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May 07


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Enrico Pieranunzi, Marc Johnson, Joey Baron
Live In Japan


After five recordings on the CAM JAZZ label, the trio of Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron have garnered much critical acclaim while bringing jazz to audiences around the world. Their latest groove is a two-CD set recorded live in Japan, in front of fans that obviously are digging what these boys are dishing out.

Too be honest, a small disclaimer should be added here: although this writer played violin for over a decade, can use a tuning fork correctly and read sheet music (something you probably won’t hear talked about on American Idol), my knowledge of jazz is, shall we say, somewhat limited. Not that that’s much of a surprise: Here in KC we have the Jazz Foundation down at 18th and Vine, where they’ve been hipping it up for decades, and probably 95% of cowtowners have never even heard of the place. Jazz is like skeet shooting or mountain climbing or studying 15th century Bavarian tapestries: Either you love it or you don’t, baby.

That being said, the seventeen tracks here are a full gambit of styles, some short and sweet, like “Aurora Giapponese,” while others are 15-minute long marathons filled with hat-tipping solos. Everything here is competent and professional…and frankly a little dry. Oh, these guys know what they’re doing; it’s just that this is really classical jazz, made for connoisseurs not us BBQ and beer people. It probably doesn’t help that the Japanese audience clap in perfect unison, with nary a hoot or holler.

So if you want to support that thing called jazz, get down to the Foundation (where recently the liquor board was shocked, just shocked to discover they were serving alcohol!), a get your own groove on…and don’t forget to holler! — Brandon Whitehead (posted 05/25/07)

All Out War
Assassins in the House of God

Victory Records

It’s rather fitting that a Google search for the metal-core band All Out War also calls up an online war-gamer’s site and a bunch of Middle Eastern guys espousing Armageddon. All this resembles classic death metal — fast, loud, angry and driven by fans who probably have serious neck problems in their forties (which they would consider a metal fan’s badge of courage).

It’s been almost four years since their last album Condemned to Suffer, and fans of the “brutal” have indeed suffered since, forcing themselves to listen to tepid crap that couldn’t even make one ear bleed.

That being said, All Out War’s newest opus, Assassins in the House of God is light-years beyond all that screamo crap and a welcome change from the limp-wrist-eye-shadow-wearing bands who spend more time working on their hair than doing something truly metal, like, say, eating a live bat and vomiting blood.

A big advantage is 15 years of experience for the five (bassist Erik Carrillo, drummer Lou Luzzini, who is brutal, guitarists Jim Antonelli and Jim Bremer and Mike Score on vocals, who is very possibly double brutal), who have survived numerous lineup changes, disbandings, implosions and probably some beheadings as well. As this writer happens to be a big fan of a Sunday night cable television cartoon about a band whose name involves mortality and a time piece, this stuff brought back the glory days of Slayer and their like, putting a smile on the face and brutal murder and destruction in the heart, as any good metal should.

At this point in the review there would often be some lyric quoted…but screw that. Here is a quick selection of some of the words these guys like to use: “annihilation,” “genocide,” “crucified,” “cursed” and, of course, “damnation.” Any questions?

Say what you like about this music, that it’s violent, cynical and godless and, well, very loud, but there is a simple reason why this genre has survived everything from the Judas Priest back-masking trial to those horrible days of big hair and spandex — and either you will get this or you won’t. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 05/18/07)

Electron Love Theory
Colors of the Galaxy

Electron Records

One of the most telling qualities about electronica music is the mood it evokes, and how well it maintains that mood. Done well, it fits perfectly in the iPod world of personal tunes, like a good soundtrack on the latest 20-something TV drama. That being said, really good electronica is almost Zen-like in its ability to sooth the ears and inspire inner contemplation. Luckily for fans, Electron Love Theory demonstrates such ability in its latest album Colors of the Galaxy, a lovely and light mix of crisp arrangements and lush vocals that make it one of the most listenable records of the year.

The creation of songwriter/producer Jeff Leisawitz, ELT is already a media darlin’, having been featured on MTV’s Punk’d, Road Rules and The Real World, which is hardly a surprise given how perfect this music is for soundtracks (you could use any of the thirteen tracks here in the opening sequence of the latest light comedy-drama without hesitation), and there are already several “remix” versions floatin’ out there on the big world-wide inter-web.

While some tracks here are a little long, that’s a quibbling complaint for such a high quality sound. Leisawitz deserves the praise (as do the various magnificent vocalists, but sadly their names are as great a mystery as all those missing White House emails…) for creating some excellent music — no theory about it. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 05/04/07)

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