New Music – Winnipeg Free Press

POP ROCK

small feat
Waiting for Columbus Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino Recordings)

A quartet that quickly morphed into a six-man ensemble, the seamless blend of rock, blues, funk, country, soul, boogie, gospel, Latin, jazz and R&B infused with Little Feat’s New Orleans was often more than the sum of its parts. Superior musicianship and stellar songwriting have been showcased on a series of classic albums.

The dynamic legacy this Los Angeles-born band created in their heyday is celebrated again on the eight-CD deluxe edition of Waiting for Columbus. Recorded at concerts in London and Washington, DC, it was originally released in 1978 as a double live album. By the end of that year, Little Feat had imploded, nine years after its launch. Guitarist-vocalist Lowell George died in 1979 of a drug-fueled heart attack.

At the time of its release, Waiting for Columbus was hailed as one of the great live albums of the 1970s. It was – and it wasn’t.

George, who by 1976 had largely lost interest in Little Feat, did not think Columbus up to its potential. So he redid nearly all of his vocal and guitar parts in a Los Angeles recording studio after the 1977 tour ended.

What makes that Columbus so intriguing is the inclusion of three additional two-CD live sets, all previously unreleased except for a single song, which were recorded on the same 1977 tour and are presented here – without any studio overdubs – in their entirety.

But Little Feat has never played anything the same twice, be it the altered truck driving ballad I want, the happy rock ‘n’ roll doctor or changing mood spanish moon.

Indeed, it is the subtle — and sometimes pronounced — differences between each performance that make Columbus so enticing. Ditto for the elastic, push-and-pull rhythmic interaction of the group, which offers an advanced class in the art of collective improvisation of impressive intuition.

The biggest treat here is the unreleased concert recorded at Lisner Auditorium in DC. The meandering grooves are more relaxed and nuanced here, allowing the songs to open up in fresh and unexpected ways.

George’s untweaked voice is soulful, snarky and conniving, usually all rolled into one. He didn’t need a belt to make an impact, and the fact that – apart from bassist Kenny Gradney – every member of the band also sang gave Little Feat a rich vocal dimension.

Little Feat gems such as Skin It Back, fat man in the tub and Boogie of the old are expertly reshaped by musicians who could dig deep into a groove to find new possibilities.

The extended version of Waiting for Columbus is a testament to what can happen on a concert stage in real time – and why an imperfect live album that leaves mistakes intact can be the closest thing to a perfect live album. ★★★★1/2 out of five

—George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune


DANCE/FUNK

calvin harris
Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (Columbia Records)

Calvin Harris’ last star-studded funk album of 2017 featured several hits, but listeners were begging for more. Now the UK DJ has delivered a second volume, titled Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2, with even more tracks and big names – but bigger doesn’t always mean better.

The album gives off similar laid-back summer vibes to the first volume, this time with a bit more disco – it’s back! Interludes of soaring strings accompany hard-hitting bass lines, placing this album at the crossroads of the dance and funk genre of the 70s.

Most of the tracks are free-flowing celebrations of youth, perfect for playing on a summer stroll around town with the top down. Most of them, with a few exceptions perhaps.

The failure of the album is the first track after the intro, new money, with its disappointing instrumentals under rapper 21 Savage, which do the rapper’s equally disappointing lyrics a favor — “Gucci clothes, kush smells like armpits,” for example — no favors.

Stay with me Also missing is a clumsy combination of three very different artists – Justin Timberlake, Halsey, and Pharrell Williams – whose contributions to this song are inconsistent.

After a few flops, however, there are some really enjoyable collaborations on the album. Obsessedfeaturing Charlie Puth and Shenseea, has an urban pop feel with a Caribbean twist, and Swae Lee shines on Lean on me. Ready or Notfeaturing Busta Rhymes, breaks away from the cold theme of the rest of the album, but the hype and flow of the track is entertaining nonetheless.

This album may not have much more to offer than Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 so if you’re looking for some vibrant songs for the rest of the summer, you might be better off sticking to Harris’ hits of 2017. ★★★ out of five

SHARE THEM: Lean on me, obsessed

—Kiana Doyle, Associated Press


JAZZ

Miguel Zeno
Las Americas Music (Music Honey)

Coincidentally, two alto players from the Caribbean are currently releasing terrific albums reflecting their home countries. (This one has an official release on Friday.) Several weeks ago I reviewed Cuban-born Luis Deniz’s album, and today’s album is Miguel Zenon, from Puerto Rican descent. As in most Latin jazz, rhythm is at the forefront here. The Caribbean rhythm patterns are plentiful and exciting, and this album is a challenge for anyone trying to keep up with the beat with ease. Better to just enjoy it.

Zenon is truly in the upper echelon of contemporary viola players, and this album demonstrates why. He is accompanied by Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole, as well as the Puerto Rican ensemble Pleneros de La Cresta and several Puerto Rican percussionists.

Zenon explains that the music is inspired by the long history of the Americas and that the compositions reflect this concept. Tainos and the Caribbeanfor example, refers to the two great societies of the Caribbean before colonization. Navegando refers to the maritime base of the region long before sophisticated navigational devices. Imperios refers to the empires of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas which were extremely powerful before colonization.

There are soft bits, but the music is mostly catchy and complex, both compositionally and rhythmically. Zenon’s style is powerful, creative and emotional. This music means something deep to him and it flows through his playing. For someone like me who was first drawn to jazz because of the rhythm, this album is pure bliss. Counter-rhythms, wild meter swings, soaring solos (Perdomo is a prize); New and historic grooves come together here.

If you love Afro-Caribbean jazz, your cup is overflowing this month. In solid contemporary sounds, this album is a great frolic. Enjoy. ★★★1/2 out of five

SHARE THEM: Venas Abiertas, Bambula

—Keith Black


CLASSIC

Symphonies No. 1 and 3 by Beethoven
Gianandrea Noseda, National Symphony Orchestra (ONS)

The National Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of renowned Italian maestro Gianandrea Noseda, is launching a new cycle of Beethoven symphonies with this first offering (to be released in mid-September) on its own label. The ensemble recorded the first two works on a larger scale, Symphony No. 1, in C major, Op. 1and Symphony No. 3, in E flat major, op. 55, aka “Eroica”, at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall in January 2022. The orchestra is scheduled to complete the cycle with the remaining seven symphonies in May and June 2023.

Noseda’s muscular conducting style immediately sets the tone during the opening move, Adagio molto – Allegro con brio de Symphony No. 1. It is imbued with the spirit of Haydn and Mozart, while firmly establishing the then 29-year-old composer as a creative maverick. Its hushed second movement, Andante cantabile con moto, sings as it should with its gently swaying rhythms, while the subsequent Menuetto and finale, scherzo-like Adagio-Allegro molto e vivace, rush with the impetuosity of youth. .

Symphony No. 3 — originally inspired by Napoleon but renamed the Eroica after Beethoven furiously tore up the title page once Bonaparte crowned himself emperor – shook the classical world with its vastly expanded length. Once again, Noseda captures the dramatic intensity throughout its four movements, especially during the mournful Marcia funebre, pierced with hesitant grief. Other highlights include the penultimate movement, Scherzo: Allegro vivace, and the Allegro molto finale, the latter unfolding as a set of variations in which the dark storm clouds are a part and the goodness l finally wins. ★★★★ out of five

SHARE THIS: Symphony No. 3, in E flat major, op. 55

—Holly Harris

About Elaine Morales

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