Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: American Waltz by 3Play+

All over the stylistic map, this collection of jarring segues and first-rate melodies by the new group 3Play+ positions keyboardist/composer Josh Rosen somewhere between the Americana jazz of Bill Frisell (notably the deceptively simple title track, which becomes less simple and absolutely gorgeous as it gets going) and maybe Danny Elfman. Rosen’s compositions are considerably more sophisticated, but throughout this mix of alternately melodic and more tonally abstruse jazz , there’s a recurrent tv theme sensibility ranging from sly and funny to warmly, indelibly tuneful. To pull it off, Rosen has assembled a first-class band including the reliably counterintuitive George Garzone on tenor, Phil Grenadier on trumpet, Mick Goodrick on guitar, Lello Molinari on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums.

Garzone is his usual surprising self, taking a briefly haunting, modal turn on the cd’s second cut, Buttah – a Sonny Rollins revision – then turning it inside out, fluid and optimistic. The vivid nocturnal ballad How Do I Know What I Don’t Know has Rosen playing comforable, Floyd Cramer-inflected country lines to which he adds a subtle undercurrent of disquiet. Another ballad, the aptly titled Old Fashioned mines a vintage fifties cool jazz vibe with Grenadier out front, expansive and soulful, Molinari’s bass establishing a striking Indian-inflected riff as it winds to a conclusion.

Part boogie, part latin, Soupy’s Comin’ Home works electric versus acoustic piano, morphing into a brisk, bracing walk around the block. The cd ends on something of an Abbey Road feel with the twenty-minute Bulletrain, which is anything but speeding: it has the feel of a bunch of catchy, unrelated choruses mashed together, kicking off with the subtlest of lower-register melodies that bursts into flame triumphantly as it finally gets going, eventually linked by a reggae vamp. In between, there’s a pointed conversation between Grenadier and Garzone, some horror-movie cadences, a little swinging blues and some understatedly Middle Eastern-tinged guitar from Goodrick. It’s an appropriately multistylistic , hypnotically captivating way to end an intriguing and rewarding effort. Headphones are a must – and not those lame little earbud thingys either.

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June 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: Katya Grineva – Love and Fire: The Dances

The latest album by self-described Romantic pianist and Carnegie Hall favorite (she’s playing there on June 12 at 8 ) Katya Grineva is a treat for fans of canonical 19th century favorites, proudly idiosyncratic and unabashedly individualistic. Grineva was seemingly born to play the Romantics, wringing plenty of angst and longing out of a mix of familiar standards, Piazzolla classics and a perhaps predictably but aptly emotional take of the Ravel Bolero. On both the Chopin Mazurka in A Minor and the Waltz in E Minor, she mines the dynamics for heart-tugging shifts that stop just this side of overwrought – yet, by contrast, she lets the Albeniz Tango breathe for itself, a smart move. Granados’ Planera Spanish Dance is likewise allowed to shimmer and gleam, at a tastefully stately pace.

Most impressively, it’s the Piazzolla that best draws out Grineva’s intensity. Adios Nonino, a requiem written right after the death of the composer’s father, is stoic yet wrenching. An abbreviated arrangement of the sprawling crazy-love anthem Balada Para Un Loco is considerably more blazing and percussive than the original, and Grineva careens through its louder passages like a woman possessed, after which Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dances makes a perfect segue. The Bolero alternates between slinkiness and impatience, a nice contrast to see in a piece where some performers find none at all.  

Grineva’s Carnegie Hall show this week is billed as a family-friendly event, lots of familiar standards by Debussy, Satie and Chopin and others delivered with characteristic verve: bring a 15-year-old friend, family member or someone who looks hopelessly underage, and they get in free with your paid admission.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 6/8/09

We do this every week. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Every link here will take you to each individual song.

 

1. Botanica – How

About time we had a Botanica song at #1 here – this is a blistering version of the politically-fueled gypsy rocker from their killer new live album americanundone. Frontman Paul Wallfisch’s weekly Small Beast show upstairs at the Delancey resumes on 6/22 at 8:30ish.

 

2. Serena Jost – Vertical World

Deliciously smart, artsy pop song by the art-rock siren, live on the radio with her band. Other good stuff here too!

 

3. Jason Rigby – Moon Goddess

Quietly hypnotic, very pretty modal jazz. The sax player is at Cornelia St. Cafe on 6/12 at 9.

 

4. Bodies Full of Magic – La Fin Du

Catchy acoustic-based, Americana-inflected, lyrical pop from South Carolina. A little earnest but ultimately spot-on. They’re at Arlene’s on 6/18 at 7.

 

5. Tribella – Saucer Eyes

Girl power, fun jangly stuff from Austin. “Get her offstage, get her offstage.” They’re at Arlene’s at 8 on 6/22

 

6. Ghost Ghost – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Driving, percussive indie rock motoring along with a killer rhyhtm section and a dark lyrical sensibility – like early Wire but with more balls.

 

7. Mayaeni – All the Time

Smartly aware, bluesy acoustic soul song. She’s at Drom on 6/16 at 11 with her band.

 

8. The Five Points Band – I’m Funny

Maybe in a dark and sick way. Good, creepy stuff. They’re at Rodeo Bar on 6/18 at 10:30ish

 

9. Woodhands – I Kissed a Girl

Two gay Canadian guys doing an absolutely hilarious over-the-top disco version of the odious Katy Perry radio commercial, um, corporate radio hit

 

10. Zane Alan – Boone’s Farm

Sounds like he had a few bottles before recording this. He’s at Arlene’s on 6/20 at 7.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Song of the Day 6/9/09

We do the top 666 songs of alltime countdown every day here to keep the front page fresh regardless of whether or not there’s something new to report (and there is – tons of album reviews, interviews and more waiting in the wings, stay tuned). Tuesday’s song is #414:

Sielun Veljet – Turvaa

One of the most innovative bands of the early 80s, these wild, scorching Finnish rockers imbued overtone-laden PiL-style noise-rock with murky Nordic tonalities. This one screeches along on a darkly distorted, snapping bassline. The title sarcastically means “saved.” Best version out there is on their 1983 double live album, long out of print, although there are mp3s out there. The link above is a torrent of the band’s first three albums.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment