Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Robert Plant and Joshua Redman, Not Together

I’ve been listening to a lot of music recently. Though I don’t always have time to really work up a good review, I’ve decided to start at least giving out a little bit of thoughts on these records. So, watch for the occasional paragraph or two on various recent releases.

Robert Plan and the Strange Sensation, “Mighty Rearranger,” Sanctuary Records. I was never a fanatic about Led Zeppelin, though I have had plenty of moments when I’ve been awestruck by their bludgeoning powerhouse of rock. Frankly, I think I’ve had almost as much fun hitting the high points of Plant’s solo career, which with this new record has reached a new apex. His long-time fascination with middle-eastern and northern African melodies and harmonies, combined with the blues he’s been assimilating since he was a boy, and an influx of some creative modern dance rhythms here and there, makes for one satisfying record. Every time I play it, I’m struck by something different. Do I love it for the intricate layers of guitar, for Plant’s controlled vocal delivery, for the melodic inventions sprinkled in between the blues forms? All of the above.

Joshua Redman Elastic Band, “Momentum,” Nonesuch Records. There are things happening in the jazz world these days, and I only get to hear the tip of the iceberg. This is a mighty fine tip, though. Redman is working out some funk here, mostly in a trio format of himself on tenor saxophone, Sam Yahel on bass synth, ambient synth, and other keyboards, and Jeff Ballard or Brian Blade on drums. I’m particularly enamored of Sheryl Crow’s “Riverwide,” which sounds like a nice follow-up to Miles Davis’s “In a Silent Way.” But, that’s one of the only quiet moments on this record. Mostly, Redman and company are slamming down rhythms and riffs, building intricate edifices out of danceable movements.

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