The Bridge (Hyena)
On the local scene, The Bridge could be voted most likely to headline Bonnaroo. With that in mind, it might be tempting to label the group as a bunch of jam band upstarts. But this crisply produced, tightly arranged set of tunes suggests otherwise. It would seem the band worships at the altar of the late Lowell George, not Dave Matthews or some other group vying for jam band supremacy. As leader of Little Feat, George tapped a rich vein of Americana that blended New Orleans funk, jazz, country, and rock music into a sophisticated whole. Though not as rhythmically complex as Little Feat's best work, The Bridge nonetheless echo that band's legacy and add some bluegrass to the mix on tunes such as "Chains." Guest turns by the likes of Funky Meters' drummer Russell Batiste Jr. and keyboardist Mookie Siegel add to the fun.
The Bridge appear at Rams Head Live! on November 21st.
The Strange Parade (Inverted Music)
After a moody prelude, this disc opens with a statement of purpose; "Dog Days" serves notice that Invert isn't your typical string quartet. Thanks to crashing, propulsive drums (courtesy of guest Roberto Rodriguez, who's played with everyone from Paul Simon to John Zorn), the tune qualifies as nothing less than a spirited departure, one that infuses chamber music with a welcome dose of indie rock spirit. It's also a reminder that this quartet, which includes Baltimore native Steve Berson on cello, turned up on Guided By Voices' 2002 CD Universal Truths and Cycles. Rodriguez turns up on another selection, "The Peak," and it, too, qualifies as something of a revelation. More jazz than classical, it brings to mind Dave Douglas's music for silent film and hints at explosive possibilities as the group responds mightily to Rodriguez's arsenal of beats. The rest of the material, much of it improvised, qualifies as evocative—and, at times, mournful—but no less effective. It's a powerful mix that might have certain Kronos members looking over their shoulders.
Solo Piazzolla (Tonar)
For this disc, Barrueco interprets the music of Argentinean tango renegade Astor Piazzolla on guitar. Known for developing a "new tango" that boldly wedded elements of jazz and other genres to a fiercely tradition-bound musical form, Piazzolla is an inspired choice for Barrueco. Throughout this disc, the Peabody instructor nods to the mournful, sensual majesty that infused much of Piazzolla's work and occasionally taps the composer's less serious side, too. In Barrueco's capable hands, his material is perhaps less majestic, but more starkly sensual. That, in itself, represents quite an accomplishment.