Monday, August 08, 2005

Music notes for July 2005

So I got a couple "new" discs from my CD club and have been listening to them lately.
Whisper Not by Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette (2000). Many who read my writing will note that I am particularly drawn to Keith Jarrett's music. I think it must be the intense, but controlled, emotion in his playing that makes me almost need this music. This two disc set, recorded in Paris, makes me wish all the more that I could see his "Standards" trio in person. The group moves quite naturally between bebopping numbers like the opening "Bouncing With Bud" and ballads such as the closer, "When I Fall In Love." I'm not sure why, but I really love "Poinciana," which earns its groove with skillful, emotive playing rather than tricks. I prefer to listen to this disc with the next selection in a playlist on my computer so I can have a few hours of uninterrupted bliss.

The Out-of-Towners by Jarrett, Peacock, DeJohnette (2004). I have heard a few of these pieces on KNTU, most notably the title track and "It's All In The Game" since the disc's release, and have looked forward to hearing the whole thing. I am certainly not disappointed; however, I do wonder why this isn't also a two disc-set. I feel as if I'm getting highlights from a terrific concert. I keep wanting more. Every cut is a winner. The trio plays like one might expect from three men who have been listening to each other for decades, but who have the energy of musicians just starting out.

I do wish to comment briefly on the fact that these discs have no liner notes. I suppose I can live without more pontificating prose, but something in me wants more to read. However, it is more important perhaps to let the music speak for itself.

As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays (1980). I had heard this album before and enjoyed it as much as the group recordings from this time period, however I had not listened much to it. A few weeks ago, on the way to visit someone in the hospital, I heard the title track. Well most of it. The song is over twenty minutes long, so I didn't get to the end. I couldn't remember for sure which disc it was on, a problem furthered by the fact that I probably first heard this song on Travels, one of the best live albums I've heard. Most of this disc is made up of the title track, a 20 plus minute opus that prefigures what we have twenty-five years later with The Way Up. This is an exciting and thoughtful composition, highlighting both virtuoso players. Nana Vasconcelos's percussion and vocal work is excellent. One can see why Metheny and Mays have used, in their group and in their solo projects, great percussionists. I remember hearing "September Fifteenth" on the Imaginary Day Live DVD and "'It's For You'" is featured in Metheny's Rarum: Selected Recordings disc. This is a must particularly for fans of Metheny's group works. (Now if we could get the duo to a release of acoustic duets as they have done on tour.)

Weather Report's Live and Unreleased. Critics have faulted this two-disc work with being uneven. It does juxtapose recording from different sets between 1975 and 1983 in what seems to be a haphazard collection rather than placing the cuts in chronological order. Perhaps if I was a more astute listener or musician, I would be bothered by this. Perhaps I need to listen closer. I enjoyed these quite a bit, however. I worried that this would have a bootleg quality that would belie the sound that never gets old or dated for me. I hear this and wish I'd been listening to jazz when this group was still together (I'm already sad that I never got to see Jaco Pastorius in any setting.).

What does trouble me about this is the omission of two of Weather Report's best songs, "Birdland"and "Boogie Woogie Waltz." Both of these are found on 8:30 a disc I haven't heard yet, but which gets pretty good reviews from fans of the group. The first song is probably their most popular and the second, one of my personal favorites, is even mentioned in the liner notes to this disc as being a breakthrough tune for the band. However, there is much to enjoy here and I'm likely to keep at it. I sure am thirsty to find 8:30 however.

For next month...Bill Frisell's Unspeakable and Live At Budokan by Dream Theater.

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