Monday, 16 January 2017

Two Faces Music 12

Jane Ira Bloom - Early Americans, album review


This is a tight trio offering, drummer Bobby Previte shining through on a little run in opener Song Patrol – mentioned simply because it stood out as I just listened – but it is the close companionship of the three instruments that is brightest throughout. Bloom’s fluid playing is immediately cascading in second Dangerous Times, and the clarity of melodic runs is showcased in the solo track of third, Nearly. Mark Helias plucks out a sweet riff to start Other Eyes, and this bass and soprano sax duet is a spacious if gentle conversation. There is a Latin-esque groove to seventh Rhyme or Rhythm, and I like the overdubbed effects that swell out the sound of the sax here, the percussive rhythms dancing with that electronic rhyming. This is a full collection of thirteen songs, and the last is a Bloom solo of the well-known Somewhere which is slow and smooth, soprano rising to those expectant high notes beautifully.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Nguyên Lê & Ngo Hong Quang feat. Paolo Fresu - Hà Noi Duo, album review


Having enjoyed so much Paolo Fresu’s album Eros of last year, I am pleased to hear him guesting on this collaboration between French/Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê and Ngô Hồng Quang playing more traditional fiddle, lute and other Vietnamese instruments, and including his dramatic vocals. These two merge their modern and traditional approaches as well as sounds, so Western jazz/fusion and Vietnamese melodies, Fresu adding his Miles Davis horn echoes on a number of tracks, like the smooth opener Cloud Chamber. It is the instrumentation and melodic whole [including rock guitar] that dominates, but the powerful vocal of Quang, as on Like Mountain Birds, is highly emotive. On two further tracks, both with Fresu - A Night With You, Gone and The Graceful Seal - that vocal is extended beautifully.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Peter Sarstedt - Where Do You Go To My Lovely (1969)

It would be churlish to say he wasn't one of the 'greats' so I am not; equally, his passing is as important to many as any other artists who have passed so recently in a now memorable 2016 for such. My main memory is loving this song at the time, buying the sheet music, and playing and singing in my bedroom.

Hands Music 16

Gregory Porter - Live in Berlin, album review


This is a simple recommendation, with Gregory Porter's Take Me to the Alley my top pick of album in 2016, reviews of his work to date in support here, and the fact he was the best performer, along with Héloïse Letissier, on Jools Holland's Hootenanny this year [an increasingly bloated/regurgitated programme] - I don't watch live anymore, recording and listening to what I want afterwards. I liked his cover of Sunny.

This album captures Porter at his live finest, and that is a treat, especially because the band get their workouts, and in particular it is great to hear Chip Crawford on some extended piano. Genuine 'greats' from across his albums are showcased here, and this album is also available as a dvd/blueray recording of the show. I am happy with the soundtrack.

There are many live shows available on YouTube as well, always worth hearing and watching.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Ryley Walker & Charles Rumback - Cannots, album review

Obviously Ragas

The five improvised pieces on this album are quite majestic – musical meditations perhaps best summarising their panoramic. Guitar and percussion essentially, Walker plays both acoustic and electric and this is the most indicative of difference. They are not ragas – I don’t think – as could be expected, though there are mainly patterns and repetitions, so maybe I have just contradicted myself. The most distinctive feature is in the many guitar furls from Walker, finger flicks across the strings in among the more singular lead picking, Rumback’s drumming rolling and tumbling quite gently underneath, setting the most persistent rhythms.

No, they are raga-ish, and had/have to be. That’s Walker’s overall style unless playing a more conventional folk song, and these are jazzfolk to suggest a tag. Title track Cannots is the most raucous, heavily reverbed and amped guitar vibrating across its hypnotic 10 minutes. The other electrified is penultimate Oft Rift, less tremulous and at a slower pace. The album closes on a sweetfolk acoustic Middle Atlas.

An excellent instrumental album.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Faun Fables - Born of the Sun, album review

Swirling Comfortably Within Nostalgia's Tunneling Groove

The New Year finds us still looking backwards – well, to July 2016 when this album was released – but of course I mean a nostalgic sound, and Faun Fables as a freak folk duo of Dawn McCarthy and Nils Frykdahl does hark back to a pastoral music embodied by the obvious of Incredible String Band and Dr Strangely Strange, though I also hear, oddly perhaps, a little of Van Der Graff [Peter Hammill, really] in at least a couple of tracks Ta Nasza Mlodosc and Madman & Dogs, even a bit of Black Widow in the album’s title track, though it is not in the least occultist. Oh, and Beefheart in Wild Kids Rant, the liveliest on the album, though the echoing yodel at the start of last track Mountain and subsequent shouts have their own upbeat force. There is plenty of flute, harmonica too, and ruminations on living a simple life. It fits comfortably in this genre though doesn’t stand out – but when you are a part of that groove you swirl within its specialist tunnel.

Cadillac Music 2