Todd Clouser's A Love Electric — Entre: Selections in Garage Jazz
(The Royal Potato Family 020286210573, 2012, CD)
Todd Clouser's A Love Electric — 20th Century Folk Selections
(The Royal Potato Family 020286167785, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-08-23
For 2012, guitarist Todd Clouser gives us two CDs, one of original music (Entre) and one of cover tunes (20th Century Folk Selections), some of them arranged nearly beyond recognition. Buddy Holly's "Everyday" is reimagined in 5/4, and you might not know that's what it was without reading the track list — then it's "Oh, yeah, I hear it now." Tunes from Neil Young, Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, Beastie Boys, and others are given similar treatments. Just the other night I was chatting with a jazz musician about how covers are treated too reverently these days, so it's good to have counter-examples, somebody who's doing it right. "The Needle and the Damage Done" sounds like something from Miles Davis in the mid-60s, with distorted electric piano and a cool groove; "All Apologies" is reworked as a mellow soul-jazz tune with some tasty piano from Mark Aanderud. Clouser also has the good sense not to extend every arrangement with multiple solos from every player — tracks range from three to nine minutes, so there's a good balance. You also get a slow psych-funk groove and a more conventional jazz ballad.
So that is A Love Electric taking on some "modern folk music" — how about the original tunes on Entre? No disappointments there. Right out of the gate we have "No Luck Woodpecker," a funk strut with real grit and catchy horn parts. Then "Mob Walk" with a different take on funk and some great grungy Rhodes from Bryan Nichols; its rhythmic hook should have you grooving on the inside if not the outside. "This Means Love" starts out like it's going to be a tender ballad, then gets in your face with a killer riff in 7/4. Other tracks mine other veins, with trumpet most often in the lead role on the melodies. Clouser's guitar is the most frequent soloing instrument, though everyone gets their turn at some point. The thing that really shines about this music it that it sounds very warm and human, not clinical and precise. For fusion fans, there are some similarities with early 70s Nucleus, as well as something like Gary Boyle's Isotope with a horn section, though with a heavier funk base. Lots to enjoy here, I'd start with Entre unless you crave the anchor of familiar melodies.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more