Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. Come and see," said Philip. Nestled in the upper part of the Arkansas River Valley just North of Ozark in Franklin County is Mulberry Mountain. Mulberry Mountain has become the site of several notable music festivals, including Wakarusa, Thunder on the Mountain and The Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival. These festivals take advantage of the beautiful scenery and hospitable climes of the River Valley resting in the lap of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival is a four-day alfresco ...read more
There would have been no rock music in the 1980s and beyond had Led Zeppelin not called it quits that year in the wake of drummer John Bonham's death from misadventure. Shot from a cannon in 1969 and flaming out a decade later, this rock royalty sired a legion of bastards and lesser creatures in the form every popular band from the Me" decade. LZ's import is much farther reaching than simply Motley Crue, Poison, and Tesla. They offered a true alternative to the melodic, pop-based Beatles and the fecund, blues-based Rolling Stones, taking that blues thread born in the ...read more
Cyrus Chestnut Midnight Melodies Smoke Sessions 2014 Elegance and economy characterize Cyrus Chestnut's art. Chestnut's career was the one Kenny Kirkland could have had had Kirkland's fate been different. Chestnut (and Evans and Reed) represent the generation given way to with the passings of Mulgrew Miller and Cedar Walton. Chestnut is a keeper of the flame, a lyrical and expressive pianist who likes to use notes in sculpting songs. Midnight Melodies was recorded November 22 & 23, 2013 at New York City's Smoke Jazz Club as part of the club's Smoke Sessions," ...read more
Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart Ramshackle Serenade Pirouet Records 2014 The organ trio in jazz has always been one of the more durable formats. Wild Bill Davis, John Patton, Shirley Scott, Richard “Groove" Holmes, Jimmy Smith and Larry Young have all led important trios each giving the music a little bit of themselves and pushing the music to its outer limits. To get the breadth of the jazz organ, compare Big John Patton's rollicking period piece Wild Bill Davis at Birdland (Columbia, 1955) and Tony Williams' seditious liberation of sound Emergency ...read more
Stacy Kent The Changing Lights Warner Bros. Records 2013 Stacey Kent has had an impressive musical run: Breakfast on the Morning Tram (Blue Note, 2007, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award), Raconte- moi... (Blue Note, 2010), Dreamer In Concert (Blue Note, 2011) just being her previous three recordings of her ten releases as a leader. She is intelligent, polyglot and capable of performing in any genre or language. Her voice is one of soft evenness, it has a delicate density that extend over her impressive range. ...read more
Andrea Balducci Bloom Schema 2012 Italian vocalist Andrea Balducci is so earnestly hip and so perfectly coiffed (he is a lawyer, after all) he is almost a metaphor: a talented metaphor. His debut recording, Bloom is equally hip and coiffed as the singer himself. With a keen ear for the edge of nostalgia, Balducci assembles a repertoire from 1960s American popular music. The heady brief Balducci prepares for us is one almost too slick to be real or serious, but he stops well before the edge of maudlin pathos. ...read more
Francy Boland Playing With the Trio Schema 2013 Duke Ellington's rare trio recordings are always a treat. Money Jungle (United Artist, 1963) a trio session Ellington made with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach is readily memorable. The big band leader Ellington was clearly able to hold his own in the smaller, more intimate, trio format. More than that, Ellington easily displayed his orchestral thinking even in the company of such modern jazz giants. It is the pianist's identity most carefully archived in these trio settings. Belgian pianist ...read more
Simin Tander Where Water Travels Home Jazzhaus 2014 German-Afghani vocalist and composer Simin Tander follows up her well-received debut recording Wagma (Neuklang, 2011). She again prefers the company of her trio: pianist Jeroen van Vliet, who also provides judicious electronic effects; stand- out bassist Cord Heineking; and drummer Etienne Nillesen, with augmentation by Alex Simu on clarinet and Niti Ranjan Biswas on tabla. Polyglot in the extreme, Tander sings in English, French and, most compellingly, in her native Pashto. Yau Tar De Grewan" infuses a European sensibility with the saffron melody of ...read more
Oran Etkin Gathering Light Motema 2014 Multi-reedist Oran Etkin gathers his scattered points of inspiration from the whole of the Eastern Hemisphere and a good bit of the Western one. Etkin's main horn is the bass clarinet...not completely unheard of, Eric Dolphy played a mean one, but one heard infrequently enough that it remains almost a novelty. Etkin opens Gathering Light with Ki Narto Saboo's Gambang Suling," his bass clarinet reaching eastward toward the Indian Ocean and parts tropical. The original Taxi Dance" pits Etkin's clarinet against Curtis Fowlkes' Teagarden-inspired trombone. If ...read more
April is no more the cruelest month than the moon is made of cheese. For consideration this month we have nine recordings from far and wide: Antonio Adolfo to Little Feat far and wide. Antonio Adolfo Rio, Choro, Jazz AAM Music 2014 Before there was Bossa Nova, there was Choro, which itself was a eutection of European, American and African musical elements. One of the greatest Choro composers was Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth. Nazareth and his music is the focus of Brazilian pianist Antonio Adolfo, whose previous recordings in ...read more
Writer's note: Music writing is an avocation. It is not what I do for a living. It exists as that undertaking I do for the satisfaction of possibly educating others about this single essential art. But the reality is I have less and less time to write. As a result, I am limiting my writing to two Bailey's Bundles" submitted monthly: my current Jazz Quanta" addressing instrumental music and now my Jazz Vocals" capturing my thoughts on vocal jazz. These will serve as my main outlets for writing. I will continue to write full reviews, particularly of music related books, ...read more
bal * lad :noun \'ba- ləd\ A slow popular song that is typically about love. The ballad remains one of the most durable vehicles in any music genre. In jazz, it is a make-or-break format capable of revealing the haves and haves not in the jazz vocals department. There have been many nonpareil jazz ballad singers, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn immediately come to mind. Among the men are Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett and Chet Baker, the latter being the only real jazzer of the bunch, but no ...read more
The traditional jazz piano trio (piano, double bass and drums) remains a robust and productive format for jazz performance and interpretation. Here are three examples supporting this. Phishbacher Trio Dreamcatcher Jazz Sick Records 2014 Pianist and composer Walter Fischbacher with his wife, singer/composer Elisabeth Lohninger manage their Lofish Recording Studio in New York City when not pursuing each other's well- received recording careers. Fischbacher and his trio have enjoyed a productive new millennium, releasing their sixth recording, Dreamcatcher. Fischbacher eschews electronics in favor of piano trio for interpretations of ...read more
On a bright spring Thursday afternoon, June 28, 1928, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five entered the Okeh Studios in Chicago Illinois to record Three Perfect Minutes" of music in the guise of Joe King" Oliver's immortal West End Blues." Describing Armstrong's West End" cornet solo, Gunther Schuller opined that it was, ..."an impassioned almost stammering repetitive phrase that seems to float, completely unencumbered, above the accompaniment." Thus, the most important recording in jazz history. What does this have to do with the present Rare Noise releases by Jamie Saft/Joe Morris and Chat Noir? ...read more
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