Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-11-01


Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton: Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues: Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center (Reprise Jazz, 2011) This isn't just figureheads rising to the occasion or getting back to where they once belonged, although both models pertain--especially for Marsalis, who enjoys the blues enough that his monster chops masticate them lip-smackingly rather than chewing them up and spitting them out. What's decisive, however, is a conception in which the members of a blues horn section interact polyphonically rather than uniting in the soulful Texas manner while blues polymath Clapton dictates as well as plays and sings a repertoire that includes Memphis Minnie and Howlin Wolf as well as W.C. Handy and Johnny Dodd. The juxtaposition may discomfit at first--we're not used to blues so jaunty and effervescent. But let it and it'll lift you right up. A-

Nils Petter Molvaer: Baboon Moon (Thirsty Ear, 2011) Recorded live in the studio with a worldly-wise drummer and a sonic guitarist who adds some modest Teo Macero moves, this is less techno and dubby than the trumpeter's norm, in its many quieter moments evoking the exotica stylings of Jon Hassell. "Recoil" lifts into a riff-driven guitar workout at track three before the music recedes back into contemplation, with Molvaer varying his embouchure and the drums all demonstrative as the guitar seeks out effects. Then the seven-minute title track goes all in on a crowd-pleasing finale. He's always a little too subtle. But in a way that's always the point. A-

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