Ray Anderson

Cheer Up

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This trio's first recording, the wonderful Azurety, met with acclaim by critics and music fans alike for its gleeful abandon, musically astute terrorism, and tunes that were stop-on-a-dime tight. The trio, which was initially together just for a tour, is now a working unit and this second recording proves it. The originals by Christy Doran and Ray Anderson were written specifically to the strengths -- and current obsessions -- of each musician. Doran wrote "No Return" -- with its crunchy New Orleans funk -- with Han Bennink in mind (the drummer had just returned from West Africa and developed a jones for using bells). For his part, Anderson composed "My Own Children Are the Reason Why I Need to Own My Publishing" -- which is all but humorous -- as a bluesy wonder for his trombone's lyrical swing and Doran's trademark atmospheric shading. It's late-night lounge blues with a purpose, which is, it seems, a tender and loving paean to Anderson's kids. The free stuff ("Tabasco Cart," "Buckethead," etc.) is so playful it's hard to notice at first all the maneuvering that's going on between the three. Bennink is ripping the skins off in an attempt to make Doran push himself beyond his usual Jimi Hendrix machinations and match him in percussive expression. The title track is more bells from Bennink and whistles, and Doran using an African folk song as his root melody for Anderson to cruise through the registers on the tuba. It's a joyous dance of melodic invention and polyrhythmic grace. The overtones created by Doran's riffing play an excellent invertible counterpoint to Bennink's bells and whistles. When it slides into guttersnipe funk and slips into an off-kilter Cuban mambo, Doran takes off Robert Fripp style, and carries the band into the stratosphere. This date is killer -- a blast to listen to. Guaranteed to cheer you up, even if you don't need it.

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