Monday, December 17, 2007

The Run-Off Groove #184

Aloha, and welcome to the 184th edition of The Run-Off Groove. I am John Book, welcome.


As I'm compiling this week's column, I received word that one of the biggest legends of the record industry has died. The incredible Joel Dorn passed away today at the age of 65. Dorn was one of most celebrated record producers of the 1960's and 1970's, notable for the huge amount of work he did with Atlantic Records, be it Ray Charles, Roberta Flack, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, it's safe to say that during any time of the day, you will hear something on the radio that he produced. Even as Atlantic made more money with the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream, it didn't stop Dorn from releasing album after album, single after single that would eventually become classics. While one can measure the level of his success, it is still overwhelming to look at a list and go "he did all of that, didn't he?" For me, Atlantic Records was a label I pretty much grew up with, LP's and 45's with the Atlantic logo were plentiful in my household. As I grew older and began to look into music a bit more, Dorn was a name that kept popping up. To be able to be that close to the music, and not do it only for the money, but for the music, it was admirable. His last record label was Hyena, who released some great music from Mushroom, Skerik, John Ellis, Lafayette Gilchrist, all of which I've reviewed in this column. He was someone I looked up to because he was the kind of guy who had the occupation I always wanted, at a time when it was possible to have those kind of jobs in the recording industry. Look at some of your soul, funk, and jazz albums on Atlantic between 1967-1974, and there's a good chance he had something to do with it. Get it, place it on the turntable or put it in the CD player, and just listen, in honor of Mr. Dorn. r.i.p.

  • There will be no music reviews this week, but they are being compiled for next week. Or if I'm lucky, by the end of this week, we'll see. Just around the corner, I will have reviews of new music by Malicious (I've played his album a number of times, and I look forward to sharing my views of it with you), Joe Dub, Witchdoctor, Land Of A Thousand Rappers, Sean P, Ashia, The Grizzly Owls, The Terrordactyls, Equal Time, Phillip Bimstein, Chris Humphrey, Melani L. Skybell, TheThe David Joel Quartet, Nomar Slevik, Piers Lawrence Quartet, Dorothy Doring, Brian Grosz, Oh Astro, Hendrik Meurkens, Tom Dempsey & Tim Ferguson, Annea Lockwood, Al Margolis/If, Bwana, and who knows what else lurks beyond the horizon. Keep in mind that I'm the only one doing these reviews, no staff, no committee. But these CD's are in, so fear not, I may have to create another jam packed column.

  • The thing about the end of the year is that every writer, critic, journalist, singer, and musician is expected to come up with a Best Of list. It has been a tradition of mine, and as each year passes, more music comes out and it becomes more difficult to pick THE best. I'm not afraid to admit that I have not listened to every single album that has been released in 2007, but I have no desire to hear Celine Dion or Wheat Cracker Palace, Broom Stick Hildafarsh or whatever. Would I listen to Miss Dion's music, sure, but I am certain that I would not make hers a personal favorite. There was a lot of jazz this year, and I only got a chance to hear maybe... 3 percent of everything? Lots of hip-hop, but I haven't even heard the new Ghostface Killah, Wu-Tang Clan or the new Lupe Fiasco that comes out this week, so you might be asking, why should I even think you're qualified to come up with a "Best Of" list when you haven't even heard my personal best? For one, listening to music is not an Olympic sport. It's music.

  • What I can tell you is that 2007 was an incredible year for music across the board, or at least recorded music. The music industry seemed to fall apart like flakes, but it didn't stop people from creating and getting their sounds out to the world. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite albums this year:

    afra behn-The Vibe Machine (Vibemachine Unlimited)
    Boy In Static-Violet (Mush)
    Michael Brecker-Pilgrimage (Telarc)
    Brother Reade-Rap Music (Record Collection)
    Canon-Wide Awake (self-released)
    Capgun Coup-Brought To You By Nebraskafish (Team Love)
    Tia Carrere-Hawaiiana (Daniel Ho Productions)
    Trevor Childs-Terrified (Mad Chatter/Citrus To Citrus)
    Common-Finding Forever (Geffen)
    Ben Dobay Sextet-Peace (self-released)
    D.O.N.-The Basics (self-released)
    Down To The Bone-Supercharged (Narada Jazz/EMI)
    Dumhi-3 Steps To Heaven (self-released)
    Evil-Call Me Evil (Camobear)
    Joe Frieden-Cup O' Joe (NAS Music)
    Gillian Grassie-Serpentine (Harp Power)
    The Randall Harrison Trio-s/t (Stringfling)
    Rebecca Haviland-Three Thousand Miles (self-released)
    The Hi-Fly Orchestra-Samboogaloo (Ajabu)
    Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings-100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone)
    Ryan Lee-s/t (self-released)
    Madlib-Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4 In India (Stones Throw)
    Scott Marshall Quartet-Nine Moments Of Time (self-released)
    Minlus McCracken-Rock And A Hard Place (self-released)
    Cameron Mizell-Life Is Loud (self-released)
    Moka Only-The Station Agent (Camobear)
    Neurosis-Given To The Rising (Neurot)
    Nomasterbacks-At Your Door CommonGround)
    The OaKs-Our Fathers And The Things They Left Behind (S/R)
    Omni-Batterie (natAural High)
    Pandatone-Happy Together (Music Related)
    The Phantom Family Halo-The Legend Of Black Six (Cold Sweat)
    The Physics-Future Talk (self-released)
    Enrico Pieranunzi-Live In Japan (CamJazz)
    Pilioha-s/t (Pilioha)
    Retina.It-Semeion (Hefty!)
    The Rondo Brothers-Seven Minutes To Midnight (War Chant/Citrus To Citrus)
    65daysofstatic-The Destruction Of Small Ideas (Monotreme)
    Anoushka Shankar/Karsh Kale-Breathing Under Water (Manhattan/EMI)
    Signifire-The 147th Best MC You've Never Heard Of... (Inklings Massive)
    SoCalled-Ghettoblaster (Jdub)
    SPP Waxworks (DC)-Have A Nice Day (SPP Waxworks)
    Bonnie Ste-Croix-Here I Am (self-released)
    Serj Tankian-Elect The Dead (Serjical Strike)
    Tiger! Tiger!-The Kind Of Goodnight (Chicken Ranch)
    Charles Tolliver Big Band-With Love (Mosaic/Blue Note)
    Tomchess & The Lovedogs-In The Beautiful Future (Foot Jumbo)
    Phil Ware Trio-In Our Own Time (Living Room Project)
    Kanye West-Graduation (Def Jam)
    The White Stripes-Icky Thump (Warner Bros.)
    Wilco-Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
    Wooden Wand-James & The Quiet (Ecstatic Peace!)
    Neil Young-Chrome Dreams II (Reprise)


    I'm still adding to the list, but the above albums are those I had taken exception to. I do not like leaving anyone out, but the moment the album ended, I had a feeling it would be something I would not only listen to in five to ten years, but an album I hope people will rediscover in that same amount of time and find it to be incredible, maybe more than how I hear it. I tried hard to not include compilations or "previously unreleased" work, because I eat them up like crazy.

  • Even with the albums I felt were "exceptions", there were others that I felt surpassed anything and (almost) everything else. I found myself at times being slightly bored with the routines of hip-hop, or maybe that should read "bored with hip-hop artists doing the same mundane shit over and over". Because of this, I found myself doing more exploring, without limitations. Rock rarely got adventurous, and you had to dig deeper to find anything that had to do with taking risks. Or simply put, when I put these albums on, I knew they would be on the top of my list. As the year went on, I kept on piling more and more music on the top, and it got to a point where I knew I could not pick just one personal favorite. The following is a partial list of what I feel were the Best Of 2007:

    Christine Bougie-Hammy's Secret Life (self-released)
    Bjork-Volta (Atlantic)
    Black Moth Super Rainbow-Dandelion Gum (Graveface)
    Breathe Owl Breathe-Canadian Shield (Earthwork Music)
    Charmaine Clamor-Flippin' Out (FreeHam)
    Harry Connick, Jr.-Oh My NOLA (Columbia)
    Decomposure-Verticle Lines A (Blank Squirrel)
    Deerhoof-Friend Opportunity (Kill Rock Stars)
    Brandi Disterheft-Debut (Superfran)
    DJ 2Tall featuring Dudley Perkins & Georgia Ann Muldrow-Beautiful Mindz (Eclectic Breaks/Amalgam Digital)
    Educated Consumers-Write/Hear (self-released)
    Elfamail-Dead Hookers (Lab-Oratory)
    Feist-The Reminder (Interscope)
    Robert Glasper-In My Element (Blue Note)
    Herbie Hancock-River: The Joni Letters (Verve)
    Greg Harris Vibe Quintet-Frames Live (Greg Harris Music)
    Jerseyband-Lung Punch Fantasy (self-released)
    Weldon Kekauoha-Ka Lehua 'Ula ('Ohelo)
    Carla Kilhstedt and Satoko Fujii-Minamo (Henceforth)
    Little Brother-Getback (ABB)
    Mitch Marcus Quintet-The Special (Jazzcubed)
    Mochipet-Girls Love Breakcore (Daly City)
    The Necks-Townsville (Phantom Sound & Vision)
    Matt Rogalsky-Memory Like Water (XI)
    RF & Lili De La Mora-Eleven Continents (Rowing At Sea/Time Release)
    The Sea-The Boats Are In The Sky (ML)
    Eldridge Skell's The Rude Staircase-Sookie Jump (What Delicate)
    Sleepytime Gorilla Museum-In Glorious Times (The End)
    Sole And The Skyrider Band-s/t (Anticon)
    The Strato Ensemble-Drawn Straws (Fateless)
    Martin T├ętreault/Kid Koala-Phon-O-Victo (Squidco)
    Tin Hat-Sad Machinery Of Spring (Hannibal)


    Look at the list, and it's a diverse range of sounds, from off the wall hip-hop to off the joint soul; from jazz that honored the spirit of New Orleans to Hawaiian music that honors the culture and people who create it; from adventurous pop to music with classical touches; from twisted electronica with beats moving at 220bpm, to avant-garde noise with drones that seem to go on forever. Hearing RF & Lili De La Mora was like being awake in a dream state and not wanting to wake up, while Mochipet seemed to take the boundaries of electronic music and kick it in the nuts. Robert Glasper shows you can hold true to the traditions of jazz while looking into the future for inspiration. He also wasn't afraid to let people know that he was a huge Dilla fan too. Then you have Charmaine Clamor, who proved that jazz is part of a universal language that can incorporate elements from other cultures, making it possible to speak out in a way that no other genre can do so well. Then get into Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and find out how you can make music that sounds like someone poking your eyes with pins, and still make it groove and funky with a violinist who can make sounds ranging from a delicat cry to a disgusting shriek.

    If anyone asks you why there weren't any good music in 2007, print this list out and tell them to start buying some CD's.

  • That's it for The Run-Off Groove #184. Next time around, reviews, reviews, and more reviews. The music is piling high but I don't want it to get too high, so come back and we'll start things up once again.ce again.
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