@@@ Charles Lloyd & The Marvels: Lady Gabor (Blue Note, 2021) All of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. This is a midtempo laidback groover driven by flute and backed by chill guitar, some tom driven drumming and big washes of sound. To my ear they’ve taken some of the Henry Threadgill larger ensemble and removed all the quirky jank from it to make it go over better with the flavored coffee crowd. This is most definitely jazz music for people with jobs who shower regularly and believe we have a good society going. I appreciate the flute playing but it’s just too much like a big bowl of vanilla pudding — I would love some crunch and a little bit of not vanilla pudding. Am I dick for writing what I like and what I don’t like, only time will tell?
@@@ Cory Hanson: Pale Horse Rider (Drag City, 2021) A pre release track from hipster label Drag City. The tune is mostly rooted in mid to late ’70s Neil Young faded piano rock business but adds a bit of epicness and just a wee bit of New Age feels into it. It’s not plain, it’s adorned. So much here depends on the singer and Hanson’s voice is quite mellow and engaging — lacking the fragility of Young’s voice that has driven his legend for decades. I’m finding the arrangement a bit tilted towards comforting sounds and it could benefit from a little of not that for contrast. It jams out in its final bits and there is a lot of good stuff here but I’ve made my feelings clear.
@@@ Nubiyan Twist: Buckle Up (Strut, 2021) I’ve never quite absorbed the greatness of African jazz even from luminaries like Tony Allen but I’m open to it. Unfortunately this will not be the breakthrough for me as the sounds here draw on late ’70s fusion and a bit of ’80s r&b stylings. I am most decidedly not a fusion dude. The performances are tight as you would expect from the vast majority of African outfits, but the singer here doesn’t work for me. Obviously this is my opinion and others might feel quite differently.
@@@ Here Lies Man: I Told You (Riding Easy, 2021) I’m not sure how I got to these two listens as I set them up last week and forgot to right down the link/referral. As the tune opens up it feels like a smashup of classic rock and a schmear of psychedelic for freshness as classic rock is a dinosaur boneyard right now. Active rock drummer with medium heavy guitar riffage and a bit of background vocal action. The intro ends and gives way to a different riff and a more shuffling/driving beat which is cool. They keep saying ‘You shall die’ which is the vocal hook of the song. That’s a good use of a hook. There is also a space organ tucked in the distortion of the guitars and that gives the tune something besides a steady diet of riffage to groove on. I like how the vocals are de-emphasized but unfortunately the riffage is pretty familiar. I’m not sure but maybe we’re at the end of fresh classic rock riffs. They slow it down for the last third of the tune which I understand but I liked the more energetic section more. Big ups to the drummer who I think steals the show here as well as ups to the organ player/riff.
@@@ Jeremiah Fraites: Maggie (Dualtone, 2020) This is slotted as classical on Apple Music but the cover makes it seem like a ragtime record, but it doesn’t sound like either of those when you click the play button. It sounds like piano driven Americana with a string droning in support. It’s hard to make an intimate piano tune these days without getting into New Age feels, I think there’s something about that instrument and the history of it where New Age feels are just right around the corner. We get some big big tom tom drum rolls starting around halfway and the whole track simmers down. I’m fully aware that when I’m feeling the cheese pressure rising that usually means most of my fellow Americans are gonna love it because it’s inspiring and feel good. He never fully summits Cheese Mountain and I’m grateful for that. I’m gonna let the player click through to the next track as I don’t oppose him and I hear a similar epic vibe to the guitar flourishes panning back and forth which I like, it’s easier to roll with the bigness when it’s not the piano. Overall I’m agnostic on this, there are things I like and things I don’t so check it for yourself.