's pursuit of a distinctly American music that draws on the exuberant spirit of jazz, the poignant melodies and soulful grooves of rock and folk music, and the energy and spontaneity of free improvisation. The new album is the follow-up to Old Time Musketry's critically acclaimed debut, "Different Times," which received a four-star rating in Downbeat Magazine and inclusion in their year-end "Best Albums" list.
I saw Emmylou Harris perform this past summer at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and it was the best show I've seen in a while. Some people make the claim that Emmylou is a more compelling harmony singer than a lead singer...I don't necessarily agree, but it got me thinking about the magic of vocal harmony when wielded by folks as skillful as the ones on this album: Dolly Parton, Emmylou, and Linda Ronstadt. There is nothing that gives me more of a visceral emotional response than voices so attuned to and supportive of one another that one almost embodies the same space as the others...as if for a moment, one could actually understand in a hyper-empathic way what it is actually like to *be* that other person. A total subsuming of one's ego in support of another. I've had glimpses of this in my own musical life: playing harmonies behind a great singer and feeling chills and losing myself when that indescribable sense of communion is momentarily reached; or with a band or in a free improvisation, where spontaneously something is arrived at that instantly eliminates the space between separate selves and opens up something that feels limitless. It's the greatest feeling. Granted, there's a bit of cheesy production on this album and not all the songs are my favorites. But the depth and weight of these singers' experiences in combination with another represent something really magical and inspirational...something close to real empathy and compassion in music.
Every winter I like to spend some quality time staring into the abyss of Schubert's dark song cycle
. This year my listening was intensified by the brutal winter weather and by discovering the tenor Ian Bostridge's amazing recordings. Bostridge also made a series of music videos to accompany the songs which really capture the desolate, existential angst of the music and poetry.
I recently found myself out late in Williamsburg (don't judge me) and instead of taking a cab or the train home I decided to make the walk back home in the cold. I put on the Science Fictions Sessions as I made my way along the still industrial East River waterfront.
The melody has an incredible forward motion and floats in and out of time with the unbelievably propulsive groove of Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. I've always felt there was something other worldly and haunting about this record and it's one that I am always grateful to come back to.