Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Listening Booth, week 19: catching up with 2011

These notes have been sitting on my hard drive for ages, and since I don't have anything else written at the moment, I thought I'd just throw them out there. I'll hopefully have notes on the new Mary Halvorson Quintet and the Wadada Leo Smoth 4 disc set ready shortly.

  • Ambrose Akinmusire: When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note, 2011) - Big on year-end lists and polls for 2011. In short: hip-hop and nu-R&B colored modern post-bop. Akinmusire's  trumpet tone is rounded and smokey, and the band here is solid, if a bit safe. The biggest problem is that I don't find his thematic and melodic ideas very interesting nor terribly engaging, and the rhythmic patterns, with their latin-tinged hip-hop leanings, sound dated and uninspired to me. He's definitely got talent, and I really do like his tone. 6*
  • Gerald Cleaver Uncle June: Be It As I See It (Fresh Sound, 2011) - Adventurous drummer Gerald Cleaver leads a rollicking and big sounding semi big-band with several "younger" heavy hitters of modern jazz, among them Drew Gress (bass), Tony Malaby (soprano and tenor sax) and Craig Taborn (piano). At times the album is boisterous, as reeds and piano pile on over a steady rhythmic backdrop, but these sections are counter balanced by more meditative pieces, some with voice. Electro-acoustic noise adds color. The five part "Fence & Post (For Mom & Dad" is the centerpiece. Ambitious, even if it fails to hold my attention throughout. 6*
  • Orrins Evan: Captain Black Big Band (Posi Tone, 2011) - Fairly straight forward formally, but big and punchy, just the way I like it, and there are some good tunes as building blocks, especially the slow building "Easy Now." The ancestor seems to be Basie rather than Ellington, but the tempos are definitely bop-derived. Enjoyable. 7*
  • DJ Quik: The Book of David (Mad Science, 2011) - Expert veteran beat maker adds shrapnel to his vintage good spirited electro funk, and bite to his rap, particularly on the opener "Fire and Brimstone." He's always up for killer dope and good times, and serenading women, especially the "real women." "I don't need nobody," he claims on the albums best tune, as if he only cared about himself, and yet he brings his special brand of the electric boogie to the party and manages to spread more good vibes than most these days. 8*

Some records with grades but missing notes:
  • Tim Berne: Insomnia (Clean Feed, 2011) - 7*
  • Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project: Seriously (Smog Veil, 2011) - 7*
  • Cities Aviv: Digital Lows (mixtape, 2011) - 7*
  • Freddie Gibbs: Cold Day In Hell (mixtape, 2011) - 5*
  • Kendrick Lamar: Section.80 (Top Dawg Entertainment, 2011) - 7*
  • Neptune: Silent Partner (Northern Spy, 2011) - 6*
  • The Rapture: In the Grace of Your Love (DFA/Modular) - 6*
  • Craig Taborn: Avenging Angel (ECM, 2011) - 7*

* The Perfect Sounds Listening Booth series is where I post jotted down thoughts and impressions of records. The writing of these notes is mostly done during listens, without too much consideration to composition and/or argumentation, and while the intention is that these notes will form the basis of possible future reviews, they should not be considered fully formed reviews in and of themselves. The grades are tentative and liable to change.

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