Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: HuDost – Trapeze

The second album by adventurous Montreal band HuDost was produced by Malcolm Burn (Peter Gabriel, Midnight Oil) who gives their ethereal, sometimes country-flavored, sometimes goth-inflected pop songs a sheen that underscores their rustic side rather than glossing over it. With her clear, soaring voice, frontwoman/keyboardist Moksha Sommer echoes a couple of NYC rock legends – she’s something of a cross between a more overtly sultry Paula Carino and a less boisterous Juliana Nash. Perhaps adding to the already wary edge in her voice is that she recorded this album after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, but before the operation.

The album opens with the goth-pop epic Trespasser, a cut that with a little exposure will be a fixture in the background wherever black robes and eyeliner are found. About half the songs here take a traditional country ballad feel and add an unexpected edge, whether that might be exotic instrumentation (harmonium, bouzouki, oud and bendir) or a more hypnotic vibe – one of them sounds like a more interesting update on the Rosanne Cash hit Seven Year Ache. The most memorable track is an understatedly haunting number sung in both English and French, recounting how greedy developers paved over a cemetery for the poor, ripped out the headstones, left the graves and with erosion the bodies came through the ground again. Of the other tracks here, there’s a catchy Beatlesque hit that morphs into new wave, a vivid, psychedelic midtempo chamber pop ballad, and the upbeat, tongue-in-cheek All My Guitars (sung by guitarist Jemal Wade Hines), an artsy pop song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Snow‘s songbook. It’s nice to see a band like this who don’t sacrifice content for commerciality yet have a theoretically almost limitless upside for hit potential: these songs are catchy, and thankfully, Canadian radio is mandated to push Canadian artists, so they ought to have at least one market locked up.

The best news of all here is that Sommer is in good health again and the band will be on US tour Sept 16-Oct 15, watch this space for NY dates.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willie Nile Fall Tour Dates

Willie Nile is on the road again this fall – in the US and Europe – with his band pushing his characteristically excellent new cd House Of A Thousand Guitars, very favorably reviewed here. Here’s a free download of “Give Me Tomorrow” from the cd.

Upcoming Shows:

Saturday September 12th, McCabes, Santa Monica, CA (Los Angeles Record Release Party), 8pm, $20,  3101 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 310-828-4497

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Friday September 18th, the Record Collector, Bordentown, NJ 7:30 pm, $20 Willie (accompanied by Frankie Lee on percussion), 609-324-0880

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Thursday September 24th, Joe’s Pub, NYC IS SOLD OUT

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Friday October 2nd, Paradiso, Amsterdam 9 pm, Willie and the band at the legendary Paradiso. Weteringschams 6-8, 020-626-4521

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Saturday October 3rd, Grottingen Netherlands, Willie &  band play the Take Root Festival.

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Sunday October 4th, Den Bosch, Neatherlands, 3pm, Willie & band play the W2, Boschdijkstraat 100, Den Bosch, 5211 VD

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Friday October 9th, Fitzgerald’s, Chicago, IL Area, 8pm, Willie along with the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra,  6615 Roosevelt Rd, Berwyn, IL 708-788-2118

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Saturday October 10th, Wilberts, Cleveland, OH  (Cleveland Record Release Party) 8pm, Willie along with the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, Wilberts, 812 Huron Road East, Cleveland, OH, 216-902-4663

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Sunday October 18th, University Of Stony Brook, Long Island, NY, 2pm, $20. Willie plays the Sunday Street Acoustic Concert Series, Stony Brook University, Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, NY

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Thursday October 22nd, Hard Rock Café, NYC, part of a  benefit show, details TK. Artists include that everyone should attend. Willie, Gary US Bonds, Joe D’Urso and many former Sopranos (the tv kind not the singer kind).

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Friday October 23rd, the Turning Point, Piermont, NY, 9pm, 468 Piermont Avenue, Piermont, NY, 845-359-1089

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Sunday October 25th, Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Record Release Party) 7pm, 20 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Willie (accompanied by Frankie Lee on percussion) with special guest Ben Arnold

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Andrew Green – Narrow Margin

Taking its title from the 1952 Richard Fleischer noir film, this often astonishingly memorable cd was written by guitarist Andrew Green while recuperating from a broken wrist. It’s simply one of the best jazz albums of the year. Talk about putting downtime to good use! It’s both a loving homage to noir soundtrack music as well as an intriguing update on the style. This is all about tension and mystery, and in keeping with the genre, JC Sanford‘s trombone, John Hebert‘s bass and Mark Ferber‘s drums establish an ominous backdrop for Bill McHenry‘s tenor sax and Russ Johnson‘s trumpet while composer Green’s guitar plays the P.I. role, working every angle. The songs here – and they are songs in the purest sense of the word – can evoke a sense of dread, but often deviously: they’re stylized but not formulaic. As with a good noir movie, very little is as it seems.

Right from the first few notes of the opening track, .45 Auto, the scene is set: a breathless horn hook, guitar spins off it and then a vivid Johnson solo over a murky rhythm section, who, sensing they’ve been discovered, then go scurrying off. Then McHenry goes honking cheerily to a big swell with echoes of Mingus. The second track, Midnight Novelette works a sinister theme with trombone and then the full band over a latin-tinged beat with playful muted trumpet and a tasteful, incisive Joe Pass style solo by Green. Both the third and sixth tracks, Miro and Short Cut have a vintage 50s Miles Davis feel – they could be classics from that era and may someday be acknowledged as such. The first is basically a swinging four-chord song that runs its gorgeously bracing chorus three times at the end to drive its point home; the other builds from a ridiculously catchy head to a Green solo that sputters and finally goes over the edge screaming over the distorted, reverberating roar of a rhythm guitar track. McHenry assumes his frequent role as the voice of reason while Green battles with the demons on the fretboard as the band rises out of the melee.

The title track cleverly interpolates Bernard Herrmann’s theme from Taxi Driver within the framework of a contrasting, more contemplative but equally suspenseful original, reinforcing the tension of the film piece. Other tracks here – pretty much all of them are standouts – include Black Roses, a calmly inscrutable exercise in how to build intensity, the golden-age 50s style Totally Joe, with a killer solo by Green peeking around the central chords rather than totally skirting them, and the least noir of all the tracks here, the concluding cut Honeymoon in Ipswich. Yet it also evokes a shadowy atmosphere, impatient, angry guitar pitted against a bustling, circular rhythm section that eventually goes way, way down for Sanford’s blissfully oblivious trombone to add an even further unbalanced feel: something is just waiting to go dreadfully wrong here. And then it’s over. As with a great suspense film, it screams out for a sequel.

The group celebrate the album’s release with a full-band show at 8 PM on Sept 20 at the Cornelia St. Cafe. Early arrival is very highly recommended.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 9/10/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Thursday’s song is #321:

The Jam – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

Evocative account of an encounter with a gang of neo-Nazis from All Mod Cons, 1978, back in the day when the London tube was a lot more dangerous. Bruce Foxton’s bass scurries along like a tube train…or a bunch of thugs who’ve just left their prey – a guy on the way home to his wife with his takeaway curry – lying in a pool of blood.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble – Eternal Interlude

These big-band arrangements of mostly earlier commissions – never before recorded – make the perfect vehicle for drummer/composer John Hollenbeck‘s big ideas.  Hollenbeck is one of the most successful composers to bridge the gap between jazz and new music. This new album, just out on Sunnyside, is the rousing result of that refusal to be pigeonholed. Hollenbeck’s hooks are direct and energetic: he’s got a way with a memorable tune and a fondness for even bigger, comfortable, lushly orchestrated arrangements. Dynamics are everything here – the twenty-piece ensemble will move from a big, blazing chart to skeletal tenor and piano, or bass and drums, in seconds flat and then slowly bring it back up again. The quieter passages here have a cinematic feel evocative of Elvis Costello’s collaborations with Richard Harvey; the more bustling ones evoke Mingus, or Monk, notably on the opening track, Foreign One (a pun and a loving reinvention of Monk’s Four in One), bulking up its catchy descending hook with a muscular chart capped with bright back-to-back tenor solos.

Tension builds on the mostly ambient, almost twenty-minute title track, the brass developing a slow, stately crescendo out of an effectively mysterious Gary Versace piano intro. A circular, somewhat hypnotic hook gets a slow, steady workout before it falls apart into a hazy flutter of call-and-response horns strangely evocative of Pink Floyd’s Atomheart Mother Suite. Another rise and a fall and then they’re out. Many of these patterns recur in the following track, Guarana, moving from atmospheric tone poem to a chase sequence to fluttery chaos, trombone serving as the voice of reason who will eventually prevail. The aptly titled The Cloud is a clinic in swells and ebbs.

The standout track here is also aptly titled, almost eighteen delicious minutes of Perseverance. This time the ensemble gives a funk-inflected melody a full-orchestra workout that eventually winds its way down to just the sax, the rest of the horns taking brief, crazed cameos against the stark ambience before Hollenbeck turns the mood darker with some solo tom-tom work. It builds to a fullscale stampede, its ferocious pummel an almost shocking contrast with the rest of the album. When they take it down and then bring it back, it becomes a reverse image, a happy Sunday sprint through a poppy field. The cd closes with on a hushed note with a brief, still tableau. This is one of those albums where repeated listening reveals something new and interesting every time. The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble play a marathon cd release show for this one on Nov 30 at 8 PM at le Poisson Rouge: first, violinist Todd Reynolds plays music from Hollenbeck’s recent Rainbow Jimmies cd, followed by Hollenbeck and Theo Bleckmann’s Future Quest group – Hollenbeck, Bleckmann, Gary Versace, Ellery Eskelin and Tony Malaby – playing Meredith Monk, and then the Large Ensemble.

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment