Photo: Bob Wolfenson
Late trumpeter Chet Baker may have lived a troubled life all the way to his tragic death in 1988, but he left a legacy of great recordings that influenced countless musicians and fans throughout the years—his approach to singing and playing clearly informed the Bossa Nova movement in Brazil, and many standards today are immediately identified with him.
In recognition to Baker’s talent, Brazilian-born pianist Eliane Elias looks back at his storied career by giving a fresh interpretation to many tunes identified with him, mixing “cool” West Coast jazz grooves, with Brazilian-flavored tunes and some straight-ahead jazz. The album opens with the title track played in a bare-bones arrangement featuring Elias on piano and vocals, bassist (and husband) Marc Johnson and guitarist Steve Cardenas. She is joined by legendary bossa-era guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves on “There Will Never Be Another You,” which appears here as an acoustic samba. Read the rest of this entry »
Chance the Rapper’s sophomore digi-release lets folks know he’s more than just “people with ideas.” He’s an emotive writer, a funny dude and a talented musician. And for what it’s worth, his new disc, “Acid Rap,” trumps most anything Chicago’s offered in the last few years. But what he’s left behind since issuing “#10Day” last year is a dynamic sense of composition. Lyrically, there’s no fall off—although Chance does break out that weird strangled croak a bit more often—but musically, the dusty sense of wonder’s been usurped. Everything’s slickly done and well produced. So, for those expecting thirteen tracks of De La Soul-inspired beats, it’s not here in the same volume. What Chance has replaced all that with is just about as entrancing, though. Beats are smooth, guests are plentiful—perhaps a bit too much—and the MC reflects on what he’s accomplished. Read the rest of this entry »
We can, and perhaps should, continue discussing the vital bridge between hardcore, whatever it turned into mid-decade and everything that happened in Seattle during the 1990s. And that’s where Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen comes in. It took the band about two years to turn its 1982 demos into a debut long-player, released through Touch and Go. Issuing a hardcore album so deep into the genre’s development meant the disc would either be buried amid its doppelgangers or point a possible way beyond hardcore’s limitations. Dan Kubinski’s vocals may be the definitive feature allowing for folks to care about all this a few decades on. His determined yowl’s still more metal than Lars Ulrich and the trio backing him was capable of turning a fast tempo even faster. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re ever tired of hearing standards, coax guitarist Marc Ribot into playing them. Reconciling the Dave Brubeck original and what’s called “Take 5” on Ribot’s latest work with his trio, Ceramic Dog, is almost too difficult to do. A phrase kicks up every once in a while harkening back to the ur-recording, but the punky rhythm section allows Ribot to lose it and wander back into the fold. The tact Ribot takes here is roughly how he approaches whatever can be considered jazz today. Having worked with gutbusters like Tom Waits and chord chompers like McCoy Tyner allows for a ridiculous range of music to hue Ribot’s guitar playing. Dude’s confident and adventurous enough to take Mary Halvorson, another guitarist, on tour—something folks more concerned with the spotlight than the end product just wouldn’t do. Read the rest of this entry »
Those who expected this compilation to feature the likes of Marisa Monte, Gal Costa or even newer names like Bebel Gilberto or Cibelle will be disappointed at first—this release contains none of their songs. Instead, we are presented with few names ever heard Stateside save for Luisa Maita or Mart’nalia, who have regularly toured in the US. The disc opens with Italy-based Nossa Alma Canta’s “Bossanova,” a tune that remembers the Brazilian movement that swept the world with the help of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. The tune name recalls many familiar hits like “Wave,” “Desafinado” while playing snippets of familiar tunes via instrumental interludes. Read the rest of this entry »
Mike Rep/Photo: Mary Jo Bole
By Dave Cantor
As suburban sprawl began its duplicitous creep, a kid named Mike Hummel and his family took up residence in Timberlake, a region southwest of Ohio’s capital. It was the 1960s.
Hummel, better known to scum punk collectors as the titular character of Mike Rep & the Quotas, stuck it out in a place he refers to as nowhere a few times in emails and over the phone. But if it weren’t for Timberlake and his parent’s affinity for R&B and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, the character of Columbus’ musical topography would waver differently all these years later.
In addition to his family’s good sense, though, Rep reveled in a friendship that would wind up spanning decades and countless bands.
“When ‘Israelites’ came out on AM radio, it was a Top 40 hit in America,” Rep reminisces. “To us, it just sounded like a weird take on R&B. … The first time I met Tommy Jay was at a basketball court near where we lived, and we discovered it was both of our favorite song on the radio at the time.” Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Shawn Brackbill
On Kurt Vile’s last EP—“So Outta Reach,” sandwiched between the LPs “Smoke Ring For My Halo” and the new “Wakin on a Pretty Daze”—he sang: “Life’s a Beach.” For rock critics attempting to pin his philosophy (which I most certainly am), it’s a buffet. That Vile imbued the world of the generation he’s been chosen to speak for (whether he likes it or not) with such vigorous, sardonic ease in those words, and so many more before, was quite the epilogue to the release of “Wakin,” a seventy-minute wall of shimmering, hi-fidelity sound that chugs along with zero thought to an apology for “selling out.”
When Brooklynites Titus Andronicus voiced displeasure with his selling his “Smoke Ring” opening love song, “Baby’s Arms,” to Bank of America, Vile tweeted: “sorry titus. i did it to be like the carpenters.and to buy my daughter high end diapers. and to pay back my publishing advance. and because i never cared about that sorta thing. whoops,i even have a bank of america account.” On “Smoke Ring” track “Puppet to the Man,” he says: “I bet now/You probably think/I’m a puppet to the man/Well I’ll tell you right now/You best believe that I am.” Marxist integrity, Vile seems to say, is a privilege for the privileged. And trying to maintain it as an artist, with a family, in a musical marketplace that’s long been even more broken and confused than the recession the rest of us are worried about, is a pointless war of attrition; and one you’re going to lose. Read the rest of this entry »
The excursion boat Theodore Roosevelt heads east under the State Street bridge in 1910/Photo: The Lost Panoramas (CityFilesPress.com)
By Dennis Polkow
City on a river. Chicago is many things, but whatever qualities that make Chicago Chicago exist in no small part because it is a city on a river, albeit a river by and large taken for granted.
For many of us, our own placement as a city on a river is something we forget about until we are inconvenienced by having to go over a bridge or have to wait for a bridge that a boat is passing through or that is undergoing construction.
“The Chicago River is the city’s defining characteristic because it is what built the city,” says Martha Gilmer, vice president for artistic planning and audience development at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as the curator of the CSO’s month-long Rivers Festival which runs May 9-June 9. “The river has taken a second place to our lakefront, but Mayor Daley—and now Rahm Emanuel—is very interested in the development of the Chicago River.” Read the rest of this entry »
In 2008, British soul singer Alice Russell caught the attention of critics and fans alike with her catchy “Got The Hunger” the lead single from her US debut, “Pot of Gold” (Six Degrees, 2008). She seemed to tag along with her country’s embrace of young female singers like the late Amy Winehouse and Adele, who capture the essence of American soul and use it in their own way—apparently drawing more inspiration from Motown than more current stuff made here.
On her new record, “To Dust,” Russell goes further by incorporating gospel sounds and more organic instrumentation instead of the previous disc’s predominantly electronic sounds. For instance, “A to Z,” is a powerful guitar-driven tune with smart vocals and a very catchy groove. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: John Mourlas
By Dave Cantor
Black-clad freaks, gather. We’re here today eulogizing Oyarsa and its untimely demise. The metal duo still had so much to explore. But Noah Coleman has seen fit to take his guitar to the unknown wilds of northern Idaho, where the only thing outnumbering trees and mountains are militia men, dedicated to wresting freedom from some invisible tyrant—some secret Muslim.
The death rattle, its fits and shivers, has made seeking perspective on Oyarsa’s final Chicago performance from musicians sharing the bill a healing thing—one that can’t replace what Chicago’s losing, but can serve as a coda to the band’s truncated career. Read the rest of this entry »