If you've ever been in a band, chances are you've got 900 pressings of your first album stashed away in someone's closet. That was the finding on a recent RockSquawk thread, anyway. Almost all of our self-produced collections are collecting dust in inaccessible armpits of the city. Meanwhile, just as many of us would love to comb through someone else's pile. ( ... The wax is always blacker on the other side.) So, what would happen if we all unearthed our ancient jewel cases, cassettes and vinyl and traded them for stuff we actually want to hear?
It was anything but a vacation, says Joe Anderson, operator of the Launchpad. "There were people that were making remarks like, Yeah, well, at least you'll have some time off," he says. Launchpad had its doors shut from the time of the neighboring Golden West's fire on Feb. 28 until happy hour on July 1. During those four months, he and some of his coworkers were working 10 times harder than usual, Anderson says, moving already-booked shows to other venues and overseeing renovations to the space.
When the Launchpad went out of commission more than four months ago, talent buyer Luis Mota had to scramble to reschedule shows.
New Orleans pianist Tom McDermott has to rank among the most fluid, inventive and technically robust pianists radiating the 88s today in the traditional syncopated musics of the Americas—from ragtime to choro to tango, from Jelly Roll Morton to James Booker—and he’s a beguiling composer besides. The eloquently understated Connie Jones may be the Crescent City’s most respected cornetist. Neither man knows how to play a false note. They combine beautifully on this collection of reinvigorated standards (“Tishomingo Blues”), McDermott originals (including the lovely solo piano reverie “Song of Bernadotte”), jazz from Freddy Chopin (title track) and more. Meanwhile, Parnassus Records has had the good sense to reissue McDermott’s 1996 solo effort, All the Keys & Then Some. This collection of 24 piano miniatures (one in each key) plus 14 portraits of friends for piano and synthesizer—by turns prankish, tender, audacious, bemused—showcases an adventurous and delightfully eccentric musical imagination.
The second U.S. release from this fine quartet—Avishai Cohen (trumpet/flügelhorn), Yonatan Avishai (piano), Omer Avital (bass) and Daniel Freedman (drums)—continues its collective exploration of various musical strains (funk, Mizrahi, flamenco, samba, Afro-Cuban) in a jazz embrace. They all contribute compositions (with one Ellington track), making straight-ahead, uncluttered, emotional music that grooves. It’s definitely an egalitarian affair, but Cohen’s warmth and expressiveness and his arresting improvisational acumen make him the first among peers. His unassuming composition “Gigi et Amelie” is the disc’s most beautiful, closely followed by Avishai’s bluesy “Beauty of Death” and the sweet Middle Eastern ache of Avital’s jazz waltz “Homeland.” (MM)