Monday, April 21, 2008

Guitar Heroes

Warning: this post is intended for mature audiences only; it contains coarse language for the sake of conveying emotion. So, you know, if you don't know what "fuck" means or find it insulting, get out of here. Also, you can find my review of Lionel Loueke's "Karibu" here.

Generally, it is the job of a critic to use words and phrases like "stellar," "magnificent," "brilliant range of tone," "emotionally interesting," etc. to talk about the art on which they are an expert. I just saw a concert that was so good I can't even think of a way to describe it in those terms; I've been waiting for a concert this good for a while. In the last two months I've seen the SFJazz collective, which was about a step away from being terrible, and Miguel Zenon, who was terrible. I didn't realize how bad these concerts were until the other night because I desperately wanted to enjoy them.

So, without any further adieu, Lionel Loueke's Trio performance at Oberlin Chapel in Oberlin, Ohio was fucking incredible. When was the last time you went to a jazz show where the band did two encores? Lionel Loueke did, and during the first encore (a performance of the song "Nonvignon;" you can hear it on "In a Trance" and "Karibu") he implored the audience to sing along. When was the last time you went to a jazz show and were asked to sing along? I'm going to fashion a guess and say never; not because jazz is inherently audience-inaccessible, but because the artists think of themselves as artists, not performers. Lionel Loueke thinks of himself as an artist but first as a performer, which explains why his concert was so good, and why Miguel Zenon's was terrible. Seriously, if Lionel Loueke can play a concert in which the simplest meter (as far as I could hear) was 7/8 ("Body and Soul"), and make it sound not only easy, but fun in the giddiest way possible, there's hope for jazz.

Kurt Rosenwinkel's new album is also live, and is also great. Rosenwinkel's aesthetic is very different from Loueke's- his music is much more opaque, and not nearly as joyful- but as far as I can tell from this live record, he still puts on one hell of a show. "The Remedy" documents a live performance of his band from The Village Vanguard in 2006, and the band (which includes Mark Turner and Eric Harland) is on fire. While all the tracks are great, my favorite is the title track, which grooves with more energy than anything else on this album. As opposed to building from solo to solo, Rosenwinkel lets the soloists find contours within his chord changes; Turner and Rosenwinkel have the most energetic solos, but there's something to be said for Aaron Goldberg's no less technical, prettier work on keys.

While I don't have to use the F-word to describe how happy I am about Rosenwinkel's new album (All of Kurt Rosenwinkel's albums are great; this new one may well be my second favorite after "Heartcore"), it doesn't change the fact that it happens to be a killer album, and thus I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Anyway, though, next time you can expect even more album reviews; at least a review of the Brian Blade Fellowship's new CD, but also hopefully one of Vijay Iyer's "Tragicomic" if I can get my hands on it.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the Loueke show too. He's very accessible for non-jazz kids. Also, keep up the good work. I look to your blog for new music.

Anonymous said...

good job baby