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Music Reviews

Shoup, Wally / Bill Horist / Paul Kikuchi – “Chemical Language” – [New Atlantis Records]

abacus   8/16/2019   CD, Jazz

free and expressive rock more than anything, heavy on both on creative on sonic levels, this seattle jazz improv power trio rips throughout. wally is the ultimate party man, rip roaring with jazz heads for decades, bill’s precise preparations and explorations redefine what guitars are meant to do, and kikuchi flows freely within the intuitive improv these heads carry (and with a wealth of technical and extended techniques to boot). the album title basically lays it out for you, cuz i guess sound is psychoactive on a chemical level or something?

Remez, Nadav, Tyshawn Sorey, and Antonin Tri Hoang – “ELK3” – [Out Now Recordings]

atavist   7/8/2019   CD, Jazz

This is a recording of a fairly spontaneous collaboration that spun out of an improvised music workshop the three musicians attended in 2014. Guitar, drums, alto saxophone and, occasionally, piano and bass clarinet, dip their toes in the water, splash around a bit, and then retreat into silent spaces. Track 5 in particular has a few of those extended near-silences that can be difficult to translate to radio. When the sound gradually returns, the reed instrument provides a nice droney texture. Much of the record, by contrast, is punctuated by the off-balance drum fills, saxophone-as-mosquito, and guitar picking invoking broken glass experienced during free jazz explorations. It’s good to be getting more of Tyshawn Sorey into the library. This third addition is certainly the most frenetic and clearly improvised piece we’ve added by him. I particularly enjoyed his piano work on track 7.

Antonyms 1 – “Established Mode of Speech” – [Sub Rosa]

Cousin Mary   7/2/2019   CD, Jazz

These four tracks by a saxophone quartet (Steve Lacy on soprano, Ned Rothenberg on alto, Roy Nathanson on tenor and Eric Sleichim on baritone) are from a live performance. Breathy and honky but it never gets monotonous. Very pleasant in an abstract way. The enthusiastic audience response make me think it would have been fun to see and hear this live.

Joe Hunter, Ivory – “7:th Street Boogie” – [RBD]

cadilliac margarita   6/26/2019   CD, Jazz

Ivory Joe Hunter – 7th Street Boogie

A compilation of tunes recorded between 1945-1960 at various studio sessions all over the US, Ivory Joe Hunter (his given name!) wrote over 2000 songs during his career (cut short by cancer at the age of 60 in 1974). Born into a spiritual and musical family, Hunter began his career young, recording music for the library of congress while still a teenager. He was less interested in the spirituals of his upbringing, and looked towards music as pure entertainment. This is Jazz, Blues, R&B, Boogie Woogie, and Rock’n’ Roll.  Yet another artist who was a major influence on legendary artists ( Nina Simone), but whose work has largely flown under the radar. Piano, sax, percussion, and vocals make for a really enjoyable listen. It’s not overly energetic, and the recordings are clear and fantastic.

Callier, Terry – "New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, The" – [Craft Recordings]

humana   5/5/2019   CD, Jazz

Fortunately for us this man’s smooth as silk voice and beautiful guitar work is making it into the KFJC coffers, because it is indeed a treasure. Recorded when Callier was 23 years old, released a few years later to an ungrateful audience, this sterling collection of mostly traditional folk songs shows off the young musician’s talents to a T. Although he would later be known for his jazz stylings, Callier lends his masterful voice to bring us some nostalgic songs from the fold tradition. Enjoy!

Nilssen-Love, Paal – “New Japanese Noise” – [PNL Records]

lexi glass   4/23/2019   CD, Jazz

Norwegian free jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love brings together a killer lineup for this one: saxophonist Akira Sakata, guitarist Kiko Dinucci, and Japanoise legends Kohei Gomi (aka Pain Jerk) and Toshiji Mikawa (of Hijokaidan/Incapacitants). New Japanese Noise is the companion release to New Brazilian Funk (recently added to our library); both are recordings of explosive live sets recorded at the 2018 Roskilde Festival in Denmark. “Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves” (T1) blasts off with propulsive drumming, furious sax, damaged guitar, and – bubbling up into whatever free space is left over – brilliant rainbow electronics. The energy just barely lets up with the rock-inspired grooves of “Up the Line to Death” (T2), “Eats, Shites, and Leaves” (T3) finds Sakata’s strangely beautiful clarinet figures beset by rustling, then raging, rhythms. In the showstopper “The Bone People” (T4), Sakata’s maniacal growls summon a storm of howling evil spirits. The quintet bows out with a(nother) blast on the encore “Birdsong” (T5).

Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters

cadilliac margarita   4/23/2019   A Library, CD, Jazz

Broad collection of standards from The Bey Siblings of Newark, NJ— recorded between 1964-1965. Their voices are deep and rich, and blend together like smooth cream. Andy is also a self-taught pianist, while his sisters Salome and Geraldine vocalize and harmonize. Together they pay homage to some of their greatest musical influences. Pop, Jazz, Blues, Gospel. They touch on several vocal styles…most are slow burners, but there are few upbeat bangers in the bunch.                                             <3!!! Caddy 

Eddie Russ – Fresh Out

cadilliac margarita   4/23/2019   A Library, CD, Jazz


Here is Eddie Russ on funky electric piano, accompanied by smooth sax, electric guitar, percussion, flute, and strings. He played with many jazz greats including Sarah Vaughn, Stan Getz, and Dizzy. Recorded in Detroit in March 1974, this has that cool 70s loungey jazz vibe in spades. Mellow grooves. Very pleasant.                                     <3!!! Caddy

Evans, Peter / Weasel Walter – “Poisonous” – [Ug/Explode]

atavist   4/17/2019   CD, Jazz

Presented here are seven frantic, manic blasts of trumpet and drums. How much sound can these two instruments produce, with the help of some electronics? Turns out the answer is, “not a small amount”. This release is firmly in the free jazz vein, as in free to be as noisy and unhinged as possible. Peter Evans spans the spectrum of possible trumpet sounds, and manages to coax new, decidedly un-trumpet-like sounds from his tortured brass. KFJC has other pieces from this artist. Weasel Walter, a veteran of a variety of projects both in and out of the jazz world, including Flying Luttenbachers and To Live and Shave in LA, is well-known to the station for his frenetic drum rushes and all-around troublemaking, and here he’s exorcising more of his demons with unabated fury. A highlight for me is track three, “Sulfur Tuft”—the echoey, reverby washes of sound quickly pile up into a writhing, shrieking wall that captured my attention and held on for dear life.

Martin, Billy – “illyB Eats 2” – [Amulet Records]

Naysayer   3/27/2019   CD, Jazz

This is volume 2 in Billy Martin’s beats series. Amazing drumming minimalism with some assistance by Eddie Bobe on congas. The idea is possibly for mixing but it stands on its own as stripped down beats, heavy on the bass. The rhythms aren’t always easy; very much the jazz touch is noticeable. I was impressed with the volume of sound and intensity of the rhythms. It’s actually a great example of “Less is More”.

Frisell, Bill – "Guitar in the Space Age" – [Sony Classical]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2019   CD, Jazz

This is an homage to the great electric guitarists of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Represented are surf, blues, psych and exotica as played in fine Bill Frisell style. Purists might complain that the tracks are not like the originals while Frisell fans might find it a bit light weight, but I think it is just right.

Sun Ra Trio, The – “God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be” – [Cosmic Myth]

mickeyslim   2/24/2019   12-inch, Jazz

“What the f*ck is this?!” you say. It’s, like, a REAL jazz trio, but it’s Sun Ra… That’s right folks, Sun Ra on piano is joined by Hayes Burnett on bass, and Samaria Celestial on drums. Originally released on Sun Ra’s El Saturn Label in 1979, and re-released here on Cosmic Myth Records. This is a pretty straightforward jazz trio, with all songs composed and arranged by Sun Ra. Toe-tappin’ and finger snappin’, easy listening, very accessible for those not into traditional avante-garde Sun Ra jazz. Drop the needle already!

Lowe, Frank – “Fresh” – [Arista Records]

mickeyslim   2/24/2019   12-inch, Jazz

Spontaneous improvisational music from avante-garde jazz saxophonist Frank Lowe, his third release as bandleader, accompanied by Lester and Joseph Bowie, Abdul Wadud, Steve Reid, Charles Bobo Shaw, and Selene Feng. This pops, stings, and punches you in the gut. Warbley, skronked-out scrapes and screeches. Improv madness that waxes and wanes, an all-out physical assault AND sweet nothings whispered in your ear. Tread lightly, “Fresh” indeed.

Hay, Emily / Liebig, Steuart – “Nomads” – [Pfmentum]

Phil Phactor   2/6/2019   CD, Jazz

Emily Hay and Steuart Liebig at the 2016 Norcal Noise Festival

Almost 75+ minutes of bass/flute/vox improv explorations from these two veterans of the scene, both of whom are well-represented in our library. They waste no time getting started with Santa Ana Noise Festival (T1), a 90-second blast of rumbling bass and rapid-fire treble that quickly makes their intentions clear. What you notice right away is Emily Hay’s unique ability to switch effortlessly from flute to voice and back, often several times in the same phrase. Flute lines, caterwauls, trills, screams all part of a single organic mouth-instrument. Saint Mark’s, which follows, is more stately, almost operatic, but a subtle menace pervades the proceedings. My favorite track might be the 17-minute Shapeshifter Lab 01 (T4), in which both performers skillfully use electronics to broaden their palette and flesh out the sound. Plenty here for adventurous ears!

PG13 – “PG13” – [Edgetone Records]

atavist   1/16/2019   CD, Jazz

Thick riffs meet saxophone. Sax by P. Greenlief, guitar by J. Shiurba (sounds like he uses an octave pedal), drums by T. Scandura. Driving, mathy rhythms punctuated by freakouts. Would be a welcome addition to the collections of folks into Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Don Caballero, Combat Astronomy. A jazz record that fits in a rock set.

Modular String Trio – “Ants, Bees and Butterflies” – [Clean Feed]

Naysayer   1/16/2019   CD, Jazz

Modular String Trio is not what it’s name says. It’s a quartet with a string trio inside of it. Violin, cello and double bass make up the trio. while a modular synthesizer makes this group the quartet. Hailing from Poland and the Ukraine, the quartet’s musical interplay extend the meaning and understanding of jazz, pushing those boundaries with superb exploratory sounds that are unique yet make sense. The trio is a combination classical sound (strings) but with very obvious improvisational jazz roots. The violin and cello bounce around each other’s notes like butterflies, bees and ants moving through their space. The bass does less than keep it together but rather adds to the complex journey of sound. Add to this the modular synthesizer playing its own brand of improv, bleeping and squonking throughout the string’s interplay. And then, the contrabass player, Jacek Mazurkiewicz electronically processes his instrument in real time!!! What does this mean?…. a truly unique, enjoyable, but not easy listen of music in a new take.

Bley, Paul – “Improvisie” – [Bamboo]

Naysayer   11/24/2018   CD, Jazz

Paul Bley’s “Improvisie”, finishes off his trilogy of experimental electronic free jazz explorations with Annette Peacock. Recorded live in 1971 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the two selections have Bley on electric piano and synthesizer ( as in MOOG), Peacock on electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer, electric bass and vocals, and Han Bennick on percussion. Peacock supposedly was the one who pushed the MOOG on Bley and with much success for the both of them. This is at the beginning of the MOOG so folks are trying to figure it out. Bley was happy that a keyboard was added but now he and Peacock were figuring out all the nuances of the thing. The improvisational interplay between Bley and Peacock is stunning, displaying a real understanding of the others musicianship. Peacock adds agonizing vocals (in a good way, a really good way) to the second piece. It almost shocks the listener. The pleasurable surprise, though, is Bennick’s percussion performance. He does so many amazing things with the drums, cymbals and whatever else he had present, adding to, accentuating, and filling out the sounds of Bley and Peacock. It almost gets lost but is so necessary. Definitely take a hard listen. A wonderful piece of music by some masters who were really going for the extreme.

Bailey, Derek/ Goodman, Greg – “Extracting Fish-Bones From The Back of The Despoiler” – [Beak Doctor, The]

Max Level   11/6/2018   12-inch, Jazz

Two side-long tracks (20 and 21 minutes) of entertaining guitar/piano adventures recorded live in 1992. Bailey practically invented the language of modern improvised guitar and is in good form on this recording– scratching and jabbing, and occasionally projecting electric flurries of sound. Pianist Goodman spends little if any time playing the piano keys during these performances, concentrating instead on producing unusual sounds from the interior of the instrument. I could describe this record as a lot of plinking and plunking, but that would be selling it short– dedicated listeners will find some inspired music-making going on here. Well-recorded and a high quality pressing on heavyweight vinyl, too.

Warwick, Dionne – “Odds & Ends” – [Rhino Entertainment Co.]

Naysayer   10/13/2018   CD, Jazz

Dionne Warwick is truly one of the greats. Unclassifiable for some: jazz, blues, gospel, soul, r&b, pop? Where does she fit in when actually she fits in everywhere. These 25 songs plus some promo material are from one of her golden eras when she was on Scepter Records and was working with the brilliant team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Recorded between 1962 and 1971, these recordings capture an era that in some instances, remains timeless. The quality and catchiness of Bacharach’s instrumentation, the depth yet simplicity of David’s lyrics, found their interpreter in the unique voice of Warwick. They were a trio made for each other and the continued hits demonstrated their quality. This collection comes from rarities and lost bits of the time. Many of the selections are recordings of her classics sung in other languages: French, German and Italian. When Warwick stole Paris in her concert tour, she was asked by many to record in their language and the results are here. Superb renderings of her choice work. Also there are alternate takes and some obscurities of equal quality. With each song, Warwick sings in her unique way, nailing the lyric with superb style and interpretation, rising above but not dominating the glorious orchestrations of Bacharach. Also, this was 1962 when the trio’s first hit came about. One can not disregard the barriers and walls of prejudice they overcame with this artistic relationship. A profound collection. And she is Whitney Houston’s aunt.

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