Monthly Archives: April 2010

At Home – AVISHAI COHEN – 2004

Ah, completionism! The refuge of the ones without enough to call their own. The domain of the nerd. The zone of no return for those who choose to have something just because enough isn’t enough. Even so, it is also the scourge of the flighty, the oft distracted and musically unfocussed. For that last reason alone, I choose to be a completionist. And..err.. because Baba T and me chose to fill out our burgeoning categories of music before moving on to newer artists. Anyway, so here I am, aspiring to complete Avishai Cohen‘s (not insignificant) contributions to the world of arty-farty jazz music.

“Madrid” is probably the most immediately likeable track here, with a strong central melodic theme and with the obnoxious snaps and ticks of upright bass soloing replaced by wholesome bottom end goodness.

The other Cohen album I review recently (Gently Disturbed), is much more sparse in terms of arrangements. That was just a bass-piano-drums trio thing. Here we have the piano and bass and drums holding the fort down while assorted flautists are being flute-like and horn players are being…err….horny. Also there is not so much ‘drums’ as there is ‘percussion’. Witness the African touch throughout “Leh-Lah” and the incredible drum n’ bass like speedery on “Renoufs Last Tooth “. The Parkinsons-meets-ADHD drumming continues on “Gershon Beat”, which is insane by all yardsticks that I have heard till now. Drummers, this one is for you.

“Remembering” starts to bring forth a beautiful, lilting piano melody ably pushed along by the bass and percussion. Impressive shit. That said, this piano player, Sam Barsh, has none of the melodic grandeur and tug-the-heartstrings finish of the piano player in Gently Disturbed, Shai Maestro. I suspect this is purely because Shai Maestro has the most awesome name in the history of history besides John Rambo. Anyway, it is clear that Sam Barsh is the accompaniment player in this trio, and not the seed from which the songs spring. Of course, there are a few cuts where he exhibits his considerably skill on the piano such as (the not at all punk) “Punk”, but he is clearly not the star here. That title goes to percussionist Mark Giuiliana and the ensemble cast of flautists and horn players. Its a surprising deviation from the usual jazz norm.

He might seem happy on the upright, but he is pure 0wnage on the electric bass.

The other major surprise is “Saba” which has the most amazing electric bass solo by Cohen. FINALLY, the man shows his chops on the electric bass. Why doesn’t he always play the it!? This is an excellent example of a chopsy, sinewy, very well thought out solo. Do listen. The rest of the tracks are all so-so, and sometimes tend to veer into easy-listening which, children, is not on for a jazz stalwart. The whole vibe of the record is quite relaxed, and even on a bad day, I couldn’t call this a shit record. Some cuts are great, some are not so great. I won’t be coming back to this again, but this generally sounds right.

-El Bajista




4 Chords that Made a Million-PORCUPINE TREE-2000

This is not a LP or even a EP. Just a single, but what the heck? It has 3 brilliant, classic PT songs, in their golden age, released just a month, as a promo to the album, Lightbulb Sun, which album I shall be coming to, very soon. Only “4 Chords that Made a Million” is to be found on the studio album mentioned above, while I don’t know where “Disappear” and “In Formaldehyde” are to be found, hence a separate review for this “limited edition” disc. Heh. Just download it from the net. The above mentioned songs, showcase the mellow, plodding side of our favourite 21st century progressive band. Though they muffed up big time with the “Incident”, you can easily go back to the period of Signify through to Fear of a Blank Planet, where there is so much good material that it will make you puke.

Err..lets call it a great precursor to a great album.

-Baba T

More Porcupine Tree reviews HERE.



Brothers and Sisters-THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND-1973

This is the first album after Duane’s death which does not involve him at all. Obviously, he was missed, but the Allman Brothers still made a pretty good showing, even without him. I have always preferred Allman Bros above other, more traditional blues bands, since I always like it when blues is mixed and matched with country and pop influences. In fact, I prefer such stuff over the traditional blues, frankly speaking, not being much of a Hoochie Coochie Man. Allman Brothers first caught my ear with instrumental stuff like Jessica, which has piano solos and melodies galore. Rather than replacing Duane on the guitar, they brought this keyboard player to fight with his piano against Dickey Betts lead guitar lines, which, by the way are pretty good. For the traditional blues fans we have songs like Jelly (Jelly Jelly Jelly, Jelly stays on my mind!!), while in other places we have country sing-alongs ala Rambling Man, a typical, upbeat song about rambling in the countryside.

You can imagine the farms nearby, what?

I would place this as inferior to albums like Eat a Peach, Idlewild South and the self titled first album.

In any case, pretty good stuff from the Allman Brothers, though I would place this as inferior to albums like Eat a Peach, Idlewild South and the self titled first album. Not as quintessential or revolutionary as the first 4 albums (including the live At Fillmore East), but still a pretty good addition to your record collection.

-Baba T





I was going through the site the other day, and I said, “Hey, we haven’t reviewed a single live record!!”. Yes, the site is young, and we have just started on our journey, but that doesn’t mean that I am not gonna review live records!! So I decided that I might as well make an auspicious start to my live records reviewing career, by doing one of my favourite live records of all time.

For the uninitiated (who could these be? have you been living on a different planet or what? are you aliens from outer space? are you from the Mhavi tribe of Madagascar?), Allman Brothers Band is a legendary southern rock/blues/jazz band famous for the slide guitar technique of the late great founding member Duane Allman, (also refer to the Derek Trucks Band, whose founder Derek Trucks, has been a longtime member of the Allman Bros Band. He imitated/was influenced by the Duane Allman Slide Guitar tone for a long time).

Goin' Down South!!

However, at the point when this album was released, all the founding members were intact, and one happy family, had released two LPs (The Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South), and then decided to make a live recording of their works so far. They also decided that they wanted this to be a sort if improvisational jam, a free for all, where the performers just take the basic theme of the studio recordings and then go ballistic. So, this ended up being a 2-disc live set, where we have 20 minute long jams sprayed all over the place!! Of course if you like the slide guitar tone of Duane Allman, this is heaven on earth. Its all about Duane, for a large part of the recording. While many times I would complain about one particular instrument overshadowing everything else, not in this case. They knew what they had going, and they just capitalized on the same.

We have 20 minute long jams sprayed all over the place!!

My favourites are Whipping Post and In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, far and away. If you have heard the studio versions, and liked those, then don’t expect to get the same thing here, coz that was a decade where a live recording meant something other than a booster for the rest of the catalogue produced by record company executives hungry for your hard earned money. In that time, a live recording meant that you were gonna get something you hadn’t got before. While that turned out to be a failed experiment many a time, when it succeeded, you got something godly, like this album. Live records do not mean that you have to show the crowd that you can play the songs exactly like you did in the  studio.(Rush, Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, all the rest of the prog rock wankers, I am looking at you.)

Coming back to the record, I do not think there is much left to say. On the down note though, I do not like the 33 minute Mountain Jam. It is good, but after a point of time I lose the thread and forget the main theme, unlike say, on the 20 minute Whipping Post. They just keep on doodling and doodling. It might provide an erection to hardcore blues rock wankers, but I do not fall in that category, so it falls a little flat on me. Other than that, this sounds very live, very right.

-Baba T





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