Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 60: Avishai Cohen "Devotion" & Lee Morgan "The Rumproller"

Well, it's a day without Duke Ellington, so that must mean it's another day for a Blue Note Rudy van Gelder recording. That and a CD I know nothing about and don't have any liner notes for...away we go...

Avishai Cohen

There's got to be a term for this. Someone has to have identified this as a distinct style and I just don't know about it yet. It's a certain kind of progressive sound that was really popular in the 90s (I don't know if people are still doing it now). It's really distinctive of that 'young gun' crowd I had talked about earlier, the new wave of academic jazz performers.

Wiki isn't really any help here (I suppose I rely too much on Wiki, and I certainly understand its weaknesses, but I decided that there was no point in pretending to be an expert on these performers, rather be honest about the fact that quite often I have to look them up since this should be about my impressions of them in regards to having carried it around for so long instead of presenting myself as any kind of authority.) Anyway, Wiki sites a blend of Middle Eastern and Eastern European influences in his jazz, which might be the case in his current recordings more than it is here. There are certainly some different harmonies and rhythms here, but this sounds very much in that class of Jacky Terrasson or other progressive jazz artists of the 90s. This is not to say that they sound exactly alike or that there is no individuality to their performance. One of the great things about jazz is that even the same artist would have a hard time sounding the same twice in a row.

But I'm starting to feel like I could listen to the first few bars of a recording and go, "That guy was young and new in the 90s." The music is both sparse and complex, segmented in a way that older forms of jazz wouldn't be. There is a lot of layering, which seems contrary to that 'sparse' comment, but it's not thick layering, if that makes any sense. Tempo changes, time changes, even style changes within a single piece are not uncommon. Unison lines trade up with counter melody and repeated figures. And the playing is always very aggressive, even during ballads.

He apparently came up through Chick Corea so that makes a certain degree of sense, because in a lot of was Corea might be considered the father of this kind of sound. Maybe not, since I'm just now piecing this together, but I put it at good odds.

Also not uncommon is the sort of newish third (fourth stream?) style that will make use of larger string arrangements and even, apparently, electronica like in Ti Da Doo Di Da. But this is a bass player's album, so it might just be an excuse to use a different bass, which has a pretty odd tone on it. My brother might be able to identify it, I'm not that good with electric instruments.

Well, there's that Middle Eastern/Eastern European influence, it's pretty present in Linda De Mi Corazon. And the Eastern European again (complete with voice at the beginning calling out in an accent, "Igor come! We play Slow Tune!) is heard on, of course, Slow Tune. And apparently the next two tracks. So basically he backloaded and grouped up all of that so that I would look silly declaring it not present after only the first two tracks...

Lee Morgan
The Rumproller

Seriously, how can you go wrong with an album called The Rumproller? So it's another Rudy Van Gelder edition hard bop Blue Note album. For a moment they felt left out, what with all the Duke Ellington going on the last few days. Hard bop is creeping up on blues and big band for most represented in the Albtross so far. And blues is kind of cheating, since I don't divide that up into 'Chicago blues' and 'country blues' etc. Without that it would be big bands followed closely by hard bop.

Seriously, though, that opening track rocked.

The problem with having so many of these RVG editions is that I'm running out of things to say.

At one point I was given a large collection of mock up album covers for all of these editions, well, not me--the store. So everyone got to pick through them and I got what was left. The problem was that the best ones were also the coolest looking ones, so I didn't really end up with that great of a collection. I haven't seen that in a few moves, so I'm guessing it didn't survive, so it's probably for the best that I didn't score the cool ones. Though I may have had this one.

There's a kind of cool 'hard bop meets calypso' recording called Eclipso on here.

Another contender for awesome track name, this CD closes out with Venus Di Mildew.

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