Music Reviews

A La Carte Brass + Percussion – “Live on U ” – [Union Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

It has taken almost 20 years for the music of the Dirty Dozen and ReBirth Brass Bands to finally expand out of New Orleans, finding young musicians who now understand that it is something more than just brass and percussion – it is a drive, a spirit, and “A LA CARTE has got it, plenty! They are from the Washington D.C. area, been around since 1994 and they take a lot of influence from the D.D. (they use that band’s arrangement of Caravan) I really enjoyed this live and lively performance. The 4 man percussion section is quite strong, especially when the Brazilian samba style beat gets going. The trumpets and bari sax are also very hot- and the tuba is very much in control of the whole thing! Slipping in a few rock/soul/torch songs sung by Shaun Murphy (of Little Feat) and a rapping track were nice touches.
Unusual “vocal drumming” on track 12! *review by David Richoux

Blythe, Arthur Trio – “Spirits in the Field ” – [Savant Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Arthur Blythe and Bob Stewart have a long association, and they really work well together. The tuba is providing just as much “melody” as rhythm and Stewart really knows how to play! Blythe on Alto is both tuneful and honking (at points) but mostly the fluid style he has mastered weaves around the tuba voice so amazingly well. When you ad the incredible percussion of Cecil Brooks to the mix – this little trio becomes a monster! There is a taste of New Orleans street / funk, a lot of driving hard bop, and just a ton of wonderful interaction in music. This was recorded live in Amsterdam in 1999, the audience is really into it! Not scary, just great! *review by David Richoux

Mora’s Modern Rhythmists – “Call of the Freaks ” – [Mr. Ace Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

This project from southern California’s ultra retro swing band picks some of the more obscure tunes from jazz history. Some male, some female vocals, some novelty renditions of interesting songs that were not especially “hits” – but they do have merit. Please remember that jazz musicians were not considered respectable in all social circles back in those days – these songs reflect some of that “outsider” status. Fun and swinging stuff!
*review by David Richoux

Dixie Power Trio – “Ain’t My Fault ” – [Dpt, Inc/New Line Brass]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

The third CD from this multi-talented east coast trio plus one – mixing powerful tuba lines with jazz/zydeco/boogie style music. This group is also now part of the New Line Brass Band but I think they actually work better in quartet form. (A few of the tracks have extra musicians from the NLBB helping out.) New Orleans Mardi Gras standards mix well with swinging dixie tunes and band originals. The shifting from trumpet to accordion is interesting and gives the band a whole new flavor, but it is Andy Kochenour on tuba that makes the group really move! *review by David Richoux

Gress, Drew – “Spin & Drift ” – [Premonition Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Complex quartet stuff here with Drew Gress mostly on bass (but some pedal steel,) Tim Berne on reeds (with some multi-track recording,) Uri Caine on piano and Tom Rainey on drums. Not very squonky – it moves right along even with extended bass solos. Tasty! *review by David Richoux

Ware, Bill – “Sir Duke ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Like many other jazzers, Bill Ware shows his respects to The Duke (and I don’t mean John Wayne) with a selection of his classics. With just the addition of Marc Ribot on the guitar, this recording does not have quite the same pulse & drive of his “Vibe” CD from a while back, but it is still quite good. The up songs are tasty, especially Caravan and “A” Train but the moodier songs need a little something, in my opinion. *review by David Richoux

Cohen, Greg – “Way Low ” – [Jasrac]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Bassist Greg Cohen has lined up a bunch of his New York friends to make this VERY SWANK recording. Taking a few cuts from Duke Ellington (the little known title track and Creole Rhapsody) a Bud Powell tune and he rest his own compositions, Cohen really sets up a great, if short CD. Dave Douglas on the vital trumpet and Scott Robinson on the reeds are outstanding, but the rest of the group ain’t small change either… check it all out, please! *review by David Richoux

Ballin’ the Jack – “Big Head, the ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

This 2nd installment from the group of KFR regulars is an outstanding look back to the days of big band jazz as it progressed through “Hot Jazz” to “Swing” to “Bop.” The adaptation and arrangements of both hits and somewhat obscure songs by Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and others bring the genre into the 21st century with just a little kicking and screaming. Hot and tasty licks (including some from Anthony Coleman on the B3 organ this time) – even a Glenn Miller standard ballad is turned into a moody sax and bone gumbo (samples of a 30’s announcer and Miller Orchestra performance are blended into the mix.) Ballin’ the Jack have done the research well, and I think they had a lot of fun making this record. Not scary at all – just wonderful and varied – give any track a spin! *review by David Richoux

Youngblood Brass Band – “Word on the Street ” – [E Pluribus Bumpass Music]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Much like the A La Carte Brass & Percussion we have added recently, this group is not from New Orleans but they have learned well from the many 3rd Generation street brass groups of New Orleans – recently they went to that city and won first place in a semi-formal competition for this style. Not bad for a bunch of white highschool punks from the Milwaukee area who used to call the group ” One Lard Biskit.” Very tight horn section, fluid bass-tuba lines, good drumming, solo and group vocals and a overall sense of fun and well learned roots make this a worthwhile addition to the KFJC library – check it out! *review by David Richoux

Romus, Rent-Life’s Blood Trio – “Blood Motions ” – [Jazzheads]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Fresh from his appearance at a local bowling lane (well, actually recorded a couple of years ago) – Rent Romus and his Life’s Blood Trio take on some classic Mingus bop, Dolphy freejazz and some fresh honkin’ squalkin’ screamin’ Saxophone displays – minimal but very supporting bass and drums let Rent go wild on his horn. You know what you are in for, so you Better Get Hit In Your Soul! *review by David Richoux

Bitches Brew – “Gooey Dewey ” – [Flatbed Lamborgini]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

A lot of die-hard jazz fanatics were extremely pissed when Miles went into his “electro-fusion” period, mixing effects, rock instruments and “non-jazz” elements to his work. This recording is a tribute to those times (much like “Yo Miles”) but the focus is more on the interplay between the sax and trumpet with the rhythm section mostly relegated to laying down a strong groove. Marc Collins on didjeridoo (track 4) is a nice change-up. If you like Electro-Miles, you will like this recording… *review by David Richoux

Philadelphia Experiment, the – “Philadelphia Experiment, the ” – [Ropeadope Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Having nothing to do with disappearing Navy ships, AIDS or Kate Hepburn – this is a funky, soulful yet bouncy mostly drum/bass/keys trio with some guests. Very tasty rhythmic structures and snappy bass playing set this above a lot of other similar recordings. I put this in the same class as Soulive but the feel is very different. Track 5 is a cool take on Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man Theme and track 10 is a slightly less cool take on Elton John’s Philadelphia Freedom – almost like a modern folk song version with Cello. *review by David Richoux

Bley,Paul;Koglmann,Franz – “Annette ” – [Hat Hut Records Ltd]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Most tracks here are composed by Annette Peacock (except “Annette”) and are generally slowish, introspective and sometimes pretty. Her story in avant jazz & rock is unusual – she played one of the first Moog synths in public performance. (check out www.geocities.com/~zoom14st/ap/intro.html) She has had a long relationship with Paul Bley that was more than just music. Recorded at radio Bremen studio during 1992, Paul is the central focus on piano but Franz on flugle/trumpet has a lot to say. Gary peacock is mostly in the background…
*review by David Richoux

Newsom, Joanna – “Yarn and Glue” – [Self-released]

ophelia necro   1/19/2005   A Library, CD

This is the 2nd E.P. (2003) from the Gelfling-esque (obscure Dark Crystal reference), Gunny-Sax wearing, harp-playing angel that is Joanna Newsom. 5 songs of Miss Newsom doing what she does best , singing in her peculiar voice while playing the harp. Tracks 1, 2 & 5 are also on her full length album (the Milk-Eyed Mender.) A lot of people find her voice hard to take, but I find it pleasantly childlike. I also find the combination of her unique voice with the soothing quality of the harp to be beautifully unnerving. I mostly admire her song writing talents. Listen carefully, her words speak volumes. Miss Newsom lives in S.F. and is apparently second cousin of politician Gavin Newsom. She recently played shows with Devendra Banhart and Cat Power. It might be an acquired taste for some, but I find it all delicious. Try track 4 to start…


Reddy, Rob Sleeping Dogs – “Seeing By the Light of My … ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Jazz

Yet another interesting combination of instruments and musicians from Knitting Factory – this time Charlie Burnham on violin (plucked or bowed) and mandolin sets a different mood for an otherwise “traditional” combo. He sometimes plays mandolin sounding something like Yomo Toro (Puerto Rican master of the Quatro) for a driving, non-bluegrass feel. Everybody else is likewise experimental but focused – not too much squonk but it stays exciting throughout the recording. Track 4 is a bit more like a slow blues – and like track 7 is very pretty. *review by David Richoux

Harley, Rufus – “Pied Piper of Jazz, the ” – [Label M]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Jazz

I actually say this guy play 15 years ago at the Scottish Games in Santa Rosa – among all of the traditional pipe bands (most of the audience did not “get it” but I thought it was a great idea.) Rufus Harley has to work extra hard to play jazz on the pipe chanter (the fingered part sometimes used without bag or drones) and the full “war pipes” because of the limited number of notes that can be played on the beast. This is a collection from various mid 1960’s Atlantic recordings and also features him on sax and flute. Some tracks are closer to novelty than jazz but they are all quite interesting. He has kept on playing (read the booklet) and there still is not another major jazz bagpiper after all these years! Wonder why….’ *review by David Richoux

Hill, Andrew – “Dusk ” – [Palmetto Records]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Jazz

Andrew Hill has been around the mainstream since the early Sixties, composing and playing piano with Dinah Washington, Roland Kirk and many others. Here he has assembled a team of “Knitting Factory Types” to check out this next century of jazz. Moving from slow and mellow piano with horn ensemble to moderate new-bop to rhythmic pomp (almost Latin but still outside that) to trumpet ballad to playful joys. There are new and old things together here, tasteful and sweet, but with an edge you will like.
*review by David Richoux

Drums and Tuba – “Flying Ballerina, the ” – [My Pal God Records]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   A Library, CD

According to “official web info” there was a bit of a flood at the D&T warehouse so a lot of CDs had to be reprinted. Good thing, cuz this is some really fine stuff from the Austin-moved-to-New York trio. There are all sorts of things on this CD from danceable modern rock-jazz-rhythms to ethereal bloots and humms from Brian Wolff’s electro-tuba. Crazy guitars, reeds, percussion, trumpet, whistles and duct tape all add to the strangeness from this trio. Eclectic would be the word for it, yes, that’s it! *review by David Richoux

Best of Broadside [coll] – [Smithsonian/Folkways]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Country

Ah! The Early 60’s when everybody wanted to be a folksinger… magazines like Broadside were everywhere around colleges, camps and coffeehouses. They printed the music and words with chords so anybody could learn the latest songs. It was not a bad thing to be a folkie then – it was even hip! These tracks are somewhat lesser known pieces by singer-songwriters that had some fame (Reynolds, Ochs, Ian, Seeger and “Blind Boy Grunt”) and some not so famous. Some tracks are a bit tedious by modern standards, but that was the style. A few cuts are closer to delta blues and the last track is much more dramatic with a full band and the story of rape revenge murder and women’s liberation. *review by David Richoux

O’donnell, Kevin Quality Six – “Control Freak ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/16/2005   CD, Jazz

Before you do anything with this, read the liner notes inside – hilarious! Then appreciate the extra fine quality this group puts into this music. Taking elements of various sorts of historical jazz, R & B, western swing and near rock & roll – these guys know their shit – there are some very fine vocals that wander around Tom Waits territory, a neat-o spoken word thing (eight and 13) and a killer Caravan (11.) Highest praises for the fiddle (also the vocalist), sax, bass and drums.. the others ain’t bad either! For once a modern/retro small jazz group that can do original stuff that feels new and old at the same time – not an easy task! Extra Swank Quality – now we gotta get their first record… *review by David Richoux

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