Derived from America's western mythology and romanticism, the San Francisco-based Wooden Shjips incorporates vintage psychedelics, propelled by punchy back-beats amid Sonic Youth-style crunch chords and doses of German space-rock. However, the musicians do seed familiar turf into an identifiable group-focused line of operations. Perhaps a throwback to the '70s, due to Farfisa organ sounds and dreamy electronics and guitars treatments, the band mixes it up with a great deal of improvisation, shaded with ethereal ambience and a haze of semi-controlled gunfire.
"Home" is launched with a classic, distortion-heavy, hard-rock vibe, featuring Ripley Johnson's yearning, but low-key vocals for an overall motif that spawns a combination of steely overtones and otherworldly mosaics. The plot thickens with "Flight," which is designed with wah-wah and psycho guitar parts to complete the moveable wall-of-sound aesthetic, as the artists prod the imagination to wander or flutter into a prismatic abyss.
The album closer "Rising," sparks fond remembrances of the inventive German progressive/space-rock unit Amon Duul, as the band sojourns into the netherworld, with Johnson's rocketing riffs atop a pulsating sequence of grooves via deep space exploration. The band strikes an uncanny equilibrium between eerie, open-ended theme constructions and slamming pulses to delineate a corporeal stance. In a loose sense, they translucently merge a fact and fiction-type scenario that is a component not always attainable within many fantasy-land efforts, evidenced by progressive and/or space-rock outfits hearkening back to the 1970s.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.