Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 6/5/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #604:

Farid Al-Atrache – 25 Ans Deja

What B.B. King or Richard Thompson are to the guitar, Farid Al-Atrache was to the oud, the ancient Middle Eastern four-string bass lute. B.B. is probably the better comparison: Al-Atrache had supersonic speed on the frets when he felt like cutting loose, but he was more about soul than flash. And he was a lot more than just a musician, with a long career as a star of screwball Egyptian musical comedies. The title of this late-90s compilation alludes to the years since his death. Most of this is lushly orchestrated levantine dance music, many of the tracks, like Adnaytani Bel Hagr and Ich Inta having become a part of the standard bellydance repertoire. There’s also the catchy, upbeat Hebbina Hebbina; the sweepingly majestic Baa Ayez Tensani; and the hits Zaman Ya Hob, Ana Wenta We Bass, Manheremch el Omr and Odta Ya Yom Mawlidi among the eighteen tracks here. Here’s a random torrent via ubdocleahq.

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June 5, 2011 Posted by | lists, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

George Clinton in Broad Daylight – Meh

There is a subtext to many of the concert reviews here, especially during the summer. Maybe you’ve noticed it. Maybe not. If not – YOU SHOULD SEE THEM WHILE YOU CAN. On one side, there are the budget slashers, eager to shut down your local library branch or concert series (or city hospital, or firehouse – that’s a story for another time). On the other, there are the private foundations (funded by right-wing extremists) eager to insinuate themselves into a local park by sponsoring a few shows for a few months, maybe taking over park maintenance and then all of a sudden banning all but the handful of yuppies (or the corporations they work for) who’ve become “sponsors.” Folks, we have to stand up to this. Do we want Central Park to become Halliburton Park? Or Bernie Madoff Park? Or Goldman Sachs Park, off-limits all weekend long because they’re using it to celebrate the top salesmen for their latest arcane, worthless real estate derivative? We have to fight that. And in the meantime, we ought to see what is actually happening in our public spaces – which, incidentally, we pay for, with our taxes.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music sponsors the weekly Thursday noontime concerts at Metrotech Park in downtown Brooklyn. Whether they’re immune to corporate pressure or not is up in the air. Once in awhile they have a great concert here, a really amazing one. Booker T & the MG’s with Sharon Jones, which we were lucky to catch the first year we started this blog; many years previously, before BAM got involved, the late Lucky Dube played a stunningly intense, powerful set of roots reggae here. There have also been numerous African performers here – Malian guitar genius Vieux Farka Toure, who shredded the surroundings into dust last year, for example. But for every good show here, there are ten Ke$ha or Erykah Badu wannabes. Corporate influence, or just bad taste? Who knows.

George Clinton played here Thursday. This guy is major: he invented symphonic stoner funk. Maybe for that reason, the emcee who introduces the acts here was more stoned than usual. On one hand, it hurts to be critical of somebody who roots for the expansion team-quality Mets, year after year (let’s hope they trade Reyes AND Wright for prospects) – on the other, the guy gets on the mic and sounds like he’s just done about a dozen bong hits. Clinton’s band came on and warmed up slowly: Gotta Get Over the Hump, knowmsayn? On one hand, Clinton’s shows have always been as much about the performers behind him as they have been about him (talk about a team player, huh?!?) . On the other hand, he gets overshadowed by the 15-foot papier-mache monster, the undulating huddle of girls, the horde of backup singers and for that matter, his own band. Intentional? Maybe yes!

So this particular cast had a bassist who looked like Bootsy and played excellently and intensely but wasn’t, along with a fiery trumpeter, a drummer who played wearing a raincoat and then gladly turned the drum throne over to someone who wasn’t, and a guitarist who had assimilated Eddie Hazel’s sunburst assault and added more of an ambient, sustained edge – what a delicious thing to hear, the guy absolutely kicked ass, no idiotic heavy metal scales or cliches.

But Clinton was up before he should have been. He just didn’t do much. He had some pseudo-vocoder stage patter ready go to; the other 90% of the time, his back was to the audience, seemingly waiting til he had to come back out of the wings. Another member of the band introduced him since he wasn’t wearing his signature aqua hair extensions. When the band did Flashlight, it was a treat: yet you have to wonder, how many of the people here first heard the da-da-da-da-DEE, da-da-ah riff as a hip-hop sample rather than as a Funkadelic song? They did Atomic Dog a little later, with the bass furiously blasting out that gorgeous hook, then took their time through a ponderous, suspenseless Mothership Connection. When one of the backup singers took over the mic to do a decent if not overwhelming blues so as to give the almost 70-year-old Clinton a breather, it was time to get back to the office anyway before the boss might notice. The verdict: Clinton is a certified genius, but not in broad daylight. The reverse is probably true as well.

June 5, 2011 Posted by | concert, funk music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, reggae music, review, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment