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Albums show brightness of Kurt Rosenwinkel's guitarwork

| Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 8:57 p.m.


‘Star of Jupiter'

Kurt Rosenwinkel (Word of Mouth Music)


Julian Shore, Kurt Rosenwinkel, et al. (Tone Rogue)

Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most creative musicians in jazz, offering great skill as a guitarist but even more impressive work as a composer and conceiver of sound. His double-album “Star of Jupiter” features 12 original works, only one of which has been recorded before. With a band that features Aaron Parks on keyboards and Eric Revis on bass, he offers work that includes an exotic “Gamma Band” and “Homage A'Mitch,” which is a 2012 look at the jazz of the 1990s. He keeps finding ways of making the new even newer. Throughout the full and rewarding album, he accompanies his guitar work with wordless vocal lines that seem a blend of Pat Metheny and George Benson. The music always varies greatly, such as the pensive “Under It All” and the greatly swinging “A Shifting Design,” which are back to back. Besides his own album, Rosenwinkel is a force on three tracks of “Filaments.” Named after the glow at the center of lightbulbs, “Filaments” offers another bright look at music. Pianist Julian Shore has composed a thoughtful group of 10 pieces, some with lyrics, some with wordless vocals. On it, he is joined by 10 musicians in various combinations, never reaching more than nine on any given track and most times a quartet with one or two singers. The three songs with lyrics are built around softly stated bits of poetry. Even the two tracks with horns do not shatter the mood. Noah Preminger takes a decent tenor sax solo on the pretty “Venus” and a three-piece horn section offers “Give” some drive without making it forceful. Both of these albums are built around new forms of jazz that will not please those dedicated to standards. But it does show how freshness keeps music alive.

— Bob Karlovits


Brian Eno (Warp)

Brian Eno has always been a musical intellectual, going back to his days as the glam-rock architect who made the first Roxy Music albums delightfully weird. “Lux” finds Eno working in the ambient genre that he created, a lineage that includes 1975's “Discreet Music,” 1978's “Ambient 1: Music For Airports” and 1993's “Neroli.” This is music that melts into the background, deliberately and beautifully.

“Lux” contains four parts, each just under 20 minutes, each built on slowly dissolving keyboard notes, pinging gently in spacious washes of atmospheric drones. It's abstract, nearly formless, very spacey. The precisely articulated tones reward careful listening — it's a headphone album — but the music also is very soothing, and if it puts you to sleep, well, for an album like this, that's a valid measure of success.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

‘Cobra Juicy'

Black Moth Super Rainbow (Rad Cult)

On Black Moth Super Rainbow's fifth album, “Cobra Juicy,” the Pittsburgh-bred ensemble revisits ground they first broke in 2003, when they first began to create an unsettling, endearing blend of psychedelic pop, BBC-esque library music and freak-folk. Under the leadership of sometime solo artist Tobacco, “Cobra Juicy” sees the band retaining its electronic and psych influences, but with more focus on pop melodies. “Ganges in the Garden” is an electroclash/disco bit in the vein of Scissor Sisters, while the closing track, “Spraypaint,” is a wistful, radio-ready love song Air Supply would have recorded had expletives been a part of their vocabulary. While BMSR's past albums had their fair share of apocalyptic and creepy melodies, “Cobra Juicy” sees the band a bit more aggressive, demonstrated in the compelling and animalistic “Hairspray Heart.” This uneasy balance of wistful ballads and Nine Inch Nails leaves “Cobra Juicy” lacking cohesion, even as many tunes are individually strong.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

‘Spring and Fall'

Paul Kelly (Gawd Aggie)

How good is Paul Kelly? Earlier this year, the Australian released here in the States “The A to Z Recordings,” an eight-CD career summation, presented in live, mostly unplugged performances, that highlights the remarkably sustained high quality of his vast body of work. And he's not done. The new “Spring and Fall” is a song cycle with richness that belies the prosaic title. It starts with the blossoming of love in “New Found Year” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Then the bloom begins to fade, and the set concludes with the autumnal air of “None of Your Business Now” and “Little Aches and Pains.” As usual, everything is exquisitely understated, from the acoustic-textured folk-rock arrangements to Kelly's vocals, letting the depth and power of the songs and performances cast a spell slowly but inexorably.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

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