HOME? AWAY FROM HOME
Larval chief Bill Brovold has been busy recording and producing at his new Koko Studios in Royal Oak. Along with his own music, Brovold has played producer for Poignant Plecostomus, ex-Modern Lovers guitarist John Felice, John Lamb, and the sound track for a documentary on mercenaries. But Brovold and band will be whisked away this summer for the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival, which takes place in four cities. Larval was handpicked by the festival’s director, Mary-Noelle Dana, to play on the same bill with the Boredoms and the quartet of John Zorn, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell and Dave Lombardo at the Seaport Atrium in New York on Wednesday, June 9. "Today, jazz grows on its ‘interferences’ and crossover relationships," Dana says. "Bill Brovold’s Larval represents one of the most accomplished sounds in music today. Larval has the spirit of jazz, classical arrangements, a great live energy and still feels like rock ’n’ roll."
SMOKIN’ CITY SCENES
Not too long ago — two weeks to be exact — inside the dimly lit Johanson Charles Gallery, tucked away in the funky streets and alleyways of Detroit’s Eastern Market, there was a mild roar among 200 music hounds. The occasion for all of this anticipation? The premiere of music from the star-studded new release, City Cuts, by Straight Ahead, Detroit’s first ladies of jazz. On record and in Jo-Chas’ urbane confines, Straight Ahead and friends didn’t disappoint. From flutist Althea Renee’s soothing, hypnotic sounds to songstress Faatimah York’s dynamic vocal ranges to bassist Marion Hayden’s deeply rich and mellow style on "People Make the World Go Round" and "You Touch Me," it was no mystery what the commotion was all about.
Pianist Eileen Orr and drummer Gayelynn McKinney create such a boogie that, of all people, Stevie Ray Vaughan could’ve sung, "If the house is rockin’, don’t bother knockin’, baby c’mon in."
Special guests guitarist John E. Lawrence and percussionists Mickey Figueroa and Dennis Schindel added to the fervor of "Burning Sphere." (They’re there on the grooves of City Cuts for all to hear, too.)
With Renee’s melodic flute intro and the combination of Figueroa’s timbales and Schindel’s congas on Stevie Wonder’s "You’ve Got it Bad, Girl," this salsa wasn’t just hot, it was loaded with Guatemalan insanity peppers! Lawrence’s slapping style accented the smoothness of his guitar licks, and when Lawrence and Renee dueled in "Burning Sphere," the hungry crowd demanded more. Straight Ahead has assembled a cast of musical characters that play out lovely, funky, sweaty and transcendent music scenes from a drama called Detroit. You may have missed the live jam, but you can feel the magic captured on City Cuts, which can be obtained at finer area record stores.
Jeff Tweedy’s favorite psych-pop outfit — Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry — has reason to celebrate the new millennium. The band has just inked a contract with LA-based DF2K records, a subsidiary of legendary surf and teen-rock label Del-Fi — recently renowned for its reissues of Richie Valens, Bobby Fuller and other classic and wild material from its own vaults. Del-Fi’s return to releasing new material’s pretty damned encouraging for fans of classic pop music, as label head Bob Keane is known for finding and polishing musical diamonds in the marketplace rough. For its part, Outrageous Cherry will record at least two full-lengths for DF2K, the first of which is already in the can and should be on the shelves of your fave record merchant by August. "The wildest thing was looking at the contract and seeing my signature next to Bob Keane’s on paper," enthused OC’s Matt Smith, a superfan of Keane’s track record, to say the least. You can investigate Outrageous Cherry’s velvet pet sounds, lovely harmonies, swooping guitar jangle and lovingly reverent psychedelic musical fun on the band’s releases for Royal Oak indie Third Gear Records, Stereo Action Rent Party, Nothing’s Gonna Cheer You Up and the single "Pail Frail Lovely One" — for my money, the most blissful pop moment to come out of Detroit this decade. Write Third Gear, P.O. Box 1886, Royal Oak, MI 48068 or visit thirdgear.com.