Paul Simon — Surprise
(Warner Bros 49982-2, 2006, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2007-03-01It should come as no big shock that singer-songwriter Paul Simon would be seeking a new sonic vehicle for his well-established career. Given the international success of Graceland it's clear that Simon can distill varying influences into his songs and deliver on high quality efforts that continue to distinguish his career. Enlisting audio sculptor Brian Eno to further extend his lyrical reach has given the composer an edgy outlook that fits the times. Starting out with the riffing guitars on "How Can You Live in the Northeast?" Eno is fully engaged, providing suitable backwards guitar loops to a CD brimming with adventure. In contrast, "Outrageous" is a funky ode to growing older that works as a well crafted dance track due to the rock solid drumming of Robin Dimagio. Jazz luminaries Bill Frisell and Herbie Hancock also make memorable cameos on "Everything About It Is a Love Song" and "War Time Prayers," Frisell's airy leads fluttering over Steve Gadd's incendiary drumming on the former piece; on the latter, Hancock's piano graces an ambient song showcasing Simon's lyrics imparting family hardships. For a 60s artist to create such a vital recording is a testament to close collaboration with Eno. Overall the sound quality on the disc is first rate and a credit to the engineering team for the multiple sessions.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more