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.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image