By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
What the album could use is chunky, old-fashioned grooves to punctuate the choruses and give form to the songs. Only "Chew," a subdued honky-tonk number that closes the album, helps Acetone sail -- the rest plods along soporifically. If you do listen, put it on late at night, when the whirling eddies in your mind give way to babbling brooks.
-- Steven M. Zeitchik
Generoso Jimenez & His Orchestra
El Trombon Majadero
Generoso Jimenez was bad to the 'bone. From 1955 to 1959, he served as the arranger, composer, and main soloist in the band that backed Beny More, Cuba's most famous singer of the bluesy Latin music known as son. Jimenez was esteemed as Cuba's most famous trombonist, but he often served as a sideman to stars like More, playing Fred Wesley to More's James Brown. Jimenez combined an impressive command of Cuban jazz and an inimitable sense of mischief; you could tell he was smiling when he played.
Jimenez went on to lead his own orchestra in the early '60s, but it was short-lived. In 1965 he recorded his only album as a bandleader, the scorching El Trombón Majadero ("The Naughty Trombone"). Now available on CD, this historic gem proves that Jimenez was as influential in the development of big-band jazz in Havana as some of his more famous colleagues.
But mostly, this session is serious fun. From the outset Jimenez's brash horn pyrotechnics display a wicked sense of humor. His solo trombone flurries introduce the festive title track, laying down a sly rhythm that is flawlessly fleshed out by a top-notch big band. The manic pace continues with "Llegaron del Otro Mundo," a swaggering mambo that boasts Jimenez's inventive horn arrangements, and the cartoonish "Descarga Solfeando," a tongue-in-cheek detour into circus music. The energy level remains high throughout, showcasing Jimenez's delightfully wacky arrangements.
The surprisingly crisp recording benefits from the digital format. The bad-ass percussion section sounds full and the horns are never tinny. It's a shame this fine music has been unavailable for so many decades, but better late than never; this infectious jam session is as likely to fill a dance floor today as it was 30 years ago.
-- Manuel Pila
Lock 'N Load
I was getting along just fine with Denis Leary when he was making commercials. He's just funny enough (or, more pointedly, advertising is just lame enough) to make him an acceptable shill. And there's no denying that his role as "The Fad King" in Wag the Dog was an inspired showcase for his rapid-fire misanthropy.
But there's a reason that Leary does so well in the world of commercials and cameos: A little of his shtick goes a long way. Unfortunately, as Lock 'N Load demonstrates, a lot of Leary gives you a migraine. Unlike, say, Dennis Miller, whose complaints are by and large insightful, Leary is a comedic bottom-feeder, content to cuss a lot and take aim at the easiest targets -- Marv Albert, fat people, 7-Eleven clerks -- using ammunition that is uninspired and unoriginal. Just check out Leary's attempt to lampoon the Lord of the Dance guy, here dubbed "Asshole of the Dance."
If this disc were filled just with Leary's chowder-headed rants, it would be difficult enough to bear. But Leary also fancies himself a musician, and his painfully stupid ditties compose a good third of the album. As Adam Sandler's recent success demonstrates, it is by no means impossible for comedians to cross over into music. Unfortunately, Leary lacks Sandler's self-effacing wit and offbeat sensibility. In fact, as a musician, Leary lacks even a scintilla of charm. He and his band sound more like the drunk idiots at the end of the party who won't shut up and go home. (The only bright spot on the entire dreary LP is Janeane Garofalo's hilarious sendup of Fiona Apple's MTV Awards acceptance speech, and that's barely a minute long.)
After an hour of Leary's emphysemic huffing, you'll be ready to dust off those old Andrew Dice Clay records. Yeah, it's that bad.
-- Steven Almond