Rant’n’Roll: Rare Noise, Irish Alternative, Isley Brothers Join Santana, Big Boy Blues, Guitar + Brass, Delightful Yelena, and Heaven

Rant’n’Roll: Rare Noise, Irish Alternative, Isley Brothers Join Santana, Big Boy Blues, Guitar + Brass, Delightful Yelena, and Heaven

—by , August 23, 2017

Big Boy Crudup

Magnetic (RareNoise Records) by London-based composer/producer/performer Gaudi is one crazy-sick slab of sound. He’s taken samples of existing Rare Noise fare—including Bill Laswell, Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin, Killing Joke’s Ted Parsons, King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto and even Buckethead—to mix ‘n’ match dub-centric electronica, rock, jazz and ambient stains into an all-encompassing map of alternately syncopated and soothing surprise.

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Gimme Mo! by Maureen and the Mercury 5 (Catty Town Records, Ireland) is another one of those rockin’ little records you’ll want your DJ to play. This California band blends rockabilly, jump-blues, swing and soul into an acoustic folk-punk style that will grab you and shake you up and down. Maureen is a certified bad-girl who regularly performs at Disneyworld so go figure. She wrote the title song with Jesse Blaze Snider, son of Twisted Sister Dee. Hilarious highlight here has to be “I Want You To Be My Baby” sung in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Reportedly, they’re huge in Paris. Japanese rockabilly sensation Eitero Sako sings on this wild disc co-produced by Scotty (Black Eyed Peas) Lund.

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Power Of Peace is the new Santana CD (Legacy Recordings). This time Carlos has his powerfully drumming wife, Cindy Blackman Santana, onboard as well as Isley Brothers Ronald and Ernie. “Total Destruction To Your Mind” may be my personal favorite but there’s something here for everyone from Stevie Wonder’s 1973 “Higher Ground” and Billie Holiday’s 1942 “God Bless The Child” to Curtis Mayfield’s 1962 “Gypsy Woman,” Willie Dixon’s 1954 “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” and Burt Bacharach’s 1965 “What The World Needs Now.” (Answer: it’s love.) For ex-hippies like me there’s even “Love Peace Happiness” by The Chambers Brothers (1969). Point is, they’re all done with that Santana stamp of percolating percussion as Carlos plays guitar like ringing a bell.

It’s all one beautiful cultural zig-zag, according to Carlos. That’s why live onstage in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to kick off MusikFest 2017 at the Sands Steels Stage, he threw in, as he always does, guitar nods to The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, George Harrison and John Coltrane. He kept telling us in the crowd that we were divine. And he firmly believes that good music can, indeed, change the world. We need it now more than ever.

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Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup Rocks on his new Bear Family Records CD. Sure, he’s been dead for 43 years but, yeah, he still rocks. When Elvis stole his 1947 “That’s All Right” in 1954, Crudup had quit the music business, tired of constantly being cheated out the royalties he so richly deserved. He spent a large majority of time as a janitor in New Jersey, a bootlegger in Mississippi and a field laborer in Virginia. He died in 1974 at 68 virtually penniless. Here, though, his brilliant pre-rock ‘n’ roll classics like 1950’s “My Baby Left Me” (Elvis stole this one too in 1956), “She’s Got No Hair,” “My Mama Don’t Allow Me,” “I’m Gonna Dig Myself A Hole” and 24 others all sounding alike based on the same blues template, but all rockin’ and absolutely divine like manna from heaven.

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Grey Mirror by Jamie Reynolds (Fresh Sound New Talent Records) is a fantastic pairing of the Canadian-born, New York City-based keyboardist on piano and Wurlitzer with his trio of electric/acoustic bassist Orlando Fleming and drummer Eric Doob augmented by guitar (Matthew Stevens) and a brass quartet—The Westerlies—of two trombones and two trumpets. The cool thing is that the trio+guitar and the Reynolds+brass take turns in the spotlight depending upon the track. The result is an entertaining-as-hell pastiche of swinging post-bop with classical flourishes and little of that Bourbon Street hoodoo thrown in for good measure. Highly Recommended.

 

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Yelena Eckemoff lives In the Shadow of a Cloud. She’s an amazing woman. Leaving her country, her job, her family and her safe secure life in Russia to emigrate to North Carolina with her husband in 1991, she’s put out 11 CDs, starting out classical and ending up jazz. She’s a pianist, composer, label owner, (her own L&H Productions), band leader, producer and arranger. She painted the beautiful painting that graces the cover. She wrote a poem for each of the 14 tracks on this sumptuous two-CD set that fills a 28-page accompanying booklet. She recruited masters for each instrument yet they all coalesce into a cohesive whole: prime New York in-demand cats like Chris Potter on reeds and flute, Adam Rogers on guitar, Drew Gress on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. Tough to pick a highlight when every single track is so engrossing, but “Acorn Figures,” like the liner notes say, is a “jazz sonata for quartet.” Her classical motifs have never left her, and this makes her latest project oh so delectable.

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Hannah Senesh [1921-1944] was a brave Hungarian Jewess who, at 23, became a martyr when she parachuted with Great Britain’s Royal Air Force during WWII to help rescue fellow Jews in Hungary. During this raid, she was captured, tortured and murdered by the Nazis. She was a poet and her “Elli Elli” has now been set to music by The Pete Malinverni Trio on Heaven (Saranac Records). Pianist/Composer Malinverni’s trio with bassist Ben Allison and drummer Akira Tana is augmented by trumpeter Jon Faddis on Duke Ellington’s 1943 “Come Sunday,” by alto saxophonist Steve Wilson on the 1901 spiritual “Wade In The Water” and by the voice of Karrin Allyson on the 1860 folk song “Shenandoah.” Still, the highlight has to be Curtis Mayfield’s sublime 1965 “People Get Ready.” A loose concept album, Malinverni was devastated by the loss of his wife in 2012, which is when the seeds of this project were planted. Heaven, ultimately, according to the artist, is right here on Earth “in the beauty of every moment, every personal encounter, every cool summer breeze.” Right on.


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