Rant’n’Roll: Hollywood Gold, Civil Rights Poetry, Fem-Centric Blues, & Metal x 2

Rant’n’Roll: Hollywood Gold, Civil Rights Poetry, Fem-Centric Blues, & Metal x 2

—by , April 26, 2017

04-26 Rant - The Obsessed (Photo courtesy Relapse Records)

Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack The Harry Warren Songbook on Got Music Records. Warren [1893-1981] was the prolific co-writer of Hollywood movie songs from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Guitarist/Composer Doug Munro is his nephew. His bands—four different line-ups on four separate sessions—take Warren’s music and infuse it with the hot swing style of the Quintette du Hot Club de France which included two legends: the three-fingered gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt [1910-1953] and the sublime French violinist Stephane Grappelly [1908-1997], the sweetest man you would ever meet. I know, because I met him when I interviewed him for this newspaper. Anyway, I’m talkin’ great old songs like “Lullaby Of Broadway,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “We’re In The Money,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” and “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.” Warren co-wrote ‘em all. This one’s a keeper.

*

Atlanta vocalist Virginia Schenck goes down and deep to ferret out the inherent mystery and joy of Aminata Moseka: An Abbey Lincoln Tribute (Airborne Ecstasy). Vocalist Lincoln [1930-2010] changed her name to Aminata Moseka after touring Africa in the mid-‘70s and returning home to get involved in America’s ever-struggling civil rights problem. Lincoln wrote every song here except for “Blue Monk” by Thelonious Monk. Schenck is a captivating singer who knows and understands the allure of drama. She sings as if her life depends upon it, making each song akin to a one-act play. Take “Caged Bird,” for example. Lincoln wrote it after reading Maya Angelou’s autobiography and poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Schenck not only sings it but recites the poem prior to the song. Lincoln wrote “Another World” after seeing the 1977 movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It’s filled with the kind of mysticism that pragmatists eschew but dreamers thrive on. Schenck is a fascinating individual, turned on to jazz by befriending drummer Jai Johanny “Jaimo” Johanson of The Allman Brothers.
Recommended with reservation.

*

Lisa Biales, on her ninth album, sings the blues in a modern fem-centric style that probably is a direct result of her “History of Women in the Blues” Ohio shows. The Beat of My Heart (Big Song Music) has some top-notch Los Angeles studio cats and was produced by drummer Tony Braunagel (Bonnie Raitt). She’s an interpreter. Be it Mabel Scott (“Disgusted”), Nina Simone (“Be My Husband”), Lil Green (“Romance In The Dark”) or Carrie Newcomer (“I Should Have Known Better”), she makes each song her own. The highlight has to be “Crying Over You,” a song her mother wrote and recorded in 1947 where she puts her mom’s 24-year-old voice in the mix on the first verse before she takes it away and flies with it.

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Thank goodness for the dude named Wino. Here’s a guy who you just have to like. Scott “Wino” Weinrich, for the last 41 years, has been vomiting out a voluminous amount of metal, underground hard rock and doom in five bands, especially The Obsessed. Formed out of Maryland in the late ‘70s, the band broke up in the late ‘80s, reformed in ’94, but broke up again shortly thereafter. Wino, though, just like Jerry Lee Lewis after he married his 13-year-old cousin, kept rocking, plugging away in any shit-hole who would have him…all for the sake of metal. He reformed The Obsessed just last year as a quartet for the first time in 36 years, lost a member almost immediately, and now, with Brian Costantino and Reid Raley, is back to a doom trio. Sacred (Relapse) is one of the best hard rock/metal CDs of 2017 (at least to these old hairy ears who used to have to listen to metal on a daily basis, rebelled against it ever since, and now both ears seem to crave it and need it again but in small doses). Sacred sounds satisfying in a doomy sludgy kinda way that hits all the right notes and is even better at ear-BLASTING volume. I can tell you this from experience. When my music teacher wife came home from school the day I was getting obsessed again, she shrieked, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!” That’s when I knew how truly great it was.

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They used to tell me that Tampa, Florida, was America’s death metal capital. One of the reasons is the band Obituary, a Tampa death staple whose tenth album, Obituary, will make you ‘bang or leave the room. I ‘banged hard for about 15 minutes, dug it, but had to do the last 18:10 the following day when I dug it anew. Maybe it’s my advancing age but I just couldn’t do it all in one sitting. That’s how ferocious, non-stop, mono-maniacal and unrelenting it is. Hey, when you’ve been doing it for 33 years as Obituary has, you know a little something about maintaining an erection. They stay hard for a solid 33:10, pretty amazing since the core of the band—lion-roar “vocalist” John Tardy, drummer Donald Tardy and guitarist Trevor Peres—were there at inception.

*

Attention Everybody! Now Hear This: tenor saxophonist/composer Ken Fowser’s new Posi-Tone Records project is terrific. Period. He’s added another swinging post-bop soloist in Josh Bruneau. He winds up making all the difference in the world. Fowser’s sax interacts with Bruneau’s trumpet and flugelhorn for one helluva frontline tandem backed ably by a totally infectious piano/bass/drums rhythm section that just won’t quit. Gems include opener “Blast Off,” the rollicking call-to-arms of the title track and nine other perfecto examples of the art of interplay, improvisation and chemistry. Highly recommended.

 

 


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