Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Vinyl

"Jazz Samba" wasn't the first Bossa Nova record released in The United States, and it wasn't called one, but it was, and upon its release in 1962 it broke open the Brazilian music floodgate. Within months of its release there was Bossa Nova everything. This record was also the first in a popular series of Creed Taylor produced Verve releases featuring on their covers Olga Albizu's abstract art. It was a winning formula.Recorded in a single day... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

(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

You’ve never seen a cleaner Cadillac in your life. My 1985 Eldorado was triple black and it proudly boasted the “Biarritz” package which upgraded it with a stainless steel roof and extra plush leather seats. Even though it was over a decade old by the time I took ownership of the vehicle, you wouldn’t know it because of how carefully I cleaned and detailed it almost each and every weekend. In the summer evenings, with the Eldorado in showroom condition, a buddy or two... Read More

genre World format Vinyl

For Cecil Taylor, the word “jazz” didn’t represent the music’s rich historical and geographical lineage. The further he progressed, the more he distanced himself from such strict definition. And considering his music, why wouldn’t he? A classically-trained pianist who worshipped Ellington but also studied and admired Stockhausen and Xenakis, it took almost a decade before Taylor’s brilliance fully revealed itself in the studio. Yet even on his debut album, the 1956... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde format Vinyl

On my previous endeavor, June of 2020 writer Jeff Flaim covered, and we discovered avant-garde trumpeter Jaimie Branch and her supercharged, trumpet, drum, bass, cello quartet: Lester St. Louis, cello, voice, flute, marimba, keyboard, Jason Ajemian, double bass, electric bass, voice, marimba, and Chad Taylor, drums, mbira, timpani , bells, marimba. What do you call this? Punk Rock improvisatory jazz? The off the charts energy level of beating drums, bass, churning... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

"Don't throw your love away, No, no, no, no, Don't throw your love away, For you might need it someday". Lyrics from a song first recorded by The Orlons but later made popular by The Searchers. Good advice then and now.I'm not exactly "late to the fair" on this classic Coltrane album. I bought it new when it was first released January, 1965. A kid in my Cornell University, University Halls 3 dorm said "just get it" and so I... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Spring, drummer Tony Williams’ 1965 album on Blue Note, his second release as a leader, is a baffling recording. It’s a masterpiece. It reveals new angles, unlocks new mysteries on each listening. But beats me how or why it works.Williams (who, at the time, went by “Anthony Williams”) is credited with composing all five tracks, but except for one of them, “Love Song,” which has the structure and grace of a song, it’s hard to detect just what parts of what we hear were... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

Van Morrison grew up listening to American blues and soul music courtesy of his father, a Belfast shipyard worker with excellent musical taste. No surprise that he moved to America and probably not because The Shadows of Knight's version of "Gloria" became a bigger hit in the USA than did his own version with "Them" released by U.K. Decca in 1964 as the "B" side of "Baby Please Don't Go". In 1965 with the American... Read More

genre R&B/Soul format Vinyl

Last year, Craft Recordings released Genesis Of Genius, a vinyl or CD box set of Ornette Coleman’s two albums for Contemporary Records. The box is now discounted at multiple outlets and since Craft’s Acoustic Sounds series is reissuing the LPs individually, it’s still worth reviewing.Ornette Coleman, born and raised in Fort Worth, was controversial from the start. A working saxophonist (tenor, then a plastic alto after three men smashed his tenor sax following a show)... Read More

genre Jazz Hard Bop Post-Bop format Vinyl

Every few years, it seems, someone discovers another stack of long-lost tapes from a long-forgotten John Coltrane session and puts them out on CD, LP, or both. The resulting albums garner lavish praise and sell very well, but, really, they’re deep disappointments, textbook cases of hype—the allure of the new, the unknown, the never-before-heard-until-now! The first of the recent excavations, in 2018, was Both Directions at Once, a 1963 date at Rudy Van Gelder’s... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

After almost a decade under its belt, Bestial Mouths is still a shape-shifting collective. What started as a group with numerous lineup changes became a vehicle for vocalist Lynette Cerezo to express her lyrics of personal trauma and tribulations. Alongside instrumentalists Brant Showers and Matthew Tucker, Bestial Mouths displays a sound that brings together the gothic elements of post-punk giants Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and Depeche Mode with some... Read More

genre Electronic Dark Wave format Vinyl

What is pop music? A never-ending cycle of repackaging the past? Or a portal to infinite possibilities? High art, or insipid, assembly-line bubblegum confections? What if it’s all of the above?Charli XCX’s 2017 mixtape Pop 2 decides that pop music can be anything and everything—or at least, that’s the meaning that many have assigned to it. After her prospective third studio album proved too much a logistical hurdle to release (only for all the tracks to leak), within... Read More

“Funky” is not a word routinely linked to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the pioneering avant-garde jazz group of the mid-1960s and beyond whose music tends more toward the cryptic and tangled. But put the needle on “Theme de Yoyo,” the first track of their 1970 album, Les Stances à Sophie, and you’ll be dancing in your head and on your feet in no time.The album was produced as the soundtrack to a French film of that title, and “Theme de Yoyo”—which has vocals by the... Read More

genre Jazz Avant-Garde Jazz format Vinyl

Sparks, the duo of brothers Russell and Ron Mael is a true chameleons in the world of art-pop. Over decades, Sparks has musically shape-shifted through the realms of glam rock, disco, new wave, electronic music and chamber pop. Refusing to stick to one singular musical identity, Sparks kept a brave artistic face as music trends came and went. Thanks to Edgar Wright's documentary, a fresh demographic exposed to The Sparks Brothers are now beginning to appreciate... Read More

genre Pop Art Pop format Vinyl

Back in June, Michael Fremer and I discussed my next Tracking Angle piece, and we agreed that I should do something I hadn’t done in a while and review a new album. I did some research and decided that Lucinda Williams’ Stories From A Rock n Roll Heart would be a good choice. Michael agreed, and so it was decided.I hadn’t heard the album, but I’d admired Williams’ music dating back to the time before her 1998 breakthrough Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Her... Read More

genre Rock format Vinyl

In Chicago, February of 1959 while playing at The Sutherland Hotel as members of Miles Davis's now classic "Kind of Blue" sextet, the group, minus Miles assembled at Bill Putnam's Universal Recording Studio at 46 E. Walton Street and laid down this album led by Cannonball Adderley. It was only a month before "Kind of Blue" but there's nothing modal about this almost corny by comparison set of "chipper" tunes taken post-bop... Read More

genre Jazz Post-Bop format Vinyl