REVIEW ROUND-UP: Alan Pasqua's "The Antisocial Club"
Blowin' our own horn since 1998!
Blowin' our own horn since 1998!
...you know, when the "Best of 2007" lists begin to pop up like wild mushrooms. We were driving home last night when we changed radio stations and picked up on an episode of KPCC's The California Report where critics Steve Hochman and Andrew Gilbert were proffering their Top 10 lists for rock and jazz. Lo and betold, a few artists in the extended Cryptogramophone fold were on there: Alan Pasqua's The Antisocial Club and Plays Monk (featuring Ben Goldberg, Devin Hoff and Scott "Pops" Amendola) and Spark! by Myra Melford and Marty Ehrlich. You can check out their lists or listen to an archive of their discussion here.
In other less celebratory news, Karlheinz Stockhausen [pictured above] died last week at age 79. Pitchfork Media has a pretty decent obit on the iconoclastic German composer. For further reference, go visit Mr. Stockhausen's homepage or his MySpace page, a cool visual discography site for his complete works, and a slightly odd interview with Dazed & Confused magazine. Stockhausen is also discussed at length in music critic Alex Ross' terrific new book on modern music The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.
Rest im Frieden, vortrefflicher Komponist.
We found this hilarious post from one Jay Norem on the All About Jazz bulletin board. In the tradition of the season of sharing and caring without wanting to punch someone squarely in the face, we decided to pass on the wisdom -- although #2 is news to us.
QUALITIES THE MODERN JAZZ MUSICIAN NEEDS AND REQUIRES
1. THE MODERN JAZZ MUSICIAN DOESN'T KID HIMSELF.
These days, the jazz player needs to remind himself that his kind are a dime-a-dozen, and anyway, it's all been done before. So the wise musician must embark on a path of training that would rival that of the professional athlete. He must rise at dawn, drink no more than one-half glass of a glass of water (from the tap), eat one grape (green) and then begin his daily nine-hour regimen of practice on his instrument.
2. THE MODERN DAY JAZZ MUSICIAN MUST ABSTAIN FROM SEX.
Sex is poison to the jazz musician. It saps his will to live, to play; it saps his will to sequester himself alone in a room filled with books.
3. THE MODERN DAY JAZZ MUSICIAN MUST OWN THE MOST EXPENSIVE MUSICIAL EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE.
This is crucial. As any great artist will tell you, nothing motivates you more than being in debt, particularly if you're married and not having any sex (see above.)
4. THE MODERN DAY JAZZ MUSICIAN MUST CULTIVATE LOW SELF-ESTEEM
Again, very crucial. The jazz player must cultivate the pity of his friends and family. He must constantly apologize to his mother, wife, or whoever, for his lack of success in his chosen field, success that he knows was never to be his in the first place. If the jazz player has children he must do the right thing and commit suicide.
Happy Holidays. Now get back to work.
Sir Nels Cline is back in town, recovering and recharging for future outroads into the musical envelope. When we informed him that one of his heroes Ike Turner, died yesterday at age 76, he felt inspired enough to offer these brief words of remembrance to a fellow guitar whiz:
"Ike Turner. He's gone. He was a madman to be sure. Everybody knows that he was a gangster, a wife beater, a gun-toting druggie, etc. blah blah. But if you ever heard the man really PLAY, then at least you know about something beautiful. And yes, MAD. His playing/producing in the 1950s with The Kings of Rhythm is what I am talking about. His maniacal wang bar tritones were so wild, so frenetic, and for me, so influential. The only parallel around this time that I can find is Otis Rush on "Double Trouble", his Cobra Records period. Ike took that Strat and strangled it, even during the most soulful, neo-Doo-Wop ballad. Post-prison, post-Tina, Ike was apparently making a bit of a comeback. I am now going to have to join the ranks of the post-mortem carrion pickers and find these recordings. But Ike, you may have rocked and socked in the 60s and 70s, but what you did in the 50s positively slayed me. Rest in peace." - N 12/12/07
Oh yes, and Nels also wanted us to post this tribute to another inspiration -- of an entirely different stripe:
"Today, December 13th, is Kristen McMenamy's birthday. Happy Birthday with love and respect - you have reigned supreme as my fashion beauty queen for nigh on 20 years!"
OK, we were a little disappointed that only one Crypto drop from 2007 -- The Nels Cline Singers Draw Breath -- made Downbeat's Best CDs of 2007 poll. But that sting was unguented by the presence of two well-reviewed Crypto CDs in the same issue: Trio M's Big Picture and Alan Pasqua's The Antisocial Club, which also made "The Hot Box" for the January 2008 issue, on newsstands now. As if that wasn't enough (and it nearly never is), there's a mention of Nels "Ow! Ya!" Cline in a review of the Daniele Cavallanti Electric Unit's Smoke Inside. (This following the glowing *** star review of David Witham's Spinning The Circle, also printed below).
The Antisocial Club is a fresh and dynamic disc, charged with honest meotion and a loose eclecticism that nods to electric Miles Davis...Pasqua delivers fluid, clinking Fender Rhodes lines as well as spiraling, chirpy-to-throaty synth and limpid acoustic piano. A nice surprise is the big tone, muscular phrasing and high-range accuracy of young trumpeter [Ambrose} Akinmusire. Skronks, scribbles and gurgles by the brilliant guitarist Nles Cline (and drummer Scott Amendola on electronics), as well as tasteful percussion by Alex Acuna, are central to the mysterioso ensemble texture. ***
- Paul de Barros
One glance at their respective song titles hints at the diverse approaches of Trio M's members, who on the surface seem to have little in common beyond that first initial. There's Myra Melford's mysterious, evocative "Secrets to Tell You," Mark Dresser's direct, no-nonsense "For Bradford" and Matt Wilson's firmly tongue-in-cheek "Naive Art." But as Melford's title tune suggests, a larger context exists in which all of these elements engage one another. Her writing for the trio, unlike the hypnotic atmospherics of 2006's The Image of Your Body, is sugggestive rather than enveloping. It seem sas if scaffolding has been removed, allowing the essence to show through the structure. ***1/2
- Shaun Brady
Cavallanti is the the nominal leader on Smoke Inside, also a showcase for the fertile, impassioned wanderings of chameleonic guitar wizard Nels Cline. The latter's free-floating declarations stretches way out at the start of the opener, "Cline's Line," which unfolds into acoustic-electric funk fusion, like a balst from the early '70s and none the worse for the wear. ***1/2
- Phillip Booth
A jaunty pop sensibility runs through much of Spinning The Circle, which speaks more to David Witham's long employment with George Benson than it does his studies with pianist Jaki Byard. Balancing the tendency toward rhythmic vamps and ebullient themes is a moodier side expressed through electronics and yearning ballads. It's an effective mix, if a bit formulaic. On the uptempo side, the recording gets off to a raucous start with the clatter of digital noise over a funky Scott Amendola drum pattern. What better way to set the table for a distorted workout by guest guitarist Nels Cline? The presence of Amendola, Cline and steel guitarist Greg Leisz set the album up as what might be called "the payback recording," where high-profile friends show up to help out a lesser-known but equally gifted buddy. Witham makes great use out of Cline and Leisz. Cline adds to the electric ambience on "Afrobeat," while Leisz's steel sounds sweet on the bolero "Con Quien" and resolute on the gritty "N.O. Rising." Of the moodier compositions, "Momentuum" is the most memorable, with its tension-filled mix of lap steel, accordion, bass and clarinet. ***
- James Hale
CRYPTOGRAMOPHONE: YOU CAN'T ESCAPE US!!
We're temporarily shutting down our blogging side of life for the rest of 2007. We'll be back at it come the New Year, when all of the Best Music of 2007 lists will have been out and we can pick through them for self-aggrandizing purposes.
And what a New Year it will be: It's no big whoop or anything -- but 2008 is CRYPTO'S TENTH ANNIVERSARY!! We have a lot of cool stuff planned, including a special 2-CD Crypto Retrospective and new releases from reedman Bennie Maupin, bassist Todd Sickafoose, percussionist Alex Cline, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and the Jeff Gauthier Goatette. We even have a new Nels Cline release scheduled and it will be quite a special one: Nels' soundtrack for an upcoming film about L.A. artist Ed Ruscha. We'll have some special stuff going on blogwise too, so stay tuned.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT CRYPTO CENTRAL!