Friday, February 24th, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:35 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Decision Dream -- "Steamroom Variations, part 2" -- Steamroom Variations (Red Toucan, 2005)
* Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, Tony Bianco -- "Salamander" -- Vesuvius (Slam Productions, 2005)
With an extra 30 minutes in my show today, and with this being the last
week in rotation for this fine disk, I finally took the opportunity to
play one of these tracks in its entirety (there are only two on the CD,
each about 30 minutes long).
* Matthew Shipp -- "The Encounter" -- One (Thirsty Ear, 2005)
Anyway, I've been playing snippets of these for the past several
weeks. Great stuff: Improvised music with jazzy roots, from four
British veterans of the art. Von Schlippenbach's piano holds down
the lead voice providing much of the "jazz" sound, but really it's a
group effort, all four voices crafting an overall sound. This is the more
immediately ear-catching of the tracks, opening bright and fast,
not slowing down til after the halfway point. Awesome stuff.
I'll admit to being disappointed with Matthew Shipp's new
direction. That's a bit of shallowness on my part; where Shipp once
carved angular, surreal doodles of piano lines, he's lately gone
for a more organic sound, lush and powerful, with rich dark chords
and a stormy-night atmosphere -- and, in terms of the surrounding
instruments, plenty of cues from hip-hop and dance electronica.
I admire him for working on a new platform. It just hasn't sung
to my ears, and that may be my ears' fault more than Shipp's.
* MTKJ Quartet -- "Sweet Nut Stomp" -- Day of the Race (Nine Winds, 2005)
This is a solo piano CD, so in a sense, it
boils the new direction down to its
You wouldn't call it "mainstream," but it's still got that lush,
dark-nighttime feel. It's good overall, with some nicely adventurous
playing, but I still miss the scribbly-scrawl nature of his older stuff.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Andy Bartha and Billy Butterfield -- "St. Louis Blues" -- Take Me to the Land of Jazz (Delmark, 2005; recorded 1970)
Old-time jazz featuring trumpeter Butterfield, who's kind of a
second-tier star from the '30s/'40s. Nice stuff, albeit predictable,
with that New Orleans stomping sound on many tracks. It's important to
remember how loosely improvisational that music can be -- they would
often end up with the whole band improvising, no one playing any part of
the original theme (except arguably the drummer). Interesting how folks
who turn their noses up at free jazz can really get into that kind of
free improvising; the difference is probably the retention of a
steady beat (and, yeah, a musical key).
* Geoffrey Keezer -- "Stompin' at the Savoy" -- Wildcrafted (Maxjazz, 2005)
Decent mainstream piano-led trio. This one's a fast, daring song
with a piano solo that flies off the tracks in a couple places.
The rest of the CD isn't as edgy but is still good stuff.
Joe Morris Quartet -- "Underthru" -- Underthru (OmniTone, 1999)
Morris (guitar) recorded several nice CDs circa 1996-2000 with his quartet of
Mat Maneri (violin/viola), Chris Lightcap (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums).
If you don't know Joe Morris, his quicksilver guitar lines are well worth
hearing, even if you don't think you like free jazz. My fave CD of this
period was "A Cloud of Black Birds" on AUM Fidelity.
Will Bernard -- "Motherbug Theme" -- Motherbug (self-released, 2000)
This is great stuff that I'm happy to play, but I'll be honest: I needed to
find another long track. We're in the process of some major furniture
moves at the station, including a shifting of bookcases worth of vinyl into
a different room, and our engineer needed a pair of hands for a few minutes.
Ah, behind-the-scenes excitement!)
Funk rock from a dedicated local guitarist. Will's been playing
around town for years, as part of Peter Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble,
or the three-guitar funk attack of T.J. Kirk, or his own bands.
Nice guy, fun music.
* Zu and Mats Gustafsson -- "The King Devours His Sons" -- How To Raise an Ox (Atavistic, 2005)
* New American Wing -- "The Hare" -- New American Wing (self-released, 2005)
A 5-minute track, making up for the 40-second blip that was their
only airplay from me last week. This one's cool -- a sneakly little
7/8 riff on guitar, with sax and cello playing chamber-jazzy unison lead
lines. Taps into their post-rock sound; elsewhere on the CD they
conjure up chamber jazz that even approaches modern classical.
* Hard Cell including Tim Berne -- "I Thought You Had It" -- Feign (Screwgun, 2005)
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* Stephan Vitiello and David Tronzo -- "Long Walk (for a Slow Loris)" [track 4] -- Scratchy Monsters, Scary Ghosts (New Albion, 2005)
Ambient stuff with near-classical piano frills, tribal rhythms,
and some jazzy guitar in a gentle vein. Sometimes droney, sometimes sparse,
sometimes (as in this track) catchy stuff that could be called jazz.
* Dino Saluzzi and Jon Christensen -- "Vientos" -- Senderos (ECM, 2005)
Jazzy bandoneon (similar to accordion) and drums, the latter from
ECM vet Jon Christensen (you'll find him on Keith Jarrett's old albums).
Saluzzi has done a few ECM CDs in recent years. He's got charming
Euro-folk melodies on here as well as some looser, atmospheric improvising
with Christensen. This one is sort of in between the two, with a crisp
jazzy feel; Christensen uses drum sounds that wouldn't be out of place
with a jazz-club piano trio.
* Odyssey: The Band -- "Last One" -- Back in Time (Pi Recordings, 2005)
I can already see this becoming a problem: This track is so
infectiously catchy that I might never get around to playing the rest
of the album, which is fine in its own right. Yeah, that's what normal
radio stations do, but I do like to show off multiple sides of an album's
personality over its nine weeks in rotation. I commented last week on
the "hit single" potential of this track, and at least one other DJ was
prompted into playing it from hearing it on my show -- so if it helps
Blood sell more discs or gain more fans, it's all good.
* Patrick Cress' Telepathy -- "Root Chakra" -- Meditation, Realization (Odd Shaped Case, 2005)
Carla Kihlstedt -- "50 Miles" -- 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik, 2003)
A gorgeous old spiritual done up in an interesting style, with
violin that gets into soaring passages in a cinematic mode inspired by
Egyptian singer Oum Kolthoum.
* Badland: Simon Rose, Simon H. Fell, and Steve Noble -- "Mia" -- The Society of the Spectacle (Emanem, 2005)
* Assif Tsahar -- "Sand Between a Toe" -- Solitude (Hopscotch, 2005)
This one pairs saxophonist Tsahar with strings (violin, viola, cello)
for its improvisational setting. Nice stuff -- he uses the strings for a
dramatic, slow-building cinematic effect on the first strach and
for great texture on the title track, a cover of the Duke Ellington piece.
Mat Maneri -- "Divine" -- Sustain (Thirsty Ear, 2002)
Gorgously slow jam, reminds me of the final Talk Talk albums but
denser, a touch more aggression. Slow and powerful stuff with a
"normal" jazz quintet orchestration (Violin, saxes, bass, drums).
-- 6:00 p.m. --
* Mats Gustafsson and David Stackenas -- "Bumble Bee Blues" -- Blues (Atavistic, 2005)
Ornette Coleman -- "Him and Her" -- Of Human Feelings (Antilles, 1980?)
Funky Ornette! Fast flowing sax over popping basslines, what great stuff.
Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra -- "House of Elegant" -- No(w) Music (Cadence Jazz, 2002)
What an awesome band, from a formerly local bassist now making his
name in NYC. A tight big-band-style septet with edgy composing and some
exciting elements like a burning/rocking guitar. Lane has convened a
new Full Throttle and they've apparently got a record out on
that I'll have to seek out. (Clean Feed doesn't do radio servicing,
* ECFA Quartet -- "Late Brunch" -- Die Mitte aus der Welt (Lenka Lente, 2005)
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.