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Listening Post: Bob Mould, Lucky Peterson, Basak Yavuz, Mitch Haupers


Bob Mould,Beauty & Ruin” (Merge). How is it possible that Bob Mould’s “Beauty & Ruin” sounds like the debut album from a vibrant new rock songwriter, rather than the umpteenth release from a legacy artist, who happened to be the driving force behind alt-punk legends Husker Du? Mould is a an alt-rock icon, but throughout this outstanding new album, he plays like he has no reputation to live off of, but is rather attempting to claw a legacy right out of the cold hard ground. The man is simply on fire here, crafting garage punk gut-punches (“Little Glass Pill”), power-pop hook-fests (“Low Season”) or burning bits of post-punk (“Kid With Crooked Face”) with equal grace. This is pure guitar-driven stuff, with rapid tempos (Superchunk drummer John Wurster helps significantly in this department) and minimal vocal overdubs all serving to underscore the power in Mould’s songwriting, the sheer invention of his guitar arrangements and the seemingly undiminished vigor in his vocal delivery. “Beauty & Ruin” is clearly a later-career masterpiece. 4 stars (Jeff Miers)


Lucky Peterson,The Son of a Bluesman” (Jazz Village). Leave it to the French. Here is a French jazz label – most famous recently for the discs of Ahmad Jamal – which has found the Buffalo-born and raised former blues prodigy and drug survivor, now a retrospective 50, in his current life in Dallas. The result is absolutely a “comeback” unless you’re one of those who insist that, for all his drug difficulties, he never really went away. What’s unquestionable here is that this is raw, personal autobiographical stuff. It begins with “Blues in My Blood,” ends with “I’m Still Here” and features the title track written for Peterson by a friend named Diane Tucker who runs a club called “Tucker’s Blues” in the immortally named Deep Ellum, Texas. “Because she knew my story so well, she wrote the song … for me.” He sings Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity the Fool” as a tribute and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” as an allusion to his recovery from drug troubles. “I love Bobby Bland. I got a chance to be around him when I was young and he was very encouraging to me.” “Nana Jarnell” is a tribute to both his mother and his wife’s influence. And on his wife’s tune “Joy” his daughter Lucki Azariah Peterson and son Tamaron Stovall both make cameo appearances. “We set up in my kitchen. We had microphones on the ceiling fan and I took an orange crush can and put some rocks out of the fish tank and that was my drums.” A personal and autobiographical disc for the omni-bluesman who first started playing at 5 in Buffalo in his father’s “Governor’s Inn” and was discovered there by the great Willie Dixon in 1969. “My father would have loved this record” he says now. No argument from me. 3.5 stars (Jeff Simon)


Basak Yavuz featuring David Liebman and Peter Eldridge, “things” (Z Muzik); Kavita Shah, “Visions” (Inner Circle Music). We can no longer pretend that this is something new in the world – singers from great Middle Eastern and Asian traditions who relocate to the West and bring all of their musical background with them to the most multi-cultural jazz possible. Here are two wonderful ones who have teamed up with major names in American jazz – Turkish singer/composer Basak Yavuz whose disc “things” makes great use of, among other musicians, saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Wim Leysen, and Indian singer Kavita Shah, whose new disc “Visions” was produced by Lionel Loueke and includes Steve Wilson, bassist Linda Oh and a whole bunch of compositions from Indian tradition and Brazil along with Stevie Wonder, Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell. What it means is that we are now accustomed to hearing singers in foreign tongues with “native” instruments making music that marries beautifully, indeed hauntingly sometimes, with jazz. It may not be a new thing in the world, but it never sounds anything less than new on these discs. 3.5 stars (J.S.)


Mitch Haupers, Invisible Cities: Original Jazz and Chamber Music (Liquid Music). Who would have believed that there are now two – count ’em, two – discs named after works by the great Italian post-modern literary master Italo Calvino, this disc named after one of the most beautiful of all Calvino’s books and Ricardo Grilli’s “If on a Winter’s Night, a Traveler” named after one of Calvino’s most challenging books. It isn’t guitarist and composer/arranger Mitch Hauper’s fault that most of us never heard of him – and therefore never knew he was this fine a composer and player. He has been, for years, well hidden from most of us except musicians on the Berklee School of Music faculty. The jazz selections here with groups featuring tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, pianist Alan Pasqua and drummer Peter Erskine are as fine as the instrumentation would suggest. It’s the “Four Minor Love Songs Suite” for a 10-piece ensemble, which is not only quite beautiful but in a way that is decidedly uncommon in our era from either jazz or classical composers. It was arranged by Ayn Inerto and it uses a classical ensemble without being in the slightest academic. For this wholly surprising disc, it seems, we also need to thank 255-plus backers for contributing to a Kickstarter campaign. Look at it this way – in another, older jazz world, we might not have known this lovely music at all. 3.5 stars (J.S.)


Shostakovich, Six Romances on Verses by English Poets, Scottish Ballad and Suite on Poems By Michelangelo performed by Gerald Finley, bass-baritone and The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Sanderling, conductor, (Ondine). Shostakovich was not afraid of other cultures. His jazz compositions – well, he called them jazz – attest to that, and so do these settings of poems by Shakespeare and Michelangelo. In between comes a happy surprise, an arrangement of the Scottish ballad “Annie Laurie.” “Annie Laurie” is soaring and lovely, like something out of a movie. The opening set of English poetry is darker, with abstract melodies, Russian depth and colorful instrumentation. Sometimes it sounds like Mahler, and other times, with its honking brass and angular lines, it could be only Shostakovich, which is entertaining when the poem at hand is Robert Burns’ “Coming Through the Rye.” Or when it is the four-line “the King of France Went Up The Hill,” a blink-and-you-miss-it, cartoonlike masterpiece. Finley, a native English speaker, brings relish to the language. Sanderling (the son of Kurt Sanderling, half-brother of Stefan Sanderling, who conducted in Chautauqua for quite a while) knew Shostakovich personally and was trusted by him, and he handles the orchestral accompaniments with sensitivity and nuance. The Suite on Poems by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 45 minutes long and in Italian, grew extremely dark and dense, but there are rewards to sticking with it. Keep in mind, though, I could listen to Gerald Finley singing a Cellino and Barnes commercial and sit there enchanted. 3.5 stars (Mary Kunz Goldman)


“Play,” performed by Edgar Moreau, cello and Pierre-Yves Hodique, piano (Erato). The promising 20-year-old cellist Edgar Moreau is the second classical musician I have noticed to title an album, in tribute to the iPhone age, “Play.” Guitarist and Buffalo-area native Jason Vieaux did so also, earlier this year. Reviewing that disc, The News’ Jeff Simon wrote that you had to love the title: “It’s not ‘plays’ but just ‘Play’ without the ‘S’ to convey the element that the musician hopes is paramount throughout the recording.” Vieaux’s recording “mixed things up” and Moreau’s disc does, too. He chooses from a wide range of mostly Romantic repertoire, including Tchaikovsky, Massenet, David Popper, Faure, Glazounov, Saint-Saens (a famous aria from “Samson and Delilah”) and Poulenc (the beautiful “Les Cehmins de l’amour”). His approach is creative. In Monti’s “Csardas” he plays one moment in a fat gutsy tone, then drops back to a whistling pianissimo before slowly regaining speed and volume. Paganini’s “Variations on one string” shows exactly how much can be done with one string. To other music that calls for it – Elgar’s beautiful “Salut d’Amour,” for instance, or Schubert’s “Ave Maria” – Moreau brings a simple, striking singing tone, lovely on his 1711 cello. He has a gem of an accompanist in Hodique, a pianist who follows all his brainstorms. 3.5 stars (M.K.G.)

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