New CDs (and vinyl) albums released this week of Tuesday, Aug. 28, include a jazz retrieval recorded live in Seattle in 1981 by Art Pepper, two new albums from brilliant Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza and a self-released album by The Physics.
What’s up with all the Seattle jazz retrievals? A few months ago, a British label brought out an album of a 1956 “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concert. Now Omnivore Recordings has released a red-vinyl disc (with digital download) of a Jan. 28, 1981, appearance at the old Pioneer Square jazz club Parnell’s by the late alto saxophonist Art Pepper. Here’s a review of that one, plus two from brilliant Brazilian singer Luciana Souza and one — by Andrew Matson — from the Seattle rap trio The Physics.
Art Pepper, ‘Neon Art: Vol. 1’ (Omnivore)
Pepper, who died in 1982, started out with a feathery, light “cool” style, but late in his career, under the influence of John Coltrane, Pepper became more aggressive, punctuating his acidic, vibratoless tone with dark, avant-garde squiggles and multiphonic honks. This recording captures him playing two long original blues in his late style. “Red Car” has a jazz/rock beat, and “Blues for Blanche” showcases Pepper’s love of unusually wide intervals, quirky phrase lengths, sudden silences and surprise “wrong notes.” On “Blanche,” Pepper really goes “outside” into a world of pure sound. Pianist Milcho Leviev follows Pepper’s lead; bassist David Williams shines on a half-plucked-half-bowed solo; and drummer Carl Burnett is crisp throughout. Recording quality is excellent, though you can hear someone talking a little over one of Burnett’s solos.
Luciana Souza, ‘Duos III,’ ‘The Book of Chet’ (Sunnyside)
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Souza’s transparent clarity is always a pleasure, but when she pairs up with Brazilian guitarists — her usual partner, Romero Lubambo, plus singer-songwriter Toninho Horta and Marco Pereira — she’s dazzling. From the bubbly and buoyant — “Tim Tim Por Tim Tim,” “Dona Lu,” “Doralice” and “Eu Vim da Bahia” — to the pensive and romantic — “Dindi,” “Mágoas de Caboclo,” “Chora Coração” — Souza takes the listener for a joy ride. The guitars weave in and out like a dance partner as Souza sings in Portuguese (a lyric sheet would have been nice) or scats. “The Book of Chet” evokes a completely different world — the moody, after-hours longueur associated with singer-trumpeter Chet Baker’s ballads. Though Souza doesn’t have Baker’s irresistible vulnerability, she turns tunes like “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” “The Very Thought of You” and “Forgetful” into touching art songs. “Oh You Crazy Moon” is a heartbreaker. Minimalist electric guitar accompaniment by Larry Koonse is in a league with Barney Kessel’s famous backgrounds for Julie London.
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The Physics, ‘Tomorrow People’ (Self-Released)
Among the die-hard fans eagerly awaiting Seattle rap trio The Physics’ new album “Tomorrow People”: a teller at Bank of America in the Central District, who says she can’t stand how hip-hop these days is leaning so electronic and loves The Physics for their organic sound. That’s one way to view the crew and its extended family — an ace live band, producer Jake One and backup singers Malice and Mario Sweet — who together make the warmest hip-hop on the local scene. Full of sung hooks and easy-listening samples, “Tomorrow People” wafts, floats, coasts and never slams on the brakes. Rappers/brothers Thig Natural and Monk Wordsmith express regular-guy issues and South Seattle pride, finding unique flows to use and details to rap about. Aided by producer/scientist Justo, a master of the understated, they bring out the best in local guest rappers like Jarv Dee (“Drink With You”) and Grynch (“Feel So Cool”), who both fit snugly into the Physics’ style.
Andrew Matson, Special to The Seattle Times