Gold Sounds is a Cd containing jazz interpretations of Pavement songs. This music will get under your skin, into your mind and deep into your heart. Repeat listens will reveal the unending creativity of this band. A great CD for jazz and Pavement fans.
"what the hell are a bunch of jazzbos doing playing Pavement tunes?" the short answer, "making a great album" -- All Music Guide, October, 2005
It's a heavyweight jazz album with masterfully crafted and soulful arrangements. -- NPR All Songs Considered Episode 94, November 2005
Recommended: ace jazz players interpret Pavement -- Spin, December, 2005
an enthralling record with memorable melodies that leaves you with the desire to return very quickly for another go. -- All About Jazz, October 31, 2005
it's hard to resist music this fun. -- Time Magazine, October 17, 2005
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Anyway... I was familiar with all the players and, aside from James Carter, had heard all them play at some point or another. Cyrus Chesnut is alright, doesn't really do it for me like some other newer guys but on this record he sounds great; as do the others. It's just James Carter...........man oh man! In the liner notes it says "James Carter is Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Coltrane all rolled into one"; maybe so but those 3 have and had one thing that Carter lacks: soul!
Yes he has major chops; but who cares if he isn't playing good music??? To say he is overbearing on some of the tracks is an understatement. I just wonder how much better this record could be if the sax player was any of these players: Seamus Blake (an underrated player but someone who I think would first perfectly into this format), Chris Cheek (ditto), Joshua Redman, or maybe Chris Potter.
Oh well, maybe some one else will do this (though I highly doubt it) again and get it right.
One of indie rock's most beloved of groups, Pavement was often imitated, but rarely equaled. With strong, often quirky melodies and unconventional song structures, Pavement's tunes are actually ripe vehicles for improvisation. That fact alone does not guarantee success. While "Gold Sounds" is an interesting experiment, it falls short of perfection, but surprisingly, not by much.
It is hard to imagine any of these musicians having listened to Pavement in their prime, and therefore having a vested interest in the faithfulness of their interpretations. But that willingness to re-arrange and invert these already heady structures is what makes the album a success. By not falling victim to fanboy like respect, these four expand already strong pieces into vehicles for improvisation that are by turns more complex and listenable than the average pop tune.
While James Carter has tendency to showboat on occasion, with a truckload of pyrotechnic techniques at his disposal, here his indulgences pay off. By peppering his phrases with slippery, shrill soprano twists and sputtered, multiphonic tenor blasts, Carter enriches what could otherwise become a lifeless exercise in transposing vocals to instrumental melody lines. Cyrus Chestnut alternates between piano, Fender Rhodes and Hammond B-3, sometimes playing more than one at a time. Former Wynton Marsalis bassist Reginald Veal alternates between his typical acoustic upright to play electric half the time, while previously unheard, but inventive percussionist Ali Jackson holds down the time with a stalwart groove.
Some of the tunes benefit considerably by their arrangements, others, less so. After the opening blast of "Stereo," the transition to the lyrical line is a bit awkward, but the quartet quickly finds its footing and delivers a solid improvisation based on a familiar theme. "Cut Your Hair," originally an upbeat, anthemic, shout along concert favorite, here is taken at a slower pace, with a Gospel flavor, complete with Hammond B-3 organ washes. Featuring wordless harmonic singing, the only vocals on the album, the cut has an air of the surreal to it. Concluding with a double timed climax of fervent proportions, the entire piece feels like some long lost 1970s Musical Theater production number rescued from the cutting room floor. "Summer Babe" delivers the right optimistic mood, complete with deliciously tormented tenor solo. "My First Mine" an early B-Side with a bouncy Fall-like riff hardly sounds like the original at all. Re-imagined as Dixieland, so distant from its source as to be a new composition altogether, it is enriched with strong rhythmic interplay, making the piece as singular as any on the album.
Numerous Pavement tunes embody a quirky sensibility more akin to jazz harmony and melody than typical pop song structure, and these cuts are the strongest on the album. "Blue Hawaiian," with its odd meter and phrasing, works perfectly with the quartet's winding improvisation. Featuring shimmery Fender Rhodes lines and Carter's velvety to eviscerating tenor, the piece expands like an early fusion experiment, all space and dark ambience. "Platform Blues", from Pavement's final album, originally an Allman Brothers like jam, lends itself perfectly to the group's bluesy vamping. Carter tears it up on tenor while Jackson drops press rolls left and right around him with the rest of the group flailing in spurts. Indicative of the best of both worlds, "Platform Blues" retains both the structure of the original piece while inverting the form enough to make it valid as a jazz vehicle.
Ones appreciation of this material is going to be dependent on their relationship with both Pavement and the assembled musicians. Conservative fans of either stripe will likely cry foul (unless of course, someone tells them to like it). This is unfortunate, as the quartet has done a stellar job at re-contextualizing familiar songs that have become the classic rock of an entire generation.
Few also dispute that his talent often fails to find congenial settings to adequately, properly, display his gifts.
Well, I think he's found his proper setting. After his last recording, Out of Nowhere, featuring his Organ Trio, I vowed I would never purchase another Carter disc, so upset was I with his histrionics, grandstanding, and pyrotechnics. But, weak-willed human that I am, I blew off my vow and snatched up this disc.
And I'm really glad I did.
What makes this outing different than the others? First, he's playing with his peers. Cyrus Chestnut (piano and keys), Ali Jackson (drums and percussion), and Reginald Veal (bass) are his musical equals. This isn't late-career Sonny hitting softballs out of the park served up to him by his son-in-law on trombone and Bob Cranshaw on electric bass.
This is first-class musicians, musical equals or superiors, interacting, dialoging, bad-assing and coming up with something both accessible and mind-expanding.
They're playing the Pavement songbook.
So what if I don't know Pavement from Adam? There're plenty of attractive song vehicles to cavort about and improvise on. And it strikes me that there's also a vibe of apropos ephemerality that enables all involved not to take themselves too seriously even as they have a boatload of fun.
Second, not only is everyone having lots of fun, they're creating music of substance, of consequence.
And, amazingly, without pretension.
Really, I'd given up all hope that this would EVER happen--that James Carter would record a disc as attractive, substantial, hip, and approachable as this one so obviously is.
Personally, I'm thrilled. I hated to be grousing about a guy so obviously gifted, yet one, also, so obviously improperly recorded.
So let's just rejoice: at the ascent of a brilliant musician who's finally found his MO; at the coming together of an all-star band that succeeds beyond one's wildest expectations; at a left-field concept that, odd as it is, nevertheless, almost magically, stumbles on the ideal setting to showcase the ridiculous talents of a man who, not improbably, is described in the liner notes as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Albert Ayler rolled into one.