-->
Music

ari hoenig: Inversations

Robert R. Calder

Terrific players, don't relax for a minute, passion not minimalism, postbop kickingly alive.


Ari Hoenig

Inversations

Label: Dreyfus
US Release Date: 2007-01-30
UK Release Date: 2006-12-11
Amazon
iTunes

Trio headed by drummer. Melodic instruments? Well, there’s the leader doing the nearly impossible, delivering the theme of the Charlie Parker -- Dizzy Gillespie “Anthropology” on tuned drums. The straight-up bebop thing can be done, but with so at times classification-resistant and jazz-expert a pianist as Michel Pilc much more is possible. Much more does happen, usually of a high order, though eventually so much as to be in danger of exhausting the listener.

Pilc can of course seem to unbutton each hand at the wrist, and let it take its own way across the keyboard, always coming back when needed to work with the other. I like the quote from “Rhythm-a-Ning”, and the one from the old tune “Dardanella” which seems to set the bassist off on a double-time lick.

The bassist opens “Dark News” with bowed passage, Pilc comes in to establish a moody gloom of the very sort some current pianists can maintain with appalling stamina. He’s not self-engrossed, though, and once the dark’s been registered, he comes along with sympathy and tenderness. While staying in the same key for any length of time doesn’t come easily, he maintains ensemble policy of never straying into ugliness. “Rapscallion Cattle” (don’t ask me what this name means) is further elevated by a visiting saxophonist whom the publicity material identifies as “tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwartz-Bart.” Whatever his horn, and I’d say it was an alto saxophone, the stunningly impressive JS-B plainly shares the not unreasonable consensus that there are times when it is right to play balladically, times to go uptempo and stomp, and times to switch between ballad and stomp. There are even times when each member of the band is playing at a different tempo. They never lose each other, and however thin the surface they skate on, none of them ever slips into dissonance. Not one nasty noise, even in the wilds of an extended alto solo.

On “WB Blues” and “Falling in Love with Love”, familiarity with the blues format and with the show tune allow a clearer awareness of what’s going on. The bassist begins the item called blues with something so fragmented, you can’t tell what it is. Then there’s a re-echoed figure on tuned drums and Pilc comes in, more and more consolidating aspects of a 12-bar blues, which he takes up with harmonically complex development of unusual intervals, with walking bass. The unequivocal blues statement comes at the end, on tuned drums. “Falling in Love with Love" proceeds with recognisable fragments of the tune amid an improvisation which seems to be playing around on the verge of being drawn into a force-field; feel the pull of some gravitational power, which now and then produces recognisable snatches of the original melody, the largest fragments of which are the final bars of the tune. The performance ends with a delivery of those last bars, as if eveybody was finally ready to play them after Pilc’s ventures in radical reharmonisation.

“Farewell” is like a jazz ballad which keeps turning into some of the more massive of Debussy’s piano works, but by the third last title, “Without Within” and the saxophone’s return, it’s clear that this is music to get carried away with, challenging and ambitious on a CD which might just deserve some criticism for its failure to offer the occasional little breathing space. The great pianist Arthur Schnabel famously reflected on his refusal to play little crowd-pleasers, saying that his concerts were therefore boring all the way through. It’s more a certain variety I would have liked from these very-far-from bores. Not, please, the lightweight or slightweight which keeps coming back by the empty albumful. I liked “Newfound Innocence”, not least for the bassist’s great sensitivity of tone and phrasing, and I suppose some of the breathing spaces I would have liked could have been similar to the closer, a hymn tune on solo tuned drums with presumably Hoenig all on his own after a couple of percussion choruses singing off-mike the chorus of the old hymn “This Little Light of Mine.” Anyway, this set made me sit up!

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image