Superb release from Bonga with a nice balance of moods and rhythms which range from where his native Angolan semba shows influences of morna from the Cape Verde to changing gear so that soukous guides us to the dance floor. Now in his 60’s but this is a real return to earlier form. Recommended.
From Ipanema Beach, with a sound that rocks and funks its way through core Brazilian rhythms, with a touch of psychedelic thrown in too but really there’s so much going on here it’s hard to define (in a good way). They are a seven piece band that distance themselves well away from all stereotypical notions of Brazilian music and have made a CD that’s distinctly their own sound, I’ll just leave you to ponder what that sound actually is because there’s such a mixture from track to track that you often wonder if it’s a different CD. Well worth checking out.
Similar to fellow tenorist Kenny Garrett, Joshua Redman has now entered mid-career territory and has been exploring different aspects of the tenor on recent albums as illustrated on ‘East’. On his latest album he returns to more familiar ground on this trio-led outing which recalls the mid-late 1950s recordings of Sonny Rollins in format. Unquestionably this is accomplished playing and Redman is ably assisted by bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers and drummers Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson. Redman has largely opted for self-penned compositions, but unlike Garrett in a studio setting, these do not always exude the same warmth that one might expect from a normally soulful saxophonist. Mournful is the word that springs to mind on hearing the somewhat austere version of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight (Sonata)’ and Redman’s own pieces ‘Ghost’ and the bop-inflected ‘Round Reuben’ leave one feeling somewhat downbeat. Where the trio collectively shine are on ballads such as ‘Just like you’ and ‘Little Ditty’ where the blues are certainly not forgotten and prove to be uplifting. As with other premier contemporary jazz artists, Redman’s skill at playing extended and intricate notes has never been in question. However, his ability to communicate in a soulful manner does require further reflection.
With a fabulous live act comprising tango dancers and band, Tango Siempre have released a trio of acclaimed albums of which the latest is not only among their finest, but arguably also their most diverse thus far. The group has undergone a change in line up with long-time bandoneonist Pete Rosser replaced by Italian Paolo Russo. From gorgeous laid-back milonga with a Cuban feel such as ‘Milonga poliritmica’ to subtle beat-laden tango electronica on ‘Only human’, expressing the inner angst of the genre, Tango Siempre provide ample evidence of the sense of humanity that has always permeated their recordings. It is, perhaps, the left-field ‘Belo Horizonte’ that has the best chance of securing late night listening with its prominent use of double bass and expressive bandoneon playing. Added in to the bargain is a piece inspired by the marching funeral bands of southern Italy and the austere sounding ‘Dance of Death’. This is an album that will appeal to a wide and eclectic audience, with jazzy improvisations, refined western classicism and rootsy grooves that take the innovations of maestro Astor Piazzolla as their starting point. The philosophy of the group is amply typified by ‘A matter of life and death’ on which their passion for the genre and care to reflect the sheer diversity of tango speaks volumes. If the latest endeavours from Gotan Project make you want to explore the rootsier side of tango, then this CD could just be for you. An emotionally charged recording to simply wash away those financial blues.
This is the second album by the duet for the Blue Note and marks a departure from the first which was heavily inspired by the sound of Brazilian tropicalia and 1960s psychadelia. Aiming far more at the pop end of musical matters, though still retaining some of the the easy lounge feel of the debut, The Bird and the Bee focus far more on the production side and string-laden songs such as ‘Witch’ and liad-back ‘Ray Gun’ offer a touch of sophistication. On the other hand there is a degree of ingenuity in ‘You’re a cad’, inpsired by the Muppets theme and ‘Diamond Dave’ hints at Swing Out Sister, though not nearly as soulful. Undoubtedly there is a certain floating quality to the songs overall, but they are quite forgettable and one wonders whether an audience for easy listening music of this nature exists. There may well be a niche in the market for this kind of music, but it is not one that that this writer is overly familiar with.