The Sublime And
Tim Berne’s Science Friction
Thirsty Ear Recordings
Alto saxophonist Tim Berne generates massive doses of excitement and spine tingling thrills a minute throughout this wondrous live recording of a performance in Switzerland. The bass-less unit breathes fire and brimstone through these climactically enacted works. It’s an electro-acoustic outing, featuring pianist Craig Taborn’s spacey Fender Rhodes work and laptop-produced EFX. Berne’s longtime associate, guitarist Marc Ducret adds a bit of pleasant madness to these extended jaunts via his angular mode of execution. Consequently, drummer Tom Rainey’s on-top-of-the-beat sensitivities and blistering fills, consummate this fun-filled modern jazz based exploration.
Arcane Device: Engines of Myth
David Lee Myers
David Lee Myers is a New York City based sound and visual artist. These works are culled from the out-of-print LPs titled Arcane Device 1: Engines of Myth and Arcane Device 3: Improvisations for Feedback. Not being intimately familiar with this artist, these EFF based manipulations are seemingly founded upon pre-1970s synth/computer generated tonalities. In addition, the artist’s website discloses more of the technical details. Myers’ produces undulating waves of sound, by intentionally delving into the mechanics of the machines via feedback-induced mechanisms. The somewhat chunky analogue effects signify the direct antithesis of cleanly activated digital technologies. It’s more like a madcap science project with musical overtones. Hence the byproducts yield some curiously interesting results. (Distributed by ReR Megacorp )
Fuori le Mura
Gabriele Mirabassi & Luciano Biondini
For the uninitiated, this Italian record company’s mission is to highlight artists who intertwine the sounds and themes of the Mediterranean with modern jazz centric foundations. Here, Gabrielle Mirabassi (clarinet) and Luciano Biondini (accordion) effortlessly whirl through a series of works that offer the best of both worlds. And the producers’ crystalline audio processing enhances it all; to coincide with the musicians’ blithely rendered themes, awash with notions of cheery musings. Accordingly, the musicians’ finesse and ease of execution only heightens the overall listening experience.
Sugar Hill Records
He’s an Englishman who fell in love with American roots music decades ago. With this effort, guitar god Albert Lee pays homage to his former “Hot Band” boss: vocalist Emmylou Harris. Lee reaps the benefits of a star-studded cast, featuring Dobro master Jerry Douglas, banjoist Earl Scruggs and other C&W/Bluegrass notables. Lee’s slick picking Fender guitar work speaks for itself here. As he also shines forth as a capable vocalist, throughout this amalgamation of works composed by Townes Van Zandt, Graham Parsons, Delbert McClinton and others.
Steve Howe’s Remedy
Inside Out Music America
Steve Howe’s legacy among the crème de la crème of progressive rock guitarists emanates from his legendary participation with Yes, amid a lengthy solo career. His latest effort is a family affair, featuring Virgil (keyboards) and Dylan (drums) amid a horns section and other contributors. The guitarist goes genre hopping across bluesy grooves: jazz, rock, and folk. As many of these pieces are tinted with memorably melodic hooks in concert with Howe’s intricately constructed guitar parts. For the guitar technologists, Howe provides a comprehensive manifesto of his gear, including EFX devices and tunings.
This is a nice repackaging of the late West Coast vibraphonist’s early ‘80s live outings titled A Fuego Vivo and Good Vibes. Featuring conga master Poncho Sanchez and woodwind ace Gary Foster and others, Tjader’s cool and stylish fusion of the Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz is radiantly personified throughout. Substantiated by sleek grooves, combined with edgy soloing endeavors by his band-mates, Tjader maintains the flow via his lithely executed lines and acute sense of rhythm. In addition, Foster enters the red zone on occasion, but it’s largely about the upbeat vibe and the musicians’ noticeable camaraderie. It’s rather obvious that the band was playing for the audience and not merely rummaging thru the songbook.
14 Songs By Randy Newman: Feels Like Home
American pianist Steve Klink recorded these works by singer/songwriter Randy Newman for the German Minor Music jazz record label. Backed by a sympathetic rhythm section, the pianist delves into Newman’s musical persona via these personalized renditions set to jazz. Klink possesses a light touch yet turns up the heat as a vehicle for correlating Newman’s expressive and somewhat quirky vocal delivery into these bluesy jazz works. Not a flashy jazz piano trio type outing by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s more about the artist’s thoughtful ruminations of Newman’s songbook. It all comes together rather nicely.
Asian Improv Records
Tenor and soprano saxophonist Jeff Chan leads this Chicago area quartet through a series of turbo-charged workouts, consisting of linearly devised themes, and torrid soloing ventures. Sadly, the outstanding trumpeter/percussionist Ameen Muhammad passed away on February 27 due to a heart attack, and Chan duly dedicates this recording to his memory. Consequently, the musicians’ rather magical synergy shines radiantly throughout, partly due to the loose yet focused performances by Chicago bass hero Tatsu Aoki and drummer/percussionist Chad Taylor. Chan is a hard blower yet tempers his gutsy performances with meaningful themes and sinuously constructed improvisations.
A drummer by trade, Nebraska’s Hal Darling also performs on various electronic keyboards along with assistance from guitarist Uri Gatton and woodwinds/horns artist Althan Gaiis. You might be able to classify this production within Rick Wakeman, E.L.P, and perhaps Patrick Moraz symphonic progressive-rock style expositions. As Darling’s music maintains a sense of perpetual motion, complete with knotty twists and turns, rumbling percussion maneuvers and tricky time signatures. The synth overlays feature textural elements amid a few doses of musical bravado and a conveyance of triumph. Thankfully, he injects a modern day edge into the grand scheme of things.
Hair-raising interplay amid a rollicking and rumbling fusion of freeform jazz and viciously executed rock patterns. Well, Curlew has outstood many of its peers since its inception during the late ‘70s New York City downtown scene. The latest incarnation of this quintet, featuring its founder, saxophonist/leader George Cartwright, proves that there’s no looking back into the well. Fundamentally or perhaps artistically speaking, the band continues to evolve, yet seldom if ever strays from the prime identifier that earmarks an incontestably unique stylization. Guitarist Dean Granros blazes forth via a wily and pleasantly in-your-face mode of attack. To that end, drummer Bruce Golden provides a limber bottom and promptly turns up the heat when required. Chalk this one up as a top pick for 2003.
Saxophonist Russ Gershon leads these merry New England area instrumentalists through a set that seemingly intertwines mainstream jazz style horn arrangements with the occasional use of synths. The band swings hard and explores multifarious rhythmic passages. The soloing is generally superb. But it’s very easy to discern that these folks have been together for quite awhile. Unlike some large ensembles, where the horn arrangements are apt to sound a bit stiff, the ensemble revels within a novel approach that provides one of the keys to its success. Another fine effort...