Jazz ensembles go beyond the skills of their leaders
Giovanni Moltoni (C#2 Music)
Matt Holman's Diversion Ensemble (bjurecords)
Like good athletic teams, the groups of Giovanni Moltoni and Matt Holman go far beyond the skills of their leaders. Guitarist Moltoni leads a quartet that is dominated in sound by Greg Hopkins' trumpet rather that of Moltoni's guitar. That might be because Hopkins's crisp tone sails above the quartet. The group is piano-less and, hence, quite light-sounding. Tunes like the trumpeter's ”Green Line” and the guitarist's “Just a Thought” have a post-modern freshness. “Prosser's Waltz” meets the lilting three-quarter time of its title but has more of a groove than most songs that bear that name.
Meanwhile, Holman's “When Flooded” features a quintet with a sound that owes much of its richness to the clarinet and bass clarinet of Mike McGinnis. The group sometimes has more the sound of a classical concert quintet than a jazz band, particularly on that andante “Tutti.” A muted Holman and McGinnis exchange bouncing eighth notes in “Tandem” to create a theme that arises from nothing. The rest of the instrumentation — Christopher Hoffman on cello, Nate Radley on guitar and Ziv Ravitz on drums and percussion — helps create the concert-ensemble sound.
— Bob Karlovits
‘Musica Para un Dragon Dormido'
Emilio Teubal (bjurecords)
Argentinian Emilio Teubal has created a jazz suite more than songs to fill an album with his “Musica Para un Dragon Dormido (Music for a Sleeping Dragon).” The nine pieces of the work for sextet are built around rather minimalist themes that grow through their solos rather than the tonal repetition some composers might use. It is like Philip Glass meets Dave Douglas. Sometimes, in back of a solo, the other members of the sextet offer thematic lines that create greater form than might be there. The clarinet solo of Dan Sadigursky on “The Constant Reinventor” and his sax work with Teubal on piano in “El Tema de Ludmilla” both make use of that form to create solos that are great parts of the composition. Sadigursky gives the sextet a strong voice, enriched by the cello of Erik Friedlander. With the composer on keyboards and piano and Moto Fukushima on six-string bass, the sextet takes on a versatile sound that varies as much as the nature of the pieces. It is a clever bit of writing that probably will not be enough jazz for many listeners. It is available Tuesday.
— Bob Karlovits
Kevin Eubanks (Mack Avenue)
Freed from the daily grind of “The Tonight Show,” guitarist Kevin Eubanks slows down to release his second CD. The set, with saxophonist Billy Pierce playing a key role, covers a broad palette of musical flavors from funk to folk, from Jeff Beck's rocking “Led Boots” to a worldly take on John Coltrane's “Resolution” (with the bass sung by Take 6's Alvin Chea.) The outing is surprisingly low-key, with four of 11 cuts in deep ballad mode. Eubanks, an heir to one of Philly's great musical clans — brothers Robin on trombone and Duane on trumpet appear here — is adept at making immediate connections with an audience. The L.A.-produced set could have gone so much mushier and commercial, but Eubanks keeps the standard high and ends up making a legit jazz session that both snarls and finds some beauty.
— Philadelphia Inquirer
‘Tooth & Nail'
Billy Bragg (Cooking Vinyl)
The first album in five years by the bard of Barking, Essex, is a largely subdued affair that plays to Billy Bragg's underrated strengths as a writer of tender, subtly revealing love songs. Bragg is best known as a political firebrand and the guy who collaborated with Wilco on the Woody Guthrie project “Mermaid Avenue.” “Tooth & Nail” is produced by Joe Henry and features a stellar band of backing musicians, including pedal-steel player Greg Leisz. The CD nods to both the firebrand and the musicologist in Bragg, with a downcast cover of Guthrie's “I Ain't Got No Home” and “There Will Be a Reckoning,” a vow that justice will one day come for the downtrodden. Alas, on that track, frankly, Bragg sounds enervated and ineffectual. That song and the Golden Rule positivity of “Do Unto Others” come off stale, but elsewhere, the 54-year-old song craftsman is effective in his middle-age comfort zone, whether pondering big issues in “No One Knows Nothing Anymore” or promising that he can compensate for his sorry home-improvement abilities with his skills with a guitar and pen in “Handyman Blues.”
— Philadelphia Inquirer
Depeche Mode (Columbia)
Strangely, British synth-pop's first — and, once, fussiest — hitmaker Depeche Mode has long had an obsession with Mississippi Delta music. As with previous albums, Dave Gahan musters a soulful falsetto and a gutsy baritone wail on “Delta Machine” to go with his deadpan monotone croon. Guitarist and primary composer Martin Gore likes his blues licks and gospel choirs, heard on dozy numbers such as “Slow” and “Goodbye.” Where “Delta Machine” veers from the past several Depeche Mode records is in its willingness to get dirty and creepy. After the rote bigness of the so-so “Heaven” and “Welcome to My World,” the rest is an oddball electronic dream. “Should Be Higher” is nu-doom-disco at its most delicious, with Gahan's tender lyrics toying with memories of his onetime addictions (“Your arms are infected/ they're holding the truth”). “My Little Universe” and “Soft Touch/Raw Nerve” toss around the timeworn sonic cliches of minimalist house, techno and industrial-tronics and come out victorious. And while Gore is still Depeche Mode's principal songwriter, Gahan gets several compositions into “Machine's” mix, each murkier and eerier than anything he has penned previously. Nice show of progress after 33 years in the synth biz.
— Philadelphia Inquirer
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival
- Country-rock duo Corbin/Hanner ending performance career
- Brecker, Warfield offer a brassy ‘Trumpet Story’
- Beyonce, Miley stand out at MTV Video Music Awards
- Kings of Leon cancels Pittsburgh concert