Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:58 pm
The drummer Henry Cole plays brilliantly in the quartet of saxophonist and fellow Puerto Rican Miguel Zenón, a band responsible for my favorite jazz album of 2011 (Alma Adentro) and one of my favorites of 2009 (Esta Plena). This year, Cole released his debut album as a bandleader, an Afrobeat record called Roots Before Branches.
Self-described as "hot, raucous, retro swing for two," Two Man Gentlemen Band lives up to its claim. But, as the name suggests, there's a subtle ridiculousness to the group's sound. Andy Bean and Fuller Condon have made a career of recording old-school, '60s-style folk on vintage equipment, only to pack their songs with parodies, anachronisms and absurdities.
There are two war-related anniversaries this week that make today's album review all the more timely. Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the U.S.; tomorrow, May 30, marks 50 years since the world premiere of English composer Benjamin Britten's War Requiem at Coventry Cathedral. The War Requiem was commissioned for the cathedral's reconsecration after it had been destroyed by a Nazi bombing raid in 1940.