Saturday, March 1, 2008

My latest purchases and some thoughts...

Out of pure boredom...

On the Spot: A Peek at the 1960's Nordic Jazz Scene (late 60's/early 70's)
On the mighty Ricky Tick label, out of Finland. Also home to folks like the Five Corners Quintet and Dalindeo. This compilation though, highlights the folks that planted the seeds for the current scene of Nordic jazzy dancey folks. Eleven songs of pure swingin' dancefloor jazz from an interesting time in the music's history and an even more interesting place. Sure, there's the americans who were using Europe as money making venue (Dexter Gordon and my favorite, Sahib Shihab) who appear here, but there's also quite a few local folks, who really swing and get deep into that soul jazz groove. Really exceptional stuff, actually. But comps like these are always a double edged sword for me, because I'm such an obsessive mofo. Now I want to hear full albums from people like Kjell Karlsen and Otto Donner. Maybe one day. But for now, there's plenty of groove and unique ideas offered up here to keep me interested for quite a while.

The Durutti Column — Fidelity (1996)

Recently picked up the reissue on the unbelievably cool British label LTM and I like the album after a few initial listens. Seems quite mid-90's techno, actually. I loved Obey the Time personally, but that was more of a UK Acid Housey/proto-trip hop sort of thing, whereas this album is much more synthy. 'Future Perfect' kicked me in the brain, which was cool. Otherwise, it seems like yet another one of those later period Durutti albums that requires at least ten front to back listens before it really hits you. Great vocals throughout from Elli Rudge though. She's got a purrty voice.

The Durutti Column — Idiot Savants (2007)

This album has officially kicked my ass. Immediately, it shot to the top of my iTunes 'most played' list. If I had heard it last year, it would've been my album of the year, without question. It's unfortunately cliched to say things like this, because of its overuse in offensive 'publications' like Pitchfork Media and Rolling Stone, but the Durutti Column, with this album, officially gets better with each album. I declared Keep Breathing my album of the year in 2006 and, upon hearing Sporadic Three in mid-year, I was trying not to jump the gun, so I kept my mouth aprehensively shut. However, being that this album was released last year and last year is already over, I have no problem with declaring it the year's best album. Eight songs, fifty-two minutes. He doesn't even care what anyone thinks anymore. This is not inaccessible music. It's just music that exists outside of any preconceived notion of what popular music currently is. And it just so happens to be utterly fantastic. Easily on par with the Column's peak work from the early 80's, but sounds entirely different. Simply wonderful, thought provoking and incredibly heartfelt music.

Wes Montgomery — Smokin' at the Half Note (1965)

Ahhh man... Wes Montgomery plays his ass off with Mr. PC and those weeners that played with Miles. How can this not suck?

Andrew Hill — Time Lines (2006)

This is my first Andrew Hill album. I don't know, I was just all uber-suspect of his hipster revival in recent years. That, and his lumping-in with the free jazzers. But it's not all skronk, by any means. It actually made me think of Clifford Thornton's later work, which was very friendly. The whole thing has an underlying sadness, which is actually kind of a downer, because he died not too long after. It's rather good, though.

Chris Walla — Field Manual (2008)

Well, I don't hate it as much upon second and third listens as much as I did my first. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's kind of poopy, but there's a few songs that are alright. Overall though, I'd give it maybe two and one-half or three out of five stars. Definitely a footnote for Death Cab fans. Otherwise, ignore.

Ron Carter — Spanish Blue (1974)

A good mid-70's CTI session for Mr. Bow-Tie. He re-envisions 'So What' as a latin-tinged post-bopper that is ten times as fast as the original. Cool stuff. Another strong album in the long line of Mr. Carter's unimpeachably consistent discography.

Duke Ellington — Live at the Whitney (1972)

A later live appearance by Duke and an even stranger album because it's just a drums-bass-piano trio. Seriously great stuff. The version of 'Lotus Blossom' is absolutely hypnotic. The tunes are short and Duke does little more than state the themes, but it's just mesmerizing. Beautiful and joyous stuff, which is great to hear because Duke was so close to death.

Bill Evans — Trio 65 (1965)

Believe it or not, my Bill Evans collection of studio albums is incomplete. The guy is practically my Jesus and I've yet to hear everything that was up to his standards. I don't know what it is, but I'm biased against his Verve period. He certainly did some wonderful stuff there, but nearly all of his records directly before or immediately after hit me a lot harder. Decent versions of 'Round Midnight', 'How My Heart Sings' and 'Come Rain or Come Shine', but the band just seems to be throwing out material for the label to have something to release. Not bad by any means, just not as heartfelt as Evans is usually known for.

Well, that's all I feel like saying for now.

Happy listening.


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