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Gabriel Ruff "Gabriel Ruff" (Europe)

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Unity Band
Unity Band
Price: 6.83

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a return to what he does best: composing for, and playing with, a band of top-shelf players., 15 Jun 2012
This review is from: Unity Band (Audio CD)
On "Unity Band", Pat Metheny reveals that he can look in two directions at once.
The group he's assembled here is an all-star ensemble.
Drummer Antonio Sanchez has been with him for a decade, while double bassist Ben Williams makes his first appearance with the guitarist, as does tenor saxophonist Chris Potter (whose soprano and bass clarinet playing are on display, too).
Metheny makes full use of this ensemble's possibilities.
He looks back through his catalog and composes for this band from some of the information gleaned there. One can recall the swirling melodic euphoria of the Pat Metheny Group in the guitar and guitar-synth interplay in "Roofdogs".
On the ingenious "Come and See", Metheny's many-stringed Picasso guitar meets Potter's bass clarinet to create a tonal inquiry before Williams and Sanchez establish a deep blue groove. When Potter adds his tenor and Metheny his electric, we get a Latinized swinging pulse that is ever so slightly reminiscent of the 80/81 band with Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman (this isn't the only place that happens here).
Fans of Metheny's more abundantly lyrical side will appreciate the breezy sway of "Leaving Town", though its melody -- twinned by his guitar and Potter -- is full of compelling tight turns, before the rhythm section evokes a deep, swinging blues and the guitarist gets refreshingly funky in his solo.
On "Signals" Metheny uses his Orchestrion and guitar with live loops: the band employs live loops throughout the intro on top.
Potter's tenor solo is emotive, grainy, and reaching, while the atmosphere recalls -- only generally -- the album the guitarist cut with Steve Reich.
The nocturnal, smoky "Then and Now" has a torch ballad quality due to Potter's utterly songlike solo.
The set closer "Breakdealer" begins at the boiling point and gets hotter.
The title hints at what Sanchez does throughout the tune while pushing forward, but Williams not only keeps up, he adds propulsive shades of his own and rocks the arpeggiated changes fluidly.
Metheny and Potter are free to sprint and they do; both dazzle with their lyric invention and knotty, imaginative, nearly boppish solos.
The two front-line players are surely at their best in one another's company on the date: you expect them to be. Yet it's the rhythm section that astonishes thoroughly. Their interplay is not only intuitive, it's informative: it points to new corners for Metheny and Potter to explore.
Given the guitarist's more compositional solo experiments of the last few years -- all of which have been very satisfying -- "Unity Band" is a return to what he does best: composing for, and playing with, a band of top-shelf players. T. Jurek
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 1:00 PM BST


Died In The Wool
Died In The Wool
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 11.76

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It shocases his restless discipline in expanding his music's parameters..and requires repeated listenings., 31 May 2011
This review is from: Died In The Wool (Audio CD)
David Sylvian's MANAFON (2009) appeared as a collection of disciplined art songs that relied on his collaborators to inform not only their textures, but their forms.
Those players - Jan Bang, Evan Parker, John Tilbury, Dai Fujikura, Erik Honoré, Otoma Yoshide, and Christian Fennesz among them - created airy, often gently dissonant structures for Sylvian's lyrics and melodic ideas.
"Died in the Wool" (MANAFON Variations) re-employs these players (with some new ones) in the considerable reworking of five of MANAFON's compositions. There are also six new songs that include unused outtakes, and two poems by Emily Dickinson set to music and sung by Sylvian. The new music here relies heavily on Sylvian's association with Fujikura: he composed, arranged, and conducted chamber strings that are prevalent.
Where MANAFON's "Small Metal Gods" was orchestrated by acoustic guitar, laptop, electronics, bass, and cello, this one employs a string quartet that provides greatly expanded harmonics, which underscore the desolate power in Sylvian's lyrics.
On "Snow White in Appalachia", strings shift the tune's original sonic gears into diffused, vaporous sonorities.
On the title track, Fujikura uses a composed clarinet sample to introduce John Butcher's saxophone, a mixing board, an all-but-unrecognizable guitar, cymbals, and samples to stretch a narrative melody to its ghostly breaking point. Dickinson's poem, "I Should Not Dare", is a standout: its gentle, accessible melody, accompanied by Sylvian's acoustic guitar, is made sharper by Fennesz's electric and samples from Honoré. Parker adds a gorgeous nocturnal saxophone line and Bang provides an unusual string arrangement to create the feeling of deep longing across great distance.
"A Certain Slant of Light", also by Dickinson, is less formal but more moodily cinematic with its layers of samples. A delightfully fragmented redo of "Emily Dickinson" completes the sonic re-creation of her image as this set's Muse.
On "Anomaly at Taw Head", Fujikura's string abstractions - introduced by Parker's bluesy saxophone and Tilbury's minimal piano - add dimension to Sylvian's open field melodic structure.
The underlining poetic is tense, but seductive.
There is a bonus second disc, too, in Sylvian's 18-minute sound installation "When We Return You Won't Recognize Us".
It is a stellar, ambient work featuring Arve Henricksen, Butcher, the Elysian Quartet, Eddie Prevost, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Gunter Muller.
It should be listened to on headphones to grasp all of its intricacies.
"Died in the Wool (MANAFON Variations" showcases Sylvian's restless discipline in expanding his music's parameters, and those of song itself, while offering even greater opportunities for his collaborators to influence its creation. T. Jurek

Manafon


That's How We Roll
That's How We Roll
Price: 14.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing jazz big band with influences of 70's funk and Duke Ellington..., 23 May 2011
This review is from: That's How We Roll (Audio CD)
In 2008 the superb "Act Your Age" by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band was described as "an album that often sneaks a peak backwards toward American musical heritage but in doing so never looses sight of the here and now. It is fresh, different and the perfect vehicle with which to widen jazz horizons".
Much the same can be said about the band's latest project, "That's How We Roll".
Composer and arranger Gordon Goodwin certainly has an impressive resume.
A 2006 GRAMMY Award winner for his arrangement of "Incredits" from the Pixar film "The Incredibles [Blu-ray]", Gordon has also enjoyed eleven more Grammy nominations and picked up three Emmy Awards along the way.
Since 2000, Goodwin has been the driving force behind his own creation Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band and "That's How We Roll" is the band's sixth CD release.
"The Big Phat Band" is an eighteen piece ensemble which for "That's How We Roll" is supplemented by several notable guest artists. These include Dave Koz and Gerald Albright who for "Rippin n Runnin" add their combined sax power to that of Big Phat regular Eric Marienthal and in so doing blow up a collective storm.
From the line-up one might have expected something along the lines of 'smooth jazz meets big band' but in fact the delightful outcome is three great players having fun with a different genre.
Elsewhere Marcus Miller is also included but a performance of show-stopping proportions comes from those quality collaborators Take 6 with a rendition of the Goodwin composed "Just Enough".
Gordon had previously worked with Take 6 and wrote the tune with them specifically in mind.
His wife Lisa Goodwin added the vocals and the result is one of the best tracks of the album.
"Just Enough" is one of nine Goodwin compositions with the one cover, (if it really can be called that), coming in the form of Gershwin's seminal "Rhapsody In Blue".
This amazing re-imagining of a timeless classic has become a firm favourite in the band's live shows and received a rave reception when recently performed at the Hollywood Bowl.
Built on a bed of technical excellence and a love for the music, the nostalgia which "That's How We Roll" generates for the big band era never threatens originality.
Indeed, Gordon Goodwin has created a remarkably current piece of work that, without doubt, is one of the most interesting of the year so far. D. Poole


My Name is Khan [DVD]
My Name is Khan [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shahrukh Khan
Offered by Discs4all
Price: 6.84

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A simplistic morality tale. The film tries to do too much, to be too many things, to be too worthy.., 18 Sep 2010
This review is from: My Name is Khan [DVD] (DVD)
"The global appeal of My Name is Khan is also no doubt due to the fact that it deals with the themes of terrorism and the West's war upon it, tracing the devastating impact of 9/11 on a Muslim man (and his family) living in America...
Unfortunately, the film fails to live up to the promise of this opening. While the love story is moving and there are some emotionally powerful scenes, the film's central message is finally just banal. As a boy, Khan learns from his mother that the fighting between Hindu and Muslim is pointless and wrong since there are only two kinds of people in the world, `good' people and `bad' people. The only result of hatred and intolerance is, we learn, many mothers' tears. Khan's marriage to a Hindu woman demonstrates his own inability to hate, his own `goodness'. Yet, rather than the message being a means to overcome divisions caused by identity politics, the tolerance the film preaches is a means of reinforcing an acceptance of separate identities. The post 9/11 discrimination Muslims face forces them to hide the outward symbols of their ethnic and religious identities. Khan's determination to overcome this prejudice encourages other Muslims to reclaim these symbols again, pointedly demonstrated by Khan's sister-in-law Haseena (Sonya Jeehan) who re-embraces her hijab as a part of her denied self.

In post 9/11 America, Khan remembers his mother's teaching well. So, rather than a serious and intelligent study of the political impact of the 9/11 attacks on American Muslims, the film unfortunately descends into a simplistic morality tale. While the landscapes of Khan's American travels are spectacular, the people he meets are grotesque caricatures. White America is unrelentingly `bad', racist and violent, while black America is depicted as `good' in the soulful victims of a hurricane `Mama Jenny' (Jennifer Echols) and her son `Crazy hair' Joel (Adrian Kali Turner).

The most grotesque caricatures come, however, in the person of the US presidents. George W Bush and his followers represent the hate and fear that must be overcome by dark-skinned people in the US and worldwide. Obama represents a new dawn, the possibilities of love, hope and peace: not just in his politics but in the colour of his skin, he offers something new, something `good'. It bears pointing out that the black-and-white morality of the film is simply a mirror image of the War on Terror itself, with Bush's position that `You are either with us or against us' flipped; the good guys are differently cast but no political complexity is added, indeed it is simplified further.

It is perhaps refreshing to see a depiction of black America redeeming the sins of white America and interesting to have a portrait of post 9/11 politics as seen through Muslim eyes. In one of the best scenes, Khan is refused entry to a charity dinner at which the president is speaking, despite having the 500 entrance fee, since he is not a Christian. He instructs the administrator to keep his entrance fee `for all the non-Christians in Africa'. The film admirably punctures hypocrisy but ultimately it tries to do too much, to be too many things, to be too worthy, and to solve the world's problems.

The central and most interesting issue the film sets out to deal with - how Muslims experience and respond to life in post 9/11 America - becomes obscured and caricatured and finally obliterated so that what is left is a kind of postcolonial "Forrest Gump". Is life really just a box of chocolates?" Cheryl Hudson

Rain Man (Special Edition) [1989] [DVD]
Forrest Gump - Single Disc [DVD] [1994]


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