By Mike Zwerin in Paris
MARIANO, Savannah Samurai (jazzline)
Recorded in Cologne, the
Boston born, Berklee bred veteran of Stan Kenton, Toshiko Akiyoshi and
Charles Mingus is playing with more conviction than ever. After having
emigrated to Japan and then Germany and working with Japanese and
German musicians, his alto saxophone sounds like a well-traveled cross
between Bud Shank and Ornette Coleman. The sound has been described as
KELLY JOE PHELPS, "Shine
Eyed Mister Zen" (Rykodisc)
singer/songwriter Steve Earle, creates blues that are "smoky and
painful, yet somehow comforting. He lets you know that you are not
alone." For the guitarist Bill Frisell, Phelps sounds like he's "coming
from the inside out. The bottom up. He seems to have tapped into the
artery somehow. There's a lot going on in between and behind the
ALI FARKA TOURE, "Niafunke"
Some people say they do not listen to so-called world
music because it comes from other cultures and it is presumptuous on
our part to pretend we understand it. Toure's first album in five
years was recorded in his village on the banks of the Niger River at
the edge of the Sahara, he calls it "deep Mali." It is
hauntingly spare, very moving, deeply rooted and quite understandable.
One risks a cliché saying it, but you can hear the roots of the
TAJ MAHAL AND TOUMANI DIABATE, Kulanjan"
A warm Spring night, a quiet street in Athens,
Georgia. Greeting them in fluent French, bluesman Taj joined kora
master Diabate and his Malian friends who were jamming on a porch. The
Malians were delighted with his take on the well-known kora piece, "Kaira."
Then when he played some blues, transcending cultural boundaries, they
fell in easily with him. More rich roots, we are lucky lately.
EVANS, "Homecoming" (Milestone)
Southeastern Louisiana University in 1979, it was the pianist's first
concert at his alma mater since graduating with honors 29 years
earlier. Among too many Bill Evans trio albums on the market, this is
one to search for and to keep. It was a special night
Zwerin has been jazz and rock critic for the International Herald
Tribune for the last twenty years. He was also the European
correspondent for The Village Voice. Mike Zwerin is the author of
several books on jazz and the jazz editor of Culturekiosque.com.
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