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One of the best things about pop bands that originate on the great
and wide and rather flat Midwest is that they dont rush to jump
the shark as quickly as possible. The first release of Peoria,
ILs own four-piece group The Forecast is a prime example: As
Goldilocks would say, this band is not too hot, and not too
cold. The result is Late Night Conversations, a competent
if somewhat standard album of ten tracks of fairly competent of somewhat
bland light rock and pop, with a little country thrown in.
Last September, at The Zona Rosa Summer Jazz Series, five of Kansas
Citys best jazz musician got together after a few rehearsals
to play a nearly three-hour outdoor concert. I wasnt
there but Mark Valentine of Box of Chalk said it was a windy day and
getting a good recording of the quintet was a little dicey.
But the jazz gods prevailed. The Haji Ahkba-Ervin Brown Assembly
is a world-class, top-tier recording that will wow the most sophisticated
jazz connoisseur. If the Convention and Visitors Bureau needs something
to convince the world that jazz still exists here, send this CD into
Haji Ahkab came to KC a year or so ago, picking up small gigs and
quickly earning the respect of local musicians. Hes studied
with Roland Kirk and Blue Mitchell, has played with James Brown and
toured with Su Ra. He plays trumpet, flugelhorn and keyboards. On
this CD, Ahkba is on the flugelhorn. Ervin Brown, on tenor saxophone,
spent time with Barry White. Ken Lovern, piano, is much in demand,
particularly with female jazz vocalists. Theodore Wilson, bass, and
Arnie Young recognized as an old school drummer
who emphasizes the cymbals over the snare complete the group.
Valentine calls them consummate side men. Its a
comment that doesnt seem to quite sum up the talent.
The superb 6-cuts, 50-minute CD showcases jazz at its creative best.
Both Brown and Ahkba are commanding, enlightened and soaring in their
playing. Lovern, Wilson and Young remain impeccable in their support
and perfectly subtle when asked.
The Haji Ahkba-Ervin Brown Assembly delivers the kind of jazz where heads nod in wonderment and smiles keep time in awe. And hot damn, its Kansas City jazz, too! Bruce Rodgers (posted 5/13/05)
While most music critics, including yours truly, are loathe to hear
the new CD of yet another lame band's attempt to claim the pop thrones
left vacant by the likes of Devo and The Ramones, it must none the
less be done, much like going to the dentist or filling your taxes.
Adam Dorn a k a Mocean Worker is the mixmaster genius
behind Enter The MoWo!. Dorn creates genre-defying
a term used a lot in describing an electronic sound delivered
by other artistic innovators as St. Germain, Gotan Project, Mister
Scruff and Nicola Conte music joining jazz with electronica,
layered with a little funk, R&B and vocals. Another term tossed
around is fledgling genre. Whatever. Dorn knows his dials,
platters, wires and musicology. Enter The MoWo! just cooks.
Cut number one, Chick A Boom Boom Boom, is a hot, infectious,
jittery combo of intimacy and big band in which David Flathead
Newmans sax evaporates away that bad rap of sterility
usually laid on electronic music. Of course, the subtle crowd noise
and an opening voice-over announcement to the tune, which makes one
feel he got back from the john just in time, helps.
Right Now opens with some Ray Manzarek-like keyboard
work right out of The Doors in front of a thick bass beginning then
leads into a tinny cornet 1920s sound cleanly delivered courtesy
modern electronics. Theres some more back and forth then the
cornet takes off, with it all closing through that repeating thick
bass thump fading to the drum machine and a final horn toot. Its
a truly original piece of work.
Shamma Lamma Ding Dong is even better. Rahsaan Roland
Kirks flute breathes life onto the plastic disk, merging
as if on a dare emotion with intellect in a musical stew that
loosens the mind/body connection. Its what jazz is about. Dorn
has Nina Simone continue a transformation away from digitalization
in the sultry Blackbird.
While a couple of cuts lay down too much of an electronic pulse, that tiring strident beat that quickly burns a hole in a listeners patience with the new, Enter The MoWo! may spin its way through the masses and hopefully light a little jazz-loving fire among the uninitiated. Bruce Rodgers (posted 5/06/05)
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