Mik Davis is the record store manager at T-Bones Records & Cafe in Hattiesburg.
“Cuttin' Grass Vol. 2: The Cowboy Arms Sessions” [LP/CD]
(High Top Mountain/Thirty Tigers/The Orchard)
After the massive success of the first volume of "Cuttin' Grass," Sturgill saw fit to give more of his catalog the Bluegrass treatment. This second trip around the yard turns the songs from "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" into an even earthier more heartfelt trip. "Brace For Impact (Live a Little)" really connects. Also notable is that Sturgill's song "Hero," written for his grandfather who introduced him to Bluegrass, feels pure. A couple of Sunday morning standouts are "Jesus Boogie" and "Hobo Cartoon," which Sturgill co-wrote with the legendary Merle Haggard.
(Jazz Is Dead/Redeye)
There is a label in Los Angeles where generations of jazz musicians and aficionados are busily reconfiguring its legacy. Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge bring their talents and accomplishments to these recordings. Having previously recorded themselves (“JID 001”) and collaborated with Roy Ayers, Azymuth, Marcos Valle and Doug Carn (note: all are recommended), Jazz Is Dead generates some real heat in a facet of the industry that has been ignored for too long.
Like the London Jazz players, JID has quickly developed their own sound and scope. Saxophonist Gary Bartz has a body of work that stretches all the way back to the ‘60s. Fresh from Julliard, Bartz played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy. In 1970, he joined Miles Davis' legendary post-"Bitches Brew'' band ("Live-Evil") and began to make his own records.
Now in these eight songs with the JID ensemble, they manage to summarize the myriad of styles Bartz has played in his career. "Black and Brown'' and "Spiritual Ideation" revive that intersection of funk and jazz from the seventies, while "Day By Day" sounds like the Bartz of today. In the hands of Younge and Shaheed Muhammad, Jazz is Dead is truly keeping it alive.
FOR THOSE I LOVE
“For Those I Love”[LP]
(September IRL/The Orchard)
2021's experimental music is shaping up to be all about vaulting from claustrophobic confined sounds to a luminous technicolor palette that mimics all of us breaking out of our quarantine cubes to breathe in the outside world.
Ireland's David Balfe has a very interesting idea of bending sample-based skittering EDM to meet his Arab Strap-ian Irish brogue. "I Have A Love" feels a lot like time traveling, and Balfe manages to squeeze emotion out of his storytelling without ever really changing his voice. He creates a sinister soul song out of "Birthday/The Pain," with the chilling line "You need to grow cold to grow old;" while also incorporating hip-hop into "Top Scheme" to reach for some righteous anger. A fascinating debut.