Bouzouk-player Ramzi Aburedwan’s Reflections of Palestine reminds me a little of Spanish music. (Could it be that the Middle East influenced Spain? Yes.) Music is almost always a shared thing, a common treasure. I can’t say this music is calming, as it is full of detail, intensity, shifts, requiring attention—but it is enriching.
The now lean, soft-spoken and austere but friendly loner Shuggie Otis’s Wings of Love, the new companion to Inspiration Information, answers a lot of historical questions about the creative interests and development of the musician.
The boy prodigy Charles Lloyd, now a musical elder, was born in the late 1930s and mentored by pianist Phineas Newborn, and Lloyd worked with B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf, before graduating from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree.
One discerns the different influences on the singer-songwriter; and Kail Baxley’s voice, solitary and soulful, is a strong voice that sounds traditional and reminds this listener of Chris Whitley and Amos Lee. “Say Goodbye to the Night” is both confident and melancholy, with Baxley’s deep voice inside a pleasant rhythm.
The divergent rhythms in “Ma Negresse” give the composition its complexity and charm, whereas “Black Snake,” with drumming by Brad Frank, has a country blues feel. Watson’s fiddle is the dominant force in the old-fashion country dance song “Calinda.” The tempo is fast and sends “Madame Faielle” reeling with a lot of energy; and although the song has some lyrics, it is mostly instrumental.
Anyone who has heard of the talented, improvising trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, a friendly sensualist, and one of the founders of the Rebirth Brass Band, as well as a respected barbecue grill man, knows that those who love the trumpeter’s work consider him an embodiment of the spirit of New Orleans.
Soldier Songs begins and ends with gong-like sounds, which could be large mortar explosions. There are quotes from soldiers about the life-or-death circumstances of war as killing; and making oneself available to die upon orders; and the (usually forbidden) permission to kill. An experimental classical sound supports the ordinary conversation of the soldiers’ testimonies: piano, drone, and pulsing rhythm accompany the voices.
as Eastman too radical for the avant-garde? Was the Cage-Eastman argument the inevitable clash of a privileged self-erasing artist and an ambitious but rebellious self-asserting artist? Did Eastman betray himself by adopting the destructive and distracting, false, hateful, and self-indulgent racial and sexual identity politics of the time?
She is an artist I like and respect, but I find her consistent concern with independence worrying, and not because I do not understand or respect that mission, but because, despite her affirmations, some aspect of that desired state seems to elude her.
In working in New Orleans the band members were finding a home in a town that has long been known for the interactions of different cultures, African, European, Native American—and a place some people think of as Caribbean. New Orleans is a city and a village, a place of family, work, religion, food, music, sex, and violence; a place of piety and pleasure—of private passions that become public. The members of Calexico were able to see the past and the future in New Orleans, the rich and the poor, the familiar and the strange—the complexities.