DON BYRON Do The Boomerang: The Music Of Junior Walker (Blue Note) Rating: NN
Back in the late 60s, the people running jazz labels tried to broaden the appeal of their releases by topping them up with covers of popular R&B tunes, often by Motown artists. Apparently, not a lot has changed over the past 40 years, other than the boomerfication of the jazz-buying demographic, so Blue Note feels it's time for the adventurous Don Byron to drop the cerebral stuff and get busy with some straight-up organ combo versions of Junior Walker's jukebox oldies. This set must be aimed at the 55-plus crowd, since younger deep funk fans probably wouldn't connect with these bubbly runs at beer commercial fodder like Shotgun and Roadrunner. Bluesman-for-hire Chris Thomas King is brought in to shout the appropriate soul signifiers while everyone else remains in the pocket and avoids improvising. Can't wait to hear Andrew Hill Plays Super Freak: The Songs Of Rick James.
KEITH JARRETT The Carnegie Hall Concert (ECM) Rating: NNNN
Some artists really thrive in extreme circumstances. Eccentric piano genius Keith Jarrett, playing his first North American show in a decade, strolls out to a packed Carnegie, sits down at the keys and has no preconceived idea what he is about to play. It's totally insane yet absorbingly beautiful Jarrett weaves 10 improvised pieces and a five-song encore, cascading between nimble delicacy and rhapsodic classical grandeur with flourishes of jazz and blues. While the audience is held motionless (perhaps out of fear Jarrett is notorious for reprimanding unruly behaviour like coughing or sneezing), the pianist is anything but. Some may find his grunts and off-key caterwauls distracting, but if anything they give a telling indication of how absorbed the piano master is in the immediacy of this captured moment.