Upcoming performers and their CDs
As I think I promised, following are more reviews of CDs by artists heading this way over the summer.Shelby Lynne, “Suit Yourself”produced by Lynne (Capitol Records)All full of Southern, bad-chick attitude, Alabama-born singer Shelby Lynne thinks she can do whatever she wants. Her breakthrough came with 2000’s “I Am Shelby Lynne,” a head-turner whose lush production recalled the best of Dusty Springfield. She did a 180 on the follow-up “Love, Shelby,” a work of edgy pop-rock. And she did yet another about-face with 2003’s mellow, lovely, acoustic-dominated album, titled, for apparent good reason, “Identity Crisis.”But that album seems, maybe, to have helped Lynne forge a more permanent identity. “Suit Yourself” still roams plenty, from the bittersweet country pop of “I Cry Everyday” to the Delta blues in “You’re the Man” to the affecting, straightforward ballad “Old Times Sake.” But while there are occasional flashes of the “I Am Shelby Lynne” expansiveness, Lynne’s latest leans closer to the essential intimacy of “Identity Crisis.” Marking this album, and adding to the close-up-and-personal feel, are the studio chatter, false starts and stream-of-conscious that came as a result of Lynne’s producing herself in her home studio. But what makes Lynne always worth listening to is her way of projecting a tougher-than-nails exterior, while drawing listeners closer and closer inside with her gentle sounds and transparent voice.Shelby Lynne performs in the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series on July 7.
Los Lobos, “Live at the Fillmore”(Hollywood Records)How is this possible? Los Lobos, one of the most fiery concert acts in music for three decades has finally gotten around to releasing its first live album. “Live at the Fillmore,” recorded in San Francisco last summer, is meat-and-potatoes (arroz con pollo?) Los Lobos – no guest stars, no fancy set list. Instead, the Los Angeles quintet focuses on material from their last two albums, with a few signature gems – “The Neighborhood,” “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” and their version of “What’s Going On?” thrown in. The sound is slightly muddy, but that barely distracts from the energy and talent Los Lobos still bring to their barrio rock ‘n’ roll.Los Lobos play the Belly Up on Aug. 11.Tony Furtado, “Bare Bones”produced by Furtado (Funzalo)How does a guy who’s not a very good singer get away with making a solo, acoustic record of songs? By being very versatile, very good on his various instruments and, mostly, having a huge imagination. On the live “Bare Bones,” it’s just Tony Furtado – and his banjo, guitars, serviceable voice and distinctive string style. Testimony to his vision is the cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream,” which involves nonstop, manic picking. And Furtado intersperses his firmly rooted instrumental tunes between the vocal numbers, showcasing his ability to make his strings sing with melody, rhythm and harmony.Tony Furtado plays a free show July 14 on Fanny Hill, part of the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series.
Marcus Miller, “Silver Rain”produced by Miller (Koch)Bassist Marcus Miller puts enough soul into “Silver Rain” to stay on the proper side of the line that divides r & b from the dreaded smooth jazz category. At times, Miller strays perilously close to easy listening, with the cheesy synthesizers and predictable rhythms. But when Miller and a fleet of guests – Eric Clapton, Macy Gray, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, harmonica player Gregoire Maret – delve into melody-rich material like Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” they bring the instrumental muscle. Especially Miller, whose thick bass tone never takes a back seat here. It says a lot that Miller & Company can tackle both Edgar Winter’s hard-rock classic “Frankenstein” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” – back to back, no less – without embarrassing anyone.Marcus Miller opens for Boz Scaggs on June 26 at Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ June Festival, in Rio Grande Park.Buckwheat Zydeco, “Jackpot!”(Tomorrow Recordings)It’s been eight years since the last studio recording, and in that time Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr. has added the Hammond B3 organ to his repertoire. “Jackpot!” in fact, closes with a three-song “encore” featuring Buck on his new instrument, adding a groove facet to his bag of tricks. Otherwise, it’s the same old Buckwheat Zydeco, using the accordion to crank out good-time dance music that crosses r & b and soul feels with classic Louisiana zydeco.Buckwheat Zydeco opens the Snowmass Village Free Concert Series on June 30.
New Monsoon”Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival”(SCI Fidelity)San Francisco’s New Monsoon has taken certain jam-band ideas – the melding of influences, sunny vibes, and long, journeylike concerts – to the extreme. The seven-piece collective includes Indian tablas, Australian didgeridoo, African congas, bluegrass’s banjo and mandolin, and rock’s electric guitars. The band’s second CD, “Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival,” recorded last year, opens with the 11-plus-minute instrumental “Mountain Air,” and includes such similarly loose-joined, smile-face tunes as “Painted Moon,” “Blue Queen” and “Bridge of the Gods.” And while New Monsoon isn’t treading the freshest territory – conceptually, rhythmically, lyrically, it is a close cousin of their label-mate String Cheese Incident – they jam with the best of them here.New Monsoon plays June 17 at the Chili Pepper & Brew Fest in Snowmass Village, opening for Keller Williams.Bonerama, “Live From New York”produced by Mark Mullins and Craig KleinIt’s no surprise that Bonerama, a brass band from New Orleans built around four trombonists, would cover rock ‘n’ roll tunes. On this live CD recorded in March 2004 at the Tribeca Rock Club, they put a brass spin on the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” and a pair of Black Sabbath numbers, “The Wizard” and “War Pigs.” What is surprising is how Bonerama approaches all its material – as a rock band that happens to play brass instruments, rather than a brass band that covers rock tunes. You can’t get away from the sound of four trombones (five, when guest Fred Wesley joins in a pair of tunes). But with bandleader and chief composer/arranger Mark Mullins plugging in his electric trombone, Bert Cotton adding funky guitar licks and rhythms that suggest James Brown more than Bourbon Street, “Live From New York” Bonerama does put the trombone in a new context.Bonerama plays a midnight show in Jazz Aspen’s JAS After Dark series on June 23 at the Belly Up.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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