Friday, December 12, 2008

This Just in at AccuJazz (#2)

For the second installment of "This Just in at AccuJazz," I'll resist the temptation to go way back and make an '08 Top-Ten List and instead just cover a few recent additions worth noting. That's the purpose of the time-honored tradition we call "This Just in at AccuJazz," after all. Today I'll cover a stylistically disparate batch of releases by McCoy Tyner, Tony Malaby, and the duo of Dan Baraszu and Joseph Patrick Moore.

1) McCoy Tyner - Guitars

McCoy Tyner. The last living member of the great John Coltrane Quartet. The mere mention of his name stirs up admiration in any jazz fan's heart. Any new CD he releases is worth a listen, right? Yeah, it is. The concept behind his newest one (which has staked out a comfy spot at the top of the jazz charts for quite a while now) is given away pretty easily by the title: it's McCoy jamming with a bunch of different guitarists. The attendance sheet is surprising at first: Bela Fleck (playing banjo, not guitar), Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, John Scofield and Derek Trucks. For some reason I thought he would have picked a more conventional lineup of solid straight-ahead players -- in my mind the list was going to read something like: Peter Bernstein, Russell Malone, Dave Stryker, and probably Scofield, too. But instead, he picks a group of iconoclasts, each with a strong vision and personal identity.

With a rhythm section of Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, you have a room full of larger-than-life musical personalities. And instead of making it some big Grammy-ready production, the guys pretty much conduct a straight-up jam session. Each guitarist picked two or three tunes to play with the trio. It sounds rough and unrehearsed, but ultimately engrossing. The combination of such great players essentially just having a ball in the studio couldn't have been anything less. DeJohnette is absolutely on fire, as always, Carter lays it down as only he knows how, and Tyner's individual voice shines through. One observation: Frisell and Scofield posses two of the most distinctive guitar sounds in modern jazz, and they seemed to have flattened them out a little bit for this recording.

Track picks:
Blues on the Corner
Trade Winds

Guitars Reviews:

Hear Guitars on these AccuJazz Channels:
Main Channel
Piano Jazz
Guitar Jazz
New School

Publicity Video:

2) Tony Malaby Cello Trio - Warblepeck

Saxophonist Tony Malaby has been steadily gaining stature in the creative jazz world over the last decade-and-a-half or so. I have a special place in my heart for the guy because he's from my hometown, Tucson, AZ (I know I already alluded to the place in another post -- sorry, I guess the Holidays are making me homesick) and because the first clinic/concert by a guest artist I attended as a young jazz student at Northern Illinois University was Mark Helias' Open Loose, a wonderful trio with Malaby on sax. Apart from that, he possesses a singular inventiveness that saturates his rhythmic and melodic ideas as well as the way he manipulates his remarkably brawny tone.

On the disc in question, "Warblepeck," Malaby couples his saxophone with the cello of indie-rock and avant-jazz mainstay Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer/composer extraodinaire John Hollenbeck. Sonically, the disc is a major departure from anything close to mainstream jazz. At times Lonberg-Holm's distorted cello, sounding more Metallica than Rostropovich, plays counterpoint to Hollenbeck's xylophone and desert-dry snare drum while Malaby spins some serpentine melody on top. There are some accessible grooves here, but a lot of it is pretty freely improvised. The musicality of the players and sheer freshness of the group sound lead me hopefully to believe that ears less prone to the Avant-Garde might still enjoy a listen.

Track picks:
Two Shadows
Scribble Boy

Warblepeck reviews:
Free Jazz Stef
All About Jazz

Hear Warblepeck on these AccuJazz channels:
New School

Related Video (Malaby and Hollenbeck with Tubist Marcus Rojas):

3) Dan Baraszu and Joseph Patrick Moore - Christmas Time is Here

I can't do a whole post about new CD's without injecting a little bit of Christmas cheer, now, can I? We get a lot of random stuff here at the AccuJazz offices, and a Christmas album by a duo I've never heard of usually doesn't get me too excited. But, alas, my gut can't always be right. This is a seriously enjoyable album of Christmas jazz. I don't know much about the guys involved, but I know they are both well-traveled journeymen with a handful of recordings to their credit who reside in Atlanta, GA, where the label backing this release, Blue Canoe Records, is also based.

There is wise use of overdubs on the CD, allowing for rhythm/lead guitar textures and even light percussion at times. The duo also makes tasteful use of effects, as on the leadoff track, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." A jazzy Afro-Cuban 6/8 bassline pulses along while a reverb-drenched nylon-string guitar picks the melody and ambient background noises lay down a pleasing cushion of white noise. This economical inventiveness permeates the album. On the other side of the spectrum, the two musicians show off their impressive bebop chops in an unadorned, live-in-the-studio take of "Blue Christmas." I have to say I'm a little bit surprised at how much I enjoyed Christmas Time is Here. Highly recommended for jazz fans at their wit's end when it comes to Christmas music.

Track Picks:
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Blue Christmas
Christmas Time is Here

Hear Christmas Time is Here on these AccuJazz channels:
Main Channel (until December 26th, of course)
Swingin' Christmas

Publicity Video:

No comments:

Post a Comment