Saturday, November 19, 2005

Music Notes for October/November 2005

Walter Beasley’s For Her disc isn’t terrible in the sense that one can’t listen to it. It is terrible in the sense that once one has listened, it has made no impact other than giving the impression that forty-five minutes have gone by without silence. The album is standard smooth jazz fare with is "nice" in its way, but not distinctive or even interesting.

The project also is guilty of doing what so many smooth jazz radio stations do. It contains vocal tracks that are really R&B songs with a sax solo. The title song, with its repetition of "I will....for her," is particuarly vapid.

Kurt Rosenwinkel's Deep Song reminds me a bit of Works For Me by John Scofield. Both contain lush, well crafted songs played by excellent guitarists supported by a cast of big names in jazz (starting with Brad Mehldau on piano and Joshua Redman on sax). But there the similarity ends. Rosenwinkel's disc is his own. The disc opens with the haunting "The Cloister," a tune that shows what right with jazz. I'm particularly impressed with Redman and Rosenwinkel's interaction here as the song reaches its peak at the end. "Brooklyn Sometimes" demonstrates Rosenwinkel's fluid playing, a la Metheny. Here one might miss Larry Grenadier's fine work at the drum kit, so this tune, like so many others on the album, will need repeated listenings to uncover its many layers of beauty. "The Cross" is a groovy, fun piece with a Redman solo that segues nicely into the main melody before Rosenwinkel takes over with a firey, sung over solo. Then there is the melody again before Redman and Rosenwinkel trade licks to an ending that feels so natural it is scary. Next is the ballad "If I Should Lose You."
Alex Acuna and the Unknowns: Thinking of You.This disc might be popular with the smooth jazz crowd, but I do think it is better than that. I've been interested in Acuna since I first heard him with Koinonia (an underappreciated group I very much with still played together). I'm not sure this album is as solid as any of their projects, and it may disappoint fans of Weather Report (another great band Acuna played for). However, it does have some fine moments, and is well worth listening to. It is a shame that I found it in the bargin bin. The disc deserves better treatment.

Last, I must make a note about the performance I went to by Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas. Their annual holiday concert this year was entitled "Fall Into Winter" and presented at the nearly full Meyerson. The selections of Christmas and holiday pieces should be a model for future programs. Each choir performed nearly flawlessly. If all holiday music was like this, then people wouldn't get bored so quickly.

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