Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Marty Ehrlich and Ray Anderson Pretty Much Bring Down the House

Reedman Marty Ehrlich and trombonist Ray Anderson first joined forces in Anthony Braxton’s band, but they bring a more trad sense of melody to the somewhat loose configurations on their new quartet album Live in Willisau. Recorded last year for Swiss radio, they’re playing to the crowd here, liberally quoting from the classics in a boisterous, good-natured performance anchored by the estimable Brad Jones on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. This is a fun, tuneful set: it’s not always full-throttle, but the chemistry in the band is contagious. There’s some New Orleans, a little latin, some funk and a single ballad, My Wish, which starts sparely as a tone poem of sorts before growing wistful and wary, Anderson’s trombone adding a shadowy touch in tandem with the rhythm section.

The opening cut is a fond portrait of the late violinist Leroy Jenkins, a lively duet that goes a little dixieland and then pulses nimbly on a clave beat with Ehrlich circling as Anderson bobs and splashes – the contrast is genuinely delightful. Hot Crab Pot, the most overtly N’Awlins number here is a showcase for Anderson, first terse and percussive, then wandering way out until Ehrlich reins it in with a wary chromatic approach. As often happens here, Jones holds it together when everybody else is off doing his thing, this time with some tastily booming chords. And then they’re back into it with an Ellington quote.

The Lion’s Tanz is a real crowd-pleaser, Ehrlich balancing Anderson’s staccato sputter before everybody goes off on a carnivalesque swirl that goes off the hinges, Ehrlich again bringing it back with a quote, this time from Coltrane. The Git Go has Ehrlich again playing serioso on the heels of Anderson’s droll ostentations, pulling a hook out of the air to nimbly shift the song from funk to swing. More southern than latin, Alligatory Rhumba could be a bar at happy hour, the conversational circle moving gradually further off-topic to the point that nobody remembers it…and then everybody takes a long break, leaving Wilson to mess with the crowd via a series of pregnant pauses and rimshot solos. The final track, Hear You Say floats a catchy funk hook over an almost reggae rhythm, almost being the operative word here: it’s tricky, the two horns playing hide and seek with it, all the way to a crashing, metalesque outro. At this point, the producer lets the applause ring out – they’ve earned it.

November 24, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 11/24/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #797:

Lefty Frizzell – 16 Biggest Hits

Lefty Frizzell was a legendary Texas honkytonk singer from the 50s, a guy who sounded a lot older than he was. By the 70s, now in his 40s, he sounded close to 70. One of the songs here, an early proto-rockabilly number, is titled Just Can’t Live That Fast (Any More), but in real life he didn’t seem to have any problem with that. He drank himself to death at 47 in 1975. But he left a rich legacy. This album is missing some of his best-known songs – notably Cigarettes & Coffee Blues – but it’s packed with classics. Frizzell’s 1950 version of If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time topped the country charts and beat Hank Williams – a frequent tourmate – at his own game. Other 50s hits here include the western swing-tinged Always Late (With Your Kisses), the fast shuffle She’s Gone, Gone, Gone and Frizzell’s iconic version of Long Black Veil – with its echoey, ghostly vocals and simple acoustic guitar, it’s even better than the Johnny Cash version. From the 60s, there’s the surprisingly folkie version of Saginaw Michigan, the sad drinking ballad How Far Down Can I Go, the torchy, electric piano-based That’s the Way Love Goes and I’m Not the Man I’m Supposed to Be. His later period is best represented by I Never Go Around Mirrors, later covered by both George Jones and Merle Haggard. This is one of those albums that pops up in used vinyl stores from time to time, but isn’t easy to find online. There’s a popular “500 greatest country songs” torrent with several of these on it out there; if you see one for this particular album, let us know!

November 24, 2010 Posted by | country music, lists, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment