What our critics are listening to

07:34 PM, Feb 25, 2013

With the Wayne Shorter Quartet (CQ) (left to right) Danilo Perez (CQ) at the piano and Wayne Shorter (CQ) on the saxophone at the Eastman Theatre during the Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, N.Y. on Thursday June 15, 2006. No reporter assigned. (Democrat & Chronicle, Staff Photo by Carlos Ortiz, 061505).Ê (Carlos Ortiz)/


ELECTRIC. I’ve bought just about every Buddy Miller album that exists. Now I’m buying just about every album that he’s produced. The latest by this sage of American music is pretty typical of his philosophy: Get some great songs together and let ‘em play. Here, Thompson emerges from his recent period of acoustic mastery for a largely electric event. “Good Things Happen to Bad People” ranks up there with the best of Thompson’s writing, songs resigned to cynicism and betrayal, while suggesting he’s perhaps not yet beaten. His voice is thoughtful and delicate in that English folk-rock way, even when he cuts loose. I’ve thought that many of Thompson’s more-recent albums have sounded flat, perhaps over-produced. They failed to capture this virtuoso who, when I’ve seen him live, makes me think, ‘OK, where are the other two guys playing guitar on that stage?’ But this one does it. — JEFF SPEVAK


NO LOVE LOST. Television viewers currently have ringside seats for the spectacle that is the life of rapper Joe Budden. He’s one of the central characters of Season 3 of VH-1’s Love & Hip-Hop. From his battle to stay clean and sober to mental and emotional drama with his ex and current girlfriend, Budden wears his passion and problems on his sleeve. His rap lyrics are a reflection of the good, bad and ugly in life. On “Runway” when Budden raps “They warned me about addiction, mine manifested again in the form of a prescription,” fans who know his story may wonder if this is art imitating life. Budden is a clever lyricist: “It’s a different type of monster, entertainment is a beast. Supposed to eat together, and I became the main feast,” he says on “Castles.” With more than a dozen cuts on this CD, listeners get plenty of food for thought and beats to bop to. — SHEILA RAYAM


WITHOUT A NET. The seemingly ever-youthful Wayne Shorter (who’ll be 80 in August) is as brilliant, wise, musical and daring as ever in Without a Net, the stunning live album that brings him back to Blue Note Records. This is as fresh and invigorating as any music the iconoclastic saxophonist has ever made, recorded on a European tour in 2011, five years after he brought this same band to the Rochester International Jazz Festival. You’ll hear six new Shorter originals. Among them is “Starry Night,” a tribute-commentary on Dizzy Gillespie and his tune “Manteca” as a bridge between cultures. Most surprising, perhaps, is the theme from the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie Flying Down to Rio, as only Shorter can re-imagine it. — Jack Garner