Expert Witness Comment of the Week

Trio da Kali & Kronos Quartet

I’ve been kicking myself for weeks since I’ve been too tangled up in non-writerly matters to get a review done for this standout. It’s the second classical-strings-fusion miracle this year, following Carl Craig’s Versus. The secret in both cases, I would say, is tweak and practice tweak and practice. Ten years to perfect the Craig. And Trio de Kali and Kronos have been working out the kinks in live performances since 2014.

Sweat Soundtrack #5

(Again, does not include losers who got dumped after four tracks.)

  1. The Bottle Rockets, Lean Forward, 2009 Bloodshot)
  2. The Budos Band, S/T, (2005, Daptone)
  3. John Zorn/Bar Kokhba,  Lucifer (Plays Masada Book Two) (2008 Tzadik)
  4. Tomer Yosef, Laughing Underground (JDub, 2008)
  5. Mumiv Troll, Vladivostok  (Strange, bent, Russian band we happened to see at the Middle East in Cambridge. Also very funny in a way that conquers language. I have no advice how to get the discs, but this is the one to start with and I have like five or six now.)
  6. The Knife, Shaking the Habitual (2013, Rabid)
  7. Warsaw Project Orchestra, Wendelu (2014, Utility) Catchy early “Afrobeats” album.
  8. Zongo Junction, Thieves! (2010, Zongo Junction)
  9. Various, “Yeah But It’s A DRY Heat” (1993, West World) (Highly recommended collection of Arizona punk nutjobs.)
  10. Rolling Blackouts C.F., The French Press (2016, SubPop)
  11. Love, Black Beauty (2013, High Moon)
  12. Lee “Scratch” Perry, Master Piece (2012, Born Free)
  13. Bloody Panda, Summon (2009, Pronounced Loud)
  14. Spring Hell Jack, The Sweetness of the Water (Thirsty Ear, 2004) (Yes, free jazzy workout. Fun.)

Sweat Soundtrack #4

(This of course does not include the three items that I had not played in quite a while and that flopped badly. They are already gone.)

Pino Minafra, Sudori (Victo, 1995)

Death Vessel, Island Intervals (Sub Pop, 2014)

Paul Schutze, Third Site (Ryko, 1999)

Milton Nascimento, Maria Maria/Ultimo Trem (Far Out, 2004)

Melvins, Houdini (Atlantic, 1993)

Sly & Robbie, Present Stepper Takes the Taxi (Taxi, 2013)

Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin’ (Columbia, 2011)

Peaking Lights, 936 (Weird World, 2011)

Sugar Minott, Hard Time Pressure (VP, 2011)

Gino Stitson, Listen: Vocal Deleria II (Universal, 2013)

Sun City Girls, Funeral Mariachi (?? — Library Copy I bought for pennies out of curiosity — 2011 I believe — and in fact the first album by these willfully weird guys I would plug. Also apparently their final release.)

Archie Bronson Outfit, Coconut (Domino, 2010)

The Shape of Doomjazz To Come, Free Nelson Mandoomjazz/Saxophone Giganticus (Rare Noise, 2013)

Diplo, Random White dude Be Everywhere (Mad Decent, 2013)


Zeshan B: Screen and Stage

Chicagoan Zeshan B’s performance of “Cryin’ in the Streets” on Colbert got quite a ripple going last week. For good reason. I bet the majority of the small crowd at Zeshan’s Boston debut last night at the new venue Sonia in Central Square had seen the TV show.

Let me say right off that the Colbert segment and the live performance I saw does more justice to the man and his backup than the uneven and rather muffled studio album, Vetted. Even with a stripped-down five piece group, Zeshan splashed charm all over the room, confirmed that he had a feel for soul and a resonant voice suited to a beefy Chicago-rhythm-section. On record and on stage, standouts included the non-English original romper “Ki Jana?” and the plaintive devastation of  William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” done with just Zeshan singing and piano by Lester Snell.

You’ll be there the next time this outfit comes around, right?


The Eternal Truths Just Keep Coming

No matter how clever or slyly eclectic an international music fusion is, if the recording centers on a voice, the same old, same old question is all that matters: “does the singing transcend language?”

No-budget recording will hamper an album no matter how much it combines obscure release and admirable taste (and even execution).

Followup on Carl Craig’s “Versus”


Tristano is one of the prime collaborators on Craig’s techno-classical fusion marvel. This is a set of piano duets from 2014 (don’t these two look like they’re straight from central casting?). It features three familiar works arranged for piano duet by the composers: “Le Sacre du printempts” by Stravinski, “The Story of the Kalendar Prince” by Rimsky-Korsakov and “La Valse” by Ravel. These are lots of fun, but I could live without them. What you have to hear is Tristano’s original, “A soft shell groove.”

The revelation is his phrasing, structures, sequences that seem to conclude but perfectly not quite. In short, his musical language, which you then can go back and discern most vividly on the Versus tracks. Tristano’s skill at immersing himself in Craig’s work seems even more remarkable to me now.