Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wes Montgomery

My review of "Echoes of Indiana Avenue," an album of recently unearthed Wes Montgomery recordings, was just published in The New York City Jazz Record.

The first two paragraphs:

These nine tracks, the earliest known recordings of Wes Montgomery as a leader, don’t tell you much that you didn’t already know about the guitarist. It’s not surprising that Montgomery, who died in 1968, was about as well-formed as a soloist, accompanist and interpreter of melody as he was on recording dates that took place several years after these.

We’re told in the liner notes to "Echoes of Indiana Avenue" that the tracks are from 1957 and 1958, though that can’t be verified; it’s not known who made the recordings. Producer Michael Cuscuna acquired them in 2008 from guitarist Jim Greeninger, who had them digitized in 1990 and that’s as far back as the lineage goes. But educated guesses reveal that most of the recordings took place in clubs in Indianapolis, Montgomery’s home turf. We’ve never heard him in this environment before.

Read the whole thing here.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Value of Chaos

Aaron Novik's "Secrets of Secrets"
The Jewish Daily Forward just published my review of clarinetist Aaron Novik's new album, "Secrets of Secrets."

Here's the opening chunk: 

“Secrets of Secrets,” a new album by clarinetist Aaron Novik, has an air of doom about it.

The album takes its name and inspiration from a five-book series written by the Jewish mystic Rabbi Eleazar Rokeach, who lived in Worms and in 1196 witnessed crusaders slaughter his wife and children.

This isn’t the first time Novik has incorporated written sources into his music. “Floating World Vol. 1,” released last year, paid tribute to the poetry of fringe artists of the Mission District area in San Francisco, where Novik is based.

But “Secrets of Secrets,” composed of five tracks all longer than 11 minutes, is more abstruse than that. The music can be hard to listen to: tense and muddy and violent and powerful.

You can read the rest here if you'd like.