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Music Reviews

Maher Shalal Hash Baz – “Faux Depart”- [Yik Yak}

lombard   1/19/2005   A Library, CD

Maher Shal Hash Baz is Hebrew for “the spoil speeds, the prey hastens” and is also Biblical–Isaiah’s son has the name. The band, however, is Japanese and are “legends” of the underground, led by Tori Kudo. The majority of the album was recorded at Dub Narcotic and you can detect the Olympia, Washington DIY influences. The sax, clarinet, trumpet and bassoon give it a high school marching band vibe, but it’s wackier. There are also some punctuations by what sounds like exotic birds and indeed nature themes are also reflected in song titles like “Sea & Seagulls,” “A Wind,” etc. Dub Narcotic meets chamber music on acid.
-Cynthia Lombard

White, Simon – “S/T” – [Sincere Recordings]

lombard   1/19/2005   A Library, CD

Globetrotting (born in Hawaii, lived in London and NYC and now LA) spawn of a folk singing mom; with perhaps some dreams of stardom in acting, photography and/or music–Simone White’s 2003 release is spare, featuring her vocals and guitar along with guests on organ, piano, drums (including a Luna guy and John Zorn associate Sim Cain on drums). This is very SUNNY and pleasant, like the visions of L.A. by a new arrival like Simone White.

-Cynthia Lombard

Mraz, George – “Moravia ” – [Milestone]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

George Mraz is from the eastern part of what was Czechoslovakia so his jazz influences include a lot of the more traditional folk music of the area. His bass playing is very full and classical and that sets the pace for this recording – no “up” songs. Zuzana Lapcikova plays the cymbalom (hammer dulcimer) and sings some songs in Moravian – you probably won’t understand them, but it is pretty, interesting and different – give it a try! *review by David Richoux

Khevrisa – “European Klezmer Music ” – [Smithsonian/Folkways]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, International

This is the first recording of traditional klezmer tunes using original instruments and music. Many of the tunes might be familiar to you (if you listen to modern klez) but the tempos will drive you crazy! Not because they are fast and lively, but just the opposite – I guess they just danced a LOT slower back in the 1700s and 1800s. In those times the violin was used the lead instrument ( the clarinet is today,) but the voice and feeling of the improvised melodies is still very beautiful. Note the bowed string bass and dulcimer-like cimbal. These are all instrumental tracks. A very detailed notebook will tell you anything you want to know about early klezmer music. Enjoy! *review by David Richoux

Irzarry, Ralph & Timbalaye – “Best Kept Secret ” – [Shanachie Entertainment]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Following many years working with Ruben Blades, Timbal player Ralph Irizarry has formed his own group. The result is naturally percussive, but there is a lot more going on here. It is a bit hard to figure expressive jazz in a danceable Latin style, but these guys do it somehow, without being too “commercial.” *review by David Richoux

Cimposium Vol 7 [coll] – [Creative Improvised Music]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

Yet another great sample of jazz and more from all over the place. All recorded at the Spirit Room in Rossie, New York in 1999. From slightly scary sax squirts to tasty violin & guitar, cello & trombone duets, this covers a lot of territory. Track 9 is an almost trad reading of “Just a Closer Walk,” but most everything else is original compositions. Lots of short tracks here, drop them in anyplace! *review by David Richoux

Kronos Quartet – “Caravan ” – [Nonesuch Records]

David Richoux   1/19/2005   CD, Jazz

WOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!!!!!!!
It seems like the Good Ol’ Kronos Quartet have ditched just about everything they have done before and decided to take a trip around the world. No more Microtonal Minimal Modernista Composition for the KQ – they are playing HOT FIDDLE (and HOT CELLO) in so many styles – Jazz, Slavic, Electro/Beat, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Argentine, Gypsy-Romanian, Indian, Mexican, even a bit of Surf! Many guest artists on many percussion, keyboard and other instruments add a whole lot to this very fun recording. You probably won’t dance to it, but you will find great things here… a few notes on the better tracks:
#3 combines the quartet with tabla – very Indian
#5 is Killer, but it takes a bit to get going – best track here (stick with it!)
#6- Gloomy Sunday might sound familiar, but it is SO SAD!
#7 is goofy electronica #8 modern Argentine tango.
#10 Iranian-Turkoman traditional folk/dance Spike Fiddle!
#11 Sufi trance music – slowly building, very dramatic, traditional instruments accompany.
#12 Armenian Surf via Dick Dale!
*review by David Richoux

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

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