Masterstrokes

KING AND QUEEN ACT: Next Monday’s C&W
blockbuster at the Arlington — with the classic country hero
George Jones and alt-country queen Lucinda
Williams
 — is a tale of two legends, from different
generations and artistic points of view. It’s also further proof
that you can’t always believe what you hear on the radio or see
garlanded by the Grammy gods. Seventy-four-year-old Jones, who
played the Arlington back in 2002, is on a new high these days,
celebrating 50 years in the business, a steamy heap of hits, and an
influence on just about everyone who matters in country.
Fiftysomething Williams, last heard locally opening for another
country legend, Willie Nelson, is simply one of
the greats, in any genre. She brings rock, swamp, and C&W
together in her loping, twanging voice, joined to poetic
songwriting with a deep-diving intelligence and gritty-surfaced
charms. Don’t miss this one.

TO-DOINGS: Truth-in-advertising becomes the
project known as The Masters of Persian Music,
landing Tuesday at Campbell Hall. An all-star confab featuring
vocalist Möhammad Reza Shajarian, kamancheh player
Kayhan Kalhor, and tar player Hossein
Alizadeh
, they last played Campbell Hall early in 2001,
shaking rafters and craniums. That acclaimed tour fueled further
projects, including the recent album Faryad (World Village). Try as
we might to separate art and global politics, you can’t help but
view this amazing, ancient project out of Iran as a balm of
cultural healing in the frazzled post-9/11 world.

FRINGE PRODUCTS: An exciting new subcurrent is
underway in jazz, another valuable musical strain you have to
strain to find. Gifted jazz musicians with open ears and a
labworker’s curiosity are finding fresh ways to blend bona fide
jazz elements with rock, electronica, soul, and other groove-lined
musical flavors, creating new bitchin’ electro-acoustic brews. This
music only marginally relates to the jazz-rock fusion of old or to
the jazzy side of the “jamband” scene, in which limited players
dabble in the idea of jazz. Three new releases highlight the
movement’s development, from musicians at various stages of their
musical game. Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal ,
whose inspirations include Jimi Hendrix ,
John McLaughlin , and John
Coltrane
, has conjured his own brand of jazz-rock meets
seductive-Nordic-angst for 30-plus years. His “fusion” is less
about head-banging energy than heady impressionism. Vossabrygg,
Rypdal’s latest for ECM, is his finest in years, embodying a new
synthesis of groove, inside-outside ideas, and electro-acoustic
textures. Re-routed echoes of ’70s Miles Davis voodoo jazz abound,
in the best way. Among the players are his son
Marius on electronics and turntables, trumpeter
Palle Mikkelborg, and currently hip Norwegian
keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft (whose own vibrant
electro-jazz is too little known on this side of the Atlantic).
Mid-career player Chris Potter , considered by
many as one of jazz’s best tenor saxists, has capital-J jazz
credentials well in order, but his latest band project is a
fascinating trip into the electro-funkified zone, as heard on
Underground (Sunnyside). Joined by guitarist Wayne
Krantz
(and sometimes Adam Rogers),
drummer Nate Smith, and the wondrous Craig
Taborn
on Fender Rhodes (no bassist), Potter concocts
super-cool attitudes and fresh variations on the groove-ish jazz
theme. He also dips into cover material ranging from
Radiohead (“Morning Bell”) to
Ellintonia (“Lotus Blossom”). Lastly,
Gianluca Petrella’s Indigo (Blue Note) may be the
strongest “major jazz label” debut of the year. A young Italian
trombonist, Petrella has fierce and flexible improvisational
skills, a love of both swing tradition and hip-hop’s liberating
sound out-sourcing policies, and a persuasive assembly of concepts.
Interests run from Thelonious Monk to Sun
Ra
 — closing with the Ra-dedicated original “A Relaxing
Place on Venus.” Petrella’s coup reminds us that some of the
brightest ideas and sounds in jazz now come from Europe, and also
that the younger generation of jazz players aren’t taking tradition
for an answer. (Got e? fringebeat@aol.com.)

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