Rant ‘N’ Roll: Horizontal Jazz, Mystery Man, Electronica, Dixieland, Bobby Darin & A Solo Bangle

Rant ‘N’ Roll: Horizontal Jazz, Mystery Man, Electronica, Dixieland, Bobby Darin & A Solo Bangle

—by , June 21, 2017

06-21 Rant 'N' Roll - Darin-Mercer

Pianist/Composer David Feldman, 40, adds guitarist Toninho Horta and trombonist Raul De Souza to his working trio and his third CD comes out as Horizonte (DFM). Born in Rio de Janeiro, Feldman moved to New York City to seriously study jazz, join Slide Hampton’s band and jam with the Mingus Big Band before returning to Brazil where he is still based. Taking samba as his foundation, he writes a waltz (”Adeus”), a sumptuous ballad (“Tete”), numerous samba jazzers and covers such Rio staples as Johnny Alf (“Ceu e Mar”), guitarist Horta’s “Soccer Ball” (the only quintet track) and Oscar Castro-Neves’s “Chora Tua Tristeza.” Highly recommended.

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Some guys are just cooler than other guys. May I introduce you to Gentleman Jake? The Black Sheep is all original, self-released and sounds pretty much like nothing you’ve heard recently. Who is this guy? He came out of the CBGB punk scene but soon was spotted in corporate board rooms at major labels. They say he’s lived in 11 of the world’s greatest cities. His music traverses dance, poetry, electronica, funk, pop, rock and even a hint of singer/songwriter earnestness. And how the hell did he get guys like bassist John McKenzie (Pretenders/Dylan), drummer Andy Newmark (Lennon, Pink Floyd), French remixer Raphael Garraud, saxophonist Robert Aaron (Bowie), trumpeter Mac Gollenhon (Madonna) and producer Jay Burnett (Hall & Oates)? Uncategorizable, appealing, mysterious, The Black Sheep will grow on you with each repeated listen.

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When someone is said to be moving the music forward, that’s the supreme compliment. Miles moved the music forward with Bitches Brew in 1970. Terence Blanchard & The E-Collective is moving the music forward today. So is Taylor Haskins on Gnosis (Recombination Records) for it is here where electronica meets jazz and it comes out a whole ‘nother animal. Gnosis will wrap your head in a gauzy pillow of funk, chops, surprise, syncopation and the kind of melodic invention you just might wind up humming. You could call it the perfect 2017 CD. Haskins has combined his love of Herbie Hancock’s Rockit with his master’s degree in composition and trumpet to good use here. The guy’s a mover and shaker, period. He also invented “nationally generative music software” (don’t even ask me what it is) but be it known it received a United States patent. Armed with studio friends on drums, guitar, percussion, harp, electric bass, acoustic bass, electric piano, trombone and flute, Haskins has self-produced and self-synthesized this masterpiece that fans of jazz, avant-garde, funk, jam-bands and Kraftwerk can all love together.

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It’s always time to celebrate and party whenever a new album comes out by the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band so put on your dancing shoes and shout away the blues because they’re back yet again for the 32nd time in 53 years with So It Is (Legacy). One does not “review” this so much as pay homage to it. Influenced and inspired by a 2015 trip to Cuba, the band—a septet still committed to preserving the cultural integrity of New Orleans—has added some Afro-Cuban flourishes to its scintillating Dixieland swing. Ben Jaffe (bass, tuba), 46, has taken the reins of leadership but Charlie Gabriel (tenor sax, clarinet), 84, is still an integral part of the proceedings and co-wrote much of the new material. Producer David Stiek of rock band TV On The Radio adds a modern sheen but this is the show of longtime members Clint Maedgen (tenor sax, percussion) and Ronell Johnson (trombone). May this American Institution ramble on forever.

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In 1961, three giants convened for a duet album, Two Of A Kind. Bobby Darin [1936-1973], Johnny Mercer [1909-1976] and Billy May [1916-2004] had a ball recording this and it shows. Re-released by Omnivore and re-mastered by Grammy-winning sound scientist Michael Graves, the 13 original tracks are augmented by five alternate takes and two gems that were originally left on the cutting room floor. Mercer, known for writing lyrics for a huge chunk of the Great American Songbook, was also a pretty damn good saloon singer. May’s the man whose charts bring the sizzle and the pop, making the swagger of do-it-all Darin even more palpable. Conceived as a tribute of sorts to Tin Pan Alley (an era of New York City song publishing that started in the 1880s), Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer, as a duo, complemented each other. They never toured. They never sang together again. But, on songs like “Ace In The Hole,” “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jellyroll,” “My Cutey’s Due At Two-To-Two Today,” “Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker’s Daughter” and “Mississippi Mud,” they have created a timeless piece of glitzy kitsch that, ultimately, makes one miss the human explosion that was Bobby Darin. Go watch Kevin Spacey’s 2004 trippy Darin love letter film Beyond The Sea after you digest this whole.

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Bangles bassist Derrick Anderson has dropped a bombshell of a solo debut. So good that I almost didn’t believe who I was listening to, A World Of My Own (Omnivore) fuses power pop, funk, punk, classic rock and alternative in a crowd-pleasing amalgam that sounds like a vacation to the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Brill Building in New York and Laurel Canyon in Cali. It’s an all-star affair shamelessly exploiting the vocal and instrumental talents of members of The Smithereens, The Cowsills, The Bangles, The Muffs and Matthew Sweet. Anderson sings lead like a left-over from the British Invasion, writes like Martin Briley but still gets to augment his style with that peaceful easy L.A. feeling. In other words, it’s all over the musical map and even has Ramones/Talking Heads producer Ed Stasium twiddling the knobs on two of 13. The cover of Lennon/McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” caps off one of the most enticing, enjoyable listens of the year.

 


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