alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi
Spocket’s self-titled and first release represents the best in funk rock coming from the younger side of the Chicago jazz scene. It manages to be clean and slick without being over-produced and gimmicky. The horn players are tight as a section yet speak with pronounced individual voices when called upon to do so, and the rhythm section is a single fluid entity roiling beneath the melodies, both predetermined and improvised.
You know what still goes hard? Bassist Linda Oh's 2013 album Sun Pictures. It's an album that just doesn't quit and is as awesome a listen now as when it realese years ago. It comes to mind from time to time andn came o mind recently, particularly since Oh brought this video up of her performing at last year's Winter Jazz Fest which is particularly apt considering this year's festival starts tonight with Oh playing with various groups this week led by the likes of Ibrahim Maalouf, Fabian Almazan, Camila Meza and Sharel Cassity. In the meantime, take a walk down memory lane after the jump.
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi
David Bowie gave us one last masterpiece: ★ (pronounced "Blackstar"). And true to form, it leaves us with more questions than answers. I began writing this review before Davie Bowie died, and the work becomes that much more powerful when you realize he knew it would be his last. The whole album is an almost alien journey through the center of the Blackstar formed by an epic--in every sense of the word--collision of an older pop star going supernova and a neighboring system of younger stellar bodies.
I put this show together on Friday, of course, and I post the playlist to Nextbop on Monday. On Friday, David Bowie new album, ★, featuring Donny McCaslin's band, released. Based on its greatness alone, it was for the weekend the talk of the town, so much to the point that it closes this week's show and has a gravitational pull over the course of the hour. It's a rock album with jazz inclinations so I did a non-jazz move and played it on a jazz radio station. By Monday, I had awoken to Alex Marianyi (whose review of ★ will post later today) telling me if his review should change upon hearing of his death. I was shocked. I never did latch onto Bowie as many do, but I admired his work in the periphery. I appreciated whenever hearing him. I love the hell out of The Prestige and Basquiat.
It's funny, being a figure in culture so large and important and so consistently creative. David Bowie had cancer for at least the last 18 months of his life. In that time, he made a Broadway play and one more musical transformation. He lived to put it out and to top chart around the globe for one last weekend, shining brightly for us all, and giving out. What's it like to plan for one's mortality in such a way, for the whole world not to even know, and to see all their attention and rightful adulation coalesce around you, and fighting just long enough to be able to say, these last things checked off the list, that now it's time to go? What's it like to be a figure large enough to be able to do that?
This show is a snapshot in time before this realization, before this change in the universe where we no longer have David Bowie among us. This show is an hour of songs I put together anchored by the last work of a legend who decided to put out an album with a bunch of dudes who are awesome, whose work I admire, and I get to say they follow me on Twitter and stuff. This anchor shifted a mood that I tried to craft in the last hour, because I made an hour that had to bend to this music. David Bowie made an impact on this hour, and that's just saying one thing, clearly.
The Line-Up for 1 January 2016
In a turn for the seasonally appropriate, one may want to check out Snow Falls, the latest EP from vocalist Cindy Douglas. The four song album is conventional. Douglas' voice is fair and serviceable, carries these songs well enough. The straight-ahead trio of pianist Tim Richards, bassist Dominic Howles, and drummer Jeff Lardner are capable and have a few moments here and there. It's a group of songs that are nice enough and could be up your alley, and Richard's solo on their take on Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time is Here" is lively enough, so they're certainly worth checking out after the jump.