Friday, October 07, 2011

Various Artists
Barbecue Any Old Time
Blues From The Pit 1927-1941

Old Hat Records
24 song CD
20 page booklet

Once again, Old Hat Records is back with an excellent collection of early 20th Century music, and this time they're taking us to the barbecue pit. Trust me when I say that you don't hear this every day - 24 old blues tunes dedicated to eating barbecued meat. While it's unique, fun and amusing, it also provides an examination of early 20th Century culture, specifically how the migration of poor Southerners spread the influence of their food and music to other parts of the country. The full-color booklet gives a history of the music and the artists, and how barbecue became a phenomenon across the country.

Who couldn't fall in love with song titles like these: "Pork Chop Blues", "Pepper Sauce Mama", "Gimme a Pig's Foot and a Bottle of Beer", and "I Heard the Voice of a Pork Chop"? My absolute favorite track on the album, however, is the ode to pork by Blind Boy Fuller, entitled "I Crave My Pig Meat". It's a love song to his favorite food, and you can almost taste the smokey barbecue while he sings that pig meat is "something I do crave, I mean it".

MISH MASH Mandate: Barbecue Blues
Old Hat Records Website

Monday, July 04, 2011

Rival Sons - Pressure and Time

Not really a review here, but instead, one of those moments where you want to share something cool with the rest of the world. One listen to this and you realize that rock-n-roll is indeed still alive, to a certain extent. Sure, you've heard it all before - big guitars, screaming vocals, histrionics, and lots of pouting and preening. Yet, it's a formula that still works when done with the right attitude. So, turn it up and try not to over-analyze. You're welcome.

MISH MASH Mandate: The Heart of Rock and Roll
Rival Sons Website

Friday, June 17, 2011

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

The Sesjun Radio Shows

Beeld En Geluid/T2 Entertainment
2 CD Set

Here's another incredible set of live tracks from the Sesjun Radio Shows, this time featuring hard bop drumming legend Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers. Captured in four different sessions in the Netherlands between 1978 and 1983, about a decade before his death in 1990.

The sets show an aging jazz player still in his prime, surrounded by a younger team of musicians like Bobby Watson, David Schnitter, Jean Toussaint, and Donald Harrison on saxes, along with a host of others. The music is spot on hard bop jazz, with soulful horns blaring and Blakey pounding away with his incessant and forceful rhythms. Sound quality-wise, it couldn't get much better for a live radio show, no complaints here. A must have for fans of classic Blue Note-era hard bop.

MISH MASH Mandate: Blakey Bop
Art Blakey Sesjun Radio Shows on Amazon

Friday, April 22, 2011

Michel Legrand

Legrand Jazz

Arthaus Music

I must admit, while I have always appreciated the work of Michel Legrand, he has never been on the top of my list as one of the all-time jazz greats. To me, he has always been the jazz composer who wrote film scores and movie soundtracks, albeit very good ones. Now my opinion has changed, as this live DVD attests to the true scope of his talent. Backed by the London Big Band Orchestra, Legrand shows off his wares, delivering a stunning performance that starts with a bang and never lets up. Honestly, this is one of the best modern big band performances I have ever seen or heard.

The brilliance of the performance lies in Legrand's exuberance; he is alive and full of energy, so very into the music. His enthusiasm is infectious, and it is obvious and he and his band are having a blast. Later in the show, he is joined by guitar great Sylvain Luc and British pop singer Alison Moyet (formerly of Yaz). Their presence adds another layer of depth to the performance, yet the central focus is totally Legrand - he steals the show in every way possible.

My only complaint, and it is minor, is a distracting continuity error where closeups of the drummer show him missing a bow tie, which is present in the wide shots. Obviously some of the footage was taken from a different performance, and while it is not really a deal-breaker, it is a jarring visual to those of us who notice such minor trivial details. Rant over.

MISH MASH Mandate: Legrandstand
Legrand Jazz @ Naxos

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Five Eight
Your God Is Dead To Me Now

Iron Horse Records
14 song CD/LP

The Athens-based juggernaut still rolls on, over two decades going strong, yet with only a handful of albums to their credit. But, oh what albums they are! This latest installment from Five Eight, their first since their eponymous 2004 release, is by far their most introspective and controversial, bringing together an amazing group of songs that are among their all-time best. There's anger, but it's focused; there's fiery rock, but it's purposeful and mature in execution.

Of course, the centerpiece here is the title track - which on first listen appears to be an atheistic screed against religious beliefs, but under the surface seems to be a commentary on the false gods of religious zealots. No matter how you slice it, it gets you and captivates you immediately. It's deep, it's thought-provoking, and it's one of the best songs Mike Mantione has ever written.

By the way, if you've never seen them live, you must. Make it a point.

MISH MASH Mandate: Losing My Religion
Five Eight Website

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Max Roach

Live In Berlin

5 song CD

This is a great 1984 live set from the piano-free Max Roach Quartet, which features Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet, Odean Pop on tenor, and Tyrone Brown on bass. The music ranges from the soulful take on Duke Jordan's Jordu to a free exercise on Coltrane's Giant Steps. The band is in top form, and Roach proves that he still had what it took to be a bandleader, pushing his band where he wanted, all the while maintaining enough creative control to rip out some great solos along the way. Highly recommended.

MISH MASH Mandate: Maximum Roach
Max Roach Live In Berlin @ Amazon