For all those who hold dear the notion that jazz has seen its best daysthat, like classical music, it now lacks star power (no more Birds, Mileses, or Coltranes on the marquees), has already said much of what it had to say, and what's left is merely esoteric noodling or soulless bop-by-rote mopping upthere is Terence Blanchard. Once the archetypal sideman, this New Orleanian contemporary of Donald Harrison and Wynton Marsalis has become a successful leader. His poise, generous spirit, and workaholic lifestyle not to mention his instantly recognizable trumpet tonehave quietly made him one of the leading figures in today's jazz mainstream.
Tune those young ears, Mr. Anderson! After a 30-year career in audio engineering that's seen his name appear in the credits of over 1700 albums, Jim Anderson, who won the 2013 Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album, for his remastering of Patricia Barber's Modern Cool, thinks education is the key to stemming the tide of degraded sound that threatens to swallow the recorded-music industry. Anderson, who's taught for a decade in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, starts his students early.
Pedrito Martinez: Rumba de la Isla
Pedrito Martinez, vocals, congas, chekere, cowbell; Niño Josele, guitar, clapping; Alfredo de la Fé, electric violin; John Benítez, acoustic & electric bass; Pirana, cajón, clapping; Román Díaz, batas, cajón, spoons, vocals; Xiomara "La Voz" Laugart, Abraham Rodríguez, backing vocals
Calle 54/Sony Masterworks 8876 540607 2 (CD). 2013. Nat Chediak, Fernando Trueba, prods.; Jim Anderson, eng. DAD? TT: 50:20
Cross-cultural mashups are all the rage. There's the BlueBrass mix of New Orleans brass band and bluegrass, reviewed in this issue. The Border Music project mixes David Hidalgo's Norteño/East L.A. rock with Marc Ribot's downtown New York jazz. Here, conguero Pedrito Martinez, born in Cuba but based in New York City, successfully crosses Afro-Cuban rumba with Andalusian flamenco to celebrate the work of flamenco composer and singer Camarón de la Isla. Born José Monje Cruz, de la Isla is probably best known outside Spain for his collaborations with guitarist Paco de Lucía; together they made nine records, and toured extensively throughout the 1970s. De la Isla died in 1992 at the age of 41.
"You see that empty space?" says Willie Nile, motioning toward a lot between buildings on Bleecker Street, an impish Irish grin flickering across his face. "They haven't built anything there yet because Anna Wintour lives around the corner. And that red-brick house over there, the one with the white door? That's where Dylan lived. I used to see Bob around the neighborhood now and again."
Doug MacLeod: There's a Time
Reference RR-130 (HDCD). 2013. Doug MacLeod, Janice Mancuso, prods.; Keith O. Johnson, Sean Royce Martin, engs. DDD? TT: 58:00
Like a lot of other once-pure forms of American music, the blues today has become a swirl of influences, mixing folk, rock, rhythm & blues, and even Latin flavors into a music that its aficionadosthat fervent contingent known as "blues nuts"have grudgingly accepted as being a part of the music they adore. But if blues fans thought Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan muddied the wellsprings of the Devil's own music, it'll be only a matter of time before rappers mix blues in with their beats, and thenhorror of horrors!dance music begins to "borrow" from da blues. Rather than resist these changes, blues fans should willingly embrace any new energies brought into the music; rather than ruin, these fresh ideas and passions may actually revitalize a musical form that many already see as a museum piece.
For better or worse, some musical careers are defined by a single searing moment in time and for Richie Havens, who died on April 22; his career will forever be linked to his appearance as the opener for the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Art Dudley browses the LP racks at the Quality Record Pressings booth. Photo: Ariel Bitran.
One of the fun sidelights of any audio show is visiting the rooms or booths of the high-end vinyl dealers who attend and, in that regard, the New York Audio Show 2013 was no exception. I spent much of the first day either listening to records via the Classic Album Sundays room with Colleen Murphy, talking about new releases with David Chesky (who I will get to in a moment), or thumbing through juicy looking new and reissue vinyl and DVDs at the booths of Acoustic Sounds, AIX Records, and SoundStageDirect.com.
"While the selection and fine tuning of exhilarating-sounding vintage audio equipment is an exciting, often life-long search, let's not forget it's ultimately the music that mattersmankind's mysterious mastery of making air move in esthetically & emotionally thrilling ways. Most importantly, remember to ask yourself the age-old question: Can I dance to it?"