CORB LUND

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

IT’S been a long three years be­tween al­bums for Al­berta’s mul­ti­ple award win­ning (Juno, CFMA, CCMAs, WCMAs) Corb Lund. I’ll tell you right up front that stu­dio disc num­ber seven was well worth the wait. Cabin Fever shows off Lund’s diver­sity. He flashes his top­i­cal­ity with tunes about post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sur­vival­ists, gravedig­gers, tour­ing mu­si­cians ( Bi­ble on the Dash with Hayes Carll), drinkers, Goth girls, cowboys and ranch­ers. Of course there are love songs to both the fairer sex ( Septem­ber) and his vin­tage BMW mo­tor­cy­cle ( Mein Deutsches Mo­tor­rad)! Son­i­cally he de­liv­ers rockin’ edgy coun­try blues, coun­try swing (ala Asleep at the Wheel), tra­di­tional Wilf Carter style C&W, rock­a­billy and a Way­lonesque stom­per in Pour ‘em Kinda Strong.

Corb Lund con­tin­ues to grow as an artist. Not there is much faultt to be found with his pre­vi­ous out­put but his writ­ing and singing is bet­ter than ever. Cabin Fever is Corb Lund at his very best. TORONTO’S wild Dearly Beloved takes no pris­on­ers on their lat­est 11-track al­bum, the strange and won­der­ful Hawk VS Pi­geon. Of course, the pi­geon would lose, but this brave combo beats down in­die­rock con­ven­tion just enough to bring blood to the sur­face of the skin.

Take for ex­am­ple Aimed Right At Me’s over­driven howl and the demons and money lit­ter­ing the lyrics of Liv­ing Proof. In­formed by the un­der­ly­ing vibe of a stu­dio called Ran­cho de la Luna, the trio (and friends) cre­ated a finer brand of pro­gres­sive out­sider fire. Sonic Youth devo­tees can look no fur­ther than the boil­ing mid-tempo throb of Lizard Fight for gut level sat­is­fac­tion. In­deed, the short sharp shock of To Bet­ter Days is im­pact­ful, and it’s neck snap­ping ac­cel­er­a­tion will have the punks and pun­kettes spit­ting sloppy su­perla­tives. She is a stun­bass show­case, rem­i­nis­cent of J.J. Bur­nel’s death-de­fy­ing sonic depth charges with first gen­er­a­tion English art punks The Stran­glers. If it sounds like a dirty night­time party of fed back gui­tars and ban­shee howls and purrs cour­tesy of singer Niva Chow then that would be cor­rect. Be­ware of the hawk. shared among the main cast, which in­cludes Whitney Hous­ton, Jordin Sparks and Cee Lo Green. Hous­ton has be­come the fo­cus of the film and sound­track since she died ear­lier this year. Her songs here should have served as a high note for the icon, but un­for­tu­nately her swan songs — His Eye Is on the Sparrow and Cel­e­brate with Sparks — fal­ter as the singer strug­gles to find her once sparkling, soar­ing voice.

Four May­field-helmed orig­i­nals make the 11-track al­bum ( Jump, Hooked on Your Love, Some­thing He Can Feel and Look Into Your Heart), while R. Kelly gets in on the ac­tion by writ­ing and pro­duc­ing a few funky, but too-mod­ern sound­ing con­tri­bu­tions ( Love Will, Jump and Cel­e­brate). May­field’s com­po­si­tions stand the test of time as the most vi­brant and nu­anced: Kelly doesn’t de­liver, and at times his con­tri­bu­tions sound cheesy.

While the record is ad­e­quate enough in re­pro­duc­ing the sound and cheer­ful naivete of 1960s, the pe­riod in which the film is set, it ul­ti­mately fails to linger in one’s heart, mind or feet past its last note. DON’T let the un­der­stated ti­tle of the new Bran­ford Marsalis Quar­tet al­bum mis­lead you into think­ing this is some loosely ar­ranged jam ses­sion. Sax­o­phon­ist Marsalis leads one of the most co­he­sive, in­tense small jazz en­sem­bles on the scene to­day. The group’s three long-stand­ing mem­bers — Marsalis, pi­anist Joey Calder­azzo and bassist Eric Re­vis — each con­trib­ute orig­i­nal tunes to Four MFs Playin’ Tunes and there are cov­ers of Th­elo­nious Monk’s Teo and the 1930s bal­lad My Ideal.

The CD be­gins with two tunes show­cas­ing Marsalis’ prow­ess on so­prano sax — Calder­azzo’s play­ful, en­er­getic The Mighty Sword, with a catchy ca­lypso-like theme rem­i­nis­cent of Sonny Rollins, and Re­vis’ bluesy Monk-in­flu­enced Brews, where Marsalis turns in a blaz- ing solo. It closes with Marsalis turn­ing down the heat on the ro­man­tic stan­dard My Ideal with a touch­ing, ten­der tenor sax solo and on the bonus track Treat It Gen­tle, an orig­i­nal old­style Marsalis bal­lad that pays homage to his New Orleans roots.

This al­bum shows that Marsalis’ quar­tet hasn’t skipped a beat with the change in the drum­mer’s chair, ef­fort­lessly play­ing of­ten com­plex orig­i­nal tunes that are thor­oughly mod­ern while ref­er­enc­ing past jazz masters. GAR­DINER sets up some pretty strong ex­pec­ta­tions, look­ing at the cover of a tightrope walker in full chal­lenge fol­lowed by Gar­diner pro­claim­ing Bach’s Six Motets as the most per­fect, the most hyp­notic of all his works, bar none, and among the most chal­leng­ing to sing.

Here though, Gar­diner with all his splen­did record­ings and ca­reer in­tegrity casts a fresh light on such well-earned hy­per­bole. This is not only a daz­zling dis­play of choral singing but a deeply invit­ing win­dow into a pro­found and end­lessly in­spir­ing lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The choir is spell­bind­ing in its pre­ci­sion and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, the de­pic­tions of in­stru­ments in BWV225 one ex­am­ple among many. Gar­diner spot­lights, un­der­scores and colours fear­lessly, his as­ton­ish­ing choir on hair-trig­ger alert with un­fail­ing re­sponse to Bach’s fre­quent stance of joy­ful re­lease in death plus many mo­ments of re­sponse in faith and prayer that find ex­actly the right emo­tional set­tings. One is in awe of Bach’s air­tight mu­si­cal ar­gu­ments throughout. Very likely the choral al­bum of the year.

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