New Album Roundup: Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Eberhard Weber, and Food

slipperyrock

Three new reviews for today, two recent atmospheric ECM releases and this week’s new Mostly Other People Do the Killing album, which starts us off.

Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Slippery Rock: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (hereafter either referred to as MOPDTK or not at all) describes itself as a ‘terrorist bebop band’ and I can think of no better description of the unique brand of mayhem they create. The quartet headed by bassist and composer Moppa Elliott with Jon Irabagon on sax, Peter Evans on trumpet and Kevin Shea on drums, gleefully tackles traditional styles with wacky irreverence, tearing them apart and building them back up in a collage of squeals, swing and funk. You can see what their attitude towards tradition is even from their album covers, which are sendoffs of classic albums: last time was a live album, The Coimbra Concert styled on Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert and the time before that Forty Fort styled after Roy Haynes’ classic Out of the Afternoon.

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Cross Culture: Joe Lovano Us Five

Joe Lovano Us Five Cross Cultural

Welcome to the first new reviews of the year. Today we cover some brand new Joe Lovano and a not quite as new John Zorn release: both deliver. This will be the first set of reviews to utilize the new Foresight and Afterthought stars system, the guidelines to which can be found here.

Joe Lovano ‘Us Five’: Cross Culture

Joe Lovano has just released a new record with the workhorse band behind his last two excellent albums, the ‘Us Five’. Last time the Us Five, a double drum quintet with James Weidman on piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and drummers Francisco Mela and Otis Brown III, tackled the Charlie Parker songbook, although in a way barely recognizable to the originals. This time the band takes on a much more expansive project, the “notion of a universal musical language”. Although this seems to me a rather nebulous project to take on, the result is undoubtedly successful. Cross Culture is possibly my favorite so far of the three Us Five albums.

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2012 Year Top Ten

The Bad Plus - Made Possible

It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone thinks up lists of the things they like to list for other people to read. Here at Foresight and Afterthought, the things we like to list are music, so that’s what we aim to do. After the jump, you’ll find my list for top ten jazz albums of the year, in no particular order, as well as three honorable mentions and biggest disappointments.

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Categories: Lists

Enfants Terribles at the Blue Note

Lee Konitz with Enfants Terribles

Lee Konitz with Enfants Terribles

Last year a leaderless meeting of the minds type pick up band convened at the Blue Note under the name ‘Enfants Terribles’. This last week, Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron were back at the Blue Note, perhaps in anticipation of an upcoming album release. The album, recorded during last year’s stint is due out in late September but was available for sale at the shows, so this will serve as a sort of sneak peek of that as well.

The band first came together with basically no prior discussion or practice, they simply showed up at the soundcheck for their first gig and started to play. Playing only standards, they could simply start things up and see where they go. As a result the band feels like a pick up band at a jam session, loose in feel, loose in organization and with no set list. But, this is the pick-up band of the century at the jam session of the masters and rather than sounding ill-prepared they sounded loose, natural and confident as only comes with age. (Between Konitz and Peacock alone there’s already more than a century of experience at the highest levels in the band.) Again playing only standards, Lee announced that at the second set they would “play all the same songs, but with different solos”, they ambled through the classics with a grace and sense of swing only rarely witnessed.

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Mojo’s Return: E.J Strickland quintet and Smalls

Marcus Strickland and Jaleel Shaw

Marcus Strickland and Jaleel Shaw, the frontline of the E.J Strickland Quintet at Smalls jazz club.

Last night saw us traveling to one of the last true jazz clubs, Smalls. Other venues may showcase jazz playing musicians, but I am wary to actually call them ‘jazz clubs’. The modern Birdland, which is spacious, comfortable even, and glitzy looking is more like a restaurant-bar that happens to feature jazz. The Jazz Standard is an appendage to the barbecue place Blue Smoke, and while the spectacular BBQ is certainly an incentive to go, comforts like food (or space) distract from the music. Smalls, on the other hand, has no pretensions to being anything it isn’t. It’s all about the music, everything else be damned. That includes not only such unnecessaries as glitz and food but also comfort and visibility. While I may not have been comfortable squeezed in next to a random stranger, and while I may not have been able to see the drummer-leader E.J Strickland through the frontline, my experience was wholly positive. The place exudes attitude and the music was excellent. Somehow I managed to never go to Smalls until very recently, a wonder given how great the calendar looks, and this was only my second time at the club. A great time it was though.

As I just now alluded, providing the excellent music was E.J Strickland leading a quintet made up of his brother Marcus on tenor and soprano saxophones, Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone, Luis Perdomo on piano and Linda Oh on bass. Seated in the second row, I could see neither E.J nor Linda Oh on a regular basis, but I was in prime position to take it all in.

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Weekly round up: Jarrett and Marsalis

Keith Jarrett's 'Sleeper'Yesterday saw two relatively high profile releases. First a two disc archival release of a Keith Jarrett concert in Japan from 1979. Sleeper showcases Jarrett with Jan Garbarek on saxophones, Palle Danielsson on bass and Jon Christensen on drums, his ‘European Quartet’ (to distinguish it from Jarrett’s other 70’s quartet, his ‘American Quartet’ with Dewey Redman on saxophone, Charlie Haden on bass and Paul Motian). Jarrett’s recent career has been filled with albums I find sort of disappointing (either tending towards aimless abstraction as many recent solo piano performances have been or rendered practically unlistenable by his loud, frequent, and very well miked vocalizations), but this is the most enjoyable Jarrett release in recent memory. Perhaps the most enjoyable since the days of the two great quartets themselves. This is a band captured in its prime, both exciting and, luckily, not so dense as to be unaccessible.

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Nostalgia and progression: Ravi Coltrane and John Abercrombie

Ravi Coltrane's new 'Spirit Fiction'What it must be like for Ravi Coltrane as a saxophone player. An easy refrain I’ve been known to fall back on when describing albums that were good but not truly exceptional is “It wasn’t quite ‘A Love Supreme’, but…” I can imagine a phrase like that must have added weight for the son of John Coltrane, who, even more than all saxophonists, probably lives under the shadow of his father. John Coltrane’s is a particularly difficult legacy to live up to because he is remembered not merely as a truly talented player but as an innovator who changed the the way that people approach music forever. It is this particularly challenging legacy, that of musical innovator, that Ravi has chosen to try and live up to, and up to now, he has been fairly successful at it. He has established himself as a very capable member of the current generation of tenor saxophonists, at home both in his own material and in reinterpreting the classics (including a fascinating, odd meter take on his father’s 26-2). A few weeks ago he came out with a new album, ‘Spirit Fiction‘, which seeks to continue the process of innovation.

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