Eleni Mandell 's spellbinding rendition of the Johnny Frigo standard Detour Ahead at her country coming-out party at the Horseshoe last March suggested that the Los Angeles saloon singer was due for a jazz recording. On her recent downtime between tours, Mandell checked into a studio with her combo, bolstered by Beck keyboardist Greg Kurstin , and did just that. The six-track tour EP Maybe, Yes (Heart of a Champion) - available online at www.elenimandell.com - offers her entrancing takes on Detour Ahead and I'm Thru With Love along with four of her own future standards, well worthy of L.A. Weekly's songwriter of the year award. Watch for Toronto's Zedtone label to release Mandell's new Afternoon album this spring.
Drumming up business
Anyone who believes Dave Grohl really belongs behind a drum kit will appreciate Mr. Foo's hard-pummelling side-project, Probot . It's like Grohl's own little metal fantasy camp where he gets to record one song apiece with his favourite longhairs - including Motörhead 's Lemmy , Soulfly 's Max Cavalera , COC 's Mike Dean , DRI 's Kurt Brecht , Trouble 's Eric Wagner and Voivod 's Snake - the first two scorching tracks of which appear on the self-titled 7-inch just released by Southern Lord . But since both rippers, Centuries Of Sin (with Venom bassist Cronos ) and The Emerald Law (with ex- Obsessed guitarist Scott "Wino" Weinrich ), appear on the forthcoming disc, turntable-deprived Grohl groupies would be advised to wait until the full-length drops February 10.
King of country
Too often when searching for country reissues, you're left with a choice between poorly packaged 10-song budget jobs and deluxe 10-disc import boxed sets. So the Ace label's single-disc release of country great Roy Acuff 's first two LPs, Once More It's Roy Acuff and The King Of Country Music - launching a series of Hickory label twofer reissue CDs - should be reason to cheer for roots country fans. On these raw early 60s sessions, Acuff cuts loose on some of his old faves (Fireball Mail, Wabash Cannonball, etc) along with classics by Don Gibson and the Louvin Brothers without drums in what was then considered a hillbilly throwback style. Today these unadorned Hickory recordings stand among the very best of the Opry star's lengthy career.
Given the fact that tastemaking UK DJ Gilles Peterson is co-credited with compiling A Journey To The Dawn (Temposphere), an overview of spiritual jazz released by the East Bay's Theresa label, you know it's going to be tilted toward the dance-floor-friendly joints. And he delivers the goods, focusing on Pharoah Sanders and Babatunde Lea . It would've been great if Peterson could've turned up a few more overlooked gems like the Bishop Norman Williams grinder Hip Funk, but no one who gets introduced to Sanders's majestic anthem You Got To Have Freedom will be complaining.