To The Stars
Chick Corea Elektric Band Stretch Records
After a several year hiatus, keyboardist Chick Corea reunites the Elektric Band for a set based upon the late L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi tome To The Stars. And while re-groupings of this ilk sometimes reap advance skepticism, this outing might indeed reign as one of the ensemble's finest to date. Corea fuses the Latin-jazz element into the production amid the band's complex time signatures. On "Port View," the keyboardist employs a lower end, synth-bass groove, thus establishing a melodic hook for his associates. On a few of the latter pieces, vocalist Gayle Moran harmonizes atop ethereal treatments, whereas the production is finalized on a rather quiet note. There's a lot going on under the hood, and upon subsequent spins this affair discloses additional musical treats.
Yet another splendid effort by the resident Jazz Composers Collective pianist. Kimbrough, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Matt Wilson engage in a deceptively complex series of works, however the trio makes it all seem so effortless. The pianist's light touch does by no means allude to a sedate musical approach as the musicians unassumingly alter flows by weaving in and out of a given theme. Kimbrough's a fine songwriter who possesses a penchant for injecting memorable melodies into his broad musical scope. The trio fuses a modernist type mindset into the jazz piano trio format, although they seldom veer off into one particular categorization. A top jazz pick for 2004!
The Jelly Jam
It's the second offering by guitarist Ty Tabor (King's X), bassist John Myung (Dream Theater) and drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs). No doubt, these individuals are among the more prominent progressive rock heroes. To that end, you can expect to hear bone crushing licks and tricky rhythmical metrics. Tabor's vocals are treated with a low-key studio effect, where he doesn't always reside in the foreground of matters. There are some memorable workouts scattered throughout the album to coincide with the trio's solid riffing and catchy melodic interludes.
The Chad Lawson Trio
Pianist Chad Lawson's delicately rendered chord progressions seem at times like he's tapping eggs instead of piano keys. To that end, the threesome offers a very close-knit musical bonding process. Lawson is a supreme melodicist, witnessed on a series of originals and pieces such as his take on Lennon and McCartney's pop ballad "Michelle." More importantly, the group casts an identifiable sound and style as they abide by a loose groove, supplanted with tightly organized arrangements.
Paul Rutherford Trio
The eminent British trombonist/improviser Paul Rutherford and his trio is highlighted on these live performances culled from a 1986 cassette on the Ogun label. In addition, this release provides three previously unreleased studio tracks recorded several months after the July 1983 live date. Rutherford is in top form as he leads bassist Paul Rogers and drummer Nigel Morris through a rather blustery sequence of improvisations. Alternatively, many jazz-fusion fans might be curiously surprised to hear Morris delving into the freer musical spectrum, given his notoriety with the '70s outfit Isotope. Here, the drummer stirs the pot with multihued cymbal swashes and dynamic timekeeping maneuvers. And of course, Rogers lays down the rock-steady lines for Rutherford's fertile soloing endeavors and fiercely executed navigations.
The Entire Time
Nels Cline & Vinny Golia
Longtime musical cohorts, multi-reed expert Vinny Golia and guitarist Nels Cline pronounce gobs of teamwork during these nine duets. Golia uses a curved soprano sax, alto flute and other woodwind instruments to often mimic Cline's acoustic/electric guitar lines. Cline also employs various EFX treatments to either contrast an assortment of theme-based improvisations or perhaps simply add an angst-ridden ingredient in spots. Naturally, the artists' combined synergy emanates from years of shedding and recording together under a variety of frameworks. A very interesting and at times mind-boggling foray into a semi-structured musical terrain unbounded by limitations!
BBC Radio Volume 1 1968-69
Hux Records has issued the first of two volumes comprising this British band's late '60s recordings for BBC radio. This package presents compositions that until now have never been transposed to CD. Part of Family's signature sound resides within Roger Chapman's tremolo heavy vocalizations, as many of its members moved forward onto other ventures after the quintet's demise. Ultimately, there are some choice nuggets, including the musicians melding of psychedelic, sitar tinged movements minced with progressive rock stylizations. With that, it becomes somewhat apparent that this unit effectively managed to cross borders while maintaining a recognizable, group sound. Either way, the CD might serve as a good starting point for the uninitiated or it would be considered essential for the band's legion of admirers.
The Lost Chords
Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow/Billy Drummond
Pianist Carla Bley and the quartet recorded these works during a 2003 tour of Europe. And the liners provide a diary of such matters. Regardless, this band transmits a lighthearted approach, where jazz music proceeds in a near effortless manner amid various pulses and themes. Simple and sometimes multifarious in scope, a certain charm surrounds Bley's compositions and the musicians' lithe exchanges.
Rig The Jig
They're a sextet performing traditional Irish folk music, incorporating a C&W edge within the gist of the good-timey based material. It's a warmhearted jaunt built upon slick picking guitar work and wistful vocalizations.
Forest of the Echo Downs
Secret Frequency Crew
These Miami area DJs sport a bit of a retro type electronica demeanor in conjunction with oscillating effects, childlike melodies, windswept synth sounds and dance beats. Undeniably entertaining and intelligently produced...
Sun Reverse The Foot Pedal
Tim Olive (guitar) and Fritz Welch (percussion) seemingly scratch and gnaw each other on this improvised collection of works that conceivably resides within that so-called noise music category. There are some cleverly devised moments, although the music often conveys a dry and somewhat stark or uninviting scenario.
Surprisingly strong effort by a rock quartet that nicely blends pop-like choruses with loud and crunching guitar licks. The material is thoughtful and astutely arranged. Overall, this band has a plan and it shows. It's not often that a group surfaces as an entity that could appeal to both top-40 radio and perhaps some of the more progressive college radio stations.