Monday, September 16. 2013
Music: Current count 22042  rated (+26), 581  unrated (+10).
Not real sure what happened, or didn't, this past week, but the inbox queues have started to fill back up. Was trying to listen to some new music on Rhapsody, but didn't get very far, and at least for now that's on hold. After the robbery, I built two new computers using Antec boxes. One was an AMD-powered Linux machine for everyday work, and I've since refitted it with new motherboard, cpu, and memory, and it's been rock solid as long as I don't run Facebook on it. The other was an Intel-powered Windows Vista box which I had speakers on and used for nothing but playing music and the occasional DVD. It's hosed now. We've had two power outages in the last few days. One occurred when I was asleep and persisted long enough to drain the UPS. The Windows box didn't reboot clean after that, but eventually did come up with I wasn't looking, so was able to run until the next shutdown. Now it's not coming up, and I'm unable to find the original repair discs -- the latter have to be somewhere, but that's the rub. The office has devolved into an incredible mess where I can't find anything. Straightening it all out is almost inconceivable -- I shudder even to think about it.
Good chance I'll take a trip later this week, so that will slow things down even more.
Adventure Music: 10 Years (2003-2012 , Adventure Music, 3CD): Mike Marshall, a mandolin player who started in bluegrass then developed an affection for choro, founded this label in 2003, initially to document his own collaborations with Brazilian musicians, then to give the latter a US outlet, and over time has expanded to include other musicians from South America, their allies and fellow travelers. I've been fortunate enough to follow this label from shortly after its inception, and have 66 of their records in my ratings database -- my favorites are the Moacir Santos compilation, Ouro Negro, and the 2006 record Renewed Impressions, by Brazilian trombonist Vittor Santos. This expansive label compilation was selected by vocalist Monday Michiru, and arguably favors singers a bit too much, but does a nice job of plotting out the label's breadth. B+(*)
Cacaw: Stellar Power (2012 , Skirl): Trio -- Oscar Noriega (sax), Landon Knoblock (keyboards), Jeff Davis (drums) -- but Knoblock wrote all the pieces. The electric keybs give this a flair that is alternately cheesy and rocky, at odds with the more avant inclinations of the others. Sometimes that even works for them. Favorite title: "Neutron Star, Eating Its Binary Neighbor." B+(**) [September 17]
Tom Dempsey: Saucy (2013, Planet Arts): Guitarist, five albums since 1998, backed by organ (Ron Oswanski) and drums (Alvin Atkinson) here, a soul jazz move when he's playing Buddy Montgomery or Lee Morgan or his own originals, less soulful with Paul Simon. B+(*) [September 17]
FivePlay Jazz Quintet: Five & More (2012 , Auraline): Quintet, principally Tony Corman (guitar) and Laura Klein (guitar), who split the writing 5-4, plus Dave Tidball (sax, clarinet, wrote one song), Paul Smith (acoustic bass), Alan Hall (drums). They have two previous albums, this one adding guests -- four clarinets on two cuts, four trombones on two other, some vibes. B [September 17]
Griffith Hiltz Trio: This Is What You Get . . . (2013, self-released): Canadian trio: Johnny Griffith (saxes, bass clarinet), Nathan Hiltz (guitar, bass pedals), Sly Juhas (drums). Regular beat, guitar more important than the sax, doesn't quite slide into either the fusion or smooth jazz ruts, too scrawny for the former, not slick enough for the latter. B [September 19]
Jessica Jones/Connie Crothers: Live at the Freight (2011 , New Artists): Tenor sax and piano respectively, duets, live, three improvs, one piece by Jones, three standards: "All the Things You Are," "In a Sentimental Mood," "There Will Never Be Another You." Crothers has nearly 20 albums since 1974. Jones has been much less prolific, but both are adventurous players, even if this is a little dicey. B+(*) [September 17]
Bryn Roberts: Fables (2012 , Nineteen-Eight): Pianist, originally from Winnipeg, based in New York, two previous albums. Quartet, with Seamus Blake (tenor/soprano sax), Orlando LeFleming (bass), Jonathan Blake (drums). Six originals, two standards ("In the Still of the Night," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry"). B+(**) [September 17]
Samo Salamon Quartets: Stretching Out (2008-12 , Samo, 2CD): Guitarist, b. 1978 in the future Slovenia, has spent some time in New York but is still based in Slovenia; 13 records since 2003, this one a double, one disc each with an American quartet in 2008 and a European one in 2012. The latter, with Dominique Pifarely on violin, Bruno Chevillon on bass, and Roberto Dani on drums, is dense, scratchy, and ultimately rewarding although it took me a lot of time to pan out. The former, with Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, John Hébert on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, is no trouble at all -- the guitarist brings back his John Scofield roots, and McCaslin follows seamlessly, never tripping himself up. A- [September 20]
Salsa de la Bahia: A Collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz (2003-10 , Patois, 2CD): I don't have the eyes to sort through all the small print here -- the year range, for instance, only covers the first disc, so it's possible there are outliers on the second. The San Francisco area has become home to a huge range of world music, but I've rarely been impressed by what I've heard. This, however, holds up surprisingly well. Only name I recognize is John Santos, although there are doubtless more in the fine print. B+(**)
Zansa: Djansa (2013, self-released): Afropop group based in Asheville, North Carolina; led by Adama Dembele, who figures himself a 33rd generation musician, tracing his ancestry back through his native Cöte d'Ivoire. The rest of the band look like they crawled out of the Appalachian hollers, with Matt Williams' fiddle especially prominent. Ends with a striking fish-out-of-water story. B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
A front page article in the Wichita Eagle this morning is titled "Summers out of running for Fed chairman." I wasn't able to find the article on the Eagle's website, but it is by Kevin G. Hall (McClatchy Washington Bureau), and here's a link. Above the headline, the article pointed out that "women's groups, others opposed nomination." Indeed, aside from some of Summers' fellow economists -- if I recall correctly, Brad DeLong is the one I'm most likely to credit -- the only person who seems to have favored Summers was Barack Obama. This has always struck me as a bit odd: if you read Ron Suskind's book on Obama's economic team, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, only Tim Geithner -- who flat-out obstructed Obama decisions against the big banks -- comes off worse than Summers, who comes off as a self-appointed bottleneck making sure that Obama never got advice he didn't pre-approve. Given that things didn't work out so great, you'd think the president would hold some lingering resentment of the stifling adviser, but evidently not. The article quotes Obama:
Say that again, "the kind of progress we are seeing today." As it happens, I just posted a chart at the top of yesterday's Weekend Roundup that shows "What's Up, What's Down" since July 2007, when the economy started to go south. What's up? S&P 500 +8, corporate profits +42%, financial profits +59%. What's down? Employment/population ratio 6.7%. I also cited a piece by Mike Konczal on how the richest 1% of Americans took home a larger share of the nation's income than in any year since 1928. (Key quote there: "the top 1 percent have enjoyed 95 percent of all income growth from 2009 to 2012.") I also cited Jeff Madrick's piece where he argues that unemployment isn't just a bit high, but has metastasized into an entire "jobless generation."
So when Obama talks about "the kind of progress we are seeing today" he must be seeing things than I am not and not seeing things that I am. In the decade before the collapse financial profits had grown to 40% of all corporate profits, something that was only possible due to the predatory behavior of banks. Obama and Summers not only didn't stem that tide. They've increase financial profits even further. Higher corporate profits feed off three main factors: financialization (corporations playing finance games), increasing monopoly rents, and squeezing the labor market. None of those are things that make the economy stronger, let alone things that lead to higher living standards for more people. Yet under Obama and Summers those trends have become even worse. Worse still, under Obama and Summers those trends are counted as "progress."
Hall's article goes on to quote Sen. Bernie Sanders:
Within the narrow confines of what Fed chairmen can do, I don't consider Summers a horrible choice -- he would, for instance, have been better than Ben Bernanke in 2009. (I've long felt that Obama's failure to appoint his own Fed chair was one of the worst mistakes of his presidency.) But there's little in his past to suggest that he wouldn't immediately become a captured regulator of the largest (and most corrupt) banks in America, and there are alternatives that don't carry his brand of arrogance and corruption. (And, by the way, Donald Kohn -- another Obama favorite -- isn't one of them.) But Summers is a relatively known commodity. What's more disturbing here is that Obama's own view of the economy seems to be so narrowly subservient to the bankers' view -- and so far disconnected from what's actually happened to workers in America.
By the way, had a power blackout during last night's storms, and that delayed (and forced a hastil conclusion to) yesterday's Weekend Update post. Also backed up Jazz Prospecting, which will come out late tonight or early tomorrow, unless we have another blackout. Sorry for the delays, but I also wanted to sneak this morsel in.