Teamwork of saxophonist, drummer glows on disc
Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash
An album by a saxophonist and a drummer puts each musician in a demand ing spot. But Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash both are good enough musicians to handle the challenge. “Duologue” is a collection of 11 pieces that allows them to display their remarkable talents and understanding of each other. Recorded at the North Side's Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, it is made up of classics such as “Caravan” and two Thelonious Monk medleys, three originals by Wilson and even an all-drum version of “Freedom Jazz Dance.” The most amazing feature is the consistency of their play and how they never get in each other's way. “Jitterbug Waltz,” for instance, rolls along with each player presenting his look at the familiar melody, but with enough creativity to provide melodic freshness on each.
‘Around the Horn'
Tony Kadleck Big Band (Self-produced)
Arranger-trumpeter Tony Kadleck has done a job on “Around the Horn” that does not appear on many self-produced efforts. He has put together a big band that feature trumpeter Randy Brecker as its main guest as well as a selection the roll of New York City's jazz finest. With a crew featuring bassist David Finck, trombonist Michael Davis, saxophonists Andy Snitzer and Anthony Heick and pianist Mike Holober, Kadleck has a band that can produce a convincing sound. Kadleck's arrangements are not extraordinary, but they provide appropriate renditions of tunes that range from “What's Goin' On” and “Don't You Worry About a Thing” to Cannonball Adderley's “Wabash” and “I'm Getting Sentimental Over You.” The best outing, though, is “One Hand, One Heart,” which also includes quick references to other songs from “West Side Story.” Kadleck deserves credit for lifting a self-done project to a high level.
Lewis (Light In The Attic)
The artist is a mystery: Randall Wulff recorded 10 songs in Los Angeles in 1983 and released them on a privately pressed vinyl album under the pseudonym Lewis. The record went unnoticed until a collector in Edmonton, Canada, picked it up at a flea market in 2007 and heard something special. Now, “L'Amour” receives its first wide release, although no one has been able to track down Wulff himself.
The music is mysterious, too: slow, spare, soulful, seductive. Wulff sings these melancholy love songs in an intimate, drowsy croon, accompanying himself with minimal piano or guitar lines and backed by Philip Lees' spacey waves of synthesizer chords. It's outside of time and place: Wulff's contemporary Arthur Russell comes to mind, as does ours, James Blake. Vive L'Amour!
‘Trouble and Love'
Mary Gauthier (In The Black)
On the title song of “Trouble and Love,” Mary Gauthier confesses to having “a heart full of hurt.” Does she ever. But heartache can be a powerful muse, and a writer who has always cut close to the bone does so again as she chronicles the wrenching aftermath of a romantic breakup.
As usual, Gauthier builds her power through understatement. She sings terse and searingly precise lyrics in an almost soothing Louisiana drawl as the songs, set to sparse arrangements, unfold at a leisurely pace. “You sit there in the rubble till the rubble feels like home,” she sings on “How You Learn to Live Alone.” The track “Another Train” concludes this intensely focused song cycle on a hopeful, if not necessarily happy, note that feels as real as everything that has come before.
Brian Eno and Karl Hyde (Warp Records)
In the same way that there's no such thing as a terrible Pablo Picasso painting, it's hard to imagine Brian Eno releasing a record worthy of dismissal, let alone contempt.
Some of his 50-odd solo and collaborative albums may be more difficult than others. A few may require you abide by the composer's request that listeners experience them as background music. Still others, like “High Life,” his new collaboration with Underworld's Karl Hyde, succeed through monumental propulsion, more concerned with textures than with the gymnastic hooks of his early rock classics “Here Come the Warm Jets” and “Taking Tiger Mountain ... By Strategy.”
The best track, and an essential Eno work in the larger scheme, is “Lilac.” Describing a lilac door “made of something like light, but not,” the piece is nine-plus mesmerizing minutes that roll along the same speedy groove, a meditation that seems to fly by in seconds.
Trey Songz (Atlantic Records)
Six albums, in and making R&B hits almost seems too easy for Trey Songz.
He's got the vocals of a crooner with the swagger of a rapper, and on his latest release, “Trigga,” the heartthrob once again sends his sweet vocals soaring over a landscape of seductive beats, beautiful melodies and lyrics that beg to be repeated.
But Songz's latest set is missing something: growth. Shuffle through the tracks on “Trigga,” and, while there's plenty of fun, there's almost zero evidence that Songz's created something that would make his latest album more memorable than the five preceding it.