BP Recommends

John Coltrane, Roger Daltrey, Neko Case and more!
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JOHN COLTRANE
BOTH DIRECTIONS AT ONCE: THE LOST ALBUM
[Impulse!]

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This two-disc set capturing the recently unearthed “lost” album by John Coltrane and his legendary quartet with drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner, and bassist Jimmy Garrison could be viewed as the holy grail of jazz. Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s historic New Jersey studio on March 6, 1963—amid the band’s two-week run at Birdland, and the day before the recording of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman—this is no mere bootleg, but a beautiful-sounding recording from a reference tape the Coltrane family had and turned over to the Impulse! label.

A run through the 14 tracks reveals pure gold. “Untitled Original 11383” sets the tone; it’s a hard-swinging minor blues with a modified turnaround that would have fit on A Love Supreme [1965, Impulse!]. The connection between Trane and Elvin Jones, here and throughout the album, is at a deep, spiritual level. On the bass side, the room mics give Garrison—who had one of the greatest gut-string acoustic bass sounds—a big, round tone. “Nature Boy,” sans piano, has an “Equinox”-like groove and a folk melody sensibility. Trane sounds like a preacher, with every note carrying so much weight and meaning. As the great jazz drummer Billy Hart once told me, “Whether Trane was playing one note or a thousand notes, inside or outside the tonality, he always sounded like he was praying.”

“Untitled Original 11386, Take 1” is a Latin-meets-swing tune with the quartet’s patented African folkloric feeling. Elvin issues his trademark rolling triplet fills, and Garrison displays his unique way of breaking up time when walking. Other bassists of the era, like Scott LaFaro, would tend toward the upper register when they broke up the time, but Garrison did it in the lower register, which I believe influenced Charlie Haden. “Vilia” is a Lorenz Hart standard adapted from a piece in Hungarian composer Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. “Slow Blues” typifies the band’s ability to sound relaxed while firing on all cylinders, reminding us that no matter how far the quartet stretched, the blues foundation was always there. “Impressions” is one of four different versions on the album, all in D minor, and at slightly different tempos—and all with Garrison’s walking lines outlining a G7 tonality, adding a sus sound to the takes. Tyner, who has always been able to find highly creative pathways through the music, burns on each, as well.

Closing out side one, “One Up, One Down,” interestingly, has a different head and tonality than the version on Live at the Half Note: One Up, One Down [2005, Impulse!]. Side two begins with an alternate take of “Vilia,” this time with Trane on soprano sax instead of tenor. His soprano sound is as warm and wide as I’ve heard, as he proves once again he was a lyrical player first and foremost. The three other “Impressions” takes, two more takes of the Latin-swing “Unititled Original 11386,” and an additional “One Up, One Down” pass round out the album. Having already given us a lifetime of inspiration—and having a profound influence on me—the John Coltrane Quartet’s latest gift is a must-have. Go buy this recording, now! —JOHN PATITUCCI

ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD & ADRIAN YOUNGE
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR [Linear Labs]

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Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and producer extraordinaire Adrian Younge are both widely known and highly praised for their various musical talents, but perhaps the most powerful thread they share is their prowess on bass. Muhammad and Younge groove their way through downtempo, neo-soul hits featuring a star-studded cast, and with bass as the driving compositional focus, as well as each player’s unique style on the instrument, this is definitely an album to behold. —JON D’AURIA

ROGER DALTREY
AS LONG AS I HAVE YOU
[Republic]

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Pete Townshend apparently implored Roger Daltrey to record his first true solo album in 25 years, and let’s be thankful he did. Consisting largely of well-chosen cover songs (and two new Daltrey originals), As Long As I Have You accentuates the singer’s soul influences, but with Townshend lending his unmistakable guitar chops to the lion’s share of the session, a prime taste of the Who also peeks through. The backing band, featuring ex-Moke members John Hogg on bass and Sean Genockey on guitar, gets the program; from the house-rocking version of Parliament’s “Get on Out of the Rain” (which finds Hogg building tension by barely straying from the root note for most of the song) to the swampy, Memphis-style take on the Joe Tex ballad “The Love You Save,” Hogg and his mates cut a thick slab of maximum R&B for Daltrey to sink his teeth into. —BILL MURPHY

JONATHAN DAVIS
BLACK LABYRINTH
[Sumerian]

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Upright ace Miles Mosley usually works with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Lauryn Hill, and even Joni Mitchell, so it might seem like a stretch for him to play on Korn singer Jonathan Davis’ debut solo album. Surprisingly, the matchup works, as Mosley embraces Davis’ vibe and lays it down on songs that range from gothic to Middle Eastern-inspired to electro-metal. This proves that Mosley can hang with the heavy and blend in with anything you throw his way. —JON D’AURIA

NEKO CASE
HELL-ON
[Anti-]

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Eclecticism makes up the heart and soul of Neko Case’s music, so it’s only fitting that no fewer than four different bassists—Peter Bjorn & John’s Björn Yttling, Calexico’s Joey Burns, Soul Coughing’s Sebastian Steinberg, and band regular Tom V. Ray—all take a turn on Case’s seventh album. That said, the musicianship comes across as a seamless whole, whether it emerges from Steinberg’s thoughtful melodic flourishes in the lower registers of “Curse of the I-5 Corridor” (featuring guest vocalist Mark Lanegan), Yttling’s bright-sounding Hagstrom H-IIB on “Last Lion of Albion” (with k.d. lang), or Ray’s whole-note lines on upright bass, which drives the dreamy mood of “Sleep All Summer.” —BILL MURPHY

PROGGER
DYSTOPIA
[Ropeadope]

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On its fourth album, Austin-formed funk and jazz collective Progger takes you on a musical journey led by bandleader Brian Donohoe (sax and keys) and backed by Bryan Ladd and Nicholas Clark. Showing why they’re beloved by their contemporaries in Snarky Puppy and Ghost-Note, Ladd and Clark lay it down heavily with deep grooves and complementary tone. Ladd, who takes on most of the album’s bass work, shines on “Morning Star” and stretches out on “Dystopia.” —JON D’AURIA

THE RECORD COMPANY
ALL OF THIS LIFE
[Concord]

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As any power trio will attest, the rhythm section is where the rubber meets the road, and the Record Company’s Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla sound positively fuel-injected on their follow-up to 2016’s Grammy-nominated Give It Back to You. Stiff’s distinctive dark-and-muddy blues sound, wrenched from a rotating duo of Fender Jazz and Precision Basses set up with the deadest strings he can find (he literally shops for them), adds unmistakably to the haunting power of “Goodbye to the Hard Life” and the stately, “Sweet Emotion”-like boogie feel of “Night Games.” He brings the crunch on “Roll Bones,” countering Cazorla’s insistent rimshots for a roughneck groove that draws an angry rasp from lead singer and guitarist Chris Vos. With John Lee Hooker as inspiration, these guys continue to lunge right for the jugular. —BILL MURPHY

JOHN FERRARA & SETH MOUTAL
FRAIL THINGS IN SHARP PLACES
[johnferraramusic.com]

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On an album brimming with rich Indian melodies, layered polyrhythms, and an array of tapping, slapping, and sweeping fingerstyle techniques, John Ferrara (of Consider The Source) and percussionist Seth Moutal go from sparse minimalism to complex virtuosity with the stroke of a tabla. Ferrara’s ability to fulfill melody and rhythm at once are abundant on “Song for Ramida,” “Frail Things,” and “Jackie Chan.” Bonus points for doing all of that while playing lines with his feet on his homemade Taurus pedals. —JON D’AURIA

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