Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Andrew Green’s Narrow Margin CD Release Show at the Cornelia St. Cafe, NYC 9/20/09

Sometimes knowing a jazz group’s latest album before seeing them play from it is a complete waste of time. This time, it was like being handed a key to the secret back room where the party is always happening. A few years ago, guitarist Andrew Green spent some time on the disabled list with a busted wrist and he put the downtime to good use: he watched a lot of vintage film noir and wrote a lot of killer horn charts. The result was the album Narrow Margin (very favorably reviewed here recently), which is more of a homage to noir jazz from the 50s than it is an attempt to completely replicate the style. It’s full of mysterious twists and turns and catchy phrases, the kind of jazz album you find yourself humming as you walk down the street. And if you’re in the shadows, and it’s 4 AM and misty way over on the west side, all the better. Sunday night Green assembled most of the supporting cast who played on the album for a magical run through most of it.

Joining Green were his albummates Russ Johnson on trumpet and JC Sanford on trombone plus Noah Preminger subbing on tenor for Bill McHenry, with an inspired rhythm section of Kermit Driscoll on bass and Mike Sarin on drums. A lot of the songs slunk along with a latin pulse, and they nailed it. Watching the songs – and they are songs in the purest sense of the word –  take shape was an apt reminder how cleverly and ingeniously Green composed them. Trumpet and trombone would weave and bob around each other while Green worked variations on the theme, often with a bracing tinge of natural distortion. Preminger got the chance to establish plenty of contrast against the suspense and occasional outright menace of the rest of the band and did it with a stunningly nuanced attack and an unassailable calm: as good as McHenry sounded on the cd, Preminger took it to the next level.

One of the oldest compositions, Miro, featured Driscoll working a finely honed, minimalist solo fleshed out with similar judiciousness by Green, sounding like an unconstrained, ballsier Joe Pass. Short Cut, with its wickedly catchy, four-note central riff was a clinic in the use of echo between horn players, Johnson’s trumpet perfectly evoking a blithe obliviousness as Green sputtered and threw off big dirty sparks underneath. Best song of the show was Midnight Novelette, a cinematic number if there ever was one, Green letting loose with a stinging volley of sixteenth notes after Johnson and then Sanford had built an indelibly nocturnal tableau. It was as if Bogart had been overheard at the bar, murmuring, “Play it again, guys.”

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September 22, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Concert Review: Hazmat Modine at City Winery, NYC 9/18/09

The New York Gypsy Festival‘s decision to scatter shows throughout the year, beginning in the spring, was an ambitious choice but ultimately a successful one. Although the past ten days or so were especially gypsy, with the Gypsy Tabor Festival out in Brooklyn and a whole bunch of similar bands playing the rock clubs, there was a full and enthusiastic house at City Winery Friday night for Hazmat Modine and Hungarian sensations Little Cow. The Hazmats opened and pandemonium reigned, no great surprise: there are few other acts in town who bring as much intensity and pure unadulterated fun to the stage. Frontman/harmonica player Wade Schuman wasn’t as completely gonzo as he can get, but the band was. This is a wild, extroverted crew: Pete Smith and Michael Gomez on electric guitars, Pam Fleming (back from the disabled list) on trumpet, Reut Regev on trombone and other horns, Steve Elson on tenor sax and other reeds, Rich Huntley on drums, Joseph Daley on tuba and Erik Della Penna of Kill Henry Sugar guesting on vocals on a couple of numbers.

The set list was characteristically eclectic. The blues standard Something You Got, an uncharacteristically major-key tune for this band, was elevated to the level of an ecstatic New Orleans second-line march. Irving Berlin’s tongue-in-cheek Walking Stick became a racewalk and got the crowd in front of the stage twirling just as crowds of the thirties must have done in the old vaudeville theatres. Gomez used it as a launching pad for a particularly ferocious, offhandedly raging solo, Fleming further cementing her reputation as the Human Crescendo – in this case, it was the flying lead-in to her solo, out of one by Schuman, that was the high point, but it sent the intensity level to redline in a split second as Huntley led the charge with a relentless volley of rimshots.

A new one sounded like a hypnotic early twenties delta blues number as R.L. Burnside might have done it, casually careening with more blazing fretwork from Gomez. Best song of the night was a surprisingly low-key and extremely effective Schuman instrumental, Grade A Grey Day, with Fleming bringing in the cumulo-nimbus and Elson on sax fluttering through them. After that, they flipped the script with another original that started out with Little Feat exuberance, building joyously to a 60s soul vamp with the horns blazing. They closed with Bahamut, the surreal, calypso-inflected title track to their most recent album, a somewhat surprising choice considering the long, mysterious spoken-word passage in the middle of the song. And when Schuman got there, no surprise, the dancers took a break. But they all got back into it when the song picked up again, Smith fanning the flames with a potently percussive, chord-chopping solo.

And what of the headliner, Little Cow? There were technical difficulties, no fault of the band or the club. And by a quarter to one in the morning, an hour and a half past their stage time, it was sadly time to call it a night – a strategy that paid off the following day throughout a successful, marathon sixteen-hour attempt to help some New York friends pack up and become ex-New Yorkers. Watch this space the next time Little Cow comes to town: they’re reputedly amazing in concert.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 200 Best Albums of the Decade, or, the 200 Best Albums of the Zeros

We’ve been promising you this for months now, so here it is. Maybe we’ll put up some descriptions after all the disruptive renovations here at Lucid Culture HQ are finished, around mid-month in October if all goes well. If you’re viewing this page prior to January 1, 2010, this list is subject to change – the best album of the decade may not even be released yet…

1.  Steve Wynn – Here Come the Miracles

2.  Rachelle Garniez – Melusine Years

3.  Rachelle Garniez – Luckyday

4.  Botanica – Botanica vs. the Truth Fish

5.  Randi Russo – Solar Bipolar

6.  Bob Dylan – Love & Theft

7.  LJ Murphy – Mad Within Reason

8.  Mary Lee’s Corvette – True Lovers of Adventure

9.  DollHouse – Touch the Moon

10. Mary Lee’s Corvette – Blood on the Tracks

11. Black Box Recorder – Passionioa

12. Jenifer Jackson – Outskirts of a Giant Town

13. Coffin Daggers – s/t (third album)

14. Brooklyn What – The Brooklyn What for Borough President

15. Matthew Grimm & the Red Smear – The Ghost of Rock n Roll

16. Dan Bryk – Pop Psychology

17. Bobby Vacant & the Weary – Tear Back the Night

18. Matt Keating – Quixotic

19. Curtis Eller’s American Circus – Wirewalkers & Assassins

20. Paula Carino – Aquacade

21. Erika Simonian – All the Plastic Animals

22. Chicha Libre – Sonido Amazonico

23. The Hangdogs – Wallace ‘48

24. Big Lazy – s/t (2nd album)

25. The JD Allen Trio – I Am I Am

26. Joy Division – Les Bains Douches 12/18/79 Live

27. The Jentsch Group Large – Brooklyn Suite

28. The Mofos – Supercharged on Alcohol

29. The Beefstock Recipes Anthology

30. Black 47 – Iraq

31. Balthrop, Alabama – Subway Songs

32. Steve Wynn and the Dragon Bridge Orchestra: Live in Brussels

33. The Oxygen Ponies – Harmony Handgrenade

34. 17 Pygmies – Celestina

35. Steve Wynn – Burgerhaus Heilbronn 4/3/2000

36. Tammy Faye Starlite – Used Country Female

37. Jay Bennett – Whatever Happened, I Apologize

38. Asylum Street Spankers – What? And Give Up Show Business?

39. Botanica – americanundone

40. Church – Untitled #23

41. Larval Organs – Posthumous

42. Marty Willson-Piper – Nightjar

43. McGinty & White Sing Selections from the McGinty & White Songbook

44. Kelli Rae Powell – New Words for Old Lullabies

45. Ivo Papasov – Dance of the Falcon

46. Amy Allison – Sheffield Streets

47. Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams – Snowblind

48. Marcel Khalife – Taqasim

49. Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider – Silent City

50. Greta Gertler & Peccadillo – Nervous Breakthroughs

51. Aimee Mann – Fucking Smilers

52. Elvis Costello – Momofuku

53. Randi Russo – Live at Sin-e

54. Black Sea Hotel – s/t

55. Willie Nile – Streets of NYC

56. Jenifer Jackson – Birds

57. Aimee Mann – Lost in Space

58. Botanica – With All Seven Fingers

59. The Church – After Everything Now This

60. RL Burnside – Burnside on Burnside

61. The Coup – Party Music

62. Richard Thompson – Semi-Detached Mock Tudor

63. The Wirebirds – Past & Gone

64. Steve Wynn – Static Transmisssion (double album)

65. Amy Allison – No Frills Friend

66. Neko Case – Blacklisted

67. Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts…Now

68. Steve Earle – Just an American Boy

69. Nina Nastasia – The Blackened Air

70. Ward White – Pulling Out

71. Greta Gertler – The Baby That Brought Bad Weather

72. The Moonlighters – Live in Baden-Baden

73. Randi Russo – Still Standing Still

74. Twin Turbine – Jolly Green Giant

75. Mamie Minch – Razorburn Blues

76. Alice Lee – Lovers & Losers

77. Serena Jost – Closer Than Far

78. Radio Birdman – Zeno Beach

79. Rasputina – A Radical Recital

80. Botanica – Berlin Hi-Fi

81. Sharon Goldman – Semi-Broken Heart

82. Ward White – Maybe But Probably Not

83. Elvis Costello – My Flame Burns Blue

84. Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior

85. Big Lazy – Postcards from X

86. Love Camp 7 – Sometimes Always Never

87. Teslim – s/t

88. Natacha Atlas & the Marzeeka Ensemble – Ana Hina

89. Black Fortress of Opium – s/t

90. Randi Russo – Live at CB’s Gallery

91. Ljova & the Kontraband – Mnemosyne

92. Metropolitan Klezmer – Traveling Show

93. Lee Feldman – I’ve Forgotten Everything

94. Monika Jalili – Elan

95. Linda Draper – Bridge and Tunnel

96. Bee & Flower – What’s Mine Is Yours

97. Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm

98. Randi Russo – Shout Like a Lady

99. Melomane – Look Out!

100. The Moonlighters – Dreamland

101. Matt Keating – Tiltawhirl

102. Steve Wynn – …tick…tick…tick

103. Willie Nile – Live from the Streets of New York

104. Greta Gertler – Edible Restaurant

105. Carol Lipnik – Cloud Girl

106. Willie Nile – Beautiful Wreck of the World

107. Elisa Flynn – Songs About Birds & Ghosts

108. System Noise – s/t (second ep)

109. Satanicide – Heather

110. The Moonlighters – Surrender

111. Tandy – To a Friend/Did You Think I Was Gone

112. Dina Dean – 4 songs (ep)

113. Mary Lee’s Corvette – Love, Loss & Lunacy

114. Jenifer & Julian Jackson – Together in Time

115. Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life

116. Patricia Vonne – s/t (first album)

117. Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel

118. Eleni Mandell – Afternoon

119. The Hangdogs – Beware of the Dog

120. Mavrothi Kontanis – Wooden Heart

121. Barbara Brousal – Pose While It Pops

122. Laura Cantrell – Not the Trembling Kind

123. The Stagger Back Brass Band– s/t

124. The Dog Show – Hello, Yes

125. Rosanne Cash – Black Cadillac

126. Graham Parker – Songs of No Consequence

127. Douce Gimlet – s/t

128. Mascott – Art Project

129. The Dixie Bee-Liners – Ripe

130. Devi – Get Free

131. The Roulette Sisters – Nerve Medicine

132. Rev. Vince Anderson – The 13th Apostle

133. Champagne Francis – I Start to Daydream

134. Steve Wynn – Crossing Dragon Bridge

135. The Auteurs – How I Learned to Love the Bootboys

136. Hazmat Modine – Bahamut

137. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

138. Everything Is Illuminated soundtrack

139. Eric Ambel – Roscoe’s Gang/Loud & Lonesome/Knucklehead box set

140. The Moonlighters – Enchanted

141. Ninth House – The Eye That Refuses to Blink

142. Patty Ocfemia – Heaven’s Best Guest

143. Mark Sinnis – Into an Unhidden Future

144. The Roots of Chicha compilation

145. Gogol Bordello – Gypsy Punks

146. Moisturizer – Moisturizer Takes Mars

147. Rachelle Garniez – Crazy Blood

148. Mark Steiner – Fallen Birds

149. Florence Dore – Perfect City

150. Dead Prez – Let’s Get Free

151. Peter Tosh – Live and Dangerous Boston 1976

152. Sounds of Taraab – Zanzibar, NY

153. System Noise – Give Me Power

154. The Go Go’s – God Save the Go Go’s

155. The Slackers – Peculiar

156. Sally Norvell – Choking Victim

157. 9th Wave – Hurricane

158. Amanda Thorpe – Union Square

159. Barbara Dennerlein – Spiritual Movement No. 2

160. Nick Cave – B-Sides and Rarities box set

161. Leslie Nuss – Round 3

162. Rasputina – Cabin Fever

163. Big Lazy – New Everything

164. Salaam – s/t (7th album)

165. Les Chauds Lapins – Parlez-Moi d’Amour

166. Zach James – Album 3

167. Linda Draper – Patchwork

168. The Church – Uninvited Like the Clouds

169. The Jack Grace Band – The Martini Cowboy

170. Matt Munisteri’s Brock Mumford – Love Story

171. The Yayhoos – Fear Not the Obvious

172. X – Live in Los Angeles

173. The Dirty Three – She Has No Strings Apollo

174. American Ambulance – Streets of NYC

175. Roxy Music – Live

176. Pink Floyd – Is There Anybody Out There [live album from 2000]

177. Laika & the Cosmonauts – Laika Sex Machine Live

178.  Demolition String Band – Pulling Up Atlantis

179. Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3 – Live at Big Mama

180. The Lost Crusaders – Have You Heard About the World

181. Burning Spear – Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival 2001

182. Sade – Lovers Live

183. Los Straitjackets – Damas y Caballerros

184. Angie Pepper & the Passengers – It’s Just That I Miss You

185. Tom Warnick & World’s Fair – May I See Some ID

186. Jan Bell – Songs for Love Drunk Sinners

187. Penelope Houston – Pale Green Girl

188. Luminescent Orchestrii – Neptune’s Daughter

189. The Bedsit Poets – The Summer That Changed

190. Martin Bisi – Son of a Gun

191. Linda Draper – Ricochet

192. Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band

193. The Dog Show – Demo

194. Revlover – On Ordinary Days

195. Tinariwen – Aman Iman: Water Is Life

196. Secretary – Secret Life of Secretary

197. Pinataland – Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 2

198. Maynard & the Musties – So Many Funerals

199. Si Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba Vol. 2

200. Jenifer Jackson – So High

September 22, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 9/22/09

Every day at least for the next few days, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #309:

The Rolling Stones – Citadel

Where Sgt. Pepper was a quintessentially British, somewhat satirical slap at conformity, the Stones’ rejoinder, Their Satanic Majesties Request was unabashedly savage. In this frequently covered riff-rock masterpiece, Jagger has been taken prisoner by the enemy. Candy and Cathy, wherever you are, if you ever existed at all, this one’s for you. The link above is an intriguing alternate take in a slightly more folk-rock vein.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment