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*...For the Old Fart’s favorite jazz CD’s of 2002 click here.
Elmore James-Red Hot Blues-The searing slide guitar, pelvic workout rhythm and gut-wrenching vocals of his best cuts-beautifully re-mastered on one disc. If you don’t own this you don’t know shit about rock and roll.
Rockhouse Ramblers-Torch This Town-St. Louis’ best country band is also its best jumpin’ swing band is also its best rock-a-billy band is also its best harmony singing band. Buy this. Then go see, or better yet, go dance to them, live. You’re lucky they ain’t left town yet.
Solomon Burke-Don’t Give Up on Me-The Bishop of Soul puts songs by Dylan, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits Nick Lowe and more on the low blue flame and lets them simmer. This is not a classic soul (meaning nostalgia) album. It burns a classic soul singers chops and worldly wisdom into some really good songs.
Ghenta Buana Sari-The Works of I Wayan Gandra-Back in 1984 I had to travel half way around the world and then up a volcanic mountain in the back of a pick-up truck (the locals claimed it was the only bus) to the tiny village of Peliatan on the Indonesian Island of Bali to hear the world’s most spiritually and musically advanced Gamelan orchestra. It was so totally mind-blowing that I moved there for a month just so I could attend their daily rehearsals. All you have to do is buy this disc to get the same thing in the comfort of your own home-without amoebic dysentery. Here they perform a set of compositions by the Duke Ellington of Gamelan music.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band-Will The Circle Be Unbroken Vol. III-Old-time country music jam session w/Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Allison Krause, Sam Bush, Willie Nelson, Iris Dement…and a host of others. This is what country musicians sound like when they escape from producers and record label accountants and play songs they love in their most unaffected styles. They sound like they are enjoying themselves; like the music is a vehicle for the RELEASE from suffering. If the shit-kicker realism of O! Brother Where Art Thou is your cup of country music, this loose-limbed, but sinewy pickin’ session will satisfy.
Mississippi Fred McDowell-Best of-Culled from about a dozen LP’s he released back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. This is ball and chain, nail driving acoustic slide guitar over heartthrob rhythm. Fred’s deep, gruff growl delivers motion and emotion. Delta dirt and African ancestral spirits haunt every note.
Ustad Zakir Hussain-Essence of Rhythm-The world’s greatest drummer is a tabla player in the Indian classical tradition. He can lay out melodies-complicated melodies-and variations on those melodies, and harmonies and rhythms SIMULTANEOUSLY, using only his fingers and two little drums….and for you DJs:…a lifetime’s worth of break beats on one disc.
Green Day-International Superhits-My 13 year old dragged me kicking and screaming to their concert and I fell in love. They have energy and gumption… and twelve years of touring has slashed the crap out of their pop/punk power trio sound-the Beatles of the ‘90’s.
John Fahey-Of Rivers and Religion-America’s genius of the acoustic guitar’s luscious, sensuous, 1972 essay on the mystic power of big muddy rivers is finally re-issued. Fahey’s got a heart full of empty, a handful of guitar strings and a sympathetic acoustic orchestra to do his bidding…. beautiful…mellow…opulent.
DJ Cheb I Sabbah-Krishna Lilah-Really cosmic (or really stoned) veteran ‘Frisco DJ compiles and mixes (gently, but firmly) an overview of India’s two major schools of classical/sacred music into a primer cum sampler’s brew of Hindu rhythm, heart and soul.
Frank Proffitt-Traditional Songs and Ballads of Appalachia-Reissue of a bunch of ‘60’s cuts by the Mr. Natural of the folk music revival. Proffitt, one of the great old-time banjo pickers, was discovered sitting on his front porch in Reese North Carolina, plunking the bejeezis out of his home-made, fretless banjo and spinning out songs and banjo tunes. This disc gives you a chance to sit there next to him. Frank never put on any airs or gussied the music up for the city folks. Deceptively smooth and subtle playing and singing mark this superb basic textbook on the songs and styles of the southern mountains.
Brun Campbell-Joplin’s Disciple-A miracle on a disc…The only student of Scott Joplin’s to make it to the recording era. This is some raw whorehouse ragtime piano by a St. Louis ivory banger who ran off when he was 15 years old and followed Scott Joplin and Tom Turpin around to swipe their licks (He found them playing in a tent show on the lot where St. Louis’ Union Station now stands)…in the 1890’s. He stole from the best then spent half a century creating his own style. Over the years he played for Buffalo Bill, Cole Younger, Emmett Dalton and Teddy Roosevelt, among others.….and then lived long enough to record these sides for a tiny local label in the 1950’s. He was in fine form. It’s as full of life as music can be.
Kadri Gopalnath-Gem Tones-As American jazz gets stuck in ruts of its own making, I turn more and more to the music of India to get my improvisational rocks off. Here, an alto sax master who is trained in the South Indian school of sacred raga lets it fly. …sounds like Eric Dolphy becomes a Hindu. Luminous ?…How about glowing like a North Korean nuke in an arctic night?…This is what jazz would sound like if it had a couple of thousand years to develop and grow like the music of South India has.
Various-The Traveling Record Man-Between 1947 and 1953 record producer Joe Bihari and Rock and Roll Godfather, Ike Turner, scoured Mississippi for “the next big thing”. When their big black Cadillac filled with portable recording equipment pulled up the dirt drive most of these bluesmen knew this was their one shot at escaping a life sentence of share-cropping, outdoor plumbing and cross-burnings. They threw everything they had at it. Some (Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James) succeeded. Some (Smokey Hogg, Driftin’ Slim, Boyd Gilmore) almost succeeded. Many of the 24 sides on this disc of desperate, razor-wielding, bottle throwing, semen encrusted, juke joint shakers were too thick to release back then. I guess we’re just lucky.
For more columns by the Old Fart click here