Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Journey into the Valley' Reviewed on All About Jazz

Journey into the Valley
Faruq Z. Bey with the Northwood Improvisers | Entropy Stereo (2009)

By Clifford Allen

"Though in the jazz world, Detroit and southern Michigan often get the most credit for producing Hard bop talents like Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan and the brothers Jones, there has long been a slow-burning fire of free improvisation and creative music tapping into the Motor City's pulse. Reedmen Faruq Z. Bey and Skeeter Shelton, both onetime co-leaders of the Griot Galaxy, are longtime members of the region's new music community. A somewhat younger set (but not by much) are the Northwoods Improvisers ..." [READ THE FULL REVIEW]

(A review of their song "Rwanda" can be found here.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hotshot’s Boy Done Grow’d Up: The Panderers, "Hotshot’s Boy" EP

You can hear the roots buried firmly in this coal-miner/tobacco farmer’s son as Scott Wynn and the Panderers hit you fast and strong with the five songs that comprise Hotshot’s Boy. The liner notes explain that Wynn’s “one-eyed, 8th-grade educated” father was called Hotshot. I can imagine the wiry, hard-working men of the Appalachians, calling out with coal-dust voices, “Hey, Hotshot’s Boy, tell yer daddy the next round’s on him and it’s Jack’s ‘r better to open!”

The opening track, “Come On,” is irresistible. You can’t not move and groove and bounce and flounce and smile all the while listening to it. Tracks two and four, “Dig” and “Shane” seem to take you down somewhere darker; perhaps those coal mines, perhaps the soul of a man with hands hardened by hammer and plow, heart hardened by – what else? – a woman. My favorite track, partly because it’s just a bad-ass tune and partly for personal reasons (i.e. a woman), is the hump-track, “Montana.” The closer, “Mirrorball,” feels like more of an afterthought or an inside joke. It’s not a bad song, it just doesn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the disc; though I admit, it’s growing on me, especially the haunting, string-like, synth-work.

All-in-all, this quick intro. to The Panderers goes on my top-shelf for it’s spare, raw, tough, stripped down playing, and the ambiguous and fresh lyrics. Grab your copy soon, I guarantee it will hold its place on your top shelf, right between The Raconteurs and Hank Williams.

Check out The Panderers here.