Monday, March 31, 2008

My latest purchases and some thoughts... (Part three)

This is becoming a regular thing...

Andrew Hill — ANDREW!!! (1964)

After I liked Time Lines so much, I did some research and decided I should make this my next Andrew Hill purchase, mainly based on the fact that its got Bobby Hutcherson and John Gilmore (two of my favorites) as sidemen. It's not quite as wacky as I thought it may have been, but it's a lot like some of, say, Wayne Shorter or Hutcherson's own albums of the time: rooted in the strongest bop traditions, but very searching and has very subtle odditites about it that make the music not really at home in either the mainstream post-bop nor avant garde arenas. Very thought provoking music. Definitely something that I will have to sit down with for a few listens before I move on to more of his stuff.

The Virgin Prunes — The Moon Looked Down and Laughed (1986)

I'm a big Gavin Friday fan, but have never been much into the Prunes. This album is basically the blueprint for Friday's solo career, as it's the band's last studio album. It finds them pulling in different directions, but the most interesting things for me are the Gavin songs. In a way, it's almost like Friday's first solo album, but not quite. Definitely the tamest of the Prunes' albums, it's not really at home in either their catalogue, nor with Friday's solo albums. I still digs it though.

The Ohio Players — Pain (1972)

The Players' first album on Westbound and definitely their stoniest. There's just a nice, solid quality to these early Players albums. The funk isn't too jammy and they're just being soulful weirdos in the studio, which makes for some really interesting moments, like, say "Never Had A Dream."

David Sylvian — Dead Bees On A Cake (1999)

I am going slow with David Sylvian's solo catalogue because, much like Andrew Hill, this music is very enthralling and thought provoking. It took me three full listens to really assign the songs their own identities. It's a very long and beatifully sparse album, much in the same vein as Secrets of the Beehive and Gone To Earth. Very content, yet simultaenously searching music. Good stuff.

Cannonball Adderley — The Japanese Concerts (recorded 1963, released 1975)

This is actually the album Nippon Soul with an entire extra record of a previously unissued Japanese live set by the same sextet. Revelatory for me, simply based on the sextet version of "Work Song." A gem of a find.

Erykah Badu — New AmERYKAH Part one (4th World War) (2008)

I was initially put off by the chaotic sequencing and 'hip hop-ness' of the vibe the music had, but after a few listens, I'm pretty much sold on it. I've never really gotten the big deal about SA-RA, but the musical backings they provide here are next best thing to J Dilla, I suppose (read into that however you see fit). Although about a third of it seems very unfocused and the tracks aren't really actual 'songs' at all, the good parts are really good. She's very inspired by the revolutionary-minded Black Panther ideologies of the early 70's and when something that's totally funky and righteous like "The Cell" pops up, you might actually mistake this for 1973. Very politically charged, but not very specific; so things are more ambiguous than perhaps she was shooting for in the content. However, it's just refreshing to hear something this righteous and flat out funky —both genuine and not just imitations, too— in these days. It's like this album makes good on all the things Worldwide Underground failed so miserably with. Well done, I must say.

Jill Scott — The Real Thing Words and Sounds Vol. 3 (2007)

Although maybe not quite as good as her last album, this is just another strong installment in Jill's catalogue. She doesn't sound quite as inspired, generally speaking, on this album as she has in the past and, thus, it is perhaps her most 'sexed-up' album yet. Musically, it's the same type of classy lite-hip hop/adult contempo soul that she's mastered so well over the past few years. Probably her 'worst' album yet, but that's a relative term and there's actually nothing bad about it at all.

I also picked up a CD of Bela Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, which also has his pieces Divertimento and Zwei Potrats on Deutsche Grammaphon, but could not find a cover photo for it. It's pretty busy stuff, but has a really resonating vibe to it, especially with the celesta in there.

That's it for now.

More on the way, no doubt.


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.