Reviews by J Hunter
2012 was like other years for me – so much music, so little time. So here are five releases that didn’t get talked about before the ball dropped in Times Square:
Dear Abbey: The Music of Abbey Lincoln
(Inner Circle Music)
Here’s another Greater Nippertown musician who used crowdsourcing to take an idea from vision to reality. Thanks to her tireless efforts through Indiegogo, Teri Roiger has gifted us with a glowing portrait of Abbey Lincoln as singer/songwriter. Lincoln put beautiful words to the music of Thad Jones and Charlie Haden, and wrote the smoke-filled “Hey Lawdy Mama (Blues for Mama)” with another iconic vocalist, Nine Simone. Roiger’s rich phrasing finds every bit of truth in Lincoln’s lyrics, making “Wholly Earth” bright as sunrise and “You Gotta Pay the Band” resigned but hopeful. Roiger’s take on “Bird Alone” flies a little higher thanks to Greg Osby’s fluttering alto sax. John Menegon’s arrangements are as sharp as his bass lines are fat, and Frank Kimbrough’s eloquent piano work is simply transcendent. Emails you can delete, but this is a love letter to be read again and again.
ArtistShare was crowdsourcing before crowdsourcing was cool, and they’ve done their good work again – this time for guitarist Torben Waldorff, who builds on the eyebrow-raising music the Denmark native made on his 2011 disc American Rock Beauty. Waldorff and keyboardist Gary Versace bounce ideas off each other on the spiraling opener “Circle and Up” even as they develop brilliant thoughts of their own. That process surges through the whole disc, making Waldorff’s clever originals throw off even brighter sparks. Bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wilkan lay an impeccable floor while adding sneaky little embellishments of their own, notably on “Fat #2.” There’s an incredible sweet spot in Waldorff’s sound that lands somewhere between Pat Metheny and John Abercrombie, though Wah-Wah bears little resemblance to the work the aforementioned artists did with ECM. Here’s hoping Waldorff finds a smart label who’ll handle the money and leave the music to him.