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Back Cover

Gryphon Diablo 300

Merge MRG580
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Bob Mould knows the power of loud guitars. He also knows a lot about melody. His best records, including his first solo album, Workbook (1989), or his music with the band Sugar, combine brute force with a strong pop sensibility. The guitar riffs continue to follow you around after you’ve heard them, but he matches them to songs that are radio friendly, or would be in a more perfect world.

Alligator ALCD 4968
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Between 1927 and 1930, Blind Willie Johnson (1902-1947) recorded 30 sides for Columbia Records. In 1993, Columbia/Legacy reissued as The Complete Blind Willie Johnson, on two CDs. Sam Charters wrote the liner notes to the set, and he opens his lengthy essay by telling the reader that one of his most cherished possessions is “a charred bit of wood [that] is the bridge to Willie Johnson’s guitar.”

Blue Note Records B002427702
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has played in a number of unique lineups, including an early stint as music director for drummer Chico Hamilton’s group in 1960, which included the Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó. Szabó’s distinctive style employed single-note runs that showed a rock influence and he often used open strings to create a drone effect. Bill Frisell has mentioned him as an influence, and Frisell is one of the guitarists in the Marvels. Steel guitarist Greg Leisz is the other, and together with the rest of Lloyd’s new group they create haunting, often ethereal music that embraces blues and country while retaining the complexity of jazz.

Blue Note Records B002285602
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

A few weeks ago, my son directed me to a web link for a concert and suggested we buy tickets. I did not know much about pianist Robert Glasper, aside from the fact that he was one of the artists signed to Blue Note Records in recent years. I assumed he injected some hip-hop into his jazz -- he does -- and that he was trendy and not, ahem, real jazz.

Reprise 550219-2
Format: CD (2)

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

After making five albums for Geffen Records, Neil Young returned to Reprise Records in 1988, and the first product of that reunion was This Note’s for You. Young’s Geffen output -- such recordings as the strange electronica of Trans (1982), and the rockabilly-flavored Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983) -- had thrown label and fans for a loop. This Note’s for You was another unusual turn: a dozen blues and R&B tunes that put Young in front of a horn section. Critics didn’t fall over themselves with praise, but it got a warmer response than the records that had preceded it.

Blue Note/Music Matters MMBST-84195
Format: LP

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: *****

Pianist Herbie Hancock was just 24 when he recorded Maiden Voyage for Blue Note Records in 1965, and he had already appeared as the leader on four previous albums for the label. He had also appeared as a sideman on many other Blue Note recordings, as well as on LPs by musicians on other labels. But most jazz fans already knew him best as a member of Miles Davis’s second great quintet. Two other members of that quintet, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, appeared on Maiden Voyage.

Strikezone 8812
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Jazz guitarist Dave Stryker has led more than 25 sessions and played on many others, but Messin’ with Mister T shows what a master he’s become. I’ve heard a few of his albums over the years, in particular The Stryker/Slagle Band (2003), the first one he co-led with saxophonist Steve Slagle, and always thought him a solid player with a journeyman quality. After listening to Messin’ with Mister T, I think I need to go back to some of his other recordings.

Compass COM4653
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Waifs are a folk-rock band formed more than 20 years ago by Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson, sisters from Western Australia. They began as a duo, then, in 1996, and just before recording their eponymous debut album, asked guitarist Josh Cunningham to join them. Ever since, each of the three contributes songs to their recordings, including their newest, Beautiful You.

Charlie Hunter Music CHM006
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Charlie Hunter’s seven- and eight-string guitars are wired to generate separate signals for their bass and treble strings, which allows him to accentuate the bass lines as well as chords and single-note solos. That he can play those parts simultaneously is an indication of his dexterity and virtuosity, but he also does it in a way that is musically exciting and satisfying. He has chops enough to generate fireworks, but he is a song-driven player.

Blue Note Records B0022593-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Blue Note’s 75th-anniversary vinyl release series continues until the end of October, and one recent series of reissues included this 1965 Hank Mobley title comprising two sessions, one from March 7, 1963 and the other from February 5, 1965. Additional tracks from the earlier session had appeared in 1964, on No Room for Squares, and two others would show up on Straight No Filter, a vault-clearing 1986 release that included work from four different sessions.