AMN Capsule Comments: Mike Eisenberg’s Recent Playlist (July 16, 2021)

From time to time, AMN writer Mike Eisenberg revisits older albums that he has not listened to in a while and provides comments.

Debile Menthol – “Emile A La Campagne” (1994) 

I spun the Swiss band Debile Menthol twofer “Emile A La Campagne” recently. This includes their two studio albums (from 1981 and 1984) and maybe a bonus cut or two.

Debile Menthol was the precursor to Nimal and L’Ensemble Raye and, as expected these two albums have elements of both of those bands. This was an excellent listen, haven’t heard this band in, oh, maybe 3 decades…and their music is just as powerful, strange, and extremely virtuosic as I remembered back in the 80’s when I was playing their vinyl. A great RIO take on the new wave movement with killer playing from all…and an excellent way to spend 90 minutes!

Max Roach Quartet – “Scott Free” (1984) 

This album was recorded in 1984 and features Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet), Odean Pope (ts), and Tyrone Brown (b). It’s basically a 40-minute jam that is a great vehicle to showcase the entire quartet, each given much space to solo and flaunt their copious talents.

The piece only has a few musical ideas that are revisited as bridges to the next solo spot. All of the players really play their asses off on this one, but Tyrone Brown leads the pack with extremely quick and dexterous walking bass lines and some excellent double stops and chording. Really loved the odd timing funk thing they get into in the last few minutes and when there is structured musical content, it has a decidedly AACM feel to it. 

Christy Doran, Mark Helias, Bobby Previte, Gary Thomas – “Corporate Art” (1991) 

This album came out in 1991 and I don’t know if they went by the name “Corporate Art” or it was untitled. It featured Gary Thomas (ts), Mark Helias (b), Bobby Previte (d), and Christy Doran (g). At the time, I had several Gary Thomas records and knew Previte from his downtown scene associations. I don’t think I ever heard of Doran and only recognized Helias’s name by a few stray releases I had.

Actually, Doran’s playing steals the show here but the whole band plays like this was not a one off meeting, but a very intensively rehearsed, well-oiled machine. As I said, Doran wails on this having some crazy noise/sound effects moments and the 3 tunes he penned are my favorite. That being said, the whole album is great, especially Previte’s super solid and ultra-slick drumming.

Michael Eisenberg