'Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks' by Darrell Katz and Oddsong on JCA Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Nov 05, 2016 11:42 AM EDT

As composer Darrell Katz worked in the studio inventing music to go with his dying wife's poetry, he knew the clock was ticking. Composing, arranging and producing one of her poems, Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks (JCA Records), along with eight others, for his Oddsong combo, kept him busy. Oddsong-four saxophones, violin, vibraphone/marimba, voice-contains no drums or bass. Thus, there's a definite classical music feel.

But he wasn't yet finished. Two more tracks ("Ye Watchers And" and the closing "The Red Blues/Red Blue" (dedicated to saxophonist Julius Hemphill [1938-1995]) must have been the hardest of all to finish. The former features the JCA Winds and Strings on their own. The latter has the entire JCA Jazz Orchestra featuring guest saxophonist Oliver Lake.

Opening with the totally improvised-in-the-studio 2:23 "Prayer," the tracks slide by on the strength of not only the poetry of Paula Tatarunis [1952-2015] as set to song by the masterful vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton, but on the alternately concave and convex arrangements that pulse with a hidden magical spirit like looking into a funhouse mirror to see refracted images of yourself. It's almost otherworldly.

Highlights include a unique take on tango pioneer Astor Piazzolla's "LLAP Libertango" which includes a rampaging soprano sax solo by Phil Scarf that almost steals the show. Then there's an adaptation of the words of novelist Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg Ohio for "Like A Wind." ("I had come to the time of my life when prayer seemed necessary and so I invented gods and prayed to them.") Heady stuff to be sure but even if one doesn't concentrate on the lyrics, the music herein is, yet so foreign, seemingly alien, that the getting used to it phase winds up being not only being cathartic but ameliorating to whatever present condition you find yourself in. In other words, it feels good. Somehow, in the simultaneous processes of mourning and creating, Darrell Katz has written an album with the power to heal.

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TagsDarrell Katz, JCA Records, REVIEW, Oliver Lake

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