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December 2004

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Eugene Chadbourne

The History Of The Chadbournes, Honky-tonk Im Nacht Lokal

Leo Records

Avant-garde guitarist Eugene Chadbourne offers a bizarre and often humorous slant on rockabilly music, featuring support from mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff and various jazz musicians. This CD is a culmination of live dates recorded between 1996 thru 2002. Chadbourne's quirky and thoroughly tongue-in-cheek vocals generate impish qualities amid some slick picking exercises and cosmic meltdowns. Those familiar with his artistry should welcome this recent release with open arms.

Manhattan Ragtime Orchestra

Euphonic Sounds - Radical Pop music From The Ragtime Era

Stomp Off Records

Here we have an octet performing ragtime music, enhanced by crystal clear recording characteristics. The palette is teeming with whimsy, pizzazz and a lighthearted bounce, sometimes hearkening remembrances of those now ancient, Silent Movie era music scores. Theoretically speaking, think of what an Edison cylinder might sound like if it was somehow digitally restored and remastered. This program contains a noticeable fun factor to coincide with the retrospective implications of what popular music sounded at the turn of the century. Like Dixieland, ragtime music boasted soaring lines and a vertical sense of swing.

Jan Garbarek

In Praise of Dreams

ECM Records

Norwegian saxophonist/composer Jan Garbarek's latest venture consists of a scaled-down trio, whereas the leader of this date also uses synths and samplers. Violinist Kim Kashikashian and drummer Manu Katche enjoy a level playing field in collaboration with Garbarek's bittersweet melodies and hearkening cries. Yet it's all about weaving delicate choruses into a quasi, world music vibe. This time out, Garbarek opts for a very intimate meeting of the musical spirits. Not the saxophonist's most prolific release by any means, this production generates impressions of mood-stirring dreamscapes, spiced with quaintly generated hooks.

Patrick Moraz & Bill Bruford

Music For Piano and Drums (Reissue)

Bill Bruford (Winterfold Records)

Drumming hero Bill Bruford recorded these sides back in 1983 with his former Yes band mate, keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Bruford's recently launched record label Winterfold Records will focus on remastering and reissuing his first seven albums culminating in 1987. Included is a second disc, presenting an interview with the great drummer along with samples of older "Earthworks" pieces soon to be reissued on the companion Summerfold label. The set is largely based upon precision-oriented motifs via Moraz' quasi classical-jazz-progressive rock grooves and Bruford's polyrhythmic metrics. The lack of a bassist does not come into play here. Between Bruford's thumping bass drum work and Moraz's lower register cluster chords; the duo generates a powerful lower end. Bruford's uncanny backbeats, cross-sticking maneuvers, and exactingly crisp press rolls, among other facets, speak proverbial volumes about his distinct artisanship. Of course, Moraz is a master who seems comfortable attacking and then integrating multiple genres into a signature sound and style. There are bonus tracks, just in case you had the original LP. This CD and its sister reissue, Patrick Moraz and Bill Bruford electronics-oriented Flags , is similar in scope and execution.

Ovum

The Fall Collection

Ovum Records

This record label highlights DJ artists such as Sam & Gigi, DJ Stryke, and many others appearing here on this ten-year retrospective. The music pretty much sums up Ovum Records' manifesto, founded within electronica-based dance grooves, spiced with amenable melodies. The various musicians attain a happy medium bordering upon club music and ambient-electronic soundscapes. Or in some respects, think of '70s disco, fluffed up with spacey synth passages, airy vocalizations and imperturbable, jazz-style pulses.

Vital Information

Come On In

Tone Center

Since the '80s, drummer Steve Smith's jazz-fusion band (amid various personnel changes) has helped reunify a somewhat indistinct jazz-fusion genre. This quartet's infusion of funk and New Orleans type grooves is topped off with brisk swing vamps and cataclysmic crescendos. Moreover, this unit in particular should signify the pinnacle of the band's artistic success, especially when considering its history, dating back to the '80s. Take a loose vibes feel and align with swift time changes to coincide with blazing technical veracity, and there you have it! Of course, Smith, guitar god Frank Gambale, and the others are revered musicians. But there's a certain charm that encapsulates this outing. To that end, it should be noted as one of the group's strongest efforts to date.

Thomas Dimuzio

Slew - A Compilation Of Compilations Tracks 1990-2004

ReR USA

Dimuzio is one of the few electro artists whose work and more importantly, methods of working can be traced back to roots in the '50s and '60s—in some ways accomplishing things that the masters only wished they could have accomplished. And although technology has allowed electronic music to proliferate, those who are truly advancing the art are comparatively few in numbers.

Bill Cobham's Culture Mix

Colours

IN + OUT Records

Billy Cobham's now legendary drumming prowess is highlighted here, however steel pan wizard Junior Gill remains at the forefront during this upbeat multicultural spin on jazz-fusion. Marked by breezy melodies, solid backbeats and a few blitzing time changes, this set conveys the totality of group-based camaraderie. Cobham ventures into turbo mode on occasion amid some wailing guitars, as Gil's steel pan work imparts a resplendent sheen throughout!

Mysterymen

Everything But An Answer

Diskob

Mysterymen hail from the U.K. And with this release, they strike an odd balance between pop-inflected techno/dance music complete with catchy themes and serious minded EFX implementations. They also sing through vocoders, translating into humanoid like vocal attributes. At the end of the day, the band conveys a great deal of magnetism alongside an irrefutably, congenial persona.

Greg Wall

Later Prophets

Tzadik

New York City saxophonist Greg Wall is a veteran of various downtown scene jazz-klezmer bands, among other projects. This delightful recording consists of spaced-out grooves, largely due to Shai Bachar's moody and ethereal synth-based ventures. Wall subliminally injects Jewish folk choruses into the grand scheme of things also featuring plaintive cries, foot-stomping beats and gobs of slanted imagery. At times bizarre, yet satisfyingly palpable and entertaining.

Ivo Perelman/Dominic Duval/Jackson Krall
Black On White

Clean Feed Records

Avant-garde tenor sax titan Ivo Perelman and the trio paint a stark picture while mimicking the album title. Nonetheless, intensity and sinuous rhythmic movements rule the roost here. Perelman blows hard via sequences of mammoth lines and soul-stirring sentiment. Moreover, Dominic Duval (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums) receive ample opportunities to extend or deconstruct various theme sequences.

Russell Gunn

Ethnomusicology Vol. 4: Live In Atlanta

Justin Time

Electric trumpeter Russell Gunn blends a touch of Miles Davis' plugged in era with a turntablist, percussion, keys, guitar and a rhythm section for this pumped up set. No doubt, Gunn is a vivacious performer who obviously doubles as a crowd pleaser here. The band skirts the jazz genre along with funk and other stylizations. Strong soloing adds to the excitement...

Bruno Råberg

Chryslalis

Orbis Music

Bassist/educator Bruno Råberg performs with top-flight East Coast jazz musicians, including world-renowned guitarist Mick Goodrick. Simply stated, this is Råberg's most compelling outing to date. Performing within a nonet, Råberg mans the helm with profoundly booming lines. But it's the bassist's captivating arrangements and melodic compositional attributes that elevate this program to lofty heights. Consider this wonderful album to be counted among the top 10 or 20 picks for 2004.

King's X

Live All Over The Place

Metal Blade Records

This hard rock trio has been a viable force for over twenty years. This 2-CD set highlights the group's live show featuring a quasi-unplugged series of pieces and a killer spin on Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression." The band intersperses elements of soul-funk into its arsenal, while also going for the proverbial jugular on occasion. And besides some silly teen-like stage banter, the musicians do transmit an affable and largely upbeat demeanor to complement their respectable chops.


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