LATEST ADDITIONS

Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Still possibly best known for his work with the late Max Roach, here the muscular tenor player has assembled his own absolutely stellar octet. While Wynton Marsalis alumnus Walter Blanding brings in a wily, fluid tenor, James Carter adds a stirring and gutsy baritone sax, and the ebullient trumpets are David Weiss and Terell Stafford. Behind pianist George Burton and bassist Lee Smith is the drive of Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts. This line-up produces some wonderfully buoyant ensemble playing, not least on a stomping, pedal-point opener that sounds a bit like the start of Janáček’s Sinfonietta.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010
I fondly remember the thrill of hearing the band’s eponymous 1976 debut album, so I wished for something a little more exciting from their first reunion in eight years. Petty has attempted to get back to his roots by writing a bunch of blues and r’n’b flavoured songs but, although things start well with the punchy ‘Jefferson Jericho Blues’, a drift towards pastiche sets in fast and there’s a lack of energy that no amount of laidback finesse can replace. ‘Candy’, for example, is entertaining but insubstantial, just another reworking of the venerable Memphis riff with Petty overdoing his down home vocal. More passion and a little less journeyman cool would be welcome here.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 08, 2010
There are parallels with the 1970s Kovacevich cycle: keen young Beethoven pianist (students respectively of Myra Hess/Alfred Brendel) partnered with older, principal conductor of the BBC SO – though Colin Davis had the LSO for No. 5. Both soloists opt for glissando octaves at the recapitulation of 1(i), and play the longer Beethoven cadenzas in Nos. 1 and 4.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
A live album can be special, even if it’s not quite the complete concert you expect. This one takes four numbers cut in late 2004 at the Sunside club in Paris and artfully stirs in three 2009 tracks from London’s 606 Club. It was in ’87, after four years with Art Blakey, that an assignment at the Guildhall School brought Toussaint to the UK, and he never went back. His quartet here includes the distinctive British pianist Andrew McCormack, while guitarist Jerome Barde contributes nice solos to two of the Paris tracks.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Because their first two albums were so spectacular, nothing the Band released after them seemed to possess quite the same level of musical magic. But this, their seventh release, following a lengthy gap after the so-so Moondog Matinee, was a genuine return to form. Two tracks in particular, ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Acadian Driftwood’, were so purely Band-ish that they could have nestled comfortably with the masterpieces that made up their eponymous sophomore release. Sonically, it’s slicker-sounding than its predecessors, the Band recording for the first time with 24 tracks.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
The grizzled Stones’ axeman returns with his seventh solo album. Actually, the horribly messy cover, which he painted himself, says it all. The music is precisely the kind of sloppy, boozy gumbo that Stones’ fans have lapped up for decades, but with Ron’s croaky sub-Bob Dylan meets Dr John, via Randy Newman vocals floated over the top instead of Jagger’s. Ronnie has pulled in all his old mates, including Slash, Flea, Eddie Vedder, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Womack, Ian McLagan and more, in the hope that all that professionalism will transform a dozen predictable songs (sample lyric, ‘It’s drivin’ me mad, I need you so bad…’) into rock genius.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Alas, this lacks ‘Time Has Come Today’, the majestic 1968 hit and their greatest claim to fame, but the seven tracks here remind us that the Chambers Brothers were an R&B act first, and hippie anthem creators/psychedelic soul brothers second. The recording quality is magnificent – not that live recordings from the Fillmores were ever bad – but the sense of space and air, and the precise locations of instruments and players really benefit from the higher-res offering. Percussion and bass make this flow, and the showstopping take of ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ recalls a Stax Revue. Possibly the best $6 I’ve spent on-line this year.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
Amiina was formerly an all-woman Icelandic string quartet working with minimalist popsters Sigur Ros. Now, with the addition of a couple of blokes, they’ve become a sextet and this is their second rather exquisite album. Nothing here will slap you in the face and demand that you listen to it. Instead, Amiina offer the most delicate and fragile of little melodies, hypnotically repeated, ebbing and flowing, occasionally augmented with gentle vocals.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 07, 2010
Infinite Music is 2010’s most effervescently upbeat album by miles. This ultra-smart Brooklyn-based duo, Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, are good mates with MGMT but their music is streets ahead. In some ways, they’re the band that Vince of The Mighty Boosh probably dreams of forming, rich in layers of irony and cynicism, but at the same time impossibly danceable, and overflowing with singalong vocal hooks. ‘Broken Heart’ should be a gigantic hit just for its 150% feelgood factor; ‘New Florida’ is the greatest Yellow Magic Orchestra track that YMO never made; and ‘This Moment’ is Kool And The Gang impossibly pumped up by Giorgio Moroder.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
When Hamilton arrived, British saxist and Woodville label owner Barnes suggested using tunes that Johnny Hodges had recorded with his own band in the early 1950s. And according to Barnes, the American tenor master got all the themes and changes down after a single run-through. Neither of them attempts to sound like Hodges, though, and just as well. While Barnes’ bop-tinged alto skeeters around the chords, Hamilton carries right on with his beautiful, fluid and unhurried swing phrasing, effortlessly conjuring up the spirit of Lester Young.

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