Steve Forbert's youthful features and boyish voice certainly become misleading once his lyrics are heard. His folk-rock styled songs are usually centered around life's ups and downs and the problems of adulthood, portraying him as an artist who's just trying to get by. Alive on Arrival is an album full of earnest tunes about loneliness, self-worth, aspirations, and disappointments. Forbert's wispy, innocent sounding voice floats gently (and cuts roughly) over his acoustic guitar to homespun ditties with a down-to-earth feel. This album represents Forbert's music perfectly, and even though his latter albums sound less subtle, it is Alive on Arrival that so aptly personifies him.
Resonance Records goes out of its way again to unearth yet another significant chapter in jazz history, and once again, it's one that relatively few fans have ever heard. This performance of Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth Big Band was captured during George Wein's Kool Jazz Festival at Avery Fisher Hall. It was broadcast on NPR's Jazz Alive program, but this double disc contains the entire performance, with more than 40 minutes of additional music.
Phil Woods & His European Rhythm Machine was a brilliant though short-lived quartet that made a handful of albums between 1968 and 1973, though most of them are long out of print. Happily, this early studio effort, with pianist George Gruntz, bassist Henri Texier, and drummer Daniel Humair, has been reissued in Japan by Toshiba-EMI, all of whom provide first-rate rhythmic support and make the most of their solos. The leader's "And When We Are Young" was written in tribute to Senator Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down by a cowardly assassin in the spring of 1968 in the midst of Kennedy's celebration of his presidential primary victory in California. The piece begins with a mournful dirge before cutting loose with some wailing post-bop.