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Xeric winner Gary Scott Beatty's "Jazz: The Tiki Room" fiction is featured in the free online magazine MuskegonOnline.NET this month only.

 

The debut album for Housecore Records by this modern psychedelic outfit summons the late 1960's hippie culture, shaded by a modern glean, and strikes a harmonious chord amid the album cover art that at first glance may signify a Sci-Fi western featuring zombies as the outlaws. Maybe an old wine in new bottles thing, but the ensemble's rewarding factors lie within memorable comps. With a touch of progressive-rock amid haunting lyricism, the studio engineering processes embed or perhaps simulate a purist, analog-like soundstage. Featuring psychedelic and hard-rock guitar parts, climactic movements, and a touch of antiquity, the band also embraces the pop-rock spectrum.

One day dad went back home, a strange black suitcase in his hand; and stood up in front of the 12 years old son. Inside the suit case, there was a shiny instrument, smelling new. Such was the curiosity that the boy decided to snatch the secret language of music: it was so moving, it made me so happy.
"See the sky" is the fruit of a beautiful journey, a veritable résumé of my experiences, meetings and emotions through years and years spent playing music and living my life. It's a generous cd,  resultance of both enthusiasm and joy in making music; and it's, from time to time, intense, soft, minimal, furious, romantic. The five musicians of the quintet share respect and friendship, and show along the tracks the beauty of many years playing together.

Beppe Di Benedetto

It's rather ironic to be asked to give this review a label. Why? Because in the liner notes to the wonderful "In My Room", Larry Goldings makes a staunch defence of the music he's selected to play on this CD, describing labels as being "so 1980s." And he's absolutely right.

This is ethereal, contemplative music played beautifully by the unusual combination of trumpet and guitar. Kris Tiner's tone is warm and full, and unusually gentle for a young brass player. He takes the lead most of the way, but Mike Baggetta's presence is continuous. Fitting the mood of the album, the guitarist often uses long-sustain sparsely-placed notes, whether accenting Tiner's solos or soloing himself. (Classical music fans will recognize the influence of composer Morton Feldman.)

"Bobo" opens with a mournful wail strongly reminiscent of Miles' Sketches of Spain. The entire track may remind you of that album, but it's quieter and played with rhythmic freedom rather than a steady pulse. Through much of the piece, Baggetta picks a simple bass-line. During his own solo, notes above that bass line come at a leisurely one every four seconds or so. The effect is mesmerizing. It's rare to hear young musicians who know how to grab listeners without wild flurries of speed or in-your-face dynamics.

 

Psychedelic pranksters M'lumbo return with the amusingly titled Celestial Ghetto. The title of the album is quite fitting as M'lumbo draw from many sources, and can alternate seamlessly between the gritty and the ethereal. With M'lumbo, there is no distinction between high and low art where refined soloing is juxtaposed against a sense of nutty humor. This might be irritating to some (why obscure a perfectly good solo with seemingly random samples?) but this recording is refreshingly free from intellectual pretenses.

"Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

Sometimes you just need to get away... Oscar Peñas lives the musical irony having left his native Spain and come to what is fast becoming the epicenter of global jazz in order to compose for From Now On. While indeed a musical melting pot of a variety of cultures and influences, it is an introspective reflection on his own cultural heritage that transforms From Now On into such an intoxicating work.

Law school creates more than a few challenges. There are hours upon hours of studying, grueling hours interning at law firms, and financial bills that need to find a way to get paid. For many law students the adversity is just too much to overcome and that can lead to despair. For Ola Onabule, it determined his life's journey.

Though the late 90s Exotica / Space Age Bachelor Pad Music mini-trend of the late 90s and early 2000s is long over, vibraphonist Brian O'Neill continues to make original music in this vein under the Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica moniker. Listening to the band's sophomore effort, “Third River Rangoon,” I couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't selling himself short. Many correctly associate exotica with mood music, a hip sort of sound to have on in the background while the primary order of business is sipping a Mai-Tai and eating sushi. From the first track on “Third River Rangoon,” it's clear that there's much more going on here than one would typically hear on any given Martin Denny or Les Baxter LP. Even the CD title, with its backhanded reference to Gunther Schuller's 'Third Stream Music,' suggests that O'Neill and company have loftier goals than merely updating mildly interesting background music from the 1950s.  

New trio album from Norwegian pianist Bernt Moen.