Posts Tagged ‘Tiptons Sax Quartet’

What’s spinning, February 12 edition

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Washington, DC got something close to 40 inches of snow over the past week. The whole city was shut down until today, and arguably should still be shut down. When I wasn’t out taking pictures, I was hanging out inside listening to music and doing some miscellaneous work. Here’s a sampling of what’s been playing:

  • Art Zoyd - Generation Sans Futur — Probably my favorite Art Zoyd album, although they released so many great albums that are all somewhat similar that this is kind of a tough call. The title track, augmented by Daniel Denis’ drumming, is an easy pick for an all-time favorite AZ composition.
  • Basta! - Cycles — Yeah, I’m pretty obsessed with this one, I’ve talked about it here before. Joris Vanvinckenroye + loop pedals = awesomeness. Definitely going to be somewhere high up on my best of 2009 list.
  • Birds of Prey - The Hellpreacher — Here’s another one I discussed earlier. Super simple, catchy death metal - not normally my thing but for some reason this one keeps finding its way back to the playlist.
  • Flower-Corsano Duo - The Chocolate Cities — A live tour EP from this free-improv duo of drums and shahi baaja. If anything, parts of this are even more intense than their excellent studio recording, but there are some really nice quieter bits as well. Thanks to Andrew McCarry for the heads-up on this one.
  • Gaza - He Is Never Coming Back — Some people are saying this one’s a disappointment after the groundbreaking I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die. It might be a little less overtly experimental, but make no mistake: this band is still kicking ass and taking names, mixing the manic feel of grindcore with the heavy, dirty sludge of doom metal to awesome effect. I am SUPER pissed that their tour with Converge is not coming anywhere near DC - the closest date is in North Carolina, and that one’s during Maryland Deathfest.
  • Margot MacDonald - Live at the Kennedy Center — This is actually a video available online. Margot is an 18-year-old rock musician whom I first heard a couple years ago and was impressed by her powerful voice. She’s only gotten better and there are some real highlights in this live performance, most notably an acoustic cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immgrant Song,” a loop-pedal extravaganza at the end, and several new compositions that she has featured on her YouTube page.
  • Pree - A Chopping Block — Saw these folks at the Kennedy Center a few weeks ago (video here) and liked them enough to pick this up; after several listens, I really like them. It’s low-key indie-rock with wonderfully subtle orchestrations and May Tabol’s offbeat, caterwauling vocals that will probably turn a lot of people off but that I seem to be a bit of a sucker for.
  • Those Darlins - Those Darlins — High-energy country music? This wouldn’t normally be my thing but after seeing this trio of women (plus a male drummer who gets completely neglected in all their press) tear it up live with true punk-rock zeitgeist, I’m hooked. I don’t think there’s anything on this list that’s quite as much pure fun as this stuff.
  • The Tiptons Sax Quartet - Laws of Motion — Beautiful, beautiful sax quartet plus drums material - runs the gamut from straight-ahead jazz to world music of many kinds. There’s not much in the way of out-three free improv or pure avant-garde a la Rova, but Amy Denio’s bizarre vocals definitely up the weird quotient to pretty delightful levels.
  • Wildbirds & Peacedrums - The Snake — Speaking of unique, powerful female vox (MacDonald, Denio, Tabol), this band basically exists to show off some sick tribal drumming and Mariam Wallentin’s amazing voice. Wallentin ably carries this record, the duo’s second, and she’s even better live. She often seems to be right on the edge of oversinging, but always seems to rein it in at the last second for some truly memorable tension-and-release type moments.

Oh, right, show reviews

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I’ve seen about a billion and one concerts since I last posted those show reviews of Caspian, Jucifer and Salome, or so it seems. I won’t recap them all but here are some highlights.

Last night I saw the Tiptons Sax Quartet and Drums at An Die Musik. I have been starving for more experimental jazz in the DC area for the last couple of years. Things are really picking up these days (many thanks to Ed Ricart and others who are putting on awesome shows at Bossa here in DC), but this was the first jazz show I’ve been to in a long time. I think Nordic Jazz Fest last summer was the last jazz I saw. This show was a great way to ease back in - super accessible, fun and eclectic stuff. I remember seeing Rova Saxophone Quartet at Twins Jazz a couple years ago, and pretty much everything about that show went straight over my head. This was totally different: the Tiptons played nothing without a solid, head-nodding beat, and their compositions were chock-full of gorgeous melodies and stunning solos. I found Jessica Lurie in particular really impressive, and it was a treat to finally get to see Amy Denio after hearing her on so many random records (my favorite perhaps being the Cuneiform obscurity The Danubians).

Before this were a couple of female-fronted Euro-metal shows: Epica and Arch Enemy. As readers of this blog know, I am a sucker for Epica. That said, I’m less than enthused by their new album. Couldn’t tell you why just yet, but it seems to be even more bombastic than previous efforts without as much heaviness or even as much of a melodic sense. Le sigh. The band’s performance at Jaxx in Virginia was the first show of their U.S. tour, and the kinks were definitely there. Energy wasn’t all that great and guest keyboardist Oliver Palotai (also of Kamelot, and vocalist Simone Simons’ boyfriend) doesn’t quite have his parts down yet. Still, there were plenty of enjoyable moments and it was nice to see Simons fronting the band again - the last time they played the States, she was ill and a replacement singer was with them.

I’ve never been a huge Arch Enemy fan, although as far as melodeath goes they’re pretty good. Like the Epica show, the show I saw was the first night of this tour. There were fewer kinks, but again the band didn’t seem to be at their peak in terms of enthusiasm. I can’t really judge this one though as I left early and am not all that familiar with a lot of the band’s material anyway.

Otherwise, there were three shows I photographed for the Washington Post, the best of which was one I never would have gone to otherwise: a bluegrass pairing of Carolina Chocolate Drops and Red Molly. The former is a trio playing traditional black string music, and they were amazing, tons of energy, tremendous chops and all kinds of catchy melodies. The latter are also a string trio, playing a mix of standards and originals, and I found their songs beautiful across the board. I picked up one of the records and it absolutely didn’t do the show justice.

The other two were Pree, a DC-area indie-rock band who are drawing comparisons to Joanna Newsom, Neutral Milk Hotel and the like; I liked them pretty well, enough to investigate further; and Otis Taylor, famed blues guitarist, whose set was way too disjointed for my taste. There were a few times his band broke out into some amazing jams, but otherwise I’d have to say it was kind of a dull night.

So that’s what I’ve been up to so far in January… I was hoping to go see Tim Berne and a new band that he’s in, Four Limones, but the show got cancelled last minute. Major bummer. Next up is Those Darlins on Sunday… not a show I’d imagine many readers of my blog would be particularly interested in.