John Scofield & Jon Cleary Duo
Friday 12/04
John Scofield & Jon Cleary Duo @ The Howard Theatre
$30 / $35
John Scofield Aside from being one of the principal innovators of modern jazz guitar, JOHN SCOFIELD is a creative artist of an even rarer sort: a stylistic chameleon who has forged a consistent, rock-solid aesthetic identity. An artist with fan bases in many camps and forty albums to his credit, he has expressed himself in the vernacular of bebop, blues, jazz-funk, organ jazz, acoustic chamber jazz, electronically tinged groove music and orchestral ensembles with ease and enthusiasm. His versatility and technical mastery won him early sideman gigs with Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Cobham/Duke among many. Since that time he remains firmly in the foreground of jazz consciousness as a player and composer, prominently leading his own groups in the international Jazz scene, his own albums (many already classics) including collaborations with many contemporary favorites like Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Charlie Haden, Eddie Harris, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bill Frisell, Brad Mehldau, Mavis Staples, Government Mule, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano and Phil Lesh. He’s played and recorded with Tony Williams, Jim Hall, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland, among many jazz legends. Regardless of the stylistic setting, his distinct guitar sound and compositions are unmistakably Scofieldesque, always coupled with an improvisational excellence and dedicated to the finest in jazz tradition. Jon Cleary Jon Cleary is known for his salty-sweet voice, masterful piano skills, and a knack for coupling infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics. Born in Kent, England in 1964, Cleary steeped in the sounds of American roots music as a child via New Orleans funk and R&B 45s. Venturing to the Crescent City at 17, he quickly earned the respect of local music community. He spent the '80s gigging as a sideman and bandleader with a rotating cast of New Orleans' best including members of funk forefathers the Meters and delta-bluesman John Mooney. He has balanced the last few years with an international fan base as a member of Bonnie Raitt's group and his own group (with album of the same name) Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. Cleary has the self-made Moonburn (Virgin 1999), and his ode to Big Easy R&B - Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice (Ace 1994). All of Jon's talents are manifest on Pin Your Spin, Basin Street Records produced by John Porter. His latest Occapella was released in 2012.
Mother Falcon and Ben Sollee -  The Fall Migration
Saturday 10/17
Mother Falcon and Ben Sollee - The Fall Migration @ The Howard Theatre
$17 / $20
Mother Falcon In June 2013, seventeen young musicians piled into two vans and drove from their hometown of Austin to a brownstone in Queens, where they took up residency for a month. It was Mother Falcon’s first trip outside of Texas and another turning point in a very unlikely story. Years before, when he started what became Mother Falcon, it never crossed cellist Nick Gregg’s mind that his goal to make playing cello as cool as playing quarterback at his football obsessed high school (alma mater of Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees) would get anywhere. Jamming on original material after school with fellow orchestra students at Westlake High was fun, but not radical and certainly not goal oriented. Yet, over months, word of this orchestra jam session spread and the group, now named Mother Falcon after a misheard TV overdub from Die Hard (“Yippee-ki-ay Mother Falcon!), began to include people from McCallum High as well. Before any of its members had graduated, Mother Falcon was featured on the cover of the Austin Chronicle and was playing gigs all over town. While most of them were still teens, Mother Falcon, now numbering up to twenty two players, had become one of Austin’s most popular and beloved “bands” with the release of Still Life, their debut EP of classical-crossover pop songs, and another Austin Chronicle cover story. The next year their first full length, Alhambra, saw major local airplay and a series of sold out local shows. Somehow, while its members were focused on being college sophomores, this wild idea of being as cool as a quarterback had made Nick Gregg the founder of one of the coolest bands in one of the world’s coolest music cities. Yet, as Mother Falcon won multiple Austin Music Awards, collaborated with Austin legends like Alejandro Escovedo and Christopher Cross and ventured to Houston and Denton, it still didn’t seem plausible that such a huge ensemble could make an impact outside of Austin. As the bulk of the collective’s musicians approached college graduation in 2013, this unlikely indie orchestra was at a crossroads. With the need for employment looming, perhaps the easiest choice would be to backburner the band, maybe keep playing around Austin until everyone spun off on their own: grad school, jobs, other bands. Mother Falcon, by now a community with deep ties (among them two pairs of siblings and several relationships begun in childhood) made a tougher choice, committing to a new album and an unusual strategy of moving to other cities for a month at a time to cut costs of touring such a large group. After making a huge splash at SXSW 2013, second album You Knew dropped in May 2013, strongly impacted national radio and gained major support from NPR. June residencies at Joe’s Pub in New York and Littlefield in Brooklyn were followed by residencies at The Echo in Los Angeles and Soda Bar in San Diego. Subsequent national tours found Mother Falcon unexpectedly selling out small clubs all over the country within months of their first tentative steps outside of Austin. Nick Gregg was now undeniably as cool as a quarterback. Two years later, Mother Falcon return with their third full-length album Good Luck Have Fun, slated for release August 14th on BitCandy Digital and Punctum Records. Seven years, two albums and hundreds of shows on from Westlake High, this unlikely indie orchestra takes a leap into the unknown, blowing up their usual way of composing and recording together in a conscious effort to push themselves into new stylistic and sonic realms. As such, Good Luck Have Fun doubles down on both sides of Mother Falcon. The adventurousness is more adventurous, with fully half the album comprised of experimental instrumental soundscapes composed as the score to an upcoming documentary about competitive gaming. Inspired by Bowie’s Low, 60s improv iconoclasts AAM, Koji Kondo’s score for Majora’s Mask and the psychedelic drone of Fuck Buttons, the instrumental pieces ebb and flow in tension between unresolved crescendos and throbbing, jagged minimalism. Conversely, the rest of the album may be Mother Falcon’s most accessible music ever, with a stronger emphasis on rhythm, concise arrangements that move the vocals to the fore, lyrics grounded in universal themes and a wealth of hooks, upon hooks, upon hooks. Ben Sollee Musicians often claim they are “giving themselves” to their listeners, but it’s rarely as true as on Ben Sollee’s fourth album, Half-Made Man, a revealing, deeply moving album that explores a man trying to figure himself out, just as we all are. Known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Sollee possesses rough-smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether it be by personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. Sollee can often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the back), which have become legendary for their intimacy. The album, produced by Sollee himself, boasts a sublime cast of musicians, including Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) on electric/acoustic guitar and pedal steel, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordon Ellis on percussion, Jeremy Kittel (formerly of the Turtle Island String Quartet) on violin, and guest vocals by Abigail Washburn. Sollee contributes octave mandolin, guitar, and of course, his signature cello. “I wanted it to have a raw, real-time performance quality,” Sollee says. “This is kinetic expression. I dug deep into myself and asked the musicians to go there with me. To my ear, it sounds like musical search party; we often find what we’re looking for in between defined styles and genres. It won’t be easy to place this in one category, but I, and my generation, are measured by a little bit of everything these days.” Sollee first gained major notice with his 2008 debut, Learning to Bend, which led NPR’s Morning Edition to call him one of the “Top Ten Great Unknown Artists” of the year. Later, All Things Considered called his debut “an inspired collection of acoustic, folk and jazz-flavored songs, filled with hope and the earnest belief that the world is good.” Around the same time, Sollee was touring the world with Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet alongside Grammy nominee Casey Driessen and multi-Grammy winner Bela Fleck. Sollee’s music drew the attention of My Morning Jacket frontman Yim Yames, who produced his second full-length album, a collaboration with Daniel Martin Moore. In 2010 they released Dear Companion, a stunning collection of songs meant to inspire environmental stewardship. The next year Sollee contributed his cello stylings to My Morning Jacket’s hit albumCircuital and released Inclusions, a sonically awe-inspring album about relationships that was called “structurally brilliant” by Slant and “stunning” by No Depression. Through it all, Sollee has garnered a rabid following of listeners devoted to his music. They will be greatly pleased with this, his most personal and adventurous album yet. His voice is grittier here, and the instruments—fiddles, lovely in their sawing, and electric guitars grinding out love and disappointment and every emotion in between—mimic the urgency and passion so evident in his vocals. “The vocals are more off the cuff and freer,” he says, stressing that the production strives more for rawness than perfection. “We steered our ears toward getting the right energy for each song. The takes took on their own life and led us along. The machines and mics had a weighty sound that we could use to drive the story through the lyrics and arrangements.” The songs give us the many facets of a human being who is acutely aware of the world around him and his own faults. The album is novelistic in its scope and theme as we travel with the narrator who reveals everything about himself as a father, a spouse, a musician, and more. We are along for the ride as the narrator sings of selfishness, joy, impatience, romance…being human. With Half-Made Man, a record of raw power, grace, and wisdom, Sollee is sure to be measured alongside the best artists of his generation.
Dave Davies
Tuesday 10/20
Dave Davies @ The Howard Theatre
$39.40 / $45
Dave Davies founded the Kinks in the early 1960s and forever changed music after he sliced up the speaker cone of a little green amp and created a revolutionary, distorted guitar tone and frenetic solo on song You Really Got Me. Musicologist Joe Harrington described the Kinks' influence: "'You Really Got Me', 'All Day and All of the Night' . . . were predecessors of the whole three-chord genre ... the Kinks did a lot to help turn rock 'n' roll into rock." In 1998, writer Bill Crowley wrote,"As lead guitarist and founder of The Kinks, Dave Davies is one of the most unpredictable and original forces in rock, without whom guitar-rock styles including heavy metal and punk would have been inconceivable. A member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Dave's massive guitar sounds have inspired bands from Van Halen to Green Day." Dave's new album I Will Be Me is a return to his groundbreaking guitar sound and innovative songwriting. His classically English voice shows off a new deepness but still hits his famous high notes in this collection. Hard rocking track "Living in the Past", takes a look at obsession with retro but, ever the Mod, Dave suprises with the lyric, "no matter what they do or say, the future's here to stay!" He takes a look back with Little Green Amp, a playful, punk homage to days when his jagged, blues driven sound wave ripped ahead of the British Invasion through stereos the world over. Cote du Rhone (I WILL BE ME), an uncensored look at ugliness in the world today, is as angry and biting as ever with an innovative heavy yet slide guitar tone. Soothing lyrics and sounds of Jonathan Lea's sitar playing on Healing Boy - show Dave's sensitive side. In a recent radio interview he said,"rock music is a positive force for good." This hopeful and optimistic vision manifests and bridges themes personal, social and universal in I Will Be Me. Since the early days, Dave has worked on a slew of critically acclaimed records, ranging from solo hit song Death of a Clown, to experimental Kinks records like Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur and classic song Lola in the 70s. In the 80s Dave released experimentally prescient solo work like the eponymous album titled "Dave Davies" or "AFL1-3603" named after himself and/or the barcode symbol face cover art. His mainstream success continued in the 80s on hit Kinks albums Low Budget and State of Confusion. In the 90s he released more solo work such as Bug and the compilation Unfinished Business. His songs have been featured in films by John Carpenter and on t.v. shows like the Sopranos which used his tune Living on a Thin Line. His tell-all autobiographical book Kink was well received in the late 90s as well. In recent years, Dave has collaborated creatively with his sons. In 2010 he worked with son Russell Davies to create the hauntingly, beautiful rock electronica album, the Aschere Project. Mystical Journey, directed by son Martin Davies, narrates Dave's longtime interest in the paranormal, Eastern philosophies and spirituality (the film inspired Julien Temple's BBC documentary Kinkdom Kome). No matter how diverse the ambition, Dave Davies puts his heart and soul in all of his projects.