Wednesday, October 17, 2012
CDs with Lionel Loueke (as a guest)
"Biosphere" (ENJA Records) is both the name of his new CD and his quartet, a unit that features Lionel Loueke (guitar), Thomas Morgan (acoustic bass) and Dan Weiss (drums, tabla). The CD is a fascinating mix of Weber originals, a piece co-authored with Mr. Konitz, one Loueke composition, an arrangement of "Clocks" from Coldplay, Jamiroquai's "Cosmic", and a touching solo piano arrangement of Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven." Loueke's "Mivakpola" is a guitar-piano duo that reflects the influence of Ralph Towner while Weber's "Piecemeal" is an exciting slab of funk driven by Morgan and Weiss with catchy interplay between Loueke's acoustic guitar and the leader's Fender Rhodes. The bass solo on "Clocks" reveals Morgan's intelligent melodic side - when he and Weiss lock in, the music takes off. The title track opens on the active rhythms as the guitar and acoustic piano revolve around them. A quick break, then into a rubato piano and tabla dialogue that Morgan joins after a minute. In the background, one can hear Loueke clicking out a counter-rhythm and, after a while, the quartet moves into a section that sounds influenced by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays.
Throughout the program, the musicians engage in a variety of rhythmic and melodic dialogues, creating classic tension-and-release as well as solos that keep one's interest. This is a band that deserves to be heard live. For more information, go to www.florianweber.net.
"Triumph" (Dreamers Collective Records) is the percussionist second release under his own name (for his own label); he's created a suite that goes through various emotions, feelings, experiences and aspirations, ranging from "Purpose", "Joy ", "Longing", "Hope", "Sorrow and Wishful Thinking" to the title track. The main ensemble is a quartet composed of Nemeth, Loueke (guitar, voice), Joshua Redman (tenor and soprano saxophones) and Kenny Werner (piano, Fender Rhodes). Each of them has his own "Interlude" (numbered "I - IV"; Redman's tenor shares his with the drummer) while a majority of the "experiential" pieces have 5-person reed section (conducted and arranged by bandleader/composer Nicolas Sorin.) While there is no bass player, the bottom is covered by Werner, Loueke and Nemeth's drums. As for the music, listeners will smile at the rhythmic interplay, the strong yet wonderfully relaxed presence of Redman, Werner's dancing piano phrases, Loueke's joyous blend of percussive picking and melodic invention and the leader's propulsive, mischievous, drumming. "Longing" is a lovely ballad built off a deliberate piano theme supported by Nemeth's cymbals; Redman enters with the reed section for a secondary theme before a lengthy piano solo leading into Redman's rich tenor exploration. Loueke's acoustic guitar replaces the piano as the foundation before the reed section reenters to usher in the final section. My words do not do justice to the maturity of Nemeth's composition.
The appropriately-named "Joy" explodes out of the speakers thanks to the drums before moving into a rollicking groove. Listen to the acoustic guitar lines (and Loueke's spontaneous, wordless, vocal) rippling out over the funky percussion and Werner's active piano. The first "Hope" has an irresistible rhythmic drive, a splendid arrangement for the reeds, and the finely-enunciated left hand of Werner. "Hope II" shows up 3 tracks later, this time a bit quieter but no less funky, with a horn arrangement one might hear on recording by The Crusaders.
Playful, joyful, exuberant, touching and life-affirming, the music created by Ferenc Nemeth and his friends is a pleasure to get lost in. Yes, "Triumph" is an appropriate name for this program, one that will reverberate in your soul if and when you allow it in. For more information, go to www.ferencnemeth.com.
Here's a taste of this fine CD, courtesy of Dreamers Collective Records and IODA Promonet:
Joy (feat. Lionel Loueke, Joshua Redman, Kenny Werner) (mp3)
"Into The Air" is a multi-faceted recording, one that blends electronic wizardy with some serious funk. Not all the songs move this listener but there are pieces (such as the last 3 in the paragraph above) that are excellent. For more information, go to www.jeffcoffin.com/mutet/.