Category Archives: Reviews

New Releases from Sexmob, and Red Planet with Bill Carrothers

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Two new releases offer a rambunctious romp from Sexmob, and an elegant pairing of electric guitar trio (Red Planet) and acoustic piano (Bill Carrothers). Continue reading

Four Masters of Improvisation: Crothers and Payne, Mann and Krachy

The late pianist Connie Crothers, who lives on the same trunk of the jazz tree as pianist Lennie Tristano, with whom she studied, has been the center of gravity for a number of impressive musicians who have flourished under her watch. Among those Crothers colleagues are clarinetist Bill Payne and saxophonist Charley Krachy, who appear on three albums reviewed here. Each of the albums features what drummer Carol Tristano, Lennie’s daughter, thought might well be described as organic improvisation. You might also call it spontaneous improvisation (but not free). The first two recordings are The Stone Set/Conversations, a double album that pairs Payne with Crothers. Released in 2011, it is still as fresh now as then. The second is Conversations, a brand-new release that pairs Krachy with renowned blues/jazz/Americana guitarist Woody Mann, who himself studied with Tristano. The albums couldn’t be more different, but the two duos share one thing: they live as comfortably and joyously in musical improvisation as dolphins do in the sea. Continue reading

Kelly Moran’s Alternative Reality

Kelly Moran, Bloodroot (Telegraph Harp Records)
A review

From the opening notes of pianist/composer Kelly Moran’s new release, Bloodroot (Telegraph Harp Records), you may feel that you’ve wandered into an alternative universe, one in which Eric Satie was born in Indonesia and wrote music for a gamelan ensemble. With a prepared piano, an e-bow, plucked and strummed piano strings, and samples of plucked and e-bowed strings mapped to MIDI controllers, Moran creates an otherworldly sonic environment where Satie, Philip Glass, John Cage, and (I’ll have to take her word on this one) black metal all contribute to her inspiration. (There is a transition on the second track, “Celandine,” that eerily channels Satie.) Her performing pedigree is equally broad, stretching from the no-wave freak-out of Cellular Chaos, in which she played bass, to the cultured avant-rock of Voice Coils, where she (wo)manned synthesizers, to the contemporary piano repertoire. Continue reading

Noah Kite Brings Fine New Album to Corrales

Noah Kite (right) with Laura Gershman

There is nothing sophomoric about singer/songwriter Noah Kite’s self-titled sophomore release. Deftly orchestrating eight songs that he built and often performs solo on an acoustic guitar, Kite has made a giant leap forward from his first release, Light by Light. Focused primarily on the complications of romantic relationships, the digital album Noah Kite excavates, with an admirable emotional honesty and wallop, the pain, accusations, self-recriminations, and disbelief left in their wake. He and English horn/oboe player Laura Gershman, who makes signal contributions to the album, are touring in support of it and will appear in a house concert at Frame-N-Art in Corrales on March 12.

(Full disclosure: Noah Kite is our godson, and the album really is impressive.) Continue reading

Sosa and Keita: a Heavenly Pairing on ‘Transparent Water’

Seckou Keita and Omar Sosa. Photo by Thomas Kruesselmann.

Hypnotically beautiful and profoundly peaceful, Transparent Water (Otá Records), the new release from Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita, invites you to step out of the hurly-burly and submerge yourself in its sacred space for spiritual refreshment. Continue reading