Somewhere in Time
Whittling down that list of albums for which I need to write A reviews. I’ve pretty much called it on new releases for the year, spending most of my time now going over stuff I’ve already reviewed or am sure will be relegated to Honorable Mentions. Hopefully I’ll finish up before the end of the month so I can get a best-of list compiled (with an attending shit essay on the year in music) before 2013’s out. Wouldn’t count on that, though, and I expect I’ll be done some time in January.
THELONIOUS MONK – Paris 1969 (Blue Note): Live performance and return to a city that panned a young and nervously drunk pianist fifteen years earlier, Monk plays with longtime saxman Charlie Rouse, Berklee bassist Nate Hygelund, and 17-year-old drummer Paris Wright, a lineup thrown together for a hastily-scheduled European tour. Rouse dominates the first half as Monk continuously warms up, but it’s when guest drummer Philly Joe Jones bangs away on “Nutty” that Monk opens up all new dimensions and allows us a glimpse of the magic he once was. Before that he has a few awkward yet quirkily delightful key changes that the band has to adjust to, yet overall this is a man aged and fading, carried by his cohorts across the finish line. B PLUS (***)
MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING – Red Hot (Hot Cup): Group’s second album this year, a tribute to NO ragtime and 20’s/30’s honky-tonk, with stunning pianist Ron Stabinsky and bass trombonist David Taylor added to the lineup to brilliant effect, the first a keyboard chameleon and the second a solid sideman for Irabagon. Leader Moppa Elliot’s avant tendencies are more obvious given their chosen period’s traditional arrangements, a juxtaposition so jarring I shelved this for a long while. But I actually love it, not for irreverence’s sake but for a very direct spirit of sampling not found often enough in jazz. How many hip-hop artists have plucked clips from long-forgotten tunes and reworked them to dizzying effect? That’s what Elliot and crew do on “King of Prussia,” where between Kevin Shea’s anarchic drumming breaks and Stabinsky’s sampling of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and other rags trumpeter Peter Evans and saxman John Irabagon weave in and out of standard squawks and abstruse toots. Irabagon takes us on a sleazy sax romp through 12-bar blues “Gum Stump” and Stabinsky does his best McCoy Tyner on “Orange is the Name of the Town.” This troupe can delve into anything and come out on top, and considering their relative youth you’d think they could do this forever. But they can’t, so get it while you can. A MINUS