the Trigger (Stupid White Boy)
Brick by Brick are the magi-strates of mean. Mission control
unclear as to why two guitarists are necessary in any empirical
sense here, but I don’t care. With very few leads and no harmonies,
this here’s just a very deliberate attempt to hurt your feelings
with overtly gratuitous power chords in the classic Troy hardcore
tradition. Theirs is a bestial grace, a nasty one that just
pummels you to the tarmac with crown upon crown of thorns
and beatitude refutations like the nurturing “Tearing Down”
and “Demon Eyes.” The jowl- quivering low end diminishes the
power of the drums somewhat, particularly the snare, which
I prefer more earthy and fat, like a big smelly hermit on
a hay thresher. But such nitpicking doesn’t indicate any lack
of command on behalf of the lads. This is especially true
of howler Rich Roberts, who presides with an austerity that
gives no quarter and takes no lip, save his own.
Yep. Happy times here. Makes me want to go out in the yard
and throw the old medicine ball around. Maybe build a raging
fire with big, oak pallets, diabolically summon a few lesser
demons, that sort of thing. Former Bruise Brother Mike Valente
has found a good home, the family strong and what better mortar
than plenty of proselytizing with the benefits of violence,
the benefits of which are sorely underrated in the daily American
comeuppance. Violence pulls the lies off people, you know,
and the Capital Region is not without its need for vulgaris
disciplinarius. True enforcement if you will, not the silly
teen rebellions, the need for Crossgates chaperones, the weary
jewelry of distracted, ignorant living. We’re talking heft.
Lilt. Stoicism. And such landmark efforts like Pull the
Trigger are unapologetic reminders that there are tougher
venues than Hot Topic, and I for one embrace their simplicity
the Sound Barrier (Verve)
Silver, Like Song (ArtistShare)
We celebrate the soprano saxophone with new records by the
Wayne Shorter Quartet and Jane Ira Bloom.
The Shorter consists of tunes recorded in performance from
November 2002 to April 2004. In addition to mainstays of his
more recent repertoire like “Joy Ryder” and the title track,
it features the new, brooding “Adventures Aboard the Golden
Mean” and “Tinker Bell,” a snippet, credited to the whole
quartet, that segues easily from the reverent, refreshing
reading of Felix Mendelssohn’s “On Wings of Song.”
It’s a much stronger, more fluid album than 2002’s “Footprints
Live,” the first live record by this very strong group. Where
that focused on older material, this one seems ultramodern.
It’s largely abstract music, performed by musicians of exceptional
technique and daring. The explosive, joyous “Joy Ryder” is
both fearsome and fearless; “Smilin’ Through,” the Arthur
Penn tune that launches this, bristles with changes and drama.
Shorter, a musical catalyst who only gets better as he ages,
like Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman in the movies, is playing
with spirit and daring and speed, and he never gets in anybody’s
The same goes for pianist Danilo Perez, a brawny foil for
Shorter’s more darting style; for John Patitucci, the quicksilver
pulse of this group; and for Brian Blade, a drummer who never
fails to construct a tempo both complex and thrilling. Blade’s
command of dynamics sets the foundation for this recording,
a document of one of the strongest groups in current jazz.
Another such group is Jane Ira Bloom’s. Working with keyboardist-electronics
technician Jamie Saft, bassist Mark Dresser and the ubiquitous
Bobby Previte on drums, the underrated, underheard Bloom has
crafted a beautiful, expansive album that must be heard sequentially
to be fully grasped. Her strength is bandwidth: On pieces
like the leisurely, meditative “Vanishing Flat” and the witty
“No Orchestra,” she blends soprano sax with live electronics
to extraordinary effect, her sound as full as an orchestra’s.
I throw sound around the band like paint and other times I
play and feel as if I was carving silence like a sculptor,”
says Bloom. Listening to her is to lose oneself in sound;
alternately tart and sweet, Bloom’s is never less than embracing.
Her tone is as full-bodied as her conception, and she’s one
of the few composers in modern jazz to lean on wit and humor.
If at first certain tunes seem like noodling, listen again;
their purpose and structure come through with repetition.
Note how the group repeat the incantatory Bloom tune, “Singing
in Stripes,” giving it a slightly different effect each time.
Purpose, passion and independence distinguish recordings by
Bloom, whose soprano sax does indeed sing in stripes.
Me to This: Christopher O’Riley Plays Radiohead (World
Christopher O’Riley seems to be carving out a niche for himself
with this, his second album of solo piano renditions of songs
by Radiohead (True Love Waits appeared two years ago).
There are the compositions that allow for O’Riley’s methodical
transcriptions to undulate like the surface of a pot of water
slowly coming to a glorious boil. This is the case with “There
There” and “Like Spinning Plates.” Then there are some that
seem to give him little purchase, the notes flying in ever
more furious runs as he tries for a footing up an unforgiving
canyon wall. When he tackles pieces with more architectural
features, such as the heartbreakingly beautiful balladry of
“No Surprises” or the ominous yet stately “2+2=5,” it makes
for a powerful new setting that re moves the songs from their
origins. Painstakingly articulated, these performances have
the purposefulness of 20th-century classical music, along
with the repetitive variants and spiritual bearing of Keith
Jarrett. If you find resonance in those two reference points,
then O’Riley’s your man.