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Mitch KesslerErratica
(Sunjump Records)

With his Sunjump label, Germantown pianist John Esposito continues to document the Hudson Valley jazz scene via archival and contemporary recordings. One of the latter, Erratica marks the long-awaited debut of saxophonist Mitch Kessler, and pairs the Albany-area tenor with Esposito, bassist Ira Coleman, and drummer Peter O’Brien. Those who recall Kessler’s fine way with a standard from his frequent appearances at the late, lamented Sunday sessions at the Pig in Saugerties may be a bit surprised to hear him venturing farther out and into Coltrane territory, as he does here. But on this disc the enthusiasm of the 49-year-old Kessler—who studied under fabled instructor Joe Allard but had shelved his recording career to pursue a livelihood in the legal field—is downright contagious.

One of Allard’s brightest students was the great Eric Dolphy, whose jabbing style is visibly manifest in Kessler’s own. Perhaps more audible, however, is the fluid tact of longtime Theolonius Monk sideman Charlie Rouse, which makes much sense given the often Monk-referencing themes of these eight originals (see “The Ugliest Beauty”). Although the leader boldly opens the disc with a lengthy, valve-fluttering solo pronouncement on “The Sixth Marx Brother” (some great titles here), for the balance he gives his comrades ample room to roam; check O’Brien’s interlude of tender brushwork on the Trane-esque ballad “Bibi Andersson.” A brilliant beginning, and one to hopefully be followed soon with more great studio work by Kessler. —Peter Aaron

Tiger PissShake It, Don’t Fake It
(Fat Camel Records)

Maybe it’s my own problem and not theirs at all, but it’s not easy to take a band who call themselves Tiger Piss seriously. Plus, there’s a song on Shake It, Don’t Fake It called “Vagina Town,” a gleefully vulgar ditty sung by bass guitarist Lara Hope.

But take New Paltz-based Tiger Piss seriously one must do, especially as what they do, they do rather well. It’s too close to the mark to call it retro, and too earnest to call it pastiche. What Tiger Piss is, is a rather good rock trio who sound like they believe in every single note they play. Danny Mark Asis effortlessly peels off rock riffs on rave-ups like “Rock n’ Roll Sensation,” Rev Kev is all over the drum kit like it’s the late 80s, and Hope is a fantastically histrionic vocalist with all the forcefulness and none of the annoyance in No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani.

It’s called an album, but Shake It, Don’t Fake It is actually six minutes, plus a hidden track tacked on to the end. That final number is a country-style love song that tears down a man before ultimately keeping him around because he excels at oral sex. —Crispin Kott

The Duke & the KingNothing Gold Can Stay
(Ramseur Records)

Fans of the Felice Brothers who fretted over what Simone Felice’s departure might mean should take comfort in what he’s been up to with co-conspirator Robert “Chicken” Burke; Nothing Gold Can Stay is a triumph.

“Americana” is most often used to describe music based in a rural idiom, though America has witnessed the birth of so many kinds of music, some of which runs through the veins of Nothing Gold Can Stay. While their Woodstock-area headquarters lend their sound a natural folksy flavor, the Duke and the King are equally comfortable with soul, a genre with one foot in the city, the other in the deepest pockets of the country.

Released in the thick of the summer, Nothing Gold Can Stay is the perfect soundtrack for the sort of things people tend to get into during the season; sitting on porches with a fire crackling nearby, or city stoops as the sun fades into the distance.

“Still Remember Love” is one of the album’s strongest tracks, a soul shuffle with enough subtle delights to transport the listener back to the gentle radio soul of the mid-70s; “Lose Myself” is a shimmering paean to both the city and the country, radio samples sitting comfortably alongside an aching guitar and piano-led track.

London is all gushy over the band after a performance in June, and the secret is already spilling out. With Nothing Gold Can Stay, it’s likely to continue in that way. —Crispin Kott

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