It's admittedly a challenge to try to describe sound to someone who hasn't heard what you're hearing, but I still get a giggle when I read certain record reviews. Recently I came across a couple on the All About Jazz site that caught my attention.
First up, from Raul d'Gama Rose's review of Revolutions, a large ensemble recording by Jim Beard:
"Beard is first and foremost a composer of the highest artistic skill. His approach to music is primarily through the classic elements of song. This gives every composition a form. He must then shape the form by twisting the melody and imbuing it with challenging harmonies so that it can take on a shape and life of its own."
OK, I'm not a musician, but isn't that what most composers do (at least those working within any kind of traditional Western framework)?
Later, in the same review:
"Beard's music here is down to earth and echoes with the memory of events that may have been memorable at one time."
Ahh, Memories...(cue the Cat's soundtrack)
Then we have Glen Astarita's review of Live by Marteau Rouge with Evan Parker:
"The foursome generates a sense of urgency amid intriguing dialogues and streaming treatments, and strikes an asymmetrical balance, awash with lucid imagery, that spans catastrophic events and hardcore noise-shaping motifs."
Does anyone else ever react in a similar fashion, or do I just need more coffee?
Of all the "new thing" sax players to come out of the 60's, Archie Shepp is one I've probably spent the least time listening to. I have Fire Music, but it just doesn't catch fire for me; his playing seems adequate at best. But I absolutely love two records Shepp did for Arista/Freedom, Montreux One and Montreux Two. Recorded live at the Festival in 1975, One and Two feature Charles Majid Greenlee (whatever happened to him?) on trombone, Dave Burrell on piano, Cameron Brown on bass and Beaver Harris on drums.
The group sounds great, tight yet loose, and Burrell seems especially inspired, at times breaking into some stride piano during his solos. Shepp performs a wonderful solo intro to Lush Life, and the whole performance is a thing of beauty.
I heard a couple of samples from this while surfing Jazz Loft, and I was intrigued by the line-up, particularly the presence of Achim Kaufmann, who I've enjoyed on the recent Unearth (nuscope), with Frank Gratowski and Wilbert de Joode.
After one spin, the word that comes to mind to describe Blackbird is delightful. It has a sunny disposition that makes it perfect for listening on a summer's day. With forward-thinking names like Speed and Kaufmann on board, it might seem strange to refer to the CD this way, but this is a thinking person's lite jazz. Which is not to say it's lightweight; there's plenty of satisfying improvisations and angular themes penned by Sievert. In addition, the group tackles Charlie Parker's Blues for Alice, and the Blackbird in question is of the Lennon/McCartney variety.
The front line of Lauer's trombone and Speed's clarinet make a great match, bouyant or moody as the music requires. Sievert never calls attention to himself, choosing to emphasize the group sound in service to the compositions. I look forward to digging into this more; even my wife might like it!
I want to welcome any visitors from Karol's blog Alarming News. I've read her for a few years now and admire her chutzpah. This blog examines the world of jazz and improvised music; I hope you like it.
This is a quiet gem that I listened to again recently for the first time in several years. Recorded in 1995, impressions of monk accomplishes the feat of making you listen to Monk's music in a whole new way, gaining insights into his genius. And no matter where Graewe takes his improvisations, the essence of Monk's approach to rhythm and harmony is there. I have a feeling Monk would approve.