KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Greenleif, Phillip – "Bellingham For David Ireland" – [500 Capp Street Foundation]

humana   11/23/2020   CD, Jazz

This is a fascinating jazz experience made richer by reading the liner notes as you listen to the 60+ minutes of jazz diffusing throughout the David Ireland House (which is an art installation created by the late artist David Ireland) in the Mission District of San Francisco. Greenlief composed this map-work, which, if you look closely at the album cover, is just that–a score based on the jigsaw pieces of maps of Bellingham, Washington, where Ireland grew up. The live performance was based on the score, but also on the conversations among the musicians placed in various locales of the house, along with the ambient noises such as sirens coming from both the inside and outside of the house. Greenlief set up in the entryway with his sax where he hoped to be able to hear the gongs, percussion, contrabass, violin, voice, tuba, and electronics emanating from different rooms in the two-story house. This is an ineffable aural treat.

Cramp, Dominic / Khoury, Mike / Greenlief, Phillip / Robair, – Compassion and Evidence -[Creative Sources Recording]

Max Level   11/3/2020   CD, Jazz

Electronics, keyboards, percussion, reeds, and viola in amorphous music/sound improvisations performed at Oakland’s Temescal Arts Center in 2018. Local improv stalwarts Greenlief and Robair are quite familiar to me; the other two players not so much. I enjoyed the electronic/keyboards/percussion angle the most, although it is nice to hear the reeds and viola come to the forefront every now and then. A couple of short pieces (3 to 4 mins) and a couple of longer ones (13 and 27 mins.)

Trio Linguae – “Signals” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   9/9/2020   CD, Jazz

Trio Linguae (lin-gwee) is trumpeter Kevin Woods, Guitarist John Stowell and pianist Miles Black. This is their debut release. It’s a collection of original works by Woods and Black and some others from the likes of Jobim, Wayne Shorter, Bill Evans and Harold Arlen.

AArbor

Parker, Maceo – "Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo" – [Funk Garage]

Sir Cumference   7/29/2020   CD, Jazz

This is the first studio album in eight years from this legendary sax machine.

Covering songs from Dr. John, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Aretha Franklin, Prince and even a couple of his own back catalog, Parker seasoned his funk with talent from around New Orleans where the album was recorded to give these tracks a little of that big easy sound.

Maceo’s version Prince’s “Other Side of the Pillow” really gives off a Ray Charles vibe – which is apparently what he set out to do! And speaking of Ray Charles, the track Hard Times – originally performed by Charles’ sax man, David “Fathead” Newman – and the final track “Grazing in the Grass” (along with “…Pillow”) are more towards the soul and jazz end of this album’s spectrum, with the others leaning towards the funkier edge.

Nothing earth-shattering in this release, but some quite serviceable tunes to get us through these interesting times.

Boone, Benjamin With The Ghana Jazz Collective – “Joy” – [Origin Records]

aarbor   7/1/2020   CD, Jazz

Benjamin Boone is a  saxophonist, composer, and Professor of Music at California State University Fresno. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Ghana from 2017-18). He grew up in the small textile town of Statesville, North Carolina, the youngest of five sons. “My brothers pursued history, literature, art and biology, so I have always gravitated towards interdisciplinary projects,” he says. “I like to make artistic statements that address culturally relevant topics …” While he was in Ghana he performed with the musicians on this release: Bernard Ayisa (tenor sax), Victor Dey, Jr. (keyboards), Bright Osei (bass), Frank Kissi (drums) and Sandra Hudson (vocals). This recording was made the week before he left Ghana. Tracks 1, 3, 5 and 6 are Boone’s compositions, the others are his arrangements. Boone says: “In Ghana music is participatory, egoless, and woven into the very fabric of existence. People live with joy and make music with joy.”

 AArbor  

Mitchell, Roscoe Sextet – "Sound" – [Delmark Records]

Cousin Mary   6/14/2020   CD, Jazz

This Sextet working from the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) recorded these tracks in 1966. It skronks, plunks, and shrieks and is not for the faint hearted. But it is lightened with flashes of grace and humor (harmonica on track 2!) that show its humanity.

Mezzacappa, Lisa Six – Cosmicomics – [Queen Bee]

Max Level   4/21/2020   CD, Jazz

Bay Area composer/bassist/bandleader Mezzacappa writes the material and leads a first-rate ensemble of local musicians. These engaging compositions are jazz-based but draw from many other traditions as well. They take their inspiration from the “Cosmicomics” series of short stories by author Italo Calvino—the liner notes provide elaboration on the story behind each piece. Many of the tracks do lean in a cosmic direction, with titles such as ‘The Soft Moon’, ‘Solar Storms’, ‘The Distance of the Moon’, and ‘The Form of Space.’ The three tracks with ‘Signs’ in the title are mood pieces by way of conducted improvisation. I like the way electronics wizard Tim Perkis lays out for long periods, entering every now and then to enhance the mood with unexpected sounds. Also, for some reason Mark Clifford’s vibraphone sounds like moonlight to me, which seems totally appropriate for this material. Mezzacappa’s instincts always serve her music well and while it is not always obvious, one can often detect a sly sense of humor informing her composing and arranging.

Pike, Dave – Jazz For The Jet Set – [Atlantic (Jazz)]

aarbor   2/5/2020   12-inch, Jazz

Recorded in NYC in the Fall of 1965. Vibraphonist Dave Pike plays mariba here and Herbie Hancock plays the organ (an instrument he rarely played again).  This is Herbie Mann’s first outing as a record producer. The charm of this album is that even though it’s a “Jazz” album it’s also got a dash of boogaloo and pop with catchy melodies. AArbor

Hooker, William – "…Is Eternal Life" – [Superior Viaduct]

Thurston Hunger   1/27/2020   12-inch, Jazz

Portrait of the Shaman as a Young Drummer. William and friends, 1975-76 – two recorded at public libraries, thee very bastion of civilization (and apparently at times of free jazz!). Four sides. Live. Very very live.

Drum Form – Starts with William singing, less the ecstatic prophet and more the spiritual poet. Gentle bells chime. One man, two arms, a mind and a mouth all firing, and the cat ends up scatting into the distance.

Soy: Material/Seven – David Murray on sweet sax spirals, Mark Miller on bass. Miller mostly scurries after Murray though sometimes strums half chords. William surrounds them both, whole lotta snare going on. Some of his riding the sound those “aaaaah” yells in the mix, around 10min William takes the helm solo. Hi-hat attack. The trio reconnects, things get a little saltier. Yo, soy the sauce.

Passages (Anthill) – David S. Ware leaps into the breach like Ayler on fire, William battening down the flames. Man, by 7:50 the duo is working! William especially. Whatever you call this (passages/anthill?) it’s a helluva rollercoaster!

Pieces I & II – Way way way out in space. A trinary star system with William trading rays and ripples with Les Goodson and Hasaan Dawkins. Quite a vortex of sound.

Above and Beyond – Going out the way we came in, William singing to his skins. Deep drum rolls! Ceremony or solo performance?

Cool early capture of a man who permeates KFJC library. I will always remember (and always be enthralled) hearing his “Architecture (The Book Of Numbers)”

-Thurston Hunger

Radical Empathy Trio – Reality and Other Imaginary Places – [Esp-Disk]

Max Level   1/21/2020   CD, Jazz

Three masterful improvisers—Thollem McDonas – keyboards, Nels Cline – guitar, and Michael Wimberly – drums–present two 18-minute pieces of inspired improvisation, recorded 2017 in Brooklyn. We feel very early on that we are in good hands. I especially enjoy hearing Thollem’s acoustic piano give way to his electronic keyboards, usually leading to some noisy interactions with Cline’s guitar, and then back again. As usual, Cline’s guitar exists on a completely different plane from the rest of us–he’s that advanced. Wimberly’s tasteful percussion accents are pretty much perfect throughout. Dive in.

Sun Ra and His Solar Arkestra – “I Roam The Cosmos” – [Art Yard]

humana   10/6/2019   12-inch, Jazz

This is an unreleased performance recorded at Slug’s Saloon in New York in July of 1972. It’s pretty incredible that, even though Sun Ra left this earthly plain in 1993, his words, music, and compositions continue to reverberate through time and space. Vocalist June Tyson recites the lyrics to “Astro Black” over the backdrop of “Discipline 27-II”, followed by a call and response between Tyson and Sun Ra set to the horns and instruments of the Arkestra. The vibe is mellow and accessible. The liner notes are a must-read as they describe Sun Ra’s connections to Egypt, the sun, and the cosmos.

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.

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