Pauline Penicaud

Rant ‘N’ Roll: One Last Look at 2022

The CDs pile up. The months go by. The news hurts. My heroes die.

I got into this business not for the money but to get free stuff. That was 1974. Soon I’ll be dead, too. But in the meantime, every day is Christmas in my mail box. Here’s the best of the rest of the stuff that came in from all around world on a daily basis last year. 

Harmonic Alchemy (Outnote Records), by Reverso ,finds that sweet spot between the French impressionism of classical composer Gabriel Faure [1845-1924] and progressive jazz. Accessible avant-garde is not an oxymoron. Four albums since 2017, this adventurous trombone/piano/cello trio makes sounds that are free and unrestricted due to the lack of a rhythm section. Their collective improvisation is magic. 

Turning Point (5Passion), by Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Trio D’Etet, has restored my faith in the rather staid piano/bass/drums format. It’s exquisite, endearing, and compelling – 35 years into a career that spans multiple genres, this jazz pianist is ever-inventive.

Drummer Rob Silverman’s third volume of Drumology (Autumn Hill Records) gathers A-List players from the worlds of prog rock and jazz rock fusion for an instrumental jam that’s positively dizzying. All proceeds benefit the Neil Peart Fund for brain cancer research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. 



What a collection! The 30 tracks of Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club: Exotic Hip Shakers (Atomicat Records, Ireland) from 1947 to 1963 burn hot with a low percentage of clinkers. Sure, you get big-timers like Otis Rush, Dinah Washington, BB King, the doo-wop of The Orioles, Nina Simone, Ike Turner, Chubby Checker, and Ray Charles, but it’s the one-hit and no-hit regional wonders like Ernie Freeman (“The Stripper”) and Otis Riley (“Little Miss Bibbity Bobbity Boom”) that stand out. There’s even the iconic Marilyn Monroe, whose “I Wanna Be Loved By You” just drips with sex.

On The Dancefloor With A Bop: 36 Tunes To Bop The Blues Away (Bear Family Records, Germany) has songs like “I Wanna Bop,” “Bop Pills,” “Boppin’ The Dark,” “Bop Man Bop,” and “A-Bomb Bop” by a wide assortment of fascinating unknowns – with a few stars sprinkled in like Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent – and every song has “bop” in the title.  It’s a bop-fest! Mostly rockabilly, this disc comes complete with an illustrated booklet that makes these artists from long-ago and far-away come to vibrant life. Play it loud.  

Bob Corritore is one of the best damn blues harmonica players in the universe. The latest from his voluminous vault of recordings with a glittering array of blues luminaries is You Shocked Me (Vizztone Label Group). These 16 pulsating pieces of raw blues – recorded between 2018 and 2022 – highlights Alabama Mike, John Primer, Diunna Greenleaf, Howl-N-Madd Perry, Primetime Smith, Sugaray Rayford, and others as set to tape in his Arizona blues factory. The shuffles, the ballads, the rockers, and the classic examples of jump-blues are all Chicago-style and, for my money, that’s the best blues (no insult intended to Texas Blues, which I also love). 

The brilliant progressive rock of Tentacles (MoonJune Records) by Stick Men is impossible to describe, so I won’t. The reputations of these three cats precede them. That’s all you need to know. Tony Levin, of King Crimson fame, plays a Chapman Stick. Invented in the 1970s, this 10-stringed guitar-like instrument can spew out bass lines and chords simultaneously. He also plays a vocoder which synthesizes vocals. Producer/Composer/Electronic Maestro Markus Reuter does “soundscapes” and something called “touch guitar AUB.” Pat Mastelotto plays acoustic and electric drums and percussion. Together, these three dare go where mere mortals fear to tread. This five-track half-hour is their first new music in six years.