Archive | June, 2013

Milt Jackson and John Coltrane: Bags and Trane

30 Jun

Bags and Trane features, as the name may suggest, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and saxophonist John Coltrane in their only collaborative record. Together with Hank Jones on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Connie Kay on drums, this is a classic hard bop album and showcases both leading musicians to great effect.

One of the defining characteristics of this album is the great respect Bags and Trane show each other. Their solos flow smoothly into each other and their conversations, especially the one in the composition Bags and Trane, are perfect. Despite the quality of their rhythm section, their solos are the thankfully omnipresent highlight of the album. Take for instance the beginning of Late, Late Blues. The bass perfectly sets the base of the song which Milt Jackson then follows and quickly expands into a full blown solo played over the backing of the rhythm. That passage is jazz in its purest form.

The name aside, the album was done with Milt Jackson as session leader and all of the original compositions are his. The result is more relaxed than much of the music John Coltrane was putting out at the time, but that is no way takes away from the quality. This is very clean bebop and though it may be unhurried, it is brilliant.

This is an album that justifies the reputation of the artists who made it and deserves much more notice than it gets. This is an immaculate album, and while it may not be quite the masterpiece that its contemporaries Giant Steps or My Favorite Things are, it is a classic that any jazz fan should be proud to own.

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Happy Birthday to Us!

25 Jun

Top Five.

Last year, on a particularly idyllic summer day, a couple of us decided to start a music review website that heeded neither genre nor country. We wanted to talk about hip hop as well as psychedelic rock. We wanted to talk about Chennai as well as Massachusetts. We wanted to make lists; lots of them, about lots of topics.

Now, a year later, some of those things have been done; yet many others still remain on the list that we’ve created for ourselves. It has been a great ride so far, and there is much more to come.

Keep your eyes on Top Five. As usual, we promise to give you the one-oh-one on the world of indie, India and beyond. Thanks for reading!

Yeezus: Kanye West

24 Jun

Yeezus.

I Am A God.

The best albums have a way of redefining the world in their terms. You stumble across one and then for a while it owns you. You hear it as the background to everything you do. You never play anything but them, but you can never make the music loud enough. The world fades and takes on the album’s tint. You feel yourself change. This is why I’m very careful about when I listen to Unknown Pleasures. This is why you should probably be careful around me while I’m on Yeezus.

I Am A God.

Yeezus is mean. This is not an album for radio. It doesn’t have to care about what you think and it knows it. This is about being a God, about being above the petty concerns of mortals. This is being Kanye West being nasty. The music is harsh, the lyrics are cruel and the album is designed to hurt. God is not forgiving, he is vengeful. If listening to this doesn’t make you uncomfortable then you haven’t heard it at all.

Due to that though, this album is intentionally hilarious. Kanye West has made an art of being over the top and this album is his masterpiece. Whether it is the ludicrous hubris of I Am A God, or the continuous conflation of African-American civil rights movements and graphic sex acts or even just him speaking Swag-hili, the irreverence of Yeezus makes for the funniest album that I have heard in a long time.

I Am A God.

Being a God has responsibilities as well though. You need to be greater than those whom you want to worship you. This may not be what you expected or are used to, but this is definitely a great album. Blood on the Leaves is his greatest song yet and New Slaves, I’m In It and Bound 2 are all cuts most rappers would kill for. While the album as a whole may not be as immediately listenable as MBDTF or even Watch The Throne, it is still very strong music.

In fact, it is astonishingly good music considering how intent it is on breaking new ground. Putting out an album this fresh is a difficult task in and of itself, and not only accomplishing that but also generating one of the best sounds of the year is incredibly impressive.

I Am A God.

This is not just an album, this is a cultural napalm bomb. This is the work for which Kanye West will be remembered. Pioneering, dangerous and very individual, this is the album that only Kanye could make and we thank him for it. Yeezus.

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