CD reviews: Karp/Foley, Jerry Douglas and more
July 12, 2012
produced by Karp & Foley (Blind Pig)A few years ago, Peter Karp and Sue Foley shared their blues with one another. Blues musicians both, Karp and Foley were each undergoing tough times in their lives. They exchanged letters and emails and eventually hit on the idea of turning that correspondence into “He Said-She Said,” a concept album about loneliness and separation.”He Said-She Said” earned considerable acclaim, but it’s not the kind of project that can be duplicated. The question with “Beyond the Crossroads” is, do Karp and Foley have reason to exist beyond that first album. The answer is yes. Their voices are distinct – his on the gruff side, hers knowing and cool – but they mesh well; the deeper you get into “Beyond the Crossroads,” the more sense this pairing makes. Both show a grasp of the full spectrum of blues, from acoustic folk (the memorable “Take Your Time”) to jump (“We’re Gonna Make It,” fortified by the Swingadelic Horns), piano ballads (“Chance of Rain”) to barn-burning honky-tonk (the instrumental “Plank Spank”). The songs are tied loosely by a theme of resilience in the face of hard times, but Karp and Foley don’t really need a concept to carry on as a worthwhile duo.Peter Karp & Sue Foley perform Saturday at the Crystal Caf in Redstone.
produced by Russ Titelman (Entertainment One)Jerry Douglas can basically do anything with a dobro. Which makes it hard to know exactly what he should do when making an album. On “Traveler,” Douglas and producer Russ Titelman go with the scattershot approach, trying to squeeze in a little bit of everything, hoping to snag the wide audience that Douglas deserves. Stylistically, the album moves through Southern honky-tonk, slow-motion blues, newgrass, high-wire fusion, some genius instrumentals, and a cover of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer.” The guest list counts Alison Krauss, Eric Clapton, Sam Bush, Mumford & Sons, Dr. John, Marc Cohn, et als. Traveler, indeed.So there are transcendent moments. The short instrumental “Duke and Cookie” is something no other dobroist could pull off. The oft-covered “Something You Got” gets a slow treatment from Clapton on vocals, and it comes off as thick and rich, rather than dragging, with Douglas proving he could have made it as a bluesman. “So Here We Are” romps through jazz-fusion, with a nod to the Allman Bros.You know what I’m about to say, right? Too much traveling, not enough time spent in one place, soaking up enough of one thing for it to make a deep impact. Still, a lot of nice sights along the way.
produced by Metheny (Nonesuch)Guitarist Pat Metheny is scheduled to bring his Unity Band to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House Sept. 8, and listening to the new “Unity Band” album makes me wish today were Sept. 8. Metheny’s latest combo features Chris Potter, the first tenor saxophonist Metheny has used on a recording in more than 30 years. Metheny explains that he was always looking to do something that was an alternative to what else was happening in jazz. But on “Unity Band,” Metheny has no difficulty making a distinctive and thrilling statement. The rhythm section of drummer Antonio Sanchez and bassist Ben Williams is solid enough, but the interplay between Metheny and Potter is inspired. Not content to play solely within the confines of standard jazz and fusion, the Unity Band makes its own sound world on “Signals,” an 11-minute tour de force of composition, playing and vision.
produced by Matt Butler (Harmonized)Everyone Orchestra was cooked up by percussionist/conductor Matt Butler to be a fully improvised project, with the music, even the cast of musicians, being different every time out.Which would lead you to expect certain kinds of music – jammy, jazzy, free-form. What you probably wouldn’t expect is the heavy soul that is emphasized on “Brooklyn Sessions.” The players are from the jam/jazz realm – drummer John Fishman of Phish, saxophonist Jeff Coffin from the Flecktones and Dave Matthews Band, keyboardist Marco Benevento from the Benevento/Russo Duo, singer-trumpeter Jen Hartswick from Trey Anastasio’s band. But for the most part, they play things fairly tight, with some actual songs (the irresistible funk tune “Boots” for one) and not just jams. The liner notes swear that the music is all improvised; it doesn’t always sound firstname.lastname@example.org