November 9 - November 15, 1995

Quick Scans


Lower Lurum
2 Stars
AVANT-EXPERIMENTALIST AND German doubleneck guitarist Reichel loves making animal sounds with his axe. Freaky/ Frippy enough. He also composes for daxophone. What, pray tell, be that? Part of the idiophone family, sez Hans, wooden instruments whose assorted hums, buzzes, squeaks, plinks, plonks, groans and armpit farts (my description) are produced without using strings, membranes, air shafts or even computer terminals. I think what he does is (1) bow a curved wooden shaft that has a soundhole cut into it, with the resulting resonances being miked and treated electronically; and (2) rub/rock a wedge of fretted wood against the shaft to create distinct notes. Indulgent, yes; boring, no.
--Fred Mills


The Muscle Shoals Sound
Rhino Records
3 Stars
THERE WAS A a time when the choice of studio and region had nearly as much impact on a recording as the artist. No better proof exists than in comparing the slick, urban sound of Detroit's Motown artists with the unpolished, rural R&B releases coming out of the northwest corner of Alabama known as Muscle Shoals. That ugly stone building at 3614 Jackson Highway turned out Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and a slew of classics by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Arthur Alexander--all represented, if only minimally, on this collection (the Stones' "Wild Horses" and "Brown Sugar" were also cut there). The difference between the soul-music scene in Michigan and New York is the influence of the delta blues--and attempts to dethrone the South in this case are akin to bucking the nearby Mississippi River.
--Dave McElfresh


A Retrospective: 1929-1963
3 Stars
TENOR SAXOPHONIST COLEMAN Hawkins invented the smoky, gutteral ballad-style used for a jazz mood in a zillion soundtracks and beer commercials. He was also the first major tenorman in jazz and considered the best for most of the decades covered in this collection. These two discs show him primarily in octet and orchestral settings where, in spite of ensemble size, Hawkins if far from buried in the bands. Every cut features his soloing and plenty of opportunities to hear the additional dimension his harmony-based improvising added to the groups. Fortunately, the label chose cuts that highlight his diversity: from a spot in 1929's McKinney's Cotton Pickers to tackling Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" and playing straight man on an abrasive Sonny Rollins session. Let's hope they release a companion set of his work in smaller groups.
--Dave McElfresh

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November 9 - November 15, 1995

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