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THIS WEEK: CDs by TV on the Radio, Dave Wright, Tommy Emmanuel, and John Coltrane.

Music reviews - 09.13.06 

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TV On The Radio
Return to Cookie Mountain
Interscope

It’s difficult to find anything that can live up to The Hype: that cleaning-the-bathroom-brand boredom of a Raconteurs album, your tax return, anything from George Lucas after 1983. But TV on the Radio’s second album (and major label debut), Return to Cookie Mountain, is so spot-on good that for once, Pitchfork’s review sounds intelligent rather than condescending. Does it sound like the product of an evening’s indiscretion betwixt David Bowie, Peter Murphy, and Peter Gabriel? So much so that, yes, that is David Bowie singing backup. Slick, grooving, and warm, lead singer Tunde Adebimpe isn’t above you, he’s probably the guy at his neighborhood’s version of Lux that everybody knows. This is the non-cringing, engaging type of sonicscape that made Pornography The Cure’s only listenable album. It’s a tight, consistent work that’ll have new shimmery moments well into your fifth listen.

--- Tim Goodwin

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Dave Wright
9 Dreams
HMC Jazz

Dave Wright spent his formative years in Rochester, taking in the music scene that his father, Eastman School of Music professor Rayburn Wright, was such a vital part of. After studying guitar with Gene Bertoncini and others, Wright played with the Fifth Dimension, Diane Carroll, Frank Sinatra Jr., Petula Clark and many others. His new album is a funk/jazz delight. Wright’s compositions, “Treacy’s Revenge,” “9 Dreams,” and “Timeless,” tend to be fusion-oriented. Organist Scott Bradley contributes two tunes in a similar vein. When this group tackles a classic, it’s in for a serious transformation. Between Wright’s strums and riffs, and Bradley’s soulful organ, this album’s rendition of “Love For Sale” is the funkiest that you’re ever likely to hear. Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” is simply a joyous romp. Perhaps the finest cover is the album’s one solo piece, Thelonious Monk’s “Crepescule With Nellie.” Wright’s guitar arrangement beautifully captures Monk’s quirky compositional style and, in a strange way, even his piano technique. Matt Pivec and Bill Tiberio are terrific on saxes and Jared Schonig holds it all together on the drums.

--- Ron Netsky

 

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Tommy Emmanuel
Live At Her Majesty’s Theatre (DVD)
The Mystery (CD)

It takes a two-step process to really enjoy and appreciate the talents of Tommy Emmanuel, the world-renowned “finger style” guitar player from Australia. First, view his new DVD, Live at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The video will help you realize his amazing talents, as you watch his hands race all over the guitar in a rush of plucking; an ability that has put him in the rare company of Jerry Reed and John Knowles.

The second step is to listen to his new CD, The Mystery. The beauty of the guitar is personified by his craftsmanship. “Lewis and Clark” and “The Digger’s Waltz” trigger pleasant daydreams while “Cannonball Rag” and “Cantina Senese” will force you to dance around the room. But it is “Walls” that stands out, offering the CD’s most poignant message, chronicling the walls we build around ourselves.

--- Tony Trama

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John Coltrane
Soultrane
Prestige RVG Remasters

The quality of a jazz recording depends on so many factors --- mastery of an instrument, improvisational skill, originality and emotion --- that we often take for granted one of the most important components: sound. Some of the greatest jazz recordings ever made were recorded in the legendary Hackensack, New Jersey, living room of Rudy Van Gelder’s parents. It is no exaggeration to say Van Gelder is the greatest studio engineer ever in jazz; All Music Guide lists more than 2,300 albums he recorded. It may have been the ambience, it may have been Van Gelder’s touch, but these records are magical.

In recent years Prestige has paid another visit to Van Gelder (now in Englewood Cliffs), asking the great engineer to digitally re-master the tapes of the original sessions. The results are, not surprisingly, brilliant. Among the re-releases are the great Walkin’ album by Miles Davis, Etta Jones’ wonderful Don’t Go To Strangers, and Jack McDuff’s bluesy masterpiece, The Honeydripper. But my favorite so far is John Coltrane’s Soultrane. This1958 session finds Coltrane with the stellar Red Garland Trio (Paul Chambers, bass, and Arthur Taylor, drums). Three up-tempo numbers (“Good Bait,” “You Say You Care,” and “Russian Lullaby”) are interspersed with two ballads (“I Want To Talk About You,” and “Theme For Ernie”). While Garland’s piano solos (and Chambers’ on bass) are unfailingly elegant, it’s the wonder of Coltrane perfecting his “sheets of sound” style on the faster tunes that is most captivating. His exquisite interpretations of the ballads are a close second. And, of course, every nuance of every instrument is crystal clear thanks to Van Gelder.

--- Ron Netsky

 

  • THIS WEEK: CDs by TV on the Radio, Dave Wright, Tommy Emmanuel, and John Coltrane.

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