Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kayhan Kalhor, Erdal Erzincan, Kula Kulluk Yakasir Mi, Mid-Eastern Classical Music

I grew up in the generation that believed in the idea of "Brahms, not bombs". There has been nothing that has happened in my eventful life to change my mind. "We" may not have always gotten along with all other nations and people in my lifetime, but I do believe in the power of music to heal us all and eliminate the distance between self and others, or at least understand what positive difference there can be and what can reconcile those so we all can get on with our lives. So much for my pitch as to the power of music.

But there is more, wait. One way to embrace differences in a positive way is to explore the rich heritage of humankind's music-making. No serious student of music, the guitar and/or any instrumental tradition one might work in can afford to ignore the great traditions of other places, and sometimes, other times.

In the spirit of this and because the CD at hand is such an excellent example of another tradition, I give to you Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan's Kula Kulluk Yakisir Mi (ECM B0018884-02). It is a live date of two extraordinary virtuosos performing Mid-Eastern classical music. Maestro Kalhor is Persian and plays a fiddle-like instrument called the kamancheh; Maestro Erzincan hails from Turkey and plays a lute-ish instrument called the baglama. The repertoire is for the most part traditional. There is long developmental scalar improvisations, important compositional motifs and a general ambiance of concentrated ultra-expression.

This is not their first album but it is an excellent album. Listening is the best way to understand why this music is essential. I recommend it without reservation. These two are marvelous musicians.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings, Kingsville Jukin'

Everybody is always talking about what went down at Sun Records and how that managed to conjoin the blues with what eventually became known as rock. Now I have nothing bad to say about all that. But from the perspective of right now, it seems to me that what went down in Chicago, both right then and a little bit later, has proved to be more influential to rock (at least once England got into what was doing) than Presley, Lewis and those cats did, though of course Elvis got all that attention.

Think of Elmore James and the classic bluesman who recorded for Chess, Checker, VeeJay and of course eventually Delmark. To me they stand the test of time and get more hard rocking things happening that still sound as good today as ever. I don't really care if somebody says I am wrong about it. My ears tell me.

Very much on that note today is Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings and their new album Kingsville Jukin' (Delmark 830). Now this isn't the first from this guy, but man, it's the BEST. Studebaker John gives out with the vocals, harmonica and hard-driving rhythm guitar and he is aided and abetted by a hot band of 2nd guitar, bass and drums.

What gets me especially about this new one is how consistently they hit it with that old time hard rockin' Chicago blues. It's 16 slices of stompin' swamp rock that does not let up. Some songs you'll probably get the feeling you recognize somehow, some not. But it's the best kind of deja vu because unlike Yogi Berra's version it isn't "all over again". It's been there but its back, it's new. Because it has enough that identifies it as Studebaker John and his band that you don't at all feel like a clone in cloneland. It's Kingsvilleland, and you are no clone, right?

I am not going to lie to you. Why would I? I am not getting paid to say it. I am not getting paid, PERIOD, dig? THIS is gonna pop your cork if you gravitate to that hard rocking, boogie jukin', no-prisoners-taking stomp. And my partner Susan agrees, so that seals it. I tell you no lie. Get this one and roll back the rug!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ellery Eskelin, Susan Alcorn, Michael Formanek, Mirage

There can be no real rules that limit the way music can and should be made, except those the musicians themselves choose to accept. This is how we get innovation, how music can flourish, advance. And so today we have an example of a trio working within the freestyle world of today's avant jazz, who have adopted certain practices and have agreed (not necessarily by a lot of verbal discussion, but at least intuitively so) on a set of assumptions to create a series of improvisations that have their own internal consistency.

I speak of the album Mirage (Clean Feed 271) as played by Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar and Michael Formanek on acoustic bass.

These three are well-suited to work together in the exploratory zone. Eskelin has for quite some time been a tenor player of great imagination and inventiveness. He comes through once again here with some inspired playing. Susan Alcorn may not be a household name right now but has established herself as that most unusual of things, a free-avant player of the pedal steel guitar and she is good, very good. Then there is Michael Formanek, a contrabasses's bassist, a guy that can and does do it all, whether pizzicato or arco.

Put the three together and set them loose as they are on this album, and you have something. In some ways it is the plastic, open sound of Alcorn's guitar that immediately places this sound world elsewhere than where one might expect. But then it's the three together that make real magic. It's a live recording from 2011. It was a most productive meeting.

You really should hear this one.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gene Ess, Fractal Attraction

There is never a shortage of lesser known, upcoming players out there. What of course is heartening is that some of them are very good. Guitarist Gene Ess is one, as much here today as upcoming, that caught my ear by way of his album Fractal Attraction (SIMProductions 130315). He graduated from Berklee after studying with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos and moved to New York in 1991. He was a member of the celebrated Rashied Ali's group through 2003. And he has gotten attention and acclaim with two albums prior to this one.

Fractal Attraction is an album in the progressive contemporary jazz mode. It features some hip, sophisticated compositions by Ess and one co-written with vocalist Thana Alexa, as well as one wholly by Alexa, who is an important part of the quintet on the album. She is featured as wordless vocalist and scat artist to very good effect. Rounding out the band is David Berkman playing some rather advanced piano and a strong rhythm team of Thomson Kneeland (bass) and Gene Jackson (drums).

The band has very much its own sound--thanks in part to the melodic-harmonic stylistic progressiveness of the compositions, the vocalist as ensemble member and the beautifully acrobatic playing of Maestro Ess. It's music that pulsates nicely, has interesting changes-based improvisation structures and maintains a consistently high level of musicianship from first to last.

Thana has real scatting chops and holds her own as a "horn" in the soloing routines. Gene can blaze over a set of changes in very cool ways while keeping a personal style to the forefront. He isn't a "sounds like x" player so much as HE is an X himself, which is saying a great deal in a contemporary guitar world filled with influenced players.

The whole band has something going for themselves. Fractal Attraction will give great pleasure to those who like jazz that is fully of today yet has postbop roots. And the Gene Ess guitar presentation will make you a believer. Lots of wonderful music here. Get it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Simak Dialog, The 6th Story

The Indonesian fusion group Simak Dialog makes music like nobody else. They are into I believe by now their 6th album, aptly titled The 6th Story (MoonJune 056). It plays on my computer as I write this.

The new album continues the trajectory set by the others. A three-piece Indonesian percussion section lays down a hip combination of traditional rhythms and more fusoid beats. The bass guitar of Adhitya Pratama, the guitar of Tohpati, and the keys of Riza Arshad layer on top in a deft combination of contemporary fusion and melodically Indonesian elements.

Chick Corea in Java? Not exactly. Riza is the composer and engineer for these sides and he plays some very respectable keys, both solo and ensemble. His compositions have heft and much originality. Tohpati can rock-fuze out in his own original way and he does. The melody lines often feature intricate guitar-key lines that keep the ears perked up. And Tohpati gets some excellent guitar solos going now and again for you plectrum fans.

By now there is a very strong music meld between group members. They are tight and very simpatico. They may rock a little less hard on some numbers than on some previous albums but there is continuous flow throughout and the music is challenging in interesting ways, always.

It's another winner. You might do well to start with one of the earlier ones if you don't know the band (do a search in the appropriate window on this page for reviews of older albums), but this one gives you Simak Dialog in full bloom. Listen and dig!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gary Lucas, Touched by Grace: My Time with Jeff Buckley

Ding-dong! A couple of nights ago my doorbell rang. It was the UPS, delivering a mysterious package. I opened it with some haste. "Oh, good. The publisher sent me a review copy of Gary Lucas's book," I mumbled to myself. I had heard about it. Of course I was and am no stranger to Gary Lucas and his music. I consider him one of the very most important, most innovative guitarists of our era. And the book is about a momentous time in his career--his collaboration with the exceptional vocalist/poetic lyricist and expressionist Jeff Buckley. I was glad to know more of the details since the music had struck a nerve with me.

And so the next day I hunkered down with the book, Touched By Grace: My Time with Jeff Buckley (Jawbone, 317 pp., paperbound). It is a page turner. In two days I was finished reading it, touched by the grace in my own way.

I always knew Gary could write. I knew his background. I had read some of his more casual social media posts and other, more polished, more developed things. But none of that quite prepared me for THIS.

It tells the sort of story legends are made of--only it is a slice of real life, surely not a legend at the core. No. It's too real, too heartbreaking a tale to read for it to be a legend in itself. Yet it tells the tale of an industry that often by definition is in the legend-making business. Jeff Buckley from the start of his public career had a special something about him that made him grist for the legend-maker's mill. But Gary Lucas tells us... the truth about the whole jumping, complex set of events leading to the creation of the legend and in the end gives us a stunningly clear picture of the many contradictions, interdictions and general sweet-fast talking jive behind what ultimately launched Jeff's career and perhaps led him into dangerous psychic territory and destruction in the end.

I am getting ahead of the story though. And this story is as much about Gary and his circumstantial yet fundamental presence within the story as it is about how the musical/starformed Jeff Buckley came to be.

So let's backtrack. It starts with Gary AFTER his seminal association with Captain Beefheart, Gary the talented but under-challenged copywriter for well over a decade at Columbia Records. The music business in that period, at least the major-label part of it, had begun to drift away somewhat from its flirtations with the underground art-rock that had changed the music scene so radically from the later '60s on. There was a kind of rock midlife no-man's land developing, a gradually increasing re-emphasis on the "hits or nothing" perspective of earlier years.

We catch Gary in the middle of the drift, pretty disgusted with his role in the big machine and its increasing tendency to play it safe, 35 years old, knowing in his heart that he needed to play the guitar and make a statement about what rock still was capable of and what it could be. He returns to the guitar with renewed determination, as a solo act playing marvelous near orchestral pedal-enhanced music on the six-string to no small acclaim. He then forms his band Gods and Monsters, which eventually includes a female singer who falls in at first with what Gary is looking for. He quits the copywriting job and gets the attention of the right folks at Columbia, namely Rick Chertoff, and lands a tentative commitment from them to do an album deal.

Yet there was a willful strain in the Gods and Monsters singer at the time, an ambition to take the music in a direction that in the end did not meet with a good deal of enthusiasm from either Gary or the label.

All that leads up to one of those Kis-metic situations that changes everything. An old acquaintance is putting together a Tim Buckley tribute concert. Tim's son Jeff, then completely unknown in music circles, was going to do some singing as part of the events. Would Gary like to get together with Jeff and work up a couple of numbers for the show?

From that very first moment Gary met with Jeff things started falling very much together. At the same time things also began a slow unravelling, began to fall very much apart, but in ways that were not initially apparent. From that first collaborative moment when the two began working out material together it was clear that something momentous was taking shape. Yet the centrifugal-centripetal forces inherent in Jeff Buckley's complex personality would ultimately bring it all to a grinding halt. Gary does a great job portraying Jeff as a bundle of contradictions: vulnerable-ruthless, open-stubborn, somewhat naive, kind and loving, yet easy prey to the temptation to be single-minded, self-destructive, overweeningly ambitious, duplicitous. Jeff's then hidden dark side combined with some music business machinations and the result was far from pretty.

But for a short, wonderful period of time musical magic reigned. Gary tells brilliantly the happy-sad exhilarating-brooding saintly-demonic story of Jeff Buckley the enigma yet perhaps all the more brilliant at times for it, their volatile but hugely kinetic-cathartic mutual musical combustion-collaboration. The music business side as well as the creative side get detailed, pinpoint-brilliant scrutiny from Gary. Perhaps most fascinating is Gary's right-there description of how they worked together, Gary crafting an intricate, musically contentful foundation that Tim then soared over, creating the vocal line-lyrical content that fit perfectly with and extended Gary's initial creative brilliance into a stratospheric zone, the result surely and startlingly transformed into much more than the sum of the two parts.

In the end there was betrayal. Lucas tells it all in a gripping prose chronology that jumps off the pages at you until you cannot stop reading.

And maybe it is the all-too-familiar story of stardom and self-destruction, insightful music brilliance and naive self-delusion, all teaming up to set the tail of the Jeff Buckley comet shooting rapidly and vertically to the heavens only to sputter and do an equally sure decent into nothingness. But it is told with such vivid life as the details unwind unerringly to the heartbreaking denouement, it is no simple, documented story. It does end up having the quality of a legend out of time, though not one the record execs envisioned, surely.

Lucas as he himself implies is someone who feels compelled to built up the truth of the experience in exhilarating and then harrowing detail. And in so doing he creates a hell of a book.

It is a book one does not forget quickly, if at all. You get a planet full of insights on Gary, on Jeff, on the blinding ecstasy of their momentous collaboration and then on the forces that pulled it apart and ultimately led to Jeff's demise. You see the horror of what the music business can be along with the extraordinary highs of musical excellence the two were able to reach, each bringing to the table a special frisson that in combination was otherworldly, exceptional, a model of what such things can be when everything is right.

Brilliant. Moving. A must-read.

Tail Dragger, Stop Lyin'

Tail Dragger (aka James Yancy Jones) is one SINGER. He has that Howlin' Wolf sort of gruff soul and you can hear it to good advantage on this, his very first album Stop Lyin' (Delmark 828), recorded in 1982. Only two songs were originally released from it (on a 45 and then an anthology), so this is the first time the full album has been available.

He belts out some very solid Chicago blues with an excellent band. As a bonus he reminisces for a few minutes about his early Chicago days at the end of the album. It's very funny-real and informative about what things were like for him and the crew he ran with.

It's the real deal, the real blues, done with lots of soul and fire! Oh yeah, it IS.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Larry Corban, The Circle Starts Here

Guitarist Larry Corban embodies and carries forward the jazz guitar legacy we have inherited from some of the masters of the later fifties-early sixties. I mean Wes, Burrell, Kessel. . . all of the heavily swinging players you can think of get an extension in the playing of Larry Corbin on the nicely turned album The Circle Starts Here (Nabroc Records 001).

This is guitar-bass-drums trio finessing and fineness all the way through. Larry teams with the always-on bassist Harvie S and a swinging Steve Williams on the drums.

It's a nice set of 14 originals and standards. Larry has some excellent chordal-soloing ideas and rapid single-line prowess. He puts it all to good use here. What's especially encouraging and pleasurable about the CD is how Larry and company find a way to evoke the tradition without merely dishing it back to us as it has been handed down. They find a way to make it new. If you are a jazz guitar appreciator this will make you smile.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lex Bronkowitz Orchestra, Strictly Gravy, the Music of Frank Zappa

For those that follow these things, there have been a fair number of outfits devoted at least in part to the music of departed master Frank Zappa. Zappa Plays Zappa is perhaps the best known, headed by Frank's son Dweezil. I've listened to most of them, having a love for the music that goes back to my adolescence, when I purchased a copy of Freak Out at Sears right as it first came out. (The cashier actually asked me, "You sure you want this?!" I said "Yes!" even though I had no idea what it was going to be. The cover did look pretty scary, but I liked that. Turns out I was in for some challenging music. The Mothers/Zappa opened up a universe of things for me over the years that started at that moment in 1966.)

One of the most interesting and successful work in this realm comes from the Lex Bronkowitz Orchestra, specifically on their recent album Strictly Gravy (nl fzio CD). What's really good about this outfit and this set? They play a few that have gotten plenty of attention, "Big Swifty" and "Mr. Green Genes," for example. But then they tackle some that have not been often heard, like "Uncle Remus," "Andy" and "rdnzl." And there are medley combinations (something Zappa himself favored in live settings) that work quite well.

The arrangements are by Lex. And they follow best practices, to my mind. They freshen up the sound and adapt it to the group at hand (Lex on guitar, Katharina Debus on vocals, plus mallets, drums, bass, and a guest horn section of sax, trombone and trumpet). They do justice to the music by staying very close to the spirit of Zappa's musical thinking, yet extend that for today.

Lex plays guitar very nicely, and can and does solo in a post-Zappa mode, as effectively as anyone playing today. He does something with the irregularity of phrasing and that soulful melodicism, both Zappa guitar hallmarks, and he even gets a Zappa-esque sound from his guitar. Yet it too is an extension with a creative, original component that is a joy to hear.

Finally, the entire band is very good. Everybody can play, Katharina has soul and finese. She makes all she sings seem right, but also seem right for HER.

This one clocks in at 36 minutes. Surely no second is wasted time. In fact this is one of the most invigorating and satisfying Zappa tributes I've heard. It stands on its own as excellent music in its own right. Now that's very cool!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Michael Moss, Billy Stein, Intervals

When something clicks in open-ended duo improvisations, and you've been around a while and heard many such pairings, well, you just KNOW it. That's the case with the duo tandem of reedman Michael Moss and electric guitarist Billy Stein on their CD Intervals (4th Stream-ERG Publishing 2013).

They get on the express train to hipsville from the start and you are in for a ride as listener. Billy Stein has an excellent sense of how to expand the tonality via some excellent chordal sequences and chord-line comping; his solo time is well spent working along those lines as well. He sets things up for Michael Moss to sound out adventurous, soulful free-wailing lines. And Michael sounds terrific, inspired. There are some loose compositional frameworks from time to time that work well and there are inventive segments of pure improvisation.

Either way the two create impressive, impassioned music together. Michael turns in beautiful solos on tenor, clarinet, flute, bass clarinet, and even the shofar horn. Each change of instrument inspires Billy to complement with another way into the freedom and the interest level never flags.

So I would certainly recommend you get this one. It's freedom at its finest!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Aaron Lebos, Reality

Aaron Lebos comes out of the new fusion explosion with both a guitar style and instrumental writing not unoriginal. That is the case with the album I was sent recently, called Reality (self-released). It's Aaron with a quartet that includes Eric England on electric bass, Jim Gasior on keys, and Rodolfo Zuniga on drums. Jim proves an able second soloist and the band has a good rhythmic feel throughout.

Aaron's guitar-centered compositions and tasteful solo style carry the day in the end. There is the slightest hint of an Alan Holdsworth sort of feeling in his playing but really not all the much, just in the way he sustains notes sometimes and the bends he sometimes gets on a note. Aaron comes through very much as his own player ultimately.

It's a bracingly fine set of numbers here. And you have to dig the bold hipness of the guitar electricity. Yeah!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I Know You Well Miss Clara, Chapter One

What's in a name? The band name I Know You Well Miss Clara must have meaning to the band members. And possibly Miss Clara. But in the end a name is a name and what counts is the music. In the case of I Know You Well Miss Clara and their inaugural Chapter One (MoonJune 057), the music says it all. This is a crack fusion-prog outfit out of Indonesia. It's a quartet with Reza Ryan wizardizing the guitar, Adi Wijaya on keys, Enriko Gultom on bass, and Alfiah Akbar on drums.

The songs, instrumental in form, written by Ryan with a few co-written with Wijaya and one by all the above and Gultom, have tensile strength and plenty of substance and power. They are not at all in a fusion cliche mode, which is a delight.

There are plenty of exploratory moments where keys, bass and guitar set up interesting moods. And then there are the sections when the band cranks it. Reza Ryan is a heck of a guitarist and he has technique in abundance but also his own ideas about line-weaving. So he stands out. But the whole band, here with their first album, has a pretty fully formed identity already too. And I suppose part of that is the rich musical culture of Indonesia but mostly I think it's because they've found a way and a direction of their own.

Listening to this album, given all the above, is a total gas! This is very together music. Do not pass this one by if you want to hear something new that both thinks and rocks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dump, I Can Hear Music, Reissue

Dump is the alter-ego solo identity of James McNew of Yo La Tengo. His first album, from 1993, is a very long set of indie punkster-prankster DIY covers, originals and general mayhem. It has been reissued recently as a deluxe two-CD or three-LP set on Morr Music (MORR 114). I Can Hear Music strikes a kind of nerve with totally unpretentious festerings, psych garage to simple guitar and vocal posturings. And everything goes here, which you can grab only if you listen to the whole set a few times.

Who would expect Johnny Cash, old pop-rock cronie singles, and some catchy alt things to mesh together in ways that extend into what now is a many-years-later future and still sound authentic? It's not that such things are a big surprise, it IS what some music should be able to do. It does it not via extraordinary musicianship or vocal prowess. It does so by honestly making garage communications out of it all.

I am digging this. Almost in spite of my current oh-so-knowing and oh-so-showing self!

Marc Edwards & Slipstream Time Travel, Planet X Just Blew Up!

Today, as promised a few days ago, we take a look at the second part of Marc Edwards's virtual double-album release. This one is with his Slipstream Time Travel ensemble, a slightly larger group than the three guitars and drums quartet Sonos Gravis, the ensemble responsible for the other part of this double-dip into a cosmic ice cream multi-electric flavoring. This second foray is humorously titled Planet X Just Blew Up! (APCD-R4A/Dog and Panda 7).

For this outing we once again have Ernest Anderson III and Takuma Kanaiwa on very electric guitars, joined this time by Tor Snyder. Then there is Gene Janas on bass and Lawry Zilmrah on "bicycle wheel electronics." Of course Marc is on drums throughout and wrote the compositions that launch the band into space.

The guitars and bass open the set with an atmospheric, expanded free-flowing electricity on "Dark Space." All hell, so to speak, breaks loose on the title cut, with Marc charging forward with hugely kinetic energetic barrages, the full band giving you psychedelic free jazz-rock density and intensity. The guitars get a furious head of steam that Marc pushes forward with an insistence that especially works with his all-over sense of sound and full-out virtuosity. This is psycho-bashing at its finest.

For the finale we have "Suspended Animation," a Latin-Afro-out groove that hits on all cylinders with rhythmic heat and some very fine guitar work.

Marc has been experimenting for a number of years around the city in an electric free rock context. It all comes to an exhilarating, bracing fruition on these two new albums. If you had to choose, Planet X is probably the one to get. But why choose? They are both parts of a whole and make sense against each other. So grab them both for the maximum impact. Heavy business!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tony Adamo, Miles of Blu

Tony Adamo is all about THE FUNK. The Funk in the widest sense, from the Miles of "Walkin'" to Horace Silver, Jimmie Smith and the B-3 tradition and on to James Brown, Tower of Power, Parliament, and all of that a springboard for what goes on in the album Miles of Blu (Random Act 1012).

Start with drummer Mike Clark, rhythmical pivot point of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters band in their classic incarnation. He is still going strong. He produces the album, plays the drums on it, and presumably has much to do with assembling the excellent funk band that underpins and hips up the whole recording. They are on it! On it with some great horn riffs, hip guitar, grits and gravy B-3 and Mike laying it down.

And on top of it all is Tony Adamo, who has soul and lets it loose. He has his own brand of rap that channels the beat poets, so we get a series of word-poems that extols funk, sets the street vibe hipster thing winding out. He does a bit of singing in the blue-eyed soul mode in between recited-rapped lines, too. James Brown he isn't but he is nakedly himself here, and I appreciate the sincerity there. When it works, it works. And the band carries it throughout. Hey, and my wife digs it, which means something to me, because she has "people's ears," maybe more so than I do.

Tony has the right vision and gives it to us. Is this the greatest thing I've ever heard in the funk zone? No. But the hipness of the full band and Tony's exuberant hipster vibe give you something that makes you smile and tap your foot. Tappin' hard, brothers and sisters!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Trance Lucid, Palace of Ether

Trance Lucid plays a lively rocking trio music on their Palace of Ether (AM 01313). Dave Halverson has much to do with the outcome, coming through with some very hip rock guitar and writing the music, doubling on bass and synthesizers; Terry Lee plays some respectably rocking drums; Richard Bugbee mans the keyboards in an appropriate way.

It's fusionoid without settling squarely into what one expects from that style these days. It's jazz-rock without landing hard and consistently on a head-solos-head format.

What drives all this is some nice compositional, chordal, rifforal catchiness. Dave can rip out with a very decent, tasteful rock solo per se and he does in the midst of all this, but it's the musical guitar-compositional sequences and their variations that get your attention and stay in the memory. And all three play the right things to go with that.

Call it what you like, instrumentally progressive rock, whatever. It just lays down nicely and puts a good imprint on your listening mind.

Yeah, now that's good to hear!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Concetta Abbate and Charlie Rauh, Deletion Sky Tires, EP

Nothing is fixed forever on this earth or in the heavens. That may be an important lesson we have learned in our lifetime, or perhaps it's just a commonplace and everybody has held on to the notion from time immemorable. I sure feel that nowadays, though. Just look at the "serious" music scene. No release is necessarily the obvious, because the obvious is no longer set in stone. So anything can and does go.

The EP by Concetta Abbate and Charlie Rauh, Deletion Sky Tires (Brainplanrecords), is a good example. Unless you already know what Concetta and Charlie have been up to (and we have discussed them previously here) you would have no idea what to expect. But what you do get has an unexpected quality, which I suppose is what you SHOULD expect!

At any rate Concetta plays the violin and sings now and again. Charlie is on the electric guitar. This is chamber jazz/new music that has a definite sound and style all its own. It's two-part composition/improvisation of a carefully thought-out sort. More tonal and sequential than anarchic, improvisation and composition meld together seamlessly; the arrangements have spontaneity and deliberation in equal amounts.

Each of the eight pretty short pieces has its own particularity. Charlie plays some very interesting guitar, schooled but also immediate; Concetta has creative directness and her own way on the violin. Her vocals are of the "band" variety, in that they make no pretentions of themselves other than expressing the line and lyrics clearly and musically.

So there it is, 20-something minutes of something well put together and different. This is not what you might expect. It is straightforwardly and captivatingly a music of today, though, so trash the expectations and experience it. Go to for more info. This is a limited quantity release so get over there ASAP if you are interested.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Marc Edwards & Sonos Gravis, Holographic Projection Holograms

Marc Edwards has always been a drummer of great power, drive, full technique and imagination. You can hear that on the sides he made as a member of Cecil Taylor's outfits and as a leader in his own right. But his music has been evolving over the years, taking a turn into the more electric outside free rock zones, in bands with and without the tag-teaming of Weasel Walter.

We now get a close-up panorama of what he has been up to with two interrelated releases. I tackle one today, the other soon. Up for consideration is Marc and his band Sonos Gravis and their album Holographic Projection Holograms (APCD-R4/Dog and Panda 6).

What we have here is a very invigorated live set recorded at New York's Local 269. Marc holds forth at the drums, then there are the very kinetic, amped guitars of Ernest Anderson III, Takuma Kanaiwa, and Alex Lozupone, the latter sometimes rigging up his guitar for bass tones.

For those who like the freely anarchic, high-decibel sort of out rock improvising, this has it on a high plane. Marc plays a whole lot of drums in his indefatigable way, in freetime and sometimes with pulse. The guitarists get a three-way frothy head of psychedelic steam going for them. Together all four make an exhilaratingly noisy tumult that carries plenty of notefulness and full-out fire. Marc's head compositions (two, the third number a collective improv) are very appropriate launching vehicles for this space trip.

The set is strong. Everybody hits in on all cylinders. It is freely fused out rock that takes "free jazz" and cranks it. Now you may not like that but if you say to yourself, "that sounds good," you will not be disappointed!