Monday, July 13, 2020

Good Timing

Rolex watches don’t tempt me.  I’ve never even touched one of the expensive status symbols.  And while I haven’t been inside one of the luxury cars, I’m sure top-of-the-line Mercedes sedans merit their price tags.  I have the same sort of conflicted feelings about RoundAgain, the new album by the reunited quartet of saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade.  I was initially floored by the shimmering summit of four of the world’s best musicians.  Yet I grew increasingly irritated by the quartet’s relentless perfection with each subsequent listen.  Is there such a thing as being too good?  Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard, the second most notable acoustic jazz album released July 10, is far from flawless.  The sound is surprisingly sketchy for a Blue Note Records release, and the quintet of pianist and bandleader Gerald Clayton, saxophonists Logan Richardson and Walter Smith III, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Marcus Gilmore occasionally flirts with chaos.  While it’s clearly inferior, I find the slightly derelict Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard more interesting than the crystalline RoundAgain.  Then again, I wear a $50 watch and prefer Fords to Ferraris.

The latest diary entry essay at Plastic Sax addresses the reevaluation of my priorities during the pandemic.

Opera update: I eagerly devoured all four hours of last night’s free stream of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde.”  The tally currently stands at 113 operas in 113 days.

(Original image of the primary clock at Grand Central Station by There Stands the Glass.)

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