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Cosa Brava: Ragged Atlas (2010)

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Cosa Brava: Ragged Atlas How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In the last forty years, no one has been about to categorize just what exactly Fred Frith music is. His seminal early work with the British prog-rock band Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
1897 - 1965
composer/conductor
—along with the likes of Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
1940 - 1993
guitar, electric
and Captain Beefheart—developed the idea rock artists could also be accomplished and serious musicians. Later he founded the New York Downtown scene with John Zorn
John Zorn
John Zorn
b.1953
sax, alto
, Tom Cora
Tom Cora
b.1953
, Gary Lucas
Gary Lucas
Gary Lucas

guitar
, and Thomas Chapin
Thomas Chapin
Thomas Chapin
1957 - 1998
saxophone
. His continuing interests accompany the worlds of free improvisation, film music, chamber ensembles, dance, and theatre.

Cosa Brava is Frith's return to a regular band playing what he describes as rock music. With Frith, nothing fits into a slick category or is capable of being compartmentalized. Who makes a rock record with the lead players being an accordionist and violin player?

In 2008, Frith recruited accordionist Zeena Parkins (collaborator in Skeleton Crew, Keep The Dog), and violinist Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) to join drummer Matthias Bossi and sound manipulator The Norman Conquest (TNC) in this five-piece band.

The music lies somewhere between folk, Celtic, modern chamber, Latin, funk, Eastern, and prog-rock. Frith has created the classic 1970s rock opera, linking music with spoken/sung lyrics to shape a narrative. The instrumentation and sound manipulation of TNC pushes this music to the edge of chamber music, but also the edges of all the various styles represented. Frith likes using found objects and pushing players instruments into inventive situations. Here, the progressive boundary of rock meets a world traveler's folk. Frith's ideas never stray far from joyous music making.

Track Listing: Snake Eating Its Tail; Round Dance; Pour Albert; R. D. Burman; Falling Up (for Amanda); Out on the Town with Rusty, 1967; Lucky Thirteen; Blimey, Einstein; The New World; Tall Story; For Tom Zé; A Song About Love; Market Day.

Personnel: Fred Frith: guitar, bass, voice; Carla Kihlstedt: violin, nyckelharpa, bass harmonica, voice; Zeena Parkins accordion, keyboards, foley objects, voice; Matthias Bossi: drums, percussion, sruti box, voice; The Norman Conquest: sound manipulation; Anantha Krishnan: mridangam and tabla (4).

Record Label: Intakt Records

Style: Fringes of Jazz


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