Saturday, March 31, 2007

Abstract Index Playlist - March 28/07

True freakiness is a virtue to me, right up there with soulfulness. I wouldn't describe myself as a freak, and I sure don't look like one, but anyone who listens to the Abstract Index radio show knows that I value the constant challenge of improvised mixology. I feel that community radio is a license to explore music as much as possible in a public forum, especially given the huge and unique library curated by Music Director Ron Burd. A big part of my self-styled mandate is to champion like minded souls. On this show I played some Roland Kirk and this link pretty much defines what I mean by a "freak". All of us can only hope to get to a fraction of where he was coming from. And I'd say there are some freaks out there listening, judging from the calls I get.
What's the difference between someone who fancies themselves a freak and the genuine article? The passage of time tends to bear out one's true colours. Just look at all those ex-hippies runnin' tings throughout the world. On the other hand, there's Jimi Tenor. He has been around for some 20 years, starting out as an industrial musician but gaining his first wave of international notice with the Lounge era of the mid to early 90s which coincided with the death throes of acid jazz. The lounge scene was willfully plastic and didn't breed much music which stood the test of time, and Tenor's work may have been consigned to the cutout bin (do those still exist?) due to his spaced out neo-Austin Powers persona. Even worse, the labels put on him - "the Barry White of Finland" and 'the Elton John of jazz" - don't exactly bespeak artistic integrity. But he's no poseur.
This new album "Joystone" is his best yet, and has Ubiquity, one of my favourite labels, backing it. Tenor takes a turn into Afrobeat, accompanied by an ensemble called Kabu Kabu, who worked with Fela. It's pretty late in the hipster game to be jumping on the Afrobeat bandwagon, but Tenor takes Nigerian-American rhythms to places they've never been. Joystone hangs together like a grandiose, smarmy, funky, cosmic whole. His arranging skills are on brilliant display here - this record is the only disc I've ever heard that integrates an eager-to- please pop vibe with Afrobeat. More than a few moments bring Jamiroquai to mind, but the music isn't at all imitative like Jay Kay has been throughout his career. There is a comprehensive understanding of the rhythms behind Afrobeat, which are beautifully integrated with great harmonic movement and melodic brilliance. The dark and jagged keyboard sounds prevent the album from sounding one-dimensional, and feature a wide array of vintage gear, with some serious pitchwheel abuse on many tracks. Best of all is the lack of concern for authenticity. Tenor's fluffy lyrics about 'heaven in your eyes' and 'love is the only God' are hilariously banal and delivered with a thin whisper that hardly bears out the Barry White comparisons. But the perverse mixes on each song (why do the drums come in halfway through the first chorus of "Anywhere, Anytime"??) and the deep space production recalls the most oblique records of the Impulse 70s years. Heck, this disc stacks up well with contemporary electrojazz on Thirsty Ear. RIYL: Tony Bennett arranging Africa 70 with Weldon Irvine guesting on keys.

10 plagues - socalled feat. killah priest (jdub)
ma hine cocore - vieux farka toure rmx. by yossi fine (national geographic)
states of grace - proffessor undressor (kelp)
anywhere anytime - jimi tenor & kabu kabu (ubiquity)
ubombo - madale kunene rmx. by smith and mighty (b & w)
ahimana - tinariwen (outside)
bing bang bong - uzume taiko ensemble (uzume)
flautist with hat and shoe - gebhard ullman/steve swell 4tet (CIMP)
cross eyed - brian groder (latham)
slippery hippery flippery - roland kirk (emarcy)
chabi kho jaye - lata mangeshkar & shailendra singh (rough guides)
joro boro - balkan beat box (jdub)
do whatever sets you free - johnny frigo (luv n haight)
disco connection - lord rhayburn (numero)
el mondongo - los corraleros de majagual (soundway)
jah give - jah cutta feat. dean fraser (stomp)
jah has a plan - humble (soundcheck)
judgement come dub - slimma (universal egg)
black red dub - abassi all stars (universal egg)
joker smoker - tristan palmer (greensleeves)
corazon de leon - up bustle and out rmx. by kabanjak (collision cause of chapter 3)

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Blogger Joseph Reed Hayes said...

Quite eclectic and interesting list. Many of my faves, including Balkan BB who I'm seeing on the 30th, and old pal Brian Groder, whose new album with Mr. Sam Rivers is da freejazz bomb. Very nice.

11:30 a.m.  

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