Monday, July 1. 2013
Music: Current count 21611  rated (+27), 620  unrated (-5).
Backed off a bit on Jazz Prospecting to wrap up last week's Rhapsody Streamnotes, and will probably spend much of next week working on Recycled Goods: if I don't carry through with my 1960s project there, I'll wind up with an empty file. But I still don't have a good sense of what I should try to cover there, or indeed how much is possible.
I've seen some midyear lists like this one by Matt Rice. I've heard and rated 454 albums released so far this year, which hasn't left a lot of time for living with them or really enjoying the best ones. I don't have a good sense of how non-jazz records sort out, but I can offer this mid-year jazz list. Only curious thing about it is that it's much longer than the non-jazz split of the A-list: 37 to 24 (usually my lists break out about 50-50).
Unpacking way down this week. Probably just a blip. Finally asked for the new David Murray album, and I'm told it's coming. Also have emails for a new batch of Clean Feeds, which should show up eventually.
Billy Bang: Da Bang! (2011 , TUM): Probably the late, great violinist's last recording -- in Helsinki, about two months before he died. Quintet, with trombone (Dick Griffin), piano (Andrew Bemkey), bass (Hilliard Greene), and drums (Newman Taylor-Baker). Six cuts -- one original, the title cut by Barry Altschul, other pieces from Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, and Sonny Rollins. Far from his greatest work, but his solos are unmistakable, and trombone is a nice contrast. Plus you can't go out on a more ecstatic note than "St. Thomas." I'm in no mood to quibble. A-
Bill Frisell: Big Sur (2012 , Okeh): Nineteen-piece suite commissioned by Monterey Jazz Festival, composed over ten days in retreat at Glen Deven Ranch, played by the group previously known as the 858 Quartet -- Jenny Scheinman (violin), Eyvind Kang (viola), Hank Roberts (cello), Rudy Royston (drums) -- plus Frisell on guitar. Typical of his recent work, but heavier. B+(**)
Guillermo Gregorio/Steve Swell/Pandelis Karayorgis Trio: Window and Doorway (2011 , Driff): Clarinet, trombone, and piano, respectively, everyone contributing pieces. The clarinet-trombone combo is attractive but soft-edged and the lack of a rhythm section lets them amble, noodle, splatter color about, at least until the piano gooses them along. B+(*)
Drew Gress: The Sky Inside (2011 , Pirouet): Bassist, fifth album since 1998, about 170 side credits since 1989, a major figure although his intricate postbop compositions have yet to make much of an impression. But his connections give him an all star band: Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Tim Berne (alto sax), Craig Taborn (piano), Tom Rainey (drums). They have their moments here, as does the bassist. Runs long, 72:23, not that the title cut doesn't justify its 11:48. B+(**)
Gregg Kallor: A Single Noon (2012 , Single Noon): Pianist, has two previous albums, one a trio with Kendrick Scott, the other a duo with "mezzo-soprano" Adriana Zabala of "Dickinson and Yeats Songs"; so has staked out ground straddling classical and jazz. This is solo, all originals, something he calls "a nine-movement suite." Fred Hersch admires it. B+(**)
Pandelis Karayorgis Trio: Cocoon (2012 , Driff): Pianist, b. in Greece, moved to Boston to study at New England Conservatory in the 1980s and stuck around, with a dozen or more records since 1994 -- his 2007 album as Mi3, Free Advice, was a pick hit here. This is a piano trio with Jef Charland on bass and Luther Gray on drums, not as difficult or explosive as the pianist gets, but vigorous and inventive by any standards. B+(***)
Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet: Circuitous (2012 , Driff): Recorded in Chicago, with bassist Nate McBride the link between the Boston-based pianist and the Chicago-based all-star band: Dave Rempis and Keefe Jackson (saxes/clarinets), and Frank Rosaly (drums). Sounds great one moment, questionable the next, in an oscillation that's almost an aesthetic. B+(**)
Rob Mazurek/Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble: The Space Between (2013, Delmark, CD+DVD): Mostly electronics, intriguing to start, with Mazurek's cornet as a counterpart, a text, then it builds up to something ungainly; bits of flute, piano, electric cavaquinho; another text. The DVD presents the same music with a video by Marianne M. Kim, mostly abstractions with bits of her dancing. Can't say as I enjoyed it, but the music is ambitious and adventurous. B+(*)
Gary Peacock/Marilyn Crispell: Azure (2011 , ECM): Not sure why the bassist comes first, although he is older and more famous (especially given his long tenure with Keith Jarrett). The pianist has a slight edge in compositions, plus the louder and more traditionally leading instrument, although she plays so softly here that it's almost a wash. Crispell's name came first on two previous ECM meetings, but they were trios with the no-longer-available Paul Motian. The record could use some of his misdirection, but gets by with remarkable tastefulness. B+(**) [advance]
RJ & the Assignment: The Stroke of Midnight (2013, self-released): Keyboard player from Chicago, based in Las Vegas, group rotates bassists and the record is chock full of guests, including singers Jocelyn Winston and Windy Kairigianes and "spoken word" rapper Khari Bowden. B
The Michael Treni Big Band: Pop-Culture Blues (2013, self-released): Trombonist, originally from Maine, studied in Miami, taught there and at Berklee; went into tech business in 1985, left in 1996 and returned to music. Big band, old school verities, first song is called "One for Duke," rest have "Blues" somewhere in the title. B+(*)
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Latin Jazz-Jazz Latin (2013, Patois): Bay area Trombonist, ninth album since 2000, moved quickly into Latin jazz and has served up a steady diet of it. Quintet includes piano, guitar, drums, and percussion, plus he draws on a long list of extras, featuring flute and violin on three songs. B+(*)
The Whammies: Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 2 (2013, Driff): Sextet, an interesting Dutch-Chicago-Boston hybrid: Jorrit Dijkstra (alto sax, lyricon), Pandelis Karayorgis (piano), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Mary Oliver (violin, viola), Nate McBride (bass), Han Bennink (drums). Eleven songs by Steve Lacy, plus one by Monk. First volume was terrific, and the new one, a new session (not leftovers from the first), carries on. A-
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: