It's a bold concept; take Pink Floyd's iconic Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest, 1973) and reinterpret it in a big band jazz setting. With upwards of forty million copies sold, every note, every nuance of Floyd's eighth album is so firmly entrenched in the minds of the band's legion devotees that to tamper with the work in any way is to leave oneself open to facile criticism. French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê, however, is nothing if not adventurous. Lê has already demonstrated on Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix (ACT Music, 2007) and Songs of Freedom (ACT Music, 2012)--his tribute ...read more
Not all albums register immediately, sometimes it takes a while for unusual and individual music to settle in your subconscious, reveal itself incrementally as little details emerge with familiarity. This new release from Andy Milne and Dapp Theory, on Whirlwind records in the UK, is a good case in point Toronto born Pianist and keyboard player Milne first emerged from Steve Coleman's Five Elements, and played with many of the prime M-Base musicians including the likes of Cassandra Wilson and Greg Osby. While he retains many creative irons in the fire this is the third album over a ...read more
Nate Birkey is a fine New York-based trumpeter who traveled a biographical route from childhood in Colorado to Boston's Berklee School of Music, then to various parts of the West Coast, living and working in the Los Angeles area for a while, and finally settling into the big-time jazz scene in NYC a few years ago. His travels are important, for they formed the foundation for an understanding of the American spirit that infuses his playing. He has made nine albums thus far as a leader, and they each seem to reflect a theme of American life in different times ...read more
Given his fascination with media, the late Jim Morrison would no doubt be deeply bemused at the irony of the release of a Doors compilation on cd (a dying configuration) due its popularity as a Record Store Day 2014 issue on vinyl lp (the configuration that won't die). It's no accident that Bruce Harris' original liner notes for Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine have been retained (nor pure expedience either, though there's no indication these tracks have been remastered). The author puts the lead vocalist of the Doors and the rest of the band in the unique ...read more
To accurately assess and analyze the music of U2's Songs of Innocence, it's necessary to exert a herculean effort to shunt aside issues that would otherwise camouflage a clarity of mind. It's been at least eighteen months or more that the new U2 album was supposedly imminent, so the rise and fall of expectation and anticipation leads away from, rather than closer to, a discerning eye and ear. And the recent controversy arising from the auto-appearance of the album as a digital file in iTunes (and in some cases on wireless devices themselves, also without notice) can only diminish the ...read more
To say that Chris Walden's instrumental compositions and arrangements are the best part of his new big-band album, Full-On!, is not to dismiss the rest as less than adequate. Walden's charts for the ensemble, on the other hand, do provide much of the excitement in a session that is otherwise dominated by vocals (seven in all), several of which are more overwrought than enlightening. Take, for example, I Can Cook Too" and Sir Duke," both sung by Melanie Taylor (who must have drawn the short straw). As written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green for the musical ...read more
An understated but highly-skilled and insanely versatile drummer in the vein of Kenny Wolleson, Jeff Hirshfield, and Paul Motian, Vinnie Sperrazza has been turning up on all sorts of interesting recordings over the past half-decade or so. Co-leader of 40Twenty with Jacob Sacks, Jacob Garchik, and Dave Ambrosio, Sperrazza is also in a trio with Sacks and bassist Masa Kamaguchi, and is one fourth of Hush Point; a brainy collaboration with veteran trumpeter John McNeil and alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden. He's also collaborated with Jon Irabagon, Ellery Eskelin, Ralph Alessi, and a host of other forward-thinking New York musicians. Apocryphal ...read more
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