Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Catarina dos Santos, Radio Kriola, Reflections on Portuguese Identity

The Portuguese roots and Afro-diaspora flowerings over time have been beautifully significant from a musical point of view. The Portuguese musical transplantations (in many directions) sowed fruitful seeds with everything from Portuguese Fado to the diaspora developments in Brazil, Cape Verde, and Angola. We hear reflections on Portuguese identity and its transformation on a lively new album Radio Kriola (Arc EUCD2802) featuring singer Catarina dos Santos and a worthy assemblage of acoustic instrumentalists in a program of songs that touch on essential grooves and melodic beauty.

In a program of some 14 memorable songs we feel the gentle but insistent plunge of acoustic guitar, percussion, bass and accompanying instruments in a world where pan-African rhythms gently pulse with samba and folk strains in a poetic mixture, and Catarina's swinging sweetness ultimately carries the day.

So in "Ondja" a Brazilian afaxe turns into an Angolan semba while the lyrics pay tribute to the Angolan writer Ondjaki. The liner notes map out what we are hearing and when, and we can learn while we appreciate the music in itself, deeply soulful, filled with lyric melody, music of the highest caliber.

Both those who might know something of where this music comes from and those who do not can get much pleasure from this set. It does not matter if we come prepared or just open to musical adventure. 

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sarah Bernstein Unearthish, Crazy Lights Shining

Violinist-vocalist-recitationer Sarah Bernstein never ceases to engage me with her special dark and expansive music. The Sarah Bernstein Unearthish album Crazy Lights Shining (Phase Frame PFR004) is now upon us. This latest is a duo featuring Sarah as the violin-voice-text-composition person and Satoshi Takeishi on drums and percussion.

I have followed Sarah's musical unfolding and blossoming for around a decade I believe at this point. This new one continues logically what has come before. There are free-ish episodes, full-blown and memorable downtownish songs, soundscapey broods, and text-sound work. The 35 minutes of the program is very well-paced and poetic. Satoshi can lock into a folksy pulsation or weave sound color webs that correspond to Sarah's moodish forays.

Perhaps this is the souundtrack of our lives if you are NY Metropopologistically oriented. It is not especially a happy sound but it is exacted and brilliant, contemporary modern in its unfailing insightful soundings.

She to me is a treasure, albeit a local treasure but everything in the end has some locality attached to it, no? I recommend this unfailingly.  She is an original, a true original. Get this one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bob Gluck, Tani Tabbal, At This Time: Duets

 
The thing about Bob Gluck? He is a glorious pianist and electronician. And he writes wonderful books on important jazz-historical topics. We get another chance to appreciate the former expression sets on the recent album he made with world-class drummer Tani Tabbal, namely At This Time: Duets (Ictus 181).

It is thoughtful kind of freedom to be heard in this set. Bob wields the acoustic piano and live synth with articulate vision, pacing through logically meandering improvs and focal renditions of some classics like "Sanctuary," the Chilean anthem "The People United", and "I Fall in Love Too Easily" (associated with  Miles Davis and Gluck's latest book The Miles Davis "Lost" Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles).

Tani Tabbal can always be relied upon to grace a session with very musical drumming. He does so here, providing parallel percussion lines and timbres that come up alongside Bob's intricate piano and electronics freedom with a drum set freedom that remains independent of the Gluckian arc of improv yet is not at all divorced from it. It is not a line imitation but instead a formidable second line.

The electronics part of Bob's improvisations are special. He to my mind is one of a handful of improvisers today who has mastered the electronics idiom as one of special timbres and wide spatial outpourings. Jean-Marc Foussat, Denny Zeitlin, Rob Mazurek and George Lewis come to mind as other very significant practitioners. I am sure I inadvertently leave out others.

The piano-drums segments show too that Gluck is very much his own free yet rooted 88.

At This Time: Duets is surely one of the primo key outings of the past year. Needless to say I recommend you listen carefully. It is very much worth your time.






Saturday, January 20, 2018

Grego Applegate Edwards Talks About His CD Pastoral Dream I

So hey it seems time once again to explain myself. What in tarnation am I doing and why? The answer is simple. I have no idea what I am doing! No, I am kidding. In the world today much of what we know is on a need-to-know basis. So why know what you do not NEED to know? Why anything? When I come on here and plug my new, 12th CD Pastoral Dream I, it is not out of a lusty desire for mountains of shiny lucre. Face it, making my music at this point is not going to make me rich.

What matters right now is the music on Pastoral Dream I. What is the narrative behind it? What is there musically and how do I see it? And why would you find it something you might consider as an addition to your music piles and your listening life?


So What of It?
Really, so what? The music you hear on Pastoral Dream I (Ruby Flower CD) was put together over a number of years. It captures a fleeting dream mood that depicts the musical search for, love-making to and loss of a phantom ballerina that  took shape in my head when first listening to the old rock song "Pretty Ballerina."

Like Piaget's idea of the perception of infants, that an object  is only thought present when physically in front of him or her, the ballerina is here-gone in the dream, but the dreamer gradually believes she exists still, and searches for her continually over various pastoral landscapes.

The music is all virtual multiple me's occupying many tracks, instruments and subjected to studio  enchantments to make of it an orchestral whole. Volume Two will continue the journey and cover new ground.



A Bit More on the Music
Just because the music exists alongside a programmatic concept does not mean that the music was put together solely to exemplify that. Some of it was fashioned before I had the idea, but in any event it makes present in sound the dreamy search. All of the music has a mood consistent with the story-idea of the search and the pastoral landscape. Yet it was conceived in purely musical terms, though in the back of my head I was thinking about the here-gone dream I have had for so many years.

The album begins with some evocative electro-acoustics and a couple of simple early studio history quartet jams that reflect the utter joy I felt playing the guitar again after a long pause. They are not technically astute in any way, but they are that joy as was the pastoral dream traversal and singular life search.

The last three numbers form the core of Volume One. As previously the Psyche Mobius Machina Garage Orchestra is an orchestra-sized collective gathering of an electric guitar section, a synth strings section, multiple keyboards appearing as themselves, bass guitars, a percussion section of drum set and other percussion, and a small "choir" at times, all put together layer-by-layer in my studio as I played all the instruments and sang the parts one-by-one.

"Holiday Flubber" begins the sequence with a somewhat mysterious orchestral new music improv. The entire unfolding is based on a first-take, thematically diverse keyboard improvisation, which then becomes the multi-dimensional root to the many part construction that makes up the whole that we hear. The acute absence of the ballerina is felt especially around the holidays and the by-product flubber that holiday celebrating makes present is a poor substitute indeed.

From there the central theme of "Pretty Ballerina" comes to the forefront in a slow and sultry orchestral blanket that has a rather orgasmic core. It is in the very expressive lyrical cosmic zone that seemed just right for the transformation made possible by the Garage Orchestra.

From there the definitive mix of "Paiute Gathering Pinenuts" gives a final climactic send-off for Volume One. Paiute Indian women gather pinenuts in the woodlands while the menfolk are off hunting game. Why are we here? They sing of that wonder as the ballerina is off someplace unseen. It is a sort of prog-minimalist psychedelic paean to life in nature, to a pastoral dreamtime that has its actual dimensions in a communion with the natural world. A cosmic drone rock anthem builds slowly and in the end the movements of the earth around the sun take over the aural plane of sound with a cosmic spinning of infectious (I hope) intensity. Oh, and so that spinning is the dance of the earth with the cosmos. It is also the spinning ballerina in her timeless dance in the realm of the spheres!

That Pretty Much Covers What I Want to Say
And that is what you can hear if you get the CD. Volume 2 will follow shortly and take up where the first volume leaves off, including a Four Seasons for King Oak and the Ballerina as a Young Girl. Meanwhile you can grab the first volume at Amazon now by following the link:

https://www.amazon.com/Pastoral-Dream-Grego-Applegate-Edwards/dp/B078L5GT44/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1516471606&sr=8-2&keywords=grego+applegate+edwards


Thank you deeply if you take the effort to get this and listen!!  I hope you find your  psychic ballerina and that you too will dance. Am I surprised?  Always. I mean about anything that happens next.