Rant ‘N’ Roll: Husband & Wife Bluegrass Team, Louisiana Crawfish, Jersey Boy Makes Good, Lady Trumpeter, A Japanese Big-Band, An Australian Sax Man & A Brooklyn Pianist

Rant ‘N’ Roll: Husband & Wife Bluegrass Team, Louisiana Crawfish, Jersey Boy Makes Good, Lady Trumpeter, A Japanese Big-Band, An Australian Sax Man & A Brooklyn Pianist

—by , March 22, 2017

03-22 Rant Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Darin and Brooke Aldridge have been married for eight years and proudly announce the birth of their new baby. It’s called Faster and Farther (Mountain Home Music Company) and if there’s any justice from the bluegrass gods, it will deliver them to land of flashing lightbulbs and constant attention. (Be careful what you wish for!) It’s that good. They have friends in high places. Vince Gill provides his still-stunning high-lonesome harmony. Ditto for John Cowan from New Grass Revival on his own “Cumberland Plateau.” Their inclination towards gospel results in “Fit For A King.” A musical travelogue of sorts (“Mountains Of Mississippi,” “This River”), this 12-track gem traverses folk, country, Americana and the string wizardry of an acoustic back porch jam session. The fiddle flies. The banjo plunks out its down-home essence and the organic and beautifully natural no-drums acoustic format gives proper attention to that Aldridge vocal sound.

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When you work the offshore oil rigs on the Louisiana coast, you work 14 straight days, then you’re off for 14 straight days. The guys who do the heavy lifting have an inside joke about a fictional character named Jody who comes around to their homes when they’re working to seduce their wives. For the debut of singer-songwriter Josh Hyde and his deep-fried The Call Of The Night (JHR Records), he writes about what he knows. From “Jody” and “Offshore” to “Guitar In Hand,” Hyde sings like his life is on the line and plays guitar like his hero Sonny Landreth who guests on two of Hyde’s nine originals. Hyde wrote “Mississippi Bridge” when he was 11, a child of divorce, taking that bus across that bridge time and time again to the point where the driver knew him. His own 2014 divorce and the death of his mother also provide weighty material to turn into art and he does so in spades.

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The latest in the Woodstock Sessions series of the esteemed Royal Potato Family label that he co-owns, indie pop/rock singer-songwriter Marco Benevento—born in Livingston, raised in Ramapo—now adds his name alongside Bad Brains, Medeski Martin & Wood and Nels Cline who have all benefitted from the label’s largesse. Here, he recreates his entire 22-minute epic “The Story Of Fred Short” with but a drums/bass rhythm section. It’s his organ, voice and compositions that completely carry this one-take live set in front of a small studio audience. He’s not afraid to use disco flourishes to enhance songs like “Dropkick,” “Heavy Metal Floating Upstream,” “Bus Ride,” “Coyote Hearing” and “At The Show.” Still, it’s that grandiose long-form song—in seven parts—that carries the day.

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In case you haven’t noticed, 2017 has been “The Year Of The Woman” so far. Politically, sociologically, culturally, a woman may have lost the White House (by dubious means) but in no time in recent memory has one half of the country’s population been so together and ready to resist. Arms up! That said, let me introduce you to two women, jazz trumpeter/composer/educator/author Carol Morgan and pianist/composer Satoko Fujii. Morgan came northeast from Texas to relocate in New York City, get accepted to Julliard on a Miles Davis Scholarship, and record six CDs, the latest of which is her self-released Post-Cool Volume #1 by the chordless Carol Morgan Quartet. With no set arrangements on six gorgeous tracks utilizing a front line of her trumpet and Joel Frahm’s tenor sax atop nothing but drum ‘n’ bass, she starts with Horace Silver’s “Strollin’” and ends with that classic 1945 “Autumn Leaves.” The gal has balls. Interpreting Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia” is heady enough for any trumpet player but to add new lyrics to its bridge could be considered sacrosanct. Her own “Night” is a flurry of activity and Tadd Dameron’s 1956 “On A Misty Night” is the highlight.

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Satoko Fujii lays claim to big-band dominance to beg for Peace (Libra Records) on her tribute to Kelly Churko by the Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo. She’s been called “the Ellington of free jazz” and “one of the most important composers of our time.” Churko was a member of the band until his 2014 cancer death. “2014” opens the CD in all its sprawling 32:45. These four elongated tracks democratically utilize the 17 musicians in bountiful combinations of soloists. Fujii, a pianist by trade, is content to compose here. Her arrangements pair both the drummers in a delightful percussion discussion while baritone, alto and tenor saxes fly, and trombones duel with trumpets for supremacy like the old 1940s cutting contests that would bring out the best competitive edge of each cat. It all amounts to wild roller coaster-styled assemblage of sound.

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The Tales & Tones (Inner Circle Music) of saxophonist/composer Troy Roberts, originally from Perth, West Australia, now based in New York City, has him leading his mighty quartet on eight woozy doozies spearheaded by him switching between tenor and soprano. Venezuelan pianist Silvano Monasterios, acoustic bassist Robert Hurst and the inimitable drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts go hog wild on the nine tracks of his seventh CD, the highlight being the closing 8:58 of his “Boozy Bluesy.”

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Brooklyn pianist/composer Art Hirahara plays in solo, duo, trio and quartet settings on Central Line, his third CD for Posi-Tone Records out of Los Angeles. Bassist Linda Oh, drummer Rudy Royston and saxophonist Donny McCaslin bring the color and follow his lead on such esoteric fare as the traditional Japanese folk melody “Kuroda Bushi,” Brazilian singer/songwriter Chico Buarque’s “As Minhas Meninas” and Kan’ichi Shimofusa’s “Yuyake Koyake.” Hirahara wrote the remaining 11 tunes with Baroque flair and a penchant for letting his sidemen run rampant. Originally from San Francisco, Hirahara got his degree in Electronic and Computer Music at Oberlin, continuing on to study with Charlie Haden and Wadada Leo Smith. Highly recommended.


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