Rant ‘N’ Roll: Back To The CD Pile

Rant ‘N’ Roll: Back To The CD Pile

—by , August 7, 2013

CC Coletti “Sings The American Roots Of Zeppelin” in the eminently listenable Bring It On Home (Chesky Records) where she towers over the blues like a young Robert Plant on such beloved fare as “In My Time Of Dying,” “When The Levee Breaks,” “You Shook Me,” “Black Dog,” I Can’t Quit You Babe,” “Bron-Y-Aur-Stomp,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Rock And Roll” and three more. Be it electric or acoustic, this gal nails it. Tough, ornery vocals that achieve a stunning synthesis of Etta James, Ruth Brown, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin are offset by some scintillating guitar wizardry from producer Anthony Krizan. Zep purists should love this. Blues fans should too. In reinventing many well-heard classics, she’s turned ‘em inside-out, reverting them to their primal essence and, in effect, stealing back that which Jimmy Page and company done stole in the first place.

*
John Fogerty’s duet album Wrote A Song For Everyone (Vanguard) is a half-cocked attempt to resurrect past glories by re-recording his classics with, well, seven winners and seven losers. I can just imagine the corporate suit who tells this legend, “John, you wanna sell records? You gotta do duets with Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and Brad Paisley.” Then again, there are keepers with Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket and Bob Seger. Still, the originals are way better, so what’s the point? Ray Davies of The Kinks also tried this same experiment with similarly underwhelming results.

*
The New Orleans Suspects are Caught Live At The Maple Leaf on their self-released debut (neworleanssuspects.com). When The Radiators broke up after 34 years, bassist Reggie Scanlan got together with Mean Willie Green (still the drummer for the Neville Brothers since 1981), Jeff Watkins (who had the strength to play sax for James Brown), singer/guitarist Jake Eckert (still with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band) and their secret weapon, the ridiculously soulful singer/keyboardist C.R. Gruver. Performing classics from the songbooks of Professor Longhair, The Meters, Steve Winwood and their own bands plus a few new originals, they raise the roof of this old bar on Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood of uptown New Orleans where they usually hang out. What the hell else do you need to know? This one’s a keeper.

*

Sticking with a Crescent City theme, My Gift To You (Basin Street Records) by Davell Crawford—the grandson of Sugarboy Crawford of “Jock-A-Mo” fame—is a stunning tour-de-force. It’s not what you’d expect. With its cinematic orchestral arrangements and Michael Jackson balladry, the “Piano Prince of New Orleans” (who also plays a mighty Hammond B3 organ and sings like an angel) has fashioned a curveball of epic proportions, a 75-minute surprise party incorporating country, Billy Joel and James Taylor covers, an impressionist piano meld of Allen Toussaint and Jimmy Cliff plus guest shots from trumpeter Donald Harrison and Dr. John. In fact, every track is a collaboration, each cut so incredibly different from the next, you’d think they came from different albums and therein lies its appeal.

*

String band music can be akin to a good jam band in that within the muscle of their manual dexterity, a fast-faster-fastest aesthetic reveals itself. But that’s not all. The high lonesome vocal wail (with exquisite harmonies) of trad bluegrass—in this case jamgrass—sets off Leave The Bottle (Pinecastle) by Town Mountain, an Asheville, North Carolina quintet. This, their fourth CD, is a stone gem.

*

Who knew Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun was such an accomplished jazz drummer? On Life In This World (Motema Music), he performs with trumpeters Donald Harrison and Wallace Roney, bassists Charnett Moffett, Doug Wimbish and Ron Carter, pianist Marc Carey and multi-instrumentalist John “Jellybean” Benitez. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find he attended the Berklee College Of Music and traveled through Africa for months at a time soaking up the juju. From Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale” and Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence” to John Coltrane’s “Naima” and Wayne Shorter’s “Etcetera” (plus originals), Calhoun struts his considerable propulsive stuff like his hero Tony Williams: alternately complex, beautiful, exciting, mysterious and profound.

*

The music of Brazilian pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias always been sophisticated, sultry and sexy. On I Thought About You: A Tribute To Chet Baker (Concord), she takes the music of the trumpeter/vocalist [1929-1988] and gives it her personal stamp of gently swaying bossa nova and samba stylings, actually abandoning her usual muse to accommodate this American Songbook, going drummerless on half the 14 tracks. This is make-out music of the highest order, a cool collection of impeccably produced tracks with a glittering array of musicians including husband bassist Marc Johnson, former husband/trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, drummer Rafael Barata, percussionist Marivaldo dos Santos and her core band. This is some gorgeous stuff: melodic and meditative.


Site designed by Subjective Designs | Powered by WordPress | Content © 1969-2017 Arts Weekly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.