David Berger & amp; the Sultans of Swing
Marlowe FOUR STARS
If Duke Ellington had still been alive on
9/11, this is how he would have responded. Even before Marlowe presents its impression of Raymond Chandler's detective, David Berger and 17 of his Sultans lament the tragedy of the World Trade Center by commemorating the restaurant atop it in Windows on the World. After a leisurely clarinet surveys the sweeping view, Berger's big band turns angry. One of the sections, "Jihad: The Price of Oil," features a sultry trombone solo by Ryan Keberle, son of Whitworth jazz director Dan.
In Marlowe, through-composed in 12 movements and 38 minutes, we follow the flatfoot past false leads, into a stakeout in the barrio, through car chases and fistfights. From the opening wail of Jerry Dodgion's alto sax, we're plunged into a chaotic underground.
Listen for the wah-wah trombones at the start of "On the Scent" and the Latin-rhythm brass shouts in "I Got It."
Berger co-founded the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and conducted it for six years before forming the Sultans in 1996; he's been perpetuating the Ellington tradition all along. On Marlowe, he makes the Duke our contemporary. -- Michael Bowen
Village Gorilla Head TWO STARS
Back in their heyday, the Replacements
-- inspired, articulate, desperate, sloppy, loud and profane -- were one of the greatest, most perfectly conceived rock 'n' roll bands ever to roam the earth. Yet the band wasn't long for this world, fading instead of burning out, dwindling into fragmented souls fumbling in the cold to get that old fire rekindled. Even the band's front man, songwriter Paul Westerberg, has struggled post-breakup to regain momentum. It hasn't been for a lack of trying -- particularly in Westerberg's case -- yet each new release from a former member, no matter how solid or highly touted in the rock press, ends up falling conspicuously short. That's pretty much the case here with the first proper solo album from former 'Mats bass player Tommy Stinson. The beautiful "Without a View" (with its Westerberg-inspired vocals) opens the album on a surprisingly subdued and introspective note. But soon the boozy bar rawk asserts its dominance and -- apart from a couple additional shining moments (the searching "Hey You," for instance) -- it's pretty much all "Shooting Dirty Pool" from there. -- Mike Corrigan
Publication date: 12/23/04