Category: Music

Owen Broder’s “Heritage

The saxophonist and composer Owen Broder has assembled a band of beautiful musicians for his American Roots Project. On their new recording, “Heritage,” the ARP explores blues, bluegrass, folk, and church hymns, filtered through a light jazz scrim. It’s Appalachia meets Manhattan.  The results are lush, piquant  and altogether addictive. ARP’s music on “Heritage” feels comforting and familiar — and...

The Story of the Clitboys

We were teenagers. We lived in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee. We knew nothing. But we felt deeply about everything. We were angry, confused, disgusted, frightened, and yet somehow hopeful. We were also blissfully unaware that three kids from Wisconsin could make music that would continue to mean something to listeners more than three decades...

Scott Robinson’s “Heliosonic Toneways”

The new recording from ScienSonic Laboratories, “Heliosonic Toneways, Volume 1” is some of the trippiest music we’ve heard since, well, 1965, when Sun Ra released “Heliocentric Worlds,” featuring the much neglected bass marimba. Scott Robinson and ensemble insist they’ve not made a tribute record, and this is true as far as content goes. “HT” is surely it’s...

New Music Without Borders

Genres and categories are cool when you’re trying to sell something. But some of our most compelling musical artists don’t pay attention to the imperatives of the marketplace. They make what they make, and the grand bazaar of culture must sort out where to file the “product.” Ian Faquini (guitar) and Paula Santoro (voice), native Brazilians, explore the traditional...

Sara Serpa & Andre Matos: All the Dreams

The Portuguese duo of Sara Serpa (vocals) and Andre Matos (guitar), make music that invites a torrent of adjectives: ethereal, shimmering, poetic, hypnotic, and, yes, dreamy. Imagine if J.S. Bach and Joao Gilberto collaborated — while tripping on opium. “All the Dreams” is an album that invites repeated listening. (Our household has enjoyed the record...

Ricardo Grilli: 1954

The Brazilian-born, New York-based guitarist Ricardo Grilli’s new album, 1954, is a kind of inter-stellar journey through the cosmos. With our without a high concept to cohere the tracks, 1954 is one the best jazz records we’ve heard this year. Featuring cats like Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Martin (bass) and the magnificent drummer Eric Harland, you know the...

Oddsong: “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks”

Esteemed jazz composer Darrell Katz has a new ensemble called “Oddsong,” which is how many first-time listeners might describe every track on “Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks.” No drums. No bass. No piano. Instead, a chamber music melange of strings, saxophones, marimba and voice (the elegant Rebecca Shrimpton). Most of the arrangements are...

The Anthem and American Patriotism

For proud Americans who might question this author’s patriotism, let us reassure you that this micro-essay is being written while standing. When it comes to our national anthem, we don’t fool around. Unlike certain professional athletes, we understand the powerful symbolism in standing for a song about a symbol (a flag, “The Star-Spangled Banner”), a...

Francisco Pais: Verde

Guitarist Francisco Pais comes from a small town in Portugal where every shade of green seems to burst forth from the land. On his new album “Verde,” numerous threads from guitar history comprise the compositions, weaving an aural quilt of engaging sounds. You hear shades of Hendrix, Waters, Clapton — and all the jazz titans...

Naftule’s Dream, “Blood”

Klezmer. Jazz. Acid rock. Dixieland. Got the picture? Better question: got the sound? “Blood,” the new CD by the progressive Klezmer band Naftule’s Dream, is a delicious jambalaya of musical ingredients that sounds distinctly like, well, Naftule’s Dream. The group’s instrumentation might be the key to their sound: clarinet, cornet, guitar, drums, accordion and, crucially, tuba....