Cowboy Junkies, Victor Wooten and Robben Ford: Listen, then hear em live and local
ASPEN Reviews of recent CDs by artists coming to Aspen/Snowmass:Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Revisited produced by Pierre & Franois Lamoureux (Zo)Canadian brothers-and-sister act Cowboy Junkies didnt just establish themselves with the 1988 album The Trinity Session. The album, recorded at Torontos Church of the Holy Trinity, set a template for the bands slo-mo, downbeat brand of music. They have, on occasion, gotten louder and faster, but The Trinity Session, which featured the iconic cover of Lou Reeds Sweet Jane (as well as versions of Im So Lonesome I Could Cry and Walking After Midnight) effectively encapsulated the sound.The Trinity Session was recorded with one microphone, in a 14-hour session; its meticulous sound only makes it seem that it was worked over with exacting detail. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the recording, the band featuring siblings Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins reassembled in the church and worked in pretty much the same fashion they did for the original. The biggest difference is that they brought some friends along, singers Ryan Adams and Natalie Merchant among them. Why they felt the need to revisit Trinity is uncertain. (My guess for the DVD portion of this package.) The song list is the same, as is the vibe hushed and meditative. Trinity Revisited is wonderful, the kind of music that gets deep into your bones but what else would you expect?Cowboy Junkies plays July 11 at Belly Up Aspen.Victor Wooten, Palmystery (Heads Up)I love Victor Wooten as a bassist, especially in his most noted gig, with Bla Fleck & the Flecktones. But frankly, I listen to Wootens solo CDs a couple of times when I first get them, and almost never revisit them. Wootens style of jazz fusion is too effortless; you hear no struggle, in the music or in how it was brought into being.Which is not to suggest Wootens music is missing soul, exactly. Palmystery, in fact, features a tune, amusing and charming with a slight African vibe, titled I Saw God. Two tracks Us 2, with slide guitar by Keb Mo, and The Gospel, a thick gumbo with a horn section that includes Flecktone Jeff Coffin and Victors brother Rudy sport a blues feel. Its no surprise they are, for me, the albums highlights. But then theres Happy Tune, which is a little too happy light as a feather, despite the monster chops and feel-good groove.The Victor Wooten Band performs Wednesday, May 7 at Belly Up Aspen.Robben Ford, Truth produced by Ford (Concord)Guitar great Robben Ford is in a big-format blues mode here, meaning Truth is a more expansive model than his famed trio, the Blue Line. Only one tune is a trio number; the rest are dressed up and funked up with organ, or horns, or background vocals. On a cover of Paul Simons One Mans Ceiling Is Another Mans Floor, its Ford himself adding texture, playing the Wurlitzer electric piano. (And its Susan Tedeschi dueting on the vocals.)While Fords electric guitar technique is impossible to fault, most other aspects of Truth pale in comparison. As a singer and songwriter, hes a step above adequate. Riley B. King, a tribute to B.B. King, tends to gush over its subject. And the production often makes Truth sound thin, despite the layers of instruments.As with Victor Wooten, I expect Ford will sound far better on stage than on CD.Robben Ford appears Aug. 14 in the Snowmass Free Concert Series.firstname.lastname@example.org
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