Monday, 31 July 2017

Chick Corea - Return to Forever, album review

Space Isn't Silent

Having been funked to the edge of outer space just after the lull six minutes in and the bass of Stanley Clark suddenly tandems with Chick Corea’s keyboard and Flora Putim’s scatting/vocalese on opener Return to Forever, I am now totally chilled by the sweet sweet soprano sax of Joe Farrell on Crystal Silence, one of those 70s poetic titles that is simply spaced-out.

The Latin jazz of third What Game Shall We Play Today is a tad mainstream-twee, but those two starters are wonderful. The lengthy closer of conjoined Sometime Ago/La Fiesta is simply a lot of fun. A fine 1972 album, just heard for the first time.

Into the Distance Music 56

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Amber Cross - Savage On The Downhill, album review

Front Porch Welcome

In the ‘About’ details on Amber Cross’ website there is a phrase that was interesting for a number of reasons, and here it is: Her old-time voice is clear and captivating, like a strong muscle, fringed in lace.

Her voice is definitely interesting, but the term ‘old-time’ seems itself too frail and elderly to capture its distinctive essence. I do hear the roots of early Dolly and Tammy, but I also hear Buffy St Marie sans warble, and at one point – I am not out of my mind – there was Janis but not the raucous Joplin, just a lilt that is there is you listen carefully, to both.

So I’m agreeing it is ‘clear and captivating’ but then again I am concerned about the mixed metaphor of ‘muscle/lace’. I don’t recognise either, the latter especially suggesting a finesse and/or delicacy that is inappropriate. And ‘strong muscle’? That’s precisely a suggestive roar she doesn’t use.

Anyway, I’m warmed up now. Nothing like a little fight. And as this reference is on her site, I don’t want to knock down any accolade and one that is obviously approved because Amber Cross and this album are definitely distinctive. For me it is the perfect shine of its simplicity: the Country tone intoned in those named precursors and straightforward songs simply played and presented. It is pure folk in this respect. Front porch and accompanied by the occasional guest player who just happens by, or rather [I have to break the prosaic picture a little] the clear talents of producer Ray Bonneville and players Gurf Morlix and the wonderful Tim O’Brien. And let’s be clear, these guys aren’t actually just passing – they are there for a reason.

Front porch voice, filling the night with clarity. That’d be my description of this unadorned excellence. And here’s the poetry of the chorus in the album’s title song:

With my savage on the downhill so not to break my fall
I move along the cattle trail across the canyon wall
I’m a hawk eye on a sparrow, I’m onto your game
I know which way the wind will blow before it begins to change

An album of superb songs, Bonneville's Lone Freighter's Wail is beautifully done.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Eye Music 14

Robin Trower - Time And Emotion

The Tower of Trower

It's not the tallest building of guitar prowess in the world, but it is one of the most distinctive and elegant. This latest album follows a recent line of similar excellence, soulful and bluesy in that caressing calm of guitar ooze that is Trower's signature. It doesn't blow you away because that isn't the intention: it is a sustained breath of perfumed poetic guitar.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Gentle Giants - The Songs of Don Williams

No Complications

As you'd imagine, an essentially gentle homage to the title's man of comfortable Country, nothing in these references to peacefulness and simplicity meant as negatives.

It is a set of fine songs, and a set of fine other Country stars contribute, often as duets as the track list and artists show:

1. "Tulsa Time" - Pistol Annies
2. "I Believe in You" - Brandy Clark
3. "We've Got a Good Fire Goin'" - Lady Antebellum
4. "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" - Dierks Bentley
5. "Amanda" - Chris Stapleton feat. Morgane Stapleton
6. "Till The Rivers All Run Dry" - Alison Krauss
7. "Love Is On A Roll" - John Prine feat. Roger Cook
8. "If I Needed You" - Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
9. "Maggie's Dream" - Trisha Yearwood
10. "Lord I Hope This Day is Good" - Keb' Mo'
11. "Good Ole Boys Like Me" - Garth Brooks

There is a reasonable spread within the gentility to emphasise tonal shifts: the roar of Chris Stapleton in a live cover to the sublime serenity of Alison Krauss. There is a distinctive cover from Isbell and Shires, inimitable of the inimitable, to attempt a complex summary of the uncomplicated.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Guitar Music 4

Möbius Strip - Möbius Strip, album review

The Other P

Described as a Progressive jazz rock band I really only hear the jazz, sax-led, easy on the ear, familiar without being dulled by the sound of something, a sound-track aura at times with piano/synth runs and at times pulsing bass, but always the tinkling of soothingness over rousingness, and I guess as I have been writing and thinking about the opening genre tag it is at least fair to call it rock jazz or jazz rock; Pleasant rock jazz or Pleasant jazz rock. 

Band: Lorenzo Cellupica: composer, piano, organ, synth; Nico Fabrizi: tenor sax, alto sax, flute; Eros Capoccitti: electric bass; Davide Rufo: drums.