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Music Reviews

Youngblood Brass Band – “Unlearn ” – [E Pluribus Bumpass Music]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Back with Attitude – the Youngbloods have jumped up several levels since their last CD. with special guest vocal by Ike Willis (ex-Zappa) track 4 and lots of & rap-poetry stuff with Talib Kweli and Mike Ladd – some bits of bad language tracks 7 & 8, DJ Skooly scratching and a solid brass section, lead by “The Warrior” on Sousaphone (check out his acoustic-weird tones on some tracks using no electronic effects…) These guys are from the suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin but they still live in the heart of New Orleans Soul. *review by David Richoux

New Klezmer Trio – “Short for Something ” – [Tzadik]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Yet another in the “Radical Jewish Culture” series – this one finds Ben Goldberg noodle-ing around on his clarinet – mostly minor key and mysterious (even the Freylekhs are pretty slow,) Dan Seamans rumbling around the basement and Kenny Wollesen holding the whole thing together on percussion. Very dark and sad yet beautiful music on this CD. *review by David Richoux

Caravana Cubana – “Late Night Sessions ” – [Dreamer Music /Rhino]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Rhino RecordsWith all the attention on Cuba and New York based Afro-Cuban Jazz people tend to forget another long time center for this style – Los Angeles. Dizzy Gillespie really focused this in the 40’s. Here we have a true all-star cast of musicians and singers (some were in that Dizzy Band) deep in the roots of Cubanisimo doing some hot, danceable, exciting and driving ensembles. Thanks to the folks at Rhino for producing this original (not reissue) session.
– *review by David Richoux

Sexmob – “Solid Sender ” – [Knitting Factory Records]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Knitting FactoryBack again with another wild recording – Steve Bernstein, Briggan Krause, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollsen (and many guests) step into the void left by the death of Lester Bowie to totally fuck with some jazz and pop classics. This time it is Rock and R&B instead of “spy movies” and the stuff is outstanding!
Imagine if you will: “Ruby Tuesday,” “Please3” or “For What It’s Worth” done by a rowdy buncha New Orleansish New Pork funk horns, a giant rubber band bass (with a string section and a bit of turntable action on some tracks!) YOW!
Watch out for a lot of really short tracks between the real stuff – not exactly introductions, but they are separate things. Track 17 features the Sex Mob Children’s Choir. *review by David Richoux

Lewis, George New Orleans Jazz – “Hello Central ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Don’t confuse this George Lewis with the jazz trombone player.
This one was a New Orleans clarinetist who took the original jazz style (less solo, more ensemble) out to the world. Playing to what were called “Moldy Figs” or trad revivalists (mostly white) -G.L. sparked a great deal of interest in this New Orleans style. He played an Albert System clarinet, so the tuning can sometimes sound a bit off, but folks really liked it. This recording was done in 1953 (a peak year for the revival) San Francisco with a great touring band. Some vocals – great music… *review by David Richoux

Nicholas, Albert & Art Hodes – “Albert’s Back in Town ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

As the liner notes tell you, Albert Nicholas was one of the important clarinet players in the early years of jazz and he kept on playing well into the 60’s. Check out the list of bands he played in! On this 1959 session with pianist Art Hodes (Ho-dez, I think) and his band you will hear some great “classic traditional” jazz – not “Dixieland,” not “Trad Revival” – just some great tunes played with inspiration and long-term knowledge of what to do with them. all instrumental, with some alternate takes. *review by David Richoux

Mora’s Modern Rhythmists – “Mr. Rhythmist Goes to Town ” – [Mr. Ace Records]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Much like the Bay Area band “Royal Society Jazz Orchestra,” Mora’s Modern Rhythmists from the LA area have worked very hard to recreate the early 20’s-30’s orchestra style of jazz. Meant for both dancing and listening, these “Society” bands had a smooth yet hot sound (very polite for jazz) playing in posh hotels, ocean liners and fancy parties. On this recording there is an interesting mix of tunes from the early eras of jazz and proto-swing. The style of singing and playing is not a total imitation of Paul Whiteman recordings, but there sure is a lot of influence. Fun stuff… *review by David Richoux

Clusone 3 – “An Hour With… ” – [Hat Hut]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Like the other Clusone 3 recordings we have, this is some fun stuff! More bird inspiration, and I don’t mean Charlie Parker.
Reijseger on cello is WAY out there, but Moore and Bennink don’t do anything to bring him back. Goofy and silly jazz at times but then things settle into a groove – no explanations. *review by David Richoux

Amh Trio – “Live at Field & Frame ” – [Plutonium Records]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

Hoonkh, Blurt, Weerrbbble, Scree, Poot, Groan, Grummph, etc.
Fun stuff from the lower register from Albuquerque – Bari Sax, Tuba, Bass Clarinet and some higher things as well – very strange but not really scary when compared with some of the other things we have been getting lately. Seems to be total improvjazz but it is hard to tell these days… Mark Weaver on tuba is showing a lot of chops!
*review by David Richoux

New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra – “Grace and Beauty ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

While Ragtime was not invented in New Orleans, it was very popular and was a major part of the development of jazz in that city. John Robichaux (Row be show) had a band and did a lot of ragtime arrangements in the early 20th century. In 1965 these charts were found and a band was formed in 1967 to play them. The musicians on this 1967-1970 recording also played in the early Preservation Hall bands in the ’60s and some were playing jazz in the 1930s and ’40s.
Not a slick band (check out the New England Ragtime Conservatory band if you want polish) – there is some problem with intonation and the pace is a bit ragged, but these are some sweet tunes. All instrumental and of an era that will not come round again… *review by David Richoux

Jackson, Franz & the Salty Dog – “Yellow Fire ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

A recent recording (not a reissue) of the Salty Dogs, a Chicago style trad band from Purdue that has been around since the late 1950s! Still playing great music (most of the tunes on this CD could have been heard in some Chicago jazz joints since the early 1920s) this is just great, swinging, driving, hot jazz. Some good vocals, just a bit of hokum – but check them out!
*review by David Richoux

Beebe, Jim – Chicago Jazz – “Saturday Night Function ” – [Delmark]

David Richoux   1/15/2005   CD, Jazz

2 LPs in one CD, a bargain pack of great Chicago Style traditional jazz recorded in the late 1970s with an all-star lineup of musicians from the mid-west and west coast. Trombonist Jim Beebe had a great deal of experience before these sessions and the band definitely knows what it is all about. There are two trumpets (or trumpet/cornet) for that unmistakable King Oliver-Louis Armstrong style lead line. There are a lot of different looks here, from boogie-woogie to slow blues, swingers to New Orleans jazz standards. Some well placed vocals, but the important part is how this band really cooks, regardless of the line-up.
*review by David Richoux

Butcher, John/Robair, Gino “New Oakland Burr” [Rastascan]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Recently issued capture of two 2001 sessions between local
percussion-plus purveyor (and chief man at Rastascan) Gino
Robair, and UK sax whacker John Butcher. The album starts
with high-pitched twitting over a (bowed?) rumble droner;
it’s hard to tell if that whistling is amplified Butcher or
Robair sawing on some styrofoam or both. The key is that
both guys are willing to stretch their sonic repetoire to
the point of illusion. Thus at times on this you’ll get the
“drummer” squonking away, while the “horn” player is tapping
out a spit-rhythm or other percussion. On other tracks, both
guys approach an alien sound together, like on “Slug Tag”
where they are speaking metal slowscrape. Robair’s ebowed
snare appears on the “Pudsey Surprise” like a fly trapped
buzzing in window screen, Butcher bugzaps some electrosax.
A lot of turf covered here from the drone-tundra of “Fid”
and “Peal” to more squigglery on “Blagovest.” Humor not
to be discounted, hear the sax whinny on “Vug” and Robair
gets in on the joke, but I’m not sure on what instrument.
Would have been great to see this in person live, these
tracks are as short as they are strange…so they are very
easy to squeeze in and play musical ears.

Peter Brotzmann’s Chicago Tentet Plus Two “Broken English” [Okka Disc]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Despite a leading gentle mantra guided by Hamid Drake’s vocal
prayer, frame drum and soul…do not be deceived, this is
**horsepower** jazz. Peter Brotzmann knows how to whip up a
stampede. He rides into the fray with a gypsy’s tarogato,
calming cycles to go with Drake’s dream chant… But just
shy of six minutes, skyscrapers of sound shoot up through
the idyll. Cue the lurching Longberg-Holm cello…unleash
the dual drumheart of Zerang and Drake pumping at more than
capacity, and the race has begun. Brotzmann has amassed
some mighty thoroughbreds…plenty of NRG and BBQ to keep
the fire music flaming…but “Stonewater” does have some
stillness running deep in pockets. Ultimately it is the
sputtering saxes that stand-out, I’m telling you I hear
horses…lip-flipping, braying, raging stags. So even when
we get a little clarinet soft-shoe around 18 minutes in,
and then a very faint cello/bass duo, I’m waiting for
the hoofs…which leap in almost like a bad edit. For all
the fine playing, track one is acoustically imbalanced.
The second tracks stays strong throughout, a nice brass
oven at the end of its first third. The piece pauses
for a trumpet soliloquy at 13:36 (McPhee?) then it’s
over to Gustaffson for his pyrotechnique. Late in the
piece a drum duet locks in, invites in a swinging set
from the whole twelve and boom, a cliffhanger ending.
Years of music barely fit into 67 minutes, escape words.
Listen, follow one player for awhile, repeat..

Bradford, Bobby/Wong, Francis/Roper, William “Purple Gums” [Asian Improv]

Thurston Hunger   1/9/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Roper’s tuba is smudgy and thick, he also plays the
conch shell…and this reminded me of one gigantic
conch shell at the bottom. Wong’s sax is smoky but
not so much so that you cannot see Bobby Bradford
darting in and out on cornet. All of these are
improvisations that work just fine on their own…but
on several of the pieces, Roper puts down the tuba
and delivers some monologues…that even when tackling
touchy issues like segregation (#4) do so with a noble
sort of whim. He’s not singing, but his voice is so
rich and sonorous that you want him to keep on talking
despite it somewhat distracting from the music. Well,
I sure…did he seems like quite a character, check
“You A Square.” If you want the straight music, they
have got you covered as well.

Archie Shepp – ?Attica Blues? – [Impulse!]

Hunter Gatherer   1/5/2005   CD, Jazz

This is a 3/2003 reissue of an album originally released in 1972.

Saxophonist Archie Shepp is one of the pioneers of free jazz. He has a degree in comparative literature, is a composer, and is a published playwright and poet. He’s also a radical who makes no secret of his anger about social injustice.

So given the topic of the Attica prison riots (in which a four day revolt was squashed by 1,000 state troopers who killed 29 inmates and 10 hostages) I was looking forward to popping in this CD and hearing about what a shit whitey is.

But Mr. Shepp is smarter than that. Plenty of rage is here, and you can hear it in his alto and soprano saxophone lines throughout the whole CD. You can especially hear it in the cacophonous funk-based free jazz (free funk?) of the title track.

The rage almost gives way to despair later in the CD with lyrics like ‘I would rather be a plant than a man in this land.’ Even on the prettiest song Ballad for a Child, discordant strings belie the lyrics ‘What the world needs is a baby’s smile.’

2, 4, and 7 are spoken word ‘invocations? of which 4 is the most interesting. ‘Blues for George Jackson? refers to the Black Panther leader shot to death under suspicious circumstances while in prison.

There are elements of R&B, soul, funk, and even big band underneath the jazz elements, making each track seem familiar but not quite comfortable.

Most of the songs track through, so watch the endings. Also, the last track features some spontaneous (to put it nicely) singing by a 7-year-old.

–Hunter Gatherer

MTKJ Quartet “Making Room For Spaces” [Nine Winds]

Thurston Hunger   12/8/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

Like ROVA, MTKJ feels so strongly bout the connection between
members that they’re all in for a letter and all in for the
long haul. (Well ROVA stuck with it even when it became ROAA)
Anyways this is NOT your father’s West Coast jazz, nothing
as sunny as a convertible drive by the beach, instead we’re
looking over the edge of windy, desolate seaside cliff. We’re
treated to stellar composition, utilizing dramatic pauses
(tightened by Paul Kikuchi’s snare rolls) and major thematic
shifts, check out the 3 minute mark into the leadoff track!
Just gorgeous, later that same piece sounds like Salt Peanuts
are mixed in. Composition includes other moments of homage
along with setting up great dual play between Kris Tiner’s
trumpet and Jason Mears’ reeds. Everyone gets a chance to
solo shine, including bassist Ivan Johnson who can tiptoe tap
on the great intro to #4, or get rubbery as he desends down
the end of the final cut, leading a Mears landing. The album
title speaks volumes in the silence these guys keep alive
like fragile bubbles in convoluted metal sculpture pulled
through a soap rinse. Gaze with your ears.

Kahil El’Zabar & David Murray – “We Is” – [delmark]

Funkminsta Fulla   11/3/2004   Jazz

Kahil El’Zabar & David Murray – “We Is” – [delmark]

an intimate yet brightly mic’d live recording at the Bop Shop record store in Rochester, NY does well to capture these animated players’ performance.

tr1 grooves like the gospel of A Love Supreme; in lieu of Coltrane’s Elvin Jones on trap, here we have the capable Kahil El’Zabar (Ethnic Heritage Ens.) to deliver us the sermon with spirited hand percussion, tasteful trap rhythms and soulful call & response.

tr2, 5 feature upbeat splatter trap ‘n bop squaks – slightly challenging yet ultimately accessible invites to walk amongst the hallowed halls of hard bop

tr3 – delicate thumb organ open, warm vox sing truths throughout, beautiful development of Murray’s sax, rich conversation at -9min then solo vibes kiss with water-like bliss before pump organ confessionals draw this ‘Blues Affirmation? to sombre close

tr4 – swank bass clari + hand perc. that hits right + Band of Gypsys-esque vocal / lyrical feel makes for a toe-tapping time!

mad hatter

[coll:] Voices In The Wilderness – [Tzadik]

Hunter Gatherer   11/2/2004   CD, Jazz

This double CD is part of 2003’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Masada, the jazz quartet that John Zorn leads. Masada doesn’t play on this CD. Instead 24 songs from their song book are performed and produced by about 80 of Mr. Zorn’s musician friends.

The Masada Book is a collection of more than 200 songs written by Zorn with melodies and harmonies in an attempt to create a new type of Jewish music that is more than the traditional music with new arrangements. He wanted ‘a combination of Ornette Coleman and the Jewish scales.’ (As near as I can tell the Jewish’also called Spanish’scale is the same as a harmonic minor scale begining on the 5th tone.) The scale that the music is based on has that minor-third leap surrounded by half tones that gives the songs a definite ‘Middle east? or at least ‘non-Western? sound.

The arrangements and interpretations of the music are as varied as the musicians who perform on this release, ranging from straight forward acoustic jazz to rock-jazz fusion. The overall feeling is one of joyfulness and optimism. I felt that the vocals on some of the tracks didn’t really add anything to the songs, so I would recommend sticking to the instrumentals.
This release is a lot to absorb. Frankly, you’ll have to explore it for yourself. Here are a few suggestions to get started: CD1: 2-Kisofim, 8-Nevelah, 10-Tirzah; CD2: 4-Tannaim, 11-Tiferet, 12-Kedem.

–Hunter Gatherer

Breuker Kollektief, Willem “With Strings Attached” [bvhaast]

Thurston Hunger   10/26/2004   CD, Format, Jazz

To unfairly reduce the Kollektief, this is a group committed
to serious fun. The musicianship is top-notch, but the accent
probably falls on the fun. In selecting the six composers for
this collection, each one brought something unexpected if not
unaccepted to the concert hall. I think this attitude is the
key to Breuker, breaking the rules, breaking the walls down.
Typewriters turn up on at least two tracks, one of which you
have heard, even if you think not. George Gershwin shines in
the keys of Henk de Jonge, it seems so polished and stately
that it’s easy to forget his rebellious origins. Read the
liner notes for more info on that and the others here (as
well as the importance for lapsing copyrights). The one
composer still above ground is actually not just a composer
but a band member. Alfred Janson’s 20+ minute piece has some
sax daggers, trumpet wisteria that blossoms into fire, and
about 12:30 into it the strings fritter while Janson himself
straps on his accordion to carry out the vendetta with a
hint of a smoking scat-gun as well. Towards the end of that
piece, the players chase each other sonically (and probably
physically on stage to boot.) Tremendous, don’t miss the
return of the sinewy “Sensemaya” with snakey strings.
Hail to the Kollektief!

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