Monday, October 7. 2013
Music: Current count 22145  rated (+52), 579  unrated (+7). Attribute the high rated count to my use of Rhapsody as I've been working my way through relatively short 1960s albums for October's Recycled Goods project.
An off week for Jazz Prospecting, not only in that nothing cracked the A- level, only Gavin Templeton came close. I doubt if I've had as high a percentage of B or worse albums in ages, and I didn't even reach into my "low priority" queue for them (although some probably belonged there). I wouldn't read to much into that, although loss of service from quality labels like ECM certainly hurts. I played a CD this morning that sounds real promising -- archival tapes with Clark Terry and Buddy DeFranco -- but it's not due out until next week, so no need to rush it.
Recycled Goods for October will be another 1960s special. I've been looking for original LPs that I had missed, so no Beatles, Coltrane, Davis, Dylan, Hendrix, Rolling Stones or late-decade groups like the Band, Led Zeppelin, or Sly & the Family Stone; also none of the people I caught up with on previous rounds, like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, or Grateful Dead. That still leaves a lot, and I currently have 16 A- (or better) records in the draft file. Will post this later this week, not that I couldn't keep working on it all month.
Also expect A Downloader's Diary out later this week. And sooner or later my outline for a post-Christgau review website. Already missing Expert Witness. In recognition of that, I'll leave comments open for a while. Would be a nice experiment to see how well this blog software handles comments -- depending, of course, on whether anyone feels like contributing. Questions welcome. Rants denouncing me for picking on flute players, less so. (By the way, when I picked David Murray's Creole as the best record of 1998, Christgau wrote me and complained about all the flutes -- something I hadn't given a second thought to, despite the presence of James Newton. So I don't think I'm doctrinaire about them, but I don't find many I like.)
The Jamie Baum Septet +: In This Life (2012 , Sunnyside): Flute player, studied at Manhattan School of Music and New England Conservatory, fifth album since 1992. Septet offers a lot of options including French horn, with John Escreet on keyboards and, most valuably, Brad Shepik on guitar. The "+" adds a second trumpet on three tracks and percussion on four (Samuel Torres on congas, Dan Weiss on tabla). B [October 8]
Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts: Hang Time (2013, Capri): No way I can do justice to this album, which seems to feature two groups of CCJA students, a Group Giz and a Group Gunn. I can't read the voluminous fine print, can't find much of use on the web, and the one spin I gave it didn't make me want to give it another. Soft, slippery postbop, for the most part, with some vocals, as best I recall. B
Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State (2012 , Songlines): Drummer, b. 1975 in Toronto, has been prolific with 15 albums since 2002, mostly original compositions with a wide range of lineups. This is an unusual two-horn pianoless quartet: the "horns" are bassoon (Sara Schoenbeck) and flute (Nicole Mitchell), and the bassist is Mark Dresser. One thing the weak horns do is to return focus to the drummer. B+(**) [October 8]
The Elec Tet: Shiny Metal Objects (2013, Blujazz): Fusion group, or "a 70's fusion 'tribute' band" as drummer Ben Scholz puts it in his liner notes. Scholz is listed first in the credits, but Greg Spero (piano, keyboards) wrote most of the pieces, with two each from James Davis (trumpet) and Alex Beltran (tenor sax). The best known group member is guitarist Oz Noy, a reasonable choice for such a project. The horns can make an impression, at least when they don't get tripped up by the keybs. B
Mike McGinnis + 9: Road Trip (2012 , RKM): Clarinet player, b. 1973 in Maine, moved to New York in 1997; has two new albums out, three in total, plus group records with the Four Bags (four since 1999) and others. Near big band here -- four reeds, three brass, piano, bass, drums, nearly all names I recognize. Two long multi-part pieces (21:16, 23:27), a "Concerto" by Bill Smith and the title piece by McGinnis. Both feature clarinet, and McGinnis makes the most of that. B+(**) [October 8]
Frank Potenza: For Joe (2012 , Capri): Guitarist, b. 1950, studied at Berklee, 10th album since 1986. "Joe" is Joe Pass; bio describes Potenza as a Pass protégé, and this trio-plus-extra-guitarist (John Pisano) hits the mark. Three of the first four songs are Pass originals (the other is Pisano's "Blues for Joe"), then then go into standards: Ellington, Reinhardt, Gershwin, Hines, "Voce," "Beautiful Love." Pass died in 1994, but lives on. B+(**)
Resonance: Introductions (2013, Mandala): San Francisco group, led by pianist Stephen McQuarry (also composer of the two originals here). First album. Group includes Georgianna Krieger (sp. Kreiger on back cover) on various saxes, Laura Austin Wiley on various flutes, a set of strings (violin, viola, cello, bass), and drums -- the strings the dominant motif. Starts with "Eleanor Rigby" -- never a good idea -- and gets worse, turning Ellington into moldy elevator music, and sometimes not even faring that well. C
David Sills: Blue's the New Green (2013, Gut String): Tenor saxophonist, mainstreamer, has at least nine records since 1997. Group here is a quintet with Larry Koonse (guitar), Chris Dawson (piano), Darek Oles (bass), and Jake Reed (drums). Nice as long as he sticks to basics, and Koonse makes his usual fine contribution. Last track Sills switches to flute, not his strong suit. B+(*)
Tierney Sutton: After Blue (2012-13 , BFM Jazz): Singer, grew up in Milwaukee, studied at Boston University and at Wesleyan, based in Los Angeles; tenth album since 1998. Most of her recent albums emphasized the band, but this dive into the Joni Mitchell songbook emphasizes guest stars -- eight named on the front cover, counting Turtle Island String Quartet as one. There isn't much new or different here, some minor twists -- like the mash of "Free Man in Paris" with "April in Paris" -- that are nice enough but nothing to get worked up about. B
Gavin Templeton: In Series (2013, Nine Winds): Alto saxophonist, grew up in Reno, NV, where he studied and wound up backing oldies acts like Wayne Newton and the Temptations; moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and got a Master's at California Institute for the Arts. Second album, side credits include Plotz!, Nels Cline, and Vinny Golia. This is a postbop quintet, both guitar and piano as well as bass and drums -- no one I recognize but that's probably because I hear so little from Golia. All Templeton originals. He can push the sax out front if need be, or fill in making good use of guitar or piano leads. B+(***) [October 8]
The Ian Torres Big Band: January (2008-13 , Blujazz): Chicago-based trumpeter, composes and arranges; album is subtitled "The Birth and Development of the Ian Torres Big Band" -- the "birth" a set of cuts from 2008, the "development" more from 2013. Latter adds a vocalist (Ledie Beukelman). Neither strike me as all that snappy. B
Diego Urcola: Mates (2013, Sunnyside): Trumpet player (flugelhorn too, goes without saying), b. 1965 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; studied at Berklee and CUNY/City College-Queens, remaining based in New York. Fifth album since 2003. A cycle of duets, rotating between Avishai Cohen (bass), Dave Samuels (vibes & marimba), Edmar Castañeda (harp), and Juan Dargenton (bandoneón) -- the latter instruments he has some cultural affinity to, but the bassist is the most effective. B+(*) [October 8]
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
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Q: Are you considering covering any jazz records (as opposed to merely pop-rock) in the 60s-themed Recycled Goods?
Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, although there isn't much I previously missed. I've looked for some others, but have had trouble settling on them. In any case, I expect to return to the 1960s theme a couple more times before I'm done. For one thing, I want to do something on single-artist compilations, whereas for now I'm just doing original LPs.
Tom, Looking forward to seeing your plans for a post-Christgau review website. Hope you continue to leave comments. Thanks again for your excellent political coverage.
I see you have several discs in your "unpacking" pile that I've just received myself: I filed my review of Adam Lane Trio earlier today, and will hopefully post some notes on a couple of the others by the weekend. As always, I look forward to your thoughts.
I will just use the appearance of comments to thank Tom - everyone keeping up the reviewing, but especially Tom - for all of the work they are doing. I use your website, your music database, your annual lists, and much else, frequently. Every week, at least. For what it's worth, thanks.
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