Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

 

March 26, 2010

 

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! Dave Holland Octet – Pathways (jazz)

 

Even if you’re a jazz beginner with a Miles Davis album and maybe a John Coltrane in your collection, Pathways is your next must-buy.  Dave Holland is among the most influential inheritors of those giants, and he’s becoming something of a legend in his own right.  While the melodies can sound a little obtuse at first, his compositions have an uncanny sense of harmony to which an eight-piece band (five horns, drums, bass, and vibes) gives lush expression.  When you’re done listening, go to your friend the jazz nut and say “Have you heard the new Dave Holland?”  Watch their jaw drop at your newfound hipness.

 

Listen to Dave Holland Octet “Sea of Marmara

 

! Absolute Ensemble with Joe Zawinul – Absolute Zawinul (jazz)

 

Many are the musicians who claim to be breaking new ground, but few are the ones who actually do.  In this pairing of an experimental chamber ensemble with one of the pioneers of jazz fusion, you’ll find some of the most inventive music you’ll hear all year.  The pieces included here are vibrant and accessible with global influences alongside classical and jazz.  Strings and winds form the base of the sound, with judicious use of electronics and appearances by everything from vibraphone to thumb piano.  Exciting, original, pathbreaking work.

 

Listen to Absolute Ensemble with Joe Zawinul “Bimoya

 

* Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars – Rise & Shine (world)

 

Out of a devastating experience of war comes some of the most joyous music you’ll ever hear.  Choral call-and response vocals, ringing electric guitar, and loads of percussion dare you not to move.  A heavy dose of reggae adds to the celebration

 

Listen to Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars “Tamagbondorsu (The Rich Mock The Poor)

 

* Bonobo – Black Sands (Electronic)

 

Bonobo sculpts panoramic vistas of cool sound using downtempo beats augmemnted with strings, flutes, and voices.  Seamless transitions create a continuous, enveloping musical experience.

 

Listen to Bonobo “El Toro

 

Summertown RoadSummertown Road (bluegrass)

 

These guys hit the sweet spot – perfect high harmonies, stellar picking across the board but especially from the banjo player, and sweet songs designed for the open air.

 

Listen to Summertown RoadRosalee

 

 

Also good this week: She & Him, Gretchen Wilson, and even Justin Bieber’s better than you might think.

 

 

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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