Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: CD

Just in time for the holidays, A Lovesome Thing—pianist Geri Allen and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel playing duets at the Philharmonie de Paris on Sept. 5, 2012, for nearly an hour, five tunes, mainly standards, unrehearsed—is a welcome and ravishing balm.The two had played together just once before—the previous July, when Allen briefly sat in with Rosenwinkel’s quartet at the Jazz Standard—and never together as a duo. Yet they make a perfect fit, Allen’s lush chords,... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

Sullivan Fortner is best known as singer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s main pianist, but he was dazzling New York jazz aficionados for a few years before that gig materialized, and, like Salvant, he keeps getting better—more imaginative, more ambitious, more open to taking big risks. His latest, Solo Game (Artwork Records), is two very different albums in a single two-CD set. The first, Solo, is an acoustic-piano solo session, covering a wide array of jazz and pop... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

Darcy James Argue has evolved over the past 15 years, into one of our era’s great big-band composers and leaders, second only to Maria Schneider and, increasingly, a force worth taking on the same level of seriousness. His 4th and latest album, Dynamic Maximum Tension—his first in six years and his debut on the Nonesuch label—is his best to date: a work of stunning versatility and complexity, but thoroughly accessible, borderline passionate, for all its intricate maneuvers.

Read More

genre Jazz Big Band format CD

(This review originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96. A 25th Anniversary double vinyl LP issued by Omnivore with new liner notes and three previously unissued outtakes is currently available—see clickthrough at page bottom).When I was a child, I had a middle-aged second cousin Sophie who lived in far away California. She came to visit one cold New York winter in the late 1950s, bearing crates of tissue wrapped oranges, and jellies and jams from a place with a... Read More

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)It is at once comforting and depressing to hear a band of (relative) youngsters writing and performing songs, most of which could easily be dropped into a cassette tape compilation from the early 70s and segue way so smoothly you’d never know they were new. Since I choose comfort over depression every time, I’m enjoying the hell out of this set of alternative shitkicker music which gracefully slips and slides... Read More

genre Rock format CD

(This review originally appeared in The Tracking Angle Magazine Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Bryan Ferry covering Gogi Grant’s dramatic “The Wayward Wind” has always been one of my musical dreams, but Neil Young does a more than adequate version to open this long neglected mid-80s Young country album. While he doesn’t bring the kind of “camp” to the tune Ferry could, he’s got the spirit right, with cascading strings (17 count ‘em pieces), Waylon Jennings on guitar, and Bela... Read More

genre Country Americana format Vinyl CD

As I’ve noted a few times in this space, Jason Moran is the most versatile, virtuosic jazz pianist on the scene. Around the turn of the decade, as player and composer, he focused on elegiac melodies, deceptively simple in form, rich in harmonies and textures, stirring, even spiritual, in their quest. Some tracks on this album from that period, The Sound Will Tell You, resemble movie music (but deep movie music); two of them were written for the HBO adaptation of... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

For anyone more familiar with John Barry’s 50s and 60s discography and his early scores for spy films like the James Bond series or The Ipcress File (1965), encountering his late-career work on films like Dances with Wolves (1990) and Chaplin (1992) can be a bit of surprise. Gone are the stylings of his era-defining London mod classics like “Hit and Miss” and “Beat for Beatniks”, let alone his genre-defining “James Bond Theme” (Barry's arrangement of a melody by... Read More

Cécile McLorin Salvant has reached the point in her career where she can, apparently, get away with doing whatever she wants. Dreams and Daggers and The Window solidified her status as the preeminent jazz singer of our time. Ghost Song, her debut on Nonesuch Records, cracked open all genres, covering a range enveloping Kurt Weill, Kate Bush, Harold Arlen, a 19th-century folk ballad, and a half-dozen original songs, which matched the album’s standards for wit, swing,... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

The best reissues provide fuller context to the material, guiding listeners to (even) more favorably reassess the work without seeming forceful. As more recent installments have generally grown in size and curation quality, the series has become essential for anyone with more than a passing interest in Dylan. The latest set, 'Fragments: The Bootleg Series Vol. 17,' is the definitive collection of session material and tour recordings surrounding 1997's 'Time Out Of Mind.'

Read More

genre Rock format CD

Jason Moran’s latest album, From the Dancehall to the Battlefield, is a staggeringly ambitious work, nothing less than a stab at reconceptualizing jazz history, hoisting a fairly obscure figure—the composer-bandleader James Reese Europe (1881-1919)—onto the pantheon of major innovators, a project that forges new links and traces a new path of the music’s evolution, with Lt. Jim Europe (as he was also known) at the—or at least a—center.

Read More

genre Jazz format CD

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)This 2CD set documenting comedian Lenny Bruce’s legendary February 4th, 1961 midnight concert at Carnegie Hall is a slightly expanded version of what was originally issued in 1972 as an attractively packaged 3LP set by United Artists (UAS 8900). The concert took place the night after a gigantic blizzard had literally closed down New York City. Bruce almost didn’t make it into town, and when he did, he hardly... Read More

genre Comedy format CD

John WilliamsEven within the context of his catalogue of one classic film score after another, the three films that John Williams scored for the Harry Potter franchise - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - occupy a very special place. But you wouldn’t necessarily have known that to judge from the somewhat parsimonious manner in which the soundtrack scores... Read More

Patricia Barber albums take up a lot of shelf space real estate here. Over the years her many albums have been issued and reissued on vinyl with every reissue sounding better than the previous one, though of course Jim Anderson recorded all of them digitally. Nightclub was recorded to 3348 multi-track and mixed through a Neve analog desk to both digital and analog mix down masters. Anderson said in an email that "....we've always run digital and analogue on... Read More

genre Jazz Vocal Jazz format CD