One of the lovelier songs on Riverside, the self-titled debut album of a sturdily approachable new jazz quartet, bears the title Old Church, New Paint. A slow waltz by the tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Chet Doxas, from Montreal, it inhabits a kind of arid terrain between Protestant hymn and cowboy tune.
The industrious trumpeter Dave Douglas, who actually made a recent album of hymns, joins Doxas on the melody, helping give the impression of deliberative but bluesy determination. Steve Swallow, the electric bassist, lays both a foundation and a light dusting of grace notes, while Jim Doxas, a drummer (and Chet’s brother) stirs the pulse with brushes. The band, which will appear at the Jazz Standard on Tuesday and Wednesday, sounds at ease with itself, and anything but hurried.
Riverside grew out of a shared respect for the Texas-born multireedist Jimmy Giuffre, who during the 1950s and ‘60s cut a path from swing and West Coast bop toward an early, untroubled strain of free jazz. Douglas and Chet Doxas, on learning that they both loved Giuffre’s music, conceived of a setting for new work in the same spirit, reaching out to Swallow, who played in an influential edition of the Jimmy Giuffre 3.
The album includes one Giuffre tune, The Train and the River, which semi-famously graced television (The Sound of Jazz, on CBS) and film (Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Bert Stern’s documentary about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival). Elsewhere, the album sees fit merely to evoke Giuffre’s airy, wide-open harmonic sensibility and a loose frame of jazz-historical reference. (Old Church, New Paint suggests a nod to the Gil Evans album New Bottle Old Wine, which came from the same cohort and time period.)
Chet Doxas, who has never had a high profile in this country even by a jazz metric, hits his every mark, with a soulful and rhythmically assertive style on tenor saxophone and a warm, woodsy tone on clarinet. Douglas, who wrote most of the tunes, is even more squarely in his element, though there’s a fresh tang in his rapport with Swallow, whose rubbery, insinuative bass lines are the key to the album’s deeper charms. However the homage to Giuffre plays out, this is a band that could easily keep going for a while without running out of options.
— By Nate Chinen, NY Times News Service
Make My Head Sing ...
Jessica Lea Mayfield
Jessica Lea Mayfield makes a brash sonic swerve on Make My Head Sing ..., her third album. Her first two, both produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, leaned toward the raw, depressive edge of roots-rock, with mostly quiet songs that occasionally lashed out. Mayfield — who was 19 when her stark, eerie debut album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt, was released in 2008 — started performing as a child in her family’s bluegrass band, and while neither of her first two albums strove for any kind of traditionalism, her country and folk underpinnings were clear.
Make My Head Sing ... blasts those qualities away from the first notes of its opening song, Oblivious: loud, slow, unaccompanied, heavily distorted guitar chords, soon joined by an equally slow and deliberate drumbeat. It’s closer to the proto-grunge of the Melvins than to any kind of Americana, and the transformation of the lyrics is equally brash: “I could kill with the power in my mind,” Mayfield sings.
Mayfield played guitars and produced the album with her bassist and husband, Jesse Newport, backed by a drummer, Matt Martin. With Mayfield often playing baritone guitar, lowering the pitch of the central guitar chords, they put a feedback-edged grunge power trio at the core of the songs: the sound of trouble, obsession, foreboding, decadence. But Mayfield doesn’t rasp like a flannel-shirted rocker; her voice stays clear and oddly calm as she sings lines like, “When it’s just us two in the dark/You’ve got a stranglehold on my heart.”
As a whole, the album is monochromatic, too single-minded about Mayfield’s new sound — and, at times, a little too determined to reverse-engineer Nirvana’s flanged guitar effects. And her laconic new lyrics don’t always offer the subtleties and paradoxes of her earlier songs.
But individual tracks are telling. Among them are I Wanna Love You, which is more about stalking than romance; Do I Have the Time, which charges into a polymorphous wilderness of desire and infidelity; Party Drugs, a hollow-eyed ballad set to a lone guitar in which the singer reassures someone, “I won’t die in this hotel room”; and Anything You Want, with a heaving riff and a girlish-voiced, matter-of-factly foreboding refrain: “You get away with anything you want.”
Make My Head Sing ... probably doesn’t stake a permanent new direction for Mayfield. It signals, instead, that from now on she’ll do whatever she wants.
— By Jon Pareles, NY Times News Service
Tobie Openshaw is confident that Taiwan’s government has good reasons for not including him in the Triple Stimulus Voucher Program, which launched at the beginning of this month. That’s just as well, because it seems unlikely he’ll ever discover the logic by which it was decided that he, along with other foreign residents not currently married to Taiwan citizens, shouldn’t receive the vouchers. “We’ve stood side-by-side with our Taiwanese friends through the COVID-19 crisis, complying with government measures, cheering its success and sharing that news with the world at large. If the stimulus coupons are meant to be spent to keep
When the BBC approached Caroline Chia (查慧中) in July 2018, and asked her to make arrangements so a documentary-making team could gather footage showing how global warming may be increasing typhoon intensity, she delivered everything that was in her power to provide. Chia got permission for the BBC crew to shoot inside the Central Emergency Operation Center, film the army’s disaster-relief efforts and follow mayors around as they supervised the cleaning up. “In total, it was about one week of work for my cousin — who’s my business partner — and I,” recalls Chia, who was born in Taipei but
John Thomson was a pioneering photographer in the 19th century and one of the first to journey to East Asia. In 1871, while in China he met Dr James Laidlaw Maxwell, a fellow Scotsman who was returning to Taiwan, where he served as a Presbyterian missionary. Maxwell’s description of Taiwan intrigued Thomson, and the photographer decided to accompany Maxwell to the island then known to Westerners as Formosa. Disembarking at Takow (today’s Kaohsiung) on April 2, 1871, Thomson brought with him the best photography equipment of his time, along with thousands of glass plates — an estimated 200kg of equipment. The
If you think Leaving Virginia is going to be Taiwan’s modern-day version of American Pie, leave after the first 15 minutes. It starts that way, an ode to those hormone-crazed teenage years as Big D (Isaac Yang, 楊懿軒) tries to lose his virginity on his 18th birthday but his Christian girlfriend rejects his advances and storms off. His best friend Zulie (Ng Siu Hin, 吳肇軒), convinces Big D that he will be rendered impotent if he doesn’t lose his virginity by the end of his 18th birthday, setting off the course of events. It feels like the rest of the film