That's no spelling mistake on the title of the Mark Dresser Seven's seven-track new 'Sedimental You' (Clean Feed). Although the title tune is, indeed, taken from Tommy Dorsey's 1932 "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," Dresser is hardly sentimental. He's talking sediment here. Like rocks, man. Yet there's no rock here. Go figure.
It's been a rough year. Most of my friends are sticking up their middle finger to 2016, as am I. I can only wonder which heroes of mine will bite the dust in 2017...but that's for another Blogarrhea. The following annual all-list blog is not supposed to represent the most important or the best-selling or even the most accomplished CDs of 2016. I have done nothing my entire life but listen to music and tell people about it. So these are the ones I got the most excited about. Before the lists commence, please note that Leonard Cohen's 'You Want It Darker' (Columbia) and Paul Simon's 'Stranger To Stranger' (Concord) are my two favorite CDs of 2016. That said, on with the show.
Galactic trombonist Corey Henry debuts on Louisiana Red Hot Records with 'Lapeitah.' The eight vocalists, four trumpeters, five saxophonists, two tuba men, four bassists, three keyboardists, four drummers and an electric violinist on Henry's co-production and co-written barn-burners strut their considerable stuff on a funked-up joyous ode to life itself. THIS is the CD Trombone Shorty has yet to make.
Although the Alex Levine Quartet always seems to gravitate 'Towards The Center' (Outside In Music), they veer sharply left toward the end of this all-original 63:40. Levine is an intuitive New York City guitarist who interacts with sax man Marcus Elliott, bassist Ben Rolston and drummer Stephen Boegehold in a way that presents the strengths of all four. As a composer, he doesn't necessarily take a straight line to his goal. He likes the roads less traveled, be they bumpy, unpaved or filled with potholes. Although the first 10 compositions contain mystery, drama, taut emotion and languorous sensuality, the last three tracks-"Implosion," "Adama" and "Wax"-go wild with uninhibited wanderlust.
'The Long Slog' (Browntasauras Records) by Snaggle is a hoot! Like their American counterparts in Snarky Puppy, Canada's Snaggle challenges with its differing tempi, alt-jazz solos, funny song titles, inspired group chemistry and groovy experimentation. Randy Brecker loves them and that's good enough for me.
Carly Simon's 'Boys in the Trees' is riveting. Blessed to be born into a wealthy Manhattan family with a father, Richard L. Simon, who co-founded the giant publishing house Simon & Schuster, Carly's childhood was a whirlwind of dinner parties with guests like Benny Goodman, Vladimir Horowitz, Jackie Robinson, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Rodgers, James Thurber and Oscar Hammerstein dining at their elegant abode at 133 West 11th St., their Martha's Vineyard beach house in Massachusetts or their palatial Connecticut estate.
I've been waiting for Melissa Etheridge to do this kind of album. 'Memphis Rock and Soul' (Stax/Concord) rocks with the same kind of staccato horns, fatback bass and organ spills that Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas and Booker T used to use back in the day. She has the perfect voice to sing their songs. Her tribute to 1960s Memphis R'n'B has her seething with the kind of pent-up grit like never before.
Quick. Who's the greatest 1960s guitar hero of them all? Hendrix? Clapton? For my money, it's Michael Bloomfield, the dead Jewish junkie who was so tortured, he had to take heroin just to sleep. When Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival, it was Bloomfield's guitar shrieking out the power chords. Ed Ward's slim 1983 bio has been finally fully fleshed out. 'Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero' (Chicago Review Press) is a revelation.
'Moonbeam Parade' (Ugly Cat) is Giulia Millanta's fifth and best CD. Born and raised in Italy, she's made Texas her home since 2012, writing 13 songs with the cream of the crop from the bands of Dylan, Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, Robert Palmer and Patty Griffin. She sings her profound lyrics with a bird-with a-broken-wing appeal. You just want to take her home and care for her.
'My Brother Elvis' by David Stanley (Impello) is a true warts-and-all look at Elvis Presley from an insider's perspective. Stanley's mom married Presley's dad to become The King's step-brother. Elvis yanked him out of high school and took him on the road at the tender age of 16, inaugurating the kid with five hookers on the first night of a tour. Five years later, Elvis was dead. But it didn't have to be that way. Still, I had to ask the burning question...
On June 9, in New York City, the Songwriters Hall of Fame inducted Chip Taylor, 76, the outlaw country singer who, like Willie Nelson, rejected Nashville's strict 1970s conformity. Unlike Willie, though, who packed up and moved to Austin, Taylor packed up and quit the music business entirely in 1980 to become a professional gambler. The brother of actor Jon Voight and volcanologist Barry Voight certainly wasn't going to listen to anybody tell him how to make his music.
I take my job seriously. Finding music like the following five CDs was no easy task. From a big-band with 13 trombones and a genre-bending post-bopper to a crazy alternative band, a tribute to pianist Oscar Peterson by a guitarist and a Canadian duo who favors ragtime gypsy jazz, there's something here for every open ear.
The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble's 'Havana Blue' on 316 Records, a "new" Elvis double-album from Memphis ('Way Down In The Jungle Room' on RCA/Legacy), a Brazilian samba-soaked sampler Boston Pops-style (the self-released 'Concerto Para Moviola') by Ricardo Bacelar and--the gem of the batch--17 year old red hot mama wanna-be Ally Venable from deep in the heart of Texas ('No Glass Shoes' on Connor Ray Music) all combine for one hell of a Blogarrheah.
It's been a year of Blogarrhea and the words still pour out of me fast. Labels are getting hip: my mailbox has been stuffed to overflowing with music from around the world: Israel, Germany, Austria, Japan, Brazil, Canada, England and the U.S. That's a lot of listening and my vow to hear everything in its entirety has yet to be rescinded. Obviously, one cannot write about it all but here's the best of the rest.
On June 24, producer Tommy LiPuma was honored in his hometown of Cleveland by Diana Krall, Dr. John and Leon Russell, amid of host of superstars like Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson and Paul McCartney who sent in their congratulations on video. Blogarrhea spoke to the legendary session man just days prior.