Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

and My Fly­ing Saucer. The pre­vi­ously un­re­leased Vol. III fea­tures 17 tracks that didn’t make the first two sets and is a hodge­podge of hit-and-miss ma­te­rial high­lighted by Bragg’s con­tri­bu­tions, JACK White has been in­volved in nu­mer­ous mu­si­cal projects over the years, serv­ing as front­man for the White Stripes, co-leader of the Racon­teurs and step­ping to the back­ground as drum­mer in the Dead Weather, but he’s fi­nally de­cided to re­lease a solo al­bum, and the re­sult is a show­case of ev­ery­thing that makes him tick. White Stripes fans ex­pect­ing an up­date of that duo’s stripped­down blues rock will be dis­ap­pointed: this is White’s stylis­tic trip through his mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tions with the main in­stru­ment of choice usu­ally the pi­ano. He hasn’t com­pletely aban­doned his love of good old gui­tar rock, though, as the heavy blast of Six­teen Saltines, the out-of-left field solo on the dra­matic Weep Them­selves to Sleep and the fuzzed-out cover of Lit­tle Wil­lie John’s I’m Shakin’ proves, but for the most part White’s elec­tric gui­tar is just an­other in a sea of in­stru­men­ta­tion that in­cludes elec­tric pi­ano, fid­dle, stand-up bass, pedal steel, acous­tic gui­tar and man­dolin over the course of 13 tracks that touch on R&B, soul, Amer­i­cana and clas­sic rock ’n’ roll.

White’s lyri­cal fo­cus is women, re­la­tion­ships and an un­named en­emy. His re­cent di­vorce ev­i­dently weighs heav­ily on his mind, although he has been deny­ing this in in­ter­views and his ex-wife, Karen El­son, is listed as a backup vo­cal­ist on three songs. The girl on the funky Free­dom 21 is de­scribed as hav­ing “no re­spon­si­bil­ity, no guilt, no morals,” but that won’t stop him from look­ing for love as he ad­mits later on the smoul­der­ing Love In­ter­rup­tion to want­ing to the kind of love that would, “mur­der my own mother and take her off to some­where like hell or up above.” And yes, that is a clar­inet you hear in the back­ground as White har­mo­nizes with vo­cal­ist Ruby Amanfu.

It’s not flaw­less — some tracks coast on style over sub­stance and mood over melody — but it never fails to be in­ter­est­ing and is some­thing White can feel good about putting his name on.

Still, by the time the band gets to the dron­ing, psychedelia of Don’t Shoot She Cried, which rings in at nearly six joy­less min­utes, it be­comes clear that, for all their am­bi­tion, some ideas work bet­ter than oth­ers. ½ MON­TREAL sax­o­phon­ist Joel Miller com­posed 10 of the 11 tracks on this en­er­getic, en­gag­ing out­ing fea­tur­ing a crack rhythm sec­tion of pi­anist Ge­of­frey Keezer, bas­sist Fraser Hollins and drum­mer Greg Ritchie that helps the tenor player stretch out of his com­fort zone.

Af­ter­noon Off is just what it sug­gests, an easy romp, while Step Into My Of­fice ramps it for a fast thrill ride. Miller is a solid player with no af­fec­ta­tions, and a keen ear for side­men. of bass on Step Up, North­ern Fac­tion 5 is a snap­shot at where the la­bel is at in 2012 and where it is head­ing. See for your­self tonight when the la­bel hosts its 11-year an­niver­sary at Pop Soda’s. ½ THOUGH ti­tled Sym­phony, this 40-minute four-move­ment work is ac­tu­ally Ravi Shankar’s third sitar con­certo. In many ways it’s the best of them, or at least, the most co­her­ent in the way East In­dian tang co-min­gles with Western ideas of struc­ture and de­vel­op­ment. At the cen­tre are the in­nately beau­ti­ful sounds of the sitar, whose as­so­ci­ated ra­gas were made fa­mous over many decades through Shankar’s own charis­matic play­ing and Western ex­po­sure (Ge­orge Har­ri­son, among oth­ers, was a fan). His daugh­ter Anoushka is also a vir­tu­oso sitarist as ev­i­denced in this live record­ing of the work’s pre­miere in July 2010 hon­our­ing her fa­ther’s 90th birth­day.

The mu­sic is more am­bi­ent than se­quen­tial. Its har­monic lan­guage is un­event­ful, with a nar­ra­tive formed mostly around rep­e­ti­tion of scales and short mo­tives. Still, Sym­phony is an en­ter­tain­ing lis­ten, with plenty for the soloist to do and some brave writ­ing for the or­ches­tra. The au­di­ence re­ally erupts at the end, sug­gest­ing a strong vis­ual ad­di­tion to the ex­pe­ri­ence. ½

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