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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Darrell Katz & OddSong


Review by Gary Hill

Oddsong is a chamber ensemble led by Darrell Katz. Katz is the director of Jazz Composers Alliance, which I've covered in the past. The music here is not what one expects when they hear the term jazz. Then again, as wide ranging as the world of jazz is, it seems such an expectation would be overly limited. Still, this is artsy, theatric and a little on the weird side. While there are mainly female vocals, one song features a spoken male voice. As different as this is, it's unique and quite interesting, too.

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Track by Track Review
Some pretty cool and rather crazed violin is in the driver's seat here. Other instruments are heard to some degree. As a spoken voice joins, the music becomes theatrical. This is artsy and weird. It's also cool.
Guiding Narrative
The vocals this time around are sung. The cut is no less artsy and out of the box unusual, though. It is classy, too. There are parts that have more traditional jazz explorations, but even then, it's tilted toward the avant-garde.
Women Talking
The title of this is appropriate because the main focus of this is literally a number of women talking in the beginning. There is some music that sort of sits in the backdrop as occasional support. This is again completely artistic and unusual. Music rises up as the voices drop away. After some instrumental moments, sung vocals join to move this forward. There is more spoken stuff in a section later in the piece. A lot of this feels theatrical and artsy.
Outta Horn
This has a spoken introduction, this time male. He's talking about John Coltrane as some music is heard in the background. A female spoken vocal joins bringing a different side to the same story. This gets some pretty crazed music as punctuation. It's very theatrical. This gets a parental advisory.
The female spoken vocal starts this one, talking about mental disorders. Weird music serves as the backdrop. The cut works out after the voice stops speaking into more of a theatrical jazz romp for the sung vocals.
I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger
More of a mainstream jazz concept is at the heart of this number. That said, it's still got plenty of twist and turn going on. It still has ties to musical theater, too. There are some powerful gospel styled sections later in the track.
Sweet Baby James
Here we get a cover of a James Taylor song. This has more of a mainstream sound, but it's still on the artsy side of things.
Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
An acapella performance is the concept here. This still manages to be suitably strange.
Belly Button Window
Here they turn their attention on a Jimi Hendrix deep cut.  The tune has a cool bluesy jazz vibe at its heart.
Error Status
While there is still a freeform element here, this is more of a mainstream jazz tune overall.
The Red Blues
Here we get another theatrical, artistic jazz romp.
I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
Here they tackle a Duke Ellington piece. Ellington was a musical genius, so I expect great things when I see his name, and this does not disappoint. It comes in with a burst of powered up jazz, but drops to more of a balladic approach as it continues. It has a good balance between the mellower, vocal parts and the powered up instrumental ones.
Microtonal/Dirty Water
Trippy jazz music lurks in the backdrop as a spoken vocal part is delivered over the top. The cut works out after that introductory part to a jazz cover of the old chestnut from The Standells. This has some killer explorations built into it.
New Prayer
This cut features weird freeform explorations. It's a short piece with only non-lyrical vocals.
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