Monday, November 19, 2012

Cannonball Adderley: "The Very Best Of Cannonball Adderley" (2012) CD Review

The Very Best Of Cannonball Adderley contains more than an hour of excellent music by the talented alto saxophone player. This collection features material from 1958 to 1975, though focusing on the years 1958 to 1963, when he was on the Riverside label. The final two tracks, the ones from the 1970s, are from when he was recorded on Fantasy. The songs are presented mostly in chronological order, and include a nice long live version of "This Here" and a big band track, "Something Different." There is an amazing amount of energy on this disc, and Adderley is joined by some seriously accomplished musicians, such as Philly Joe Jones, Percy Heath, Art Blakey, Bobby Timmons, Sam Jones, Airto Moreira and of course his brother, Nat Adderley.

"A Little Taste"

This collection opens with "A Little Taste," an original composition from Portrait Of Cannonball (1958). This has a bright, full sound from the start, and gets looser when the band gets into the song, helped in part by Philly Joe Jones' drumming and some excellent work on bass by Sam Jones. Cannonball's lead has a wonderful energy, and is full of delightful surprises. It's joyous. Blue Mitchell's lead on trumpet also has great joy, and that leads to Bill Evans taking control on piano, though only briefly.

"Things Are Getting Better"

"Things Are Getting Better," the title track from a 1958 release, was co-written by Cannonball Adderley and D. Veronica Langdon. This is a light, somewhat silly song that just makes you feel good. It has an easy way about it, though Cannonball's lead reminds me of early rock and roll at times. I really like the play between bass and piano during Percy Heath's lead section. This track also features Milt Jackson on vibes.

"This Here"

"This Here" has such a great groove. It was written by Bobby Timmons, who plays piano on this track, and who really helps with that catchy rhythm and groove. I completely love his lead on piano, which flows perfectly from the main section of the song, not sounding like a break, as solos sometimes do. And Cannonball is absolutely fantastic, his horn dancing and singing. And his younger brother Nat really lets it rip on cornet. This is an excellent song, and is probably my favorite track from this collection. It's a live track from The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco (from 1959).

"Know What I Mean?"

"Know What I Mean?" is a Bill Evans composition from the album of the same name, which was re-issued last year as part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series (that re-issue features a second version of this song in the bonus tracks). This song begins with Bill Evans on piano, then eases in with a slow tempo. This is such an interesting song, as it takes a surprising turn a couple of minutes in, led by Percy Heath on bass and Connie Kay on drums.

"Work Song"

"Work Song" is a live track recorded in Tokyo in 1963, with a spoken intro by Cannonball Adderley. This is a composition by Nat Adderley, and it's is a fantastic track, with a tremendous amount of energy. The band - Cannonball Adderley Sextet - really cooks on this one.  This track was originally released on Nippon Soul.

"Jive Samba"

The Very Best Of Cannonball Adderley concludes with two tracks from the 1970s. The first is "Jive Samba," written by Nat Adderley, and featuring Airto Moreira on percussion.  This track was originally included on Phenix.

The second is "Inside Straight," a tune co-written by both Adderley brothers. This is a seriously funky jazz tune, with a somewhat heavy, yet totally fun vibe. It gets ridiculous at a certain point - you'll know it when you hear it, and you'll probably love it like I do.  This song is the title track from the 1973 album.

CD Track List
  1. A Little Taste
  2. Things Are Getting Better
  3. This Here
  4. Know What I Mean?
  5. Something Different
  6. Winetone
  7. Dizzy's Business
  8. Work Song
  9. Jive Samba
  10. Inside Straight
The Very Best Of Cannonball Adderley was released on August 7, 2012 through Concord Music Group. Also released on that date were Dave Brubeck: The Very Best Of: The Fantasy Era 1949 - 1953, The Bill Evans Trio: The Very Best Of, Vince Guaraldi: The Very Best Of, and Thelonious Monk: The Very Best Of.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thelonious Monk: "The Very Best Of" (2012) CD Review

The Very Best Of Thelonious Monk is a new collection of recordings from Monk's years on Prestige and Riverside Records, from 1954 to 1958. (He actually released albums on Riverside into 1961, but this collection only goes as far as 1958.) This collection features mostly original compositions. There are only two covers: "Sophisticated Lady" and "Honeysuckle Rose."  Besides Monk himself, these tracks feature several other incredible musicians, such as John Coltrane, Percy Heath, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and Max Roach.

"Blue Monk"

"Blue Monk" is one of his Thelonious Monk's most famous compositions, this one coming from Thelonious Monk Trio (a 1954 record on Prestige). This is the first recording of this song. A solo piano version would appear on Thelonious Alone In San Francisco several years later. And of course the piano drives the song in this version too, with some great, playful moments. But this version also has Percy Heath on bass and Art Blakey on drums, keeping a good groove for Monk to play over and with. And toward the end, Percy Heath has a cool lead section, which then takes us into an unusual drum solo by Art Blakey, which I totally dig.

"Bemsha Swing"

"Bemsha Swing" is an interesting tune co-written by Thelonious Monk and Denzil Best. It features an odd beginning with brilliant bursts on horn by Clark Terry on trumpet and Sonny Rollins on tenor sax, with Thelonious Monk then recreating those on piano, in a softer way. And he soon is going off into other related territory. I'm seriously crazy about Max Roach's work on drums and timpani here (and yes, he has a solo). This track originally appeared on Brilliant Corners, though Monk had recorded an earlier version with Miles Davis in 1954 (which was released on Miles Davis And The Modern Jazz Giants).

"Honeysuckle Rose"

"Honeysuckle Rose" is one of this collection's two covers, this one written by Andy Razaf and Thomas Waller. This is a fun, sprightly tune (particularly due to Monk's playing, as he delivers some delicious and surprising stuff). This song features a lead on bass by Oscar Pettiford, and a drum solo by Art Blakey. The moment when Monk comes back directly from Blakey's solo is fantastic. This track is from The Unique Thelonious Monk (1956).

"Ruby, My Dear"

"Ruby, My Dear" begins with some beautiful, sweet work by Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophone. It isn't until four minutes in that Monk takes his lead, and then only briefly. His playing is soft and sweet, different from most of his work.

"Ruby, My Dear" is from Monk's Music, the only album to be represented by more than one track in this collection. The other tune from that record is "Well, You Needn't." But Monk actually composed and recorded both tunes much earlier in his career. "Well, You Needn't" features both John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophones.


"Nutty" is the opening track from the live album Misterioso, which was re-issued earlier this year as part of Concord Music Group's Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. This was recorded at the Five Spot Cafe in New York City in August of 1958, and features some wild, spirited playing by Johnny Griffin on tenor sax.

"'Round Midnight"

This collection concludes with a solo version of Thelonious Monk's most famous composition, "'Round Midnight," taken from Thelonious Himself (1957), his first solo record for Riverside (the second was Alone In San Francisco).  This song has such a great understated force to it, obvious in this solo rendition. (By the way, a version of this song appears as a bonus track on the re-issue of Misterioso.)

CD Track List
  1. Blue Monk
  2. Hackensack
  3. Sophisticated Lady
  4. Bemsha Swing
  5. Honeysuckle Rose
  6. Ruby, My Dear
  7. Well, You Needn't
  8. Trinkle, Tinkle
  9. Nutty
  10. 'Round Midnight
The Very Best Of Thelonious Monk was released on August 7, 2012 through Concord Music Group. Also released on that date were Cannonball Adderly: The Very Best Of,  The Bill Evans Trio: The Very Best Of, Vince Guaraldi: The Very Best Of and Dave Brubeck: The Very Best Of: The Fantasy Era 1949 - 1953.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Carrie Newcomer: "Kindred Spirits: A Collection" (2012) CD Review

Carrie Newcomer is a singer and songwriter I was first turned onto back in the early 1990s when I was getting heavily into folk. Then in the mid-1990s, I co-hosted a folk radio show in Oregon, and we played Newcomer fairly regularly. Now her new CD, Kindred Spirits: A Collection, provides a good opportunity to revisit her music. And for those who haven't heard her, this is certainly a good place to start. This collection of her work features material from throughout her catalogue, and also includes two new songs and two live tracks.

There is something soothing in her music, something that speaks to us on a level I hesitate to call "spiritual" because of the negative connotations the word has for many of us. But what her music taps into, or creates, is a feeling of connection among people, and between us and the rest of the world.  The feeling that we're not isolated, wrapped in our own troubles, alone. Carrie's voice often seems to be saying, "It's okay, you're not alone." (She says it directly in "Angels Unaware": "No one's ever so alone/You can take the world down off your shoulders.")  Not just her voice, but the rhythms and all the instruments seem to be conveying that simple, but needed message.

"The Speed Of Soul"

Kindred Spirits opens with "The Speed Of Soul," one of the two new tracks featured in this collection. It's a gorgeous song about how the fast pace of our society is outside our natural rhythms, and how doing so much can separate us from what it is we've accomplished. There is always something soothing in a song that has lines like, "Come back, come home"

"Breathe In Breathe Out"

In "Breathe In Breathe Out," Carrie delivers a simple message that I often need to remind myself: "Breathe in, breathe out, let it go." But it is the music of this song that really moves me. This song features an incredible performance by Amjad Ali Khan on sarod. There is also some nice percussion by Jim Brock. Carrie sings, "What is done is done/Let it go/What is real is real/What we feel we feel/Then let it go."  It's certainly not always easy to do that. This is one of my favorite tracks; it originally appeared on her 2011 album, Everything Is Everywhere.

"The Gathering Of Spirits"

"The Gathering Of Spirits" has a happier feel, and features Alison Kraus on harmonies. Here is a taste of the lyrics "Let it go, my love my truest/Let it sail on silver wings/Life's a twinkling that's for certain/But it's such a fine thing/There's a gathering of spirits/There's a festival of friends/And we'll take up where we left off/When we all meet again."  Nice, eh? This song also boasts some good work on piano by Winton Reynolds. This song is the title track to her 2002 CD.


"Sparrow" is one of the live tracks, and is a nice rendition featuring just Carrie on vocals and guitar, and Dan Lodge-Rigal on piano. There is an intimate feel to this, with Carrie almost whispering at moments. "Lay your head on my heart/And we'll leave it that way." Though it's a live recording, the applause is cut from the end, which I appreciate, as loud applause is often jarring on an album that's not live throughout.

"Before And After"

Mary Chapin Carpenter provides harmony vocals on "Before And After," and she and Carrie sound phenomenal together. They sing, "We live our lives from then until now/By the mercies received/And the marks upon our brow."  I also really dig the strings. This is a truly wonderful song, and is the title track to Carrie's 2010 release.

"If Not Now"

"If Not Now" (also originally from Before & After) is a really good folk song, one of my favorites from this collection. This is one of those songs that feels like a friend, there to lean on. "We may never see this moment/Or place in time again/If not now, if not now, tell me when." This track features good use of backing vocals, echoing Carrie on "I may never see the promised land," and then later on "If not now, tell me when." And of course I love the strings. 

"A Whole Lot Of Hope"

"A Whole Lot Of Hope" is an early song from Visions And Dreams. This is a song I've always liked, a truly pretty and sweet song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Sometimes you just follow your heart/Don't analyze too long/Or maybe it might just be gone/And you've got a whole lot of hope/You've been keeping in your pocket safe from harm/A whole lot of dreams/You've keeping in your pocket safe from harm." I really like her vocals on this song. For this track she is joined by Michael Lewis on guitar and keyboard.

"A Long Christmas Dinner"

"A Long Christmas Dinner" is the second of the new songs. This one tells the story of a large family gathering yearly for the holidays, and the changes the family has gone through.  Despite the changes over the years, Carrie sings, "But it feels like it's been one long Christmas dinner/One unending prayer, one unbroken line." Krista Detor and David Weber provide backing vocals on this song. Plus, it has a Beatles reference.

"Bare To The Bone"

This collection concludes with "Bare To The Bone," which is the other live tune, and features Carrie accompanied only by Robert Meitus on guitar. (This track does have the audience applause at the end.)

CD Track List
  1. The Speed of Soul
  2. I Believe
  3. Breathe In Breathe Out
  4. There Is A Tree
  5. Geodes
  6. The Gathering Of Spirits
  7. Sparrow
  8. I Do Not Know Its Name
  9. Before And After
  10. Betty's Diner - Remix
  11. Where You Been
  12. Angels Unaware
  13. Two Toasts
  14. Holy As A Day Is Spent
  15. If Not Now
  16. My True Name
  17. A Whole Lot Of Hope
  18. A Long Christmas Dinner
  19. Bare To The Bone
Kindred Spirits: A Collection was released on November 13, 2012 on Rounder Records.

Antioquia: "Viajero" (2012) CD Review

Antioquia isn't going to gently woo you with their new CD, Viajero. This band is going to push you up against a tree and have its way with you. Then once you've been subdued, oddly, they do begin to woo you. Though by then you've already fallen for them, while they were ravishing you. Interestingly, this wasn't the impression they left me with when I saw them in concert several years ago. This CD surprised me. What I do remember is dancing and dancing, and yes, there are plenty of great rhythms on this album to get your feet moving (check out tracks 5 and 8 in particular). There is something unusual about the way this band approaches a song. Fans of Frank Zappa will likely dig what these guys are doing.  There is also something of B-52s element here. That being said, this band is truly its own entity, and is not trying to emulate anyone else. Not everyone is going to like this, but those who do are going to REALLY like it.  You know?


After an incredibly short (and totally unnecessary) introduction about a train approaching, the album kicks right in with "Idaho," with starts with several strong jabs - there is no easing in here - a heavy beginning, jumping right on top of you. This is not a pretty song. It's a song whose repetitive rhythm will take over, get control of you, toss you around a bit before the delightful and slightly goofy repetition of "Idaho." Things get a bit stranger, and by then you're completely immersed, so just go with it. And when they sing, "You're all crazy, just like me," you can't really argue. Toward the end there is some wild guitar and the repeated line, "Take me to Idaho" (a sentence I've never heard anyone say before).


"Sister" begins forcefully, with a great, aggressive dance beat and some kick-ass female vocals. Those then give way to odd quasi-theatrical delivery on the lines, "Take my sister by the hand, my sister by the hand/Show my sister love." But only briefly, then a drum roll leads back to an excellent, angry delivery on "You want the baby born but not supported/You want them for war just not aborted/A woman's womb is not a factory/And the children aren't your worker bees." I really dig the work by Craig Miller on drums.

"Who That Be?"

"Who That Be?" begins with some seriously cool percussion. This is a tribe led by a queen. Oh yes, I am loving these drums, and this is something I definitely remember from them when I saw them perform - great rhythms like this. But at two minutes, this track is too short.


"Mountains" is another strange song, with an unusual beat and some spoken word silliness as the vocalists play characters ("Good evening, Madam," "I love these special events").  This song ventures into a wonderful madness that makes me think this band should make a film and hand out acid to folks on their way into the movie theater (doors open forty-five minutes before showtime - only experienced trippers, please). All of that then gives way to a seriously catchy groove around four minutes in, and it will have you dancing. If that's not enough for you, there is then a good bit of funky rap: "I'm at a desk all day in analysis/My left side's developed paralysis/My brain must be covered in calluses/'Cause I didn't grow up in no palaces."  And the answer to it all is to go back to the mountains.

"No Sleep Til Oakland"

More great percussion begins "No Sleep Til Oakland," with some spoken word over it, like a radio broadcast ("But I do know that art, in my own case the art of poetry, means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds us hostage"), before the song kicks in. And when it kicks in, the wonderful percussion doesn't cease, and actually becomes even more prominent later in the song, near the end.

"There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet"

"There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet" is a cool tune with a reggae beat during the verses. This is really fun song, and features some nice work on sax. The countdown/takeoff chaos at the end throws the song off course, veering from the good groove it established. But other than that, it's really good.


This album features three instrumental tracks, all of which are relatively short.  The first, "Attack of The Killer Balafon," is a strange, almost timid-sounding tune, like stepping tentatively into a dark land. "Dibon" and "Kassa-Nisoro" are short percussion instrumentals featuring traditional rhythms.

"Back To The Mountains"

Viajero concludes with "Back To The Mountains," an odd track which starts with the band fucking around, and then performing a cappella the end of "Mountains," but riffing on that theme in a way that's quite a bit different from the earlier track.

CD Track List
  1. Now Approaching
  2. Idaho
  3. Attack Of The Killer Balafon
  4. Sister
  5. Who That Be?
  6. Steamship Enterprise
  7. Mountains
  8. No Sleep Til Oakland
  9. Rage Of Love
  10. Dibon
  11. Donde Quiere
  12. There's A Man Jumping Off The Planet
  13. Kassa-Nisoro
  14. Back To The Mountains

Antioquia is Rachel Antony-Levine on vocals, keyboard and shekere; Adley Penner on vocals, guitar, dun dun and gong; Tomas Salcedo on vocals, guitar and dun dun; Paul Martin on vocals, bass guitar, upright bass and dun dun; and Craig Miller on vocals, drums, djembe and balafon.  Joining them on this release are Jesse Sheehan on saxophone and Ben Isaacs on djembe.

Viajero was released on May 1, 2012.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blue James Band: "Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight" (2012) CD Review

Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight, the third album from Blue James Band, features all original songs written by singer/guitarist Clifton J. Williams. This music is full of positive vibes, and this is a band that seems like it would put on a good live show, a band that would get folks dancing. Most of these songs have several changes, and are not simple rock tunes. So there is quite a bit to sink your teeth into. I feel the band is often most successful in its brighter, happier moments, like during the chorus of "Setting Sun," which has a great feel to it, and of course during the fantastic title track. These folks are also clearly accomplished musicians (check out the excellent instrumental section to "Between Two Lands"). Blue James Band is based in Boston.

"Not Ready For You"

This album opens with "Not Ready For You," a track which begins as straight rock, but takes on a reggae beat once the vocals come in, and it's that section that I appreciate more. Though interestingly when it slips back into the rock vein, it really works. That build has a good flow to it, and I'd almost rather the song start with the reggae section and have that build, that transition be more of a sweet surprise. There is something bright and friendly in the vocal delivery, particularly on the title line, "I'm not ready for you."  The more I listen to this song, the more I dig it.

"Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight"

"Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight," the album's title track, is one of my favorites. It begins with a great groove on bass, and a wonderful rhythm (I really dig the drums on this track). And when it kicks in, with keys and horn, it becomes great fun. This song reminds me a bit of Paul Simon from the late '80s, early '90s, especially in the vocal patterns in certain sections. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Well, I don't care what you see, just see it in me/And I don't care what you feel, just feel it for me/And I don't care if you take everything/Just give me your love or give me your fight."  (Though the lines "Love will mean more after it's gone because/Peace after war makes that love strong" eerily remind me of a girl I dated who enjoyed fighting because she equated that with passion.)

"Who Are You"

I love the groove and energy of "Who Are You" (along with the horn, of course). Parts of this song remind me a bit of Phish, particularly when Clifton sings, "You've got to get up to get out, and you've got to get out to get in/And you've got to get in to get down to who you are/So who are you." It has that kind of fun vibe about it. There is also some really nice guitar work. This is my personal favorite track from this album, and I've already found myself singing it several times.

"Everyone's Running"

"Everyone's Running" is a really interesting song. An early line grabs me: "My mouth is a hole in the ground that I keep stepping in, keeps me from moving along." Of all the tracks, this is the one that lyrically speaks strongest to me. And even with lines like "Because I don't speak that language here/Now everything's wrong and I am just here sitting all alone," the song still has something of a positive feel (which I appreciate).

"Eyes In The Dark"

Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight concludes with "Eyes In The Dark," which has a quiet and pretty intro on guitar. And this time when the vocals come in, the song retains its simple and pretty structure. It isn't until just before the chorus that the tune gets louder, more powerful.  A little after the three-minute mark, the song seems to be ending, but then takes on a different, brighter feel, with some wonderful vocal work. The last vocal line sounds gorgeous, and that's how the album ends.

CD Track List
  1. Not Ready For You
  2. They Come And They Go
  3. Long Distance Love
  4. Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight
  5. Setting Sun
  6. Who Are You
  7. Everyone's Running
  8. Between Two Lands
  9. Standing In The Fire
  10. Eyes In The Dark

Blue James Band features Clifton Williams on vocals and guitar; Bryan Worley on bass; Liz Lawrence on sax, pedal steel and vocals; Valerie Taylor on keys; and Patrick Tiglao on drums.  The album was mixed by Scott Riebling (the bass player from Letters To Cleo).

Give Me The Love Or Give Me The Fight was released on September 25, 2012 through Chappy Payne Records.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey (2012) Book Review

Music strengthens and unites us, and often helps us through the troubled times. And in Gary Golio's new book, Spirit Seeker, he shows that music did just that for John Coltrane. Music helped him in his early years, to find hope and a voice after a series of family deaths left a void in his life.  Golio clearly shows that it's never too early to try to give children an appreciation for music, and this book should help to do exactly that. 

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey is a biography, but with a focus on the music, and finding one's voice within it, a theme that children should appreciate and understand. In high school, John Coltrane was able to get free lessons for a community band, with used instruments that were donated. Later, after high school, John Coltrane's mother bought him a saxophone of his own, and he became more serious about it. Golio writes, "He began taking classes, studying classical and modern music, always doing more than his teachers asked" (p. 17), a good, positive message for young readers.

I don't know a lot about John Coltrane's life, but I like that this book isn't afraid of mentioning some of the problems he had. Besides the early tragedies, the book also mentions Coltrane's drinking and drug-taking (including an interesting anecdote about how he was "told to 'walk the bar' with his sax - parading along the top of the counter like a circus performer," p. 18). And then Golio does directly equate quitting drugs with Coltrane's success.

There is a heavily religious tone to this book, especially obvious in lines like, "Sad and tired, John soon stopped going to church or reading the Bible" (p. 18). However, while religious, the book doesn't preach or push any one religion, and in that regard it's more spiritual than religious.

Every page of this book is illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. The paintings really reflect the subject and mood of the story, and children will likely react positively to the images. Most of them are brightly colored, and quite pleasing to the eye.  There is a lot going on those paintings as well, the artwork often as complex and wild as the jazz music itself.  The artwork directly illustrates some of what Golio says on a given page, putting images to the words, but goes beyond that, by portraying the emotions and thoughts as well. For example, on the page where Golio writes about how John Coltrane took a job shining shoes, we see in the artwork the young John knelt before a pair of legs. But the legs also are a series of messages such as "Colored Seated In Rear."  And the colors are darker around those legs than elsewhere in the painting. And toward the bottom of the painting, a mop held by one of his relatives is washing away similar messages.

An afterword puts the story into the context of the times. Plus, there's an author's notes about drug use, particularly in relation to musicians, an issue important to him, as he has worked counseling children and teens about addiction. There is also an artist's note, about his inspirations and aspirations, and a bit about how he works. By the way, Rudy Gutierrez created the artwork for Santana's Shaman album.

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey was published by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 23, 2012. If you buy this book for a child, I suggest also giving him or her a Coltrane CD at the same time, perhaps one of the albums that is mentioned in the book - Giant Steps or A Love Supreme. The child can listen to the music while reading the book for a fuller understanding and appreciation.

Gary Golio is also the author of Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow, A Story Of The Young Jimi Hendrix and When Bob Met Woody: The Story Of The Young Bob Dylan.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Leonard Cohen at Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, 11/5/12 Concert Review

I've said it before: Seeing Leonard Cohen in concert is as close as I'll get to a religious experience. Except not in Los Angeles.  As much as I love Leonard Cohen, I really hate the Nokia Theatre, and the incredible amount of assholes who attend shows there.  Though it says clearly on the tickets and the web site that the concert will start promptly at 8 p.m., many people arrived late. There was a constant stream of people walking in front of me for several songs. And then people were getting up throughout the show to get drinks or whatever.  I've seen Leonard Cohen in several cities, and it's only Los Angeles where people are rude like that.  It definitely takes away from the enjoyment of the show.  He did two shows at this venue back in 2009, and they were my least favorite shows of that tour.  I thought it might be in part because I was more than halfway back. So this time we decided to spend the money and get seats down near the front. I thought that would eliminate the asshole factor.  But no, I think there were more assholes down in the front than toward the back.

That aside, the concert itself was excellent, though short (short for Leonard Cohen, that is). 

At 7:50 p.m., there was an announcement that the show would start in ten minutes, and sure enough the show started exactly at 8 p.m.  And with that, came Leonard Cohen's first standing ovation.  "Thanks, friends," he said. "Please sit down." And he went into "Dance Me To The End Of Love."  Right away the presence of the fiddle had a positive impact.  For this tour, there were two additions since last time: Mitch Watkins on guitar and Alexandru Bublitchi on violin.  After "Dance Me To The End Of Love," Leonard said he wants to keep touring, and joked that he's planning on starting smoking again when he's eighty (he turned 78 just two months ago).  There were a lot of changes in the show since the last tour, including a lack of cartwheels from the Webb sisters during "The Future."

Folks were still coming in, and after "The Future" Leonard Cohen asked that the lights be turned on so folks could find their seats. "Sorry, folks, that we started on time," he said.  That should have been a clear message to all the inconsiderate bastards who came in late, though I think they might still have missed it. Leonard then turned to the band and said, "We'll play the last chorus of the last song."  And yes, they went into "The Future" again, while the lights remained on.

During "Bird On The Wire," he sang, "Come on, Leonard, you just can't ask for all that much."  Then during "Everybody Knows," people were still coming in.  I say close the doors at 8 p.m. and don't let any of them in until intermission.  That's the only way they'll learn. (Yes, there are times when I truly despise Los Angeles.)  But Leonard Cohen sounded incredible. His voice sounded even better than on the previous tour, and he did lots of variations in phrasing on many of the songs.  "Everybody Knows" was particularly good.

The band went into "Who By Fire," with that great intro by Javier Mas.  Amazing.  The Webb sisters played harp and clarinet on this one.  And then they did a few songs from the new album - "The Darkness," "Amen" and "Come Healing."  Of course, "The Darkness" had been played the previous tour, but this was my first time seeing him perform the other two songs.  "Come Healing" was beautiful, particularly the women's vocals and the violin section.  He did a couple of tunes from Ten New Songs, then finished the first set with "Waiting For The Miracle" and "Anthem."

The first set ended at 9:22 p.m.

At 9:35 p.m., there was a ten-minute warning.  But the second set didn't start until 9:52 p.m., making it the longest set break of any Leonard Cohen concert I've attended.  When he returned to the stage, Leonard said, "Thank you for not going home," and then went into "Tower Of Song." "Suzanne" had a really nice violin part after the second verse.  And then came one of the show's highlights, "The Guests" (from his 1979 release, Recent Songs).  I absolutely love that song, and I hadn't seen him perform it before.  It was one of the most magical moments for me.

He then did another song from the new album, "Anyhow," and then one of my personal favorites, "Heart With No Companion" (from Various Positions). Someone sat in on harmonica during the song. "Democracy" had a fresh feel to it, because of the violin, and also because Leonard Cohen played a jaw harp at the beginning and then a few more times throughout the song.

"Coming Back To You" is another of my favorites, and Leonard Cohen recited the first several lines, and then the Webb sisters performed the song, with backing by Roscoe Beck on bass and Neil Larsen on keyboard.  Their rendition was absolutely gorgeous.  Leonard Cohen then recited the first few lines of "Alexandra Leaving," before leaving the song to Sharon Robinson to perform, with the entire band backing her.

After "I'm Your Man," the crowd gave him another standing ovation. He joked, "Please sit down because I want to start the concert again." But then he actually did start the concert again. He talked about how people arrived late, and so he played the first song again - "Dance Me To The End Of Love."  In a way, it was kind of amusing. But on the other hand, I was wondering what song we were going to miss as a result.  And also, the hell with all those people who arrived late. Don't change the show for them.  After "Dance Me To The End Of Love," he played "Hallelujah" and "Take This Waltz," and that was the end of the second set (and people began leaving during "Take This Waltz," which I can't for the life of me understand).  A short second set, as it ended at 11:05 p.m.

The encores were even shorter - exactly a half hour.  The first encore was a fantastic version of "So Long, Marianne" and then "First We Take Manhattan."  The second encore was "Famous Blue Raincoat" (in which he ended with the line, "Sincerely, a friend" instead of "Sincerely, L. Cohen"), "Going Home" (a wonderful song from the new CD) and "Closing Time."  The encores were rushed, and Leonard Cohen held up a clock at the end. And that was that. The show ended at 11:36 p.m. So no "I Tried To Leave You," which I'd been looking forward to because that's when each band member gets a solo (and I wanted to hear a violin solo).  And also, no "Save The Last Dance," a song he'd been ending shows with on this tour, a song I've never seen him perform.

Other songs we didn't get that he'd been doing on this tour: "Night Comes On," "Sisters Of Mercy," "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye," "Banjo," "Gypsy's Wife," "The Partisan," "If It Be Your Will," "I Can't Forget," "Crazy To Love You," "Different Sides" and "Light As The Breeze." So even though the show was excellent (Leonard Cohen is always excellent), I had really mixed feelings on my way out.  I felt in some way that we'd been cheated. Not only was the show shorter than usual, but two songs were played twice, and because of all the rude L.A. flakes who can't be bothered to be on time anywhere.  And I decided then that, though I'm completely broke, this could not and would not be my last Leonard Cohen concert.  I need to travel to some other city.  I can't let a Los Angeles show be my last Leonard Cohen show.  The Nokia Theatre is a bad venue.  It's poorly designed.  The sound is okay, but not great.  I talked with Leonard Cohen's sound guy the last time he was here, and he told me that they have to keep the volume low or there's an echo.  And tonight I heard the echo, particularly during "A Thousand Kisses Deep."  And they really need to add more bathrooms, like on the sides, so that not everyone has to file into the one bathroom in the back.  Whoever designed this place is an idiot.

Set List

Set I
  1. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  2. The Future
  3. The Future
  4. Bird On The Wire
  5. Everybody Knows
  6. Who By Fire
  7. The Darkness
  8. Amen
  9. Come Healing
  10. In My Secret Life
  11. A Thousand Kisses Deep
  12. Waiting For The Miracle
  13. The Flood >
  14. Anthem
Set II
  1. Tower Of Song
  2. Suzanne
  3. The Guests
  4. Anyhow
  5. Heart With No Companion
  6. Democracy
  7. Coming Back To You
  8. Alexandra Leaving
  9. I'm Your Man
  10. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  11. Hallelujah
  12. Take This Waltz
First Encore
  1. So Long, Marianne
  2. First We Take Manhattan
Second Encore
  1. Famous Blue Raincoat
  2. Going Home
  3. Closing Time

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2012 Concert Calendar

Here is a list of concerts you might be interested in for the month of November. Most of these are bands that I've reviewed, though some are some bands that I haven't yet written about, but really like. If you can, try to check out at least a few of these shows.

I've been quite busy lately, and so this month's concert calendar is far from complete. I will try to add to it as much as I can throughout the month.

November 1, 2012  (Thursday)
The Dig  -  The Frequency, Madison, WI
Keller Williams  -  Sam's Burger Joint, San Antonio, TX
Stephane Wrembel  -  The Saint, Asbury Park, NJ

November 2, 2012  (Friday)
The Dig  -  Starkweather Arts Center, Detroit, MI
Steve Forbert  -  Alberta Rose Theater, Portland, OR
David Grisman Sextet  -  Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Aimee Mann  -  Pullo Performing Arts Center, York, PA
Ellis Paul  -  The Ten Pound Fiddle Presents, Unitarian Universalist Church, 855 Grove St, East Lansing, MI
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals  -  The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
Keller Williams  -  Granada Theater, Dallas, TX

November 3, 2012  (Saturday)
Leonard Cohen  -  1st Bank Center, Broomfield, CO
The Dig  -  Cicero's, St. Louis, MO
Entrain  -  Essex Room at Woodmans, Essex, MA
Steve Forbert  -  Triple Door, Seattle, WA
Guy Forsyth  -  Sol Santa Fe Stages And Grill, Santa Fe, NM
Aimee Mann  -  Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
The Nields  -  Northwest Park Nature Center, Windsor CT
Ellis Paul  -  The Kent Stage, 175 E. Main, Kent, OH  -  2:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Canal Street Tavern, 308 E First St, Dayton, OH  -  9:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Antone's, Austin, TX

November 4, 2012  (Sunday)
Aimee Mann  -  Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT
Ellis Paul  -   The Kent Stage, 175 E. Main, Kent, OH  -  7:30 p.m.
Stephane Wrembel  -  Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA

November 5, 2012 (Monday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

November 6, 2012  (Tuesday)
Aimee Mann  -  Danforth Music Hall, Toronto , CA
Patrolled By Radar  -   The Writers Room, 6685 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA  -  10:00 p.m.

November 7, 2012  (Wednesday)
Leonard Cohen  -  HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA
Martin Sexton  -  The Depot, Salt Lake City, UT
The Depot
November 8, 2012  (Thursday)
Gaelic Storm  -  Antone's, Austin, TX
Aimee Mann  -  Capitol Theatre, Columbus, OH
The Monkees  -  California Center for the Arts, Escondido, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Private show, Troutdale, OR
Martin Sexton  -  Jean Runyon Theatre,  Sacramento, CA
Keller Williams  -  Varsity Theatre, Baton Rouge, LA 
Stephane Wrembel  -  8 X 10, Baltimore, MD

November 9, 2012  (Friday)
Leonard Cohen  - Key Arena, Seattle, WA
Guy Forsyth  -  Saxon Pub, Austin, TX
Gaelic Storm  -  Cailloux Theater, Kerrville, TX
Aimee Mann  -  20th Century Theatre, Cincinnati, OH
The Monkees  -  The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA
Patrolled By Radar  -  Cinema Bar, 3967 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA -  10:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Bunnell Street Arts Center, 106 West Bunnell, Homer, AK  -  8:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -  Mystic Theatre,  Petaluma, CA
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion  -  El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
The Watson Twins  -  Zoey's, Ventura, CA
Stephane Wrembel  -  Bogart's in the Fan, Richmond, VA

November 10, 2012  (Saturday)
Steve Forbert  -  Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Guy Forsyth  -   Greenville Municipal Auditorium, Greenville, TX
Gaelic Storm  -  The Live Oak, Ft. Worth, TX
Aimee Mann  -  Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI
The Monkees  -  Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
The Nields  -  Cultural Arts Center, Montgomery College, Takoma Park, MD
(Benefit for DC Revels)
Ellis Paul  -  Wilda Marston Theatre, 3600 Denali St, Anchorage, AK  -  8:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
Stephane Wrembel  -  Amos' Southend, Charlotte, NC

November 11, 2012  (Sunday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Rose Garden, Portland, OR
Gaelic Storm  -  House of Blues, Houston, TX
Aimee Mann  -  Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
The Monkees  -  Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Cupertino, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Vagabond Blues, Alaska St., Palmer, AK  -  7:30 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -  Soho Restaurant And Music Club, Santa Barbara, CA
Stephane Wrembel  -  The Underground Theater, Winston-Salem, NC

November 12, 2012  (Monday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia

November 13, 2012  (Tuesday)
Aimee Mann  -  The Pageant, St Louis, MO
Martin Sexton  -   Saint Rocke Theatre, Hermosa Beach, CA

November 14, 2012  (Wednesday)
Steve Forbert  -  Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
Aimee Mann  -  Park West, Chicago, IL
Martin Sexton  -   Orpheum, Flagstaff, AZ
Stephane Wrembel  -  New Earth Music Hall, Athens, GA

November 15, 2012  (Thursday)
Steve Forbert  -  Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
Aimee Mann  -  Park West, Chicago, IL
The Monkees  -  State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Keller Williams  -  The Social, Orlando, FL
Stephane Wrembel  -  Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA

November 16, 2012  (Friday)
Anita And The Yanks  -  Brixton, Redondo Beach, CA - 9:30 p.m.
Leonard Cohen  -   Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta
Antje Duvekot  -  Next Stage, Putney, VT
Steve Forbert  -  Landmark on Main Street, Port Washington, NY
Aimee Mann  -  Stoughton Opera House, Stoughton, WI
The Monkees  -  The Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL
Ellis Paul  -  Jammin Java, 231 Maple Ave East, Vienna, VA  -  7:30 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -   The Paradise Theater, Paonia, CO
The Watson Twins  -   The Griffin, San Diego, CA
Keller Williams  -  State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
Stephane Wrembel  -  Live Wire, Savannah, GA

November 17, 2012  (Saturday)
Antje Duvekot  -  The Living Room, New York, NY
Steve Forbert  -  The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT
Guy Forsyth  -  Olive Hill House Concert,  Canyon Lake, TX
Aimee Mann  -  First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
The Monkees  -  Lakewood Civic Auditorium, Cleveland, OH
The Nields  -  8th Step at Proctor's, 432 State St, Schenectady, NY
Patrolled By Radar  -  The Foundry, 7465 Melrose Ave, Hollywood, CA -  9:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Jammin Java, 231 Maple Ave East, Vienna, VA  -  10:30 a.m.
(Special family show)
Ellis Paul  and Susan Werner - Tin Angel, 20 South 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA  -  7:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  and Susan Werner - Tin Angel, 20 South 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA  -  9:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -  Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO
The Watson Twins  -  The Witzend, Venice, CA
Keller Williams  -   Revolution Hall, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Stephane Wrembel  -  Awendaw Green, Awendaw, SC

November 18, 2012  (Sunday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta
Antje Duvekot  -  Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY
The Monkees  -  The Center For The Arts, Buffalo, NY
Ellis Paul  -  Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA  -  1:00 p.m.
(Special family show)
Ellis Paul  -  Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA  -  7:00 p.m.
Stephane Wrembel  -  The Pour House, Raleigh, NC

November 19, 2012  (Monday)

November 20, 2012  (Tuesday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

November 21, 2012  (Wednesday)
Cubensis  -  Malibu Inn, Malibu, CA

November 22, 2012  (Thursday)

November 23, 2012  (Friday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Akoo Theatre at Rosemont, Chicago, IL
Entrain  -  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Ellis Paul  -   Evening Muse, 3227 North Davidson St., Charlotte, NC  -  8:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Green Parrot, Key West, FL 

November 24, 2012  (Saturday)
Ellis Paul  -  Eddie's Attic, 515-B North McDonough Street, Decatur, GA  -  7:30 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Eddie's Attic, 515-B North McDonough Street, Decatur, GA  -  10:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  Green Parrot, Key West, FL  

November 25, 2012 (Sunday)
Jason Collett  -  Oran Mor, Glasgow, UK

November  26, 2012  (Monday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI
Jason Collett  -  The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

November 27, 2012  (Tuesday)
Jason Collett  -  Scala, London, UK

November 28, 2012  (Wednesday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Jason Collett  -  The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK

November 29, 2012  (Thursday)
Leonard Cohen  -  Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Jason Collett  -  The Haunt, Brighton, UK
Antje Duvekot  -  Kent Stage, Kent, OH
Steve Forbert and Patty Larkin  - One World Theatre, Austin, TX
The Monkees  -  Keswick Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
Keller Williams  -  George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AR

November 30, 2012 (Friday)
Antje Duvekot  -  The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI
Steve Forbert and Patty Larkin  - Sam's Burger Joint, San Antonio, TX
Guy Forsyth  -  Dosey Doe, The Woodlands, TX
Kinky Friedman  -  Knuckleheads, Kansas City, MO
The Monkees  -  State Theatre Regional Arts Center, New Brunswick, NJ
Ellis Paul  -   Lakeview Concert Series, 2281 Lakeshore Dr., Blossvale, NY  -  7:30 p.m.
Martin Sexton  -  Avalon Theatre, Easton, MD
Keller Williams  -  Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa, OK