Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Brent Canter’s Urgency of Now Drives Its Point Home

Don’t let the endorsement fool you: Kenny Burrell is a fan of jazz guitarist Brent Canter, whose latest album Urgency of Now is out on Posi-Tone.  And the elder statesman is on to something. As with virtually every jazz guitarist, it’s no secret that Canter has listened to Burrell –  but he doesn’t ape him. Burrell is right in saying that this is a good album, frequently a great one, but most impressively, it’s an original one. No bass here; instead, a B3 organ, but there’s not a single funky shuffle in sight. Instead, a midtempo, frequently pensive groove.

You wouldn’t think that the generically circling Afrobeat-tinged riff that opens the first track would be the springboard for as catchy a tune as the one that morphs out of it…and the tasty Seamus Blake tenor sax solo that follows…and the big High Romantic chord-punching that Canter segues into, either. But it happens. They go brooding and Brazilian-tinged with the ballad Meet Me Halfway, with a blippy, slightly Burrellesque solo that follows a predictable but rewarding trajectory. A slightly phantasmagorical Pat Bianchi organ solo picks up the pace.

Settle Down, an expansive yet pensive early 60s style organ-and-guitar mood piece a la Grant Green is followed by A Long Way from Home. Weather Report might have sounded like this if they’d had a Hammond instead of Jaco: Canter takes it up with a long, acerbic, fat-toned solo and then passes to Blake for the basket, organist Adam Klipple warping from 4 AM to high noon in a split second. Transitions, another ballad, very subtly mines a lazy indie rock riff, Klipple moving in majestically and then carnivalesque, for psychedelic ambience. With Eyes Closed is as funky as they get here, Klipple going more for a straightforward, incisive feel, drummer Jordan Perlson prowling playfully in the underbrush.

If Marina Del Rey is meant to evoke a casual, breezy Cali milieu, it’s accurate, with spiraling organ and a surprisingly upbeat solo from Canter. They close the album with the title track, Canter taking on bit of a sun-blistered tone, organ flailing a little, and then down and out they go with an insistent, triumphant series of guitar riffs. This album is more than solid – it’s one of the better ones to come over the transom here this year.

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August 9, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CD Review: The Clayton Brothers – Brother to Brother

Beautifully oldschool, golden-age late 50s/early 60s style jazz by this highly regarded mostly family unit. Everybody in the Clayton Brothers has a distinct persona, although they all break character and surprise from time to time. Bandleader/bassist John Clayton is the suave one; his sax-playing brother Jeff is the party animal. Trumpeter Terell Stafford is the hard hitter, drummer Obed Calvaire (John Clayton’s “adopted” son) the no-nonsense purist with a BS detector set to stun, with pianist Gerald Clayton (John’s kid) the clear star of the show, a powerhouse player with a vivid, often plaintive tone and a devious sensibility that really rears its head live but also cuts through the arrangements here from time to time, as if to say, did you just hear me do that? Are you listening? In so doing, he sets the standard here: they’re all pushing each other hard, and having a good time in the process. This is a great ipod album.

 

It’s a concept cd, a tribute to brother combos in jazz throughout the ages: the Joneses (Elvin, Hank and Thad); Cannonball and Nate Adderley; Monty Alexander and his singer brother Larry; Kenny Burrell and his bassist brother Billy, and others. As you’d expect, there’s a chemistry in the playing here which lights a fire under the crew who aren’t actually blood relatives. The first track is an Elvin Jones tribute, Wild Man, a Jeff Clayton tune punctuated by numerous false endings and some marvelously terse playing by Calvaire that spins off plenty of Elvin tropes without seeming derivative. Stafford and Gerald Clayton both put a bright, vivid spin on it.

 

With a marathon swing in its step and a nod to the Nat Adderley classic More Work, John Clayton’s Still More Work lopes along tirelessly for over ten minutes, highlighted by another glistening Gerald Clayton solo. A cover of Nat Adderley’s Jive Samba gets a wickedly suspenseful treatment, driven by hypnotic, pulsing bass and a Jeff Clayton solo that hints at suspense just enough to create an atmosphere of unease; the Jeff Clayton jump blues Big Daddy Adderleys pays tribute to the whole family, buoyed by playful solos by just about everybody. 

 

The best song on the cd is Kenny Burrell’s Bass Face, done here with a gorgeously terse, catchy So What kind of vibe with sax and trumpet in tandem, counterintuitively melodic, chromatic bass and a noir Twin Peaks feel at the end. From the Keter Betts (Ella Fitzgerald’s last bassist) songbook comes the popular comedy number Walking Bass (bassist goes out to tie one along and brings the bass along – lookout world!), then a plaintive, Monty Alexander-inspired version of the old Broadway standard Where Is Love, and a latin-inflected Jeff Clayton tune, the Jones Brothers, wrapping up the cd on a high note with soulful contributions from the whole crew. Get this for your jazz snob friend who thinks the world stopped when we lost Trane; or for your avant-inclined friend who never heard the classic stuff done like this. All of the players in the group maintain busy schedules with and outside of this project: watch this space for New York dates.

 

In the same way that classical composers plied their craft throughout the ages, this ArtistShare cd was put out by a base of fans who backed the production (anybody remember Bowie bonds?): it ought to pay dividends that extend beyond the excellence of the music.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment