By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Nimbus West CD reissues. Flash forward to the ’70s, when an Afrocentric L.A. jazz wheel was spinning — in near total obscurity, in part due to the separatist tendencies of its hub, the late pianist Horace Tapscott, whose recordings form the core of the Nimbus catalog. Rare, true and exceptional documents by Nate Morgan, Jesse Sharps and others, barely available in vinyl, are being reissued piecemeal on CD, and you can’t get ‘em in local stores, so hit www.nimbuswest.com.
Fantasy jazz Best Of collections. For megastars (Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk), a single-disc Best Of borders on silly. For other jazz artists within the Fantasy family of labels, which encompasses Contemporary, Prestige, Riverside and Milestone, a "hits" collection can provide just the pointer you want, and a slew poured out this year, including samplers of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Jackie McLean, Kenny Burrell, Bobby Timmons and Milt Jackson.
Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo by Ned Sublette(Chicago Review Press). Even if you’re not a mambo zombie, Sublette’s thoroughly informed meditations on the origins of drums, speech, music, slavery and hence human culture itself are casually mind-blowing. This one belongs on your shelf between Joseph Campbell and Alexis de Tocqueville.
THE AVANT-GARDE: STILL NEW
Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sirius Calling(Pi). Sirius called to Malachi Favors Maghostut this year, and his all-permeating bass gets special attention on this, his final recording with his most notable alliance.
Cecil Taylor and Italian Instabile Orchestra, The Owner of the River Bank(Enja/Justin Time). Churning, ever rising but somehow not overflowing, River Bank feels as if Taylor, his turbulent piano submerged in never-quite-random currents, has learned to let go and experience the universe in totality. Matter is neither created nor destroyed.
Z’ev, Headphone Musics, 1 to 6 b/w As Is As(Touch). Celestial chimes tickle the periphery as a satanic storm rages in mid-cranium. Gushing salinity vibrates sinus cavities. Circular grindstone sharpens incisors. Pure abstraction, pure art, resonant graphics. Blackness. Peace. www.rhythmajik.com.
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