Monday, October 27, 2008

Dutch Uncles
Face In

Tapete Records
10 song CD

If the Dutch Uncles sound like they're young and happy, it's because they are. This youthful quartet bounces along with a carefree spirit, led by singer Duncan Paton, whose gentle and rounded vocals sounds like a middle school boy who just happened to fall into the grips of a rocking garage band.

There's not much in the way of teen angst or aggression, yet the band brings in the edginess in a meddling of dissonance and herky-jerky rhythms. Big shimmering guitars and drums make just the right juxtaposition for the unassuming vocals, and it's a perfect fit. The band truly shines in the track Steadycam, where the blending of catchy pop, off kilter beats and Paton's distinctive crooning all comes together in a blissful and wistful state of grace.

MISH MASH Mandate: Ready, Steady, Go
Dutch Uncles at Tapete Records Website

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oscar Peterson
Live in '63,'64 & '65

Jazz Icons
16 song DVD

I hate to admit this to you dear readers, but when I discovered that the third live set on this disc included trumpeter Clark Terry with the original trio, I immediately skipped over the first two sets to watch the last one. You see, this was the classic lineup that was featured on the landmark 1964 album, Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One, one of my all-time favorite jazz albums, period. This DVD contains live versions of three of those tunes, plus another one with Terry. So, you'll have to forgive my impatience, as I could not wait through the other two sets with the remote being so close by and near my trigger finger. After witnessing that set twice (ahem), I moved back to the first two, overjoyed from end to begining and back to the end.

As mentioned above, there are three live sets presented on the DVD, the first being in Sweden in 1963, then Denmark in 1964, and finally, Finland in 1965. All three shows are wonderfully produced, with excellent video and audio quality. It's easy to see that Europeans took their jazz seriously in the 60s, and these high-quality, multi-camera recordings are proof positive of that fact. The famous trio of Peterson, Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen simply smoke their way through each track, showing their knack as one of the tightest jazz trios that ever existed.

In Sweden, trumpeter Roy Eldridge joins them for a smooth, muted take on But Not For Me, and in Denmark the trio slowly shuffles its way through an amazing rendition of Bags' Groove. But, it's the Finland tracks that steal the show, as Terry walks on after the opener Yours Is My Heart Alone to join the trio in their version of Mack The Knife. From there, Terry wah-wahs his way through Blues For Smedley and drifts dreamily in Misty. The real short-but-sweet treat here is the closer, Mumbles, where Clark Terry does his famous bluesy scat-singing as his alter-ego "Mumbles". Even though the song only lasts a couple of minutes, it makes owning this disc more than worthwhile by itself.

MISH MASH Mandate: Tripleplusgood
Oscar Peterson @ Jazz Icons Website

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alva Noto

26 track CD

German audio artist Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) twists and turns electronic music into an interesting and exciting direction, taking the underlying noise of the information age and transforming it into rhythmic beats. The way I understand it is that Nicolai/Noto mathematically mixes his electronic audio units into a 120 bpm grid.
It's a barrage of wonderful noise, wound together in beat packets that rip through the speakers unrelentingly. To enhance this in a most peculiar way, poet Anne-James Chaton then adds a spoken word vocal over a few of these tracks, providing a jarring human element thrown into this decidedly unhuman mix.

The second part of the album, however, takes the digital noise factor to its most base extreme. Noto converts non-audio computer program files into digital audio files, resulting in a wall of unbearable sound. Want to know what the programs Word, Excel, and Powerpoint sound like? Well, maybe you don't. It's hard to sit through a one minute and forty second track of pure digital chaos (Word), even out of morbid curiosity.

MISH MASH Mandate: Bring The Noize
Alva Noto Website
Alva Noto (US distribution)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Live in '63 & '67

Jazz Icons
14 song DVD

While the lineup of other Jazz Icons titles sounds like the standard rundown of Who's Who in jazz (and it's a list that would make you drool), thankfully the series also digs a little deeper to cover a few artists who may have been slighted by the passage of time. Rahsaan Roland Kirk is one of those artists. Sometimes dismissed as a novelty jazz act, this disc proves that his talent of playing more than one horn at once was more than a mere gimmick and an integral part of his unique playing style.

The DVD showcases three separate European live sets, two in Belgium and Holland in 1963, and a performance in Norway from 1967. The beauty of having the archival film is that we get to see Kirk in action. Hearing him play two or three horns at once is one thing, but seeing it is another. On an audio recording, three horns sounds like three horns no matter how many people are playing, but on video, the full effect is felt as we see Kirk fingering and blowing his horns like a man possessed by the music. Having only heard his recordings over the years, I personally had never seen Kirk in action before, so it was a pleasant treat to put his technique into perspective.

The culmination of his distinct talent is evident in the track Three For The Festival, which is presented here twice, from each of the 1963 concerts. Kirk plays three sax parts simultaneously in this tune, along with a separate flute solo. When he plays the three horns at once, he sounds like an entire horn section ripping out. His sound is not weakened by the extra load, instead it expands and explodes with fervor. It's an amazing amount of music from one person, and seeing it does not make it any easier to believe.

MISH MASH Mandate: Three Is A Magic Number
Rahsaan Roland Kirk Page @ Jazz Icons