The popularity and appreciation of Nick Drake's music seems to have grown in recent years. Not long ago a tribute programme was broadcast on British radio presented by none other than Brad Pitt, just one indication of the increased exposure Drake's music has received lately.
The refreshing thing about Poor Boy: Songs of Nick Drake is that it never feels as though it is merely going through the motions as a tribute album. There is a genuine sense of reinterpretation about the music, which manages to maintain cohesion despite the many different musicians involved. This is an album of textural contrasts. The joyously folky "Road" begins with the weaving lines of two pianos and two voices, then closes with clarinets building simple interlocking lines from the basic thematic elements. "Black Eyed Dog" is more reflective, based around one harmony with the undulating textures built up from violas, sitar and acoustic guitar shimmering around this. The piano/double bass duet of "One of These Things First" is more free-improvisational in genre, whilst the electronic textures underlaying the simple unprocessed singing on "Parasite" take the music in yet another direction.
Producer Tony Reif has a done a great job in bringing these musicians together in different combinations to interpret Drake's music and there is a clear range of ideas and approaches evident. The interpretations are varied and yet maintain fundamental aspects of Drake's musical character. Only on the "For Nick/Horn/Know" medley do things go slightly wayward, with a degree of abstract dissonance and a lack of focus that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the album, but overall this is an interesting and enjoyable selection.
Track Listing: 1. Cello Song, 2. Clothes of Sand,3. One of These Things First, 4. Three Hours, 5. Hanging on a Star, 6. For Nick/Horn/Know, 7. Poor Boy, 8. Fly, 9. Parasite, 10. Road, 11. Things Behind the Sunm 12. River Man, 13. Black Eyed Dog, 14. From the Morning
Personnel: Randall Dunn - Loops, Mixing; Filippo Gambetta - Accordion; Chris Gestrin - Percussion, Piano, Prepared Piano; Veda Hille - Accordion, Voices; Robin Holcomb - Piano, Voices; Bill Horist - Guitars, Arranger, Electric Bass; Fran
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.