Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Musical Obsessions

I think I've made it a habit to go record shopping before election days. Perhaps I pictured myself being in some sort of depressive state on the floor trying to drown out all those inevitable crazy emotions with something far more pure. Fortunately for me, Tuesday turned out to be a great day, and the music was still here, so consider it win/win.

Anyway, these are some of the best records I've bought in years. Dig in:

In the great sea of boring, nearly contextless jazz compilations, we're glad to have some absolutely solid records like this one. If you're not familiar with his recording career, this is Thelonious' great debut for Columbia, and it represents his commercial peak as well. The record fulfills it's promise of occupying Monk's headspace: confusing, sardonic, intoxicating, nostalgic, and a bunch of other feelings that could only be articulated as Monk-like, Monkesque, whatever. His take on 'Body and Soul' is heartbreaking. Equal credit belongs to the Tenor Saxist, Charlie Rouse, who is pound-for-pound as dissonant a soul as Monk. Ditch the bonus tracks, and you have a beautifully concise record to get lost in.

Read that title. "Piano Starts Here" demands you to witness Tatum make a bitch out of the ol' pianny with some of the most heavily nuanced and beautiful Jazz recordings ever. It's simply organized: you've got four of his earliest, seminal performances, and a later, intimate live show. It's virtuosic with a sense of humor and economy that doesn't wear itself out easily, without a trace of wankery (and I'm sure we've all got our pocket examples). "Tiger Rag", an early novelty cut, may be the only track that could be contested as such, but Tatum would be the first to say he's showing off. This is one to listen to over and over again. It would be impossible for me to overrate this.

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