|home shopping cart my account wish list gifts help|
|Gift Certificates | Bargain Bin | Columns & Reviews | In-Stores | Links|
Primmís Whims - 2000
For the last several years, I have issued a listing of records that I listened to most frequently during the course of the year. While not intending to present a critique of the best new, or reissued releases, Primmís Whims simply reflects what moved me musically that particular year and what I found myself listening to over and over again. (you will notice that 2000 was not a great year for me in terms of new music although I do enjoy U2ís new album, Paul Simonís new one and Wynton Marsalis 7 disc Live at The Village Vanguard among others) I hope that you enjoy these musings and are inspired to explore the music yourself.
Lets begin with a sad fact - According to The New York Times only 3% of the music buying public listens to or consumes jazz,(classical is a notch above at 3 1/2 %) which astounds me, so I will start with a couple of jazz records which according to the stats most overlooked.
Lew Soloff - with a song in my heart
A 1998 recording, "with a song in my heart" is a minor masterpiece of the Harmon muted trumpet. I have always been attracted to musicians who speak volumes through silence, or the notes that they donít play. On this set Soloff, Pianist Mulgrew Miller and the crack rhythm section of Bassist George Mraz and drummer Victor Lewis offer a beautiful recital of tranquil and emotionally introspective performances that quietly burn and swing. Much more than a Prestige period Miles Davis ripoff, Soloff weaves a sensual and intimate spell throughout. From the opening notes of the Mercer-Arlen chestnut "Come Rain or Come Shine" to the stunning Sinatra tearjerker "Iím a Fool to Want you" Soloff transports the listener to his inner world through spellbinding improvisation and group interplay.
Paul Desmond - Live
Verve is quietly reissuing some terrific A&M jazz records including this great live set from Desmond recorded in a club in Canada in 1975.The mid seventies was a fertile and interesting period for jazz. Fusion was a crossover success and major labels were signing and releasing recordings from straight ahead players such as Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz and Jim Hall in hopes that the music would appeal to the rock fans who dug fusion. A&M under the auspices of the great jazz producer John Synder created the Horizon imprint, a series of beautifully annotated recordings from the likes of Hall, Mel Lewis and Desmond. The distinctive alto is introduced by the tingling of an ice cube in a cocktail and you are locked in to the uniquely elegant sound that only Desmond produced. "Live" features a sympathetic rhythm section of Canadaís finest including the great guitarist Ed Bickert, and stands as one of Desmondís best late period recordings. Desmond and mates gently find a comfortable groove in the key of E-flat concert, weaving their way through "Things Ainít What They Used to Be", "Wendy" and a fresh rendering on "Take Five" which like many of the tunes was improvised in the club. It has been said that Desmond seems to whisper into the horn, never saying a word. "Live" is all about small group interplay and quiet intensity, and continually rewards the attentive listener.
Brian Wilson- Live at The Roxy
Dennis Wilson- Pacific Ocean Blue
The Beach Boys- Sunflower/ Surfs Up
I will admit it I worship in the house of Brian, and 1999 was stellar with the spring release of Live At The Roxy, an energetic and heartfelt career overview performed by a stumbling and utterly charming Brian and his large band of Wondermint/Poi Dog pondering disciples. Until I Die with its vibes laden intro and prayer like vocals is the highlight, but gems abound including Pet Sounds, Surfer Girl, Lets Go Away for Awhile and Brianís hilarious spoken intros. Happy to have you back Brian!
Dennis Wilson, the only real surfer in the band was the underrated soul man whose songs were largely overshadowed by Brianís during his short, tragic career. Pacific Ocean Blue released in the late 70s is a minor masterpiece, beautifully orchestrated and arranged. The majestic River Song opens with a wall of sound approach indicating that Dennis listened to and observed Brian closely throughout the years. You and I is a stunning charmer and the ghost-like Farewell My Friend harkens to Dennisís tragic drug induced drowning. Dennis was an intellectual and sensual explorer, much like Gram Parsons, whose influence will be forever felt.
Finally, Sunflower and Surfs Up the first Brother Records releases from The Beach Boys after they broke away from Capitol in 1969 have been reissued in stunning sound as a twofer. Sunflower is one of the great albums of all time (in my opinion) and was rich with all of Brianís studio wizardry, and terrific contributions from the entire band. Dennisís Got to know the Woman is soul music as good as it gets, Brianís This Whole World is a pop gem, and the singing of the Boys is first rate throughout. (Add Some Music to your Day). The vocal arrangement on Forever will make you cry. Surfs Up is not as consistently strong but nonetheless features the last masterpiece Brian wrote, Until I Die and great songs like Surfs Up, Feel Flows, and Carl Wilsonís inspiring Long Promised Road. As the 70s dawned, The Boys fell out of public favor but in fact went on to become a pioneering world band when they added South Africans Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Faatar to the touring group. I was fortunate to see the group in 1970 at the Arena Annex and it was as exciting an evening of Rock n roll as I can remember. Carl and The Passions, Holland, and Love You (great liners by Peter Buck) are other recent reissues worth seeking out.
Geoff Muldaur- Password
Hereís a performer who emerged out of the folk movement in the early 60s, went on to stints with The Jim Kweskin Jug band and The Blues Project, married and teamed up with Maria Muldaur, released several timeless albums (Pottery Pie, Mud Acres et.al) and then dropped out for 20 years before re-emerging in 1999 with the terrific album The Secret Handshake. Password features Muldaurís trademark distinctive vibrato-laden vocals, eclectic taste and timeless takes on old country blues, folk and other obscurities. His is a very personal style that draws you in. You will rediscover beautiful songs like Eric Von Schmidtís Light Rain, Charlie Pattonís Some of these days (Iíll Be Gone) , and the hauntingly serene western, Prairie Lullaby. You will be mesmerized listening to this record and connected to the vibrant scene that evolved from Harry Smithís Folkways recordings that influenced the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Anderson and Muldaur.
Bud Shank- by request, Bud Shank meets the rhythm section
Fantasy Records Todd Barkan and Makato Kimata have quietly released several terrific albums over the last several years including the aforementioned Lew Soloff recording,(with a song in my heart) McCoy Tynerís Prelude and Sonata, and this wonderful set from altoist Bud Shank supported by the stellar rhythm section of pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist George Mraz, and the great drummer, Lewis Nash .Shank, long a mainstay of the West Coast cool sound has become a burning bebopper and the playing here is first rate. He is one of those guys like Getz and Zoot and Al Cohn who never get their due (a little reverse racism maybe?) but are marvels of emotion and masters of their craft.
I listened to much more over the course of the year, but these are keepers, little gems that you may have overlooked.