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February CD Review

Erica Lindsay QuartetLive At The Rosendale Cafe
(Artists Recording Collective)

With her high, flawless tone, excellent melodic sense, and propensity for boldly fluttering runs, saxophonist Erica Lindsay is plainly one of the most underrated players on the East Coast. Perhaps best known locally as a member of drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel’s quartet, the tenor goddess also teaches at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson in addition to heading up the first-rate quartet heard here. And while running down the rest of her hugely impressive resume (Baikida Carroll, Oliver Lake, Howard Johnson, San Francisco’s Trace Elements) and listening to this magical 2006 performance, one can only shake their head in disbelief that Lindsay’s name isn’t on the flapping lips of every hip jazz fan in New York and beyond.

But if there’s any justice in the world—and with the distribution it so rightfully deserves—Yes: Live at the Rosendale Cafe will correct that situation. Taped in Lindsay’s hometown of Rosendale, this mesmeric 70-minute set displays her skills not only as an instrumentalist but also as a leader and composer through eight extended tracks that recall the deep spirit of prime early ‘60s John Coltrane Quartet (in the ‘80s Lindsay worked with Trane side men McCoy Tyner and Reggie Workman; Francesca Tanksley, the group’s Tyner-esque pianist and another Siegal cohort, currently also plays with Workman). Sadly, hugely inventive drummer Bob Braye passed away in 2007. But this beautifully kinetic recording is a lasting testament to both his own indelible genius and that of the band as a whole.—Peter Aaron

Helen AvakianI Love the Moon
(Highwater Music)

Helen Avakian’s new album, I Love the Moon, is a warm collection full of gentle acoustic guitars, inviting vocals and an optimistic spirit. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’re in luck. If not, it might all start to feel a bit same-y before it’s all said and done. “I Love the Moon” features classical guitar that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wes Anderson film, though the lyrics are too earthbound to carry the comparison. “These Are the Things” is all swaying hips, and is maybe the album’s most interesting number. “Greetings From Asbury Park” isn’t directly connected to the Bruce Springsteen album of nearly identical name, but it’s hard not to make the association, especially as it’s a lyrically loving tribute with the sort of detail that might not ordinarily evoke fond memories.“I Met a Witch Today,” “Threshold of Tomorrow” and “McTammy’s Jig” might make it on to your iPod Ren-Fair playlist, if you have such a thing. Take of that what you will.—Crispin Kott

Angus MartinLe Demimonde
(Soluna Records)

Merriam-Webster defines “demimonde” as “a class of women on the fringes of respectable society supported by wealthy lovers.” I must confess that I didn’t know that before listening to Angus Martin’s stunning new album, though its Bacchanalian artwork and throbbing music might have pointed me in the right direction. “Le Franglais” opens the proceedings with a decidedly tropical feel, like the sounds echoing through the streets in Orson Welles’ other masterpiece, Touch of Evil. The music continues on in that vein, with “Hombrecitos Verdes” as close to a party as one can reasonably squeeze into nearly three minutes of audio. “Hatienne Cherie” infuses reggae into the mix, while album closer “Waterfront Blues” is closer to traditional jazz, a perfect way to end a long celebratory evening. Martin has assembled a crew of top musicians for the album, though he’s certainly no slouch in his own right. On top of romantic and evocative vocals (in French, Spanish, English and Haitian Creole), he’s heard at varying times on piano, guitar, accordion, harmonica, reed flute, talking drum, whistling and toy harp.—Crispin Kott

Chris Mahoney ProjectRebirth
(True2urSelf Music)

Even without reading the bio on his website, it’s clear Chris Mahoney is something of a guitar virtuoso. His debut solo album - recorded in 2004 - is all-instrumental, with the guitar as the centerpiece of a host of texturally provocative songs. What makes Rebirth stand out is its use of electronic elements one might not ordinarily associate with guitar-driven music. The combination is an enticing one, and if the idea of instrumental guitar music appeals to you, Rebirth is worth a listen. Chris Mahoney has apparently since recorded an album called Appearance, though his MySpace blog lists “marketing” issues with his label as the reason for its...well...lack of appearance.—Crispin Kott

GistConversations, Expectations
(Red Stapler Records)

College rock is alive and well and living in the hearts and souls of Washington DC-based Gist, a power-pop trio so unashamedly devoted to the glory of chunky riffs and anthemic choruses it’s a shock to learn they’re not fronted by Bob Mould. Gist’s latest, Conversations, Expectations, harkens back to a bygone era when bands like the Hold Steady were still sucking at the teat of earnest, stampeding rock and roll heard through static from the nearest university campus. Album opener “Hold On” is a stormer, riding the riffs and sing-a-long chorus guaranteed to please. Eight of the 10 songs on Conversations, Expectations are in this brains-meet-brawn vein, though a band’s primary sound is often less telling than what they choose to do to cleanse the palate. In this case, it’s important to take notice of “Post-It Notes” and “Survival,” the two songs where the tempo slows enough for the listener to catch their breath. The former is carried by jungle drums and airy guitars, and features the shaky premise that the next religious treatise will be written on tiny bits of disposable paper, while the latter is simply gorgeous, ethereal and lovely with a distant lead vocal in the tradition of Mark Linkous.—Crispin Kott

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