MIRROR, Charles Lloyd; ECM, released September, 2010. It drives me nuts that certain critics can’t see Charles Lloyd as anything but a Coltrane spin off. Beyond a certain, infrequently heard tonal similarity there’s a world of difference: different mood, different phrasing and yes, different moods. While the intensity of Coltrane’s music reflects the searcher, Lloyd’s music plays to realization, not the battle to attain it. Mirror is Lloyd’s most realized work, a whirling galaxy of expression and sensitivity, whether in his interpretation of “I Fall In Love To Easily” or the languid peace of “Dsolation Soud.” Pianist Jason Moran, bassist Ruben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland, masters in their own right, play as if in the presence of one ascended; respectfully, complimentary and full of aspiration. When speaking of the path to attainment over his rhythm section, Lloyd’s dulcent tones define his difference with Coltrane. The peace that comes of serenity, the creation that springs from peace.
END OF TH E WORLD PARTY, Martin Medeski and Wood, Blue Note, 2004. I know its shamefully lame to cite the playing of this disc as an act of solidarity with the Occupy Wall St. protesters so let’s just say it serves as a faraway soundtrack to the hope and tone of that phenomena (see “Bloody Oil”). MMW’s darkest, deepest and best guest-blessed (Marc Ribot on guitar; sorry Sco’) date ever. Gruesome groove.
LIVE/EVIL, Miles Davis; Columbia, recorded 1970. It’s probably a sign of adult imbalance that I’ve used the furious minor-key bugaloo (and equally furious blues-funk, if a distinction can be made) of the live dates of this original double lp as a touchstone for change in my life…for some 40 years. I do. DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin and Gary Bartz make it hurt as Miles works in a pinch. Even the butchery of Teo Macero’s jump cuts seems to work. Inamorata.
TINY VOICES, Joe Henry; Anti, recorded December, 2002. Why do we love this recording so much? Because of the sense it makes from background noise. And we have a partner who light up a room. Not your usual pop album.
DARIUS MILHAUD La Creation du Monde, Op 81, Ulster Orchestra conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier ; Chandos, released 1992 (includes Poulnec’s “Les Biches, Ibert’s “Divertissement” and Milhaud’s “Le Boeuf sur la Toit, Op. 58). Yes, we know that this piece is often credited with being the first piece to bring jazz to classical music (in 1923). Maybe. But then we consider Scott Joplin and many early jazz masters classical musicians. I like the piece because, in a time when the Rabbit is looking to move above ground, it brings visual impression to creation myths. And when the orchestra starts to swing — very much in the style of the period — I hear it as the same thing. If only acts of creation were as easy as this.