Music Reviews



Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Future Sound of Jazz Vol.11
Format: CD
Label: Compost Records (@)
Distributor: Roof Top Promotion
Rated: *****
Jazz has gone through many changes in these many years, from Dixieland, the Big band, to Bebop, to Fusion, to Hard Bop to Free Jazz and everything in between and everyone has their favorite in this most malleable of forms. What makes it jazz? The instrumentation? The beat? Does it really matter? To purists it certainly does, the conservation of traditions and forms are set in history and easily demonstrable. But musical forms never stand still in my experience and definitions thus must change as well. With all that said the producers of this eleventh compilation from Germany find themselves unapologetic in their use of the word jazz to describe what they are about. They do take it upon themselves to precise the definition with a category called "advanced dance music" thereby I believe expressing the central theme of the importance of the beat. In these tracks we find all manner of musical expression building on a "jazzy" beat loop. So if the music is built on jazz rhythms is it still jazz, no matter what else is layered on top? After all, Jazz is no stranger to mixtures of beat and non-Western culture. As with all compilations there will be tracks you like and those you don’t, but that’s the fun of compilations. There’s a chance you might discover something that opens up the chakras.
Artist: Uglyhead (@)
Title: Outward
Format: CD EP
Label: Automation Records (@)
Rated: *****
The second of two Eps released for the band tour (why they didn’t just put both together and get a single disk is beyond me. It may have something to do with fact that these disks are the results of two attempts at trying to get a second full-length CD finished to no avail.) Anyway, the sound is bit better than the first Ep, more high frequency info and the sound isn’t quite so muffled. Four tracks of electro rock angst. The songs sound a bit unfinished in places but still some interesting bits here and there, with the last track bringing the heavy guitars in for a nice change of pace after the electrobabble of track #3.
Artist: Uglyhead (@)
Title: Inward
Format: CD EP
Label: Automation Records (@)
Rated: *****
Music for disaffected youth. One of two Eps that were released for the tour. Four tracks ranging from mediocre to pretty good. The band really shines when they stray from the usual and let the twitchy electronics speak for themselves.
Artist: BoxDeserter
Title: TwoRevolutions
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone records (@)
Rated: *****
Nothing like trying to fill the whole frigging CD! Here we have two tracks weighing in at 36:17 & 42:18. Recorded live in Detroit at the Bohemian National Home, we have the usual modern jazz expression (three reed players, piano, bass, drums) embellished with lecturer (this will be irritating or interesting depending on your political orientation) on track #1 and Laotian Mouth Organ on track #2. Sliding in and out of structured forms and historical quotations, all are played with a certain amount of freedom but there is also a sense of composition as well to hold the whole thing together. I don’t have enough of a background in this to say whether anything new is being added to the idiom (or if that’s even possible any longer). All I do know is that some parts I liked and some parts were lost to me. The musicianship is beyond question. Now all we need to ask is if we need more or less of this kind of thing. It seems to me that music has arrived at a place that simply serves the egotism of personal expression. But then again, maybe that’s the point.
Artist: thirty9thirty8 (@)
Title: thirty9thirty8
Format: CD
Label: Flattened Planet (@)
Rated: *****
thirty9thirty8 (Terrence McManus-guitar; Dave Ballou-trumpet; Devin Gray-drums) swim the sea of experimental free-jazz (or is it post-free-jazz? I can’t tell these days). All I really care is whether the music engages me. There’s plenty of improv going on here. How much of it comes from actual composition is not apparent to me, but does that matter? The end result should be the final criteria, whether all the processes work to bring about a satisfying result. What I missed was a bass to anchor the whole thing. But the various timbres and rhythms at play of all three instruments gives us enough variation to keep the interest going through the whole disk. Music like this takes more than one listen to start clicking.
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