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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blow Gage with Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project's Seriously

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 12:53 PM

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Listen to this while high: Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project's Seriously.

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Behind the buzz: The

subject line of the publicist's email mentioned something about Tom Waits' saxophonist,

but the magic name of Ralph Carney

dispelled any incipient attack of the whatevs. I mean, we're not talking about just

any sideman or appendage here, but a brilliantly soulful soloist and one of the

unsung heroes of the old New Wave. Founder of the cult Akron post-punk karass

Tin Huey, this sardonic saxman also has sat in with The Black Keys, The B-52's,

Jonathan Richman, Black Francis, Medeski, Martin & Wood, and They Might Be

Giants, which bids him fair to be the Junior Walker of his generation. All that

aside, I was smitten by the fellow when seeing him perform alongside uber-crab Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu at a particularly memorable West Oakland warehouse gig earlier this year. Ralph's irrepressible humor and sidewise remarks were just the right leaven for Dave's well-traveled misanthropy; a kind of tangy coating on a sourball.

Today's weed:

Another pipeload of Purp Dragon, carefully hoarded from last week's review


Hawns, please: Ralph's

latest collection of "honkers and screamers" from the pre-rock era kicks off with Buddy Tate's "Blue Creek Hop," an old-timey

country swing rugcutter that sounds like how they celebrated V-J Day in Tulsa.

Carney really begins to cook on Coleman Hawkins' "Meet Dr. Foo" and cook on

"Echoes of Harlem" by Duke Ellington, the spooky piano walkup (courtesy of

Michael McIntosh) of which sets up Ralph's slow-grind meander through the

melody. Sir Duke's catalog gets another workout in "Carnival in Caroline," with

the band coming on like Tommy Dorsey as played by Steely Dan and Karina

Denike's perky vocals hopping in and out of the jolly cacophony. There's a

bravura run at "Moondog Boogie" and Carney's playing on "Gypsy Without a Song"

is slow and sultry as a goodnight waltz in a juke joint's gravel parking lot.

"Linger Awhile" continues the goodnight-ladies mood, and "Pompton Turnpike" extends

it into fantasia, as the boys in the band call out the travelogue lyrics in a

cheerful communal bellow. The amiable romanticism of "I Wish I Were Twins" rings

on a pass at Rodgers and Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me," as Ralph pours out

this familiar tale of familiar moonstruck woe as an exercise in awe-shucks

amiability. The album wraps up with "Echoes of Chloe," a psychedelic bop

freakfest that fades us out as the P. Dragon fades us in.

Psychoactive verdict:

All swingin' reet, Jackson.

Plugola: Seriously drops Sept. 27 and Ralph and

the band play the Beatbox on on Friday, September 30.


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