Like his fellow field recording greats Alan Lomax and George Mitchell, the lesser-known Art Rosenbaum wasn’t content to get his folk music from record shops. He sought out the uncut stuff wherever he could find it being played by uniquely gifted amateur musicians in tarpaper shacks, church basements, backyards or empty parking lots.
What sets Rosenbaum and his vast collection apart from just about every other roots music fanatic with a microphone is that he didn’t confine his documentation to specific genres or regions. It seems he put on tape whatever caught his fancy over the last 50 years, noting the circumstances in an informal way without any highfalutin ethnomusicological pronouncements.
Packaged together as a four-disc set divided thematically, not unlike Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music, Art Of Field Recording, Volume I: 50 Years Of Traditional American Music (of a planned two-volume set) includes a disc of dance and instrumental music (fiddling, banjo and string band tunes), one of religious performances, another of blues and one “survey” disc of assorted styles of music. Each reveals Rosenbaum’s personal taste for old-time sounds of rural origin, preferably by musicians who rarely play for strangers.
Fortunately, he’s got a good set of ears and has heard enough over the years to recognize the real gems. Just be forewarned that hearing these thrilling performers will make it even harder to put up with no-talent indie rock whiners. www.dust-digital.com.
Gilson’s summit sessions
Before world music was packaged in cartoony covers and sold with latte, Parisian jazz pianist Jef Gilson and University of Utah professor Lloyd Miller were both exploring the possibilities of cultural collisions on their own in different parts of the world.
As fate would have it, their paths crossed in 1962, and Gilson had the foresight to document his septet’s unhinged throwdown with Miller on balafon and his own “microrgan” gizmo, which the Dutch Kindred Spirits label has just reissued, likely because the strange broken-beat barrage sounds 45 years ahead of its time.
On the flipside of the sweet Jef Gilson Avec Lloyd Miller & Hal Singer 10-inch EP, you get two of Gilson’s late-60s modalicious spiritual jazz numbers with Texas tenor saxophonist Singer, in which Jef gets to show off his Malagasy moves.
Watch out for Kindred Spirits’ re-release of Gilson’s majestic Mother Africa album, due January 14. www.kindred-spirits.nl.
Angels in D-Town
Black Milk’s new Caltroit (Music House) mix disc that unites Detroit and Los Angeles hiphop heavies might initially seem like an odd concept, but the Motor City and L.A. have long had strong ties that go way beyond Dr. Dre giving Eminem a break or J Dilla sharing rent with Madlib. Basketball fans know the score, since the Lakers franchise had its origins in the Detroit Gems, and that was nearly three decades before Berry Gordy Jr. decided to ship his Motown operation to the West Coast.
Black Milk and Bishop Lamont continue the exchange program by knocking out a no-filler selection of bruising bangers involving Rass Kass, Guilty Simpson, Planet Asia, Elzhi, T3, Royce Da 5'9', Glasses Malone, Mistah F.A.B., Trick Trick, Phat Kat, Stat Quo, Illa J, Diverse, Jake One and Mr. Porter. Somehow Brooklyn’s Busta Rhymes and T-dot threat Kardinal Offishall manage to sneak in undetected, and Kardi just about steals the show with his self-produced If You Ready. Fiya! www.myspace.com/blackmk.