Track of the day: East Axis - Metal Sounds ****

The defiantly uncommodified lead-off track 'Metal Sounds' from the upcoming East Axis album No Subject (Brother Mister) does not disappoint in the least. The crux a first listen certainly suggests is the role of bassist Kevin Ray and more obviously …

Published: 28 Dec 2022. Updated: 31 days.

The defiantly uncommodified lead-off track 'Metal Sounds' from the upcoming East Axis album No Subject (Brother Mister) does not disappoint in the least. The crux a first listen certainly suggests is the role of bassist Kevin Ray and more obviously the extraordinary soliloquising of saxophonist Scott Robinson who afer a long piercing and repeated held high note early on goes further to ride the livewire spikiness of pianist Matthew Shipp in the atonal undergrowth like a tightrope walker. Drummer Gerald Cleaver after about four minutes begins to swing the out-there trajectory behind Shipp's rippling anarchic solo line to take the tune in another direction. Certainly there is a lot going on in the construction of the piece as the quartet internalise the aching moan of the plangent lead lines. Give or take a bit of metaphorical licence the blues and the abstract truth tantalise in equal measure freely spreed about. A track that's a trip worth revisiting again and again.

East Axis - top, left-right: Matthew Shipp, Kevin Ray, Scott Robinson, Gerald Cleaver. Photo: Bandcamp

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Jane Monheit, The Merriest, Club 44 ***

Down the Christmas album route before and yet it is a long time, some 17 years, since The Season. Released at a time in singer Jane Monheit's swinging jazz cabaret style career when Monheit was as lauded as Diana Krall years earlier 'Moonlight in …

Published: 28 Dec 2022. Updated: 32 days.

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Down the Christmas album route before and yet it is a long time, some 17 years, since The Season.

Released at a time in singer Jane Monheit's swinging jazz cabaret style career when Monheit was as lauded as Diana Krall years earlier 'Moonlight in Vermont' was the pick of The Season. Here it is 'What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?' winning out in 2022. Its laconic playfulness is pitched perfectly and so neatly arranged.

John Pizzarelli duets on 'That Holiday Feeling' and the blend works as well as Steve and Eydie in the 1960s. Cherry pick mercilessly as Christmas albums may otherwise bring you out in a rash. And this year's goodwill currency is fast running low on time as the snow songs pile up almost to the height of the deathly east coast drifts on the news. Highly anachronistic stylistically but that's part of the point Monheit's voice as on last year's Come What May is as fine an instrument as ever. No animals or even cuddly toys were harmed in the making of this Christmas album and yet The Merriest stubbornly even bearing in mind the inevitable snow globe cutesiness of it all refuses to jar. Jane Monheit, photo: Twitter

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