RAY CHARLES: Strong Love Affair
A new law requires that a minimum of 40% of the music played on French
media be French. Is a (major) album, 75% of which was recorded in France,
by an African American singing (great new songs) in English co-produced
(with Charles) by a Frenchman (Jean-Pierre Grosz) French or what? While
the suits are busy trying to figure all of that out, music remains the
international language, swing is universal and the "Genius of Soul" has
never been more soulful and genial.
CHARLES MINGUS: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
Gospel shouts, funk baselines, Ellingtonian growls, Latin riffs -
Saturday night and Sunday morning too. "Mingus is the Black Saint who
suffers for his sins and those of mankind," the liner notes read, "as he
reflects his deeply religious philosophy. His music tells of his deep
yearning for love, peace and freedom." Which may be (deeply true. Mingus
once said he considered "Black Saint" his best record, and this too may
JOAO BOSCO: Da Licensa Meu Senhor
Accompanied by soft samba skipping along like a pebble on a pond behind
acoustic instruments inlcuding his own guitar, the Brazilian star Bosco
sings Portugese lyrics - Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil among others-
which do not have to be understood to get.
STRICTLY COMMERCIAL, THE BEST OF FRANK ZAPPA
A mere 19 tracks from over 60 records covering 22 years from "Joe's
Garage," "Bobby Brown goes Down" and "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama"
through "Valley Girl" leaves listeners licking their chops for more. Some
adjectives from the album notes pretty much tell the story: "Goofy,
poignant, genre-jumping, surly, challenging, outrageous, idiosyncratic,
dissonant, madcap, post-modernist..."
ORNETTE COLEMAN: Chappaqua Suite
This is sort of like discovering the lost chord. In June, 1965, 11 studio
musicians joined Ornette Coleman, David Izenzon, bass, Charles Moffett,
drums and guest Pharaoh Sanders to record a soundtrack for Conrad Rook's
film "Chappaqua (starring, among others, William Burroughs). It swings so
hard with such overpowering musicality that Rooks commissioned a second
score so as not to compete with his images. First time on CD, in French
release only (even the original LP was a limited edition), this suite
plays second fiddle to nothing or nobody.
FRANK SINATRA: Everything Happens To Me
Recorded in the '60s and '70s, his prime, these 19 versions of standards
can be felt down your back. He wes indeed "The Voice" - one of the most
sublime musical instruments of our time. Lester Young said that if he had
a big band he would hire Sinatra and Billie Holiday as vocalists.
CHARLIE HUNTER TRIO: Bing, Bing, Bing!
The trio's funk-tinged jazz is constructed around the leader's
eight-string guitar. He's better seen while heard - it's hard to believe
all that sound is being built with eight strings - but better heard -
alone than not at all.
BOBBY McFERRIN: Paper Music
Coming from their oral tradition, Africans call black shorthand symbols
on white paper "paper music." Without wanting to sound condescending,
like Keith Jarrett laying Bach, it is surprising that McFerrin proves to
be so good at it. One of the most distinctive vocalists on the planet, he
has in the past teamed up with Chick Corea, Meredith Monk, Yo-Yo Ma and
the Muppets. after spending a lot of time and effort learning how to
wield a baton, he was appointed "Creative Chair" of the renowned Saint
Paul Chamber Orchestra, which he conducts here. Works by Bach, Vivaldi,
Mozart, Mendelssohn, Fauré, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Mc
Ferrin's voice replaces certain solo instruments.
BILL FRISELL: Live
The avant-garde guitarist Frisell has staked out an elliptical style
between the cracks - part Hendrix, Zappa, Metheny, Segovia, Stockhausen,
Sonny Rollins and Spike Jones and wholly himself. recorded in the Teatro
Lope de Vega, Seville, Spain; with Kermit Driscoll, bass, and the bad
young drummer Joey Baron.
RAY LEMA: Green Light|
The renowned Zairean composer, singer and pianist singing in five African languages. With touches of spirituals, keyboard classicism and the blues, Lema goes from melancholy to humor supported by a cool female choir, discreet percussion and pygmy vocal selections.
Photo: Pierre Terrasson
STEVE LACEY: Reflections
The world's premier soprano saxophonist playing the music of Thelonius Monk in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1958. At the time, he played only Monk tunes, and he knew the right chords to all fifty-some-odd of them. (Mal Waldron, piano, Buell Neidlinger, bass, Elvin Jones, drums.)
MULGREW MILLER: Getting To Know You|
The jazz piano player's jazz piano player. Smart, swaggering, spiffy trio renditions - including the album's title song, from My Fair Lady, Lennon and McCartney's Fool On The Hill and Freddie Hubbard's Sweet Sioux.
MILT JACKSON: Burnin' In The Woodhouse
Like Toots Thielemans and the harmonica, Milt Jackson is a franchise player who took the vibraphone out of the miscellaneous instrument category by blowing it like a horn. Thanks to Quincy Jones, whose label this is, for investing in straight-ahead excellence. Thanks also to Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, Benny Green, Christian McBride and Kenny Washington - funky young burners all.
EGBERTO GISMONTI TRIO: Zig Zag|
Three Brazilians - Gismonti, guitars and piano; Nando Carneiro, guitar and synthesizer; Zeca Assumpcao, double-bass - playing what might be called avant garde Brazilian chamber jazz. Are there any bad musicians in Brazil? These are bad Brazilians.
Photo: Wilton Montenegro
LOKUO KANZA: Wapi Yo|
With enough charm, lightweight can be unbinding rather than trivial. Kanza was born in Zaire and studied classical guitar at Kinshasha Conservatory. Playing and/or singing, he has participated in albums by Manu Dibango, Youssou N'Dour, Papa Wamba and Ray Lema. There are apparent influences from West Africa, Brazil, Jamaica and Memphis. Fourteen songs sung by a silky voice in three languages in a folk chamber setting add up to an attractive new world music star. Multiple play recommended, the charm is increasingly seductive.