According to the members of SPOKE, this album--the band's third to date--"is both musical rant and anthem." So what does that mean? Well, it means that there's an intentional balancing act between the raw and refined, the focused and the untamed, and the grand and rowdy. Nothing ever goes off the rails and nothing is ever too sedate or bland, as the members of SPOKE continually switch gears and change hats. There's also enough stylistic diversity at play--pop, bop, spicy pit stops, and more--to keep things interesting. The majority of this program is given over to covers, ...read more
After seeing the Seven-Headed Beast of Crim"--words used by the group's co-founder and only remaining original member, guitarist/keyboardist Robert Fripp, to describe the 2014 incarnation of King Crimson that just wrapped up a 20-date, 10-city American tour including two exhilarating nights at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre--now is the perfect time for a detailed look at Starless: Live in Europe, the third box released in as many years by the band celebrating its 45th year in 2014. While King Crimson 2014 may well have given it a run for its money, the four-piece incarnation that emerged from the quintet which released ...read more
Eyeshutight is a piano trio, formed in 2010 in the UK city of Leeds. Resonance is the trio's third release, an album that impresses even in the crowded and competitive world of the jazz piano trio, with a mix of lyrical sweetness, hard grooves and catchy rhythms.Officially, the band name is pronounced Eyes Shut Tight--Isha Tite seems more appropriate, but apparently the band did originally call itself Eyes Shut Tight before conflating the words into something more concise, if more confusing. Bassist Paul Baxter leads the band, with pianist Johnny Tomlinson and drummer Kristoffer Wright (whose use of ...read more
The Kooks The Paramount Huntington, NY October 9, 2014 Formed in 2004 in Brighton, East Sussex, in 2004, the Kooks are: Luke Pritchard on vocals and guitar, guitarist Hugh Harris, bassist Pete Denton and drummer Alexis Nunez. Its swirling jangle-pop music is very much influenced by the bands of the British Invasion as well as by the music of the Clash, Madness, David Bowie, Beck, the Strokes and the Libertines. Following yeoman-like sets laid down by two separate opening acts, the light dimmed and the Kooks strode confidently onto the stage. Melding a ...read more
Metropolitan Gospel Big Band Temple of Restoration October 18, 2014 Brooklyn, NY On the CD release event for their debut album Leaning On The Everlasting Arms (Self-Produced, 2014), the sixteen-piece band led by tenor saxophonist Duke Guillaume kicked off the set with George Bennard's classic hymn The Old Rugged Cross," played with a blues-inflected, mid-tempo feel. The bandleader was the first to take a solo, improvising fluently with long notes. The ensemble did not stretch the tune a lot and quickly moved on to Ralph Carmichael's He's Everything to Me." Guillaume explained ...read more
Multi reedist Sam Rivers' 1980 Contrasts in addition to being his only date as a leader for ECM, is a perfect example of his mid-career oeuvre. A sublime balance of intense, almost mystical lyricism and a singular sense of adventure permeates the album that appears for the first time in the CD format and is simultaneously rereleased on LP after 34 years of its initial appearance. The classically influenced Solace" opens with Rivers' soprano saxophone meandering around percussionist Thurman Baker's sparse marimba strikes and bassist Dave Holland's wistful con-arco phrases. Trombonist George Lewis follows with an eloquent, sometimes ...read more
Pianist Fabian Almazan may have initially been recognized for his prodigious skills as a member of Terence Blanchard's ensemble but his debut Personalities(Biophilia Records, 2011) unveiled not only the depth he possesses as a musician but also something Blanchard realized in many of his own recordings--Almazan's forte as a composer. This should not come as a surprise since the young New York based rising star is involved not only in jazz but also filming scoring projects which included a Sundance Composers' Lab 2011 fellowship. His sophomore release, Rhizome follows in the same intellectually stimulating vibe of its ...read more
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