Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Enter the Dark Horse

As Listmas rapidly approaches, many recordings vie for position. There is much jockeying and shifting and trading of spots. And though I had previously posted, with great confidence, my nearly final picks for the best creative/improvised/jazz/whatever records of 2007, suddenly a new contender has emerged, and it changes everything.

If I said to you, "Remember His Name is Alive? Well, they're still around, and they have a new record, only it's free jazz," you'd say to me, "You're six different kinds of crazy." Hell, if you'd said to me "Remember His Name is Alive? Yada yada new album yada jazz etc." a few weeks ago, I'd have thought you were nuts. But they do (or HNIA founder Warren Defever does, anyway, using the HNIA name, and with help from a bunch of jazzheads, most of them from NOMO), and it is flat out good. Like, maybe Best of the Year good. And it's not on some wrinkly- t-shirt-wearing hipster-run basement label, either; it's on AUM Fidelity.

For real.

It doesn't sound like indie rockers faking it. It sounds like improvisers feeling it. It's called Sweet Earth Flower, and it's a tribute to Marion Brown. What's great is that it focuses on Brown's lesser-known '70s material instead of the higher profile (and I use that term very loosely) Impulse! music of the 1960s.

The jazz guys blow both sweet and fiery, and Defever's guitar contributions are riveting. There are grooves, and there is dissonance, in proportions suited to a band wishing to pay tribute to the free music of the era in question.

In short, I guess what I’m saying is that Groundtruther’s been bumped to number 2, Dave Douglas to 3, etc. And nobody’s more surprised than I am.

Friday, November 9, 2007

It's Begining to Look a Lot Like...

While sitting in the studio the other night, playing the new Groundtruther album, Infinite Ceiling host Marc said to me, “This sounds list-worthy.” And it hit me: it’s nearly list season. Which got me thinking, obviously…

The pop/rock list hasn’t yet begun to materialize for me yet, for whatever reason. Too many contenders? (Or maybe it’s just because there hasn’t yet been a Pernice release yet this year.) But the creative/improvised list is beginning to germinate in the fertile soil of my brain.

So, as it stands now, here’s a partial list:

01. (Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previtte as) Groundtruther featuring John Medeski, Altitude [Thirsty Ear]

02. Dave Douglas Quintet, Live at the Jazz Standard [Greanleaf]

03. Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean [Thrill Jockey]

04. Exploding Star Orchestra, We Are All From Somewhere Else [Thrill Jockey]

05. David Murray's Black Saint Quartet, Sacred Ground [Justin Time]

I started this post planning to go into great detail about this list, and the mind is willing, but the body is weak tonight, so I'll make a pledge here to devote future posts to each of these records. Right now I'm going to bed.