In journalism, there exists a device that many fall into using but should be avoided whenever possible called the false range. It involves describing something as having various disparate attributes and inferring that these attributes range from one to the other, all the while there being no true order to the range, hence it being false. Thus, in many write-ups on the music of vocalist José James, journalists will often say his music goes from R&B to rock to jazz to soul. Yet what determines this order? They aren't chronological or alphabetical. Style cannot be put in a determinate quantifiable order. A range is stated that cannot truly be. James truly does have all these sounds in his music, but I would certainly want to avoid using a false range to describe him. (All the while using the same trope to do so and simultaneously describing why I shouldn't. Paaaaaaralipsis!) Once you can see the device, you can't unsee it. It's effective but faulty, like a headline asking a vague clickbait-y question or implying you won't believe what happens next in this story (when you totally will). Such is the case-- José James performed his first show in Texas last Saturday, June 21st in downtown San Antonio's Charline McCombs Empire Theater as part of his tour supporting his new album While You Were Sleeping and you won't believe what happened (like I said, you totally would).
Chris Galvan asked me to guest host once again and I was more than happy to oblige to give myself a couple more hours to play some more brand new music. I did a lot with this week's Line-Up, but I just couldn't resist having a larger canvas this week to work with.
Nu Standards for 7 June 2014
Guitarist Chris Schlarb has never really held himself to one sound. The inventive musician can be described as playing in the vein of jazz as much as he can be described as playing along experimental music, drone, or folk veins. There are folks out there who may talk about playing without regard to genre, eliminating those confines, but Schlarb lives that life. Last year, he and his band Psychic Temple did their interweaving on the still gripping II, now he keeps the same new age potpouri vibe with everyone but him stripped away on his new solo release, Making the Saint, out now on Asthmatic Kitty.
San Antonio just didn't dance. It's not as though they weren't feeling the music. It's not as though they didn't clap on beat and rise at every appropriate moment for an ovation at the end of the show and for the encore. It's not as though the show wasn't great, it was. Jason Moran seamlessly navigated between piano, Rhodes, and the art of just getting out of the way and dancing around the stage. It was truly a joyful night, literally and figuratively moving. But the folks at San Antonio's Jo Long Theater last Saturday night just didn't get up to dance for Jason Moran's Fats Waller Dance Party.
There's been a longer wait between BBNG2 and III. In the two years between the release of their last self-produced and promoted album and their first release on a label, keyboardist Matt Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen, and drummer Alex Sowinski moved their whole operation from Sowinski's dad's basement into a studio space they built themselves, signed to the young aforereferenced label Innovative Leisure, toured the globe a bit, and continued to approach their being a band with workmanlike intensity. As these young men have grown as musicians, they continued to show the results in their releases, each album stronger than the last (and also sort of reminding the jazz cognoscenti not to be so overbearing on what can objectively be called a band's early work). In their first official album, the trio have released their most polished and jazz-influenced record yet.