Thursday, November 6, 2003
Bird Up: The Charlie Parker Remix Project
Melding hip-hop and jazz samples can't be considered truly cutting edge anymore. Artists such as Tribe Called Quest, DJ Shadow and the Digable Planets have all culled dusty jazz vinyl to create earthy frameworks for their downbeat excursions.
Where Bird Up: The Charlie Parker Remix Project distinguishes itself from the mid '90s jazz fascination is in the ante-up factor. A-list guests get to place their grubby mitts on the entire Charlie Parker catalog, making the project more transcendent than mere beats and samples. The Kronos Quartet, Dan the Automator, Ravi Coltrane, RZA, Meshell Ndegeocello and the X-ecutioners all lend their talents to overwhelmingly stunning effect. The standout track, the reworking of Parker's "Salt Peanuts," begins with classical string quartet musings before interpolating Dr. John's jazz piano and Charlie Parker's smoky alto; epitomizing the album's bouncing eclecticism.
Through such pacing and the bevy of progressive talent, Bird Up comes across as the ultimate mix tape. The majority of Bird Up's general cohesive success can be located in Charlie Parker's oozing hipness and experimental musicality. Just like Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, Parker's musical brilliance can withstand and even subsume any conceivable treatment because his bebop filigrees rest simultaneously in and outside of time.
No Thanks--The '70s Punk Rebellion
Four CDs of the greatest rock and roll post-1969 on earth and the only question is: why not 10 CDs?
Because there really is no way to include every regional bit o' gloriousness, the "heavy hitters" and then some who make up the bulk here. This is more or less the definitive collection of the genre that upset the applecart, the antidote to the heinous status quo.
Beginning with "Blitzkrieg Bop" and ending with "Love Will Tear Us Apart," almost everything a lover of the raw first wave could want is here, including some actual rarities like "Little Johnny Jewel"(Television) and the Pop Group, Mekons and Skids. The only missing stuff is the Sex Pistols, who opted out and guess what--they ain't that missed.
Beautiful packaging and sequencing it is and if you have a Good Charlotte/Blink 182 fan living with you, the Xmas gift is now extant. Get this now, period!
The Lost Masters
Kool Keith is the only known artist whose free-associative power allows him to create a lyrical fabric from topics as varied and seemingly unrelated as breakfast muffins and pornographic sex acts.
At first, it seems as though his latest album, The Lost Masters (a collection of previously unreleased music), is doomed to be of a lower grade than his other projects. But like everything else Keith has done, it is an exception to the rule.
As Keith himself said, his songs are "built from the ground up," meaning original lyrics and his own orchestrations but without cannibalized samples taken from groups like The Meters or Funkadelic. The result of this idealistic approach is sinister, staggered beats, minimalist a capella choruses, and lyrics whose brilliance is half in their embroidered complexity and half in their almost-meterless delivery.
The tracks "New York City" and "Freaks" are two of the best from a lyrical standpoint but to be any more specific would be totally inappropriate. This is not music for children, but it is indispensable for rap music fans, those with a sense of humor and just about everyone else.