Acquisitions- Past, Present, Future

Writing about music took a back seat to writing new music for a while, but here’s a rundown of some recent purchases.

 Wynton Marsalis- Black Codes (from the Underground)

I think for a lot of people my age and younger it’s easy to forget that Wynton can really blow. It gets lost behind all the proselytizing and posturing, and this record is the best reminder of how great a player he can be. The music is inspired, the sound of young lions who haven’t yet been crowned new kings of their jungle. I think I’ll throw this one on the next time Wynton spouts off about, well, just about anything.

Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden- Alone Together 

Chances are you’ve heard Lee Konitz play most of these songs before, and chances are you’ve heard him play them better. His performances here are good, if somewhat disinterested. The real star of this show is Brad Mehldau. His ideas are fresher than Konitz’s and more fully formed than Haden’s. In Ethan Iverson’s recent interview with Konitz he mentions Mehldau’s ability to develop two ideas simultaneously, one in the right hand and one in the left. That talent is on full display here, including on the track below.

Ben Allison- Action-Refraction

I think Ben Allison’s greatest strength is as a composer, so when I heard his new record was interpretations of other people’s work I was a little worried. Foolish of me. Tunes from sources as varied as PJ Harvey, Donny Hathaway and Samuel Barber all end up sounding like Ben Allison tunes. I do think this record showcases some Allison’s best playing, especially on the opener “Jackie-Ing”. The tune below, Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”, is the best on the record.

Garage a Trois- Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil

After the awesome bombast and freedom of 2009’s Power Patriot, I couldn’t wait to hear what Garage a Trois would release next, but this falls a little short. The songs sound unfinished, like demo versions laid down to sketch out the skeletons of what will someday be something greater. Stanton Moore said of the original GaT that it was an outlet for “all the freaky stuff”. This record sound like a bunch of guys trying to do “freaky stuff” who just weren’t feeling freaky.

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