Goin' To San Antone
Some people believe that norteña music began in San Antonio with Don Santiago Jimenez and ends with his sons Flaco and Santiago Jr., but there's much more to that lively scene than its celebrated first family. Accordionist Fred Zimmerle is one of those important but underappreciated conjunto leaders, and his deeply soulful vocal delivery made him the canción king of the region. That hallmark sound - uniquely accented by Juan Viesca's rockabilly-inspired bass thumping - is wonderfully documented on Trio San Antonio (Arhoolie) by label boss Chris Strachwitz , who captured the group on his Nagra reel-to-reel in Zimmerle's home back in 1974. Those already hip to Zimmerle's recordings should note that this CD reissue comes with seven great bonus tracks.
The sophomore jinx seemed to be in effect for the Bees' second album, Free The Bees, but the track Chicken Payback is a definite winner and ranks alongside the group's Os Mutantes-inspired cover of A Minha Menina for unexpectedly delightful detours. Someone must've realized the tune's deep funk crossover potential, because a terrifically tweaked remix of Chicken Payback has just surfaced on a white-label 10-inch with a splendidly psyched-up retake of These Are The Ghosts on the flip. Definitely buzzworthy.
What, you've never heard of Sheffield chanteuse Róisín Murphy? Well, her group Moloko never seemed to click over here like they did in England, and once her relationship with musical collaborator Mark Brydon dissolved during the four years (!) it took to make 2004's Statues album, Moloko's end was enevitable. But Murphy's back, and she's got a new musical auteur in tow - Matthew Herbert. Not only does he produce and arrange the songs on her Sequins (Echo) EP series, but he also plays keyboards, guitar and makes a smashing cup of tea. Parts two and three are a tad too cocktail-chilled for my taste, but that nasty fuzz guitar riff Herbert drops on the first EP's Ruby Blue takes the cake.
Since the Soul Jazz label inexplicably let its excellent Strata East label comps go out-of-print, the release of the two-disc New Thing! collection will be a welcome sight for those looking for the spiritual lift of some deep indie jazz from the 70s. The title is a bit misleading, because the sometimes cosmic cross-cultural fusions gathered here from Sun Ra , Stanley Cowell, Eddie Gale, Alice Coltrane and others stretch far beyond the accepted bounds of the so-called "new thing" jazz movement, but it's nevertheless an engrossing mix that provides an enlightening introduction to the work of lesser-known talents like Lloyd McNeill, Paris Smith and the great Maulawi , whose exhilarating debut album for Strata has just been reissued as a companion piece.