Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Axe - The Wolf That House Built

Technically this is an Epic release, but those in the know will see Adrian Sherwood listed as producer and Skip McDonald as sole performer and understand immediately: in all but name, this is an On-U Sound production. What does that mean? It means that groove will be primary, words secondary, and overall sound will be dark and thrilling; it means that weird samples will bubble up unpredictably from beneath churning funk and reggae rhythms; and it means that a certain degree of dubwise anarchy will infuse every note. What distinguishes this album from other On-U projects is the raw material: whereas an On-U Sound album generally builds on a reggae foundation, Skip McDonald's background is in the blues, and what he has put together here is a tribute to Howling Wolf. This is a roiling pastiche of samples taken from Wolf's singing and speaking, all of them thrown into a stew of funk and reggae beats and interspersed with McDonald's own multi-tracked vocals (which will sound very familiar to fans of Tackhead and Strange Parcels, both of which were founded by him). It's hard to identify highlights here, but some of the album's especially strong moments come during "Ride On," which samples Howling Wolf's discussions of life on the road, and the primarily instrumental "Out in the Rain and Cold." Exquisite. - by Rick Anderson, AMG 

Artist: Little Axe
Album: The Wolf That House Built
Year: 1994
Label: Wired
Runtime: 63:27

1.  Ride On (Fight On) (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 5:24
2.  The Time Has Come (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 5:05
3.  Out in the Rain and Cold (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 4:35
4.  Back to the Crossroads (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:37
5.  Never Turn Back, Pts. 1 & 2 (A. Lomax / Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 7:21
6.  Another Sinful Day (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:05
7.  Crossfire (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:29
8.  Wolf's Story (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 4:20
9.  Hear My Cry (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood / Doug Wimbish) 7:00
10.  Dayton (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 6:10
11.  Falling Down (Bernard Alexander) 4:26
12.  Wake the Town (Bernard Alexander / Adrian Sherwood) 3:55

Bernard Alexander (aka Little Axe, Skip McDonald) (Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard, Bass and Programming)
Doug Wimbish (Bass Guitar)
Keith Leblanc (Drums)
Talvin Singh (Tablas and Percussion)
Kevin Gibbs (Vocals)
Saz Bell (Vocals)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yusef Lateef - The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef

On The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef, Riverside seems eager to present Yusef Lateef, technical virtuoso, on a series of songs that step closer to jazz tradition than any of his work in the recent past. Largely absent are Lateef's experiments with Eastern modes, rhythms, and instrumentation, and in their place is a collection of largely upbeat, accessible songs, with a balanced mix of standards and originals. Much of the introspective, personal quality of his previous albums seems lost in the effort, but Lateef's playing still remains stellar, especially on oboe. That instrument, which is by nature soft and muted, is given enough power by Lateef to lead on several songs, most beautifully on "Salt Water Blues," where its naturally melancholy sound seems perfectly matched with the low, rounded tones of Lateef's rhythm section, especially Ron Carter's bowed cello. The quintet also shines on the following track, Joe Zawinul's "Lateef Minor 7th," where they provide a gentle counterpoint to Lateef's sweet flute line. Not quite as expansive or daring as much of Lateef's other recordings, The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef still documents a fine musician at work during the peak of his career. - by Stacia Proefock, AMG

Artist: Yusef Lateef
Album: The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef
Year: 1960
Label: OJC (Remastered, 1992)
Runtime: 42:21

1.  Goin' Home (Antonin Dvorák/Mark Fisher) 5:04
2.  I'm Just a Lucky So and So (Mack David/Duke Ellington) 4:39
3.  Quarantine (Abe Woodley) 7:03
4.  From Within (Yusef Lateef) 4:14
5.  Salt Water Blues (Yusef Lateef) 6:50
6.  Lateef Minor 7th (Joe Zawinul) 5:01
7.  Adoration (Yusef Lateef) 4:34
8.  Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me) (Sidney Clare/Con Conrad) 4:56

Yusef Lateef (Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, Flute)
Ron Carter (Cello) - 1,2,4-7
Hugh Lawson (Piano, Celeste)
Herman Wright (Double Bass)
Lex Humphries (Drums, Tympany)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Arto Lindsay - Noon Chill

This disc proves the adage that you shouldn't judge a book (or CD) by its cover: beneath a blurry and daunting photo of Lindsay as a soggy frogman, the more adventurous buyer will discover hypnotic rhythms and enigmatic lyrics. While Lindsay's voice is thin (and sometimes flat), his narcotic delivery is nicely suited to the pictures he paints. Check out the Brazilian flavors of "Simply Are" or the trance groove of "Ridiculously Deep," and you'll hear why this cult favorite has won the admiration (and guest appearances) of musicians like Nana Vanconcelos, Mitchell Froom, Peter Scherer and others. So put the cover away and let your ears be the judge. - by Tim Sheridan, AMG

Apart from the brief guitar freak-out on "Anything" and the hungover New Orleans brass-band feel of "Gods Are Weak," Noon Chill mostly sees [Arto] Lindsay wondering aloud about what make-out music might sound like in a future in which thin wrists are sexy and jungle rhythms, ambient detachment, and global fusion are taken for granted. The result sounds like an existential Sergio Mendes with his female chorus replaced by Future Sound of London’s electronic pulsations. Indeed, Lindsay’s occasionally stilted language makes Noon Chill often sound like he’s updating the bossa nova of his Brazilian childhood for urban neurotics too self-aware to utter a cheese pick-up line at the beach. In other words, Arto Lindsay is a lounge lizard even 99-pound weaklings can believe in. -- Spin Magazine

Artist: Arto Lindsay
Album: Noon Chill
Year: 1998
Label: For Life
Runtime: 44.27

1.  Noon Chill (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:35
2.  Whirlwind (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:40
3.  Simply Are (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 3:40
4.  Blue Eye Shadow (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:28
5.  Mulata Fuzarqueira (Noel Rosa) 3:06
6.  Ridiculously Deep (Arto Lindsay / Vinicius Cantuaria / Melvin Gibbs) 4:08
7.  Anything (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Sussan Deyhim) 4:25
8.  Gods Are Weak (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 2:36
9.  Take My Place (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 4:14
10.  Daily Life (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 1:31
11.  Light Moves Away (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs) 3:24
12.  Why Compare (Arto Lindsay / Andres Levin / Melvin Gibbs / Lucas Santana) 3:34
13.  Auguri (Arto Lindsay / Davi Moraes / Marisa Monte) 2:06

Arto Lindsay (Vocals, Guitar)
Davi Moraes (Acoustic Guitar, Surdo)
Melvin Gibbs (Bass, Surdo, Acoustic Guitar, Programmed, Keyboards)
Andres Levin (Programmed, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Keyboards)
Nana Vasconcelos (Repinique, Pandeiro, Congas, Shaker, Surdo, Cymbal, Percussion)
Marty Ehrlich (Bass Clarinet)
Ravi Best (Cornet, Trumpet)
Vincent Chancey (French Horn)
Joshua Roseman (Trombone)
Ryuichi Sakamoto (Piano [Prepared], Keyboards, Piano) - 3-5,7,12
Peter Scherer (Sampler, Piano) - 1-3,9,10,13
Sussan Deyhim (Vocals) - 7,12
Gustavo de Dalva (Atabaque, Agogo, Shakers) - 11
Fernanda Torres (Voice) - 11
Mitchell Froom (Claviola) - 5
Vinicius Cantuaria (Acoustic Guitar) - 6


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