Friday, July 14th, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Steuart Liebig and The Mentones -- "Double Blade Axe" -- Nowhere Calling (pfMentum, 2006)
Second album by Liebig's quartet that infuses blues-rock with some wild
free-jazz ideas. The result really does rock, and the use of
chromatic harmonica (played at dizzying speeds by Bill Barrett) as a
lead voice gives the whole thing a dusty-road, back-bar kind of feel.
Lots of odd time signatures and high volumes. Very cool, fun stuff.
* Liberty Ellman -- "Ophiuchus Butterfly" -- Ophiuchus Butterfly (Pi Recordings, 2006)
* Daniel Carter and Ravi Padmanabha -- "Vasana" -- Nivesana (Epoch, 2006)
* Louie Belogenis, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Kenny Wollesen -- "Oasis of Dreams" -- Unbroken (Tick Tock, 2005)
This track, dedicated to John Zorn, is a nicely flowing 9-minute jam
with solos from each group member, in a lightly fast/midtempo feel.
Chris Speed -- "Not an Option" -- Yeah No (Songlines, 1998)
From Speed's first solo album, with Jim Black (drums), Cuong Vu
(trumpet), and Skuli Sverisson (electric bass); Speed leads on sax and
clarinet. Nice effort from early in these guys' careers. I remember
seeing Speed at the Knitting Factory a couple years before 1998, in a
band led by drummer Ben Perowsky. They were playing in the basement
bar area, where you could listen for free. I was just getting tuned in
to this music (I'd started seeking out the Knit on my then-regular trips
to NYC) and thought it a wonderful experience. Later, I was lucky enough
to see this "Yeah No" band in Santa Cruz, as Speed made a rare swing
through the Pacific states to promote the album (kind of makes sense,
as it was released on a Vancouver label). Good times.
* Ellen Burr with Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon -- "Canon - Cards - Canon 2" -- Duos (pfMentum, 2006)
This one's got a perky, jumpy, modern-classical feel, with some pause-laden
* Bennie Maupin Ensemble -- "See the Positive" -- Penumbra (Cryptogramophone, 2006)
* Gutbucket -- "Underbidder" -- Sludge Test (Cantaloupe, 2006)
These guys just rule. Intense, in-your-face, punk-infused jazz --
and it is jazz, with, y'know, a sax and everything, but
with brutal, fast tendencies. The best part is that it's all woven with
complex time signatures and intricate parts for the band members, so you
get to hear them turn on a dime and crank out some nice twisty phrases.
As usual with music, the CD doesn't capture the ferocity of what they're
like live, but it's still a good listen. And yeah, they even have some
slow/quiet parts thrown in.
* Actis Band -- "Allende" -- Allende (Leo Records, 2006)
Another fun romp from saxophonist Carlo Actis Dato, whose music
melds free jazz, Balkan/Klezmer, Euro-folk, and a sense of humor.
Lots of danceable folky rhythms, loud free-jazz energy, and cranky
guitar noises (this track starts off with jet-motor sounds from the guitar,
like your standard noise piece, before diving into some fun melody).
Always great to see Carlo's name on a CD.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Bobby Previte -- "Anthem for Andrea" -- The Coalition of the Willing (Ropeadope, 2006)
I could swear I've played this more than 2 times before this week,
but our music
database, which does not lie, says no. (Use the "Find It" link -- enter
a complete word or
phrase and find albums, artists, songs, music reviews,
and DJ playlists that incorporate that word or phrase.)
The problem is probably that there's too much funky/fusiony stuff in
rotation right now. While I enjoy playing it, I don't want it to
dominate any given show -- as it threatened to do this time.
* Tunnels -- "Enigma" -- Natural Selection (Buckyball, 2006)
This is a fun album, packed with classic-rock testosterone and some of
the surf-rock energy of Previte's "Latin for Travelers" band.
The rock/jazz hybridization doesn't always work for me, but it's
probably a killer act live, and it's certainly a kick-ass CD in
many places. You also get random other elements: an out-of-nowhere
reggae/jazz segment on "Oceania" following a prog-like guitar intro.
The guitar is played by Charlie Hunter -- plain six-stringed guitar,
as opposed to the 8-string creation he usually brings -- while
Jamie Saft on organ defines most of the sound, bringing in those surf
and funk elements. Previte holds down the drums.
This particular track really is anthemic: dramatic and soaring, with
high-energy solos and rock-star basslines. Maybe a bit over the
top, but fun stuff (and the anthemic intro makes a great segue
after a punchy legal-ID cart.)
More prog/fusion from the trio that includes Percy Jones, the
former bassist in Brand X. Also Marc Wagnon on MIDI vibes, producing
all sorts of synthy washes, and John O'Reilly on drums. This album
is darker and more subdued than the previous two, which is a nice
change of pace, actually -- they were in danger of sounding the same on
every record, as I recall. Great stuff, especially for a reformed prog
fan like me; it's got a sinister "future" fusion sound to it (as opposed
to the funkier fusion of the '70s or the friendlier grand/soaring
sound of Mahavishnu).
National Health -- "Rhubarb Jam" -- Playtime (Cuneiform, 2001)
A CD of long, scribbly jams from these prog guys ... but I picked
a one-minute improv instead. I figured it would make a good transition
into the more straight jazz of Calvin Keys. It turns out the Keys
track starts off in such experimental territory that I didn't really
need this bumper. Well, it came out sounding good anyway. I feel
like I should someday
spin one of the 9- or 15-minute tracks from this CD to make
it up to these guys... but you know what? I suspect a shorter track
grabs more audience ears than a longer one -- just as in journalism,
the short dumb stories are the ones more readers tend to notice.
* Calvin Keys -- "Proceed with Caution '06" -- Vertical Clearance (Wide Hive, 2006)
I could be wrong; certainly some listeners are intrigued by long
tracks (or long sets that segue well) and enjoy getting immersed in the
music. That's certainly how I got into this whole game, after hearing
Tim Berne's Bloodcount on college radio late one night...
On an otherwise straightforward jazz-guitar album, keys tosses in
this one, with a spacey free-jazz opening and some complex structure
in the middle. The most adventurous track by far -- others are good
although a few descend into some mellow sappiness that I'd rather avoid.
Still, it's a nice album overall, and Keys very pleasantly surprised
me with this track.
* Chrisitan McBride -- "Hibiscus" -- Live at Tonic (Ropeadope, 2006)
* Dave Douglas -- "Culture Wars" -- Meaning and Mystery (Greenleaf, 2006)
A laid-back album with some subtle fire to it, another excursion
by Douglas into Electric Miles territory. Certainly has its share of funk
and fusion in the mix, continuing the vibe I'd gotten going for most of this
Moe! Staiano -- "Al Capone Died of Syphillis" -- The Lateness of Yearly Presentations (Dephine Knormal, 2002)
This particular track is a 12-minute soft ramble, which brings up an
interesting point. I'll sometimes select CD tracks randomly just to see
if something might fit, or generate a new idea (the "random" number comes
from the timer count on the CD currently playing). I'll often discard
the result -- I'm well satisfied that purely random radio gets clunky and
frustrating for the listener -- but, like I said, it sometimes opens up
new ideas. I hadn't even noticed this track previously, and I wasn't sure
I wanted 12 more minutes of mainstream stuff -- but a quick listen to the
intro got me hooked. I think it worked well in the set.
... And then, it was time to unleash the challenging stuff.
* John Zorn, composer; Mark Feldman (violin), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) -- "Zethar" -- Malphas, Book of Angels Volume 3 (Tzadik, 2006)
I've expounded on Moe!'s talent
This particular track
really shows off his percussion in a high-energy, noisy setting with
guitars and other instruments. Made for a nice intro into Moe! territory, and
a good way to set up ticket giveaways for an upcoming Moe!kestra concert.
It occurred to me to go from this track into the full Moe!kestra piece,
but I figured it would build extra anticipation (and give me one extra
chance to promo the concert) if I split things up a bit. Plus, I'd
come up with the Zorn/Sparks segue that I really wanted to get into
the show, so I figured I'd take care of that ASAP.
An album of chamber-music interpretations of Zorn's Masada songs,
Masada being the project mixing jazz as Klezmer ideas. Often "classical"
sounding, but with plenty of interesting, bopping moments.
*! Sparks -- "Here Kitty" -- Hello Young Lovers (In the Red, 2006)
This one's got a lot of overdubbed do-wop vocals that give it a
chiming quality. Thought it went well with the uptempo Zorn piece, despite
being a bit of a non sequitur.
* Troglodytes -- "Spek" -- Ria (Floating Opera, 2006)
A Nina Rota-like, Euro-cinema kind of piece, fast and fun.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
? Moe! Staiano's Moe!kestra -- "Conducted Improvisation Piece No. 4" -- Two Forms of Multitudes: Conducted Improvisations (Dephine Knormal/Pax/Edgetone, 2003)
Moe!kestra in full force, with a couple of long, loud movements followed
by some chamber-like segments with just a fraction of the orchestra at a
time. I hadn't planned on playing the whole thing through, but the timing
worked out well.
Hal Rammell, John Corbett, Terri Kapsalis -- "The World When It Gets To Be What It Is - Will It?"/"Corn Etiquette" -- Van's Peppy Syncopators (Penumbra, 1996)
Experimental music duets between Rammell and Corbett, spaced by occasional out-poetry recitations
from Kapsalis. I played one of each, the poetry part being "Corn Etiquette,"
a stoic reading of rules when picking through a corn bin at the market.
* Peter Brotzmann/Han Bennik -- "Nr. 1" -- Schwarzwaldfaht (Atavistic, 2006; orig. released 1977)
Duo improvisations recorded outdoors, with various nature sounds
(birds, mostly) allowed to peep through. Brotzmann is on sax, often
playing in a subdued mode, and Bennik, rather than bang around on drums,
adds various woodwind sounds of his own.
* William Parker -- "Codex" -- Long Hidden: The Olmec Series (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
This is one of the "Olmec Group" tracks.
* = 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.