Travel and the heavy-baggage weight of the date made us delay a day. But listening, even in our heads, never stops…
TINY VOICES, Joe Henry; Anti, recorded December, 2002. Joe Henry is the perfect alt-rock musician, finding hooks inside musical hybrids, making something new of the traditional pop music forms of rock, blues and jazz. This is (currently) our favorite Henry (though we love them all, madly). A sonic three-ring circus hosting freak show lyrics, this one has us singing along until we break down laughing or go silent in puzzlement. “The ground wants you back, the ground wants you badly…” Henry’s a pop poet: “A cut-out picture of a sugar tart /With Olive skin and a purple heart, “ or “I can’t hold my ow against the heavy lean/of your perfume” sung in cool melodies floating on riffs and anthems hangs on the border of a strange collage of sounds. Trumpeter Ron Miles off–and-on kilter ares are a whistled challenge. And just when you think you’ve got the groove, along comes Don Byron’s bass clarinet to prove things aren’t quite what you thought. Catchy in a lock-down sort of way. And easy to identify with.
PHENOMENOLOGY, Liam Sillery; OA2 Records 2010 (recorded December, 2008). Trumpeter Sillery’s post-Jazz Messengers, neo-bop makes something new of the classic quintet. Smoothly polished themes, great harmonics and ultra modern soloing give this short collection a competency that invites grand thought and warm feeling. For those harried moments when you want someone to tell you “chill.”
VAUGHN WILLIAMS A PASTORAL SYMPHONY (NO. 3) , Sir Adrian Boult and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; EMI, recroded 1968, 1970. Music inspired by landscape. When I couldn’t get outside, I let Williams take me there. Later in the week, on an Oregon beach, A Pastoral played my mind. Orchestrated contentment graced with angelic presence in soprano Margaret Price. The Symphony No. 5 in D included on this record, continues the mood, though more harshly. Anyway, I feel better now.
ANTHEM, Ralph Towner; ECM, recorded February, 2000. Solo performance from a most sensitive guitarist. See above. The detail Towner sketches on 12-string is a wonder. Great versions of Scott LaFaro’s “Gloria Step” and Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” fit well with familiar (and not so) Towner creations. A marvel.
IN ‘N’ OUT, Joe Henderson; Blue Note, recorded April, 1964. I’ve been hitting period discs with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones outside of the Coltrane quartet and this recording, with trumpter Kenny Dorham and bassist Richard Davis, shows what the two brought to a session: propulsion, invention and intersect. Henderson, at his best, complains, coos, caterwauls and designs resolution inside the stickiest circumstances. Classic.