Today’s Sounds: Tom Rainey Trio

All good improvisers have a signature sound, and the best keep evolving to remain fresh. In the absence of compositions, the act of assembling a group creates the ingredients for improv. It’s always fun to imagine how a unit might sound based on the individuals within, but the best can surprise with interactions that catalyze past expectations.
After over 20 years and dozens of releases as a sideman with everyone from Kenny Werner to Tim Berne, drummer Tom Rainey’s first session as leader was 2010’s Pool School. He has often played in groups without a bass player, freeing the rhythm section to interact musically, not just to keep time. His playing often burrows a deep funky groove, but can veer into atmospherics.

Today’s sounds

Ah, analog. Cheap, cheap-ass analog. I’m not really down with the revival of the audio cassette, despite having hauled a Walkman around town as late as 2008.

Today’s Sounds

“Offspring Are Blank” comes on softly, like a warm, warped spiritual. It’s unusual for Dirty Projectors to deal in sounds so acoustic and pretty, but when the song juts out sideways with raunchy guitars and keys, everything falls into place. And so it goes for the length of the Brooklyn band’s 11th release, wherein their penchant for un-pop time signatures and other dissonant signals are used sparingly, but effectively.

Today’s Sounds

Our hip hop columnist asked me just last night, “What’s with all the girls wearing Nirvana shirts lately?” I could’ve responded with a question: “What’s with all the Expos hats, man?” It’s cyclical. I was a toddler in the early ‘80s, and developed a stack of ‘80s obsessions as a young adult. Likewise, a lot of the kids in these shirts and hats are sporting nostalgia for a time they barely remember — before Kurt Cobain put a shotgun in his mouth and before George W. Bush threw out the first ball for the Washington Nationals.