9 recent releases in random order…
Medeski Martin & Wood – Zaebos :: MMW had a song on 2003′s Unknown Masada compilation. That compilation is what I see to be the basis for the whole Masada Book Two set-up (other bands playing Zorn’s new Masada tunes). MMW don’t disappoint on the full-album workings of Masada tunes. While I think I like Secret Chiefs 3′s Xaphan and the Bar Kokhba Sextet’s Lucifer better from this year’s Masada Book Two crop, Zaebos does rocketh much. MMW also has something like 3 more CDs coming out this year… the 1st one due out today (Radiolarians 1) – - and I hope to pick it up at their Eugene gig in mid-November. I am curious about the sales numbers for Zaebos, as I think this is one of Tzadik’s more “mainstream artist” releases (very relatively speaking).
Ani DiFranco – Red Letter Year :: Glow in the dark moon on the front… nice. I also dig the chunky guitars in “Alla This,” a fav of mine from her concerts the past two years or so (recent review HERE). More band oriented, as well as a return to some horns on a few songs… a good move for Ani, IMO. I’ve only made it through the CD twice so far, but it doesn’t seem to have any filler. It’s good to hear the formerly only live tunes done up right in the studio. For a more in-depth review, check out my friend ZSS’s 8th Notes blog HERE.
SF Jazz Collective – Live 2008 :: SF Jazz Collective 2008 features Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, new MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón, and many other great modern jazz talents. The 2008 SF Jazz Collective features original compositions and compositions by Wayne Shorter. Originally planned as a 2-CD set to come out in July, it ended up being a 3-CD set getting bumped back to late Sept/early Oct. It was worth the wait… this is 3 hours of solid new jazz music and solid arrangements of Wayne Shorter’s classics. Favorites from each CD: “Aurora Borealis,” “Secrets of the Code,” and “Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Mitch Hedberg – Do You Believe in Gosh? :: A good remembrance of one of the funniest guys who used to like to stay at the hotel with the two trees. It’s only around 40 minutes, but it doesn’t contain many misses or duplicates from his prior offerings. Short, but sweet.
Hotel Lights – Firecracker People :: Darren Jesse (former drummer of Ben Folds Five) wrote one of the best songs on BFF’s final record (“Magic” from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner). In Hotel Lights, he takes up the guitar, piano, and songwriting torch and delivers from indie pop brilliance. Much mellower than BFF material, but in line with the aforementioned “Magic.” This is the Hotel Lights 3rd release… they’re on the indie Bar-None Records. Support indie music.
George Carlin – It’s Bad For Ya :: While he is missed, his legacy lives on. Brutally honest, or funny, or both. He pulls no punches, even at 70 years young.
The Tiptons Sax Quartet – Laws of Motion :: Yay, the Tiptons are coming back to Eugene in December. I got into them late last year, right after they played here. Four sax players, drums, and some great jazz meets world songs. They are based in Seattle… and I think Amy Denio has ties to the Monktail Creative Music Concern and/or Eyvind Kang. Anyway, the Tiptons are in good company. Their Tsunami CD from 2007 made a late entry into my instrumental favs of the year. Laws of Motion has a great shot for this year as well. Indie music alert… support indie music. Check ‘em out on CD Baby.
Ben Folds – Way To Normal :: While I wish I could have made it to the Ben Folds Five “Reinhold Messner” reunion show (sponsored by MySpace), I wish Ben Folds Five would just reunite for good. Alas, I suppose two albums by BFF alums in a span on one month isn’t so bad either (see Hotel Lights above). :) While this album is slightly not as solid as recent Ben Folds solo outings (or perhaps he’s just predictable for me nowadays), it’s still a good album. Maybe the super special edition b-sides from the overpriced special boxset fill the album in better. I wasn’t up for paying that kind of coin, though… I’m sure they’ll surface somewhere.
Yoshie Fruchter - Pitom :: One of the more “rock band” efforts in Tzadik’s “Radical Jewish Culture” series. Along with Zakarya & Jon Madof’s Rashanim, this is a welcome addition to the fold. Great guitars and great violin & viola as well. Grounded in Jewish music, yet soaring riffs. I’m looking forward to hearing more and more from this great band.