Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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4Play

Ross Boissoneau - April 13th, 2006
Robert Berry – Prime Cuts (Magna Carta)
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry is a prime mover on Magna Carta’s series of tribute albums, and here you can hear his versions of Yes’s “Roundabout,” “Karn Evil 9” by ELP, Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage,” even Ambrosia’s “Life Beyond LA.” Problem is, despite his brilliant mimicry of these and other famous prog artists, you don’t really hear enough of Berry. He plays everything, from drums to bass to guitar and keyboards, he sings, and produces. He even made a fun Christmas album where he used his one-man band approach to update holiday fare in the styles of King Crimson, Kansas, and others. He’s got the tools, as his previous solo discs and stints in the Three alongside Emerson and Palmer and in post-David Pack Ambrosia demonstrate, but “Prime Cuts” is just an excuse to hear him sound like his inspirations. Great fun though . . .

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – The Hidden Land (Columbia)
Jazz’s preeminent banjoist – okay, pretty much jazz’s only banjoist – returns more than three years after his group’s last album, and “The Hidden Land” is one of its strongest efforts. The Flecktones rearrange and reimagine Bach’s Fugue, while “P’lod in the House” is fairly straightahead jazz. Jeff Coffin gets most of the lead lines here, alternating among sax, flute, even clarinet, so much so that you start to long for Fleck to essay a foggy mountain breakdown. That doesn’t happen till “Weed Whacker,” and then Fleck follows his solo with some comping on wah-wah banjo. “Labyrinth” has a bluesy, call-and-response feel as Fleck and Coffin trade the melody, before Victor Wooten steps out for a typically audacious bass solo, while his brother, Future Man, serves as drummer for the band through a variety of percussive sounds. It’s obvious there is no one else out there who sounds like the Flecktones.

Duke Robillard – Guitar Groove-A-Rama (Stony Plain Records)
Guitarist Duke Robillard formed the acclaimed Roomful of Blues at the tender age of 17 and later replaced Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. His solo career has encapsulated numerous blues styles, and as the title suggests, he romps through many of them here. The titles often tell the tale: “Do the Memphis Grind,” “Gambler Blues,” “I’ll Do Anything But Work” show Robillard as a canny, soulful guitarist (and occasionally a singer of distinction as well). “Sunday Morning” has quotes from “I’m In The Money,” along with soulful lines from Doug James on bari sax. Robillard  plays it straight on “Danny Boy” before doubling the pace halfway through, allowing him to bend a few notes. The 16-minute “Blues-A-Rama” allows Robillard to stretch out as he emulates the styles of several of his influences and favorite players, from Johnny Guitar Watson to Lowell Fulsom and Freddie, B.B. and Albert King, among others. All told, this is one groovy disc.

Incognito – Eleven (Narada Jazz)
Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick’s latest brings together his sense of funky melody, his ultra-tight band, and great vocals from Maysa Leak, Tony Momrelle and others. Incognito has always brought together 70s funk and soul, colorful vocals, and snazzy horns, with an acid-jazz beat, and “Eleven” is no exception. “Come Away With Me” melds an urgent melody with percussion, keyboard breaks and a shouting horn section, the beat driving the song ahead while Maysa’s effortless vocals keep pace. “When Tomorrow Brings You Down” is a tale of heartbreak so soulful you almost can’t wait for it to happen. The second half of the album starts to drag, however, as “Show Me Love” gets repetitive, and “I’ll Get By” suffers from a desultory melody line. The concluding cuts get Bluey and band back on track, though, making “Eleven” enjoyable if not among the band’s best.
 
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