29 December 2007

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago


[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2, #3 #5 ,#6-9, #77 & 78, #79, #80&81); Mule; Widespread Panic #1 (& 'ween 97); The Duo; Robert Randolph HORDE 92 (i.e. Phish #4, WSP #1)]

Tis the season to get nostalgic. In fact, it was NYE season last year when Nedstalgia made its debut on this blog, as I looked back on Panic's '96 Fox Theater run. But let's not get nostalgic for nostalgia. Today it's long, incoherent rambling on the 97 Phish-at-MSG that sets the gold standard for New Year's runs.

The music is out there readily, in fact, the 29th [10 years ago tonight!] is officially available from the band in both audio and video. So no downloads from me today. In fact, these shows have probably been poured over by even the casual Phish fan, so I'll keep it short and will forgo any dep delving into the music itself.

The three nights were all completely different experiences for us: the music and vibe of the room was a lot different for each show and that was characterized for us personally by where we were sitting and who we were hanging out with. It was like all our different Phish worlds not-quite-colliding, but brushing up against each other.

The first night we caught up with a "tour buddy." Of course, there were lots of people I saw regularly at Phish shows, but while I enjoyed their company at shows more or less, it really was nothing more than that. Our friend, Al, though was different and it was always great to see him and spend a show or two hanging out... preferably in the front row, of course. But not on 12/29/97. We were up on the side, decent view, decent sound, but... you know. There was a definite "settling in" vibe to the first set with very little of that whacked out funktronic sound that had bullied its way to the forefront during the fall tour... but a nice appearance of Fluffhead and a hot Antelope closer set the stage.

Set the stage for what? It's my general opinion, stated multiple times here, that the fall 97 tour>spring 98 was the ultimate peak Phish. Not that things weren't brilliant before or after, but as a grand aggregate of what the band was doing, the tippity top of it all was going on exactly ten years ago. We can point to many examples, I detailed the sick-as-shit Hampton run as one but if you're just looking for one set to "say it all," so to speak, the second set of 12/29/1997 probably sums it up as good as any, or better than most, I should say. It's well worth a few bucks for the SBD's, so go ahead and grab those... I'll wait. Long jams are a dime-a-dozen in the Phish portfolio, but these were deep, intense, 4-guys-on-a-rope jams that went places. Went places, came back and then went somewhere else. And damn, was it funky. Not lazy grooves, either, but pure "my body's a-dancin'"/"my mind's a racin'" everyjams. The rare evening when it wasn't about Trey at all -- Mike and Page and Fishman leading the charge, making things happen, laying down one helluva groove.

Madison Square Garden was a Phish room -- one of many out there, for sure -- not just a venue but a home. A place where the band would move in, redecorate and make their own. Abode. Domicile. And the invitation was an open one, because it was always going to be a party when they unpacked their suitcases at 34th and 7th. I don't know if that was ever more true than during the NYE97 shows there and this set was the dinner portion of the party, the delicious feast of sight and sound that would fuel the rest of the weekend... well actually, the shows were Mon, Tue, Wed, but you get the idea....

The 30th found us hanging out with a couple of good college friends. Guys I'd seen many shows with, yeah, but more importantly sat and listened to hundreds of hours of music with. If I took a good chunk of my CD collection I wouldn't be able to remember which ones I recommended to them and which they recommended to me. So we were sitting around pre-show on 12/30/1997 talking about the grand state of the Phish experience at that time, the majesty of the previous night's table-setter and, of course, setting up our expectations for the 30th. It seems like the night-before-the-night is always the night (I know I speak for all of us when I say that 12/30/1993 was a special, special show), so we had no trouble ratcheting up our hopes. My buddy Jon was singing the praises of "Carini" and we all agreed we'd love to hear it. The way I remember the anecdote, in the midst of this I blurted out something like "You know what would be a perfect tune to bust out tonight? Sneakin Sally" Maybe it was someone else, but we all were in total agreement and probably within a minute of that, the lights went down, the chills perked in every hair on my body and the band launched into the long-shelved "Sneakin Sally." Fuck yeah!

The legend of 12/30/1997 is, no doubt, greater than the show itself, which is saying something. Because it was one helluva show. All around, it undoubtedly was the keeper of the 3 nights, although nothing approached the playing of the 2nd set from the night prior. This was the sloppy/silly/nutty show. The playing wasn't anything to behold, but the spectacle, the grandness of what Phish is/was was on display on that night like it rarely is. Every time you bought a ticket and stepped into a Phish show, you always knew there was the potential that the red button would be pressed and the always magical molecules of the band would rend open releasing some sort of mushroom cloud of... of something. The potential was always there, but rarely was it manfiest and rarely was it so fucking out there like it was on the 30th.

The second set was a long blur of tripped out psychotic energy. It started with the frenetic chords of AC/DC Bag and peaked in a Harpua story that was so long and whacked out that it kind of rendered all the music previous irrelevant. I can only imagine what kind of sauce inspired Trey's tale of watching Lost In Space as a kid and the weird through the looking glass interactions he had with the television in his room one day. I do know that olive loaf was involved prominently and that the story was drawn out to an uncomfortable length and featured Tom Marshall singing "500 Miles." It was the kind of lull that rivaled the Ken Kesey episode from the summer previous -- the kind of mid-show diversion that only Phish could pull off.

The story went so long that it seemed like by the time the band got back to finishing up Harpua that the set would end then and there. I remember feeling incredibly disappointed that a set that had started with so much promise would fizzle like that with the crowd dampened from shaking their collective booty to shrugging "WTF!?!" glances at each other. Of course, never underestimate a band in the zone... and circa 12/1997, Phish was in the zone like no band I've ever seen. Not only did they not finish the set then, they didn't finish it with the eminently set-closable Izabella... or the hot, slinky Harry Hood, or the how-could-they-close-with-this-shit? My Soul... or even the climactic Sleeping Monkey that came after all that. Holy mackerel, they just about packed an entire tour's worth of set-closers in a whack-a-mole set closing stretch that didn't end until they melted down in a gunsablazin' Guyute.

At that point, the show was a worthy one. Not just as a good Phish show, but a night befitting a New Year's Run in the midst of the band's triumphant all-powerful state. Quick encore and let's go home for a good rest, right? Well, not exactly. With the curfew pretty much eclipsed by that moment, the band did another one of those zig-replacing zags and, knowing that they'd already be paying late-fines for the tight-ship MSG workers on duty, decided to claim victory in their defeat and announced that they'd be playing until New Year's Eve. What ensued was an absurdly long encore that started with the much-desired Carini to shock the Garden into submission. Man, that was hot. It was a "listen up!" encore, a statement that no matter how great things had been, how crazy they had gotten, how deep the jamming had been, how fucking rocking they had rocked, there was always more. Always. There was always another song that could take it one step further. Another jam which could enlighten you that much further. A deeper funk that would make you dance that much more inhumanely. That was all there in that Carini.

But there was so much more as practically another full set of music unfolded, the Carini not being quite sufficient for the band, they smoothly transitioned into the funk-of-the-times "Black Eyed Katy" and turned the entirety of Madison Square Garden into a dance party. The crowd was liquid. Not water, but liquid mercury, measuring the band's temperature and rising with each degree, pushing the top of the glass. I knew at that point I could go all night if I had to.

Oh to bottle and save what the band was brewing those nights! The Carini giving way to the Katy, the Katy impossibly making it's way into a reprise of Sneaking Sally. Like they had planned it all along. It was so perfect that it was almost too perfect. Had they planned it all along? Did they know Trey was going to babble incoherently in the middle of Harpua and that this would clear the path for the ultra-encore that ensued? Making the entire night one crazy Dagwood sandwich. Phish was a movie director setting up a long tracking shot that seems impossible but that's choreographed completely, not just that night, but maybe the whole Phish thing, from a dorm room in Burlington they had mapped things out to that very moment and beyond, well beyond...

Was that the end? Did they leave us with a funky goodbye? Of course not, they went on. There was no need for anything else at that point, it was absurdity, total engorement, the band and the audience would need to stick fingers down their throats to make room for any more music the following night (let alone three sets), but as it always was for Phish, the slope was a slippery one and once they decided to bite, they had no choice but to bite off as much as they could chew. So, the encore continued with a Frankenstein that felt right. Loud, rollicking, deep -- it was a great choice and one no one in the crowd could have foreseen. And yet it still wasn't enough, because what we got was a whacked out, this-is-your-brain-on-drugs version of Frankenstein, like this was the Peter Boyle version, not the Boris Karloff one. Long, trippy middle section of swirling sound -- samples and feedback loops and then finally, the utter capper of all cappers, a totally misplaced are-you-fucking-kidding-me vacuum solo from Fishman in the middle of the middle of the end of one of the crazier encores I've ever seen.

Of course, it came to an end. It had to at some point. Holy shit!

New Year's Eve proper had no chance after all that. After a top ten all time second set on the 29th and the throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks craziness of the 30th, what could they possibly do on the 31st? We actually had pretty good tickets for the 31st, as we had waited out (w/ Oopy of course) all night at a Ticketmaster outlet way, way, way uptown (in Inwood) which is probably one of the last times I ever waited to buy tickets from an actual outlet in my life. But we were greedy and we inched our way up front. The security guard on the rail in "the spot" was someone we recognized from MSG 10/96 shows and I knew he could be had for a little cash, which is so not my style, but heck, it was New Year's Eve and we wanted to hang out on the rail in front of Trey without sweating it, so I slipped him a little something and we were set for the night. My brother & his buddy ended up joining us and so the trifecta of showmates was complete with a little family. Actually, it was the four of us in the car to my 2nd Phish show and their 1st (remembered here), so good times all around.

The show opened strong with a second-ever appearance by that nasty Emotional Rescue, but it never quite got there. There were moments, of course, I think the playing was superb and probably surpassed the previous night, I enjoyed the crap out of it, but it doesn't live on in the mind like the nights that preceded it. The coolest thing was realizing at midnight that it was all planned out, to some extent -- all the crazy shit that Trey had been talking about in the Harpua narrative, the stuff that sounded like he was pulling it straight out his puckered anus, made an appearance in the form of these crazy ass gigantic balloons that fell from the ceiling at midnight... even the olive loaf. The post-midnight Tweezer that had Trey jamming in a trance while watching this calvacade of balloons pouring into the crowd and making their way on stage was pretty sweet, though. Mid-soloing, Trey would pop the balloons that came his way with the neck of his guitar which was the kind of cool-dorky thing that he pulled off quite well.

Man, those were good times.

Coming soon: 15 year remembrances of my first New Years eve music.

28 December 2007

Shows of the Year

First, a programming note: there will be no mix today. Sometime before the end of the year I'll have a mega year-end mix or two to share, so be on the look-out for that. Should be some good old fashioned NYE Nedstalgia coming out of the old cranky generator as well this weekend, then get ready for the Freaks Ball VIII blitz (did I mention 2/9/2008, Brooklyn, all OTW readers cordially invited/urged/etc.).

Anyhoo...

Saw my 70th show of the year last night (The Word, reviewed here in case you missed it) in 47 different rooms, spending about $1000 give-or-take for the pleasure. Amazingly, I think I reviewed, in one way or another, almost all of them. The question is: did you read them all??

My MVP's of the year: Jenny Scheinman & St. Vincent who I both saw like 4 or 5 times each and was knocked out pretty much every time. Give it up for the lovely ladies of good music.
Runners up:
Midlake, Apollo Sunshine, Marco Benevento.

Subtracting a few that don't quite fit in as such, here's how I'd rate 'em, with links to the reviews for your reading pleasure (in lieu of any comments) (shows in Manhattan unless otherwise noted). I think I saw less than 5 shows I'd say were "bad" for one reason or another. So these are all just degrees of "sick!" I'm getting decent at picking them in my old age.

  1. 14-16 September Austin City Limits Festival @ Zilker Park Austin, TX
  2. 27 January Apollo Sunshine, Chris Harford & The Band of Changes, The Dansettes @ Southpaw Brooklyn, NY
  3. 30 August Bustle In Your Hedgerow @ Temptress Cruise Ship
  4. 9 February Midlake, St. Vincent, The Czars @ Bowery Ballroom
  5. 29 March Do Make Say Think, Berg Sans Nipple, Elliott Brood @ Bowery Ballroom
  6. 7 December Bar Kokhba @ Abrons Arts Center
  7. 22 July Widespread Panic @ Bethel Woods, Bethel, NY
  8. 30 November Andrew Bird, Glenn Kotche @ Beacon Theater
  9. 19 October Sex Mob @ The Stone
  10. 7 December Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar
  11. 30 September Iron & Wine, Arthur & Yu @ Town Hall
  12. 26 June Wilco @ Warsaw, Brooklyn, NY
  13. 19 October Marco Benevento @ Joe's Pub
  14. 28 April Rose Hill Drive @ Mercury Lounge
  15. 7 June Emergency Party @ Piano's
  16. 5 May Shanir Blumenkranz Ensemble, Masada String Trio @ Abrons Arts Center
  17. 16 May !!!, Holy Fuck @ Bowery Ballroom
  18. 7 June The Sea and Cake , Loney, Dear @ Webster Hall
  19. 18 July St. Vincent, Scout Niblett @ Bowery Ballroom
  20. 14 May Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes, Brooklyn, NY
  21. 4-5 August Newport Folk Festival @ Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI
  22. 27 December The Word @ Terminal 5
  23. 12 June Akron/Family @ Bowery Ballroom
  24. 9 March Benevento/Mathis/Dillon @ Tap Bar
  25. 15 February The Arcade Fire @ Judson Memorial Church
  26. 1 April Widespread Panic @ Palace Theater, Albany, NY
  27. 23 January The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard
  28. 9 March Masada, Cecil Taylor AHA 3 Trio @ Rose Theater
  29. 7 December Frisell/Carter/Motian @ Blue Note
  30. 20 July Widespread Panic @ Radio City Music Hall
  31. 24 May Apollo Sunshine @ Half Moon Cruise Ship
  32. 16 October Circuitbreaker @ Zebulon, Brooklyn, NY
  33. 29 June Todd Sickafoose's Blood Orange @ 55 Bar
  34. 16 October Jenny Scheinman @ barbes, Brooklyn, NY
  35. 18 July Marc Ribot @ World Financial Center
  36. 5 January Fiery Furnaces, Emergency Party @ Northsix, Brooklyn, NY
  37. 10 April Phil Lesh & Friends @ SOB's
  38. 9 March Anders Osborne @ Lion's Den
  39. 30 June The Bad Plus @ Highline Ballroom
  40. 19 January Rotary Downs, Amandla@ Tap Bar
  41. 13 February Jenny Scheinman @ barbes, Brooklyn, NY
  42. 28 October The Go! Team, Effi Briest, Heartsrevolution @ Studio B, Brooklyn, NY
  43. 11 August Galactic, Jon Cleary, Soul Rebels @ Summerstage
  44. 19 October Band of Horses, The Maccabees @ Blender Theater
  45. 4 July The New Pornographers, Midlake, Battery Park
  46. 19 April Benevento/Russo Duo @ Knitting Factory
  47. 28 February Doug Wamble @ Tonic
  48. 5 February Cat Power, Tan Or Boil @ Hiro Ballroom
  49. 23 June Eric Lindell @ Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY
  50. 29 June Emergency Party, Sounds of Greg D @ Luna Lounge, Brooklyn, NY
  51. 24 January Cold War Kids, Illinois @ Mercury Lounge
  52. 29 June Sam Champion @ South Street Seaport
  53. 18 April Ratatat @ Webster Hall
  54. 1 March Old Knit 20th Birthday @ Town Hall
  55. 28 February Apollo Sunshine, Vampire Weekend @ The Annex
  56. 28 April Previte/Benevento @ Swing Space
  57. 19 April St. Vincent, John Vanderslice @ Mercury Lounge
  58. 4 May Hopewell, La Laque @ Luna Lounge, Brooklyn, NY
  59. 9 November Children of the Unicorn, Young Woods @ Blender Theater
  60. 18 April Bill Frisell Sextet @ Village Vanguard
  61. 10 November Menomena @ Webster Hall
  62. 21 June Ollabelle @ Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY
  63. 9 November Care Bears on Fire @ Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY
  64. 19 January Big Sam's Funky Nation @ Lion's Den

Review: The Word

Terminal 5, 27 December 2007

It's amazing how little "jam" music I see these days. Part of it is my drifting personal preferences, but really, how much truly "jam" music is still out there? Once not too long ago, you couldn't go a mile in Tribeca without tripping over a 15 minute Zappa-tinged noodlefest, now there are few bands willing to wear the jamband badge with pride, let alone quality, laid back rooms in which they can ply their wares. But the jam is still out there and last night I was taken by surprise when the reunited The Word blasted two sets of that old time, no-direction-but-up jam-o-rama.

The Word, for the uninitiated, is the boys from North Mississippi All Stars, Jon Medeski and Robert Randolph ostensibly playing House of God-style gospel music. But really, as they reminded me last night, songs are just a suggestion and a starting point and it's never quite clear where the music will go. The show at Terminal 5 last night embodied all the best traits of the traditional jam band -- full-on instrumental music; tight rhythm section allowing the front men to just let loose; great interaction between the musicians; charging, climactic back-and-forth with dueling guitars; deep, dark, bubbling mysteries of keyboards that seem to control the purple and green lights swirling around the stage; instrument changes and washboard solos; tight talented licks rubbing shoulders with sloppy, silly fun; covers of both the goofy and kick-ass variety; wild excursions that temporarily left reality behind or better yet, redefined reality for just a short bit; etc, etc.

I was most impressed with Robert Randolph last night, which was a bit of a surprise and I guess a surprise that it would be a surprise. There are two ways you can be the "leader" of a band -- you can be a front man, front and center, with a backing band who is there to support you while you do your thing. This guy usually has his name on the band and there are many examples: Clapton, Santana, Derek Trucks, etc. The first go-around with the Word had Randolph being this type of guy, the band -- all A-grade veterans themselves -- ceded control to the young gun and let him do his thing. The second type is the guy who knows he is one part of a whole, he is a player/coach who leads his team to victory not by taking all the shots, but by passing the ball around to get the best possible chance to score: Miles, Zorn, Anastasio. Maybe not quite in that league, but last night, I saw a mature Robert Randolph be that team player and the results were fantastic. Sure, he had his moments of sheer pedal steel fireworks, but they were a part of the bigger picture. This version of the Word is so much different than the one five years ago that had RR screaming "Woooooooord!" after every song. Sometimes, back in the day, watching Robert's stage antics would make me cringe, but last night there was none of that, just a total pro leading a band of pro's pros and making some beautiful, intense, rocking and most of all fun jam music.

The interaction was just a thrill to watch. Medeski and Luther Dickinson were equal parts of the mix with Randolph and the three of them were a fun sight to behold. Many instances had Luther sidling up next to Robert and challenging, spurring and dueling ot wonderful effect. The two sets (a little more than an hour each) were comprised mostly of stuff off the album, but everything had a little twist or release point or launching pad that let the guys go bonzo... but never quite too crazy. There were some nice covers in there as well, "Seven Nation Army" wouldn't have been my top choice for this band, but fun nonetheless. Better was the James Brown and Marvin Gaye stuff that brought a special groovy energy to the night that seemed perfectly fit.

My 1st time in Terminal 5. While I found little to complain about, there's also nothing special to crow about either. It seems half-finished -- the walls are stark, bare white and there is absolutely no warmth or personality at all in the entire joint. Maybe there's more work to be done, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see a show there. It seems like it was thrown together with a "we need a venue of this size" attitude, not a "let's make a cool place to see music." Somewhat surprising for the Bowery Presents folks who have one of the best rooms in the world on their roster.

26 December 2007

Albums of the Year

Whew, lots of great music this year... like every year, I guess. Here's a feeble attempt to quantify it all. A little imprint of what's making me smile right now, changed a lot over the course of the year and won't stand the test of time. I'm pretty sure I listened to some of this too much and some not nearly enough.

Def. the best album of the year for me was "Prog" by the Bad Plus, probably their best yet, which is saying something. My favorite live album was undoubtedly Marco's "Live at Tonic," although there were several good ones..

Anyway, grouping these in blocks of ten and then listing each block in a particular order, that being alphabetical by artist. I can wholeheartedly recommend up to about 75-80ish and beyond depending on my mood and what itch you need scratched.

Without further ado, I give you the Ned100 (links to previous reviews where applicable):

Top Ten:
The Bad Plus -- Prog
Marco Benevento -- Live at Tonic
Blonde Redhead -- 23
Bob Brozman Orchestra -- Lumiere
Do Make Say Think -- You, You're a History in Rust
The Earlies -- Enemy Chorus
Iron & Wine -- The Shepherd's Dog
LCD Soundsystem -- Sound of Silver
Of Montreal -- Hissing Fauna...
St. Vincent -- Marry Me

11-20:
Apostle of Hustle -- National Anthem of Nowhere
Arcade Fire -- Neon Bible
Federico Aubele -- Panamericana
A Band of Bees -- Octopus
Andrew Bird -- Armchair Apocrypha
Dr Dog -- We All Belong
Erik Friedlander -- Block Ice & Propane
Wayne Krantz -- Your Basic Live 06
Menomena -- Friend and Foe
The Sea and Cake -- Everybody

21-30:
Battles -- Mirrored
Uri Caine Ensemble -- Plays Mozart
Explosions in the Sky -- All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Feist -- The Reminder
The Go! Team -- Proof of Youth
Modest Mouse -- We Were Dead Before..
Elvis Perkins -- Ash Wednesday
Radiohead -- In Rainbows
Rilo Kiley -- Under the Blacklight
Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

31-40:
Ryan Adams -- Easy Tiger
The Clientele -- God Bless the Clientele
Oliver Future -- Pax Futura
Billy Martin/John Medeski -- Mago
Charles Mingus -- Live at Cornell
The Most Serene Republic -- Population
Okkervil River -- The Stage Names
Tony Trischka -- Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
Various Artists -- I'm Not There Soundtrack
Neil Young -- Live at Massey Hall

41-50:
!!! -- Myth Takes
Avett Brothers -- Emotionalism
Kevin Drew -- Spirit If...
The Fiery Furnaces -- Widow City
Bill Frisell/Matt Chamberlain -- Floratone
Groundtruther -- Altitude
Metric - Grow Up and Blow Away
Josh Ritter -- The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
John Vanderslice -- Emerald City
Wilco -- Sky Blue Sky

51-60:
Air -- Pocket Symphony
Arthur & Yu -- In Camera
The Budos Band -- The Budos Band II
Mike Dillon's Go Go Jungle -- Milk Battery
Erik Friedlander -- Volac (Masada Book 2)
Jose Gonzalez -- In Our Nature
Jorma Kaukonen -- Stars In My Crown
Jens Lekman -- Night Falls Over Kortedala
Super Furry Animals -- Hey Venus!
Tin Hat -- The Sad Machinery of Spring

61-70
Assembly of Dust -- Recollection
Beastie Boys -- The Mix Up
Caribou -- Andorra
Dave Douglas -- Live at the Jazz Standard
Frank Smith -- Heavy Handed Peave & Love
Robert Glasper -- In My Element
Mofro -- Country Ghetto
The National -- Boxer
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter -- Love, Lust...
White Stripes -- Icky Thump

71-80
Baby Elephants -- Turn My Teeth Up!
Band of Horses -- Cease to Begin
Benzos -- Branches
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- Some Loud Thunder
Fujiya & Miyagi -- Transparent Things
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings -- 100 Days, 100 Nights
Polyphonic Spree -- Fragile Army
Stephen Stills -- Just Roll Tape
Tegan and Sara -- The Con
Kanye West -- Graduation

81-90:
Akron/Family -- Love Is Simple
Architecture in Helsinki -- Places Like This
Bon Iver -- For Emma, Forever Ago
Kings of Leon -- Because of the Times
The Mooney Suzuki -- Alive and Amplified
Erin McKeown -- Sing You Sinners
Marc Ribot -- Azmodeus
The Shins -- Wincing the Night Away
Various Artists -- Endless Highway (The Band)
Amy Winehouse -- Back to Black

Etc... (need more headphone time)
Art Brut -- It's A Bit Complicated
Beirut -- The Flying Cup Club
Bjork -- Volta
Cafe Tabuca -- Si No
Deerhoof -- Friend Opportunity
Loney, Dear -- Loney, Noir
Sophe Lux -- Waking the Mystics
Stars -- In Our Bedroom After the War
Winterpills -- The Light Divides
Neil Young -- Chrome Dreams II

25 December 2007

Movies of the Year

Hey now! This week "of the week" becomes "of the year."

After we eat, Christmas is the time for Jews to go to the movies. Just got back from a pretty crowded multiplex and figure it's time to rundown my favorite flicks of 2007. Probably half the new movies I should see will get seen on DVD some time next year, so take that into account, I only have so much free time, and if I get out of the house, pretty good chance I'll be seeing music and not some heady cinema.

Those caveats aside, I will say that two movies stand head and shoulders above the rest for me and I'm not sure anything will bump them from positions 1 & 1a, those being "No Country for Old Men" briefly discussed here and "Ratatouille" which I saw in the theater and several times on DVD and still find completely amazing on so many levels -- you don't need no kids, one of the better meditations on art, artists and art criticism you'll find.

A lot of comedies this year, not sure what that means, war in Iraq and blah ha blah ha blah...

The list:

  1. No Country for Old Men
  2. Ratatouille
  3. Juno
  4. Superbad
  5. Bourne Ultimatum
  6. The Simpsons Movie
  7. Knocked Up
  8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
  9. The Lives of Others
  10. Zodiac
  11. Hot Fuzz
Breakout year: Michael Cera... who saw it coming? I did, that's who! 19 years old and Canadian, the future is bright.

I know I've missed a lot, what should be on the top of my Netflix queue?

Photos: Merry Beefmas

How about one more taste of the smoky goodness before we get to the end-o-year stuff...

Christmas Eve, nothing to do but eat, may as well make it worthwhile. Our choice for the evening was to smoke a beef tenderloin.

We started with a smallish tenderloin -- just the two of us. Just a brush of olive oil and a little salt & pepper:


Then a quick hour+ smoke with two small pieces of apple wood. Sear over the open flame for a couple minutes on each side, rest for 10 minutes and about 1.5 hours after taking the beef out of the fridge we've got some delicious filet.


Mmm... can't you just taste it? That gorgeous smoke ring brings a tear to my eye and a gurgle to my belly. I've tried the tenderloin a few times and this was, by far, the best it's ever come out. Sometimes it's too damn smoky and some times it's a bit undercooked. Less wood, more time on the smoke and a little extra time searing over the fire to give it that delicious cooked-outdoors kick seemed to do the trick.

The key to the dish is the creamy Gorgonzola sauce. Serve it up with mom's perfect Jew-lo-mein (recipe avail. upon request) and some greens and f'in a! a delicious meal, praise Jebus:

tasty beef + outdoor love + gorgonzola =

24 December 2007

Shows of the (rest of the) Year

This'll take you to 2008. Last chance to rock oh seven. See you on the other side.

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Christmas Eve:
*Rashanim @ Parkside Lounge
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)
Matt Darriau w/ J. Roseman @ 55 Bar (late)

Christmas:
Jean-Michel Pilc @ 55 Bar (late)
*Srinivas Reddy & Nitin Mitta @ The Stone (early)
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)

Boxing Day:
School of Rock All Stars @ BB King's (afternoon/night)
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
*Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
Mike Stern @ 55 Bar (late)
Nas @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Chris Barron @ Bitter End

Thursday:
*The Word @ Terminal 5
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Golem/Toubab Krewe @ Bowery ballroom
Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
Steel Train @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
John Brown's Body (Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad opens) @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Burnt Sugar @ Zebulon (Brooklyn) (late)
Steel Train @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Roy Nathanson @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Jason Crosby & Friends @ Ace of Clubs
School of Rock All Stars @ BB King's (afternoon)

Friday:
*Gov't Mule (Keller Williams opens) @ Beacon Theater
Clutch @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Brothers Past @ Highline Ballroom (late night)
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Fab Faux @ Terminal 5
Sam Kininger @ Blue Note (late night)
John Brown's Body (Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad opens) @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Disco Biscuits @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
Amayo's Fu-Arkist-Ra @ Zebulon (Brooklyn) (late)
New York Dolls @ Fillmore
Greyboy Allstars, Soulive, Rahzel @ Nokia Theater

Saturday:
Railroad Earth @ Morristown Community Theater (Morristown, NJ)
Patti Smith (Alejandro Escovedo opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
Gov't Mule (Tea Leaf Green opens) @ Beacon Theater
Greyboy Allstars, Soulive, Rahzel @ Nokia Theater
Clutch @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Papa Grows Funk @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Sam Kininger @ Blue Note (late night)
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
John Zorn Improv night @ The Stone (early/late) (benefit)
Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
*George Porter @ Blender Theater (late night)
Adam Deitch Project @ Mercury Lounge (late)
Fab Faux @ Terminal 5
RZA @ Hiro Ballroom
New York Dolls @ Fillmore

Sunday:
Rebirth Brass Band @ Maxwell's (Hoboken) (early/late)
*moe. @ Fillmore
Papa Grows Funk @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
Patti Smith (Alejandro Escovedo opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
Cedar Walton Quartet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Bogmen @ Nokia Theater
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Kenny Wolleson @ Zebulon (Brooklyn) (late)
Talib Kweli @ Highline Ballroom
Chuck Berry @ BB King's
Yossi Piamenta @ Lion's Den

New Year's Eve:
U-Melt @ Highline Ballroom (midnight)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern @ BB King's (early/late)
The Join/Benevento Russo Duo @ Highline Ballroom
Chick Corea Elektric Band @ Blue Note (early/late)
moe. @ Radio City Music Hall
Patti Smith (Alejandro Escovedo opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
Big Sam's Funky Nation @ Lion's Den
Mike Doughty @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Nellie McKay @ Joe's Pub (late night)
Gov't Mule @ Beacon Theater
The Dresden Dolls @ Grand Ballroom
Dirty Projectors et al @ Knitting Factory
Earl Greyhound @ Mercury Lounge
Velvet Revolver @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Dean & Britta @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout @ 55 Bar (late)
Rebirth Brass Band @ BB King's (late night)
The Black Hollies, The Fleshtones @ Magnetic Field
G Love & Special Sauce @ Blender Theater
Julian Velard @ Rockwood Music Hall (midnight)
Trio Da Paz w/ Kenny Barron @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Dr. Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band of New Orleans @ Village Vanguard
Gogol Bordello @ Terminal 5
Baye Kouyate Et Les Tougarakes @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
Les Paul @ Iridium
Slick Rick @ Studio B (Brooklyn)
Les Savy Fav @ Bowery Ballroom (late night)
Licorice @ Blue Note (late night)
Mr Brownstone @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows

20 December 2007

minimix: Comes Alive Vol. 6

Not sure what's up with that, but last week's mix [Last Batch] was poorly attended, so another chance to grab that one (link below)... it's good, I assure you!

Anyhoo, here are some live tracks from the latter half of this year. Thanks always to the tapers, radio stations and others who make these great tunes readily available. As usual, these being live recordings, the quality varies, but it's all good. Here's to much rockin' and rollin' in 2008.

Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 While You Were Sleeping -- Elvis Perkins in Dearland: 3 December 2007
02 Pilgrims -- Widespread Panic: 29 September 2007
03 The General Specific -- Band Of Horses: 6 September 2007
04 Time Travel Is Lonely -- John Vanderslice: 22 September 2007
05 Fake Empire -- The National: 17 August 2007
06 Trapeze Swinger -- Iron and Wine: 29 November 2007

Previously in minimix:
Comes Alive Vol. 5
Comes Alive Vol. 4
Comes Alive Vol 3
Comes Alive Vol. 2

Last Batch 2007
Jazzercise.6 (07.2)
Shuffleupagus.4 (2007)
More 2007 Hits
Americana Is Beautiful.2 Relatively New
Jazzercise.4 (07)
even more new music
more new music
Comes Alive Vol. 2
Old & New

Links of the Week

Last linkdump of the year? We'll see how much blogging gets done next week.

Following up on Tuesday's video:

1) I jinxed myself and now my normal insomnia has melded into being awake and having the Spiderman theme song stuck in endless loop in my head. Sick!

2) The Boy in the car today (wearing Spiderman shirt and underwear): Spiderman doesn't have a butt.
Dad: Yes he does, everyone has a butt.
The Boy: Spiderman doesn't.

3) ... leading us to this week's links:

19 December 2007

Review: Capsule 2007 CD's Vol. 6

Previously:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5

Been pretty bad about keeping up with CD reviews around here. No way I could cram in a review of everything I've listened to in the last few months, but thought I'd throw out 3 that you've likely missed and I'll put together some year-end lists in the next couple of weeks (because I love lists!).

Also nice, because I can kind of tie them all together under the heading of context. It's always preferable when an album can stand on its own merits -- the music is good plain and simple. It's better when it can do that and it's got a little something extra. For these three CD's, a little extra background info makes great music go down even better.

Erik Friedlander -- Block Ice and Propane
Whether you know it or not, Friedlander is a giant. It takes someone of that stature to make me even consider buying a solo cello album. I mean, how much oomph can even the greatest get out of a singular cello. Well, EF answers that one for you with this masterpiece. The music is beautiful, engaging, even swinging at times... it tells a story, it draws you in, it absorbs. The extra bonus that comes with context on this one is that Friedlander isn't just making music. He's replaying a major portion of his childhood for us. When he was younger, Erik's father, Lee, a professional photographer, would pile the family into a makeshift camper and the family would spend the summers criss-crossing the country while he did the shutterbug thing. Somehow this album -- one guy sitting with his cello -- captures the essence of cross-country travel, the little knickknacks of the American road, Americana itself... as well as the memories of youth, family and adventure. It's all there, you can hear it. The music stands alone, but with the backstory, it fleshes out into a true American classic: Aaron Copland and Bill Monroe, but pure Erik Friedlander.


Bob Brozman Orchestra -- Lumiere
Listen to any track on this one and you'll be amazed at the fluent, perfectly flowing lines of reverberating guitar. All types of steel, resonator and acoustic guitars mesh together in ear-pleasing fashion. That's quite an orchestra you've got there, Mr. Brozman! But take a closer look at the cover to this CD and check the liner notes... the orchestra is a one-man affair. The music stands alone -- it is as good as you'll hear on an instrumental effort this year. But when you've got the full story on how this was made, it'll blow your mind. Apparently Brozman started off with a single improvisation, then layered another improv in reaction to the first and then another and then another. Is there a more perfect way to make music? The results are impressive and singular, the fingerprint of a man and his insane talents.

Groundtruther -- Altitude
The backstory here is that this is the third of three in a series of often mindblowing work from Groundtruther: Bobby Previte and Charlie Hunter. But this ain't no Return of the Jedi, more like Return of the King. Those who have heard the previous two efforts (Latitude and Longitude (w/ Greg Osby and DJ Logic respectively)) know that these paint Hunter in a darker, nastier light, displaying a heavier guitar sound than his usually organesque 8-string gives him. On this effort, the duo is joined by Jon Medeski, so how can it not be bigger and better than ever? This is a two disc set with one acoustic(!) -- filled with little trifles of sound, music at its basics, fluttering pieces of tissue paper for sometimes barely a minute. The electric stuff is electric, though and finds the trio digging deep: pulsing rhythmic energy, dark grooves and fantastic interplay. Taken on its own this is a fantastic album. Taken as part of the Groundtruther trilogy, you have something very special.

17 December 2007

Video: Listen Bud!

OK, here's the most sung song in the OTW household these days... watch this two times and just try not to have it stick itself in your head like some grabby Spidey hands:



Poll question: who would do best covering this song? I say The Bad Plus.

Sing along (it's inevitable, it's drawing you in, you have no choice, succomb):

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies
Look Out!
Here comes the Spiderman.

Is he strong?
Listen bud,
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread
Take a look overhead
Hey, there
There goes the Spiderman.

In the chill of night
At the scene of a crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Friendly neighborhood Spiderman
Wealth and fame
He's ignored
Action is his reward.

To him, life is a great big bang up
Whenever there's a hang up
You'll find the Spider man.

16 December 2007

Shows of the Week

Stay warm!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:
Robert Glasper Experiment @ Highline Ballroom
The Bravery @ Bowery Ballroom
*Rudder @ The Bitter End
Butch Morris Orch @ Nublu
Sufjan Stevens et al @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)

Tuesday:
Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

Wednesday:
*Teddy Thompson & Friends @ Highline Ballroom (benefit)
Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
Public Enemy @ Fillmore
N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Chris Barron @ Bitter End
Twisted Sister @ Fillmore

Thursday:
*The Music Box @ Tribeca PAC
Matt Munisteri @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Groovesect w/ Fred Wesley @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Hart/Iverson/Turner/Street @ Iridium (early/late)
Public Enemy @ Warsaw (brooklyn)

Friday:
Bill Martin/Calvin Weston @ Issue Project Space (Brooklyn)
Topaz @ Lion's Den
*N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
AKACOD (w/ D. Colley (Morphine)) et al @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Hart/Iverson/Turner/Street @ Iridium (early/late)
O'Death et al @ Mercury Lounge
Circus Mind @ Chesterfields (Huntington, LI)
Twisted Sister @ Fillmore
The Music Box @ Tribeca PAC

Saturday:
N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Fred Wesley/Groovesect @ Lion's Den
Lake Trout (Benzos open) @ Highline Ballroom
O'Death et al @ Mercury Lounge
Hart/Iverson/Turner/Street @ Iridium (early/late)
Burnt Sugar @ The Stone (late)
*Circuitbreaker et al @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Ozzy Osbourne @ Madison Square Garden
Amandla, Crescent Moon et al @ Piano's

Sunday:
*Hart/Iverson/Turner/Street @ Iridium (early/late)
N. Payton, D. Harrison, L. Smith et al @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

13 December 2007

minimix: Last Batch 2007

Here's a last gasp of 2007 music in the left-of-center pop music vein -- i.e. pop music that couldn't possibly be all that popular -- maybe something you missed first time around. Good stuff, more or less.

Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 The Many Things I'm Aware Of -- Oliver Future: Pax Futura
02 Baby Ate My Eightball -- Super Furry Animals: Hey Venus!
03 Corazon -- Federico Aubele: Panamericana
04 Tonto -- Battles: Mirrored
05 The Opposite Of Hallelujah -- Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala
06 Ex-Guru -- The Fiery Furnaces: Widow City

Previously in minimix:
Jazzercise.6 (07.2)
Shuffleupagus.4 (2007)
More 2007 Hits
Americana Is Beautiful.2 Relatively New
Jazzercise.4 (07)
even more new music
more new music
Comes Alive Vol. 2
Old & New

Links (and rambling) of the Week

And why not cram a week's lot of posts into a flurry of sorry blog activity. Still fighting the preschool cough I've had for the better part of the last week, so blogging has been difficult.

Just know that you missed longwinded play-by-plays of Phish in Hartford and Albany in 1997. The long and short of it was that they were damn pfunky.

Here's a link or two:

  • Yo Zeppelin played again! That's something I would pay big bucks to see at the Garden, here's a crossed finger or two that it'll happen in my lifetime. Maybe they will. Anyway, here's
  • In the name of good pastrami... 2nd Ave Deli to reopen!
  • More NYC news... Lion's Den upgraded... looking forward to checking out Sullivan Hall.
  • Man, call me what you will, but if anything on TV gets me hard, it's this. Although, can we all agree that this year's half-season of Heroes was hella good?
  • Any Arrested Development news is good news, right?
Not much, but I promise I'll be getting more action for you in the coming weeks, including Freaks Ball excitement (friends, family and NYC'ers, save 2/9/2008 right now and get your ass to this party! more details forthcoming), year end lists like you ain't never seen, and lots and lots of f'in music... my DAT deck is back from repair, I'll soon be converting like a madman and shoving music down your throat like, well, insert your own metaphor based on what you like being shoved down your throat.

Until then...

Review: Ribot|Frisell|Krantz

7 December 2007

OK, this might get a little long and a lot silly... so you've been warned.

You know how a lot of semi-cheesy yeah-we-all-love-'em 80's flicks had some sort of super-amazing move that no one ever thinks can be done? And then they're pulled off and like, holy shit! Well, last Friday night, I had the guitar-god equivalent of Maverick's inverted dive with the MiG, Thornton Melon's Triple Lindy and Daniel Larusso's crane technique to win the All-Valley. A downtown Manhattan triple bill that didn't seem possible and yet, was so tempting to try, I just had to kick the grin off John Kreese's face when presented the opportunity.

Ribot... Frisell... Krantz. All three. In one night. Are you freakin' kidding me? If you know these guys, then you know. If I were to keep a list in my back pocket of my top five guitar players (and I am not above maintaining such a thing), there is no doubt these guys would be on it, if not numeros uno, dos and tres. I will be telling my grandchildren about Pearl Harbor Day, 2007, the day my brain got the kamikaze treatment.

To think, it might not have happened at all. I'd been feeling like dog poop for a few days to the extent where I took my first legit sick day in probably a year on Friday. I already had my ticket for Bar Kokhba, so I sucked it up in a Nyquill stupor and made it out the door not knowing just how I'd fare once I was on the train. A long midday nap had done me proper and I felt a surge coming on. Maybe, just maybe I'd make a night of it.

John Zorn's Bar Kokhba was playing their first of two Hanukkah-ish nights at Abrons Arts Center (last visited upon for another amazing Zorn-heavy evening). This was the "old material" night, Saturday the new stuff endeavor. We were there when the doors opened and sat pretty much D.F.C. and didn't have to wait too much longer for the ensemble to fill the stage. To look at them -- Zorn as conductor, Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on bass, Erik Friedlander on cello, Joey Baron on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion and, a little transcendence I like to call MRibot on guitar -- is not to sense that you may be looking at one of the most talented bunch of musicians money can buy. No, the words schlep and schmata come to mind, with Marc taking the prize for the "most likely to have just rolled out of bed" look.

But the music, oh that music! How would you describe Bar Kokhba? In words, I mean, not with the general expression of a jaw dropped to the ground. There are boundaries out there, lines and demarcations: east/west, loud/soft, new world/old world, religious/secular, fast/slow, classical/jazz/rock. It's not that this band exists on one side or another or represents one slice of the Venn diagram. It's like all those lines are there inside the music itself. There is a Judaism in the music, but it is telling that this group is lead by a man in tsitsit but play quite readily on a Friday night. There is a sit-down chamber music atmosphere to the group and yet the most distinctive sound is a reverb-laden surf guitar. There are many dilemmas in music, but with this band, the music is the conundrum. All that and just about as beautiful as you can imagine music ever being.

I could go on, Ferdmania went on Saturday night and did a pretty good job capturing it with fresher ears than mine. So go check that out. This is mostly about Marc Ribot who tops any list of mine. It just doesn't get any better. I always say that with Marc each gig stands alone but takes on so much more when considered as just one set of one lifelong gig. Context matters and it doesn't... you're never getting the full picture in one sitting and yet whatever you're getting is always enough. Friday night was Marc Ribot: Pure Ecstasy version. His first real solo came in the second number and I have no trouble saying it was the best guitar playing I've seen in the past 12 months or maybe more. It started quiet and light and reverberating like nothing else. This is surf rock Ribot at its finest, you could march a small army of musicians through the reverb when he's playing like that. It crested in a quick flurry, settled back down in some insanely gorgeous fingering, came back to a dipsy doodle high, dropped back and climaxed one final time. I got the chills -- literally goose bumps on my pasty whites -- no less than two times during that solo. That playing set the pace for the entire night: intravenous, straight to the brain and man, did I have the jones, bad!

I think for pure adrenaline and rush, I enjoy Electric Masada more than just about any band out there, but there's something about Bar Kokhba. It's the talent for one. You'd have trouble convincing me there's anyone better at each slot. But it's more than that, it's the way they bring something different out in each other. The strings somehow temper the urge in Marc or Cyro to go kinda crazy, like they dress up nice. At the same time those guys bring out a little more swing in Friedlander and Feldman as Zorn pushes them to pluck there way like they're almost rock stars. The energy between them is the greatest kind of tension, like a friendly game of capture the flag as the violin and cello capture the electric guitar and bring him to their side of the field, only to be captured back by the bopping Baron on drums or off-kilter percussion who bring a little wailing Friedlander back for good measure. Fun to watch, Friday is the kind of set that would never translate fully in recording. Awe-inspiring to listen to. The Abrons is a perfect spot for this kind of show. Good shit.

The played exactly an hour of "classic" material off the must-have Circle Maker disc and then were coaxed back for an encore where they played a couple of "new ones" with a shrug from Zorn. The second of these -- called "91" or something equally as nameless -- was epic, a composition to outdo much of Zorn's countless other Masada songbook tunes. Wrapping your mind around this music is like wrapping your mind around the laws of physics or basic axioms of mathematics. Beauty at its most fundamental. There's a slight chance I got my $20 worth.

So, I really should have gone home at this point, Friday or not, I was holding back painful chest-congested coughs and releasing them between each song. But Pandora's Box was opened and my mind was hopping with possibilities. My real hope was to check out Elvis Perkins, one of my real discoveries for this year, at Bowery Ballroom. I knew it was sold out, but it was a quick walk from Abrons and what the hell, maybe I find a ticket outside. Of course, we know how this turns out, but there was nothing brewing over there. It was about 10:05 at this point and the permutations were cycling in that little devious portion of my brain that Morning Neddy hates so much. Things would have to work out perfectly... what the hell! Set up the high dive, I was going in for the Triple Lindy.

I fast-walked it to the Grand St. subway stop (it's always best to let the MTA decide your fate in these matters, worst thing that happens is you're out $2), the train came immediately. Hopped out in the West Village and was at 55 Bar at 10:20. There was a line there which was obviously people waiting to buy tickets for Wayne Krantz's late show. The early show was just getting rolling and there were about 10 people standing there, at least half of which didn't seem to have any clue about how things were operating there. I was growing impatient but couldn't get anyone to move at a pace of my liking. Finally, at 10:30, I got my ticket to the late show and had about 1 hour to kill. Ribot > Krantz was a thing to behold, but holy shit, was this really happening? I jetted over the couple blocks to the Blue Note where there was a similar sized line waiting just as the guy at the door was saying "standing room only left, $20 to stand at the bar!" The music hadn't started yet, even though the 10:30 set time was a few minutes behind. He let a group of 4 in, then a group of 2 -- "the music won't start until I say it does" -- 4 more, then a single... a couple people left but it was becoming increasingly clear that it was going to happen. It was me and then two guys behind me, the last 3 in the door.

Bill Frisell, Ron Carter, Paul Motian... are you gleeping fer real!?!? Standing at the bar wasn't really all that bad. There was actually a clear shot to the stage, a speaker just for us and a straight shot for the exit to make sure this trifecta was pulled off properly. Just the notion that I was standing in the meat portion of the most delicious sandwich ever concocted by 6 strings had me giddy for the entire set. The three men... legends?... came out shortly after the doors closed. I ordered an obligatory Basil Hayden's that cost nearly the same as my admission price and sipped it most delicately. Bring it on!

In short, Ribot is my favorite... but no one guitar player is as impressive inside the jazz idiom as Bill Frisell. I love Bill in so many lineups and while this isn't my favorite, it is probably the purest and the most talented. I would place these guys in a league with the Jarrett/DeJohnette/Peacock trio (and probably no one else) as the quintessential jazz combos out there. They actually give off a similar vibe to those guys. This is not a trio that is concerned with what they are playing at all -- the songs are standards or sound like standards, the sounds of "American music" in quotes, italics, underlined and bold faced -- but rather how they play. And let me tell you, they play quite amazingly. Frisell fits into the narrative here, but I was mesmerized mostly by Ron Carter the whole set. Such pure melodic bass playing, he was a legend showing the legends how it's done. Songs would begin with such a benign drive and then suddenly disassociate, water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen and then those atoms splitting into electrons, protons and neutrons and then on down until there was just pure energy, not associated with any form or element whatsoever. The music was free from any mooring and yet constantly, well, amazing. Ribot and company melted my brain and Frisell and company heated my liquid neurons until they evaporated into the air with them... the music so light and gaseous, a vapor filling the room.

I ducked out one song til the end because: Krantz beckoned. Of the three guitar giants described herein, Wayne Krantz is likely the one you may be least familiar with. It's a shame of sorts, but really it's part of the appeal. Wayne Krantz is a guy, a master of the electric guitar, but it's also a type of music and one of the greatest secrets I've ever been lucky to be privy to. I've spun tomes of superlatives trying to capture the Wayne Krantz experience, see here or here or here for an example. Krantz was a Thursday night ritual for so many years when seeing music felt like my job and everything else was supporting the habit in one way or another... then when those days fizzled into real life, he/it was a luxury good, a special treat when the timing worked out right... then he decided it was time to move on and I couldn't even arrange it so that I was there to bid him a proper adieu. So, when he gave it the ole Jimmy Chitwood "I think it's time I started playing ball again" call for a two night stint at the old 55 Bar, I put the date on the calendar and hoped against hopes. Maybe I'd make it out for Thursday, but when it came I was too under-the-weather to even consider it.

So, it was with some luck and much gratitude to the music gods that I found myself there for the last of four sets; making my way into 55 Christopher with barely a minute to spare; the musicians taking their place at the end of the cozy room; the unholy trinity being realized here on earth.

Wayne Krantz -- you are fucking nasty, nasty, one crazy fucking kind of nasty. It's hard to imagine that the same instrument that Ribot and Frisell used to part clouds in the sky and let me envision a little bit of my own heaven was used by Krantz to rip open the earth below me against the grain and show me a bit of fiery, evil hell... but in a good way! Take Bar Kokhba and draw a line around it and you have the Frisell trio, skirting the edges of all that fleshy interior. Take BK and invert it, take the negative, turn the blacks to white and the whites to black and you've got Wayne Krantz.

On Friday night Wayne was joined by Cliff Almond and Paul Socolow on bass. The trick to Krantz's music is not in the way the guitar playing leads the music but rather how the guitar, bass and drums mash up together like red yellow and blue to make brown, glorious, glorious brown. I don't think I've ever seen this formulation of the Krantz trio before, of course, I'm partial to the sublime K3 combo of Krantz/Lefebvre/Carlock, but this is as close to that as I've ever seen. The band was on fire! From the first lick, they hit the ground at 120MPH and didn't slow, cease or abate for a full hour of boot-through-the-skull shredding. Like I said, this is a genre unto itself, existing in the rock/jazz/funk realm and yet not quite willing to be lassoed with words in any coherent manner.

The "songs" are merely serving suggestions, ways in which the music gets started and then, just like Frisell lead his gang, they split in two and then four and then 16, until the original themes were minced or pureed or completely liquefied. The thing that separates the way Krantz and company do this is that it is at such a breakneck speed and at such a volume that your brain and body have trouble dealing with it. I've oft described the "Krantz laugh" which is what your body involuntarily will do when it reaches its breaking point and needs to reset. At some shows you clap when you've been impressed, but with Krantz, simple applause will not cut it and instead you will hear random bouts of laughter in the audience around you at various points in the show. Quite often the giggling is coming from your own mouth, with your conscious self quite unaware. I guess you could describe the experience as orgasmic. I've seen Wayne plenty of times in the past and Friday night was as good as it gets, just one long connected train of notes applied directly to the cortex. Socolow doesn't quite bring out the electronica-bent that Timmy does, but rather digs underneath the guitar and just inflates it with billowing bass blowouts, keeping it in the deep registers before exploding with a flurry of higher notes. Almond was perfectly hyperkinetic all night, if Krantz played a million notes over the course of the set, Cliff hit his drums a million and one times just to be safe. There is a slight chance I soiled my shorts at some point during this last set of the night.

The only downer of the whole night was the bitchy staff at the 55 Bar. Won't go into detail, they've always been a bit on the whiny side for me, but yo, frumpy looking waitress, lose the attitude!

Then, with nary a "it's been great being back" or "maybe I'll play again soon" kind of glimmer of a comment, Wayne said thanks, the lights were promptly turned on and the evening came to an abrupt end. Obviously, Mr Krantz was not aware of his role in the great one man guitar crusade I had just finished. He must not have felt my bare foot slap across his face as the judge declared "point! winner!" Cause if he had, he most certainly helped me lift my trophy with a "you're alright Larusso." Maybe I'll get more of a reaction in the sequel...

11 December 2007

Photos of the Week

Here's some OPP (other people's photos) FoOTW, GA provides a glimpse of Frisell/Carter/Motian at Blue Note from last Thursday. I was there on Friday. I was everywhere on Friday. Need to ease into my review, cause it was da illness... hopefully tomorrow. For now, enjoy these shots.




09 December 2007

Shows of the Week

Enjoy!


Click here for upcoming shows


Monday:
*Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Doug Wamble @ Barbes (Brooklyn)

Tuesday:
Hall & Oates @ Beacon Theater
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Butch Morris @ The Stone (early/late)
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
FREE New Pornographers @ Apple Store
FREE Pharoah's Daughter @ Winter Garden (noon)

Wednesday:
*The Bad Plus @ Zankel Hall
Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
Cake @ Terminal 5
Jessica Lurie Ensemble @ Banjo Jim's
Hall & Oates @ Beacon Theater
FREE Electric Six/Earl Greyhound @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Bob Schneider solo acoustic @ Knitting Factory

Thursday:
*The Most Serene Republic @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
Cake @ Terminal 5
Suzanne Vega, Loudon Wainwright, Madeleine Peyroux @ The Concert Hall
Freddie Hubbard @ Iridium (early/late)
Tim Luntzel, Phonograph et al @ Rockwood Music Hall
Andy Statman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
GZA @ Knitting Factory (late)

Friday:
Freddie Hubbard @ Iridium (early/late)
*Aimee Mann, Josh Ritter @ Manhattan Center
FREE Funk Filharmonik @ Winter Garden (noon)
Sebastien Martel w/ Oren Bloedow @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
GZA @ Knitting Factory (late)
Z-100 Jingle Ball @ Madison Square Garden
Porter/Gros/Stoltz/Mullin @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ) (late)
Most Serene Republic @ Mercury Lounge (early)
Dub Trio @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
Okkyung Lee @ Roulette
Mike & Ruthy @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Deep Banana Blackout @ Bowery Ballroom
David Kolker Band @ Bitter End

Saturday:
Hot Tuna electric (John Hammond opens) @ Beacon Theater
Deep Banana Blackout @ Bowery Ballroom
*Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
The Clarks @ Blender Theater
Aimee Mann @ Tarrytown Music Hall (Tarrytown)
Nellie McKay @ The Concert Hall
Freddie Hubbard @ Iridium (early/late)
Bob Reynolds @ Blue Note (late night)

Sunday:
Neil Young @ United Palace Theater
Freddie Hubbard @ Iridium (early/late)
*Edmar Castaneda Trio @ 55 Bar (late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)


Click here for upcoming shows

06 December 2007

minimix: Jazzercise.6 (07.2)

Technically, probably not one of these tracks is really jazz at all, but what the hay! Here's a hastily thrown together mix of some newish instrumental music for ya. I highly recommend all these albums, so try and then buy if you're so inclined.

Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 His Girl -- The Budos Band: The Budos Band II
02 Swamped -- Bill Frisell/Matt Chamberlain: Floratone
03 Bamako Blues -- Bob Brozman Orchestra: Lumière
04 King Rig -- Erik Friedlander: Block Ice & Propane
05 Kingda Ka -- Groundtruther: Altitude
06 Welcome, Ghosts -- Explosions In The Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Previously in minimix:
Jazzercise.5 (sax)
Jazzercise.4 (07)
Jazzercise.3 (d)
Jazzercise.2 (g)
Jazzercise.1 (p)

Shuffleupagus.4 (2007)
More 2007 Hits
Americana Is Beautiful.2 Relatively New
Jazzercise.4 (07)
even more new music
more new music
Comes Alive Vol. 2
Old & New

Apologies

Blogging has been a bit lame this week... maybe one day I'll make it up to you.

For now I give you the mind of a 3 1/2 year old, from the "how can you argue with that" department:

The Boy: Superman is stronger than Batman and Batman is stronger than Superman.

Happy Hanukkah to my peeps -- may you remember the time when socks and underwear with superheroes on them were gifts enough to make you giddy.

04 December 2007

Photo of the Week

This is what a solo drum set at the Beacon Theater looks like... it's Glenn Kotche opening for Andrew Bird. The full review was bought out by the corporate behemoth that is Hidden Track.

Read it here.

02 December 2007

Shows of the Week

Have fun picking through this mess -- (I'm not sure, but I think it may be possible to see Ribot, Frisell and Krantz in a single night, still trying to wrap my head around that).

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:
Bill Martin/Calvin Weston @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
*Ben Perowsky @ Nublu

Tuesday:
Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Suphala @ The Stone (early)
Matisyahu (Blues Traveler opens) @ Roseland Ballroom
Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
*Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
James Hurt @ The Stone (late)
Jaik Miller Band @ Luv 24/7

Wednesday:
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
*Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Matisyahu (The Wailers open) @ Roseland Ballroom
Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Joe Lovano et al @ Iridium (early/late)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
The Besnard Lakes @ Bowery Ballroom

Thursday:
Matisyahu @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
*Wayne Krantz "The Trio" @ 55 Bar (late)
Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Joe Lovano et al @ Iridium (early/late)
Marc Ribot @ Issue Project Space (brooklyn)
Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Balkan Beat Box @ Fillmore
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Phonograph @ Living Room
Pete Francis @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)

Friday:
Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ Highline Ballroom
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Bonerama @ Lion's Den
*Elvis Perkins in Dearland @ Bowery Ballroom
Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Wayne Krantz "The Trio" @ 55 Bar (late)
Bar Kokhba @ Abrons Art Center
Joe Lovano et al @ Iridium (early/late)
Donna The Buffalo @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Winterpills et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Hot Buttered Rum, Rev. Peyton @ Knitting Factory (late)
Howard Fishman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey @ Blue Note (late night)
Sly & The Family Stone @ BB King's (early/late)
Jason Moran @ The Stone (early/late)
Jerry Joseph @ The Living Room (midnight)
Martin Sexton @ Roseland Ballroom

Saturday:
*Bar Kokhba @ Abrons Art Center
Marah @ Bowery Ballroom
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey @ Blue Note (late night)
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Bonerama @ Lion's Den
Matisyahu @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
Fiery Furnaces @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Brooklyn Qawwali Party @ Zebulon (Brooklyn) (late)
Joe Lovano et al @ Iridium (early/late)
Hadag Nachash, Budos Band @ Webster Hall
Jonah Smith/Julian Velard @ Highline Ballroom
Air Supply @ BB King's (early/late)

Sunday:
*Bill Frisell @ Blue Note (early/late)
Yo La Tengo @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Jose Gonzalez @ Webster Hall
Liberty Ellman @ The Stone (late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Dave Douglas Quintet @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Joe Lovano et al @ Iridium (early/late)
Michelle Shocked @ Highline Ballroom
Air Supply @ BB King's

Click here for upcoming shows