Rant ‘N’ Roll: Weird New Jersey, Weird Blues, Real Country & New Jazz

Only in weird New Jersey could an album as unsettling as Space/Time * Redemption (TUM) be recorded. Drum’n’Bass music is usually the province of British electronica, its jungle essence geared towards the jamband or dancefloor scene. Not this. This is more like a giant troll sleeping under a bridge with snoring problems…or a monster ogre having difficulty breathing. Its static electricity will make the hairs on your arm stand up. Its burping verisimilitude is naked. There’s nothing there except the oinks, wheezes, static and pops.

The percussionist is Milford Graves. The bassist is Bill Laswell.

Graves came to 1960s fruition in the New York Art Quartet. He’s banged it out for avant-gardists Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock (for which track #2 is named). He has never even once given a thought to what might be commercial enough to actually sell.

Laswell has become an internationally successful producer after performing with Ginger Baker, Herbie Hancock, Blood Ulmer, John Zorn and many others. He owns a studio in West Orange.

These five extended extemporaneous experimental improvisations play with time in such a way that you cannot necessarily like this music voluntarily. You have to surrender to its harsh dictates. Just lie down, loosen up and let it happen. Unless you’re willing to do that, steer clear.

Laswell says of Graves, “understanding the unique rhythmic thrust and fractured sonic patterns of [his] tribal matrix is like trying to synchronize raindrops. Time is lapsed, accelerated and finally erased…an unknown point of departure with no designated destination.”


Hey, I apologize to constantly degrading the state of today’s country music as pure crap. You and I both know it is but I don’t have to keep ramming that point home in every comment about some cool Americana album I like. For the record, there is, indeed, some damn fine country music being made out there. Raised On The Run (Garage Door), by Greg Shirley, fits the bill. With an inviting voice, intelligent lyrics, a predisposition to rock every great once in awhile, and a production that accentuates the right moments, these 12 tracks constitute everything good about this particular genre (a genre that, like hip-hop, still has a whole boatload of garbage to wade through in order find its gems). And he thanks Jesus first in his liner note credits.

Shirley’s a Texan who settled in Alabama with his dad upon the death of his mom. Moving to Nashville, he married, had children, worked as a brick mason and fiddled around with music at night. When his dad fell ill, he moved his family back to Alabama where he now owns a commercial masonry company while raising five kids with his wife of 20 years. Those nights with his guitar paid off.


Jeff Chaz is a Louisiana guitar picker and trombone blower who, when his family moved to California, hit the road with a Memphis soul band. Back home in Lake Charles, he started writing weird little blues songs as if Muddy Waters and Frank Zappa had a baby. Since all his albums are out-of-print, Chronicles (JCP) is a great diving board in which to splash into his weirdness. These 10 gems feature his stinging BB King-styled guitar and his eccentric vocals on material that, well, it’s a fair bet that no one else is writing with the same kind of humor, sarcasm and irony when it comes to the blues. Favorite tracks include “Instrument Of Pleasure,” “I Smell Somethin’ Funky,” “Seafood Dept. Blues,” “The Scent Of A Woman” and the closing riot of “I’ve Got To Be Clean.”


Drifter (NCM East) by Old Time Musketry is an upbeat jazz ride that bops and swings along in a melodic gumbo of various influences. Young and energetic, this quartet, comprised of tenor sax/clarinet, accordion/piano, bass and drums/melodica, on nine kinetic originals, from waltzes to marches, from rock to funk, from in-your face to low-key, satisfies every second of the way. Bravo!