Shine Balls

Tricky pitches to baffle the bluocracy; "beatable items" to aid the swing

Zentralquartett
11 Songs—Aus Teutschen Landen
Intakt

These German volkslieder themes recall medieval dances and marches with the spritz of circus music, but the razzle-dazzle is in the way the avant-jazz group tears them up and tosses them around. Conrad Bauer, who mangles trombone as gruffly as anyone since Albert Mangelsdorff, is the main perpetrator, with piano, reeds, and drums getting their share of the action. A MINUS


DUD OF THE AGES

Kenny G
The Essential Kenny G [1986–2004]
Arista/Legacy

With 30 million records sold, G is by far the most popular, and most hated, man in jazz, if you even grant him that categorization. His degree was in business, and his skill with contracts achieved such coups as his duet to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"—sacrilege to those who ignore how crappy the original strings are. And he certainly knows niche marketing. But his greatest breakthrough has been in brain chemistry, where he's discovered neurons that, when stimulated by his unnaturally pretty soprano sax, cause some people intense pain and others mild anesthetic pleasure. Exempt from either reaction, I'm left disinterestedly analyzing his craft, and concluding he's a mere hack. C


Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION

Trio 3: Oliver Lake/Reggie Workman/Andrew Cyrille
Time Being
(Intakt)
Journeymen on jazz's leading edge, a hundred collective man years in the trade and they've never sounded more like themselves.

NOW Orchestra & Marilyn Crispell
Pola
(Victo)
Coat Cooke's Vancouver-based free ensemble are provincial enough to feel the need to keep the anarchy intact, even when their guest breaks out.

Batagraf
Statements
(ECM)
Short phrases or pregnant words like blowback offset by percussion and fragmented sound effects.

Johnny Valentino
Stingy Brim
(Omnitone)
Postmodern guitarist picks from the past—organ trios, Italian roots, the days when tuba ruled bass.

Dave Burrell/Billy Martin
Consequences
(Amulet)
Old pianist shows young drummer what real percussion is all about.

Carl Maguire
Floriculture
(Between the Lines)
Tricky compositions, all the harder to pull off after Monk took the low-lying fruit.

Michael Musillami's Dialect
Fragile Forms
(Playscape)
Guitarist Musillami dares pianist Peter Madsen to bust them up.

Helen Sung Trio
Helenistique
(Fresh Sound New Talent)
Overachieving mainstream pianist tackles the standards and writes one herself.

Trio-X
Moods: Playing With the Elements
(CIMP)
Your basic Joe McPhee—free as a bird, equally adept on sax and trumpet.

Erik Truffaz
Saloua
(Blue Note)
Trumpet-frosted jazztronica with trans-Mediterranean rap—lessons for Israelites and Ishmaelites alike.

Unexpected
Plays the Blues in Need
(Fresh Sound New Talent)
Pianist Sergi Sirvent's trio twists Monk for old and new needs.

Industrial Jazz Group
Industrial Jazz a Go Go!
(Evander Music)
Andrew Durkin's big band unveils new models—Dion, Elmore James, Pérez Prado, Oliver Nelson.

Dave Frishberg
Retromania: At the Jazz Bakery
(Arbors)
Plays piano and sings, mostly about baseball players from his youth and further back, especially names rhyming with Van Lingle Mungo.

Randy Sandke and the Metatonal Big Band
The Subway Ballet
(Evening Star)
Only in New York can you imagine each subway stop as a dance and find a big band to orchestrate it all.

Buck Hill
Relax
(Severn)
The mailman always delivers, even when he takes his sweet time.

Dom Minasi The Vampire's Revenge (CDM)
One bite too many from Anne Rice, but when your friends are the Who's Who of the underworld, you get amazing guest solos.


DUDS

Randy Brecker w/Michael Brecker
Some Skunk Funk
(Telarc)

Larry Goldings
Quartet
(Palmetto)

The Ed Palermo Big Band
Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
Cuneiform

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