Review:Mark Kleinhaut & Neil Lamb

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Mar 122013
Kleinhaut & Lamb Jones Street

Mark Kleinhaut & Neil Lamb – Jones Street (

By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

I have only been to Savannah, Georgia, once and spent all too little time there. This album of guitar duets was recorded there during 2010 and 2011, during vacations by Kleinhaut and Lamb. All the tunes are originals; indeed, according to Bill Milkowski’s liner notes, they were distilled from many hours of casual recordings. They evoke the warmth and genteel nature of Savannah, beginning with the upbeat opener, “City Market.” “Trickster” lives up to its name, with tricky syncopations. “Guitar Bar” is laidback and bluesy, while “Twilight Garden,” has a somewhat eerie feel, apparently inspired by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. This is a recording that is like a conversation, in music rather than words, between two old friends, and will be savored by fans of guitar jazz.

Jimi Hendrix : People, Hell & Angels (Columbia/Legacy,,

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Mar 122013
Jimi Hendrix People, Hell & Angels

Jimi Hendrix : People, Hell & Angels (Columbia/Legacy,,
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr

After the release of Valleys of Neptune and West Coast Seattle Boy, the Hendrix fan might well view another album of previously unreleased material with a certain cynicism. However, People, Hell & Angels does provide a series of audio snapshots of the creative arc Hendrix was pursuing in the studio following his breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. While it boasts twelve unreleased recordings, many are songs familiar to the fan, although in different versions. One of the more interesting is the opening “Earth Blues,” featuring Hendrix with just Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. The lesser known “Somewhere” is next, with Miles and Stephen Stills on bass. Two more staples of the live repertoire follow, “Hear My Train A Comin'” and “Bleeding Heart,” which demonstrate how Hendrix enlarged the language of the blues. What comes next is more unique, “Soul Food,” a fast-paced, funky tune featuring saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood. Skipping over alternate versions of other well-known pieces, another unusual piece is “Mojo Man,” with the Ghetto Fighters, Albert and Arthur Allen. In short, there is plenty of intriguing music here.

CD Review: Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran – Hagar s Song (ECM 2266)

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Mar 082013
Hagar's Song - Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran

By Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.

Charles Lloyd continues to experiment with different lineups, here choosing to record an album of duets with his current pianist, Jason Moran. The first six songs and the final three are, with one exception, interpretations of jazz and pop standards, including a delicate performance of Billy Strayhorn’s “Pretty Girl,” also known as “Star Crossed Lovers.” The duo remain in Ellington territory with “Mood Indigo,” featuring saxophone embellishments over a straightforward read of the classic. After three more pieces, the five-part “Hagar Suite” begins. As there are no liner notes, I will quote from the ECM website: “The centerpiece of the set is the title suite composed by Lloyd and dedicated to his great-great-grandmother, who was taken from her home in south Mississippi at age 10 and sold to a slave-owner in Tennessee. ‘When I learned the story of her life it moved me very deeply,’ says Lloyd. ‘The suite mirrors the stages of her life; loss of family, loneliness and the unknown, dreams, sorrow, and songs to her newborn children.'” Indeed, the first four movements, even without the backstory, clearly represent a winding journey, tinged with sadness and yearning. The third and fourth movements, ominous in tone, flow into one another, with tambourine accents. There seems to be resolution in the closing “Hagar’s Lullaby.” The album concludes with Earl Hines’ “Rosetta,” a happy contrast to the suite, and two ballads, “I Shall Be Released” (dedicated by Lloyd to Levon Helm) and The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” It’s clear as Lloyd approaches 75 (on March 15) that he continues to explore his art and passion, not resting on his laurels. A box set of his first five albums for ECM, collectively entitled Quartets, is scheduled for release in April, and documents Lloyd’s artistry from 1989 through 1996.

Review: John Cowan at Uncle Slayton s

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Mar 032013

By Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.
It’s been a long time since I last saw John Cowan, and it was good to catch up in the cozy environment of Uncle Slayton’s on January 25. Cowan has trimmed his band down to a trio, with Jeff Autry on guitar and Shad Cobb on fiddle, providing a remarkably full sound in conjunction with Cowan’s always amazing electric bass and singing. Neither I nor Cowan would claim that he is a jazz artist, but going back to his days with the groundbreaking New Grass Revival, improvisation has been part of his musical language. Indeed, early on he played “East Meets Wes,” with a nod to Mr. Montgomery. His eclectic set included a medley of The Moody Blues’ “Tuesday Morning” > Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California” > Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.” He covered Dave Alvin’s “King Of California” tastefully, followed by “Good Woman’s Love,” on which he set aside his bass and showed that he can still hit and hold the high notes. More traditional sounding fare included “Bristol Town,” “Dark As a Dungeon,” and a feature for John and Shad, “Black Blizzard.” Cowan brought NewTown back for a rousing finale.

Jack DeJohnette Special Edition Box Set (ECM 2296-99,

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Mar 032013

By Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.
I have to admit to having a soft spot for Jack DeJohnette. After all, he was one of the first drummers in jazz whose name I recognized (after Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Joe Morello). Back in 1968, he was part of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, together with Keith Jarrett and either Cecil McBee or Ron McClure on bass, and albums by this group (along with some by the Gary Burton Quartet) were the first jazz records (after Time Out) that I bought. Over the next few years, he would move on to work with Miles Davis in some of the groundbreaking electric bands, and work with a who’s who of jazz luminaries, in addition to building a solo career. Jack DeJohnette turned 70 in August, and was named top drummer in the 2012 DownBeat Critics Poll. ECM has released his four albums leading his Special Edition band as a box set, sans reproductions of the color covers, but including a 13 page essay by Bradley Bambargar, complete credits, and many photos of the leader and his bandmates.
The albums, originally recorded between 1979 and 1984, are Special Edition, Tin Can Alley, Inflation Blues, and Album Album. While the lineup undergoes some changes, the overall setup was just bass and horns, with the leader sometimes overdubbing keyboards. What comes across in listening to these albums is a sense of DeJohnette’s joy in blending the avant garde and tradition. Special Edition features alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe and tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist David Murray, with bassist Peter Warren (sometimes heard on cello). A dedication to Eric Dolphy, “One for Eric,” kicks things off, and the Dolphy influence is apparent in the horn playing, even without reference to the title. “Zoot Suite” is a catchy, upbeat celebration of Duke Ellington. More homages follow, in the form of a brief tone poem exploration of John Coltrane’s “Central Park West,” with DeJohnette forsaking his drums for melodica, and a rendition of Trane’s “India,” which begins with DeJohnette on piano, before he switches to drums and pushes the bass and horns to swing and sway. “Journey to the Twin Planet’ is a frenetic explosion of sound, which gradually coalesces into slower textures with melodica rather than drums.
Tin Can Alley has a different front line, with Chico Freeman and John Purcell taking the places of Blythe and Murray. The opening title track is a bluesy, boppy fun piece. “Pastel Rhapsody begins with a lengthy flute duet, leading up to a piano solo, with DeJohnette’s delicate cymbal work accenting this lovely ballad. “Riff Raff” mixes a swing beat and bassline with outside horn playing. “Gri Gri Man” is appropriately spooky, mostly percussion and keyboards. “I Know” calls to mind Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Baby Let Me Shake Your Tree,” with DeJohnette singing and rapping over a long R&B vamp. Inflation Blues is issued on CD for the first time. Baikida Carroll is added on trumpet, and Rufus Reid takes over on bass. “Starburst” begins with invocational playing, leading to strong interplay with the trumpet and saxophones over prominent bass, building to cacophony before coalescing into a gentle end. “Ebony” alternates jagged and smoother sections, with a delightful flute solo by Purcell. Drums and piercing trumpet introduce “The Islands,” before giving way to a drum solo featuring DeJohnette’s mallets and tom toms. “Inflation Blues” again features DeJohnette singing, over a reggae beat. The closing “Slowdown” lives up to its title.
The final disc, Album Album, continues DeJohnette’s fusion of Afro-Caribbean and jazz rhythms and motifs. Purcell and Reid are still on board, Murray returns, and Howard Johnson’s distinctive tuba and baritone sax add extra bottom. “Ahmad the Terrible,” for Mr. Jamal, is a happy musical tribute, followed by Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Moods,” with an expressive bass solo. “Festival” is another rollicking workout, and the expansive mood is continued in “New Orleans Strut,” with DeJohnette interpolating second line rhythms. The eleven minute “Third World Anthem” provides lots of solo space, and the album concludes with a brief reworking of “Zoot Suite.”
DeJohnette’s decision to continue to call this group Special Edition, despite the comings and goings of some of the musicians, suggests that he saw the band as having continuity of purpose. These albums all show DeJohnette leading confidently, with much of the material having an exuberant feel. His compositions, his playing, his occasional use of new arrangements of pieces by others, all point toward an artistic vision that was not afraid of crossing genre lines within the broadest spectrum of jazz. During the time these records were cut, may were drawing lines in the sand as to what jazz should or shouldn’t be. DeJohnette seems to have blithely ignored the controversy, producing music which still sounds fresh and jubilant some three decades later.

Photos – Justin Bieber At Yum!

 Event Photos, Pop  Comments Off on Photos – Justin Bieber At Yum!
Nov 212012

Cowboy Corner columnist Michael Stout occasionally goes to concerts other than country, especially given his parental situation. He took this batch of photos at the Justin Bieber concert at Yum! back on November 2.