Peter Himmelman is a rock ’n’ roll anomaly: an observant Jew who has long declined to play any shows on the sabbath. But this serious commitment to his faith gives his songs heft. He’s addressed brokenness, healing, and humility in songs such as “Impermanent Things” and “Mission of My Soul.” And Himmelman has a knack for melding lyrical complexity with catchy melody.
Those who love Bill Evans or Art Blakey will relish this disc, though Stefano Bollani has his own freewheeling improv stamp. Recorded in one day, and featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, Joy pulses with live energy. Bollani pilots his piano with sophisticated trills, rolls, and riffs.
Many Beatles tribute discs fail because the vocalists or players aren’t up to the task. But with this piano-based instrumental disc, Chicago’s Anthony Molinaro shatters barriers in refreshing ways. On the opening “Blackbird,” he manages to inject the melody with stride-piano infectiousness.
Is it rock? Swing? Boogie-woogie? Louis Prima Jr. (son of the famous comic swing artist) melodiously mixes all of the above. This music moves—often with greased-lightning groove, as on the instrumental title track and “Go, Let’s Go” (which features a frenetic guitar solo). The record has its touching moments, too, as when Prima Sr. and Jr.
Along the Beaver Creek, lobelia clings to the soil, foiling its every effort to sneak into the stream, which riffles over rocks below, aerating the water that fuels the wetland where a dragonfly squints its blue, bulbous eyes, spying mosquitoes mating, then steers its body to reach their next move. Do you dare, while traipsing this trail and glancing milkweed blossoms, to covet anything your neighbor may have?
Six months later, and a mile away, on a lime-dusted field, a singular tree, its leaves shorn and humming in wind somewhere south, waits. Winter will bear a crop of snow, which will deepen with the season and wrap around the stoic oak. No one will amble by for months. Driving by, will you sing your praise purely from the road’s safe distance?
In between, where there is so much time, when inspiration won’t spread its wings and raise its crimson head,
when nothing but mud dominates the wetland, when tarnished tin is the only color the sky can muster,
what then? Will you savor the age-old scent of the now-and-not-yet, sense its tension in the toppled tree, damp and fungus festooned,