Sun Ra recordings take time to absorb through the ears, heart, and brain. The emotional osmosis necessary to process his multi-faceted explorations, which most often fall under the heading of jazz, but are really a music unto itself, can take a while. Hence, after much listening to Modern Harmonic's 3-LP set, recorded in 1991 at the Inter-Media Arts Center in Huntington, NY and featuring the Arkestra in good form, it's time to declare this Record Day release a triumph.
One is a well-established reissue label, known the world over for its completist black boxes filled with beautifully remastered jazz recordings from the 1930s through the 1960s.
The other is a new label that records only new jazz, released in elaborate packages that include a poem and original artwork, not to mention transparent 180gm pressings, tying into the newly fashionable idea of a vinyl lifestyle.
Call me perverse, or perhaps I've just been around too many musicians for too long, but the part of Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones traveling show that I liked best was the very opening display in which you walk into a facsimile of the apartment that the five band members once shared in London when they were starting out. You could almost smell the rotting garbage and unwashed socks and underwear.
The latest brave adventurer to spend his evenings running off duplicate copies on half-inch or quarter-inch tape is singer/songwriter, producer John Vanderslice, in partnership with North Carolina-based Ramseur Records, has launched a new reel-to-reel tape venture. So far Ramseur is offering three records to be put on tape: Under Branch & Thorn & Tree (2015) and You Had Me at Goodbye (2017), both from buzzworthy singer/songwriter Samantha Crain, and Fences from the group Bombadil.
On Moon Saloon, Rhode Island's Arc Iris, led by singer Jocie Adams, has discarded any traces of the Americana that was present on the band’s self-titled debut. The sheer amount of textures present on Moon Saloon is wonderful, an attribute abetted by an atmospheric digital recording and a decent LP pressing.
Does having commercial leanings make you a traitor to the purity of your art? Can you make money in music and still have integrity? These eternal questions came to mind upon the death of singer Al Jarreau. Often savaged by critics and fans for his success, Jarreau cut his own path and by the time he died, at the age of 76, of respiratory failure on Sunday, February 12, he'd had more than a few last laughs on his detractors.
Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping and Dreaming
Eden River ERR-LP-01 (2 LPs). 2016. Ralf Kemper, prod., mix; Geoff Gillette, James Caruso, Sean O'Dwyer, Robert Kirkpatrick, engs.; Phil Ramone, mix prod.; Lawrence Manchester, Veith Semrau, mix. DDA? TT: 56:58
In 1992, just before Christmas, I sent out 24 copies of Jimmy Scott's newly released CD, All the Way, to friends, musical and otherwise. Most did not respond, but the eight or ten who did were on fire. "What is this?" "Who is this?" "How did I not know about this woman until now?"
At first glance the pairing of R. Stevie Moore (right), the Nashville born/New Jersey-residing DIY legend who over the past several decades has released literally hundreds of cassettesand, to be fair, some records he actually worked onand Jason Falkner (left), the always brilliant, sometimes cranky, LA pop auteur behind Three O'Clock, Jellyfish and The Grays (with Jon Brion), a couple of great solo records, and contributions to records by Beck, Aimee Mann and AIR, seems fairly odd. But once you listen to Make It Be, these two triangular pegs actually fit into their own unique space that's neither round not square.
Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions has wisely followed Russell's death with this superfine 200-gram, 331/3 reissue of this craggy 1970s landmark, Russell's best studio album until his final closing statement, 2014's Life Journey.