PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The Body Acoustic: self-titled

Jason MacNeil

The Body Acoustic

The Body Acoustic

Label: Chesky
US Release Date: 2004-05-21
UK Release Date: 2004-05-10
Amazon
iTunes

David Chesky describes the new collection of songs by an eclectic collection of artists as "an organic polyrhythmic entity" and "a multi-tiered amalgamation of grooves..." So, what you have before you is one of those albums you don't quite know where to put in your record collection -- part jazz, part funk, part "world". Backed by some of the more talented musicians around, including trumpet player Randy Brecker and conga maestro Giovanni Hidalgo, Chesky takes the listener down a road that is never traveled twice and is extremely interesting, challenging, and rewarding as a result.

The first thing you notice about the album is how at nearly 70 minutes and with only eight songs, you are going to get a lot of winding, twisting, and improvisation on these lengthy tunes. Beginning with the nine-minute "52nd2 Street", Brecker and bass clarinet player Bob Mintzer play off each other before one gives way to the other for an interesting, mellow sound. Chesky plays a simple and repetitive segment in the distance while Hidalgo keeps a very solid percussion rhythm going. The only person really not playing a prominent part early on is bass player Andy Gonzalez, but he will have lots of time to later on. It's this low-key mellow atmosphere that keeps the listener tuned in.

Perhaps what makes the early songs work so well is the flow within each. On "East Harlem" for example, Hidalgo works in tandem with Gonzalez to create the Latin jazz backdrop as Mintzer chimes in along with Chesky's subtle ivory touches. Here the ensemble resembles early Dave Brubeck with its low-key yet meticulous groove. Each note adds to the tune's greater good with Chesky stealing the spotlight with more of a rampant style two minutes in. He slowly backs away, though, before someone else picks up the proverbial football and runs with it. The Body Acoustic isn't writing a new book of jazz, they are basically editing and fusing some of the genre's greatest assets into a new cohesive whole. "Bronxville" is another infectious and simple groove that rarely falters. The only problem is how laidback the musicians are on this song, almost becoming too mellow despite some terrific work by Hidalgo near the homestretch.

The Body Acoustic gets things going again with a great "Hell's Kitchen". By this time you realize all of the names involve New York City and, although not quite the standard jazz package, The Body Acoustic clearly create a sense of the city's various areas as if you were shuffling through any of them on a dark, foggy evening. Brecker takes a great deal of talent to the proceedings here. He also lets loose more on his trumpet with a jazzy improvised style before the song peters out. The highlight is the punchy and robust "New York Descargas" that wastes little time wanting you to move your head or bob around in your chair. The song takes a more distinct Latin or salsa flair as well for great results. Brecker also brings to mind some jazz greats with his runs and fills.

The only moment where things come to be rather weak is the repetitive and at times arduous "Acoustic Metal", lacking any of the verve or chutzpah to make it at least mildly interesting. Thankfully, the Body Acoustic rights the ship with the slightly more rambunctious "N.Y.Cool", which is very cool indeed in that quiet jazz club manner. Overall though, the Body Acoustic is a strong collection that reminds the listener that jazz like this is still timeless.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.