Archive for January, 2009

life of bryan

self portrait: bryan adams photogrpahed by bryan adams.

self portrait: bryan adams photogrpahed by bryan adams.

OK. Keep cool. There’s a reason Bryan Adams hasn’t been in Lexington for awhile.

As has been the case for the bulk of his career, the veteran Canadian rocker continues to maintain a massive international fanbase. Why, just take his 1996 album, 18 Til I Die. It was a No. 1 hit in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Germany, Australia and all over the United Kingdom. Even here in the good ol’ USA, where Adams remains best known for early ‘80s MTV pop-rock hits and a string of movie soundtrack ballads, the album went platinum.

And all that pales next to 1991’s Waking Up the Neighbors (which sold over 10 million copies worldwide) and 1984’s Reckless (which sold five million in this country alone).

The globe-trotting has only increased since then. Over the past decade, Adams has maintained his international following by playing at least one week every month in a different part of the world.

“I don’t really strategize any of it,” Adams said by phone last week, as his current tour rolled through Southern Florida. “I just go with the flow.”

But when he was told the date of his last Lexington show, the man who has made his living rocking all over the world seemed genuinely surprised. Adams’ last local concert: May 30, 1983, as a show opener at Rupp Arena for Journey.

“That’s just wrong,” Adams said with a laugh.

This week, the singer of such guitar hook-happy, rock radio staples as Run toYou (a song written for but rejected by Blue Oyster Cult) and Summer of ‘69 as well as the epic movie ballad (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, makes a grand Lexington return in rather modest fashion. Adams will perform at the Opera House on Thursday without frills and without a band as part of a solo acoustic tour that began last year with the release of his 11th studio album, ingeniously titled 11.

“I started out doing this pretty much to challenge myself,” Adams said. “I tour with a band all the time, but I wanted to do something to push myself. A solo show is more about getting back to basics.

“This isn’t like an unplugged thing. It’s rawer than that. Besides, even when I did my unplugged album (1997’s all acoustic MTV Unplugged), I still had a band. This time it’s just me.”

“Back to basics,” in Adams’ book, can have multiple meanings. First, there is the chance to revisit the songs in settings similar to the ones in which they were written. But mostly, a solo acoustic tour is more than just a chance to unplug from bands and massive amplification. It’s an opportunity to demystify much of the celebrity status that has been tied to Adams’ music over the last three decades.

“I really like the simplicity of it. I can tell some stories and explain certain things about the songs that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do if I had my band with me,

“All the songs started in a room somewhere when I was by myself, so there is no reason why they can’t work by themselves in front of an audience. Some obviously work better than others, but I’ve got it all down now. I just wish I had started doing this 10 years ago. It’s been really fun.”

The idea for an unaccompanied tour began with 11. There are strong acoustic elements to the record, particularly on the album-closing Walk On By. The tune (one of three 11 songs to re-team Adams with fellow Canadian songsmith and longtime writing partner Jim Vallance) uses only acoustic guitar and strings to accent the scratchy, weathered contours of Adams’ singing.

11 started out as an acoustic record,” Adams said. “But at some point in making it I felt that would have been too much of a departure. So I went back to making a regular record. But the foundations of the songs were still acoustic based. When you listen to the album, you can tell. The acoustic sound is a predominant part of the record.”

Don’t let the simplicity and intimacy of the solo acoustic tour suggest that the scope of Adams’ music and career is at all shrinking.

Over the years, he has forged a resilient bond with the film industry. Sure, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You remained a No. 1 hit in the U.S. for two months in 1991 (and over twice that long in England) due to its placement in the Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. But Adams’ music has found a home in a number of stylistically varied films over the years, from collaborations with composer Hans Zimmer on the animated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron to a Golden Globe-nominated song, Never Gonna Break My Faith, featured in Emilio Estevez’s fictionalized biopic of Robert Kennedy, Bobby.

“I don’t think I could have imagined any of this,” Adams said of his unexpected Hollywood connection. “All I wanted to do at first with my music was pay the rent. Suddenly, to be working with great composers like Hans, Michael Kamen (co-writer of Everything I Do) and Marvin Hamlisch (on I Finally Found Someone, performed as a duet with Barbara Streisand on 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces) was just incredible.”

While Adams has forged a fruitful relationship with moving pictures, he has also discovered a very different passion for still photography. His photos have been published in Vanity Fair, British Vogue and Interview. Adams’ website features a wide sampling of his work, including a wonderfully regal portrait of singer Harry Belafonte. Adams even takes his own picture at times. The photo used for this story is a self-portrait.

“I keep that side of my career pretty quiet,” Adams said almost dismissively. “I don’t have an agent or anything like that. I just do it because I love it. I get to work with different magazines. It’s fun.

“It’s a very different world from music. I suppose that’s one of the things that attracted me to it. Still, there’s this idea of creating something out of nothing. Those kinds of things just spur me on.”

Bryan Adams performs at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Lexington Opera House. Tickets are $49.50, $59.50 and $75.50. Call: (859) 233-3535 or (859) 281-6644.

critic’s pick 54

the blue note 7: mosaic

the blue note 7: mosaic

Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the first Blue Note recording session. Since then, the groundbreaking jazz label has been credited as a guiding force in so-called “hard bop.” While that’s a bit of generalization, Blue Note nonetheless provided bop with a cosmopolitan shift, especially during the label’s golden era of the 1960s.

Everything about Blue Note oozed style and cool, from its extraordinary roster of artists (including Herbie Hancock, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter and Dexter Gordon along with lesser credited greats like Sonny Clark and Duke Pearson) to the in-house team of producer/label founder Alfred Lion and engineer Rudy Van Gelder (both of whom gave Blue Note recordings a sterling but wildly soulful sound) to the extraordinary album photography of Francis Wolff (whose portraits mirrored the everyman artistry that Blue Note’s bop sound embraced).

On a new recording called Mosaic, we have a Blue Note tribute undertaken by the label itself. The idea was to enlist a league of contemporary jazz stylists, dubbed The Blue Note 7, to re-interpret eight tunes from the label’s celebrated past.

Pianist/musical director Bill Charlap is the only artist in the assemblage that actually records for Blue Note today. But the other extraordinary players within the 7 include one-time Chick Corea alto saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson, the sublime New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton, tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (son of Alice and John Coltrane) and guitarist Peter Bernstein (a one-time protégé of Blue Note sax great Lou Donaldson). Coincidentally, fine new albums by Coltrane (Blending Times) and Bernstein (Monk) also hit stores this week along with Mosaic.

The new generation approach of Mosaic is felt at once on the album-opening title tune, a Cedar Walton composition that, in turn, served as the title work to a 1961 Blue Note album by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The crisp propulsion of drummer Lewis Nash (who also arranged the tune) echoes Blakey’s ageless bravado while the Payton/Coltrane/Wilson horn section maintains the almost big band-like fervor that showcased Hubbard and Shorter on the original.

Hancock’s Dolphin Dance opens the music up. While Charlap, Nash and bassist Peter Washington initially place the music inside a crystalline trio framework with piano setting the tune’s tonal reserve, lustrous solos from Payton and Coltrane expand the tune’s inherent cool.

Charlap seems to purposely avoid dominating the session. Even during Wilson’s arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s Criss Cross, the melody is carried by the horn team in “all-for-one” fashion. But on McCoy Tyner’s Search for Peace, the horns play off Charlap’s piano rolls to momentarily suggest Tyner’s muscular modal playing. Still, the tune quickly settles so Payton and Wilson can design an intimacy and warmth that deviate greatly from Tyner’s prizefighting romps.

Similarly, Pearson’s Idle Moments lets Bernstein’s limber guitar work creep around the groove. That sets up twilight hued piano delicacy by Charlap where the Blue Note sound is again reinvented – as it is throughout Mosaic – in bursts of bright, boppish mischief.

The Blue Note 7 will perform at the Singletary Center for the Arts on March 14.

in performance: AC/DC

brian johnson and angus young of ac/dc last night in cincinnati. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

brian johnson and angus young of ac/dc last night in cincinnati. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

There was something abundantly familiar in the plump guitar riffs, efficient but unyielding tempo and hook happy chorus that AC/DC employed during You Shook Me All Night Long last night at Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena.

Sure, the tune has been a radio staple since it first appeared on the Aussie band’s landmark Back in Black album nearly three decades ago. But that wasn’t it. No, the sense of musical déjà vu was more contained. It was as if you had heard the song earlier in the evening. And, in effect, the sold out crowd had.

If you varied Angus Young’s giddy guitar stutter on You Shook Me ever so slightly and changed out the lyrics Brian Johnson sang in his usual throat ripping squeal, you had Rock ‘n Roll Train, the anthem that kicked off AC/DC’s first regional performance in eight years. Shuffle the riffs again and you had Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Or Black Ice, the raucous title tune to the album that made AC/DC an unexpected comeback hit last fall. Or Big Jack, another new song.

That AC/DC strayed so little from its boozy, bludgeoning barroom rock last night isn’t a criticism, really. In fact, the band’s redundancy only made you cherish it more.

To begin with, Young still bounces around the stage like a wind up toy, doing demented variations on the Chuck Berry duck walk while flashing facial grimaces and contortions that almost happily re-affirm his devilish image. But then, so did his appearance in animated form during an hysterical show-opening film. There, the volcanic-faced, fork tongued Young held his head out of a runaway locomotive like a possessed cocker spaniel. The cartoon was a reminder that for all of AC/DC’s celebration of bad behavior, there are also abundant elements of cheer and humor at work in its music.

That’s where Johnson came in. While Young spun around the stage unleashing a litany of tasty guitar riffs, Johnson was the cheerleader, slapping hands with fans along a catwalk that spread down the middle of the arena stage and emitting broad smiles even during bleak rockers like Hell’s Bells. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand more than three words the guy sang all night. But his presence, right down to his billiard hall garb of sleeveless black work short and grey Scottish cap, was thoroughly infectious. Young may still love to play the tormented devil. But Johnson still wants to have fun. Bully for him.

Again, there were very, very few stylistic variances in the show. Young got to spin his riffs in faster, dizzier motion at the onset of Thunderstruck. Also, the slow boogie drive of The Jack allowed Johnson to lead the crowd in a bluesy sing-a-long. Outside of that, the tempo was steadfast. It wasn’t on autopilot. But drummer Phil Rudd, who now sports a look so manicured he could pass for a dentist, seldom unlocked from the band’s thunderous, mid-tempo charge.

And in the end, that was a good thing. For those who champion the band’s music, especially younger fans who might have mistook the extended break from touring as retirement, the concert was bliss. And those suspecting AC/DC may have lost a step or two with the passing years could also rest easy. This rock ‘n roll train still runs right on time.

the ABCs of AC/DC

angus young in 2008: "angus is bad." photo courtesy sony music.

AC/DC's angus young in 2008: "angus is bad." photo courtesy of sony music.

One of my favorite tales from 28-plus years of writing about music centers around the first time I reviewed AC/DC.

Rewind to November 1981. Unlike now, Rupp Arena used to be a concert beast during the autumn months. The talk that fall dealt mostly with a sold out Rolling Stones concert that awaited in mid-December. But before that, Rupp and Lexington had to deal with AC/DC, which was already an arena staple having played the venue only 16 months earlier.

So, somewhat naively, I figured the Aussie rockers would trigger a respectable though hardly remarkable return turnout. 8,000, maybe? It was a Monday evening performance. Most arena rock bands would kill for a weeknight crowd that size.

Of course, guitarist Angus Young – who even then had turned his trademark schoolboy uniform/stage costume into a symbol that rock ‘n roll grows old but never quite up – and company were riding a hearty second wave.

In February 1980, AC/DC singer Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning. By June, Scottish vocalist Brian Johnson was on board and Back in Black, an album that has since sold over 22 million copies worldwide, was in stores. A week before the 1981 Rupp concert, For Those About to Rock was released and was, by show date, sitting comfortably at the top of the Billboard charts. It would remain AC/DC’s only U.S. No. 1 album until Black Ice was issued last fall.

The crowd attendance for AC/DC’s Nov. 30, 1981 concert turned out to be in excess of 20,000. I was floored. Clearly, I had underestimated the band’s ongoing appeal. Feeling mostly ambivalent toward its music up to that point, I decided to ask the patron seated next to me what the big deal was about AC/DC that had so eluded me. Dressed in layers of denim and chains, my neighbor introduced himself as Spike.

“So, Spike, tell me something,” I asked. “AC/DC is cool and everything. But what is the draw? What accounts for a crowd like this on a Monday night?”

Spike looked at me like I was from Mars. He spoke only five words.

“It’s Angus.” he said. Spike’s eyes then narrowed as he shot me a steely look to possibly evaluate whether or not it was worth his while to continue. “Angus is bad.”

Now, to fully appreciate this miniature evaluation, you have to understand the phonetics applied to the last word. “Bad.” A three letter adjective. Spike drew it out to at least four syllables.

There. I had my answer. Angus was bad. What more need I know? Of course, it would take another decade and an additional four AC/DC performances (and subsequent reviews) to understand the real secret to Young’s appeal: humor. C’mon, a guy strutting around in a school uniform and makeshift devil’s horns as though 50,000 volts were shooting through him? How could I have missed the fun in that?

For all of its outcast, roughneck image, AC/DC, it turned out, was a glorified party band. It has never visibly aspired to be anything more. That’s why its music, right up to Black Ice and a sold out Sunday concert in Cincinnati, has been so resilient to change.

Over the years, the celebratory attitude has been mirrored as much by Johnson as Young. After interviewing the singer prior to AC/DC’s November1990 Rupp show (its last local appearance), he asked if I was going attend to the concert. After answering in the affirmative, he laughed and in a heavy Scottish brogue said. “Well, yeh’ better. Otherwise, I’m gonna git up on-stehge an’ call yeh’ nehmes.”

AC/DC performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnatil. The performance is sold out.

one year and counting

go ahead. make a wish.

go ahead. make a wish.

As Sandy Denny beautifully sang so many years ago, “Who knows where the time goes?”

Today, marks the one-year birthday of The Musical Box. Technically, our little box of wonder didn’t go online until Jan. 11. But an introductory writing was penned and posted with a truly creepy picture of a young Peter Gabriel a few days earlier. The Musical Box, after all, is named after a 1971 Genesis song that, though gloriously dated, possesses the kind of chill that makes for perfect listening during the dead of winter.

Since then, we’ve chalked up about 350 posts including 53 critic’s picks and lord-knows-how-many concert reviews, interview pieces and general rants. Responses have been generous and kind, though there have been the occasional disgruntlements, like the comment that said I wrote like “a bitter old man.” Oh, honey, if you only knew.

At the tender age of 1, The Musical Box still has all kinds of surprises in store. In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking with Tony Bennett, going acoustic with Bryan Adams, connecting to AC/DC, jamming with Jerry Douglas, visiting the “old ‘kintry” with Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers and more.

Please stay tuned.

rock endeavoring

lexington's own in endeavors performs at two multi-act local music bashes thursday and friday.

lexington's in endeavors performs at two major local music bashes this week.

As the week heads into the home stretch, you have an unusual opportunity to catch one of our own in action. Twice.

In celebration of a fine new 5-song EP called You’ve Got Your Friends, I’ve Got Mine, Lexington’s In Endeavors will perform as part of two multi-act bills at two different (drastically different, in fact) venues over two consecutive nights.

On Thursday, the band heads to The Dame to headline the evening with Cari Clara’s Eric Diedrichs, Matt Duncan and the immensely recommended Cincinnati cowpunk-and-more brigade 500 Miles to Memphis.

Then on Friday, In Endeavors formally celebrates the EP’s release with a slot on an all-ages program at, believe it or not, the Oleika Temple on Southland Drive. Self-proclaimed local “post hardcore” rockers Emarosa will headline with sets by Dead and Devine, Of Machines, Dead Icons, The Weatherman Underground, Decades, Brave the Storm and Wes Meek rounding out the bill.

Power pop inspiration runs deep within the music In Endeavors stirs up on You’ve Got Your Friends. The crackling drums-and-guitar hooks immediately recall The Strokes while the melodies of tunes like The Move and I Can’t Run reveal a decidedly ‘80s feel – like synth-pop without the synths. There is also a nice Joe Jackson-like sneer to Gerren Reach’s vocals on Private Eye that is complimented by bruisier pop harmonies that send In Endeavors back to the ‘60s (Dave Clark Five, anyone?).

The only downside to You’ve Got Your Friends is that the whole feverish affair is over and done with in under 18 minutes. More, please.

Doors open at The Dame on Thursday at 8 p.m. and at the Temple on Friday at 6 p.m.

In Endeavors performs with…

+ 500 Miles To Memphis, Matt Duncan and Eric Diedrichs of Cari Clara at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Dame, 367 East Main St. $6. Call (859) 231-7263. Go to www.dameky.com for more info.

+ Emarosa, Dead and Devine, Of Machines, Dead Icons, The Weatherman Underground, Decades, Brave the Storm and Wes Meek at 7 p.m.  Friday at the Oleika Temple, 326 Southland Drive. $10. Go to www.lexingtonshows.com.

critic's pick 53

"creedence clearwater revival" (1968)

"creedence clearwater revival" (1968)

Too often the legacy of a great band, one long since deceased as a performance unit, exists only through compilation recordings. For ages, that has been the case with Creedence Clearwater Revival, which countered the counter-culture of late ‘60s San Francisco pop with swamp psychedelia that sounded like it had been brewed in deep Louisiana rather than the band’s native California.

"bayou country" (1969)

"bayou country" (1969)

Now the band’s six principal albums – initially released in rapid succession in under 2 ½ years beginning in 1968 – have been scrubbed up for the second time (an inferior remastering was done in 2000) with bonus archival material and re-issued for a rock generation that knows Creedence mostly as classic rock radio staple.

"green river" (1969)

"green river" (1969)

There are hits, of course, on each of these albums. The backwoods boogie of Suzie Q, for instance, stretches out in two versions on the band’s 1968 self-titled debut album, including a newly unearthed 12 minute live take cut at San Francisco’s famed Fillmore West. By the time Have You Ever Seen the Rain, from 1970’s underrated Pendulum, entered charts that December, the band’s cracks were revealed. But the album’s embrace of twilight-hued soul and R&B now sounds beautifully subversive in retrospect.

"willie and the poor boys" (1969)

"willie and the poorboys" (1969)

But what sits alongside masterful radio singles like Proud Mary, Green River, Down on the Corner and Lookin’ Out My Back Door fuels these sublime albums, as does the vision of a young John Fogerty, Creedence’s primary singer, guitarist, writer and producer.

The riverboat classic Proud Mary, from 1969’s Bayou Country, may have viewed the South in regal terms. But for Fogerty, the bayou was more a place of dark mystery. “Been an awful long time since I’ve been home,” he sang in Porterville (from the 1968 debut album). “But you won’t catch me going back down there all alone.”

"cosmo's factory" (1970)

"cosmo's factory" (1970)

Fogerty led that journey with a singing voice that seemed drenched in North Mississippi blues. It was a vocal sound full of shadows that were either shed in the face of warmer, but still wary reflections (as in Wrote a Song for Everyone, from 1969’s Green River) or boosted for something darkly spiritual (the menacing Effigy, which balanced out the homespun gospel intimacy of The Midnight Special and Cotton Fields on a third 1969 album, Willie and the Poor Boys, which arrived a mere three months after Green River).

But all of Creedence’s magic – the Southern imagery, the post-psychedelic grooves, the root-savvy tradition, the pop reinvention, the killer guitar hooks, the brewing political swagger and that ghostly, indefinable voice – converged on 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory.

"pendulum" (1970)

"pendulum" (1970)

The album’s hits shifted from the exquisitely forlorn Who’ll Stop the Rain (did any West Coast singer ponder the rain more than Fogerty?) to the jubilation of Up Around the Bend, which outlined a trip to the hereafter with a gospel reverence built on a proudly screaming guitar hook. There was also the re-design of I Heard it Through the Grapevine (already a hit for both Gladys Knight and Marvin Gave) into a downbeat, 11 minute dirge. Ramble Tamble, probably the most politically urgent rocker Creedence ever cut, absolutely screams on the new edition of Cosmo’s Factory, as does a bonus version of Born on the Bayou with Booker T. and the MGs.

A final, disastrous Creedence record, Mardi Gras, was issued in 1972 after rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty exited. It is rightly excluded from these new remasters. The remaining six albums, now more robust and revealing than ever, reaffirm Creedence’s original 30 month chart assault. Seldom has rock ‘n’ roll burned so briefly and brilliantly.

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striking up 2009

So what musical delights does the dead of winter hold for us all? How about the return of Alejandro Escovedo, a teaming of two champion Americana songwriters, a Blue Note jazz celebration and familiar Scottish folk music by some familiar (at least, to Lexington) Scottish folks.

Don’t feel like venturing out? Then there are new platters to spin (or download) from The Boss, a pair of Jayhawks and two of the world’s finest (but stylistically varied) jazz trios.

Here is the rundown of new year’s new music.

On stage: seven not-to-miss performances at four different regional venues that should keep eager ears warm until spring:

tannahill weavers

the tannahill weavers

+ The Tannahill Weavers and Lambchop (Kentucky Theatre for the WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, Jan.26) How do you compliment the Lexington return of a famed Scottish folk troupe like the Tannahill Weavers? How about with Nashville indie-pop brigade Lambchop, which dismantles everything from vintage country to soul for its own revisionist sound. (7 p.m., $10). (859) 252-8888.

alejandro escovedo

alejandro escovedo

+ Alejandro Escovedo (The Dame, Jan. 27) It’s only been 16 months since Escovedo last played Lexington. Given the devotion of his local following, though, that’s something of an eternity. The veteran Texas songsmith has been here during that layover, however. But his mission was to record a new album called Real Animal with one-time David Bowie/T. Rex producer Tony Visconti. (8 p.m., $20). (859) 231-7263.

jj grey

jj grey

+ JJ Grey (WoodSongs, Feb. 2); JJ Grey and Mofro (The Dame, Feb. 7) Florida swamp rocker Grey cancelled his WoodSongs gig in December due to the flu. Be he returns in February with a bonus. His solo WoodSongs set is back on for Feb. 2 while Grey and the entire Mofro lineup serves up Southern steeped funk, soul, rock and R&B at The Dame on Feb. 7 for the band’s first full-length local concert in seven years. (7 p.m., $10 for WoodSongs; 8 p.m.$18 for The Dame). 

lyle lovett and john hiatt

lyle lovett and john hiatt

+ Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (Norton Center for the Arts in Danville, Feb. 14) What a wonderful addition to an already hearty Norton Center season. There will no Large Band this time. Instead long tall Texan Lovett and veteran Nashville songsmith Hiatt will swap songs and stories with only each other’s accompaniment to back them up. And it’s all on Valentine’s Day, no less. (8 p.m.; $45, $55, $65). (877) 448-7469.

the drive-by truckers

the drive-by truckers

+ Drive-By Truckers (The Dame, Feb. 24) Another new Dame confirmation is the return of new generation Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers. The band usually drives-by Lexington in favor of Louisville. Finally, we get to hear the literary crunch of the band’s fine 2008 album Brighter Than Creation’s Dark come to life onstage (8 p.m., $20).

the blue note 7

the blue note 7

+ The Blue Note 7 (Singletary Center for the Arts, March 14) To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the landmark Blue Note jazz label, a roster of expert new generation talent including pianist Bill Charlap and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will re-interpret compositions by McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson and other giants that recorded for Blue Note during its ‘50s and ‘60s heyday. (7:30 p.m.; $30, $35, $40). (859) 257-4929.

On record: A sampling of four anticipated winter releases, all of which are due in stores on Jan. 27:

working on a dream

"working on a dream"

+ Bruce Springsteen: Working on a Dream – No one really expected another Springsteen album, much less one that again features the E Street Band, so soon. But here it is. And judging by the two tunes The Boss has posted online (three, if you count the movie music he provided for the upcoming Mickey Rourke film The Wrestler), it will be a loose, warm and affirmative record. We’ll see.

"ready for the flood"

"ready for the flood"

+ Mark Olson & Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood – The two former leaders of the Jayhawks re-team for a record they previewed heavily at a Lexington performance last fall. This record may not boast the Jayhawks name, but the music is a warm yet wintry variation on the pop/folk Americana music Olson and Louris made together during the early ‘90s.

"harmonic disorder"

"harmonic disorder"

+ Matthew Shipp Trio: Harmonic Disorder – What an appropriate title. One of today’s most inventive and challenging jazz pianists plays like a modern day Monk with rich, modal playing and percussive playfulness. Beyond that, he sounds like no one. There is a delicious tone to Shipp’s playing here, even if the treacherous trio interplay maintains a high musical danger level.

"yesterdays"

"yesterdays"

+ Keith Jarrett: Yesterdays – Yesterdays? How about Yesteryears? These concert recordings by pianist Jarrett’s Standards Trio were recorded in April 2001. But the freshness provided to the music of Jerome Kern, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and especially Horace Silver (on his subtle and soulful Strollin’) reaffirms Jarrett’s timeless piano phrasing.

times tribute to 2008

bruce springsteen and danny federici, november 2007. photo by guy aceto, backstreets.com/AP.

bruce springsteen and danny federici, november 2007. photo by guy aceto, backstreets.com/AP.

As we all ease into 2009, spend a moment taking one last look back at the musicians we lost in 2008 by way of a video tribute compiled by The New York Times. I’m an avid reader of the Times, but managed to miss this until a friend forwarded it my way. It’s an insightful and enlightening compilation.

www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/12/28/magazine/20081228-livesmusic-magazine

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