Thursday, May 10, 2012

Something about you...

I meant to write about this album in FEBRUARY [seriously, that's when I started the draft that included an embed of the album - sorry for abandoning ETTS, but I'm making a concerted effort to get back on the long(er) form posts going forward, including a forthcoming breakdown of my votes for the Polaris longlist].

Something About April kinda feels like it was tailor-made for me. The retro-soul vibe that dips into electronics, guest artists that include Dennis Coffey, Shawn Lee and Calibro 35, album artwork that looks like a Leroy Hutson record, released on the imprint of the only magazine I still read religiously (apart from Sports Illustrated in the can of course), Wax Poetics. Radiohead called this ages ago.

Things get off to an auspicious start with "Turn Down The Sound" (reverse psychology?) - eerie vocals and an ominous bass-line before the vamping organ drops into the mix; a simple snare and hi-hat provide the forward momentum. It's clear from the get-go that, like his bio says, Adrian Younge"has dedicated his life to the study of classic soul music" - this and so many of the other tracks on the album sound like something Numero Group or Light In The Attic might have unearthed. "Anna May" even dips further back in time to doo-wop and those lovely "ooo-oooh baby" refrains. "Lovely Lady" even pulls out the "she-bop-she-bop" stop before Dennis Coffey dazzles with his legendary licks.

Even with out the doo-wop callbacks and the vocal acrobatics from guest vocalist Rebecca Jordan, Something About April would still engage listeners, as the instrumental tracks that Younge intersperses throughout are fascinating little soundscapes in and of themselves. No wonder one of the tags on Soundcloud is Dark Soul & Psychedelia ("Mourning Melodies," I'm looking at you.).

You can pick up the wax here, but if you don't take me at my word that this is an album you should pick up, the lead-off track is below and clicking on the album title in the second paragraph will take you to a Soundcloud set of the entire record.

  Adrian Younge Sound Orchestra • Turn Down the Sound by Ghetto Blastic

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spring for a copy of this autumn act.

Not that Winnipeg doesn't have it's own great jazz scene, but Vancouver seems to be giving us here in Peg City a run for our money as a happenin' hot bed. From the more straight-ahead Cellar Live stuff to the avant-jazz of Fond Of Tigers and other Drip Audio artists, there's a lot going on in lotus-land.

It's actually through Fond Of Tigers that I became aware of The October Trio as both acts share a drummer in Dan Gaucher. The trio is rounded out by Josh Cole on double bass and Evan Arntzen on tenor and soprano saxophone as well as clarinet. While the three work best as a group, the strength of this act is Arntzen, who can really open up on his soprano saxophone ("Wide," which recalls some of Yusef Lateef's work) or pull back on tenor and let the rhythm section propel matters (the title track "New Dream"). Arntzen is versatile and talented without being showy, and he never loses sight of the melody. It's melody that lies at the heart of all eight songs on New Dream (I won't even call them "tracks" because they are really songs - you'll be hearing them in your head for days after listening to this record).

Apart from the aforementioned "Wide" and "New Dream," for me the album standout is the album's longest, "The Park," which features an ambling, bouncy line from Cole and a more meandering delivery from Arntzen that strikes a deft balance between purposeful forward motion and a relaxed, open approach to delivering the melody.

It may be spring going on summer, but I strongly encourage you to buy stocks in this autumn act (i.e. go pick up New Dream at Bandcamp).