Saturday, February 14, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: At the Altar of Jazz

Matana Roberts: Matana. 2007. Individually painted CD-R available from the composer.

Matana Roberts: saxophone

Matana Roberts brings all the introspective, experienced and emotionally raw material of a writer to her improvised, solo alto saxophone performances. Her individual voice drawing upon the tangible influences and sense of self she dedicates to the expressively lyrical lines that emerge. This short set is an offering to the music of Steve Lacy. Sonically stated with a voice that is often both strong and vulnerable. The strength found in asserting Matana's own place along the same continuum that includes the likes of Steve Lacy, Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker. The vulnerability found in the exposure of extended, unaccompanied solo improvisation as an act of honest homage to the greatness that serves as inspiration.

Kenny Dorham: Trompeta Toccata. 1964 (re-released in 2006 - Rudy Van Gelder edition). Blue Note Records: 0946 3 62635 2 6.

Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan: piano
Richard Davis: bass
Albert Heath: drums

This recording is an oasis of incredibly "right" music that couldn't be more on the mark at the end of a crazy week. If your ears have ever been hooked by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers then you already know the outstanding arrangements that Kenny Dorham produced. With the opening title track the air immediately fills with the allure of Dorham's arranging prowess applied to his own compositions. Stacked with a hot quintet, this is another one of the classic, jaw-dropping Blue Note records from a truly golden era. Kenny Dorham is a trumpet player and composer that continues to grow on these ears - leaving unexpectedly deep impressions with each passing.

Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet: Husky. 2006. Hyena Records: HYN 9349.

Skerik: tenor saxophone
Craig Flory: baritone saxophone, clarinet
Hans Teuber: alto saxophone, flute
Steve Moore: trombone, wurlitzer
Joe Doria: hammond organ
Dave Carter: trumpet
John Wicks: drums
guest - Isalee Teuber: vocals on one track

In the soundscape of Critters Buggin', another one of Seattle-based Skerik's dynamic vehicles of musical mayhem - the funk is all dominant. With Syncopated Taint that same engine sits under the hood as it propels the charts along. The churning organ lines from Joe Doria give this sound its purr as the horn section shifts gears through melodic vistas. The funk is tempered down into soul-drenched bed with frequent bursts of groove-heavy energy leading in and around heady solos.

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