All posts tagged: Jazz

ALBUM REVIEW: Little Shells, ‘5 Deep Under’

Often, the most original and inventive sounds come from mashing up styles and genres. Brooklyn-based musician Conchita Campos prides herself on her artistic fluidity, moving with ease between jazz, bossa nova, soul, and more. Her latest project under the name Little Shells (the literal translation of her name) finds her collaborating with other open-minded artists in NYC to create something that is truly unique and wholly modern. On 5 Deep Under, the eight-track LP, Campos teams up with a dozen musicians including a horn section, along with her musical pals. Album opener “Another Night” sets the tone of the collection with its biting, vindictive lyrics and sudden burst of cacophonic energy, surprising the listener and letting him or her know that it’s not wise to get too comfortable with the melody. In fact, each track contains some unexpected element, making it impossible to turn off the album. Take its title track for example. With its trance-like ambiance and production courtesy of electronic due Live Footage, it becomes something of a hypnotic lullaby, wooing the listener and ushers …

EP REVIEW: Delilah, ‘Delilah Sings Sarah + 1’

Sarah Vaughan was called “the divine one” in reference to her infamous voice, which spanned ranges as easily as it did arpeggios. Even today, she’s heralded as one of the jazz masters, and her catalog still inspires everyone from seasoned pros to up-and-coming singers. Case in point is Delilah, a Hungarian-born vocalist who’s not quite an up-and-comer, but nevertheless, draws motivation from Vaughan. Now, she’s taking that admiration to another level with her EP, Delilah Sings Sarah + 1, a four-track collection of some of Vaughan’s best-known tunes done in Delilah’s signature style. First up is “September in the Rain,” a wonderful standard that is given the superstar treatment here with a delicate update that brings it into 2015 fully restored. The bittersweet “Just Friends” checks in before Delilah delivers a sultry tango “Whatever Lola Wants.” Though this version is a little tamer than some of the best-known renditions, it still ranks up there with the classics. Finally, the EP’s “+1”  is the timeless Charlie Chaplin-composed “Smile,” which Vaughan first recorded in 1936 for Modern Times. Delilah’s impassioned deliver …

nyjpn800x350

Review: PAK – “NYJPN”

Listening to PAK, composer Ron Anderson’s vehicle driving through ears a frenetic pastiche of jazz, funk and math-rock, can be transcendent. Writing about them, though, is a whole other matter. It’s a little like unraveling a knot, and a complicated one at that. In 2011, when Anderson and company released PAK’s Secret Curve on Tzadik, I used phrases like “madman” and “masterpiece” to describe the record’s grandiose gestures and sweeping sounds – and rightfully goddamn so. The record, which if you don’t have you should have, was an opus in every way, a magical tryst between swing and post-rock, a carefully composed cut up of Zornish proportions, mythos on par with Monk. Three years and change have passed and we now find ourselves with an odd man out, an unexpected visit from the stork, the tour-only release NYJPN. The new record, which is available in limited doses and was trodded out when the NYC-based Anderson toured – wait for it … wait for it – Japan last year, is more stripped down than Curve, less …

7938

Last Things Last: A Rachel Grimes Profile

Rachel Grimes knew how to play the piano before she learned to walk. “My dad and grandmother played, so I was always sitting beside them following along, watching and listening in wonder at how they could make that magic,” the composer/pianist told me recently from the home she and her husband, educator Alec Johnson, share in the rustic countryside north of Louisville. “I took piano lessons, but mostly played by ear, movie and TV themes. I got a little more serious about classical music in middle school, though I was never interested in competitions. When I was 15, I was working part-time in the record department of a book-store and joined a rock band formed by the music department manager.” A decade later, in the mid ‘90s, Grimes gained wide-spread notoriety beyond her native Louisville by fronting a ground-breaking chamber ensemble that bore her name but was minted without her in mind. She’s been busy ever since, and now plans to release her second solo outing, a collection of chamber ensemble and piano music tentatively …

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! Mardi Gras 2013

Happy Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras to you all! I am not a New Orleans native, but like millions of others, I’ve fallen in love with the allure of the Crescent City’s rich history and culture. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but from what I gather it’s much more of a tourist affair than a local one (at least in the French Quarter). Even so, Mardi Gras gives us an opportunity to openly and proudly celebrate one of America’s […]

Dw. Dunphy On… “Oooo, But It’s Good”

Jack Sheldon is many things, from a world-class jazz trumpeter to the musical director/bandleader of the old Merv Griffin talk show to a Bill on Capitol Hill. He’s also known for his bizarre sense of humor, a side of his personality that surfaced in 1962 on the album Oooo, But It’s Good. Sandwiched between standard jazz releases, one has to imagine the plight of the hep cat who brought home this particular platter, put it on and heard Sheldon tell the tale of Irving Lancelot and the Medieval Jazz Quartet. This ain’t jazz. This ain’t even word jazz. I don’t know how I came into possession of this album, only that it happened way back in the ’80s. It might have been procured at one of the thrift stores in the area, so fashionable at the time. Either that or one of those disgruntled hep cats finally threw it out and my dad’s friend George, a kind soul with a knack for buying low and selling high (i.e. selective Dumpster diving), dropped it off. Of …

Test of the Boomerang – New Re-Releases and Live Updates

Chris Darrow – Chris Darrow / Under My Own Disguise Limited Edition 2 LP/CD Box Set Chris Darrow’s first paid gig was playing bluegrass with David Lindley on the streets of Disneyland in the early 1960s. The duo went on to form Kaleidoscope — a Middle Eastern-inflected psychedelic combo — and released a pair of cult classics before Darrow headed out on his own to become a hired gun for everyone from Leonard Cohen to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In the early 1970s, he released a pair of solo albums: Chris Darrow in 1973, and Under My Own Disguise the following year. The good folks at Everloving Records are releasing both as a double-LP box set that also includes the CD version.Darrow is a crack player and picker, and these two discs are brimming with equal parts country blues and starry bluegrass. Delightfully obscure and chock full of that California cowboy melancholy that  so many great records are steeped in. It’s great stuff from a brilliant producer who has been hard at it for …