Eddie Palmieri

Also: Portable and Infusion.

EDDIE PALMIERI

Listen Here

(Concord Jazz)

Sure, we knew Eddie Palmieri's '70s heyday of conceptualizing Latin jazz, of panstylistic suites and single cuts that sought to encapsulate salsa's entire history, was long past. Still, 2003's Ritmo Caliente was so baldly generic an album title that anyone who remembered the late '80s, when the pianist's sole overarching concept became "Me + David Sanborn = $," might suspect a belated foray back into sellout-itude. Yet that disc talked up neither rhythm nor heat idly; Palmieri had humbly submitted to the beat in order to raise temperatures from the bottom up. Minus vocals and a trombone or two, and plus a half-dozen marquee players, Listen Here continues that progression—fixed patterns down below both discipline and ignite the performances. As bandleader, Palmieri requires each solo to earn space within the arrangement, and whether it's John Scofield chunking his rhythm guitar behind "Vals Con Bata," Regina Carter springboarding violin melodies off "In Flight," or Michael Brecker corkscrewing sax through the title cut, the guests thrive within this context. Once again, melodic improvisations are spurred by tweaking pulse and metric emphasis: Last time around, Palmieri shipped Bach to the Southern Hemisphere, and this time he kneads the kinks from Monk's hesitant beat so that "In Walks Bud" practically flows into a salsa "Blue Skies." In fact, Palmieri possibly opens one potential exit from jazz's free-vs.-trad double bind, offering a rooted base of polyrhythms that's nonetheless as elastic as the changes to "I Got Music." At the very least, that foundation is a taut net—not the kind that saves a klutzy trapeze artist, but the kind that tennis proverbially grows dull without. What a concept. KEITH HARRIS

Eddie Palmieri plays Dimitriou's Jazz Alley at 7:30 p.m. Tues., Aug. 23–Wed., Aug. 24; 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 25–Sat., Aug. 27; and 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sun., Aug. 28. $22.50–$24.50

PORTABLE

Version

(~scape)

With experimental electronic records, there is a tendency for writers to concentrate on the means of production at the expense of the actual stuff being generated. It's an understandable habit—much of the time, the audience reading about these records wants to know about the equipment being used, and it's difficult to describe sound onomatopoeically without looking like you flunked a second-division creative-writing program. But sometimes terrific music gets lost in the gear talk, and it would be a shame if that were to occur with this album. Born and raised in South Africa, Alan Abrahams, aka Portable (who's lived in London for nearly a decade), programs beats, samples, and noises that evoke something further north, occasionally bringing to mind Middle Eastern and North African modes. So do some of his rhythms—the processed congas of "Notions of Slow and Fast," for example. "Typhoon" sucks in horns, far-off vocal samples, and sandblasted spaghetti-Western guitar. As with the rest of Version, Portable has rearranged a hefty amount of source material without having it sound consciously fusiony. The album's nine cuts work like a jam session gone right, modest at its most epic and loose at its most carefully programmed. MICHAELANGELO MATOS

INFUSION

Six Feet Above Yesterday

(Thrive)

"All you got is this moment/21st century's yesterday," sang Michael Hutchence in 1987, but the grunge, garage, and wimp-rock of fellow Australians the Vines, Jet, and Ben Lee each arrived in the U.S. as the styles were becoming tired (for the first or umpteenth time). If they're slow on the uptake, electronic production team/live band Infusion—Jamie Stevens, Frank Xavier, and Manuel Sharrad—are a refreshing Aussie export right on time. Their moniker began appearing in U.S. DJ crates on AudioTherapy and Marine Parade 12-inches in 2002, and their wickedly danceable (and illicit) house remix of Björk's "Pagan Poetry" landed on a Paul Oakenfold mix disc despite Björk's reportedly furious reaction to the white label. That remix's sense of effortless propulsion and refusal to follow the build up/break down formula are signature moves that Infusion repeat on Six Feet. They recently scored Australia's Grammy equivalent for "Girls Can Be Cruel," a kiss-off sung by Stevens and the first of two singles (with "Better World") that hint mightily at an obsession with Depeche Mode. An album full of ballads like "Invisible" or the industrial-esque "Best in Show" would have been disastrous, but Six Feet also hosts infectious, wordless stompers like "Feeding From the Hand" and "Daylight Hours," which suggests a more aggressive Röyksopp. Infusion's New Order–sized sound and inherent retro qualities don't impress when squeezed into straight-up rock songs. Filtering them through dance music's bells and whistles, however, is both of-the-moment and forward thinking. RACHEL SHIMP

 
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