THE JUBILEE CONCERT
This first-rate concert DVD celebrates the 75th birthday of Eberhard Weber, a key architect in the ECM sound and compositional style and an early proponent (along with the late Rob Wasserman) of the electric upright. Though no longer able to play (save for a quick turn on the vibes in duet with Gary Burton on “Killer Joe”) Weber is heard via his original recording on the opener, “Résumé,” backing sax soloist Jan Garbarek and the SWR Big Band. Even more impressive is guest guitarist Pat Metheny’s “Hommage,” in which the band plays off a vintage video performance by Weber, with Scott Colley doubling, dialoguing, and exchanging solos with the onscreen Weber. Elsewhere, SWR doubler Decebal Badila dazzles on 5-string, waxing melodic on Weber’s samba “Touch.”
THE COLUMBIA YEARS 1968–1969
[Light in the Attic/Columbia]
Young, hip, sexy, and fierce, Betty Mabry had the late ’60s by the balls and Miles Davis by the heartstrings when she recorded her first demos for Columbia—one session in Hollywood, followed by two more in New York. The latter tapes capture her raw sense of soul, with Harvey Brooks and Billy Cox laying down rattlesnake grooves on “Hangin’ Out” and “Born on the Bayou.” Hugh Masekela and a crew of session aces, including Bob West on bass, helm the less funky Hollywood set, which is redeemed by the Motownish “My Soul Is Tired.” For the original Nasty Gal, this is where it all started.
Jazz’s most inspired trio of young guns from Toronto is back with their latest album, which succeeds in bringing the roots of their genre into the 21st century. Chester Hansen’s undulating lines, let loose over tightly accented drumbeats on “Time Moves Slow” and “In Your Eyes,” are vintage in tone and soul. His 5/8 pocket on “Confessions Pt. II” shows his aptitude for grooving under any circumstance, which he does for the entirety of this album.
On this raucous, 66-minute “no rehearsals, no repeats, no overdubs” journey through space and time, upright player Andrew Ross Kushin helps hard-swinging drummer Albert Mathias and turntablist DJ Quest function as a high-level jazz trio while blurring the lines of turntablism, bebop, experimental, and hip-hop. Kushin, equally adept at rocking arco long tones and funky pizz, is always up in the mix; he’s blessed with a sense of humor and an ability to play both catalyst and reactant, which come in handy when things get wild. Like all great trios, Live Human is more than just the sum of its parts, and Kushin’s soulful, elastic authority is a crucial ingredient of the magic.
[Concord Music Group]
In the mold of his famous father Paul, Dan Rothchild has made his mark as a producer (most notably for Better Than Ezra), but he’s also a gifted player with a road-worn ’70s Fender Precision as his weapon of choice. This is his first studio gig—on bass and at the mixing desk—with the Wilson sisters, and he brings a heavy, hard-rocking tone to the party. From the fiery title track (with Metallica’s James Hetfield on guest vocals) to the moody, mystical “Heaven,” this is the best that Heart has sounded in years.
The day the Pixies announced that Paz Lenchantin had become a permanent member, they also revealed that they had finished a new record that featured the ex–A Perfect Circle bassist. Head Carrier proves that they made a wise decision, as Lenchantin’s strong presence—both instrumentally and vocally—makes it seem like she’s been around since day one. Thanks to her bold writing, the bass is one of the most prominent forces in the mix, which says a lot for her debut.
LATE TO THE PARTY
Brooklyn-based, Berklee-trained John Montagna, a road veteran with the Alan Parsons Project and the Happy Together and Hippiefest tours, releases his third solo effort (that’s John on all instruments and vocals)—a smart collection of pop songs with bass playing both the support and solo roles. Highlights include the hook-laden “Hit Me on the Head,” the Sting-ish “I Let You Run Away,” the reggae-rooted “Get It Right,” and the instrumental pearls “Flip Tax” and “Just Go to Bed Early.”
BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO
BLUES AND BALLADS
On Brad Mehldau’s most rainy-day-inspired, mellowed-out recording yet, Larry Grenadier delivers rich lines and impactful melody that supports the slow tempos and minor-chord arrangements. Grenadier’s warm, woody tone makes you feel like you’re in the recording booth with him, which enhances the experience of listening to his exchanges with Mehldau’s animated piano runs and drummer Jeff Ballard’s tasteful rhythms. The liveliest tune, “And I Love Her,” reminds us of why Grenadier functions so masterfully in a trio setting.