Monday, July 03, 2006

entering the post-record store era

July is here, and July means cheap CDs by the boatload. As usual, I headed to the Brussels FNAC. I hadn't been there for a while. Since April, in fact, when my work assignement was switched to Charleroi. In those few months, the dire predictions of friend and FNAC jazz guy P came to pass: the section has been moved and slashed and now shares space with the World Music section. The reorganisation hasn't only affected the jazz section: there's less space afforded music, whatever the genre. The halcyon days are definitely over, so get what you want while you still can. I don't even know if P still works there: the section has no desk, so maybe some people got fired. That didn't stop me from getting a boatload of stuff, but there's an unpleasant after-taste.

In (unverified) chronological order, commentary based on first listens:

Miles Davis Sorcerer
David Bowie Low (my first Bowie)
Paul Bley Circles

Chet Baker/Philip Catherine/Jean-Louis Rassinfosse
My first late Baker and early Catherine. Beautiful. Baker's well of prettiness has run dry and much of his technique has disappeared, but his mind is sharp. Attacks and articulations are regularly fluffed, but there are no major disasters, which lends a miraculous quality to everything that goes right. Meaning just about everything else. Knowing only the latter part of Catherine's career, I was surprised by his chops. I wonder if he could (or even want to) play like that today. I wasn't surprised by Jean-Louis Rassinfosse's great technique, since he clearly still has it. I'm thankful he's dumped the stand-up electric bass in favour of an acoustic double bass, though.

Björk Selmasongs
V/A Let Your Yeah Be Yeah: Reggae Chart Hits 1968-1980 (I don't even really like reggae, but this was 3 euros)
Ozark Henry Birthmarks and Sailor Not The Sea

Vandermark 5 Free Jazz Classics Vols. 3 & 4
These are the bonus discs that came with the limited editions of the last two (I think) V5 albums. I don't have those albums, but I did hear them live around the time Vol. 4, a set of Rahsaan Roland Kirk covers, came out, and they were fantastic. the price was right (15 euros for two discs), so I didn't hesitate. I've listened to Six For Rollins and I can't say I was overwhelmed. It's very much a repertory approach (who was it that tagged Vandermark "the Wynton Marsalis of free jazz"?), so you get V5 meat 'n' potatoes, but not a lot of gravy. "John S" struck me as particularly stiff: the head is weighed down by a plodding three-horn arrangement and Vandermark never really catches fire, here or elsewhere on the album. While Rempis's solo breaks the theme into flinty shards over a clever fast walking bass and drums that punctuate rather than flow and Bishop adds some humour towards the end over laid-back swing, it's not enough to counter-balance the initial impression. I hope the Kirk disc will be better.

Brad Mehldau House On Hill (this deserves its own post)

Tv On The Radio Return To Cookie Moutain
I loved TOTR from the moment I first heard "Staring At The Sun" on the radio, well before I knew what they looked like. I didn't get their first album, which I now regret. Coincidentally, Bowie makes a wouldn't-know-it-if-it-wasn't-written cameo. On first (and so far, only) listen, I had some trouble until tracks 4 and 5, "Playhouses" and "Wolf Like Me," which I already knew and are the album's most "Staring At The Sun"-like moments: lots of treble fuzz, pleading double-voiced vocals, a scattered beat for "Playhouses," a more danceable one on "Wolf Like Me." After that, it all flowed nicely.
Nate Chinen concert review; Jon Caramanica's Village Voice feature that reminded me to buy this album.