Somehow, Ray LaMontagne lost his mojo. A year went past after the release of his Grammy-winning God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise project. Then two. Then four. Other than the stand-alone track “Empty,” LaMontagne simply walked off the musical map.
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Eric Reed, who rose to fame in the early 1990s with Wynton Marsalis, has discovered a well spring of inspiration in the music of Thelonious Monk, as “Gallop’s Gallop” heralds his third tribute album to the offbeat jazz genius.
Richard Barone, the ex-Bongos leader, imbues this Velvet Underground gem with a newfound sense of sad reverie. Whereas the nihilistic Nico, on the original 1967 version, stood apart from the conviviality, a distant observer, Barone finds the nostalgia, the very real need for attachment in the Lou Reed lyric.
Glass Hammer returns never sounding so much like itself, even as the band boldly expands its vocabulary — musically and quite literally. “Crowbone,” for instance, includes an invigorating guest turn by violinist David Ragsdale of Kansas fame
Given an expectation that the young Sam Coulson, who’s taken over for long-time guitarist Steve Howe, was going to provide a bit more of a metallic crunch to the proceedings, Asia’s opening statement on the forthcoming Gravitas couldn’t be more surprising.
Brian Blade begins with a quiet pulse on “He Died Fighting,” setting the stage for an appropriately militaristic opening statement. But as the rest of his long-standing Fellowship Band gathers around, the track opens up into a vista of astonishing emotional complexity.
Olias of Sunhillow, Jon Anderson’s utterly unique 1976 solo debut, was always meant to be listened to completely — and at very high volumes. With its fantastical storylines (a flaxen hero, the promise of a better day, some seriously weird outer space stuff) and enveloping soundscapes, the former Yes frontman created a rich and rewarding world unto itself.
A previously unreleased trio recording from Pat Martino provides new insight both into his obvious debt to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green — but also how his burning, blinding speed outstripped anything those old masters ever attempted, even as the guitarist opened a door for fusion’s looming ferocity.
The museful accordion of Garth Hudson on Rick Danko’s “New Mexicoe” heralds not just an important partial reunion for the post-Robbie Robertson Band, but one of the most notable lost gems from their combined solo careers.
Don Airey, who had a vibrant career of his own prior to Deep Purple, has provided a ringing farewell for his old bandmate Gary Moore — with a final assist from the too-soon-gone guitarist himself.