Sunday, June 18, 2017

Michael Shrieve - Twoo Dors "In Palace Of Dreams"

Former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve's 1995 release Two Doors is appropriately titled, for it is really two albums in one, with two different trios providing the music. The first half of the record, subtitled "Deep Umbra," features Shrieve with guitarist Shawn Lane and bassist Jonas Hellborg performing eight jazz-rock compositions full of catchy themes and fiery improvisations. Lane is, simply put, one of the most technically gifted guitarists ever to pick up the instrument, and he records far too obscurely and infrequently. It is to his great credit that he never displays his abilities
gratuitously, but instead carefully measures them out for maximum impact. He is a consummate musician. The same could be said about Hellborg, who not only holds down the bottom end with his sensitive yet powerful bass, but also shares co-writing credits for seven of the eight songs that he appears on. The second half of the record, subtitled "Flying Polly," features Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz. This half of the record is jazzier and more avant-garde than the first half, and frankly doesn't work nearly as well. There are moments where some of the rockabilly jazz elements that Frisell and Horvitz explored in John Zorn's Naked City come to the foreground, but, besides that, most of this portion of the record sounds flat and uninspired. It is a shame that this had to be the case, especially considering how good the Lane-Hellborg trio is. However, Shrieve's drums are very nicely recorded, and he always plays the most appropriate thing for any given song, never showboating or otherwise distracting from the integrity of the composition. There is much merit in this frustratingly inconsistent album, and for fusion fans it is worth searching out. - by Daniel Gioffre, AMG

Artist: Michael Shrieve
Album: Two Doors "In The Palace Of Dreams"
Year: 1993-95
Label: CMP Records (1995)
Runtime: 76:31

Tracks:
Deep Umbra (1995)
1.  Stellar Rays (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 3:21
2.  Deep Umbra (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:39
3.  Sorcerer (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane / Michael Shrieve) 3:29
4.  Baraji (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 6:04
5.  Caress Of Lillith (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 4:18
6.  The Smiling Tarshishm (Michael Shrieve) 3:59
7.  Juvalamu (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:15
8.  Palace Of Dreams (Jonas Hellborg / Shawn Lane) 5:57

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Jonas Hellborg - Bass Guitar
Shawn Lane - Guitar, Voice

Flying Polly (1993)
9.  Locomotion (Michael Shrieve) 1:55
10.  Data Trash (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:55
11.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 7:17
12.  Your Saviour (Chris Cornell) 1:48
13.  Pipeline (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:46
14.  Crocodile (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 4:21
15.  Lincoln Logs (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 2:53
16.  First Train (Bill Frisell / Michael Shrieve) 0:37
17.  Queen Bee (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 12:04
18.  Flying Polly (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 1:51
19.  Stella (Bill Frisell / Wayne Horvitz / Michael Shrieve) 5:02

Personnel:
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Bill Frisell - Guitar
Wayne Horwitz - Organ

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Archie Shepp - I Know About the Life

Recorded in 1981 in a quartet setting featuring the great drummer John Betsch, bassist Santi Debriano, and pianist Ken Werner, I Know About the Life doesn't so much explore these standards as re-contextualize them in the canon. Opening with Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't," Shepp does to Monk's tune what Monk did regularly with pop tunes: he smears the melody all around a different harmonic context, adds a boatload of blues feel and a smattering of soul. His double times
with Betsch in the middle of the cut are stunning and humorous, and in spite of his solo honks and squeals, he never loses sight of Monk's tune. On his own "I Know About the Life," one can hear Lockjaw Davis, Ben Webster, and John Coltrane in his playing as Shepp builds on the deep soul and blues roots of his 1970s records like Cry of My People. The other two cuts here, a steaming muscular and frenetic read of Coltrane's "Giant Steps," and a nearly heartbreaking version of "'Round Midnight," reveal that the tradition for Shepp was not as it was for the coming reign of neo-trad revisionists who would re-imagine it in their own images: for Shepp here, as on many of his 1980s recordings (check "I Feel Like Going Home" with Horace Parlan), the tradition was an open-ended conversation to be annotated in the ballroom and on the back porch anytime one wished to step into it. Shepp's perception of the language of Ellington was -- and remains -- no less profound than Ellington's understanding of the language of Mingus, or Mingus' of Eric Dolphy's. The whispering sweetness tinged with crackling blues feel in "'Round Midnight" is one of the most important reads of this tune because it gives back to Monk what so many generic players tried to take away: the blood that lies at the heart of the ballad. Hearing Shepp in this light makes any serious jazz fan completely reconsider his contribution after the 1970s. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Archie Shepp
Album: I Know About the Life
Year: 1981 (Sackville Records)
Label: Hatology Records (2003, Remastered)
Runtime: 42:47

Tracks:
1.  Well, You Needn't (Thelonious Monk) 8:46
2.  I Know About The Life (Archie Shepp) 13:48
3.  Giant Steps (John Coltrane) 8:04
4.  'Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk) 12:09

Personnel:
Archie Shepp (Tenor Saxophone)
Kenny Werner (Piano)
Santi Debriano (Double Bass)
John Betsch (Drums)

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