What’s in a Name?
Typically, when you go into a record store or on line to look for jazz, you see one of two things – either the CD prominently features the name of the main artist / group leader prominently, plus the name of the album (e.g. Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool) or the group itself is named after the main person in some way (e.g. Dave Brubeck Quartet; Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers). But every so often – surprisingly infrequently, when you stop to think about it – you see something different: a group with a name for the group, like you see in rock bands. Now there have been some famous “named groups” in jazz over the years, such as the Modern Jazz Quartet, Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer, and the Yellowjackets. And they all rate a diary or a half-diary; I’ll have to get to them someday. But for this week, I decided to take a wander through the CD shelf and see what named groups I could come up with, once I hit on this idea. So here are brief profiles of a half-dozen groups that have nothing in common except they don’t feature somebody’s name. Perhaps I’m attracted to the egalitarian aspects of that right now; I don’t know.
(Coming attractions alert: I’m working on a four-part diary series on the history of the Roman Empire as a mirror on today, so perhaps that has me hankerin’ for something egalitarian, on some subconscious level. Internet service at work has been very spotty recently, so I had to do something to occupy my mind without Booman Tribune, LOL.) They probably indicate the breadth of jazz today, if you feel that there has to be a theme to a diary. But they also could just as easily represent that I am like a giant lint roller for jazz CDs – any one I see and touch sticks to me. So without further ado, here we go…
Partners in Time – “Equinost”
This CD, recorded in 1994, really lives up to the hyperbole of the blurb below. Try it and see.
What happens when you combine two virtuoso Russian jazz players with two critically acclaimed American players?… …the collaboration of Partners in Time.
What happens when you add the legendary Grammy Award winning vibraphonist Gary Burton, trumpet competition winning prodigy Ryan Kisor and percussion master Don Alias?… …the creation of Equinost.
The group Partners in Time is a concept that grew from a quartet (formerly Jazznost) to the inclusion of other great guest players. The title, Equinost, reflects the unity and partnership heard throughout this exciting recording. Masterfully played and meticulously recorded, Equinost is a must for any CD collection. The selections range from the unique and memorable compositions of Louis Scherr to the haunting and beautiful theme from the movie Schindler’s List.
Rounding out this adventurous ensemble are: Gary Burton (vibes), Ryan Kisor (trumpet), Don Alias (percussion), Igor Butman (sax), Louis Scherr (piano), Victor Dvoskin (bass), Tony Martucci (drums), Paul Bollenback (guitar), and Ken Willaman (cello)
I liked this CD better than the following reviewer; maybe I’m more intellectual, LOL:
Recorded live at the Manhattan Center in New York in 1998, this CD documents a concert by the Hudson Project: a piano-less post-bop/fusion quartet uniting guitarist John Abercrombie with bassist John Patitucci, drummer Peter Erskine, and the Michael Brecker-influenced tenor saxman Bob Mintzer. You won’t hear any overdone standards during the set; all four musicians contribute their own compositions, most of which are quite cerebral and angular. [snip] …those who can accept the Hudson Project on its own terms will find this CD to be a decent… exercise in post-bop/fusion intellectualism. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide
Jazz Liberation Quartet
Oh yeah – I wondered what this was. I picked this up to support some local musicians; go ye and do likewise!
Jazz Liberation Quartet: Jimmy Mann, tenor sax/horns; David Nichols, guitar; Dave Slack, bass; Alonzo Lewis, drums. Formed in 1990, JLQ has drawn from a pool of many outstanding local players over the years to offer a unique repertoire featuring dozens of originals mixed with fun and unusual jazz classics and rock and funk favorites. The current line-up has been performing regularly since late 2004 and plans to record a new CD in the near future. You can catch JLQ often at the Preservation Pub and 4620 Jazz Club [here in K-town].
This is just plain pleasant stuff to listen to:
Altoist/flutist Bud Shank and Brazilian acoustic guitarist Laurindo Almeida first teamed up in the 1950s to create music that predated but strongly hinted at bossa nova. In 1974, they reunited to form the L.A. Four with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Chuck Flores. With Shelly Manne and later Jeff Hamilton replacing Flores on drums, the L.A. Four recorded eight albums for Concord through 1982, breaking up shortly afterward. Their mixture of cool-toned bop, Brazilian-oriented music, and ballads was quite attractive.
– Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
Revolutionary Snake Ensemble – Year of the Snake
And this is just plain fun – a bunch of Boston musicians forming a New Orleans-style brass band, bringing their own sensibility to the fun and funky sound:
New Orleans brass band music isn’t always what you’d call a sophisticated sound–it’s meant to make you shake your butt, and its chanted refrains give a sense of shared experience that further bonds the dancers to the musicians. Yet, there have been a few groups, notably the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who have taken the music to more ambitious musical heights, using the second line format as a foundation for a modern jazz ensemble.
It’s within this context that alto saxophonist Ken Field and trumpeter Scott Getchell co-founded Boston’s Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, picking up the ever evolving New Orleans brass band sound and moving it to a new neighborhood. The Snake Ensemble has added influences from non-New Orleans, horn-based funk bands like the JBs, Tower of Power, or Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, and from Latin jazz and salsa, but what it all boils down to is a great party band that delivers music of substance. [snip]
The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble has accomplished something uncommon with its debut release. With due deference to the New Orleans tradition, Ken Field and his compatriots have created a funky brass band sound that’s quite at home in Boston. With its keen writing, superb soloists and always-funky grooves, The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble will have you dancing and listening time and time again to its outstanding musicianship. It’s all here–music for the head, the heart and the feet.
Ohad Talmor is a very busy guy – The Other Quartet is just one of several group projects you can find out about on his webpage (link above, excerpt below); I may have to look further into this guy’s work:
OT & RJ’s Other Quartet was created in 1996 by Ohad Talmor and Russ Johnson and has pushed its way to the forefront of New York’s creative jazz scene. It has created its individual sound by synthesizing varied musical genres in one unique style. Whether grooving on a funk vamp, interpreting commissioned works by leading contemporary composers or performing their stylized originals, The Other Quartet commands the attention of a vast musical audience. Never afraid to step into new musical terrain, explore new soundscapes, lines and textures, the band leaves no stone unturned as they carve their own niche in today’s music scene. TOQ has toured extensively throughout the US and Europe.
The Other Quartet’s first release, “13 Pieces” (KFR 262) has received raving acclaim from both the general public and critics alike. The recording features seven original pieces, three adapted classical pieces and three short free sonic explorations.
The Other Quartet’s second release, “Sound Stains” (KFR 297 ) establishes the group’s sound even further. Rump shaking grooves, rhythmically intricate originals, trance-like chamber pieces and a brand new work by vanguard classical composer Ludmila Ulelha make for a defying sonic experience.
Ohad Talmor -Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet; Russ Johnson – Trumpet; Pete McCann – Guitar; Mark Ferber – Drums
And rubbing the jewel box of any TOQ CD on the neck of a dirty shirt will remove “ring around the collar!” Well, maybe not… But their music is worth a listen if you run across it.
What’s in your CD stack that I should know about this week?
I know at least some of you frogs may be considering attending the 2006 Bonnaroo festival this summer, so here is the latest information: Tickets for the 2006 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will go on sale Saturday, February 11, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time through: www. BonnarooTickets.com If you want to make hotel reservations, it can be done through the same site. (The national weather service is predicting a wet spring/summer for the Tenneesee valley due to a La Nina this year – just letting you know.)
The festival is scheduled for June 16-18, and tickets will be limited to 78,000 in order to keep the crowds manageable. Ticket prices are expected to be about 5% higher than last year’s prices of $146.50 – $172.50.
This is the fifth anniversary for the yearly festival, held on 700 acres of land in Manchester, TN, between Nashville and Chattanooga. Announced performances include:
Radiohead – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Phil Lesh & Friends – Beck – Elvis Costello & the Imposters – Bonnie Raitt – Death Cab for Cutie – moe. – Bright Eyes – The Neville Brothers – Bela Fleck & The Flecktones – Buddy Guy – Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – Ben Folds – Robert Randolph & The Family Band – Dr. John – Matisyahu – G. Love & Special Sauce – Umphrey’s McGee – My Morning Jacket – Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder – Steel Pulse – Mike Gordon & Ramble Dove – Cat Power – Medeski Martin & Wood – Nickel Creek – Gomez – Atmosphere – Steve Earle – Blues Traveler – Disco Biscuits – Amadou & Mariam – Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – The Dresden Dolls – Son Volt – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Jerry Douglas – Soulive – Rusted Root – Devendra Banhart Band – Donavon Frankenreiter – Mike Doughty – Sasha – Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – The Magic Numbers – Bill Frisell – Seu Jorge – Bettye LaVette – Dungen Shooter Jennings – Rebirth Brass Band – Robinella – Andrew Bird – Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk – Steel Train – Jackie Greene – Devotchka – The Wood Brothers – dios (malos) – Toubab Krewe – The Motet – Marah
Links with information on each of these artists can be found at the Bonnaroo festival website: www.bonnaroo.com
An interesting profile on Ashley Capps, the man behind Bonnaroo and a Knoxville native, can be found here.
[No, I don’t know him, nor do I know Tina Wesson (winner of Survivor Season 2 from Knoxville), nor do I know anyone that works at HGTV headquarters (across the highway from where I live in a cave playing jazz CDs, LOL). Maybe I need to learn to play golf…]
But I do know something better: If you’re going to Bonnaroo, consider a trip up to Elkmont in Great Smoky Mountains National Park one evening to see the synchronized fireflies. No, they’re not a band, they’re the insects, only they flash in synchrony, sometimes a whole hillside at once, sometimes in bands of light flowing through a vale; that weekend is prime time for the phenomenon – it only lasts a few weeks until they’ve all mated. Incredible, and found in only a few places on earth (Planning on a trip to Papua-New Guinea? If not, you have to come here to see them). Plus, if you let me know you’re coming through town, I’ll have an excuse to go see them again!