Bush Medicine

All sorts of big idea about how today's jazz fits into history and maybe into popular culture

ONE MORE: MUSIC OF THAD JONES
IPO

A bebopper who never got over his first love, big bands, Jones is remembered mostly for his compositions and arrangements, less so for his quirkily unpolished trumpet. After his death, his famous brothers, Hank and Elvin, recorded a loving tribute called Upon Reflection (Verve). With a dream band listed alphabetically from Bob Brookmeyer to Frank Wess, this one deserves a place on the same shelf. A MINUS

GREG OSBY
Channel Three
Blue Note

In 15 years on a major label, Osby has pursued all sorts of big ideas, especially about how today's jazz fits in history and might fit into popular culture, but his albums raised more problems than they resolved. This one delivers, largely because its ambitions are constrained within jazz itself. In a trio with bass and drums, Osby wants more than to show off his chops. He wants to make music that precludes any felt need for harmony. That would be old hat in the free world but demands uncommon discipline in the post-bop mainstream. A MINUS

HOUSTON PERSON
To Etta With Love
HighNote

That's Etta Jones, not James. While the songbooks overlap, and both did Billie Holiday tributes, Jones never played with dynamite. Nor does Person, who produced Jones's records from 1975 until her death in 2001, often adding his own soulful sax. On his own, he delivers the most poignant ballad album of a long career's worth of sax balladry—perhaps because he's got an excuse for picking sure-shot songs. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

JAVON JACKSON
Have You Heard
Palmetto

With his degree from Art Blakey's Hard Bop U. and a master's thesis on Joe Henderson, Jackson cut a series of mainstream tenor sax albums for Blue Note that started out impressive and wound down redundant. Since then he's tried to refashion himself as a soul jazzer with a dash of fun but fails at both. He doesn't have the grit to suggest he staggered into a bar straight from church, and sidekicks Dr. Lonnie Smith and Mark Whitfield don't have enough gravity to land on dirt. Lisa Fischer moans and hectors about it being "funky in here," but nobody in the band notices. C PLUS



Additional Consumer News Honorable Mention

TRIOT WITH JOHN TCHICAI
Sudden Happiness
TUM

As when Johnny Dyani's township jive bursts out of the dominant gray and ominous matrix.

THE NELS CLINE SINGERS
The Giant Pin
Cryptogramophone

No vocals, but the power trio plays heavy-metal jazz, replete with free drumming.

BENOIT DELBECQ UNIT
Phonetics
Songlines

Congo drums and piano dance polyrhythms with sax and viola textures.

FRED LONBERG-HOLM TRIO
Other Valentines
Atavistic

Cello-bass-drums, the leader solid and surprisingly mellow.

STEVE TURRE
The Spirits Up Above
HighNote

A robust mainstreaming of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but Kirk went further out than anyone here.

JAMES FINN TRIO
Plaza de Toros
Clean Feed

Living by his wits, with momentary flashes of Spanish bravado.

EUGENE CHADBOURNE
The Hills Have Jazz
Boxholder

Skewed guitar swings on Basie, hops on Coltrane, doodles on Sun Ra.

SHERMAN IRBY
Faith

Black Warrior

Faith, hope, charity, a fight for life that isn't a knee-jerk slogan.

DUO NUEVA FINLANDIA
Short Stories
TUM

Piano-bass improvs by Eero Ojanen and Teppo Hauta-aho, who've played together 40 years—tight, but never sweet.

KEELY SMITH
Vegas '58–Today
Concord

Louis Prima's straight lady steals his best songs, cops his best lines.

ROSENBERG/BAKER/HATWICH/DAISY
New Folk, New Blues
482 Music

Don't forget new new thing.

TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO
The Ground
ECM

Quiet, almost sedentary piano trio, but remarkably patient and precise.


Duds

BILL FRISELL
Richter 858
Songlines

DOUG WAMBLE
Bluestate
Marsalis Music/Rounder

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