New Music Monday: Asia, Circa Zero, Nathan East, Elton John, Ivo Perelman, Eric Carmen

Andy Summers is returning to rock after a lengthy post-Police period spent experimenting with jazz and world music, while Asia takes on a new guitarist — but rediscovers an old sound along the way.

Nathan East is somehow making his solo debut, after playing on scores of albums across a broad musical spectrum, even as the number of fiercely inventive albums by Ivo Perelman grows by three … all in one week.

Also new this week: Chicago Underground Duo (that’s Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor, for those keeping score), Dan Weiss, Eric Reed (who’s still crushing on Thelonious Monk, with great results) and Eric Revis.

We reexamine the 1970s-era majesties of Elton John and Eric Carmen, in a always-teetering stack of reissue material that also includes David Bowie, Eric Dolphy and others. Oh, and they’ve found some previously unheard Johnny Cash, too …

Art Blakey and the Jazz MessengersFree For All (Jazz)

ASIA – GRAVITAS [CD/DVD] (POP/ROCK): I came in expecting Astra, the harder-edged 1985 album that saw Steve Howe replaced by Krokus’ Mandy Meyer. What I got sounds more like 1983′s largely downbeat Alpha, despite the presence of Sam Coulson. The youthful new guitarist has his moments throughout, but they sounded flown in — as if the principal writing team of John Wetton and Geoff Downes had already put everything together before Coulson arrived. That doesn’t sink Gravitas, so much as give is a more measured, sometimes almost adult contemporary texture. You’re left wondering if this a transitional sound, or the one Asia will take on now that Howe is focusing on Asia. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Barry ManilowNight Songs (Pop/Rock)
Beth Hart and Joe BonamassaLive in Amsterdam (Blues)

BEYONCE – BEYONCE: CD/Blu-Ray (POP/ROCK): With Beyoncé, “Miss Third Ward” insists that there’s a whole lot to this joy thing. And despite all the absurd invocations offered in tribute of Queen B, she never seems totally comfortable with the idea that she’s the exception. Rather, this Houston native wants all listeners to “hold on,” get dirty in the back of a limo and, most of all, rediscover happiness. (More here.) — Jordan Richardson

Boy GeorgeThis Is What I Do (Pop/Rock)

CHICAGO UNDERGROUND DUO – LOCUS (PROG/JAZZ): The choice of instruments provides some insight into this duo’s penchant for finding and using any source for music, without bias toward acoustic or electric; First World or Third World. Sure, Rob Mazurek plays cornet and Chad Taylor plays the drums, but they’ve also tapped the exotic sounds of m’bira, analog synths, guitar, bamboo flute, voice, laptop-generated electronic, balaphone and even a game boy. The result is another round of stimulating electro-acoustic prog-jazz. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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CIRCA ZERO – CIRCUS HERO (POP/ROCK): Andy Summers, it seems, got a taste for rock music again after his reunion with the Police a few years back. The mercurial Sting, perhaps inevitably, wasn’t interesting in making new music, however, and that sent the guitarist in search of a new collaborator: In walks Rob Giles, and in a way a similar fission occurred for Summers — though, it’s important to note that this isn’t the Police Redux. Instead, Circa Zero is far more straight ahead and, in that way, often far more fun. Over the course of their time together, the Police shed many of their early punk influences, but you hear them again here. This is full on, thrillingly loud and yet insistently hooky, and (maybe best of all these days) completely unironic. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

DAN WEISS – FOURTEEN (JAZZ): What Weiss has created with Fourteen is like nothing he’s done before, and probably unlike what anybody has done before. It’s not really jazz, it’s not classical, it’s not rock, or world fusion, but it couldn’t exist without those styles. Above all, it certainly couldn’t exist without the fertile imagination of Dan Weiss. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

DAVID BOWIE – REALITY (POP/ROCK): Having successfully shed his largely unsuccessful “industrial” leanings with the dark and introspective, but stilted, Hours …, Bowie put out his best work in two decades with 2002′s Heathen, so hopes were high that Reality would continue in this vein. It ended up as another great album that — as I once read on the Bowie newsgroup — fans ran out to buy the minute the stores opened, listened to three times, then put on the shelf so they could continue obsessing about early-70s Bowie. (More here.) — Tom Johnson

Depeche ModeA Broken Frame; Construction Time Again; Ultra; Violator: 180 Gram Vinyl reissues (Pop/Rock)
Don FelderRoad to Forever: Extended Edition (Pop/Rock)

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ELTON JOHN – GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD: 40TH ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION (POP/ROCK): This sometimes uneven, perhaps overstuffed album, far more than the more personal, more direct and admittedly more cohesive statements that came before, illustrates as well anything he ever did just why Elton John became Elton John — and how. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a project as over-the-top as its singer himself, is a magnum opus of ambition, of emotion and glitz, and of distilled popcraft. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Eric AlexanderChicago Fire (Jazz)

ERIC CARMEN – ESSENTIAL (POP/ROCK): There is much to love, of course, about this double-disc 30-song collection of confectionary power-pop goodness. After all, it’s a first-time-ever grouping of both the best of his years with the Raspberries and as a solo artist. But The Essential Eric Carmen goes one step further, collecting Carmen’s first new song in some 18 years. That track, a determinedly hopeful ballad called “Brand New Year,” adds new depth to a set of songs that remain this well-spring of sun-filled joy, evocative of another time in American radio when it wasn’t uncool to be happy. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

ERIC DOLPHY – OUT TO LUNCH (JAZZ): This avant-garde jazz masterpiece is rightfully considered Dolphy’s crowning achievement. Why is it so great? I think it has to do with his tenure at the time with Charles Mingus; Mingus was a master of looking ahead with his music while staying deeply rooted in jazz tradition. Thelonious Monk was good at that, too. Dolphy tried for years but finally got it down with this record.(More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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ERIC REED – ADVENTUROUS MONK (JAZZ): Reed’s third tribute album to the offbeat jazz genius is another canny triumph. Reed’s willingness to hear the music, without simply mimicking Monk the man, has consistently imbued these extended meditations on Monk with a lasting intrigue. That separation isn’t an easy undertaking, as Monk’s persona at the piano is inextricably linked with his compositions — to the point where they have gathered a sort of grail-like allure. Reed, however, delves into the essence of his songs rather than the syncopated tics that defined Monk’s playing legend. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

ERIC REVIS – IN MEMORY OF THINGS YET SEEN (JAZZ): Revis himself sums up the mission of In Memory of Things Yet Seen on the mark when he states that there’s “much reverence for tradition and the tradition of taking things forward.” Using the rich past of jazz as a springboard to jump ahead and stretch out to the capabilities of these amazing musicians is why Eric Revis has made such a fine record. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

IVO PERELMAN – BOOK OF SOUND [with Matthew Shipp, William Parker]; THE OTHER EDGE [Matthew Shipp, Michael Bisio, Whit Dickey]; TWO MEN WALKING [Mat Maneri] (JAZZ): When Ivo Perelman convenes with the Matthew Shipp Trio, good stuff happens. The same goes when Perelman gets together with Shipp and the king of downtown NYC bassists, William Parker. The Other Edge, meanwhile, is a series of conversations among very skilled performers who elevate above their skills simply by listening very closely to each other. Then there’s Two Men Walking, which finds Perelman going one-on-one with a viola player, which is cause for joy for improvised music enthusiasts. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Joe WalshAll Night Long: Live 1981 (Pop/Rock)
John ColtraneBlue Train (Jazz)

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JOHNNY CASH – OUT AMONG THE STARS (COUNTRY): This album, featuring 12 never-before-released songs dating back to that period with Billy Sherrill, isn’t going to change your mind about the missteps of that era for country music (which had already begun its depressing trudge toward crossover blandness), much less for Cash. And yet, there are glimpses of the successes to come with maverick producer Rick Rubin — notably on “I Came to Believe” — a rare moment on Out Among the Stars of brutal, jaw-dropping honesty. There, Cash makes a portent-filled accounting of dead-end choices, finally setting the stage for everything that would follow in the decade ahead. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Joni MitchellWoman Of Heart & Mind; Painting With Words & Music: Blu-ray (Pop/Rock)
Kylie MinogueKiss Me Once (Pop/Rock)
Larry YoungUnity (Jazz)
Lisa FerraroSerenading the Moon (Vocals)
Lou ReedTransformer; Live At Montreux 2000: Blu-ray (Pop/Rock)
Micky DolenzMicky Dolenz Puts You to Sleep; Broadway Micky (Pop/Vocals)
Merle HaggardOkie From Muskogee: 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Country)
Miles DavisMiles at the Fillmore 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Jazz)
My Chemical RomanceMay Death Never Stop You: Greatest Hits 2001-2013 (Pop/Rock)

NATHAN EAST – NATHAN EAST (JAZZ/POP): He’s contributed to classic-rock successes from Toto, blues-pop successes with Eric Clapton, crossover jazz fusion successes with Fourplay and dance-pop successes with Daft Punk. And yet Nathan East, one of the most versatile bassist in the business, has somehow never issued an album in his own name until now. Perhaps predictably, when this eponymous debut arrived, it was stuffed with intriguing, cross-genre choices — from covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and “Overjoyed,” to the enchanting bossa nova-inflected “101 Eastbound” and nods to his collababorative successes with Daft Punk and Clapton. And the feel is, most of the time, right out of the Fourplay playbook. When it’s done, Nathan East has brought his towering, though often overlooked contributions into a tight new focus. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

PanteraFar Beyond Driven; 20th Anniversary Edition (Rock/Metal)
Ronnie Lane and Slim ChanceOoh La La: An Island Harvest (Pop/Rock)
Rozina PatkaiVoce e Eu (Vocals)
The Bad PlusThe Rite of Spring (Jazz)
The Dandy WarholsThirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia: Live at The Wonder (Pop/Rock)
The Hold SteadyTeeth Dreams (Pop/Rock)
Tyrone Birkett and EmancipationPostmodern Spirituals: The Promised Land (Jazz)
Wayne ShorterSpeak No Evil (Jazz)

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