Thursday, July 21, 2011
Brass Bonanza (Part 1)
Last night, I hopped into the car and drove 80+ miles to Montague, Mass, the home of the Montague Bookmill, an old grist mill that's been converted into a bookstore/performance space with quite the cafe on the lower level. I went to see and hear TIN/BAG,the duo of Kris Tiner (trumpet) and Mike Baggetta (guitar), whose new CD "Bridges" (Mabnotes) is one of the better releases of 2011 (my review is here.) Opening the show was a high school friend of Baggetta's, singer-songwriter-acoustic guitarist Nathan Hobbs. In the humid air, with windows wide open, fans whirring and the sounds of the Cafe's customers ringing through the room, some of the subtleties of Hobb's lyrics got lost. But his guitar was mesmerizing, the slow quiet delivery of the words often hypnotizing, and, in the summer's heavy air, the music was soothing to the ears.
After a short break, Messrs. Tiner (a resident of Bakersfield, CA) and Baggetta (now living in New York City) moved into the title tune of the CD. The guitarist opened the piece solo, overtones, full chords, a handsome melody rising out of the introduction - Tiner, who gets his "wild on" with the Industrial Jazz Group, moved easily into his melody lines, never forcing the pace. His crisp tone meshed well with the fullness of the amplified guitar throughout the evening. Their music, too, was mesmerizing but a bit more playful with a Hank Williams tune (there was than a touch of Bill Frisell in Baggetta's sonic explorations) and a straight-forward reading of "Broken Windmills", a pensive ballad from the Blue Cranes. Closing with a Willie Nelson song (sounding a lot like "The Tennessee Waltz"), the music soared through the room, landing softly on appreciative ears. Despite the humidity, the intimacy of the music and the creativity of the duo made any physical hardship seem minor.
Although the duo does not play together as often as they (or music lovers) would like, they have a West Coast tour planned for October of this year. To find out more, go to either kristiner.com or www.mikebaggetta.com.
There are a few moments when the strings, to my ears, get in the way but, most of the time, the arrangements are imaginative, well-played and add greatly to the presentation. Randy Brecker never falters, displaying his creativity solo after solo, while members of DR also get the spotlight on a number of tracks. This may remind some listeners of Miles Davis & Gil Evans' work on "Miles Ahead" (no strings attached to that but listen to the rhythm sections) - "The Jazz Ballad Song Book" hearkens back to that collaboration and is mighty easy on the ears. For more information, go to reddotmusic.net.
Louis Armstrong took much heat during his life but, most often, let his trumpet and songs do the talking. Ricky Riccardi's book gives the man his proper due and it would be great to hear all the songs he references in the text. You can actually do that by going to Riccardi's excellent website - dippermouth.blogspot.com - and, what a treat that site is. Along with Terry Teachout's 2009 "Pops", "What a Wonderful World" makes abundantly clear just how much "Satchmo" meant to American music in the 20th Century.