|photo by Radcliffe Roye|
The title suite, with subtitles that include "Cyclone", "Hurricane", "Icy Fog", "Typhoon" and "Tornado", is actually more fanciful than stormy most of the time. In fact, "Typhoon" is more of a ballad than a fearsome weather event, with muted trumpet, numerous short stretches of silence. Only "Tornado" lives up to its name with the furious twisting bowed bass lines and snaky tendrils of melody from the trumpet - even on this track, there is a section where the 2 musician slow down as if to take shelter.
"Celestial Weather" is an often fascinating hour of sonic explorations from 2 musicians comfortable in their own skins and willing to take chances. The excellent sound quality allows the listener to feel the force that is Wadada Leo Smith and the splendid work of John Lindberg. Dig in.
For more information, go to tumrecords.com/046-celestial-weather.
Here's the duo in concert 4 months before the recording:
here). His new album is John Raymond & Real Feels (Shifting Paradigm Records) and features the leader exclusively on flugelhorn partnered with guitarist Gilad Hekselman (who played on Raymond's 2012 debut CD) and drummer Colin Stranahan.
The 10 tracks include several folk songs, Radiohead' leader Thom Yorke's "Atoms for Peace", Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee", Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" and Dave Holland's "Blues for C.M." The recording opens with the lone original work, Raymond's "Thaddeus" (possibly dedicated to another fine flugelhorn player, the late Thad Jones) - it's a snappy piece, showing off the collective strength of the trio. Shanahan swings mightily, Hekselman gets in a great groove and Raymond plays a strong melody and solo.
The album is infused with a healthy dose of Americana. The bouncy "I'll Fly Away" (a hymn from the pen of Albert Brumley) may remind some of the work of Bill Frisell and Ron Miles - this trio drives this piece straight to church and into a backyard barbecue. "Amazing Grace" (not American in origin but treated that way in the arrangement) opens with an unaccompanied flugelhorn solo (not the melody)before the drums and guitar enter to help Raymond play the original theme slowly and sweetly. Later in the program, the traditional English ballad "Scarborough Fair" is gently but firmly presented with the undercurrent of Stranahan's floor-tom work and the interactions between Raymond and Hekselman. The trio really swings the daylights out of "This Land is Your Land" with fine solos from flugelhorn and guitar while the drummer creates quite a storm beneath them.
|photo by Andrea Carter|
The program closes with a impressionist reading of McCartney's "Blackbird", eschewing the melody until late in the piece. It's quite an effective way to end the album in reminding the listener that musicians have the freedom to take songs familiar to most people and have fun while respecting the intent of the composer. There's a feeling of joy throughout the recording, the joy that these musicians have working together and "playing music in the true sense of play. John Raymond & Real Feels is the real deal - kudos all around.
For more information, go to www.johnraymondmusic.net.
Here's Messrs Raymond, Hekselman and Stranahan with Yorke's "Atoms for Peace":
While the guests do add much to the stew, the basic quartet plays with its usual gusto and style. "AKA Reib Leitsma", from the pen of the late South African ex-patriate Sean Bergin, closes the program with a strong beat, a reminder that this music, even as the soloists blow mightily, is aimed towards the feet and the heart. Music serves myriad functions, communicating even without words the importance of working, celebrating, and respecting each other. "A New Kind of Dance" will move you in many ways, all of them life-affirming.
For more information, go to www.482music.com/albums/482-1092.html.
Give a listen to the title track: