Published since 1997
Longtime contributor to AAJ and Downbeat, Jazz Review, EjazzNews, Radio DirectX.
Veteran Spanish jazz guitarist Joan Sanmarti and his quintet venture towards classic, hard-bop, swing and excursions into the free zone during this rather jaunty session. With Frederic Carlquist and Victor de Diego providing a dual-core saxophone attack, the leader's fluent lines and solid compositional acumen intimate arching angles and elements of suspense. Sanmarti chooses his notes wisely amid a sequence of briskly articulated single note flurries and intricate progressions. On "Block (Peradedebo), he switches to acoustic, where the band fuses a touch of American style country & western with saxophone-driven jazz choruses. In sum, Sanmarti's clear-sighted writing and strong leadership impart the winning edge. They don't reinvent the proverbial wheel, as the quintet's mode of execution offers a hefty dose of disparate viewpoints, translating into an abundance of articulate musical yarns.
Originally issued in 1976, this superb remastered two-CD set of live dates was recorded during the fabled "Canterbury" band's European concerts, and includes interviews and historical minutiae. No doubt this bandfeaturing guitar hero Fred Frith, drummer Chris Cutler and other VIPswas ahead of its time. Fusing elements of avant-garde jazz and melodically-oriented progressive rock with subliminal classical elements, the music and recording quality captures the aggregation at its peak. The producers also reminisce about issues concerning "dysfunctional booking agencies, licensing arrangements, Virgin Records' lack of interest, and correlations of this material to the original studio LPs. Great care and insight preface the musical innovations that, in certain respects, still radiate into the night. Then again, very special and unique ingredients generally provide the recipe for a successful entrée.
Within a jazz vernacular, the title of this album parallels the decipherable intentions of laudable New York City-based progressive jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's plight. This quartet date featuring fellow cutting-edge pianist/composer Vijay Iyer provides a novel slant on the tried and true. Needless to say, the saxophonist's complexly designed lyricism, teeming with sinuous time signatures and 16th-note unison choruses, invites feedback from the mind's eye. It's a concisely crafted web of intricately performed modern jazz. Here, musical exactitude, up-tempo improvisation and vibrant thought processes coalesce for an analytical, yet irrefutably entertaining, string of propositions. Mahanthappa jubilantly follows up his equally exciting 2004 effort titled Mother Tongue with novel statements that are akin to neural impulses, spiced with ominous intentions.
As We Speak
Founding member of The Pat Metheny Group, electric/fretless bassist Mark Egan realigns with longtime affiliate and ex-Metheny Group drummer Danny Gottlieb on this dynamic, jazz-fusion set. With guitar hero John Abercrombie, the trio re-examines the jazz-fusion genre via a contemporary uplift. An in-demand session ace, possessing a slinky and slippery fretless bass tone, Egan lays down a limber yet firmly grounded foundation for his associates. Spiced up with a few quiet and ethereal tracks, the musicians largely go for the proverbial jugular on this two-CD set, but do so with touches of sophistication and zip. Essentially, this offering should be warmly welcomed by the respective musicians' fan base. Nothing globally new or earth-shattering here, but it's an outing that brings together the distinct musical personae of three revered artists.
Who's Next (DVD)
The Who's 1971 rock classic Who's Next exemplifies the brilliant songwriting and vision of guitarist Pete Townshend. This DVD edition's black and white footage offers archival concert clips and storylines provided by music journalist Dave Marsh along with former managers and recording engineers. Interviews with Townshend, singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle provide a variety of insights, including reminiscences about drummer Keith Moon's zaniness, musicality and inspirational significance. Townshend iterates his intentions for these compositions and how his realized vision emanated from previous releases such as the rock opera Tommy. The film zooms in on Townshend's innovative, analogue synth maneuvers for "Baba O' Riley and a few recent and unplugged performances of past hits. This entertaining documentary also features previously unseen concert performances. (Running time: 60 minutes approx).
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