Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

100

No: Sonny II

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Were it not for Bill Laswell's efforts in the '80s, guitarist Sonny Sharrock probably wouldn't have reached nearly as many ears as he did. Recordings like the 1991 masterpiece Ask the Ages shed light on his electric free/rock/energy leanings, though Sharrock was already making his first leaps as a leader with Black Woman (Vortex, 1969) and Monkey-Pockie-Boo (BYG, 1970; recently reissued), both unfortunately marred by Linda Sharrock's annoying vocalizations.

French guitarist Noël Akchoté outdoes Sharrock's relative obscurity by several notches in the not-so-vast netherworld of experimental improvising guitarists, despite his recordings for Winter & Winter, Rectangle, and other labels. But Akchoté has made no compromises with his music, which leans from jazz into ambience, abstraction, electronics, and noise. The solo disc Sonny II is part of "a long process of recordings" that pay tribute to Sonny Sharrock, and to the extent that Akchoté appreciates the importance of stretching the boundaries, he's got the essence well figured out.

Whether or not you get to read Akchoté's thoughts on the music (mysteriously missing from my copy's liner notes, but present on Winter & Winter's web site ), it becomes clear early on from listening that he views the rough, unfinished quality of Sharrock's approach as central to its success. That means not being afraid to do things "wrong" or make "mistakes," and not overintellectualizing the process while you're at it. There's something liberating about just leaping in there and playing the guitar.

These nineteen tracks include nine Sharrock originals, five Akchoté pieces, and assorted others that fit into the big picture one way or another. Almost half are under two minutes, and with the exception of the eight-minute closer, none of the rest persist at any length. That means maximum variety, which is a good thing, but also a wandering, nomadic feel that detracts from consistency. Regardless, none of this is easy listening anyway.

Highlights include Daniel Humair's fun, funky "Melvins"; a quick, soaring "She's Only Fourteen" (which appeared as "Fourteen" on Sharrock's Seize the Rainbow ); a joyous strum through "There is a Mountain," by Donovan Leitch (yes, that Donovan); and Akchoté's own droning "Joe" and weirdly exploratory "Terry." Akchote's clean, jazzy version of "Young and Foolish" comes with a heap of club background noise, and the appropriately-titled (at least in a relative sense) "Long Tale" that closes the record captures the sense of wandering that characterized some of Sharrock's work.

Sonny II is thoroughly flawed, to the extent it's disjointed and underdeveloped, and to some that might be reason enough for disqualification, but I don't think Noël Akchoté—or Sonny Sharrock—would have it any other way. To be sure, Akchoté doesn't pack the same raw, visceral punch that Sharrock did. But his roots are clear, his debts are paid, and this record is proof.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Sonny II

Sonny II

Winter & Winter
2004

buy
 

Rien

Winter & Winter
2000

buy
Unable to find .

SELECT e.id, e.event_type, e.musician_id, e.entity, e.festival, e.house_concert, e.city as ecity, e.state as estate, e.country as ecountry, e.location, e.dt, e.title, e.country_subd, e.state_subd, e.city_subd, e.advertised, e.start, e.price, e.currency, entity.name AS entity_name, entity.city, entity.state, entity.country, entity.country_subd AS entity_country_subd, entity.state_subd AS entity_state_subd, entity.city_subd AS entity_city_subd, country.abbrev AS country_name, currency.name AS currencyname, entity.ticket_url AS ticket_url, musician.thumb_img AS thumb_img FROM musician_event me LEFT JOIN event e ON e.id = me.event LEFT JOIN musician ON e.musician_id = musician.id LEFT JOIN entity ON entity.id = e.entity LEFT JOIN country ON country.id = entity.country LEFT JOIN currency ON currency.id = e.currency WHERE e.active <> 0 AND e.is_planned=0 AND e.dt >= CURDATE() AND me.musician = ORDER BY e.dt LIMIT 7

You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 'ORDER BY e.dt LIMIT 7' at line 1