Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New York-based saxophonist Darius Jones made quite a splash last year w/ the release of his debut as bandleader, Man'ish Boy, on the AUM Fidelity imprint, a label which, along w/ Eremite, ranks as the finest avant-jazz imprint of the last 10-15 years. Upon first listen, and the subsequent half-dozen listens thereafter, it didn't make much of an impact w/ my psyche. Admittedly I was listening to it on a shitty little stereo placed in the corner of a fairly large and echo-laden warehouse, the effect being a kind of tin-like coldness which gave the disc no surge nor warmth, so when it received a 5-star rave review in The Weekend Australian, of all publications, I was a little stumped. Was I missing out on something special: the birth of The Next Coltrane? David S. Ware took that mantle nearly 20 years back, when he started making a serious dent w/ his quartet releases on the Silkheart label. So far as I'm concerned, he still owns it. It took for me to play a copy on my own shitty, cheap stereo at home for it to take effect. In the warmth of my own living room with nothing to bother me, it took hold. Man'ish Boy sees Darius in a trio format w/ Cooper-Moore playing the diddley-bo (a one-string bass of sorts) and Rakalam Bob Moses on percussion. The sound itself isn't too far removed from Ornette's trio recordings from the early '60s, or Coltrane just before he started gobbling LSD and heading for the stars. In other words, it possesses a sound of real classicism in the Blue Note/Impulse! sense of the word, and Cooper-Moore's bo-diddley, capable of emitting a low-end rumble along w/ funky plucking, gives the music a real momentum, like it's always on the move. I'm now convinced: Man'ish Boy is one of the finest American jazz albums of the last decade.

Perhaps even better is his debut recording w/ the NY free-jazz/avant-rock/No Wave quartet, Little Women entitled Throat, also on AUM Fidelity. W/ Jones and Travis Laplante on reeds, guitarist Andrew Smiley and drummer Jason Nazary, they explore an inspired, chaotic swell of rock/jazz not heard since the days when Rudolph Grey/Blue Humans were still spewing out releases (Grey is back, by the way). There are moments when the overload has me thinking of Peter Brotzmann's Machine Gun - an album I love, but, like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, one I also find near impossible to listen to more than 5 minutes of - though Little Women still have a basic rock'n'roll structure happening beneath the squawl. If I'm going to throw a few Z-grade rock-crit names around, I'd say it sounds like the missing link twixt the Blue Humans and God Is My Co-Pilot. There ya go, try that one on for size. Throat isn't the kinda platter I'll stick on in the car whilst roaming the hills on a pleasant Sunday afternoon w/ the family, though whilst in solitude when the brain craves music of action, it delivers the goods.

Check out the clip above: Darius Jones honking and skronking in a duo setting a la Interstellar Space. I expect big things from this man in the future.

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