Surfer Joe – aka Lorenzo Valdambrini – is known as the International Ambassador of Surf Music and puts on the Surfer Joe Summer Music Festival every year in Livorno, Italy. This album shows his talent and hard work as a musician and a composer. Perky, fun melodies give a nod to his Italian nationality and to his recent tours of Japan. All original compositions. As Lorenzo says, “stay stoked”.
This Danish surf band gives us twang, power, and resonant bass. Note the cover of Kraftwerk’s Das Model on track 6. Nice complexity. Some vocals on Cool Cigs. Their 2018 August USA tour is eagerly anticipated.
Oakland musician and Outsound New Music Summit organizer Rent Romus takes his sax and flute to Helsinki, Finland where he is joined by excellent Finnish musicians to make this remarkable live 2017 album. Very weird but very beautiful and listenable. Sound is terrific, lovely tones from all instruments. The tracks do not remind me of anything I have heard before and that’s a good thing. (A kantele is a traditional Finnish zither.)
Guitarist Todd Novak (Cowlicks) is known for his country blue grass music but this band plays surf music. The EP is all instrumental and features drummer Martyn Jones (Mermen), bass Johnnie Hamilton (Mach IV, Berzerkers), with keyboard work that adds a nice difference from Scott Theakston. Definitely surf but with an edge.
Hard bop meets avant garde in this outstanding session from 1963. Original recording and remastering were both done by Rudy Van Gelder. Excellent piano from leader Andrew Hill, stunning “side men” include Joe Henderson on sax, Richard Davis on bass, Roy Haynes on drums. Does it get any better than that? Edgy and marvelous.
An eagerly anticipated new album from this fine San Francisco Bay Area modern surf band. Ranging from hard rocking to pop to Spaghetti western, most songs are original compositions. The first 16 tracks are instrumental, then there are 4 vocal (gasp!) versions of previous songs. Great fun, good energy, well executed – beautifully produced by Slacktone drummer Dusty Watson.
Boom Pam is a band from Tel Aviv, Israel. They mix Balkan, Jewish, Greek and Mediterranean sound with rock. They are frequently called a surf band – certainly the instrumental tracks on this album would fit in a surf show – but one ponders a chicken and egg question after considering the strong influence of middle Eastern songs such as Miserlou on American surf. Really good musicians, very fun energetic tunes including the ones with vocals. Instruments include a TUBA!
Matti Bye composes “soundtracks” for silent movies. The Phantom Carriage is a Swedish film from 1921 that concerns a Salvation Army slum sister and is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The music is playful, lyrical, and reminds me of the cabaret works of Kurt Weill and the piano works of Erik Satie. Very nicely played on piano, strings, percussion, brass and harp. Really lovely, recommended!!
Italian composer Luca Francesconi was invited to a festival in Helsinki in 2001. “Wanderer” had been composed in 1998, “Cobalt, Scarlet” was inspired by a sunrise in Oslo in 2000. Both are performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. On the difficult side of modern classical music, but it might seem cinematic because of a possible similarity to Gyorgy Ligeti’s works.
Michael Hersch’s composition is based on writings by W. G. Sebald (see liner notes for a track by track description) and is played on cello and horn (by the composer’s brother Jamie). Contemporary classical music that is dramatic and mostly somber, moving from difficult passages to lovely melodies. Many short tracks will play well together. Another home run for Innova Recordings.
Whimsical, zany, and by turns beautiful, these instruments combine to make us think. Tracks 9 onward are a suite dedicated to cellist Tom Cora using samples from his work. Tracks move smoothly from one to another, meant to be played in multiples. Photography by Heike Liss who is the wife of guitarist Fred Frith who is on faculty in the music department at Mills College.
Good energy and fine playing from this trio’s inspiration from West Coast jazz. Well recorded with distinct sound for each instrument. Mysterious Eastern sounds with very interesting bass, flute and MalletKAT (a sort of electronic marimba).
Thirteen original tracks from this Seattle based instrumental surf trio are a lot of fun. Well played, it is unmistakably surf music with a modern twist. Some horror, Spanish touches with a reverb crash here and there. Good energy, danceable.
This EP from the three-piece surf band from Alameda, California has four high powered tracks. Lots of skillful playing, loud effects and melody. Excellent 3-D cover and glasses included. Nothing subtle here, thank goodness.
If Kenny Burrell has ever sounded better, I have not heard it. Fine guitar gymnastics and lyrical interpretations of these tunes including some nice octaves, a la Wes. Excellent piano from Richard Wyands. Overall engaging, good energy, groovy.
Fine instrumental work from the Santa Cruz band. Excellent playing from the long established trio – Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Tends toward the mellow psychedelic side and causes us to ask the question – “is this surf music?” I like track 13 for its energy, some other tracks for their hypnotic trance.
Rodrigues, Ernesto/ Greenlief, Phillip/ Swafford, Tom – “Sidereus Nuncius” – [Creative Sources Recording]
The track/album name comes from a 1610 astronomy work by Galileo. Sidereus Nuncius is often translated as “Starry Messanger”. Here it is a highly improvised musical work for viola, violin and tenor sax. Very breathy, wispy, fluttery and delicate. Recorded live in Seattle in 2006.
The Kilaueas from Berlin, Germany give their interpretation to modern surf music. All the tracks are composed by the band – the playing has an excellent level of technical and musical quality. The sound on this vinyl recording is very good. Great fun to explore the variety of styles!