Friday, March 6, 2009

John Zorn / George Lewis / Bill Frisell - News For Lulu (Hat Hut Records 1988)

News For Lulu
Hat Hut Records 1988


Since it's stopped raining and the sun is out and the air is gradually becoming warm and fresh, I thought I'd move away from the free improv antics of the British crew and switch to the American post-modern, Zorn and co. tribute to 50s hard bop. News for Lulu is a far more relaxed record than previous ones posted as everything from the Louise Brookes cover photo to the laid-back, New Orleans style smokey jazz playing and improv breakouts breaths in cool.

With Zorn on alto sax, George Lewis on trombone and Bill Frissell on guitar, this is the kind of 'Keroaucian, On the Road, drive from bar to bar in top down, borrowed Cadillacs or other such jalopies, getting a little bit high and hanging out in small smokey bars, chatting to strangers and exchanging stories' type of jazz.

I'm always impressed by Zorn's diversity and while I admire his Naked City outfit tongue-in-cheek style of jazz, I prefer his Masada work and his numerous tribute albums to jazz legends like Sonny Clark, and some of his Film soundtracks aren't bad. But what he does best is take the old, give it a little twist and stay largely true to the original which in this case happens to be the classic hard bop of Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Sonny Clark and Freddie Redd. And as long as it stays away from the 80s cheese jazz elevator music it's even better.


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