Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Iron Dog, Interactive Album Rock

Welcome to post number 1,000! I should feel tired after 1,000 of these but I don't. Thanks for reading.

I like Iron Dog. I liked their first album (reviewed here, do a search in the top left-hand box to find it) and I like this second one too, Interactive Album Rock (PFM 003).

They've added Andrew Drury on drums to make it a trio. If you know Andrew's drumming, you know that's a good thing. Otherwise it's still Sarah Bernstein on psychedelic electric violin and moody, memorable recitation, and Stuart Popejoy on singular electric bass and atmospheric synth.

Iron Dog make a music fully of today. It's dark, metallic, forward reaching, avant and spatially rooted, sprawling, psychedelic and free-based, electronic and earthy, poetic and blunt, all at once. Sarah is her own person on violin and ruthlessly personal/abstract (in a great way) in her poetry-prose.

Just get this one and you'll get this one. Don't expect "happy". It's way beyond happy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Graham Dechter, Takin' It There

Graham Dechter loves Wes Montgomery, it's clear. And he takes that guitar style as one basis to step forward and make it all new. Takin' It There (Capri 74117-2) gets in the groove with a nicely straight-ahead, fired-up quartet of Graham, Tamir Hendelman on piano, John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums.

When something swings pretty hard, you don't look back so much. And these guys do that. Check out the classic Wes "Road Song" and you'll get it.

It's not all Wes, though. Graham gets his own virtuostic mix of bluesy jazz bopping throughout. When I find myself thinking "I wish I played like that," it's a good sign.

I wish I played like that.

Ciro Hurtado, Los Angeles Blues

When something works, you stop thinking about what it is, sometimes, and just enjoy it. Nylon string guitarist Ciro Hurtado and his Los Angeles Blues (Inti) does that for me.

The Spanish guitar heritage as modified, rethought and made new in Latin America is what gets a loving transformation in Maestro Hurtado's hands.

He is a beautiful guitarist! And he takes tradition and makes a contemporary melding with the forward moving instrumentaility of modern strains from the band Oregon to Latin jazz guitarists and onwards. Do NOT think this is a new age smarm. It is most excellent guitar music!

Very recommended.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Permanent Clear Light, Higher Than the Sun, Single

Permanent Clear Light, a Finnish psychedelic powerhouse, have a way of recapturing the essence of the woolgathering era in ways that do not repeat what has gone before, but rather remake it anew.

Their latest single Higher Than the Sun (Fruits de Mer 7" record) does that with some excellent arrangements and a very solid song. Check out the nice guitar work too. Hey time for an album!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Greg Skaff, 116th and Park

Take the skeletal structure of a kicking organ trio, add bass and percussion when needed, get some very hip tunes together, have in essence Greg Skaff's 116th & Park (Zoho 201208).

This is his third in this bag and it's a charmer. Ralph Peterson Jr sounds as smoking as ever (listen to him on "The Beehive"!), Pat Bianchi does a hot, contemporary Hammond thing with real style, drive, and no cliche. Greg Skaff is all-invention in the organ trio tradition--and since he's following in the footsteps of cats like George Benson and Pat Martino, you know he's gotta be good or it isn't going to happen. Greg has it and shows it and that way we can dig it! He comps masterfully and lets loose with some LINES. Bassist Paul Nowinski and Mauro Refosco on percussion add the right things when present.

There are some nice Skaff originals, a goodie by Ralph and well-chosen classics, including "Come Sunday" and "Bye-Ya".

So what you have is organ trio the way you hope to hear it. Greg Skaff does it. Crank this one up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Randall Avers, Man in the Moon: Music by Ralph Towner, Solo Guitar

The face of improvised music changed with the advent of guitarist-composer-leader Ralph Towner, beginning throughout the '70s. His playing with the cooperative group Oregon and on his own solo projects gave the world a unique stylistic sensibility that continues to shape our musical thinking.

And his classical guitar technique was put to use in innovative ways when he took up that instrument. A composer of music that could only be his, he developed a body of work that many of us came to cherish.

Randall Avers was one. In fact he was so impressed with Maestro Towner's music that he sat at his feet, studying his guitar compositions and approach as his pupil for several years.

We can hear the results of this labor in the breathtaking recording Man in the Moon (Clear Note CN 74591) an entire program of solo guitar works by Towner, excellently played by Randall Avers.

It's not only that Randall has absorbed the Towner style completely, he has incorporated his own superlative phrasing, made it into something of his own, so to say.

This ravishing disc has some old familiar Towner works and some brand new. You come away from it affirming that Ralph Towner remains one of the key innovators in guitar music in our lifetime and that Randall Avers is uniquely disposed to give us performances of the music that will benchmark the standard of such things for many years to come.

Get this disk and you'll be ravished!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mr. MoonJune Recommends, Vol. 1: 25 Prog-Fuse Niceties for $1

Leonardo Pavkovic, owner and musical director of MoonJune Records, has a nice download deal that you can hardly refuse if you admire the new strains of prog-fuze music which his label is such an important source of. You can go on line and download 25 prog-fuze goodies by artists both well-known and lesser-known, music that for one reason or another Leonardo was unable to release on MoonJune Records. It's Mr. MoonJune Recommends, Vol. 1

There's Chad Wackerman and Allan Holdsworth for an example of the well-known, Asaf Sirkis & the Inner Noise for something less known. This is good music regardless. The minimum is $1, a $5 contribution is recommended.

Grab it! Vol. 2 comes out next month.

Paste this URL into your browser:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Diabel Cissokho, Kanabory Siyama

Great African kora players have something about them that we American continent folks respond to very readily. Or at least I do. The West African stringed instrument in the right hands has a bluesy complexity, a virtuoso soulfulness that fits in well with the jazz, blues, rock and such that have filled our heads for so many years.

Diabel Cissokho surely is one of those players. A member of the Cissokho Griot lineage, he grew up in Dakar and eventually came to master the grand tradition of the kora. His new album Kanabory Siyama (World Village) shows the fruit of the labor, along with excellent singing by Diabel and chorus, a traditional percussion accompaniment and the punch of an electric bass.

And what results is music of magic! He's a player we can all learn something from. His music we can all be thrilled by--if you are disposed in the first place or even if you don't know about this.

I studied with a prominent classical-Western percussionist many years ago. During a lesson he remarked that one of his students was very lucky because he was discovering Beethoven's late quartets for the first time. Well, now, if you discover great kora music for the first time (via this excellent album) you are equally lucky!

Paste the following URL in your browser and get sounds and words from Diabel directly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bassoon, Great Progressive Metal Fusion

OK, why would a fabulous prog metal outfit with Sean Moran, John Mattam and Stuart Popejoy (guitar, drums, bass & keys, in that order) name themselves Bassoon? I don't know if it matters. Not after you hear their self-titled debut album (Phase Frame 002).

This is wonderfully heavy riff rock instrumental fusion prog. And if you are a sucker for excellent riff rock (like me) then this one is going to pop your cork.

Sean Moran plays some very out metal guitar when he is soloing. And the band kicks up lots of dust whatever they do.

An obvious point: riff rock only works when the riffs are interesting. The riffs are interesting, original post-Zep, post-Zap, post-Maha sorts of things. Harmonically they can expaaaand. That keeps your ears alert and happy. All three are musically endowed in ways you'll appreciate. And the band takes no prisoners. Except me and I am not complaining for all that. Turn this one up!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daniel Barbiero and Steve Hilmy, Zero 1-2-3, A Free Download

WFMU's Free Music Archive is that most wonderful thing: a free and guilt-free source of new and sometimes excellent music. It's free because it doesn't cost anything. It's guilt-free because these are Creative Commons files, music that the artists have been kind enough to share with you, gratis.

I've spent very profitable time on there with some cool sounds, but lately I've been a little busy and have neglected to check out what's new. Until Daniel Barbiero very kindly hipped me to what he has posted on the site. Daniel is a contrabassist, or a bassist for the benefit of robot-crawling search engine evaluators. Not just any bassist, but one steeped in avant new music and improvisation, a musician of imagination and invention. Anyway I was pleased with what I heard. So I'm giving you a introductory taste here by talking a little about his EP with Steve Hilmy on electronics, Zero 1-2-3.

It's a longish piece that travels into some exotic avant sound territory. Daniel plays the doublebass, pizz and bowed, and Steve takes the sound of the bass and electronically transforms it, seemingly adding a bit of sound of his own too. The result is a very moving, even exciting avant landscape of bass/not-bass.

It has balls, it has veritable halls of sound to wander through, possibly transfixed I would hope like I was.

This is vibrant avant. And it's free, Jack. Copy this url into your browser and get some very neat music.

Thanks Daniel and Steve!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

M'lumbo, Celestial Ghetto

Not everybody can combine styles convincingly. That is obvious. In fact it's rather hard. When you talk about combining avant and straight-ahead jazz, funk, hip hop, sampling, electricity, rock and collage, the list gets very short.

M'lumbo can and does do it convincingly. Last month (December 19th) I covered their Tuning in to Tomorrow album on my Gapplegate Music Review blog. Today I cover another recent one here. Their Celestial Ghetto (Pursuance 02) continues where the first one left off. Jane Ira Bloom is their guest; she does some nice solos (I've never heard her not sounding good)! And they all go places again. There's mid-size post-bop, interesting arrangements, funk hipness and a cosmic outness that works its way into your head if you let it. Some good soloing from the band too. Yeah the guitarist is cool also (this blog mentions that g-word in the header, so...). It's all about a big, complex collage of sound that also grooves with some very cool horn/band parts and kicks with an excellent rhythm section. Does that give you a sound picture?

The sampling of spoken word is fairly constant, and on some systems, it sounds a little up in the mix. On the system of mine that most faithfully reproduces sound, it doesn't. So that is not a quibble at this point. The difference in how almost anything complex sounds on different systems is a source of chagrin with me, and this is very complex sound-staging. A mention will suffice.

Anyway another interesting one from the gang at M'lumboland. These folks can burn it up and be original in good ways. They do that here. Catch them!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shingo Yuji, Introducing

Not every guitarist sounds like every other guitarist, thankfully. Shingo Yuji, an up-and-coming talent, doesn't. His debut, Introducing Shingo Yuji (Yujipan Music) gives you some well played, well thought-out modern contemporary jazz. It's a trio affair for most of the album, with Dave Robaire and Dan Schnelle on bass and drums, in that order. They fit right in and get things swinging. Saxophonist Walter Smith joins on sax for the first two cuts and he adds a solid contemporary style to the mix.

The album mixes Shingo's creative and interestingly varied originals with a couple of modern standards and a traditional Japanese melody.

Shingo has his own fairly electric sound, full and driving. He gets a lot of velocity by hammering on his lines, yet he does NOT sound like Allan Holdsworth in what he plays or his tone. He also does on occasion some quite unusual and pleasing things with finger picking.

It's an promising first effort. He's an original in the bud, ready to flower.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Greg Allman, I'm No Angel, Live On Stage, DVD

The Greg Allman Band from the '80s was a unit devoted to Greg's thing, a kind of mini-Allman Brothers sextet that could nevertheless get the juices flowing.

We look back now and recognize that the Allmans and the Dead remained a one-two punch for jamband innovation far beyond the initial incarnations and still going today in various guises.

We may take for granted the vocal prowess of Greg but we should most definitely not. Check out the DVD I'm No Angel: Live on Stage (Cherry Red CRDVD 182) for nearly an hour of his band at the Cannery in Nashville, 1988. He gives you that Southern rock blues vocal style--that he defined over the years. The band is in very good form, the sound excellent and there are plenty of good visuals.

And the guitarist. . . appears to be Dan Toler and he has it! Toler takes some beautiful solos throughout, blues with that added scale-ar rock something, fundamental of the Allman style.

A nice set!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ike & Tina, On the Road 1971-72, DVD

Without a doubt Ike and Tina Turner were doing some of the most exciting live soul around with their review in the later '60s-early '70s. Nadya and Bob Gruen got themselves a Sony video recording unit and followed them and their road ventures/adventures during 1971-72. The results are available as a DVD now: On the Road 1971-72 (MVD Visual MVD 5276D).

It's a cinéma vérité sort of affair. There are a few more formal sorts of conversations to be had but otherwise it's all about raw reality slabs (before that became stylized, fake and vapid with reality shows) of Ike and Tina at home, in the studio, in rehearsal, travelling with the band, in the dressing room and of course, on stage. It's not in sterling sound and the video equipment gave slightly primitive results, but you get some smoking live segments and a sense of how it felt to be on the scene then.

It's valuable footage, creatively conceived, and the music is great. It's a chance to go back and dig what they put across, what the road was about, what they were about. Yeah!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hugo Carvalhais, Particula

Now that (one hopes) the hurricanes and storms that disconnected me from the internet are a thing of the past, I can begin to catch up with recordings that I do not want to neglect for all the right reasons.

Portuguese bassist-composer Hugo Carvalhais and his album Particula (Clean Feed 253) is one of those. Hugo has been coming into his own for some time now. This album most definitely constitutes an arrival.

It's a quintet of interesting players on display: Hugo on contrabass and electronics, Emile Parisien, soprano, Gabriel Pinto, keys, Dominique Pifarely, violin, and Mario Costa, drums.

The compositions set up beautifully the sort of long-form contemporary avant improvisational excursions that make great use of instrumental colors and soloists' personalities. But they do not do so as more conventional "head" structures usually do. They go a long way in providing the motifs and moods that recur in the ensemble during solos. Hugo sounds great and the rest of the ensemble make worthy sounds as well.

This is innovative, electronically expanded ensemble jazz of a high order. Check it out by all means.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ken Silverman, Visionaries

Ken Silverman is a guitarist that tends to lead more than follow. So when he does a solo guitar album it's not what you expect in the general run of things. At least that's very much the case with the new album Visionaries (SoundSeer 1002).

There are nine segments, each dedicated to a guitarist, artist, or musico-cultural force that has had impact on Ken Silverman's artistry in some way. So we have dedications to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Fripp, Syd Barrett, and so on, each musical segment showing Ken's reaction/interaction with that influence. Acoustic and electric guitars, the oud, charago and synthesizer come in and out of the thread of expression as needed.

And in the end we get something valuable, original yet eclectically so, very unexpected at times and very confirming-affirming at others.

It's music! It taps into visions and in the process has a vision of itself. It's artistry that commands respect and attention.

And it's music that guitarists will find fascinating. And non-guitarists too.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Raise Up

Those who were there or funk-o-philes of today will know Larry Graham and Grand Central Station as one of the best of the bands who came out of the Sly and the Family Stone mode--group vocals, tight band, solid song orientation. . .and Larry's patented funk bass guitar, which was an innovation that everybody copied.

Well they are back with a new album, Raise Up (Razor & Tie). And they are still doing it. The horns and rhythm stomp it off in fine fashion, Larry hits some slapping bass guitar grooves worth hearing and the vocals are right down the pipe. Prince guests on vocals for a few cuts and that sounds good, too.

Funk may be making a resurgence. And of course it never left in any event. This one doesn't break out into any new territory especially, though understandably the modern studio sound is there, and it has that groove in abundance. You dig the funk, you'll dig this one.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Théo Ceccaldi Trio, Carrousel

An improvising trio of violin, electric guitar and cello is a most unusual configuration. It can work in any number of different ways. Or, if things are not just right, it can be a flop. Thankfully that is by no means the case on the Théo Ceccaldi Trio album Carrousel (Ayler 129). In fact, just the opposite.

The trio is comprised of Théo on violin, Guillaume Aknine, electric guitar, and Valentin Ceccaldi on cello.

They segue effortlessly between some intricate, original sounding fused-new music compositional parts--penned mostly by Théo--jazz-style improvisations and avant excursions. Each member has something definite to say instrumentally, and as an ensemble they are peerless for developing a sound and proffering it creatively.

It's some fine chamber jazz that will give you much to ponder and appreciate. Grab it and you'll be glad, I think.