sexta-feira, 31 de julho de 2015

Omar and The Howlers - Boogie Man 2004

With his gravelly vocals that fall between Wolfman Jack and Howlin' Wolf, along with an ever-changing band of HowlersKent "Omar" Dykes charges through more rootsy boogie, blues, and rock & roll. For his first album of original material in four years, Dykes invited professional songwritersDarden SmithRay Wylie HubbardStephen Bruton, and Alejandro Escovedo to co-write these 11 tunes. That not only elevates the quality of the tracks -- especially lyrically -- but also adds dashes of country and folk-rock to the mix. It diversifies but does not diminish Omar's gritty sound, and makes this one of his most accomplished and exciting recordings. Guest Howlers like guitarists Chris DuarteJon Dee Graham, and Malcolm "Papa Mali" Welbourne, along with Stevie Ray Vaughan's old Double Trouble rhythm section, and Zappa/Jeff Beck drummer Terry Bozzio all contribute to the bone-shaking proceedings. Dykes is fiery throughout, especially on the thumping Bo Diddley-inspired "Shakin'," and the Canned Heat/John Lee Hooker punch of the title cut. Even road songs "That's Just My Life" and "Mississippi Mud" resonate, despite their clichéd subject matter. Omar includes social commentary on "White Crosses" -- one of two Darden Smith co-writes he croons instead of howls with his usual bluster. The relatively subtle shuffle of "Drowning in Love" and the slow blues of the six-minute closing "All the Love We Can Stand" also alter the mood, giving the album some much-needed relief from the energized swamp stomp that dominates its attack. Boogie Man provides a perfect entry point for those new to the Omar experience, and a rollicking addition to those already entranced by his mighty mojo. AMG.

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Grant Green & Donald Byrd - His Majesty King Funk & Up With Donald Byrd 1995

This single Verve CD reissues the complete contents of two unrelated LPs: Grant Green's His Majesty King Funk (great title) and Up with Donald Byrd. Unfortunately, the music overall is not as rewarding as Green and Byrd's work of the period for Blue Note. Green is OK with a quintet that includes tenor saxophonist Harold Vick and organist Larry Young, but the material (mainly fairly simple funk riffs) is disappointing. Trumpeter Donald Byrd has a potentially strong group with both Jimmy Heath andStanley Turrentine on tenors along with pianist Herbie Hancock and guitarist Kenny Burrell. However, the three- or four-voice Donald Byrd Singers and the arrangements by Claus Ogermanweigh down the date. Each album watered down its music to an extent in hopes of gaining commercial success, but neither really caught on. The results are interesting but somewhat forgettable. AMG.

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Hazmat Modine - Bahamut 2007

It's a fairly good bet you won't hear another record like Bahamut any time soon -- because there isn't one. Hazmat Modine tap into the deepest veins of raw, unpolluted prewar blues and ancient jazz, then whip them up in a blender, tossing in strains of Caribbean calypso and ska, Eastern European klezmer and Balkan brass, Middle Eastern mystery, and more than a few unidentifiable elements that just somehow fit. The result is music that sounds at once ageless and primeval, authentically indigenous and inexplicably otherworldly, familiar and unlike anything else. Hazmat Modine revolve around the vision of Wade Schuman, a virtuoso on the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas and a variety of guitars who then mixes and matches his machines to a variety of other instruments till he arrives at that place his head has been visiting. Those instruments include the commonplace (drums, trumpets), the unexpected (Hawaiian steel guitar, lots of tubas), and those you're just not going to find down at the local music shop (cimbalom, zamponia, claviola). With that arsenal and sympathetic players at hand,Schuman invents. Sometimes, as in "Lost Fox Train," he's on his own, unreeling a thrilling solo harmonica piece that nudges the instrument out past the town limits. Alone again on "Ugly Rug," it's justSchuman and his lute guitar. For "It Calls Me" (on which Schuman's usually rough-hewn vocals slide up the scale and recall the late Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson of Canned Heat), "Everybody Loves You," and "Man Trouble," he brings in the legendary Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu, whose amphibian warblings may or may not have met up with tuba and Hawaiian steel guitar before, but probably never within the same song. If all of this sounds a bit deliberate and precious, the relieving news is that it's not. Hazmat Modine are unconventional in every sense, but theirs is listener-friendly music, nothing that requires a degree in ethnomusicology to enjoy. Many other bands, from Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks to the Cheap Suit Serenaders, and from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band to Squirrel Nut Zippers, have mined forgotten caves of Americana before, but Hazmat Modine's widened the playing field here, taking the resurrection international on this stunning debut. AMG.

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Israel Kamakawiwo'ole & The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau - Unforgettable 2008

The most popular entertainer in Hawaii until his tragic death in 1997, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole formed the traditionalMakaha Sons as a teenager in the mid-'70s, went out on his own in more of a contemporary style by the 1990s, and released four immensely popular recordings before passing away just after the release of 1996's N Dis Life. Born in the Honolulu suburb of Kaimuki, Kamakawiwo'ole later moved to nearby Makaha. In allegiance to his new home, Israel formed the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau with brother Skippy plus Louis "Moon" KauakahiSam Gray and Jerome KokoThe Makaha Sons recorded No Kristo in 1976 and released five more albums during as many years, though Skippy's death of a heart attack in 1982 came as quite a blow to his younger brother. The group soldiered on, and became Hawaii's most popular traditional group with breakout albums like 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Ho'ola.
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole decided to begin recording on his own with 1990's Ka 'Ano'i, which became the most popular Hawaiian album of the year. Though he continued his solo career, by 1991 he had recorded with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau again, and that year's Makaha Bash 3 set still more records in Hawaii, thanks in part to the single "Broken Promise." Another Makaha LP, Ho'oluana, appeared in 1992, though it was the last with Israel. His second solo effort,Facing Future, appeared in 1993, and 1995's E Ala Efeatured a reunited duet with Skippy, thanks to studio technology. Israel continued to win awards and sell very well with 1996's N Dis Life, but his ballooning weight problem (at times, he weighed over 750 pounds) caused his early death at the age of 38. AMG.

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sexta-feira, 24 de julho de 2015

Clear Blue Sky - Gateway To The Seventh Dimension 2007

Clear Blue Sky have been active for many years, beginning with a couple albums on the Vertigo label in the early 1970s (the cover of their first album was done by Roger Dean). Their latest album, Gateway to the Seventh Dimension, consists of beautifully composed and executed progressive rock with a hard rocking edge. Guitarist John Simms dominates throughout with stylistically varied playing, tasteful leads and assertive rocking chords. Add to this a prog infused keyboard presence, solid composition and production, a seamless flow from one track to the next, and you've got an impressive hour of music.

Among the highlight tracks is "Blue Star of India", a steady paced hard rocker with bits of Blues. Simms' vocals have a Geddy Lee quality to them that goes very nicely with the music. And there's lots of nice jamming that adds intensity to the music. Here and throughout the album Simms rips off some very tasty leads and he can make powerful statements with single wailing notes. "Love Inner Spiritual Awakening" starts off as a beautifully melodic song, but culminates in a wild prog infused hard rocker with more ripping guitar. "The Unseen Place" is a short, intense, spaced out transitional piece that paves the way for "Vision at Chebar", an excellent track that is metallic and spacey, but also aggressive and soothing. Clear Blue Sky really excel at traversing multiple contrasting moods and atmospheres in the space of just a few minutes. "Voice Across the Water" is a cool cosmic prog-jazz-fusion track. "Gateway to the Seventh Dimension" and "Galaxy of Dreams" are among my favorite tracks and will put a smile on the face of prog fans. I love the spacey and hard rock elements and compositional twists and turns on "Gateway to the Seventh Dimension". Highly accessible yet varied and complex. And "Galaxy of Dreams" is an outstanding space-prog rocker, with killer heavy rock jam segments and some of the most mind-melting guitar work on the album.

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Maciej Obara - Live at Manggha 2013

The sophomore release of Polish-Norwegian quartet Obara International, led by rising Polish alto saxophonist Maciej Obara, solidifies his affinity with cool Nordic jazz. The group is not only the powerful rhythm section of resourceful Norwegians—double bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Gard Nilssen. Lush phrasing by Obara himself and emphatic, profound interplay rounded out by the fantastic young pianist Dominic Wania suggests a formative influence by the Jan Garbarek Norwegian-Swedish quartet from the seventies (with pianist Bobo Stenson, double bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen) and the ECM aesthetics at large.

Furthermore, Obara musical heroes—legendary Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda and his favorite trumpeter, Tomasz Stańko, often recorded with Scandinavian musicians. Stańko even took part in Scandinavian recordings, most notably key seventies recordings by Finnish drummer Edward Vesala. Obara and Wania are taking part in Stańko's new Balladyna project, and the Obara Quartet's debut album, Komeda (For Tune, 2013), offered new arrangements of Komeda compositions.

The quartet first met during the Take Five: Europe event in 2012. Live at Manggha was recorded in May 2013 during the 19th international Masters and Youngsters Jazz Festival in Krakow, Poland, pianist Wania's home town, at Manggha Museum. Due to to an adventurous journey from Łódź to Krako, the quartet arrived only an hour before the scheduled concert. They needed nothing more than a full house to stimulate one of their best performances ever.

New compositions by Obara written especially for this festival intertwined with intriguing arrangements of Komeda's themes, well known by a supportive audience. The group's reserved aesthetics and high level of communication are demonstrated beautifully in this performance. Obara opts for an elegant, lyrical tone, organically flowing yet locked within tight interplay. It rarely reaches violent peaks of free improvisation, but enables enough room for extensive individual contributions. His dialogues with Wania emphasize their affinity with subtle, somehow melancholic forms of ballad dialogues, supported wisely by the inventive, solid pulse of Vågan and Nilssen.

The Norwegian rhythm section rarely challenges the Polish front line, but on "7Up," the most energetic piece in this performance, and the last short, improvised "Manghha," the band lays down an infectious, intense rhythm, forcing both Obara and Wania to follow a liberating, resolute pulse. They adopt rare, spontaneous and dense tones which answer the uncompromising stream of rhythmic power. But Obara and Wania feel at home in more moody, free-form ballads like the beautiful "Unloved," or with the slow- burning seventeen minutes of "Variation," which offers both a chance to charge their respective solos with slowly intensifying energy and passion.

Obara International already sound like an impressive, balanced and resourceful working group that have only begun to explore their promising potential.

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Texas Tornados - 4 Aces 1996

Thanks to B. The ultimate Tex-Mex supergroup, Texas Tornados were composed of some of the genre's most legendary figures:Doug SahmAugie Meyers (Sahm's bandmate in the groundbreaking Sir Douglas Quintet), Hispanic country starFreddy Fender, and accordion virtuoso Flaco Jimenez. The group's infectious, party-ready sound blended country, early rock & roll, Mexican folk music, R&B, blues, and whatever other roots musics crossed their paths. The Tornados first assembled in 1989 at a concert in San Francisco, billing themselves as the Tex-Mex Revue. They enjoyed the collaboration so much they decided to stick with it and generated far more publicity together than they would have solo; Jimenez had released several acclaimed albums by that point, but Sahm had recorded only sporadically during the '80s, and Fenderhardly at all. Their self-titled debut album was released on Reprise in 1990 -- in both English and Spanish versions -- to rapturous reviews and also sold pretty well, reaching number 25 on the country charts. The group toured extensively behind it and issued the Grammy-nominated follow-up albumZone of Our Own in 1991, again to hugely positive reviews. By the time of 1992's Hangin' on by a Thread, the group's primary audience was Latino, and Jimenez accordingly took more and more of the spotlight. After more touring, the group went their separate ways to concentrate on other projects and work on new material; most notably, Sahm and Meyers formed a new version of the Sir Douglas Quintet. In the meantime, Reprise issued a compilation, The Best of Texas TornadosThe Tornadosreconvened in 1996 for the album 4 Aces, which didn't attract quite as much attention or acclaim as their previous work. The group's late-1998 concert at Antone's in Austin was recorded and released the following summer as Live From the Limo, Vol. 1; unfortunately, it would prove to be the only volume, asSahm died of a heart attack in late 1999. AMG.

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Danko Jones - Born A Lion 2002

OK, let's be clear: You have to check your political correctness at the door when you listen to this one.Danko Jones has swapped damaged high-test soul music for a more blues-oriented rock sound, and with that change comes a more upfront pose, especially about bad women, bad love, and bad attitude. It's certainly a more polished and confident sound out of the Toronto trio, but it's a bit of a disappointment for listeners expecting the slightly more original sound found on the band's two EPs. Instead, the band's first full-length album offers up a loud guitar rifforama far more reminiscent ofAC/DC or Soundgarden (perhaps this sound was the natural outcome of the time the band spent touring Europe and hanging out in Sweden -- there's certainly more of a kinship now with a band likeHellacopters than any touchstone from beforehand). That's not to say the release is bad by any means. It rocks like hell, and even if sentiments like "if you wanna know how to play the blues, get yourself a woman" seem retrogressive, they're balanced off by sly nods to the Temptations, a shout-out to everyone regardless of their skin color ("Caramel City"), and the sheer rock & roll passion throughout the whole album. As a special bonus, the CD comes with an enhanced multimedia portion with a video for the "Sound of Love" single, as well as two hidden tracks. AMG.

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Dom La Nena - Ela 2013

Dominique Pinto was born in 1989 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She began studying piano at the age of five, before shifting to the cello three years later. At the age of eight Dom moved to Paris while her father pursued his doctorate.Upon moving back to Brazil five years later at the age of thirteen, Dom began writing letters to acclaimed American cellist Christine Walevska. Known as "the goddess of the cello", Walevska encouraged Dom to move to Buenos Aires and become her student. With her parents' consent Dom relocated to Argentina where she studied under Walevska for several years.

Dom returned to Paris at eighteen and soon found herself booked to play her first pop gig, a session with British singer-actress Jane Birkin. Over the next two years Dom toured with Birkin, also supporting French singer-actress Jeanne Moreau. Upon returning from Birkin's international tour, Dom set about working on her first album. The writing process, though, proved quite challenging. It was at a social dinner in Paris that Dom met and soon struck up an artistic partnership with singer-songwriter Piers Faccini, whom her director husband Jeremiah had made several videos for. Faccini suggested that Dom use his home studio in the Cevennes Mountains of France, where in less than a week she recorded almost all her parts. Facinni then set to adding various instruments over Dom's tracks. What resulted out of this partnership were the thirteen compositions that would become known as Dom's debut album, Ela.

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Re-Post: Steinar Raknes - Stillhouse 2012

Steinar Raknes is one of Norway’s foremost jazz bassists and songwriters. With his fearless and explosive playing style, he is often compared with the legendary bassist and songwriter Charles Mingus. Raknes is rcognized through his work as composer and musician in the award-winning jazz trio Urban Connection, and for collaborations with artists such as  Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Bobby McFerrin and Per Texas Johansson. After completing a Master of Arts (music) degree of jazz at NTNU in2001, he has collaborated in a large number of ensembles, including The Core, Ola Kvernberg Trio, Skaidi,  Kirsti Huke Quartet and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. He is the leader of his own jazz group, the  Steinar Raknes Quartet, "Tangos, ballads & more" and his own group Stillhouse where he sings and plays the double bass.

Raknes has created a unique way of playing the double bass while singing, insipred by various pop/rock/blues/folk/country  In his project Stillhouse he sings and plays together with the American harp player Mickey Raphael (from the Willie Nelson band) and the Norwegian vocalists Solveig Slettahjell and Unni Wilhelsen. Thanks to B. Enjoy!

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Lonnie Brooks - Wound Up Tight 1986

Having forged a unique Louisiana/Chicago blues synthesis unlike anyone else's on the competitive Windy City scene, charismatic guitarist Lonnie Brooks has long reigned as one of the town's top bluesmen. A masterful showman, the good-natured Brooks puts on a show equal to his recordings (and that's saying a lot, considering there are four decades of wax to choose from).
Born Lee Baker, Jr. in Louisiana, Brooks took his time when choosing his vocation; he didn't play guitar seriously until he was in his early twenties and living in Port Arthur, TX. Rapidly assimilating the licks of B.B. King and Long John Hunter, he landed a gig with zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier (not a bad way to break into the business) before inaugurating his own recording career in 1957 with the influential swamp pop ballad "Family Rules" for Eddie Shuler's Lake Charles, LA-based Goldband Records. The young rock & roller -- then billed as Guitar Junior -- enjoyed more regional success on Goldband with the rocking dance number "The Crawl" (covered much later by the Fabulous Thunderbirds). Mercury also issued two 45s by Guitar Junior.
When Sam Cooke offered the young rocker a chance to accompany him to Chicago, he gladly accepted. But two problems faced him once he arrived: there was another Guitar Junior in town (precipitating the birth of Lonnie Brooks), and the bayou blues that so enthralled Gulf Coast crowds didn't cut it up north. Scattered session work (he played on Jimmy Reed's Vee-Jay classic "Big Boss Man") and a series of R&B-oriented 45s for Midas, USA, Chirrup, and Chess ensued during the '60s, asBrooks learned a new style of blues. The Guitar Junior sobriquet was briefly dusted off in 1969 for his Capitol album debut, Broke & Hungry, but its lack of success buried the alias for good.
By the late '70s, Brooks was gaining a deserved reputation as an exceptionally dynamic Chicago bluesman with a fresh perspective. He cut four outstanding sides for Alligator's first batch of Living Chicago Blues anthologies in 1978 that quickly led to his own Aligator debut LP, Bayou Lightning, the next year. Five more albums of his own for the firm and extensive touring cemented Brooks' standing as a Chicago blues giant. Son Ronnie Baker Brooks is a chip off the proverbial block, playing rhythm guitar in his old man's band and duetting on "Like Father, Like Son" on Lonnie's 1991 album Satisfaction GuaranteedBrooks long association with Alligator Records continued into the late '90s with the release of Roadhouse Rules in 1996, which focused more on R&B than down-home blues, and Lone Star Shootout in 1999. The disc featuredBrooks with fellow guitar slingers Long John Hunter and Phillip Walker playing together and solo in varied combinations of bluespower.
More energetic efforts with a decidedly rocked-up edge. Johnny Winter, long an ardent admirer ofBrooks back to the Guitar Junior days, drops by with a passel of fiery guitar licks for the title track and "Got Lucky Last Night." AMG.

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Doug Wamble - Country Libations 2003

When one sees the name Marsalis Music, the question that comes to mind is "Which Marsalis?" Ellis?WyntonBranfordDelfeayoJason? The answer is Branford; saxophonist Branford Marsalis is the founder/owner of Marsalis Music, a Rounder-distributed label that was launched in 2003. Since the '80s, it has been obvious that Branford and Wynton have very different tastes -- Wynton is known for being a jazz snob, whereas Branford is more eclectic and has done his share of guest spots on rock and R&B projects. So it isn't surprising that Marsalis Music is a jazz-friendly label but not a jazz-only label. Country Libations, which Branford produced for his company, isn't the sort of album that a jazz snob would release -- jazz, blues, and gospel are equally important parts of what acoustic guitarist/singer Doug Wamble does on this promising debut album. Wamble certainly isn't an easy artist to categorize or pigeonhole. He's a jazz instrumentalist, but he's also a blues singer -- he's a jazz vocalist, but he also sings African-American gospel. As far as his taste in jazz goes, Wamble doesn't limit himself to one particular era. Parts of Country Libations are mindful of the swing and classic jazz of the '30s, but other parts show an awareness of the modal post-bop that John Coltrane and his colleagues provided in the '60s. Wamble even dabbles in the mildly avant-garde; the instrumental "Dim Tangy Tennessee Twang" hints at Ornette Coleman. Of course, someone this far-reaching and difficult to categorize would terrify a lot of marketing people, so Branford deserves applause for having the guts to sign Wamble. And much to his credit, the expressive Wamble is able to take this CD in different directions without sounding confused or erratic -- he makes everything fit together on this unpredictable yet focused debut. AMG.

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