Standards and Practices

A guided tour of the best releases across the musical spectrum

Sparing no expense and subjecting himself to an appalling level of moral compromise, Gumbo has secured numerous seedy contacts in the music industry who now supply yours truly with all manner of smut and trash on musicians who play roots music. So you think that National Public Radio interview with Mister Global Consciousness and His Dulcimer represents how he acts on Friday night after French-kissing a 12-pack of Mickey's Big Mouths? Brace yourselves, naive folkies and virgin jazz babies for: True Music Facts That Aren't Made Up!

TMFTAMU! #1: A sudden resurgence of pianist Keith Jarrett's Epstein-Barr Syndrome resulted in a need for emergency hospitalization, requiring local firefighters to remove a wall of his home in order for his ego, then strapped to a flatbed truck, to accompany Jarrett to the hospital. Jarrett threatened to respond to their destruction with a 10-CD set of improvising called Don't Think You're Going to Get Me, Keith Jarrett, to Wear One of Those Gowns With No Backside.

Tired of all that extra money creating the wrong kind of bulge in your pants? Then smack down those surplus samolians for the seven-CD box Live Trane: The European Tours (Pablo), covering John Coltrane's 1961-'63 tours. Various versions of "My Favorite Things" fill a full two of the set's eight hours. Still burdened by your bundle? Check out Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (Columbia/Legacy) -- 10 discs featuring literally everything she recorded for Columbia Records, including loads of unreleased goodies.

Shine their shoes, Billy Joel: Thankfully, on Inside Out (ECM), pianist Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette passed on churning out another album of standards, returning to Jarrett's long-abandoned preference for spontaneous composing. Nobody whups the Keithster at spinning an embryonic idea into highbrow pontificating with the pacing of a tent-revival evangelist. Demonstrative pianist McCoy Tyner, who could probably pound nails with his fists, revisits the days he sat on the left hand of God on Plays John Coltrane (Impulse!), sounding as ominous as ever. Another old lion who has not lost a lick is Dr. John, whose Creole Moon (Blue Note) will infect you with his voodoo funk. Much credit is due to the Blue Note label for leaving the grit sanded off by Dr. J's last handful of label homes. Pianist Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts continue to mine the '70s fusion vein on Intoxicate (Indianola Music Group), where his very Miles-ish groove includes a take on Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," with guest guitarist Charlie Hunter.

Gumbo was so appalled at the blatantly sexual cover art used to promote Diana Krall's newest, The Look of Love (Verve), that he has called her nightly at 3 a.m. to share how hard it is, seeing her reduced to the status of Love Muffin. This bossa nova-heavy outing will getcha partly because of the arrangements of Claus Ogerman, whose previous work with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Michael Brecker have shown him to be the best orchestrater since Gil Evans.

Mucho guitars: The Charlie Hunter Quartet brings in four sets of diverse tonsils (jazzers Kurt Elling and Norah Jones, rapper Mos Def and Galactic's R&B crooner Theryl de Clouet) to warble through Songs From the Analog Playground (Blue Note), which covers Roxy Music's "More Than This," Nick Drake's "Day Is Done" and the blues perennial "Spoonful." Check out the doofus funk of "Mitch Better Have My Bunny." James Blood Ulmer lays aside his signature guitar droning for some hard-core electric blues bellowing à la Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf on Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions (Label M), produced by guitarist/protégé Vernon Reid. Brazilian guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima joins Eddie Gomez for Mambo No. 5 (Khaeon), a collection of mostly Latin standards popular from the '30s through the '50s. Barbosa-Lima crossbreeds classical music, jazz and Brazilian music, even whupping the late, stylistically similar Charlie Byrd with his monster solo guitar arrangements and exceptionally clean execution. Bill Frisell With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones (Nonesuch) drops the picker's rural, corncob-pipe jazz in the laps of sidemen known for their work with Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

On Jim Hall & Basses (Telarc), guitarist Jim Hall tweaks the classy style he developed accompanying Sonny Rollins and Paul Desmond, here switching from 12-string to a nasal, John Scofield-ish tone on duets with bassists Scott Colley, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Christian McBride and George Mraz. Rodney Jones is James Brown-funky on Soul Manifesto (Blue Note), thanks in part to Brown's former saxophonist Maceo Parker lending his nasty honking to the proceedings. A perfect album of '70s-era soul jazz, featuring a sultry version of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." Nitelife (Columbia) is a bit of weirdness from British guitar wizard Martin Taylor, here coupled with the slick sax of Kirk Whalum. Is that a power drill on Dionne Warwick's "Déjà Vu"? Well, yeah, it is, say the liner notes, though they don't specify which Black & Decker tool is responsible for the whirring in Earth Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World."

Really fast reviews for those with Attention Deficit Disorder: Jump for Joy! (Columbia/Legacy) by Hot Lips Page, and Lunceford Special: 1939-1940 (Columbia/Legacy) by Jimmie Lunceford -- upbeat, flash-them-panties dance fare by two swing band jazz monsters. Omkara (Dreyfus) by Didier Lockwood and Raghunath Manet -- percussive, violin-led Indian droning that should be of interest to fans of Shakti. Lonnie Plaxico's Melange (Blue Note) -- significant M-BASE-era bassist throws equal portions of hard bop and funk in a blender. Bill O'Connell Latin Jazz Project's Black Sand (Random Chance Records) -- intense Latin big band jazz that's admirably complex, danceable stuff only if you're having a seizure.

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