Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Down on Earth

Brian Auger: Planet Earth Calling. 1981. Garland: GRZ010.

Studio recording with various combinations of the following:
Brian Auger: hammond organ, yamaha CP 70B, electric grand piano, prophet 5 synthesizer, rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano, miniMoog, cabasa, gogo bells, freeman string dymphoniser, tambourine, vocals, cowbell
Ho Young Kim: guitar
George Doering: guitar
Dave McDaniels: electric bass
Dave Crigger: drums
Steve Evans: electric bass
Tom Donlinger: drums
Terry Baker: drums
Michael Barsimanto: drums
Alex Ligertwood: vocals

It was difficult to contain my disappointment last time this one came up in the rotation. And it hasn't grown on me with a repeated spin. Which "augers" a fair question: why keep this one in the rotation at all? Sometimes one learns more from music that lets one down than from keeping too narrow a focus on things that one finds appealing.

So what is it about Planet Earth Calling that so consistently rubs me the wrong way? The musicianship is generally high on this recording. The arrangements are skillfully done, the solos are well executed and the production value is at a professional caliber. All the "failings" (which is entirely my opinion) fall within the compositional decisions made. Much of which are fueled by the horrifying mash-up of commercially bland genres. It doesn't "rock" and it's a bit too clean to pass for jazz (even though it was languishing in the "jazz" bin when I found it). By deliberately bending toward entertainment it ceases to be entertaining some 26 years after its recording date. Being familiar with Brian Auger's much more compelling records prior to this release compounds my disappointment.

Clusone Trio: An Hour With... 2000. HatHut: Hatology 554.

Recorded live at Kilen, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Sweden on March 21, 1998.

Michael Moore
: alto saxophone, clarinet, melodica
Ernst Reijseger: cello
Han Bennink: drums

A single hour is only a taste of the range and improvisational sensibilities of this outstanding trio. With quiet, introspective moments woven around irreverent outbursts the minutes slip past along an engaging sequence of ideas and varied interpretations of familiar and unfamiliar tunes. The "bird" theme of including "The Peacocks" by Jimmy Rowles, "Duck" by Steve Lacy, "Duck" by Michael Moore, "Turkey in the Straw," "My Bird of Paradise" by Irving Berlin and "Baltimore Oriole" by Hoagy Carmichael weaves in a thread of unifying humor while flashing Moore's deep grasp of jazz history.

Martial Solal/Dave Douglas: Rue de Seine. 2006. CamJazz: CAM 5013.

Martial Solal: piano
Dave Douglas: trumpet

In all my Dave Douglas obsessing - from live shows to an insatiable appetite to scarf up every recording as leader and side man - this is the first time I've heard him play "Body and Soul" and "All the Things You Are." As a duo collaboration between two great creative souls separated by generations and continents one expects the standards to get a spin as a point of reference for such disparate talents. But the Rogers and Hart action comes late in this set. Only the final four tracks are standards. By the time the ears reach that side of the song book the air has already taken on a sheen from the generous interpretations of Solal and Douglas originals.

It's the trumpet and piano arrangements of the familiar Dave Douglas Quintet pieces that have the most immediate appeal for me. "For Suzannah" is done as a short piano solo. And it's the most amazing three minutes on this disc. Beyond that is the intriguing introduction to Solal's music (at least it's new to me). Even "Body and Soul" takes on a fresh, open quality as the collaborative energy carries over to the jazz war horses.

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