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Without A Net

Wayne Shorter

Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Without a Net is Wayne Shorter's first Blue Note recording date since August 26, 1970, when he recorded Moto Grosso Feio and Odyssey of Iska. That's nearly 43 years. Shorter has pursued many paths since then, as a member of Weather Report, and as a bandleader. This quartet was assembled for a 2001 European tour and has been playing together ever since. It shows. The interplay Shorter shares with pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Pattitucci, and drummer Brian Blade is not merely intuitive, it is seamlessly empathic. All but one of these tunes were recorded during the group's 2011 tour. The lone exception is "Pegasus," recorded with the Imani Winds at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. There are six new tunes here; the quartet is credited with two of them. Shorter also revises some others, including set opener "Orbits" (the original was on Miles Davis' Miles Smiles) and "Plaza Real" (from Weather Report's Procession album). The only outlier, "Flying Down to Rio," is a version of the title tune from a 1933 film. Fireworks from this band can be heard everywhere. But the group aesthetic is especially noticeable in the penetrating romanticism of "Starry Night," where what appears restrained -- at least initially -- is actually quite exploratory and forceful. It's also apparent in the slow deliberation at play in the brooding "Myrrh." "Plaza Real" is a different animal here. Shorter's soprano soars and swoops through the melody, extending it at each turn as Pérez offers bright, pulsing chords to highlight the harmonic richness on display. Blade digs deep into his tom-toms, and finds an alternate polyrhythmic route that underscores the elegance and momentum in Shorter's lyric invention. The album's centerpiece is the 23-minute "Pegasus," which expands the band into a nonet. It is a tone poem that commences very slowly and deliberately. But its form gradually opens to allow for great expressions of individual and group freedom. Shorter's athletic soprano solo is breathtaking. The arrangement on "Flying Down to Rio" turns its catchy yet off-kilter melody into a group dialogue centered around a swirling series of complex harmonic statements. Pattitucci introduces "Zero Gravity to the 10th Power" with a funky vamp before layers of melody, harmonic extrapolation, and rhythmic interplay are added. By the time Shorter takes his tenor solo, we've heard everything from Latin grooves to modal assertions to classical motifs and some near explosions from Blade. While any new album from Shorter is an event at this juncture (he's nearly 80 yet in peak form here as composer and soloist), Without a Net is special even among the recordings made by this outstanding group. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

At Peace

Ballaké Sissoko

Africa - Released October 15, 2012 | No Format!

Booklet Distinctions Sélection FIP - Coup de coeur de l'Académie Charles Cros - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
3 stars out of 5 -- "Sissoko seems content with the way the world is on this....Perfectly pitched for summer." © TiVo


Brian Eno

Pop/Rock - Released November 12, 2012 | Warp Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir

The Outer String

Werner Hasler

Jazz - Released April 13, 2012 | Unit Records

Distinctions Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir

Blue Moon

Ahmad Jamal

Jazz - Released February 6, 2012 | Jazz Village

Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Still going strong at the age of 81, legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's love letter to his favorite Broadway, Hollywood, and Great American Songbook classics, Blue Moon, is arguably one of his most accomplished efforts since his Chess/Impulse! heyday. The Pittsburgh virtuoso, once credited by Miles Davis as a major influence on his career, shows that age is no barrier to invention with six exquisite reworkings of postwar standards, from a romantic orchestral take on the title track to Otto Preminger's 1944 film Laura to a delicately whimsical interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Gypsy." Jamal's improvised cluster of chords remains as expressive and sprightly as ever, but it's when drummer Herlin Riley, who along with bassist Reginald Veal (Wynton Marsalis) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (Weather Report) form the backbone of the record, is allowed to let loose that they really spring to life, from the syncopated grooves of the epic 13-minute adaptation of A Life of Her Own's "Invitation," to the Latin rhythms on the title track and Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody'n You," to the surprisingly contemporary R&B beats of Golden Boy show tune "This Is the Life." The simmering lounge pop of "Autumn Rain," the delicate "Morning Mist," and the tender solo "I Remember Italy," a Debussy-esque number inspired by his many travels, all of which are original compositions, are equally majestic. But it's his interpretative skills that ensure Blue Moon will go down as one of Jamal's modern greats. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo

Drums Between the Bells

Brian Eno

Ambient - Released June 20, 2011 | Warp Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Album du mois Trax - Hi-Res Audio - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir


Ricardo Villalobos

Jazz - Released June 27, 2011 | ECM

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir

L'Homme à tête de chou

Alain Bashung

French Music - Released November 7, 2011 | Universal Music Division Barclay

Booklet Distinctions Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
A track-by-track reworking of Serge Gainsbourg's 1976 concept album, L'Homme à Tête de Chou is the first posthumous studio release from the late French chanteur Alain Bashung. Originally recorded in 2006 but only released two years after his death, the murderous tale of a tabloid journalist's descent into madness was produced by Denis Clavaizolle (Jean-Louis Murat) and is also the official soundtrack to Jean-Claude Gallotta's contemporary dance production of the same name, which ran for three weeks at Paris' Theatre du Rond-Point in 2011. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo

I’m New Here

Gil Scott-Heron

Soul - Released February 8, 2010 | XL Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Stereophile: Record To Die For - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
I’m New Here is a shock. It’s a wallop filled with big nasty beats, a wide range of sonic atmospheres, and more -- sometimes unintentional -- autobiographical intimacy than we’ve heard from Gil Scott-Heron than ever before. Produced by XL Recordings head Richard Russell, I’m New Here is his first record in 16 years. It is a scant 28 minutes and doesn’t need to be a second longer. It's unlike anything he’s previously recorded, though there is metaphoric precedence in his earliest, largely spoken word albums. Its production pushes forcefully at the margins, and Scott-Heron embraces it without a hint of nostalgia. It opens with “On Coming from a Broken Home,” the first of a two-part poem that bookends the album. Over a piano and a sampled string loop (from Kanye West's “Flashing Lights”), he reflects on his upbringing filled with strong female figures and an unconventional structure, with a startling epiphany at the end. It segues immediately into a slamming read of Robert Johnson's “Me and the Devil,” with enormous hip-hop drums, sampled strings, and sonic effects that create a sense of brooding menace as Scott-Heron wails with bracing rawness to hair-raising effect. Just as quickly, the album shifts dramatically. A lone acoustic guitar introduces the Bill Callahan-penned title track. Scott-Heron recites the verse but sings its refrain: “No matter how far wrong gone/You can always turn around.” It feels like he’s speaking into a mirror with a dawning awareness of who -- and what -- he's become as he accepts it. He now owns this song. A Burial-like wall of effects over a cello loop introduces “Your Soul and Mine.” It’s Scott-Heron's unflinching look at death, and the way it feeds, yet ends with a warrior’s words: "So if you see the vulture coming/Flying circles in your mind/Remember there is no escaping/For he will follow close behind/Only promise me a battle/For your soul, and mine." It’s not all darkness, however. A reading of Bobby "Blue" Bland's “I’ll Take Care of You,” features Gil's soulful piano with a small string section. He sings it tenderly, in a now-raspier but still deeply expressive voice; it stands out sonically, but belongs here because of its intimacy. “New York Is Killing Me,” based on a John Lee Hooker blues, has been reinvented with almost entirely new lyrics and arrangement. Singers from the Harlem Gospel Choir; handclaps, bass drums, cymbals, synths, and guitar are treated spatially by Russell; Scott-Heron's lead vocal roars from the center. “The Crutch” is a burning atmospheric poem about a junkie’s life. Scott-Heron doesn’t distance himself from his subject; it isn’t mere observation, but an empathic elegy, and Russell’s suffocatingly close production brings it home. Forty years after his debut, I’m New Here contains the artful immediacy that distinguishes Scott-Heron’s best art. The modern production adds immeasurably to that quality, underscores his continued relevance in reflecting the times, and opens his work to a new generation of listeners while giving older ones a righteous jolt. [XL is also offering a limited editon of 300 copies with seven bonus tracks. These include unreleased material from the album's sessions, as well as new versions of "Winter In America" and "Home Is Where The Hatred Is."] © Thom Jurek /TiVo