I've written so many times about how music can take us away from the madness of everyday life (although there are number of great albums that magnify and help one understand the complexities that surround us). Here are 3 such pleasant and diverse diversions.
Don't fret that the man has gone over to the totally serious side. Check out pieces such as "Paul Platypus", "Nine Piglets", and "Uncle Muskrat" and you may feel that you've fallen into the rabbit hole that so entranced young Alice. The flute and alto sax melody that introduces "...Platypus" is joyful, supported by a very active bass line, raucous guitar and snappy snare. Pianist Jason Yeager joins the group on several tracks including "..Muskrat" where he plays not only the handsome bluesy melody but also supplies a sweet solo. Khaimovich's bass lines are a pleasing counterpoint here as well (this time on acoustic). Britt Milewski's robotic recitation on "Minor Leaguer" tells an odd tale of a baseball player in a used-car limbo while the band swirl beneath him (Bennett plays flute, oboe,and clarinet in the background). There's a "poppy" bounce to "Strange Jim and the Zebra" while "Flow" zips along at a rapid with the leader's piccolo offering a melody with a Celtic tilt.
The only mystery about "The Mystery at Clown Castle" is how one suppresses a smile or stops from tapping his toes or keeps the windows closed while the music is playing. It's all done in fun yet without cynicism. The Daniel Bennett Group hits a sweet spot and does so without hurting any animals - seriously, this is good music.
For more information, go to www.danielbennettgroup.com.
The 74-minute journey runs the gamut of lineups, from McCraven's trio of Hill and Ullery to the quartet of Abrams, Parker, Hill and the drummer plus a number of tracks that feature vibraphonist Justefan. There is more of a sense of organization to the 4 sides of the LP package and the drummer's liner notes are a help in picking out the various group configurations. Yet, because I have the CD, the way I have enjoyed this music is to just sit back and let it flow. The "glue" here is the drummer; he keeps everyone moving. These improvisations blends soul music, African music, hip hop, jazz, and funk throughout the program. And, there's a mesmerizing, trance-like, quality to a number of pieces that is most appealing.
"In the Moment" can be listened closely, can rise and fall in the background, and in large or small chunks. Anyway you approach this music should reward you and it's fun to share the experience with fellow music lovers. It's fun and funky, the essence of collaboration and collegiality.
For more information, go to www.makayamccraven.com.
Click on the link below and enjoy the flow:
In the midst of a busy time, Lage went into the studio with co-producer Matt Munisteri and created his first solo guitar album. "World's Fair" (Modern Lore Records) is an all-acoustic adventure in song with 10 of the 12 pieces being original. Melody is king throughout but what is most impressive is the various moods the young man creates over the course of the program. "Peru" hints at both Lennon/McCartney and Paul Simon using rapid-fire single-note runs to tell its story. The gentle rhythm of "Ryland" opens to reveal a sweet folky melody line. The sweet mood is never interrupted by a showy riff or flashy solo. Chances are good there is a story behind "Missouri" (perhaps the song is dedicated to Missouri native Pat Metheny). Lage discovered the traditional "Red Prairie Dawn" through the work of fiddler Garry Harrison and it's such a delightful romp. The other non-original is the Rodgers/Hart ballad "Where or When" - the melody unfolds slowly but easily and, despite the lack of any solo, draws the listener back again and again.
The album closes with "Lullaby", its wistful melody filled with short but cogent silences, unfolding somewhat like McCartney's "Junk" or a ballad by Kurt Weill. It's a simple but emotionally rich work, one that leaves you feeling full yet waiting for another sweet song.
"World's Fair" is, at times, quiet, contemplative, haunting, and ever-so-gentle. Song is king and, while one can tell that Julian Lage is a fine musician, technique takes a back seat to melody. This is music that sounds good in the morning with the windows wide open and the birds singing their own songs. And, it's just as enjoyable late at night lying down in the dark in search of sense of peace. Great stuff!
For more information, go to www.julianlage.com.
Here's a track to play us to a new day: