Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Leron Thomas – Improvsensation

This one is over the map stylistically, which is actually a strong point for Houston-born trumpeter/composer Leron Thomas since he so defiantly resists categorization. The hilarious rant on the cd booklet’s liner notes is worth the price of the cd by itself, Thomas railing knowingly and aptly against the incompetence and shortsightedness of the dying major labels, band managers who are no more than glorified groupies, and the rigid groupthink that pervades so many of the various New York music scenes, from jazz to pop. As with the liner notes, there’s a lot of anger here, tempered with a disquieting sense of humor that nonetheless is often laugh-out-loud funny. There are a couple of indie rock songs here, the best being the opening cut, an insistent indie rock song with raw, eerie harmonies on the chorus by Thomas’ frequent collaborator Michael Severson. Another, Cut & Paste shares a sarcasm with much of the rest of the album: “I just cut and paste my life.”

Sandmen is sardonically minimalist hip-hop, obviously dating from the days of the Bush regime: “When you see that girl’s ass what you thinking about? Oil, baby!” The next cut, Sanitation Truck is more hip-hop, a bizarre early-morning urban tableau. The inscrutable Kitchen blends an early 80s Midnight Starr proto-hiphop feel with Kool Keith-style weirdness. A couple of instrumentals, When Zelda Replaced GI Joe and In the Silence match lo-fi, clangy guitar with Thomas’ balmy, pensive trumpet. Pearly Whites is sarcastic, Beatlesque pop that grows unabashedly menacing toward the end, a feel echoed earlier by the completely bizarre What’s Done Happen.

Time Travelin’ Love is a funny funk/rap number, a broke guy trying to pick up a girl; EnVino is a drinking song – if Bob Marley’s drug of choice was wine instead of weed, he would have sounded like this. The cd winds up with Fashion, lo-fi Prince-inflected funk bemoaning shallowness all around him; the wee-hours rant 2:34 AM and the sly empowerment anthem Spoils. This is a very strange yet a very honest and straightforwardly compelling album. Whatever direction Thomas wants to go in – he may want to bounce between all of these, which is perfectly ok – this cd is a very entertaining way to get to know him.

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July 2, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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