Listening Post / Jim Hendrix, Linda Oh, Tom McDermott and more - The Buffalo News

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Listening Post / Jim Hendrix, Linda Oh, Tom McDermott and more


The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Experience Hendrix/Legacy, four discs). “The Purple Box” is what it has been called since its original 2000 release. What it has always been is a collection of 60 tracks previously unreleased or unavailable Hendrixiana from Jimi in Excelcis 1966 to 1970. Let’s freely admit that four previously unreleased tracks in a newly expanded edition doesn’t exactly make it earth-moving news in 2013 – not when everyone knows how huge the vault of music Hendrix left at his death – and how little of it would completely shatter consciousness. Even so, there is here a never-before-released 1960 version of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” with a defiantly different solo in the middle and a coda of no small grandeur. Along with another box of originally released Jimi, this set with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell may perfectly complete the essential picture of the greatest guitarist rock ever had or ever will. What remains ageless about this music is its purity. It is certainly rock, but it’s also often blues and jazz and rock proto-jam and a lot of other stuff that will never matter a whit because “Jimi” suffices to encompass it all. And “Jimi” is a musical genre all to itself. Listening to this, I had an interesting thought about where Hendrix’s music might have gone if he’d lived. Given how much improvising he’d been doing before his death – and given how much his friend Miles Davis coveted Jimi’s generationally dominant reputation – there’s little question that the two of them might have figured out a way to come together and invent electronic forms on disc and in performance together. But I wonder if after that Jimi might not have returned to popular rock and roll to explore and invent an electronic hybrid that we can’t now imagine because he died too soon. In any case, this is four discs of very pure and essential Jimi. Devastating, as always. ΩΩΩΩ (Jeff Simon)


Linda Oh, “Sun Pictures” (Greenleaf). The Australian bassist featured in Dave Douglas’ groups explains the lovely title of her disc this way: it’s “the name of the world’s oldest outdoor cinema still in operation. It is found in the Chinatown quarter of Broome, North-West Australia, the town where my sister and her family live. It is, for me, the most beautiful place in the world.” “Each of these tunes is a tiny snapshot of my recent travels and of my experiences playing music” she tells us about this disc. (Warning: her notes in this disc are in tiny pale white type over a pale blue background and a bit of a struggle to read.) The band is a quartet with Oh on bass, guitarist James Muller, saxophonist Ben Wendel and the band Kneebody and drummer Ted Poor. It was recorded at Columbia University’s student-run radio station WKCR. One tune, “Polyphonic HMI” was written in a Prague hotel room. Another, “Footfall” on a bus ride from Hungary to Poland. And “Terminal 3” belongs to JFK Airport. “Blue Over Gold” is a tribute to a Rothko painting. Standouts of the group are saxophonist Wendel and Oh’s fellow Aussie, guitarist Muller. But it’s Oh’s tunes which are consistently interesting in an era where that is seldom true of jazz composition. ∆∆∆ (J.S.)


Tom McDermott, “Bamboula” (Minky Records). Tom McDermott is a journalist/pianist/composer long associated with New Orleans who, says this disc’s “curator” Van Dyke Parks (who has his own new disc out), is “infatuated by the great pianist-composers” He proves it by bursting onto this disc with Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s wonderful title portrait of the 19th century dancing in Congo Square in New Orleans where, says Parks “slaves were allowed to gather in song and dance.” He is, says Parks, “no casual observer of the Spirit of New Orleans” in this neo-ragtime. “He defines it in his time. Street-credible. Yet legit. As in Longhair or Domino.” Maybe, maybe not. But delightful music, certainly, to a considerable degree. ΩΩΩ½ (J.S.)


Great Works for Flute and Orchestra, Sharon Bezaly, the Residentie Orkest den Haag, Neeme Jarvi, conductor (BIS Records). Cheers to flutist Bezaly for taking us off the flute’s beaten path and giving a range of Romantic music you don’t hear that often. The longest piece is Carl Reinecke’s Concerto in D, written in 1908 and decidedly backwards looking. It’s full of capricious charm, so perfect for the delicate character of the flute. Flutists should perform this more, just the way they should perform Reinecke’s enchanting “Undine” Sonata (named for a legend about a water sprite). Another highlight is Cecile Chaminade’s Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, which draws you in right away with its romance. (Chaminade lived from 1857 to 1944. What changes she saw in her life.) A Largo and Allegro by Tchaikovsky is fascinating because it is an adaptation of a piece he wrote when he was studying composition with Anton Rubinstein. You can hear all kinds of foreshadowings of his later music. Nielsen’s Flute Concerto grows tedious but I love Poulenc’s graceful Flute Concerto. The disc ends with a brief, breathless “Flight of the Bumblebees.” ΩΩΩ Mary Kunz Goldman


Kurt Weill, Zaubernacht, the Arte Ensemble (NDR). We live in a golden age of music scholarship – a millennium’s worth of music at our fingertips, and every day, new recordings of music that may have been neglected and forgotten. One of these is “Zaubernacht,” or “Magic Night,” a work by the 22-year-old Kurt Weill, and was presented at the Berlin Theater in November 1922. “Zaubernacht” was what is called a “children’s pantomime,” with fanciful sets and costumes. The story is about toys that come to life. There is one song, the “Fairy’s Song” that introduces it, other than that, it’s all instrumental. It’s interesting to think how Weill, whom we associate with modern music and Broadway, came up coached by the old masters. He had taken a master class from Ferruccio Busoni and studied with Engelbert Humperdinck (the composer of “Hansel and Gretel,” not the kitschy singer). (The notes, typically, dismiss Humperdinck, saying Weill felt he had nothing more to learn from “the old master.”) I’m a fan of Kurt Weill, but I can’t say that this music is as good as the music of his I know better. Maybe you lose something without the pantomime, because though the performance on this disc is polished, the music sounds formless and dull, not to mention uneasy and sinister. Even with the dancing, sets and costumes, it never seems to have been a big hit. Speaking of its history, though, I found the saga of this piece fascinating. Weill recycled some of “Zaubernacht” into “Quodlibet,” but otherwise, it was lost. As a researcher myself I am always interested in how papers and things are lost and reappear, how they cross oceans and turn up in attics and safes and university libraries, mislabeled and misplaced. Whatever you think of “Zaubernacht,” it’s good to have it back, after all this time. ΩΩ (M.K.G.)

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