7-3 Mike Greenblatt’s Rant’n’Roll

Advice From Waylon

Somewhere between roots rock and no-frills hard-country, singer-songwriter Bryan Haraway grinds it out on this self-titled gem (Part Time Criminal Music). From the electricity of the blaring lead guitar solos to the horns and pedal steel, a musical bed is made upon which Haraway makes provocative statements as produced by Chad Brown (Robert Plant, Patty Griffin). Dude almost died from liver failure last year. He sings and writes as if each is his last. “We Get High” and “Alive” are two sterling examples, keying in on life’s little pleasures, yet there’s room for “How It Is,” a paean to his parents. Growing up in the west as a Cherokee Native American, he felt his first flush of freedom upon a horse. Waylon Jennings once wrote that “movin’ is the closest thing to bein’ free.” Haraway takes that aesthetic to the nth degree in everything he writes. Fans of Tom Petty, Jason Isbell, and Wilco should love this guy.

Dedicated To Lew

Lew Soloff was a composing trumpeter, an original member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, and a mainstay with Machito, Tito Puente, and Maynard Ferguson. He always told Lisa Maxwell to record her originals and, man, she has written, arranged, and put together the kind of band that shatters all conceptions of what a jazz big band is supposed to be.

The gal’s got friends. Legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker plays the kind of parts Soloff practically invented in this context. When juxtaposed with the trombone of Bones Malone, the keyboards of Paul Schaffer, the bass of Fab Faux showman Will Lee, and the guitar of the former Miles Davis bandmate Mike Stern, Shiny! (Uncle Marvin Music) gets down ‘n’ dirty with seventies boogaloo, shuffles, post-bop, swing, funk, and even the kind of sounds that used to serve as theme songs for TV shows. Maxwell makes no bones about the fact she grew up and loved all those old cop show theme songs. So Shiny! comes complete with wah-wah guitar, bongos, Fender Rhodes, and clavinet.

Highlights include “Son Of Creeper” by original Late Night With David Letterman jazz-rock guitarist Hiram Bullock, “Ludie” (a waltz), “We’ll Be Together” (a sumptuous ballad) and, best of all, “Hello Wayne” (a tribute to Wayne Shorter). She also interprets Shorter’s “Beauty And The Beast.”  Highly recommended.

Oh!

Bassist-composer Linda May Han Oh named her fifth album after the beauty of a translucent green quartz. Aventurine (Biophilia Records) sparkles with the sounds of a string quartet and an eerie-but-pleasing 16-voice chorale called Invenio augmenting her octet. Besides her eclectic almost-avant-garde-but-not-quite originals, her choices are sublime. Charlie Parker’s 1951 “Au Privave” gets modernized like never before. Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Crab Canon” (a musical palindrome for two lead lines in which one line is simultaneously played backwards) gets a complete makeover to now be called “Cancrizan.” She even transcends an ancient Chinese folk song for children (“Song Yue Rao”) into modern jazz. Plus, other than John McLaughlin’s brilliant 1993 rendition, she takes “Time Remembered” (the Bill Evans classic rework of impressionist composers like Debussy and Ravel) and makes it not only beautiful but complex. Wow.

Eclectico, indeed!

The wild and manic mood swings of the Pablo Lanouguere Quintet are front and center on Eclectico, the energized and oh-so-eclectic world-fusion quintet+ of violin/guitar/piano/drums/bass. (The “+” comes in the form of some squiggly synthesizer action on two of the 12 originals.) Pablo’s the bassist and he switches back and forth from upright to electric. Tango, waltz, classical, Argentinian folk, jazz-rock fusion, and worldbeat all coalesce into a rampaging mess (that’s a good thing). Born and raised in Buenos Aries, he’s been a working New York musician for the last six years. Highlights include “Piano Piano,” “Complicando Lo Simple” and “Gatito De La Fiesta.” This is some sublime ear candy.

Zen Master

Songs Of The Firebird (Sony Entertainment/The Orchard) by percussionist-composer-producer Barrett Martin is all over the map… literally. From the American West and the Amazon rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, these 20 instrumental tracks—ranging from Afro-Latin and jazz to ambient and electronica—span the gamut of his own experiences as a storyteller in the book he authored (The Way Of The Zen Cowboy: Fireside Stories From A Globetrotting Rhythmatist), comprised of 35 tales of rugged individualism. A student of Soto Zen for the last 35 years, mostly known as the drummer in rock band  Screaming Trees, Martin is a certified Renaissance Man. Consider Songs Of The Firebird the soundtrack to the book. (Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil plays on three tracks and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck plays on one).

63 Minutes Of Undefinable Sound

They’re called The OGJB Quartet. Two of them—the O and the B—have been around since esoteric improvised ensemble playing first came into prominence in the jazz community of the nineteen-sixties when all the rules were broken. Yeah, go ahead and call sax man Oliver Lake a pioneer. He founded BAG (Black Artists Group) in nineteen-sixties St. Louis, lived in Paris in the early seventies, came home to form the WSQ (World Saxophone Quartet) in ’77 and has been a regal presence in music that’s so way-out, it’s in. The B is drummer Barry Altschul, the native New Yorker who pioneered what they used to call free-bop. The G is youngster Graham Haynes who plays cornet (a trumpet’s brother). That leaves the J:  Joe Fonda, an upstate New Yorker, maybe the most way-out bassist of them all, a guy whose distaste for anything even remotely commercial emanates off of him in waves. Put ‘em all together and you’ve got 10 original tracks in 63:17. It is, for all intents and purposes, totally undefinable, impossible to categorize, thus, let’s let the J from his liner notes tell the tale. “The music on this recording sings and strolls down the street, it swings, it dances, it swirls around your body like water and it grooves with a deep sense of its musical history.” That about sums it up.  

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