a review of cool new music
by Jeff Pinzino
New releases slow to a trickle after Thanksgiving, so Casual Listening will be home to special features over the next few weeks to help wind up the year.
REQUEST WEEK: All of these albums have been recommended to Casual Listening by readers over the past year
Ornette Coleman – Sound Grammar (jazz)
In 1960, free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman was ahead of his time. In 2007, time finally caught up and awarded him the Pulitzer Prize in Music for this brilliant live set. Coleman’s rapid saxophone runs, seemingly disconnected from the furious playing going on around him, balance with beautifully oblique ballads. On first listen, this music is easy to dismiss as noise, but once your ears adjust to Coleman’s grammar, a methodical madness emerges.
You might expect a scratchy version of this gypsy-inspired orchestral music playing on the phonograph in the background of an Indiana Jones movie. Subtle and seductive cabaret vocals rest in a hammock of trumpets, accordion, and various strings.
Bobby Sanabria – Big Band Urban Folktales (Latin)
Somewhere, Dizzy Gillespie is listening with his celestial headphones and thoroughly digging this album. Sanabria drives a solid big band over Latin percussion, straight into the groove between salsa and swing.
A Band of Bees – Octopus (rock)
These Bees create quirky, genre-bending mosaics. Touches of blues, reggae, and afrobeat enhance a jammy blend of harmonies. For days when you need to let your goofy side loose a little.
Damian Marley – Welcome to Jamrock (reggae)
Marley pushes roots reggae straight into the 21st century, weaving together dancehall, hip hop, and R&B with more traditional stylings. Sharp production and sharp lyrics make for a compelling set of cosmopolitan Jamaican music.
Celtic Woman – A New Journey (Celtic, sort of)
I had to double-check my player to make sure I hadn’t accidentally cued up an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. Melodramatic, bombastic arrangements of Irish and faux-Irish tunes with rainsticks, harps, and what sound like taiko drummers. Save your cash for live music night at your local Irish pub.
Special thanks to Steve, Tim, Dad,
New releases in the blog this week: Bonde do Role, Aphrodesia