Yes life offers up surprises in a must for latin-jazz and specifically salsa-swing fans the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis + singer, songwriter Rubén Blades with musical direction by the JALCO bassist Carlos Henriquez Una Noche con Rubén Blades (‘A Nightwith Rubén Blades’) has just been released. Bladian classics such as ‘Pedro Navaja’ – surprise in an edgy ‘Mack the Knife’ sense written into the rakish lyrics — that Rubén cooked up with salsa trombone deity Willie Colón famously on a hit Fania classic in the 1970s and ‘El Cantante’ making the cut on an unstoppable live set recorded in 2014. **** Out on Blue Engine
Dave King fills the Into a Myth producer role as Hanging Hearts add torque and tension
Rebranded as Hanging Hearts, back in 2014 they were more like Chris Weller’s Hanging Hearts. The trio line-up however remains the same – tenor sax player Chris Weller, keyboardist Cole DeGenova and drummer Devin Drobka – playing on Into a Myth their own individually penned compositions that show, clearly, a meeting of minds. These tersely assertive musical messages all sound as if they were written by the same one person. The other changes are more underneath the bonnet.
The Bad Plus drummer Dave King is producing, insisting on a lived-in sound from the engineer by the sound of it. And the album is also mastered up so that’s good for directness because these guys do not deserve to be heard playing as if whispering. King adds a little tambourine on the second of the eight tracks. The issuing label is different, the band moving to release through Twin Cities label Shifting Paradigm Records after the earlier sonically more homespun Weller own label affair.
Recorded in a Milwaukee studio there is more thrust and yet still the punkish thrashing energy from the opener ‘Return of Saturn’ forward, drummer Devin Drobka keeping up the momentum. Weller reminds me a little of the former Acoustic Ladyland sax player Pete Wareham who is now powering the very different Melt Yourself Down.
Hanging Hearts do not offer up difficult music at all and yet there are more subtleties than meet the ear although the role of keyboards is a little too limited in places, for instance the long note chordal colouring-in on ‘Creation’ hardly goes anywhere. Yet on other tracks notably ‘Pilsen’ the keys operate radically differently like a proxy guitar turned into a knife to provide tensile drama before Weller goes wild as the wind ready for the fight.
A record that should appeal most to jazz listeners who also happen to be post-punk rock listeners, set aside some quality time to get to know a refreshed sound that even when it was new had plenty of zing the first time around. Now improved and memorably souped up, good tunes that capture the moment and release its latent power, the big plus point, feature in all tenderness.
Released on 9 June, listen to an example track above