Jazz Notes / Record Bulletin

Record Bulletin, 3/14

Blue Note Boys

Finding more good records but less time to listen to them. Still holding on to the Public Enemy albums, for example, just because I have a hard time squeezing it in. Anyway, here’s both a Record Bulletin and the third (or fourth) Jazz Notes entry. Having acquired a 58-record collection of McCoy Tyner, I’m rather excited to wade through it, possibly giving new releases short shrift—this translates to only listening to what’s recommended to me rather than blind searching, which quickly gets tiring and yields few results.

coverJOSE JAMES – No Beginning No End (Blue Note): Jazz lovers in the 70’s sometimes disguised themselves as pop stars to mask their roots and attempt to attain mainstream success—Van Morrison, Traffic, or any shit fusion band you can recall—though now pop hacks dabble in the genre to distract listeners from their inability to find a hook, since their conception of jazz lacks ‘em. Enter Jose James, New York-based soul singer-songwriter citing Coltrane and Holiday, dipping into R&B ‘cause he’s supposed to and swimming around until surfacing at jazz bastion Blue Note. But while jazz abounds he also surprises, pulling out melodic pop soaked in his soulful serenade or DJ tricks deftly backed with brass. Just what exactly is jazzy about the radio-friendly unrequited love ballad “Come to My Door?” Why would it have to be? Van Morrison had “Brown Eyed Girl” and then avoided that aesthetic for the rest of his career. James might, too, but he shouldn’t, because he’s so good at it. A MINUS

Album art (1500x1500)WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET – Without a Net (Blue Note): Saxophonist, best known as composer for Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, member of Davis’s Second Great Quartet, founding member of jazz-rock group Weather Report, often dubbed greatest living jazz composer. I wouldn’t know whether the appellation has merit when considering Tyner and Coleman are still kicking. Nevertheless, these nine tracks—sporadically recorded live during his 2011Euro tour feat. pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brian Blade, and bassist John Patitucci—are surprisingly listenable to someone whose affinity for fairly-avant jazz (particularly an album running at eighty minutes) has rarely stretched further than Ornette!. I’ll attribute it to Shorter’s tone-setting rendition of Davis’s “Orbits,” and his managing to make the Imani Winds-backed melodic-to-experimental to-and-fro twenty-three-minute centerpiece “Pegasus” a highlight. Six of these are new Shorter comps, all nice to hear. Greatest living composer? At age 80, he’s the greatest living fossil. Maybe. A MINUS


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