Muscling Up and Rocking Out

Some get by with subtlety, but thrashing ferocity works great too

Frank Wright
Unity [1974]
ESP-Disk

A saxophonist so far out he would have slipped by unrecorded were it not for ESP's "only the artist decides" philosophy. But two 1965-67 albums registered his name, and occasionally a live tape surfaces, such as this one from the Moers Festival. It builds on a terrific rhythm section: Bobby Few's crashing piano, Alan Silva's volcanic bass, and on drums, Rashied Ali's brother, appropriately named Muhammad. Wright always brought the noise, and in the end even rocks out. A MINUS


DUD OF THE MONTH

Turtle Island String Quartet
A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane
Telarc

The title suite has lately lost its untouchable status, but nowhere else has it been so trivialized. Jimmy Garrison's signature bass line barely registers on cello, and the violins can't lead at all. With the last two movements reduced to 2:44 and 2:47, all they acknowledge is a lack of ideas. And the disc doesn't let you off easy, slogging on to 64:17 with standard fare like "Naima" and "My Favorite Things"–no chance hoping for "Ascension" just to hear them croak.


Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION

The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project
Simpático [ArtistShare]
A steady stream of bubbly percussion, tasty alto sax, and bright trumpet.

Vittor Santos
Renewed Impressions [Adventure Music]
Trombone samba, the rapid-fire puffs muscling up sly rhythms and flighty melodies.

Carneyball Johnson
Carneyball Johnson [Akron Cracker]
Rubber City lounge lizards, hold the tango.

Anat Fort
A Long Story [ECM]
Slow, with a soft piano cushion for Perry Robinson's jagged clarinet.

Gordon Grdina's Box Cutter
Unlearn [Spool/Line]
Vancouver guitarist propels François Houle's clarinets through a world-beat maze.

Joel Frahm
We Used to Dance [Anzic]
A tenor-sax lover's album modeled on Stan Getz, with three-fourths of his late quartet.

Anat Cohen & the Anzic Orchestra
Noir [Anzic]
Israeli-Brazilian big band struts with some barbecue.

BassDrumBone
The Line Up [Clean Feed]
Short for Mark Helias, Gerry Hemingway, and Ray Anderson, a trio dating back to 1979, hard again.

Bob French
Marsalis Music Honors Bob French
[Marsalis Music/Rounder]
Even post-Katrina, what worked for Papa Celestin works for his heir.

Jerry Granelli/V16
The Sonic Temple: Monday and Tuesday
[Songlines]
Twin-guitar group does eight-song set twice, first night more daring, second bluesier–just like life.

Satoko Fujii/Natsuki Tamura
In Krakow in November [Not Two]
Stripped down to piano-trumpet duets, where parry and joust waxes and wanes.

Uri Caine Ensemble
Plays Mozart [Winter & Winter]
Or plays with, like a cat with a rat.

Russell Malone
Live at Jazz Standard: Volume One
[MaxJazz]
In a different venue, could be Smolderin' at the Half Note.

Les DeMerle
Cookin' at the Corner, Vol. 1 [Origin]
Small-time Louis Prima type–Bonnie Eisele is his Keely Smith, but he gets the best laugh with "Bennie's From Heaven."

Michael Brecker
Pilgrimage [Heads Up]
Impending death focuses the mind, thaws the heart, brings out the best in friends.

Carl Allen & Rodney Whitaker
Get Ready [Mack Avenue]
Motown rhythm guys keep the quiet storm loose and limber.


Duds

John Abercrombie
The Third Quartet [ECM]
Subtle and self-effacing, hiding behind Mark Feldman's violin.

Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa
Raw Materials [Savoy Jazz]
Rough, unfinished, ill-fitting duets.

Wynton Marsalis
From the Plantation to the Penitentiary
[Blue Note]
As viewed from the penthouse.

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