Pin It
Favorite

CD Reviews 

by Michael Bowen and Ted S. McGregor Jr.


The Fred Hersch Ensemble


Leaves of Grass FIVE STARS





As Fred Hersch points out in his liner notes, since the syncopated rhythms of Walt Whitman's poems led directly to the bebop of the Beat Poets, why not set Leaves of Grass to jazz? Selecting 17 passages from Whitman -- 11 of them from Song of Myself -- Hersch adds four horn players, a cellist and two vocalists to his trio to create "a small-scale oratorio." Kate McGarry caresses the spiritual lyrics in "Song of the Universal"; in "The Mystic Trumpeter," she scats with Ralph Alessi, who in turn contributes a cutesy trill on flugelhorn at the outset of "I Celebrate Myself." On "The Sleepers," Whitman's fantasy of universal brotherhood, Tony Malaby's tenor sax complements Kurt Elling's falsetto, with the rhythm section providing a sleepy, minimalist drone. In "A Child Said, 'What Is the Grass?'" Hersch's orchestration soars from tenderness to ecstasy.


Most people, perhaps understandably, will browse over jazz-piano-guy-with-nerdy-name-plus-some-poet and walk on by. But if the Venn diagrams of your interests include Whitman and jazz, why not have them intersect? What I assume, you shall assume; we contain multitudes. So does Leaves of Grass. -- Michael Bowen





Joseph Arthur


Our Shadows Will Remain FOUR STARS





You'd think a guy with an Entertainment Weekly Record of the Year award (for 2000's Come To Where I'm From) would stay the course. Nope. Joseph Arthur moved to New Orleans to work on Our Shadows Will Remain. As a result, he's grown out of the songwriter-with-a-guitar niche; this album is wildly orchestrated -- with drum machines, vocal modulations and even the City of Prague Philharmonic. But it's not overblown. In fact, if he wanted to, Arthur could be a straight-ahead pop songwriter (proven by his contribution to the Shrek 2 soundtrack, "You're So True"). But he's just too tortured an artist (especially on "Stumble and Pain" and "Leave Us Alone") to take that route.


Still, there are plenty of memorable melodies here: "Can't Exist" recalls the raw fun of the Replacements. And "Wasted" could be thrown up on the turntable of any New York dancehall. Some of this stuff is too dark for me, but there's so much going on in these songs that you just keep listening. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.





Publication date: 2/17/05
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Women's Movement
  • Women's Movement

    The Zags are thrilling their fans and filling the stands in a way few women's programs are anywhere
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Cultural Warrior
  • Cultural Warrior

    Publisher's Note
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Sorry, Senator Risch
  • Sorry, Senator Risch

    But transparency isn't the problem with torture
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
A T. Rex Named Sue

A T. Rex Named Sue @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation