Given the glut of "String Quartet Tribute to So and So," "Electronic Tribute to Some Crappy Band," and "Pickin' on Whomever" "tributes," it's somewhat surprising that no one has tackled Pavement in a tribute album – not until now, at any rate. And even more surprising is that it's not one of those aforementioned knockoffs; it's a heavyweight jazz session with James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, and Reginald Veal, three of jazz's finest players on their respective instruments (rounded out by the talented Ali Jackson on drums). You may be asking, "what the hell are a bunch of jazzbos doing playing Pavement tunes?" The short answer, "making a great album." Remember, underneath their slacker image and loose, lo-fi aesthetic, Pavement's best tunes were memorable and melodic with interesting (though sometimes ramshackle) arrangements.
Jerry Miller opens up his 2013 album with "Travis Express," a signal that the guitarist owes a significant debt to the great Merle Travis. Then again, most purely instrumental country guitarists do owe Travis a great deal, and Miller doesn't shy away from his love of classic '50s and '60s pickers, using New Road Under My Wheels as a celebration of that whole era, leaning heavily on honky tonk and Western swing to deliver a jumping good time. Perhaps Miller is superficially similar to Junior Brown, another virtuoso country guitarist who also adores roadhouse country, but Brown is a nitro-charged engine throttling down the highway.
When the sun rose on Sun Ra in the mid-20th century, his innovative style cast a shining light that spurred the development of modern jazz and other forms of popular music. What would Sun Ra have made of today’s music scene? If he is looking down from his cosmic realm, he’ll be pleased to know that his music from the past still sounds eerily futuristic. Enjoy three original albums on three CDs: Super-Sonic Jazz, Jazz By Sun Ra and Jazz In Silhouette.