monk. To deal with both of these programs on one CD is overwhelming. Pianist Misha Mengelberg's arrangements for both sets are truly ingenious in that he works with each composer's harmonic systems -- which were completely out of step with the jazz mainstream at the time -- and inverts their obvious accents, bringing their hidden nuances to the fore while trying to retain as much of the original melodies as possible. The Nichols program, recorded in 1984, features an expatriate American Nichols aficionado on soprano in Steve Lacy -- with the usual suspects like Han Bennink on drums, Wolter Wierbos on trombone, Michael Moore and Sean Bergin on alto, and Ernst Reijseger on cello, among others. Their run through "2300 Skidoo," with its extended intervals and broken eights in the middle, is outrageously inventive, as is their reading of "Houseparty Starting," with its stomping tempo and angular solos by Lacy and Wierbos. The Monk program, recorded two years later in 1986, features Ab Baars on soprano and tenor as well as clarinet and a guest appearance by George Lewis accompanying Wierbos in the trombone section. The CD stacks the Monk set on top, covering tracks one through seven. Beginning with the delightfully lopsided "Four in One," Mengelberg turns the harmony back on itself, allowing the melody to come right through the middle and Baars and Moore to punch through with accented fourths. On "Round Midnight," everything -- tempo, color, pitch, harmony -- about the tune changes except the basic melody, but Mengelberg knows how to ring the right solos from his players as he keeps chunking out the melody in three or four shades of blues and Bennink crackles through with brushed accents and rim shots. Lines from Piazzolla's tangos are inserted in Mengelberg's solo and the band shifts rhythmically to angle them in. Awesome. These two recordings of the ICP Orchestra have stood up marvelously over the years; they sound even more relevant in the 21st century than they did in the 20th. And to have both recordings in a single package is a gift to be treasured.


Friday, March 21, 2014

add 0805 Gonzales

Near the end of the old millennium, someone once rapped, "Being futuristic these days means being futuristic on your own terms," which is entirely fitting when said rapper records an album of solo piano instrumentals. (Perhaps less instructive is what said rapper went on to say: "Being futuristic means loving worms, saving your sperm, wearing your pubes in a perm.") The former Chilly Gonzales has a hint of Gershwin in his playing, an urbane, contemplative take on the blues that sometime turns into a wry smile. He also has a hint of Satie, the spare and haunted sound of a music box turning slowly to a halt as it comes to the end of its wind. But what he also has is entirely his own, which not only makes this the best album of solo piano instrumentals by a rapper extant but also one of the finest solo piano albums not by a jazz or classical performer. Obviously, there's a duality to any man who lit up stages with Peaches but also played with and produced Jane Birkin and Charles Aznavour, but Solo Piano is a disarmingly wonderful record.


add 0804 King Crimson

This Collectors' Club edition contains music made during the creation of the VROOOM EP, and represents the earliest recordings issued by the double-trio unit. While these are basically jams and instrumental fragments, some eventually developed into songs on the VROOOM and ThraK releases. Although still acquiring solid footing, the music has clearly approached concepts rendering it unique. Much of this has to do with the diverse nature of the personnel: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Bill Bruford, with the integral addition of Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto. Collectively, they are unlike anything but King Crimson. The band touches upon several key motifs during this collection. "Monster Jam" is the reincarnation of the intense and furious abandon that King Crimson practically invented on epics such as "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Pictures of a City." Fripp's soloing on "Funky Jam" ranks among his finest. The ethereal tones and surreal phrasing create what is arguably the highlight of The VROOOM Sessions. These rehearsal tapes also afford enthusiasts the opportunity to trace the evolution of material unique to this band. "No Questions Asked" can easily be linked to what would become "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream." In addition, the non-vocal rendering of "One Time" would -- after tweaking and the addition of vocals -- become a staple of the next several incarnations of King Crimson. The VROOOM Sessions' 24-page booklet of liner notes contains Fripp's "Notes From the Guitar Stool," as well as previously unpublished photos from the lens of Tony Levin. As with all volumes in the D.G.M. Collectors' Club, this release is not available in retail outlets, but is readily available online.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

add 0803 Justified

Artist: Various Artists
Title Of Album: Justified - Music From The Original Television Series
Year Of Release: 2013
Label: Madison Gate Records / 0-43396-40603-2
Genre: Rock, Country, Bluegrass
Total Time: 51:38 min
Format: Mp3 / FLAC (tracks +.cue, log-file)
Quality: CBR 320 kbps / Lossless
Total Size: 124 mb / 316 mb


01. Gangstagrass featuring T.O.N.E.-z - Long Hard Times to Come (Main Title Theme)
02. Dave Alvin - Harlan County Line
03. Beverley Staunton - Stand By Your Man
04. Bill Champlin and Steve Porcaro - Devil at the Wheel
05. Lynda Kay - Dream My Darling
06. Cumberland River Band - Justified
07. Robert Walsh - Southfield Blues
08. Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh - We Lost It
09. Lynda Kay - Jack and Coke
10. Dave Alvin - Beautiful City Cross the River
11. Ryan Kickland - In Trouble
12. Homemade Jamz Blues Band - Hobo Man
13. Gangstagrass featuring R-Son - Gunslinging Rambler (Bonus Track)


add 0802 david Alvin

Dave Alvin summed up his work as well as anyone could when he quipped, "There are two types of folk music: quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both." Alvin shows off his skill on both sides of the volume divide on 2011's Eleven Eleven, where he reaffirms his status as one of the best and most distinctive American songwriters alive. There are few artists who can match Alvin's gift for creating vivid characters and bringing their lives to life through music, and Eleven Eleven finds him near the top of his game as a tunesmith, while also showing off his estimable skills as a guitarist. Whether he's digging into the dirty details of Johnny Ace's death in 1954, embodying a man who may kill a powerful politician for money, focusing his powers of seduction on one woman in a dirty nightgown, or swapping stories of an old friend's adventures on both sides of the law, Alvin's lyrics give the people he sings about depth and detail, and they're crafted with the skill of a talented novelist. Alvin also knows what sort of background to give to these stories, and the spectral guitar and accordion accompaniment of "No Worries Mija" feels just as right as the bluesy Bo Diddley stomp of "Run Conejo Run," and Alvin's electric guitar solos -- crisp, sharp, and bracing -- are as potent as he's been in years. And longtime fans will get a special kick out of "What's Up with Your Brother?," in which he swaps verses with his brother and former bandmate Phil Alvin and pokes fun at their combative reputation. Hearing Dave Alvin at work is to hear a man who is both a poet and a craftsman and remarkably gifted at both; Eleven Eleven shows he's a long way away from running out of ideas, and these 11 portraits of life in the Golden State are engrossing, thoughtful music that should satisfy old fans and engage those introducing themselves to his work for the first time.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

add 0801 holdsworth

After the train-wreck disaster of Holdsworth's first solo release, the infamous Velvet Darkness, it wasn't until three years later that he reconsidered doing a real solo release versus the earlier ripoff of an authorized studio mishmash product he suffered. So in 1979 he recorded I.O.U. on a wing and a prayer and loans (ergo, an IOU recording project). With his very successful stints with other groups in the intervening time period, such as UK and Bruford, Holdsworth's guitar prowess and name were clearly on the map. Holdsworth now needed to be the leader he clearly was and thus release an official solo record. The real Allan Holdsworth unleashed is at last revealed on I.O.U. in his original compositions and well-crafted soloing, versus being merely part of a group and forced to stay within certain boundaries of other bandmates' design. I.O.U., as a solo release, is high-quality jazz fusion interplay, offering emotive compositions, ethereal guitar atmospherics, complex chordal progressions, and intense legato explosions of guitar that set the standard for many guitarists to come. There is no acoustic guitar this time, but a wee bit of Holdsworth on violin appears in one song.

add 0802 holdsworth

Coming on the heels of some rather mediocre efforts, The Sixteen Men of Tain is startlingly superb. Holdsworth has stripped away the distracting banks of keyboards and allowed his soaring, gliding guitar to shine through in a way it hasn't since the 1980s. Even the Synthaxe, Holdsworth's signature guitar synthesizer, sounds organic and immediate, not to mention far less prevalent than on previous albums. Dave Carpenter's acoustic bass is a radical departure (check out his solo on the title track), as are Walt Fowler's two guest appearances on trumpet. "The Drums Were Yellow," a burning guitar/drum duet tribute to the late Tony Williams, is also a first. Gary Novak's drumming is appropriately complex and riveting on this and six other tracks. (Holdsworth's old compatriot Chad Wackerman sits in for "Downside Up.") In short, this album is full of fresh ideas and unadulterated improvisational brilliance -- just when it was beginning to seem that Holdsworth's best work was behind him.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

add 0800 Cream

Cream teamed up with producer Felix Pappalardi for their second album, Disraeli Gears, a move that helped push the power trio toward psychedelia and also helped give the album a thematic coherence missing from the debut. This, of course, means that Cream get further away from the pure blues improvisatory troupe they were intended to be, but it does get them to be who they truly are: a massive, innovative power trio. The blues still courses throughout Disraeli Gears -- the swirling kaleidoscopic "Strange Brew" is built upon a riff lifted from Albert King -- but it's filtered into saturated colors, as it is on "Sunshine of Your Love," or it's slowed down and blurred out, as it is on the ominous murk of "Tales of Brave Ulysses." It's a pure psychedelic move that's spurred along by Jack Bruce's flourishing collaboration with Pete Brown. Together, this pair steers the album away from recycled blues-rock and toward its eccentric British core, for with the fuzzy freakout "Swlabr," the music hall flourishes of "Dance the Night Away," the swinging "Take It Back," and of course, the old music hall song "Mother's Lament," this is a very British record. Even so, this crossed the ocean and also became a major hit in America, because regardless of how whimsical certain segments are, Cream are still a heavy rock trio and Disraeli Gears is a quintessential heavy rock album of the '60s. Yes, its psychedelic trappings tie it forever to 1967, but the imagination of the arrangements, the strength of the compositions, and especially the force of the musicianship make this album transcend its time as well.


add 0802 cream

This compilation of 22 Cream BBC tracks from 1966-1968 marked a major addition to the group's discography, particularly as they released relatively little product during their actual lifetime. All of but two of these cuts ("Lawdy Mama" and the 1968 version of "Steppin' Out," which had appeared on Eric Clapton's Crossroads box) were previously unreleased, and although many of these had made the round on bootlegs, the sound and presentation here is unsurprisingly preferable. As for actual surprises, there aren't many. It's a good cross section of songs from their studio records, though a couple, "Steppin' Out" and "Traintime," only appeared on live releases, and some of these BBC takes actually predate the release and recording of the album versions, which makes them of historical interest for intense Cream fans. (There are also four brief interviews with Eric Clapton from the original broadcasts.) There's a mild surprise in the absence of a version of "White Room," but otherwise many of the group's better compositions and covers are here, including "I Feel Free," "N.S.U.," "Strange Brew," "Tales of Brave Ulysses," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Outside Woman Blues," "Crossroads," "We're Going Wrong," "I'm So Glad," "SWLABR," and "Politician." Cream took better advantage of the live-in-the-studio BBC format than some groups of similar stature. There's a lean urgency to most of the performances that, while not necessarily superior to the more fully realized and polished studio renditions, do vary notably in ambience from the more familiar versions. The sound quality is good but not perfect, and variable; sometimes it's excellent, yet at other times there seem to be imperfections in the tapes sourced, with "Sunshine of Your Love" suffering from a (not grievously) hollow, muffled quality. If there's any other slight criticism of this set, it's that a handful of BBC tracks don't appear, including some that don't make it onto this CD in any version, like "Sleepy Time Time," "Toad," and "Sitting on Top of the World." Given Cream's tendency to over-improvise on the band's live concert recordings, however, the concise nature of these BBC tracks (none of which exceed five minutes) makes them preferable listening in some respects.