I first met Gérard in 2001. Alexander Pierrepont brought my wife Yuko and me to his radio show to be interviewed sometime in the middle of summer in the middle of the night. We immediately hit it off, both of us loving jazz and justice just equally. I always made him laugh… we always understood each other despite my non-existent French and his almost non-existent English. We would see each other every time I went to Paris, and I'd always go to a concert he'd booked at Sunside/Sunset or La Java. He was very generous to me and would always give me CDs from his incredible label. I had already had some LPs on Marge/Futura but knew nothing about the man behind the label; as I said, we became fast friends. Sometime in autumn around 2013 Gerard offered me a gig at La Java. He said there would be little if any money but that I could have all the drinks I wanted and that I could bring merchandise to sell and any musicians I wanted. He had only one request. Since I was opening for French band that played Chicago blues, he asked if I had any blues poems and if not could I write/read at least one to help please the audience. I’m laughing. "But Gerard, mon frère, of course I'll write you a blues poem." And I did. The musicians were Sabir Mateen, Sylvain Kassab and Cathy Hayden -- three avant-garde reed players.
I've been a wit bit tardy on my vinyl reviews as of late, being so busy with my own music project, but this album Severed (Submarine Cat Records) is so worthwhile even with the wait. Curse of Lono (no, not the Hunter S. Thompson novel) have crafted some very compelling gothic Americana on their debut full-length slab o' vinyl. Hailing from the UK they have taken up where leader Felix Bechtolsheimer formerly of Hey Negrita left off. The video above for the song "Pick Up The Pieces" is just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. A tom-tom primal Bo Diddy groove monster of a song it is, but just one of ten nuggets, five on each side, 38 minutes tight. This is the way music was meant to be heard. Get up and flip the disc over. Repeat. The Curse of Lono has descended upon my turntable and infected my whole home. Welcome to the my nightmare. Where's Hunter when you need him cuz I need my home exorcised. x, Dusty
Sometimes you have to give musicians the benefit of the doubt. As a follow musician, I often wonder if I've been given the same courtesy when I've asked a friend to come to one of my gigs or listen to one of my albums. Friendships can cloud judgements, or not. Other musicians can way too critical of fellow musicians, or not. So the other day I was in 30th Street Guitars, one of my favorite guitar shops (repairs, new and used gear) in the world looking to test-drive a new reverb pedal (Moog MF Analog Trem). I was ushered into their sound-proof room by my friend Jimmy Archey and introduced to fellow musician Talay who was playing her guitar through a new amp. Jimmy asked the young rocker to demo my pedal while I dialed in the various settings. As is often the case with fellow musicians we started to chat about our music and gear. A few mintues later, she invited me to her gig later that evening which I could not make as I had a prior commitment. But she did tell me that she had just released a new single called "Parents' House."
She left and I didn't give it much thought until I pulled out her card this AM and decided that I should check out her latest tune given that I liked her energy and attitude. I very much wanted to see how her music measured up to her personality. Well, I was blown away. Melodic, punchy, poppy and memorable rock 'n' roll, all ingredients that scream "keeper" in my ever-expanding world of music accumulation. If you dig Weezer, Fountains of Wayne and Semisonic, you will def need it. But Talay's music is deserving of a much wider audience and if your smart you'll download it today. You owe it to yourself, your playlist and Talay. - Dusty Wright
LeAnn Rimes performed last Friday night at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, a beautifully (and recently) renovated former movie palace and Broadway style theater. At 1100 seats it is a warm an intimate venue.
When I was seven-years old I had a Kool-Aid stand and with my profits bought my very first album -- The Beatles' Second Album. I remember walking the several blocks to the Acme store and praying that they still had a copy in the album rack. They did. I couldn't wait to get home and play it on my portable record player. I carefully placed the needle on the very first track on side one of that magnificent album and... my life would forever be devoted to music in some shape or form. On that beloved album, the very first track was my favorite song -- "Roll Over Beethoven" -- by one Mr. Chuck Berry. At the time, I had no idea who wrote the song nor much cared. It was all about The Beatles. But as almost everyone knows, Chuck Berry wrote and recorded it years earlier. And it would take me several years and thousands of hours of listening to rock music later to understand how important Chuck Berry was to the genre. In fact, I would better understand his place in music history from the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead. And it would be decades later until I actually would meet him in person. But what a meeting.
Remember the first time you heard a band that didn't cop to anyone else's style or music vibe before? I can namecheck Patti Smith and the Talking Heads as bands that made that immediate impact on my ears and brain. Couldn't shake them out of my brain. Well, it's happened again. Heard a song on random shuffle on a Spotify playlist and bam!... I was hooked. Beauty Pill's tune "Afrikaner Barista" got lodged in my cranium and simply couldn't shake it loose. Nor did I want to. So I tracked down the publicist, begged for the album that the song was released on, sadly to no avail, and bought the album anyway.
Okay, it's time for me to stop trying to listen to more 2016 albums and just wrap up this list. In the past I would split my jazz list into a new releases part dedicated to current recordings and a historical part combining first releases of archival material with reissues. This year I'm skipping reissues, partly because some projects were so gargantuan that little guys like me weren't serviced with them, partly because the vinyl renaissance means everything is being reissued at once, and partly because so much stuff is just rehashing the same material in new packaging, with or without a gimmick or a little additional material added. So first releases of archival material are lumped in here. Maybe that's not entirely fair to the current guys, but on the other hand I don't include many archival items on my list.
Though I am usually turned off by women musicians who tend to dress way too sexy for their roles, particularly in the classical world, I do tend, in the long run, to judge them by their ability as players. I really prefer not to have to see this underdressed ideal of womanhood because I don’t understand why it’s necessary or what it could possibly have to do with the music presented, or for that matter, their possible talent. Are they perhaps trying to sell their SEX as part of the package as an extra enticement, in case their abilities fail them?
But every now and then while listening to one of these people, trying my best not to be distracted by this seeming “shortcoming,” I am overwhelmed nonetheless by their talent. Such is the case with Tania Stavreva, who, despite her sexy luxuriating atop the piano on the jacket of her debut CD, Rhythmic Movement, proves to be a formidable and accomplished pianist/composer.
R.I.P., Mr. John Wetton, you provided many of the songs for the soundtrack of my youth with your bass playing, and vocals, in Roxy Music, King Crimson, Uriah Heap, Asia, and your debut album with the quartet U.K. embedded above. For me you reached the zenith of your artistic expression with said progressive rock super band. From 1977 until 1980, you, keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, Frank Zappa), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Tempest, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Gong) through 1978, and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, tour drummer for Genesis), who was later replaced by drummer Terry Bozzio (formerly of Frank Zappa's band). There is some tremendous Youtube footage of the reformed U,K, with Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio from their 2012 world tour. No doubt King Crimson, circa 1972 - 1974, boasting guitar maestro Robert Fripp, Wetton, violinist/keyboardist David Cross and drummer Bill Bruford was a highly dynamic and impressive lineup as well. (Hey, Mr. Holdsworth was no slouch on six strings.) Listening back to U.K.'s debut prog masterpiece, it's easy to hear how from the ashes of this formidable project Asia was born. And while that was not my cup of tea, I respected Mr. Wetton's deserving success. Thank you for sharing your joy of music with the world. We hail you!
This is where I'm supposed to summarize the past year, find some overaching theme or thread running through my choices, spot trends, or something along those lines. Instead it's just another mea culpa for my continuing and accelerating estrangement from mainstream pop music. Don't mind me, I'm just a grumpy old fart. But these twenty new albums made me less grumpy.