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Early in my explorations of avant-jazz, I got pointed toward Bobby Previte. A kindred soul told me how much he loved the Weather Clear, Track Fast album on Enja; I picked up a copy and was hooked. Previte's sound leans mainstream, but the album showed off a creative composing style, rich jazz delivings, and an awareness of free jazz.
Later, I'd discover Previte's more avant-garde/improv leanings, too, including the two CDs on his own Depth of Field label, both of which feature John Zorn. (Previte's discontinued the label. I recall seeing him quoted that it was just too much work, and I sympathize.)
Previte's since run through multiple bands touching on slightly twisted versions of surf music ("Latin for Travelers"), power-pumped anthem rock ("Coalition of the Willing"), and even funky stuff that veers a little too close to smooth jazz ("Bump").
The New Bump goes for a silky, dark sound, with driven jazz tracks cloaked in a film-noir kind of knowing cool. Bill Ware on vibraphone is responsible for much of the overall sound.
The title track opens things up at a slow pace, but a more aggressive yet breezy sound shows up on tracks like "I'm On To Her" or "Drive South, Along the Canyon," with gentle horn lines conjured up from Blue Note, c.1968. It's a rich, atmospheric session.
The lineup, by the way, is amazing: Ellery Eskelin (sax), Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Brad Jones (bass), Jim Pugliese (percussion), and Previte on drums.
As for today's radio show, things got disjoint in a hurry, as I kept finding pop/rock/other track I wanted to stuff into there. Every week, I walk away wishing I could have played a few more tracks.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
* Bennie Maupin Quartet -- "Ours Again" -- Early Reflections (Cryptogramophone, 2008)
* Fredereik Ljungkvist & Yun Kan 5 -- "Oslo" -- Badaling (Caprice, 2008)
* Origami Arktika -- "Fanteguten" -- Trolleboth (Silber, 2007)
Heller knows Baxter personally, and it came up in conversation one day that Baxter had done a TV special. This CD is basically the soundtrack of that special. For airplay, I've actually chosen Baxter's biggest hit here, apparently.
* Mostly Other People Do the Killing -- "Handsome Eddy" -- Shamokin!!! (Hot Cup, 2008)
This is their 21st album, and it's got a bit more of a pop approach than its two predecessors, Li'l Beethoven (heavy on symphonic sounds) and Hello Young Lovers (likewise, but with more instances of guitars tossed in).
The first single from the album is "Good Morning," a bouncy falsetto romp sung by a fellow who's just had a one-night stand he can't remember. It's pretty funny; one of the great things about Sparks is the way they create characters and stories that get woven into the lyrics in ways that aren't always apparent at first listen.
This song starts off with a showtuney kind of lightness, adding sharp guitar/drums for a surprise jolt later (one that I should have expected; it's happened on each of their last two albums). Elsewhere on the album is a supremely catchy pop monologue called "Lighten Up, Morrissey." How could you not love that? Songwriter Ron Mael appears to be on a creative roll. Keep it going, man!
* Trevor Watts and Jamie Haris -- "Tandem Voices" -- Ancestry (Entropy Stereo, 2008)
* Garrison Fewell and Eric Hofbauer -- "Comfort for an Affliction" -- The Lady of Khartoum (Creative Nation, 2008)
For the uninitiated, Derek Bailey crafted his own improvised language of clicky notes and odd intervals, a sound that's nonmusical but has its own logic and swing to it. You can't fully replicate it just by banging and plucking the strings randomly.
But for this album, Bailey played a bunch of jazz standards. He was a "regular" jazz guitarist once upon a time, but recorded evidence of that was lacking until this album. There are still plenty of Baileyisms in the mix, but the songs are kept intact, proving that Derek Bailey really can play "that" way. It was recorded just a couple of years before Bailey was hobbled by carpal tunnel syndrome, and he died just last year, so this rare document of his jazz roots is something to be cherished. It's followed up by the posthumous Standards, which All About Jazz reviewed here.
* Szilard Mezei Quintet -- "Ko" (Stone) -- Cerkno (Leo Records, 2008)
* Boxdeserter -- "One Abroad" [excerpt] -- Two Revolutions (Edgetone, 2008)
* Bran(...)Pos -- "Archival Rodeo At The Gambling Hall Of Double Rights And Truths" -- Coin-Op Khepri (C.I.P., 2007)
* Teiji Ito -- "Maeva" (Part 2: Return to Tahiti) -- Music for Maya (Tzadik, 2008; orig. released 1961)
Maeva was a Tahitian movie about a girl's tragic search for love. Along the way, she faces heartbreak and abandonmnet, and she apparently gets raped early on in the film -- not exactly Hollywood 1961 fare. Nor is this track your usual movie soundtrack. A clatter of hammered dulcimers fills the first several minutes for a sort of crazed near-rhythmic feel. Later, traditional Ike music with ukelele shows up.
The Bobs still exist. They've had the inevitable personnel changes, and they don't tour extensively, but their Web site shows concerts booked out as far as April 2009 and a packed holiday schedule, which is good to see.
Jazz Contemporaries -- "3-M.B." [excerpt] -- Reasons in Tonality (Strata-East, 1972)
Yet another gem from the vinyl collection. This appears to be an
all-star sextet, including George Coleman
on tenor and Harold Mabern
on piano. The album consists of one song per side, each one a lengthy
jam. It's straightahead stuff, but as you'd imagine, they get into
some cooking group interaction as they take advantage of 20 minutes
of elbow room. The soloing even slips into what you might call free jazz
for a few bars at a time. I'd gladly give it another spin someday.
The Lost Trio -- "Strange" -- Remembrance of Songs Past
Previously noted here.
Patrick Cress' Telepathy -- "Zum Bolli Boli" -- Meditation, Realization (Odd Shaped Case, 2006)
Tim Berne -- "Twisted/Straight Jacket" -- The Shell Game (Thirsty Ear, 2001)
* = 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.