The National may sound like a garage band turned down, but there's as much primal energy lurking behind Alligator as in any mop-topped group of city kids with bloodstained Danelectros in a dusty warehouse. While Matt Berninger's lyrics and conversational delivery rely heavily on the kind of literate self-absorption that fuels so much of the indie rock scene today, he never comes off as preachy or unaware that the world would manage just fine without him; rather, he uses metaphor and humor as bullet points for a profound sense of displacement and anger. Out-of-the-blue statements like "f*ck me and make me a drink," from the brooding but lovely "Karen," are effective because the listener is brought into the story slowly, almost amiably, before being led to the plank.
Features SHM-CD format and the latest 24bit 192kHz remastering. Alligator Bogaloo is one example of Lou Donaldson's successful combinations of hard bop and soul-jazz. Of the six tunes, three are Donaldson originals, including the title hit. The excellent band, consisting of Melvin Lastin, Sr. on cornet, George Benson on guitar, Lonnie Smith on organ, and Leo Morris on drums, mixes laid-back vamps beneath driving hard bop charts. As the '60s turned into the '70s, Donaldson began shaving off hard bop invention for a more radio-friendly and 45 rpm length, leaving soulful – yet monotonous – vamping. At that point, Donaldson's material suffered from a lack of originality. That's not the case on Alligator Bogaloo.
In this bright and accessible effort from one of the best young trumpeters on the scene, Printup mixes up originals with standards. The fact that his tunes complement works by Rodgers & Hart ("Have You Met Miss Jones") and Fats Waller ("Ain't Misbehavin'") so well should key you in to the fact that he is a bit of a traditionalist. With his quartet of Kevin Bales on piano, Ricky Ravelo on bass, and Woody Williams on drums, Printup lays down some fine exercises in samba ("Shertzing Along") and bop ("Pier Pressure"). There is plenty of fine work here.
Duke Robillard pays homage to T-Bone Walker with this collection of swing, big band and blues songs. The bubbly and bouncy "Lonesome Woman Blues" has a be-bop Count Basie feeling as his supporting players are given brief solos to shine, particularly the horn section. There is far more substance and style to this approach than a rehashed run-through à la Brian Setzer. This fluidity continues, albeit a bit slower in tempo with the swinging "T-Bone Shuffle" which carries the same head-bobbing groove. Here the horns lead the way but Robillard makes his presence felt on guitar near the homestretch, and throughout the stellar "Pony Tail." The barroom blues and drum brushes on "Love Is a Gamble" takes things down to a creepy crawl, bringing to mind Dr. John or Delbert McClinton. An early favorite has to be the rousing and toe-tapping "Alimony Blues," an indication that Robillard wants to pay tribute in the right way by nailing each song beautifully.