Friday, May 25, 2018


It's pretty interesting that certain musicians, especially Morrison, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, have not only continued but actually increased their production of albums in the last few years, as they all advance in age. Not wanting to go quietly, rest much, or get off the road, they have all abandoned the notion of spending long periods in the studio, and instead record quickly, allowing them so many releases. For Morrison, this is his third full album in less than nine months, nothing complicated, but certainly the work of a master performer.

For this release, Morrison partners with the jazz organist/trumpter Joey Defrancesco. Well, I say jazz but like Morrison, he's also a blues/R'n'B/swing/whatever player, and that's where Van the Man has been grooving for the most part the last couple of decades. Defrancesco has become the dominant jazz organist during that time, so it's a partnership that's a natural. And Morrison has always played well with an organist, especially his lengthy stint with Georgie Fame on disc and stage.

Much like jazz recordings of the '50's, the session was set up, the players assembled, the songs picked, no muss, no fuss.  There are some classic covers, including Miss Otis Regrets and Everyday I Have The Blues, and the rest are Morrison originals. Not new ones, but rather tunes from his very lengthy catalog. They go back all the way to Astral Weeks' The Way Young Lovers Do, right up to numbers from this century, including the acerbic Goldfish Bowl, Morrison's declaration that he isn't doing this for fame, and hates all those industry people staring at him and stealing from him. Wisely he stays away from the best-known stuff, no Moondance, Domino, etc., and instead goes for very deep cuts such as Celtic Swing from 1983's Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart.

If you're looking for amazing, insightful reworkings of these numbers, this isn't that kind of exploration. Instead, he's simply jazzing them up a bit, playing them with this combo, letting Defrancesco groove, and having fun deconstructing the melodies for his new vocals. Yeah, jazz. There's no great statement other than making some good music, something different for you to play. Just doing what he does.

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