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September 2004

Glenn Astarita By

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Cha Cha With The Hellboys

The Hellboys

Hellboys

This independent release highlights the compositions of vocalist/guitarist Thomas Redmond. But it's more or less a union of the King Crimson crowd, featuring guitar hero Robert Fripp's soundscapes patented electronics on selected tracks. King Crimson bassist and fabled session man Tony Levin handles the bottom end chores, along with the California Guitar Trio and others. Ultimately, Redmond's tongue-in-cheek lyricism and the band's electro-acoustic guitar based passages translate into a highly entertaining brew. Just think of what might happen when a bunch of highly regarded progressive rockers set out to enjoy a bit of fun and frolic in the studio. Sure, they let their hair down, but the melodically centric comps, coupled with blithe lyricism all stacks up rather nicely. But it's clearly Redmond who provides the devilish sensibilities here, thanks to his downright witty and hilarious verse on selected tracks.

Oleo

Joe McPhee - Po Music

hatOLOGY

The Swiss progressive jazz record label hatOLOGY commenced under the Hat Hut moniker back in the '70s. In fact, it all started as a launching pad of sorts for New York-reared saxophonist/trumpeter Joe McPhee. This reissue from 1982 includes previously unreleased material lifted from a live concert, performed on the evening of the daytime session. Here, McPhee uses a pocket trumpet and tenor sax, sparking an affable union with clarinetist/alto saxophonist Andre Jaume. Raymond Boni's phased out, electric guitar work provides a progressive rock touch, especially during the quartet's spunky, free bop takes on Sonny Rollins' "Oleo." Regardless, this outing signifies McPhee's "Po Music" mindset that incorporates somewhat of an existential approach.

America 2003

Evan Parker - Alexander Von Schlippenbach - Paul Lytton

Psi Records

This two-CD modern improv extravaganza signifies sides recorded during the trio's 2003 Stateside tour, featuring extended pieces culled from performances in New Orleans and Seattle. Ultimately, these modernists improvise with uncanny sensibilities, yet should we expect anything less? Sax hero Evan Parker's circular breathing diatribes spark notions of a pianist rendering a whirlwind of chord clusters. Pianist Alexander Schlippenbach and percussionist Paul Lytton dish out a buoyant, polyrhythmic foundation that sometimes acts as a crosswind for Parker's Herculean passages. Overall, the respective artists receive ample soloing spots. But they make it sound so effortless and uninhibited. Another viewpoint firmly resides within the fact that they clearly distinguish the professionals from the amateurs throughout these often mind-bending series of works.

23 Standards (Quartet) 2003

Anthony Braxton

Leo Records

Leo Records has deemed this gem as a limited edition production, limited to 1000 copies. To that end, sax hero/composer and modern jazz acolyte Anthony Braxton leads his quartet through twenty-three standards, ranging from bittersweet balladry to up-tempo swing and bop grooves. Drummer Kevin Norton and bassist Andy Eulau provides Braxton and guitarist Andy Eulau with an unblemished flow throughout. Much like the quartet's previous standards outing on Norton's Barking Hoop Records, these live recordings feature Braxton attacking old time favorites such as "Tangerine" and "Giant Steps," with fluttering passages. The band's lighter than air approach is offset by vigorous soloing and an overriding sense of buoyancy. An added treat here pertains to guitarist Kevin O' Neil's lightning fast lines and vigorously executed chord progressions.


QUICK PICKS

Focus on Stan Getz: Live at Severance Hall

Ernie Krivda

Cadence Jazz Records

Cleveland, Ohio sax legend Ernie Krivda recorded this personalized spin of Eddie Sauter and Stan Getz' classic Third Stream outing, Focus , at a live venue in 1998. Krivda's tenor sax work signifies a mark of distinction, as he occasionally rekindles memories of Getz' whispery and softly uttered tones. Backed by a rhythm section and an orchestra, Krivda provides additional credence to Sauter's modernistic arrangements, more so from a contemporary standpoint.

StorryHill

Urban Survival

Urban Survival Jazz

This hip modern jazz quartet sneaks a few surprises into the proceedings, featuring groove laden exchanges, elongated melodies, snappy rhythms and a loose vibe. Hailing from New York, the ensemble snuggly fits into that so-called progressive jazz scene without becoming too risqué or off-center. The band also delves into pianist Keith Jarrett's '70s and '80s style ensemble work on certain pieces.

Eruption

Mountain

Fuel 2000

A discounted two-CD of previously unreleased material highlight's guitarist Leslie West's prominence as a killer rock guitarist. These sides are lifted from the group's performances in New York City and Europe. No doubt, West is a crowd pleaser, especially during the band's rendering of its hit "Mississippi Queen."

Habyor

Jim Black - AlasNoAxis

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