Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Slinky, Purposeful, Enigmatically Shifting Grooves From Trombonist Reut Regev

Trombonist Reut Regev may be best known for her work with irrepressibly exuberant New Orleans-flavored oldtime blues jamband Hazmat Modine, but she’s also a bandleader in her own right. Her own compositions span the worlds of jazz, dub, psychedelia and downtempo music. Her latest album with her group R*Time, Keep Winning, is streaming at Bandcamp.

The Bumpy Way, a tune by her husband and drummer Igal Foni has a playfully circling, undulating groove matched by bassist Mark Peterson beneath guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly’s minimalist skronk and chicken-scratch funk, the bandleader carving a way amid the potholes along the path.

The Last Show is an imaginary swan song performance, and the funniest song on the record, a Keystone Kops mashup of all the styles a trombonist is typically expected to tackle over the course of a career. Regev admits that even if she was to officially play a farewell gig, there’s no way she could quit music.

Up in the Sky, a surreal, bracing mashup of funk, uneasily percolating psychedelia and looming atmospherics, is a dedication to Regev’s brother Sharon, killed in a car accident at age six. As she reminds, the trauma of losing a sibling at a young age still resonates, no matter how much time goes by.

Moovit is a slinky, rhythmically shapeshifting number that harks back to the careening, often joyous haphazardness of her debut album, Exploring the Vibe, a milieu they stick with throughout the tightly swinging, noisily entertaining title track.

With a Smiling Voice is the most dubwise and also catchiest number here, Regev shifting from the terseness of vintage rocksteady to allusive Middle Eastern chromatics as Foni rumbles and then brings the song up to a wry trick ending.

The version of War Orphans here – a tune which Ornette Coleman composed but never ended up recording – draws on the Don Cherry version, a series of spacious, rising, increasingly acidic riffs. Inspired by Regev’s young daughter, Hard to Let Go explores the way children hold fast to the day as it winds down, a slowly unwinding experience with plenty of rough but also comedic moments…as any mom knows.

The album winds up with Foni’s quite possibly cynical, soca-tinged, turbulent Beware of Sleeping Waters, inspired by a bad experience at a gig in Paris. Lots of flavors and thoughtfully inspired playing here, as you would expect from Regev.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emi Makabe’s Fearless Individualistic Debut Album Blends Jazz, Japanese Folk and the Tropics

The first time anybody from this blog was in the house at an Emi Makabe show, it was a rapt, often otherworldly, early midweek gig in the fall of 2017 at 55 Bar in the West Village. That evening she mixed up vocal and instrumental numbers, joined by Vitor Goncalves on accordion, Thomas Morgan (fresh off Bill Frisell tour) on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums.

Fast forward to 2020: the bar is closed, but Makabe has just released her debut album, Anniversary, a similarly magical, fearlessly individualistic blend of jazz, Japanese folk music and tropicalia streaming at youtube. Makabe is a singer whose axe is the shamisen, a lute with a somewhat banjo-like timbre which is ubiquitous in Japan but not particularly well known here. If all goes well it will be more familiar to American jazz fans by the time she makes her next album…or plays 55 Bar again, assuming it survives.

Back to the music. The album’s first track is Treeing, a briskly surreal but verdant bossa nova tune which Makabe introduces with spiky shamisen, Goncalves’ piano following an incisive upward drive

Her expressive mezzo-soprano shifts from a resonant presence to soaring intensity in the aptly titled Joy, Goncalves’ bristling lines matched by Morgan’s bubbling pulse and Wollesen’s colorful, counterintuitive cymbals: at this point in his career, he might have the most interesting plates in all of jazz.

Chimney Sweeper, a setting of a William Blake poem about a homeless boy, engages the bass and drums just a hair ahead or behind the piano, and vice versa, a neat effect: Makabe’s point seems to be that we naturallly reach out to the less fortunate, no matter what century we’re in.

Makabe breaks out the shamisen again for Moon & I – an original, not the Karla Rose psychedelic soul ballad – and hits a gorgeously nocturnal, dizzyingly polyrhythmic drive. Goncalves’ glittering upper-register modalities are literally out of this world.

The hazy, rubato-ish changes of Something Love offer tantalizing omens: the close-miking on Wollesen’s drums, in tandem with Morgan’s spare pulse and Goncalves’ lyricism pays off mightily. The spiky interweave of Makabe’s shamisen with the piano in the hypnotic yet anthemic Flash is texturally delicious, capped off with her disquietingly captivating vocalese.

I Saw the Light – another original, not the gospel standard – makes a great segue with Goncalves’ Lynchian modes and Makabe’s guardedly hopeful, ambered vocals over an increasingly busy rhythmic drive. Goncalves switches to accordion, Wollesen to vibes for Mielcke, a bittersweetly enveloping, tableau and one of the album’s high points.

Makabe returns to uneasy, rainswept, vividly bittersweet modes for O Street, a jazz waltz. She goes back to a lilting tropical milieu for the deceptively catchy, matter-of-fact Rino and closes the album with the plainspoken title track, her pensive vocals and Morgan’s churning bass bringing to mind the classic Sarah Vaughan/Joe Comfort duets of the early 60s.

November 1, 2020 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment