Saturday, October 31. 2015
My patience for political debates gave out long ago. I think the clincher was a 1984 encounter which somehow favored Ronald Reagan despite the clear fact that Walter Mondale out-hustled him on every single question. (I was rather annoyed with Mondale because so many of those tussles revealed him to be the more aggressive and tenacious cold warrior.) It was almost a replay of my first debate experience, Kennedy-Nixon, except where Kennedy appealed to a hopeful future, that future had passed by 1984 and America was ready to be led into senility -- at least they sure picked the guy to do it.
However, some bloggers I follow still take these things seriously, so I figured I'd cite a few of their comments. After all, watching ten right-wing jerks fumble their way through a set of questions and spinning them into their fantasies does offer some opportunity to examine the psychosis that afflicts so-called conservatives today. Whereas Reagan had a knack for amalgamating an imagined past with a fantasy future, at least he was pretty sure it would be a positive future. But today's Republican standard-bearers are united in their conviction that the nation stands on the brink of a catastrophe that only their kind of determined leadership can stave off, even though the scenarios most likely to push the country off the deep end are the very ones that adopt their policy proposals.
Monday, October 26. 2015
Music: Current count 25653  rated (+27), 447  unrated (-2).
Rated count slipped a bit, mostly because I lost a day-plus cooking up another chapter in my birthday dinner series. Tried my hand at Cuban cuisine this time, something I've sampled in restaurants not much more than a half-dozen times (mostly one in Royal Oak, MI, although we lucked into a very good place southwest of Miami). I've done a lot of Spanish (and Basque and Catallan and Portuguese, so should I say Iberian?) dishes, but very little from south of the border (aside from a massive feijoada one birthday). As with Spanish, Cubans use a lot of garlic but not much in the way of chilis. I've never liked the peppers that dominate Mexican cuisine, although I should figure out my way around them (as I've done with Indian, Thai, and Indonesian) given that the hardest part of any exotic cuisine is the shopping, and there are countless Mexican stores in these parts. (Actually, for this dinner I picked up most of the less conventional ingredients not from the bilingual Kroger but from a large Vietnamese grocer I frequent -- among other things, the only place in town I can get salt cod.)
More details on the dinner in the notebook. Suffice it to say that despite some very poor planning and last-minute panicking pretty much everything came out splendid. Good company too, although by the time I was finished I was a bit too frazzled to get into it. Much on my mind was the thought that I'm getting too old for this sort of thing. No one thought to take pictures. Where's Max Stewart when you really need him? Also nostalgic for so many previous guests, especially Liz Jones, who inspired the first few dinners (and has long since lost touch), and the late Liz Fink -- people who really appreciated good food. (Liz, of course, was represented by her dog Sadie, who earned the title sous-chef by always being under my feet.)
While cooking, I suspended my usual listening work and played oldies, starting with the Beatles and winding up with Atlantic R&B. The former hadn't happened in many years, but when I went out to shop for the meal, before I could pop a CD in -- I had picked out Rumba en el Patio by Conjunto Kubavana (1944-47) -- a song came on which struck me as the most completely marvelous thing I've ever heard: "All My Loving." I probably hadn't heard it since shortly after I bought the With the Beatles CD, but I found myself intimately familiar with every note and harmony. It was followed by Elvis Presley singing "All Shook Up," by comparison merely great, then something else I only vaguely recognized and didn't care for.
Most of this week's list already appeared in October's Rhapsody Streamnotes. I noted there how many of my jazz picks were by (or featured) saxophonists, so maybe I'm compensating a bit for that here. My two top HMs this week -- Rich Halley's Eleven and Scott Hamilton's Live in Bern -- are by long-time personal favorites who have already scored A- records this year (Creating Structure and Plays Jule Styne). I have minor quibbles about both, but I haven't been conscientious enough to do the A:B comparisons to see which is really the better record. I will say that there is some terrific music on both. Instead, I went with another long-time favorite saxophonist, Rodrigo Amado. I suppose one could quibble there too, but Joe McPhee (who has another A- record this year) adds extra bite to some of the year's most impressive sax runs.
The best post-RS record on the list is Marty Grosz's debut. I noticed that Rhapsody added some old Grosz Jazzology titles, and worked my way back. I mostly listen to avant-jazz these days, but I still hold to the idea that the old jazz is the real jazz, so guys like Grosz are always on my radar. Grosz was born a year before Bix Beiderbecke died, and well into his 80s he's still active -- his Fat Babies album Diga Diga Doo is also on this year's A-list.
No comments so far on my question whether it'd be worthile to do another Turkey Shoot/Black Friday Special this year. I dropped the ball last year and no one picked it up -- I had hopes for Odyshape, but they crashed shortly before. I don't want to do the heavy lifting this year -- soliciting and editing entries -- but would be willing to format and post it and might even contribute something. So let me know if you want to volunteer. Time is running out. I'm not going to bring this up again.
New records rated this week:
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
Old music rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
Sunday, October 25. 2015
No real time to write this week's roundup -- it's my birthday and I'm busy cooking (see the notebook for the menu). But I do have a bunch of links open in various tabs and I thought I might share them before they become stale. In no particular order:
Saturday, October 24. 2015
A little more than a month since the last one, the extra time making up for our ten-day dog rescue excursion to yield a typical month's worth of triage. The new records are mostly jazz (65%) because I've been trying to make a dent in my backlog. Of the non-jazz picks, three were recommended by Robert Christgau (John Kruth, Amy LaVere, Donnie Trumpet), two more by Michael Tatum (Ezra Furman, Giorgio Moroder). The other two (Metric, New Order) are records I looked up based on prior reputation. My working EOY list for non-jazz is still way underdeveloped compared to the jazz list (35 records to 53). The year-end lists should help even this out, but even the premature British lists are still a month away. Maybe we should revive the Turkey Shoot/Black Friday Special this year?
The old music is more eclectic than it's been in quite a while. I took a break from the Hatology orgy last month, although I'm far from done with that label. Some records came out of a Pitchfork Top Albums of the 1970s list. I think I had 85 of 100 before I started searching out the stragglers (a little heavy on krautrock). Other old music followed new music -- Bottle Rockets, Ulrich Gumpert, I found a Bill Kirchner record with Sheila Jordan on it.
The Notes section has previous grades of albums by artists in the Old Music section. I started this a few months back when it made more sense -- at the time I was filling in holes in various artist lists, mostly by chasing down top-whatever lists. I made a change last month when my Hatology research glanced into some artists it would have been exhausting to list out (like Anthony Braxton and Steve Lacy). This month it's less clear what to do, so I'm winging it. I've included albums by Armstrong and Bechet that have some of the same material as the ones reviewed, then counted up the rest. I listed out Ulrich Gumpert since most of what I've heard was reviewed this month, but merely counted Pandelis Karayorgis. I imagine both pianists are about equally obscure even to American jazz fans, which is a shame. The best place to start on Karayorgis is an album credited to Mi3, Free Advice (2004 , Clean Feed) -- a Jazz CG Pick Hit when it came out.
Total rated count for this column sailed past 7000 this month.
Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Rhapsody. They are snap judgments based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on September 16. Past reviews and more information are available here (7100 records).
Bob Albanese: Time Remembered (2012 , Mayimba): Pianist, second album (as far as I can tell), leads a trio with Eddie Gomez on bass and Willard Dyson on drums, and extra percussion on one track. And someone sings some at the end, presumably the artist, with a vocalese air, fitting for all the brisk boppishness. B+(*) [cd]
The Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet: 10 (2015, Zoho): Trumpeter, from Peru, based in New York, celebrates ten years since founding his sextet. One trad piece, jazz standards like "Caravan" and "Lonely Woman" and "My Favorite Things" -- also a take of "Star Spangled Banner" I don't mind too much. B+(***) [cd]
Gonçalo Almeida/Martin van Duynhoven/Tobias Klein: Vibrate in Sympathy (2015, Clean Feed): Credits should be reordered to put Klein up front, making this a sax-bass-drums trio, all original pieces by Klein, who is very clear-headed on alto sax, bass clarinet, and contrabass clarinet. B+(***) [cd]
Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin: Lost Time (2015, Yep Roc): The ex-Blasters' previous reunion album, 2014's Common Ground, had the thematic coherence of a tribute album, not to mention one of the most underappreciated of all blues songbooks, Big Bill Broonzy. On the other hand, this quickie rarely rises above the level of a family singalong. Some songs, of course, are nice to hear, and there's a certain novelty value in hearing Phil try on "Please Please Please." B+(*)
Rodrigo Amado: This Is Our Language (2012 , Not Two): Tenor saxophonist, from Portugal, should be considered a major figure on the instrument. He is spectacular here, not that he doesn't get help from Joe McPhee (pocket trumpet, alto sax) working around his edges. With Kent Kessler on bass and Chris Corsano on drums. A- [cd]
Laurie Antonioli & Richie Beirach: Varuna (2006-15 , Origin): Vocalist and pianist, mostly recorded in two sessions from 2006 and 2012, plus some more recent touch up. Bassist Pepe Berns joins for the jointly-credited three-part "Resolution Suite." Four more originals, plus standards concepts like opening "My Funny Valentine" with Scriabin's "Prelude in E-flat Minor." B- [cd]
The Bottle Rockets: South Broadway Athletic Club (2015, Bloodshot): Country-ish rock band, dates back to 1993 with over a dozen albums, led by Brian Henneman, whose songs are clear and empathetic as ever. B+(***)
Randy Brecker: Randy Pop: Live (2015, Piloo): As pointed out in the liner notes, the trumpeter turns 70 in November, so time, perhaps, for a little nostalgia. Brecker and his saxophonist brother "Mike" ran a successful fusion group in the 1970s but also did tons of studio work, so Kenny Werner got the idea of taking songs the Breckers played bit parts on and turning them into a retrospective: Donald Fagen's jazz-ready "New Frontier," BS&T, Todd Rundgren, a pair of James Browns segueing into Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon. Werner forgets the part about pop being fun but avoids the worst skunk funk, and Brecker's deadpan intros add to the museum effect. B [cd]
A Bu Trio: 88 Tones of Black and White (2014 , Blujazz, CD+DVD): Pianist, from Beijing, accepted at age 9 to the Conservatory of Music, "studied under renowned jazz pianist professor Kong Hongwei," attended sumer camps in Kansas City and San Francisco, joined the Beijing Jungle Big Band in 2012. Debut is a trio with Ma Kai on bass and Shao Ha Ha on drums. The thirteen cuts are all covers, the J.S. Bach sounding odder to me than the Monk. B+(*) [cd]
Art "Turk" Burton and Congo Square: Spirits: Then & Now (1983-2015 , ATB): Conga player from Chicago, joined AACM in 1973, was elected chairman in 2011. This is the only album I've been able to find, built from 2 cuts from a 1983 live shot, 6 more from a recent studio date -- bassist Harrison Bankhead spans both sets. The early cuts have that loose swing one associates with Sun Ra, especially the one joined by Douglass Ewart and Donald Rafael Garrett. The new ones take a while to click -- roughly until the percussion leads the way. B+(**) [cd]
Marnix Busstra: Firm Fragile Fun (2015, Buzz Music): Guitarist, postbop fusion, has several previous albums. This is a quartet with piano-bass-drums, the leader playing bouzouki and electric sitar as well as guitar. All original material. Flows easy. B+(*) [cd]
De Beren Gieren: One Mirrors Many (2015, Clean Feed): Piano trio: Fulco Ottervanger (piano), Lieven Van Pée (bass), Simon Segers (drums). Fifth album since 2010, a nice mix of postbop and avant, dense but nothing untoward. B+(**) [cd]
Benoit Delbecq/Miles Perkin/Emile Biayenda: Ink (2014 , Clean Feed): French pianist, twenty-some albums since 1992, this a trio with bass and drums. I'm struck especially by his rhythmic control. B+(***) [cd]
East West Quintet: Anthem (2011 , self-released): Based in Brooklyn, which I guess makes them more east than west these days. Also I count a sextet's worth of credits: Dylan Heaney (alto/tenor sax), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), Simon Kafka (guitar), Mike Cassidy (piano, keyboards), Benjamin Campbell (electric and upright bass), Jordan Perlson (drums). Third album, self-described as "genre-bending" and "more likely to rock than to swing" -- actually, odds of either are pretty slim, nor does it help that "anthem" seems to mean slow. B- [cd]
Eskmo: Sol (2015, Apollo): Brendan Angelides' second album, a mix of bent pop and electronics that grows on you, somewhat. B+(**)
EZTV: Calling Out (2015, Captured Tracks): Guitar-driven power pop, just not much power, even less pop. B
John Fedchock New York Big Band: Like It Is (2014 , MAMA): Trombonist, his first New York Big Band album dates back to 1992, a crack outfit -- reed section: Charles Pillow, Mark Vinci, Rich Perry, Walt Weiskopf, Gary Smulyan/Scott Robinson -- not that this breaks new ground. B+(**) [cd]
Ezra Furman: Perpetual Motion People (2015, Bella Union): A singer-songwriter who's able to accent his writerly preoccupations -- whatever they may be, one line being "lose yourself completely, but stay alive" -- by reviving ancient rock archetypes, some doo-wop here, some glam rock there, some honking sax. A-
Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: Live in Studio (2015, Whaling City Sound): Third group album, impossible to fault the drummer's dream team -- pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter. All standards, most given a delightful lift with the pianist's light touch. Also, four guest spots for Roy Hargrove, and three for Cassandra Wilson. B+(**) [cd]
Ulrich Gumpert Quartett: A New One (2014 , Intakt): Pianist-led sax quartet, with Jürg Wickihalder the saxophonist, Jan Roder on bass and Michael Griener on drums. B. 1945 in Jena, Gumpert grew up in East Berlin, interested in Satie and free jazz. From 1974 on, he recorded several FMP albums with Günter Sommer, joined Conny Bauer's Zentralquartett (still an important group), recorded a duo with Steve Lacy in 1987 (and was later one of the pianists on Lacy's Five Facings). A- [cd]
Scott Hamilton & Jeff Hamilton Trio: Live in Bern (2014 , Capri): No relation, although drummer Jeff comes from a famous jazz family, which put him in front of what otherwise might be Tamir Hendelman's piano trio. I thought the pianist was a bit obtrusive at first, but the second spin was all smooth sailing for the tenor. B+(***) [cd]
Miho Hazama: Time River (2015, Sunnyside): Pianist, composer, arranger, spends more time conducting on her second album than at the piano. Band is officially 13-piece although I see more credits here, including a full cast of strings, and a guest slot for Joshua Redman. B+(**) [cdr]
Dale Head: Swing Straight Up (2015, Blujazz): Saloon singer, plays some trumpet, is backed by Rory Snyder's Night Jazz Band on a dozen standards (although "Blue Rondo a La Turk" is a vocalese lark). B [cd]
Julia Holter: Have You in My Wilderness (2015, Domino): From Los Angeles, a singer-songwriter who looks to literature for inspiration -- Colette and Isherwood this time -- and wraps stories up in thick sheets of electronics. B
Innerroute: Fourmation (2011 , self-released): Quartet -- Michael D'Agostino (drums), Rick Savage (trumpet/flugelhorn), Joe Vincent Tranchina (keyboard), Bill McCrossen (acoustic & electric fretless basses) -- second album, the electric ride neither postbop nor fusion, not that there isn't a whole tradition around trumpet slicing through electronics. B+(**) [cd]
Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free (2015, Southeastern): Singer-songwriter, left the Drive-By Truckers in 2007 for a solo career which has never amounted to much. Some attractive songs here. Most seem too understated, but when he pumps one up that doesn't help either. B+(*)
Ivan & Alyosha: It's All Just Pretend (2015, Dualtone): Seattle band, named after The Borthers Karamazov, third album, a pleasant alt-rock group. B
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Live in Cuba (2010 , Blue Engine, 2CD): A first-rate, even if relatively conventional, big band. Bronx-born bassist Carlos Henriquez serves as musical director, stocking the band with Latin standards without suggesting they know better how to play the local music. On the other hand, they do know how to run a rousing brass section. B+(**)
Ochion Jewell Quartet: Volk (2015, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, based in New York, second album (as far as I can tell), quartet includes bassist Sam Minaie and two-thirds of Dawn of Midi: pianist Amino Belyamani and drummer Qasim Naqvi. The sax doesn't blow me away, but the rhythm section is far from ordinary. Two tracks add Lionel Loueke. A- [cd]
Bill Kirchner: An Evening of Indigos (2014 , Jazzheads, 2CD): Soprano saxophonist and sometime jazz historian (he edited The Oxford Companion to Jazz, organized a nonet for his 1983 debut and that seems to be his favorite vehicle. This is more intimate, a long, relaxed set with Carlton Holmes on piano, Jim Ferguson on bass, and smoky vocals by Holli Ross. B+(**) [cd]
Frank Kohl Quartet: Invisible Man (2013 , Pony Boy): Another mild-mannered guitar album, backed by Tom Kohl on piano, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Jon Doty on drums. B+(*) [cd]
John Kruth: The Drunken Wind of Life: The Poem/Songs of Tin Ujevic (2015, Smiling Fez): Ujevic (1891-1955) was a Croatian poet and essayist; he studied in Split, lived mostly in Belgrade (after some time in France) but died in Zagreb. Wikipedia tells us that "in 2008, a total of 122 streets in Croatia were named after Ujevic, making him the ninth most common person for whom streets were named in Croatia." Nine (of thirteen) songs here are built around Ujevic lyrics, three others Kurth originals "inspired by Ujevic and Croatia," plus a trad folk dance for local flavor. Actually, the music doesn't sound that Balkan, and the lyrics are all standard English translations, accorded the sort of veneration that comes naturally to folkies. A-
Amy LaVere and Will Sexton: Hallelujah I'm a Dreamer (2015, Archer): A country singer who prefers Memphis, and one of those singer-songwriter who having established her own career decided to give her husband some billing -- Amy Rigby, Kelly Chambers, and Kelly Willis are others (although the latter's mate is probably as well known). This was cut cheap, minimal arrangements, recycling some old songs which stand on their own. Still very much her album, although he sings one and does a nice job. A-
Left Exit Mr K: Featuring Michael Duch & Klaus Holm (2013 , Clean Feed): My original parsing had Left Exit as the group name, Mr K as the album title, and the rest as fluff. Some further diggins suggests the above, with some sources marking the transition from white to black print with a comma (and an equally invisible dot): Left Exit, Mr. K. At any rate, the group proper is a duo of Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (saxes) and Andreas Skår Winther (drums, strings), so Duch (double bass) and Holm (sax, clarinet) are guests. Improv that aims at the dark side of ambient, nothing quite so clear as drone. B+(**) [cd]
The Liberation Music Collective: Siglo XXI (2015, self-released): Big band from Bloomington, IN, co-founded and (more or less) led by Hannah Fidler (bass) and Matt Riggen (trumpet), the instrumental stretches cut with interviews, spoken word samples, a "Herstory" rap by Fiddler. May strike you as a bit preachy, but someone in the trombone section has a sense of humor (and so does Fidler -- best presumably assumed name since Joe Strummer). B+(**) [cd]
Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group: The Puzzle (2015, Whaling City Sound): The saxophonist has many groups, well over 100 albums, but this one almost deserves the pretentious name. Liebman plays soprano and wooden recorder -- not something I've been all that fond of in the past, but he mixes well with Matt Vashlishan (clarinet, flute, alto sax, straw, EWI). Bobby Avey is a terrific pianist, and Tony Marino and Alex Ritz are fine on bass and drums. B+(***) [cd]
Russ Lossing: Eclipse (2012 , Aqua Piazza): One of the most impressive jazz pianists to have emerge since 2000. This one is solo, often quite impressive. B+(**) [cd]
Hans Luchs: Time Never Pauses (2015, OA2): Guitarist, based in Chicago, first album, bright tone, some swing, wrote eight originals and covers Ellington and Porter. B+(*) [cd]
Maddie & Tae: Start Here (2015, Dot): The phrase they hint at but can't bring themselves to say (pardon that "French") is "karma is a bitch." Note that Taylor Dye and Maddie Marlow are credited on all songs, but never without help. Feels like too much help, and with their voices locked it's hard to find an individual in the duo. B+(*)
Whitney Marchelle: Dig Dis (2015, Blujazz): Singer, last name Jackson, second album. Plays some piano, moves a lot of musicians in and out -- the late Clark Terry's cut suggests this was recorded earlier but I have no dates. She digs bebop, and this works best when it flies, as on the opening "In Walked Bud." B+(*) [cd]
Josh Maxey: Celebration of Soul (2015, Miles High): Guitarist, tenth album he's recorded in last three years, all original pieces mostly done in a soul jazz mode with Brian Charette on organ and Jeremy Noller on drums, some adding Rodney Jones for a second guitar, more often Chase Baird on sax, or others who didn't make the front cover. B [cd]
Joe McPhee/Jamie Saft/Joe Morris/Charles Downs: Ticonderoga (2014 , Clean Feed): Avant sax quartet, McPhee plays tenor (mostly) and soprano and doesn't push it too hard. Saft plays piano, getting a bit more brittle sound than on his usual electric keybs, and adding measurably to the rhythmic complexity, which is not to say groove. Morris plays bass here, and is superb. [PS: There is an alternate cover, shown on the label's website, which suggests Saft is the leader. My copy lists the four names in the credit order above. The spine only lists Ticonderoga, which the label's website lists as the artist name.] A- [cd]
Bob Merrill: Cheerin' Up the Universe (2013 , Accurate): Trumpet player, crooner, don't know if he's related to the famous songwriter of the same name (1921-98), but is clearly much younger and still living. (AMG errnoeously lists his records under the elder Merrill's discography.) Band includes John Medeski, Russ Gershon, Nicki Parrott, and George Schuller, and Harry Allen and Roswell Rudd drop in for a cut apiece. His standards are mostly pop songs from the '60s and '70s -- "What the World Needs Now," "Compared to What," "Imagine," "Feelin' Groovy," "The Creator Has a Master Plan," "Let's Drop the Big One" -- some of those work and some don't, but the final three are pleasant surprises: "Happy," "IGY (What a Beautiful World)," and "I'm So Tired." B+(**) [cd]
Metric: Pagans in Vegas (2015, Metric): Synth-pop group from Toronto, lead singer Emily Haynes, been around since the turn of the century but took a big step forward with 2009's Fantasies. This is about as good, mature songs built on solid melodies, nothing too chirpy or flashy. A-
Mark Christian Miller: Crazy Moon (2015, Sliding Jazz Door Productions): Standards singer, has a previous album as Mark Miller (Dreamer With a Penny), draws on local talent for his band -- notably Josh Nelson (piano), Larry Koonse (guitar), Bob Sheppard (bass clarinet). Not a classic crooner but agreeable enough, especially if you feed him an undeniable classic. B+(*) [cd]
Ben Monder: Amorphae (2010-13 , ECM): Guitarist, very prolific sideman with 130 albums since 1992, the go-to guy for New York postboppers. Two duos with Paul Motian, two more with Andrew Cyrille, plus trio tracks where synth-player Pete Rende joins Cyrille. Ambient, nearly featureless, aside from some fumbles that could just be artifacts of a defective streaming process. B [dl]
Giorgio Moroder: Deja-Vu (2015, RCA): Best known as Donna Summer's producer (1975-80), Moroder lent his disco touch to dozens of artists in the early 1980s. His own albums start with a 1969 collection of bubble gum covers, proceed through disco versions of the Moody Blues and the soundtrack for Midnight Express, but end in 1985. He's done hack work since then (TV, video games), but this is his first album in 30 years. His disco shtick hasn't evolved much but still gleams -- at one point his disembodied voice tells us "74 is the new 24," but he usually leaves the words to still young pop stars like Sia, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, and Kelis. And he shows us that "Tom's Diner" gets even better with more remix. A-
Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Mauch Chunk (2015, Hot Cup): Some turnover in the lineup of bassist Moppa Elliott's group as it moves into its second decade: Ron Stabinsky, who joined the group when they attempted to clone Kind of Blue, remains on piano, while Peter Evans (trumpet) is gone. The loss of front-line fire power should hurt, but saxophonist Jon Irabagon goes to Herculean lengths to make up the deficit. Not quite up to their best albums of the past decade, but the bear on the cover reminds me they don't have to outrun time, just the competition. A- [cd]
New Order: Music Complete (2015, Mute): First real album in a decade -- seems to be a lot of that going on recently -- the lapse taking one casualty: bassist Peter Hook is gone (but how hard is it to replace a bassist?), original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert has returned, and they've added some guests and strings, none of which makes much difference: long-term fans will instantly recognize the band, and newbies will be, well, amazed. A-
Oddisee: The Good Fight (2015, Mello Music Group): Underground rapper, born in DC as Amir Mohammed el Khalifa, father originally from Sudan, tenth album since 2009 plus a bunch of EPs and mixtapes. Spoken word bit at the end explains that Oddisee and Blu are two rappers who refuse to "dumb down" to make themselves more accessible. Can't argue against this, given that most of this record just sailed right past me. B+(*)
Caili O'Doherty: Padme (2015, Odo): Pianist, first album, all originals, backed by bass and drums plus many guests -- saxophonists Ben Flocks (tenor) and Caroline Davis (alto) make the best impression, mostly by going with the flow. B+(**) [cd]
Ought: Sun Coming Down (2015, Constellation): Post-punk quartet from Montreal with a heavy metallic klang that reminds me of some of those UK groups that came along after Gang of Four (e.g., Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, less so The Three Johns), an imposing sound when it coheres (as it mostly did on the 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day), although here they fall down repeatedly, and the effect is far more annoying than my hopefully hedged grade. B+(*)
Charlie Parr: Stumpjumper (2015, Red House): From Minnesota, guitarist-singer billed as "country blues" but I'm more inclined to view him as a folk artist -- even if virtually all of the songs are originals the style is as old as the hills. Helps here that he gets some backing vocals -- wife and kids, I gather. B+(**)
Ben Patterson: For Once in My Life (2015, Origin): Organ trio, with Peter Bernstein on guitar and George Fludas on drums. Conventional, almost classic, soul jazz, neatly done. Leader has several previous albums as a pianist. B+(*) [cd]
Pere Ubu: Carnival of Souls (2014, Fire): One of the most brilliant avant-punk groups to come out of the late 1970s -- newbies might consider their new vinyl-only box, Elitism for the People 1975-1978 (Fire, 4LP), but I probably have it all, and having been slow to give up vinyl, I'm even less inclined to retrace my steps. David Thomas, at least, has kept the band name going, his voice unique, and the sonic palette still distinc after all these years. B+(***)
The Pop Group: Citizen Zombie (2015, Freaks R Us): An obscure avant-punk group from 1978-80, their album Y having become a cult item, regroups after thirty-some years (vocalist Mark Stewart, guitarist Gareth Sager, and drummer Bruce Smith, anyway, with a new bassist). More structured than the original group, which is not necessarily a plus. B+(*)
Noah Preminger: Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar (2015, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, won the debut category in the 2008 Jazz Critics Poll, and has only gotten better. Live quartet with Jason Palmer on trumpet, Kim Cass on bass, and Ian Froman on drums -- names I didn't recognize and shouldn't forget. Two 30+ minute jams, an old-fashioned cutting contest. A- [cd]
Tom Rainey Trio: Motel Grief (2015, Intakt): Drummer, I first noticed him with Tim Berne in the 1990s, but it took a while before he started moving his name up front. Third album with this particular group, with Ingrid Laubrock on sax and Mary Halvorson, slippery as ever, on guitar. B+(**) [cd]
Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart (2015, Mindless/Virgin): First solo album since 1992. Maybe he figured the title tune was good enough, and maybe it is, but Steve Jordan isn't the writing partner he needs, so the filler falls off pretty bad -- especially when you consider he has a knack for making knock offs work (cf. "Goodnight Irene"). B
Daniel Romano: If I've Only One Time Askin' (2015, New West): Canadian country singer, second album. B+(*)
Cecile McLorin Salvant: For One to Love (2015, Mack Avenue): Jazz singer, born in Miami, mother French, father Haitian, studied in France. Her second swept the critics polls and picked up a Grammy nomination. I doubt this would have broken through like that, but fans may convince themselves it's a step forward. I'm not so sure, not just because I found her "Wives and Lovers" unsettling. B+(*)
Jill Scott: Woman (2015, Atlantic): Sixteen songs, runs 57:41, sprawl that I've found hard to get a grip on although I don't doubt that a little pruning would put it over, and suspect even that once that happened the ambient filler might work too. Or maybe just a hard copy and lots of time. Easy enough to get why she favors the sprawl: big subject, and lots to say about it. B+(***)
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Makoto Ozone: Jeunehomme: Mozart Piano Concerto No 9 K-271 (2014 , Spartacus): Tommy Smith's pet project, one I indulge mostly because Smith remains one of the world's most dynamic tenor saxophonists. Indeed, there's an early solo here that could be no one else. Still, Mozart, even nicely jazzed up, will never be my cup of tea, and while Ozone may have a reputation in some circles, he's just another piano player here. B+(*) [cdr]
Aram Shelton/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Frank Rosaly: Resounder (2014 , Singlespeed Music): Alto sax-cello-drums trio, leader also credited with "processing," while Lonberg-Holm adds guitar and electronics -- his electronics have moved way beyond the hobby stage, filling up the middle with a dense, prickly sonic framework, which the others can only sharpen up or knick away at. B+(***) [cd]
Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue: Sounds and Cries of the World (2015, Pi): Exotic singer from Peoria, IL; also plays piano and various lutes and zithers and gongs of scattered east Asian origin, and fronts a talented group with Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Mat Maneri (viola), Thomas Morgan (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums). Nice work if you can stand it, which for the most part I cannot. B- [cd]
Susana Santos Silva/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Hampus Lindwall: If Nothing Else (2014 , Clean Feed): Trumpet/flugelhorn, double bass, and organ, respectively. Organ and bass are usually exclusive in jazz groups but here they resonate, the organ broadening the bass harmonics and the bass sharpening the organ, while the trumpet easily punctures whatever backdrop they throw up. B+(**) [cd]
Rotem Sivan Trio: A New Dance (2015, Fresh Sound New Talent): Guitarist, born in Israel, based in New York, third album, trio with bass (Haggai Cohen-Wild) and drums (Colin Stranahan). Rather buttoned-down postbop. the pace deliberate, the tone muted, the guest vocal neither here more there. B+(*) [cd]
Snik: Metasediment Rock (2014 , Clean Feed): Norwegian avant quartet: Kristoffer Kompen (trombone), Kristoffer Berre Alberts (saxes), Ole Morten Vågan (bass), Erik Nylander (drums), with Kompen and Vågan composing (6-to-2). B+(**) [cd]
Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment: Surf (2015, self-released): The leader is actually named Nico Segal, but does at least play trumpet. Still, this counts as a rap album for the vocalists, the main one being Chance the Rapper (although I suppose featured artists like Big Sean and Erykah Badu are better known). Underground, flows soulfully, grows on you. A-
Voicehandler: Song Cycle (2013-14 , Humbler): Duo: Jacob Felix Heule (percussion & electronics), and Danishta Rivera (voice & Hydrophonium). The electronics evoke primordial violence, the assembly of the world from chaos, and the vocals try to make it all seem cosmic. B+(*) [cd]
The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness (2015, Republic): Abel Tesfaye, from Toronto, entered the pop world as a damaged outsider and seems determined to stay there, his love songs crippled but shameless. B+(*)
Bastian Weinhold: Cityscape (2014 , Frame Music): Drummer, from Germany, studied in Netherlands, moved to New York in 2009. Second album, quartet with Adam Larson on tenor sax and Nils Weinhold on guitar. More typical of a guitarist's album, a bit of groove with little muss. B [cd]
Galen Weston: Plugged In (2015, Blujazz): Guitarist, from Toronto, easy-going groove album with electric keyb and bits of tasty sax. B- [cd]
Ben Winkelman Trio: The Knife (2014 , OA2): Pianist, third or fourth album, trio with Sam Anning on bass and Eric Doob on drums. B+(**) [cd]
John Wojciechowski: Focus (2015, Origin): Saxophonist (soprano, alto, tenor), one previous album, this a quartet with Ryan Cohan on piano/Rhodes, Dennis Carroll on bass, Dana Hill on drums. Nice tenor tone, good postbop sense, very listenable disc. B+(**)
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Willem Breuker Kollektief: Angoulême 18 Mai 1980 (1980 , Fou, 2CD): Dutch group, led by the saxophonist from the early 1970s until his death in 2010. Like ICP Orchestra (which Breuker briefly played in), and for that matter the Sun Ra Arkestra, Breuker was able to span the whole history of jazz up through the avant-garde, frequently turning to hard swing, but in Breuker's case also mixing in circus, folk, classical, and Brechtian art-song. I've only heard ten (of fifty-some) Breuker records, and most I rate between mixed blessings and downright nuissances, so as I was falling for this one I noticed that my previous favorite was another early (1975) live album. This could have been edited down into something that flows better, but largesse was a big part of their shtick. A- [cd]
Amara Touré: 1973-1980 (1973-80 , Analog Africa): Singer-percussionist from Guinea, played in Le Star Band de Dakar, picking up Afro-Cuban pop from the African end. Stitched together from singles and an album, the tracks progressively refine their groove until the "Africa" chant at the end takes off. B+(***)
Louis Armstrong: From the Big Band to the All Stars (1946-1956) (1932-56 , RCA, 2CD): From RCA France's Jazz Tribune series, this gives you a nice overview of Armstrong's post-WWII downsizing, where he basically traded the big band he had led since 1930 for a small group called the All Stars (justly at first, although their star power waned over the years as Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, and Big Sid Catlett dropped out. This only includes three All Stars cuts, from 1947 with Dick Cary (instead of Hines) on piano. The rest of the cuts are with various big bands -- including one cut with Chick Webb from 1932 and three from 1956. A- [cd]
Sidney Bechet: The Complete Sidney Bechet Volumes 3/4 (1941) (1941 , RCA, 2CD): Elizabeth Fink's father, Bernie Fink, died well before I met her, but his name came up often, especially when we talked about music. Bernie's favorite was Sidney Bechet, so I grabbed this long out-of-print compilation from Liz's shelves. I probably didn't need to since much of this also appears on the even-harder-to-find The Victor Sessions: Master Takes (, RCA, 3CD), which I own and treasure -- this adds extra takes, turning singles into doubles. Still, with music this transcendent, redundancy just drives home the point. A- [cd]
The Bottle Rockets: 24 Hours a Day (1997, Atlantic): Third album, a much-better-than-average countryish-rock band, pretty good song about "Indianapolis." B+(***)
Bottle Rockets: Leftovers (1998, Doolittle): From the 24 Hours a Day sessions, not quite a full platter with eight songs (plus one hidden track), 31:36, but not oversold either. Probably not as good as the keeper album, but more fun -- excepting "My Own Cadillac." B+(**)
The Bottle Rockets: Brand New Year (1999, Dolittle): So this is where they decide to rock out -- always an aspect of what they do, but is it here to cover up a drop in the songs? I'm not sure. B+(*)
The Bottle Rockets: Zoysia (2006, Bloodshot): Continuing much as ever before: "these days my heart's better than broken/not as good as new." B+(**)
Can: Tago Mago (1971, United Artists): German band, formed by bassist Holger Czukay and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt, both Stockhausen students, with jazz drummer Jaki Liebezeit and Michael Karoli on guitar. This is their second or third album (depending on whether you count their 1970 Soundtracks compilation), a double LP with two side-long tracks: the first exceptionally sharp, the second oddly exceptional. B+(***)
Nick Drake: Pink Moon (1972, Island): English singer-songwriter, folkie division, cut three albums before he died at 26, officially a suicide (overdose of anti-depressants). This last album is stripped down to voice and guitar, and while there's nothing particularly depressing about the songs, there is nothing exciting either. B+(*)
Faust: Faust IV (1973, Virgin): German group, one of synth bands that would eventually be categorized as "Krautrock" (the title of the long first cut here). Fourth and last of their 1971-73 albums, before breaking up in 1975 and regrouping in the mid-1990s. Still, they're not purists, setting aside their machines for human vocals (ok, German vocals), not that far removed from Soft Machine (although I can't speak for their wit). B+(**)
Faust: Something Dirty (2011, Bureau B): After regrouping in 1994 the group has recorded a lot. I picked this one out to sample because it is the only one Christgau noted. Guitar rather than synth, sometimes leaning industrial and sometimes delicately not, with occasional annotation. B+(**)
Ulrich Gumpert: Workshop Band (1978-79 , Jazzwerkstatt, 2CD): Compilation of two FMP albums, Under Anderem: 'N Tango Für Gitti (from a Rundfunk der GDR radio shot), and Echos von Karolinenhof (from two live dates at the Akademie der Künste in East Berlin. The bands include the future Zentralquartett -- Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky (reeds), Conrad Bauer (trombone), Günter Sommer (drums) -- plus Klaus Koch on bass, Heinz Becker on trumpet, Manfred Hering on alto/tenor sax, and either Helmut Forsthoff or Iri Artonow on tenor sax. Brisk, frisky free jazz, undaunted by the Iron Curtain. B+(**)
Ulrich Gumpert: Erik Satie: Danses Gothiques/Quatre Preludes/Petite Ouverture a Danser (1989 , Phil.Harmonie): Originally released on ITM as Ulrich Gumpert Spielt Erik Satie or Erik Satie Compositeur de Musique depending on how or where you look. Solo piano, not as much snap as I like on Satie, but he's put some thought into it. B+(*)
Ulrich Gumpert Workshop Band: Smell a Rat (1995 , Jazzwerkstatt): Same band as fifteen years earlier, the compositions divided 5-4 between Gumpert and Günter Sommer with Petrowsky the top soloist. B+(***)
Ulrich Gumpert: Quartette (2006 , Intakt): Sax quartet, the leader on piano and the composer of all seven tunes, with Jan Roder on bass, Michael Griener on drums, and Ben Abarbanel-Wolff on tenor -- the latter doesn't strike me as having exceptional range, with the composer feeding him fast freebop runs. B+(**)
Ulrich Gumpert Workshop Band: Suites (2008, Jazzwerkstatt): Quite a bit of personnel churn here -- the pianist is the only player left from 1995, the new septet built around the 2006 Quartette with three extra horns: Martin Klingeberg (trumpet), Christof Thewes (trombone), and Henrik Waldsdorff (alto sax). Three original pieces with 3-4 movements each -- the traditional term, I think, but here they really do move, or more precisely, jump and swing. A-
Ulrich Gumpert/Günter Baby Sommer: La Paloma (2011 , Intakt): Piano-drums duo, long-running relationship including a couple of duo albums on FMP 1978-79. This is relatively relaxed, even a bit folkie. B+(**)
John Lee Hooker: John Lee Hooker on Vee-Jay 1955-1958 (1955-58 , Vee-Jay): Robert Santelli's second pick from Hooker's vast discography, number 18 among all blues albums ever (trailing The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954 at number 6). This is only a fragment of Hooker's Vee-Jays: the first 22 tracks from the 6-CD box The Vee Jay Years 1955-1964, but they are band tracks, where Hooker earned his "endless boogie" handle. A-
John Lee Hooker: Don't Turn Me From Your Door: John Lee Hooker Sings His Blues (1953-61 , Atco): Mostly from 1953 although the four later tracks would be hard to pick out in a blindfold test. Just guitar and voice, the minimal core he built a long career around. Only 36 for the early tracks, yet he already sounds ancient. A-
John Lee Hooker: Never Get Out of These Blues Alive (1971 , ABC): Long before he came up with the Best of Friends the bluesman jams with Elvin Bishop and Van Morrison, running the latter's "T.B. Sheets" through the ringer. B+(***)
The Pandelis Karayorgis Trio: Heart and Sack (1998, Leo Lab): Greek pianist, long based in Boston, piano trio, with Nate McBride on bass and Randy Peterson on drums. Starts pushing a strong rhythmic line, but even when he eases up he keeps this fascinating. A-
Pandelis Karayorgis: Seventeen Pieces: Solo Piano (2004, Leo): Half originals (8), three Monks, pianist pieces from Ellington to Tristano to Sun Ra, pieces from Marsh and Dolphy, one standard ("I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You"). B+(***)
The Bill Kirchner Nonet: One Starry Night (1987 , Jazzheads): After two studio albums went out of print, this radio tape eventually surfaced, the main selling point guest singer Sheila Jordan, who's a little excessive on her Charlie Parker tale ("Quasimodo"). The band itself is an impressive bunch, with Ralph Lalama and Glenn Wilson joining Kirchner on reeds, Bill Warfield and Brian Lynch on trumpet, Marc Copland on piano, Mike Richmond on bass. B+(**)
John Kruth: Banshee Mandolin (1992, Flying Fish): Scholar-turned-musician or vice versa, AMG credits him with liner notes on a dozen albums, and he's written biographies of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Townes Van Zandt, and Roy Orbison (in that order, 2000-12). His side credits on mandolin go back to 1986 (Christine Lavin) -- probably the reason AMG classifies him as folk although they could have gone for jazz or world or sui generis. This takes a funny glance on folk and bounces it off psychedelic rock among other things -- his band credits include Violent Femmes. He would later delve deep into Balkan Music and form a world-fusion group called TriBeCaStan, but while most of what he picked up later sounds borrowed, this is pretty distinct. B+(***)
John Kruth: Eva Destruction (2006, Crustacean): In 2006 Kruth traveled to India to study with Carnatic mandolin virtuoso U. Rajesh. Not sure if that happened before or after this album, but he's at least thinking about Indian music, adding little flourishes, even if sometimes they sound third hand, like something he copped from a George Harrison record. Or Donovan, if you still want to cast him as a folkie. B+(**)
John Kruth: Splitsville (2008, Smiling Fez): Split is an ancient city on the Adriatic Sea in modern Croatia, founded by Greeks in the 4th century BCE, batted about by Romans, Avars, Slavs, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, Habsburgs, Napoleon, Hitler, and Tito -- leaving a set of fortifications and antiquities used as sets for Game of Thrones. Kruth's musical interests span the world, but he learned to focus here -- his wife's Croatian heritage was part of the reason, inspiring this batch of original songs that never stray that far from home, even when singing about "the lone Croatian general not wanted by the Hague." A-
Madness: One Step Beyond . . . (1979, Stiff): British ska revival band, first album, a big UK hit but they never sold much in the US. B+(**)
Madness: Absolutely (1980, Stiff): Another UK hit, with three top-ten singles, not that any of them are obvious on the first pass -- just the upbeat intensity. B
Madness: Complete Madness: 16 Hit Tracks (1979-82 , Stiff): After three albums, the first of many compilations, includes 11 singles that charted 16 or higher in the UK (9 in top-10, 6 in top-5), but came too soon to include 7 more top-10 (only 2 post-1983). So there should be a later, higher-charting best-of, but probably not this tight and consistent. B+(***)
Giorgio Moroder: Knights in White Satin (1976, Oasis): Cover just lists the artist as Giorgio. The disco take on the Moody Blues is a joke, of course -- not a great one, but an improvement nonetheless. The white mist pervades the B-side as well, making me wonder if "I Wanna Funk With You Tonite" isn't meant as some sort of hymn. B+(*)
Giorgio Moroder: From Here to Eternity (1977, Casablanca): Pretty much the centerpiece in the disco producer's own brief fling as a headline artist, although it's hard to hear why: the beats are steady as ever, but the vocals aspire to robot-dom, and don't quite make it. B
Neu!: Neu! (1972, Brain): Guitarist Michael Rother, who went on to have an interesting solo career (also playing bass and, later, keyboards), and drummer Klaus Dinger left Kraftwerk to start this short-lived (and occasionally reformed) group. The 10:07 opener "Hallogallo" is an entrancing piece of minimalist groove. They try some other things, but the album really perks up every time the beat resurfaces. A-
Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Sings Newman (1970, Buddha): All music and lyrics, and for that matter piano, by Randy Newman, whose brilliant second album, 12 Songs would be released later that spring. Nilsson only scooped one song from that album, settling for five from the debut, two songs that Newman released on later albums, and two more I haven't located. Hard to realize now that this was once seen as a favor. B-
Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson (1971, RCA): Two of his three top-ten singles here, which although familiar enough don't seem all that inevitable. Two R&B covers that do sound like hits emerge as idiosyncrasies. The other stuff is far from compelling, though lots of smart people thought so at the time. B+(**)
Harry Nilsson: Pussy Cats (1974, RCA): I had long been under the impression that John Lennon collaborated more here, but the fine print above his name on the cover just says "produced by." Lennon wrote one song, arranged a few more, and I suspect his voice is in there somewhere. But the project mostly depends on a random spread of on quick and dirty covers ("Many Rivers to Cross," "Save the Last Dance for Me," "Loop de Loop," "Subterranean Homesick Blues," etc.), and that doesn't prove much. B
The Pop Group: Y (1979 , Radar): British group, nothing pop about them, closer to no wave or postpunk but where those aimed for crude basics, this group seeks magic in chaos. Sometimes they find it, mostly in rhythmic thrash, sometimes with jazz piano or sax that's not part of the core group. Wikipedia has a fairly large table of notable lists this obscurity has appeared on. Too erratic for me to agree, but I can sort of see it. Best thing is the extra single on the reissue ("3:38"). B+(***)
The Pop Group: For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? (1980, Rough Trade): Rough, scratchy, but much more coherent songwise, and clearly political ("Nixon and Kissinger should be tried for war crimes"). B+(**) [dl]
Saturday Night Fever [The Original Movie Sound Track] (1977, Polydor): A double-LP in its time, although it should fit onto a single CD, mixing the good stuff and the not-so-good. The former includes a Bee Gees side (with Yvonne Elliman singing one of their songs), an instrumental "Calypso Breakdown," and a magnificent "Disco Inferno" (The Trammps). The latter includes vain attempts to discofy Beethoven and Mussorgsky. B+(*)
Jill Scott: Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 (2000, Hidden Beach/Epic): First album, carried the Words and Sounds conceit through three volumes by which time she didn't need anything so self-effacing. She pulls her punches here, too, but just to lure you in. B+(**)
The Specials: The Specials (1979, Chrysalis): Ska band, picking up on the Jamaican pop of the 1960s before rocksteady and reggae and dub and all that evolved, probably because it was easier for English punks than affecting rastafari poses, and this band is unmistakably English. B+(***)
The Specials: More Specials (1980, Chrysalis): More consistent, but less special. B+(*)
The Specials: The Singles Collection (1979-84 , Chrysalis): The early non-album "Gangsters" and the closing, still resonating "Free Nelson Mandela" are highlights, otherwise not a lot of reason to favor this over their first album. Still, does a nice job of framing the band. A- [cd]
Suicide: Suicide (1977, Red Star): American duo, singer Alan Vega and Martin Rev on electronics (keyboards, synth bass, drum machine). Touted as "influential" although one thing this didn't bequeath to later new wave groups was a beat. The A side meanders, while the B side (especially the 10:26 "Frankie Teardrop") aims for something more ominous. B
Suicide: Suicide (1980, Antilles/ZE): Original cover lists artists Alan Vega/Martin Rev as well as the group name and/or title -- I've seen that as the title, also Second Album with/without The First Rehearsal Tapes. In any case, a much steadier, more attractive album than the debut. B+(**)
T. Rex: Electric Warrior (1971, Reprise): Marc Bolan's band, considered "glam rock" although their earlier name (1967-70, 4 albums) Tyrannosaurus Rex suggested something heavier. A fifth album, the eponymous T Rex (1970) sold better, kicking off a stretch when they were very popular, although much more so in England. Still, this was their only number one, filled with their chunky little grooves, although only "Get It On" (aka "Bang a Gong") stands out. B+(**)
T. Rex: The Slider (1972, Reprise): Bigger sound, more flash to the guitar, still the hits ("Metal Guru," "Telegram Sam") pull their punches -- probably why they didn't cross the Atlantic. B+(*)
This Are Two Tone (1979-82 , Chrysalis): Label sampler, effectively covers Britain's postpunk ska revival, built around a six-cut best-of from the Specials, with notable cuts from notable bands The Selecter and Madness, both sides of the first single by what later became The English Beat, and some of those minor artists who only show up on compilations. Rhapsody doesn't have this, but I was able to piece together the songlist, maybe even the same versions. A-
Van Halen: Van Halen (1978, Warner Brothers): Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, guitar and drums, launched this "bar band" in 1972, then picked up singer David Lee Roth in 1974 for a front man with the projection to fill arenas. Aside from the note-perfect Kinks cover ("You Really Got Me"), nothing here is memorably distinct -- even Eddie's "guitar hero" licks could have been stamped out in a production line, and with no song running over 3:50, they're actually rather scarce. C+
Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:
Additional Consumer News:
Previous grades on artists in the old music section.
Everything streamed from Rhapsody, except as noted in brackets following the grade:
Wednesday, October 21. 2015
I don't really understand what's been going on there over the last few weeks, other than that it this episode of escalating violence isn't all that different from every other one -- in that it's mostly explained by the exhaustion of hope for change by any means other than yet another mass uprising. In 1989, as 22 years of military rule over the Occupied Territories turned increasingly rote and rigid, numb and dumb, with the Palestinian political leadership broken and scattered, the popular revolt that broke out was called the intifada -- an Arabic word denoting a tremor, shivering, shuddering, derived from nafada meaning to shake, to shake off, to get rid of. It was an almost involuntary response to the daily grind of oppression, and it took the PLO as much by surprise as it shocked Israel's security czars. Their kneejerk reaction then was summed up in Yitzhak Rabin's vow to "break the bones" of those who would dare protest against Israeli power. Nearly all of the violence was the work of Israelis, who killed hundreds of Palestinians, injured and/or detained thousands, and looked foolish. The worst the Palestinians did was to throw rocks at the armed gendarmes, not exactly textbook nonviolence but for two peoples who grew up on the stories of David and Goliath, more an act of symbolic than physical resistance.
Rabin eventually saw the the way out of the embarrassment of the Intifada was to insert a buffer layer of Palestinian "leaders" between the Israeli masters and most of the Palestinian masses: a role that Yassir Arafat all too readily agreed to, as long as it was sugar-coated with vague promises of future Palestinian independence. This was the Oslo "peace process" -- by design it spurred a redoubling of Israeli efforts to "create facts on the ground" (Israel's jargon for building illegal settlements and outposts on occupied Palestinian land) while forces on both sides -- and not just the "extremists" like Kach-ist settlers and Hamas -- worked to poison the agreement. We can only speculate on what might have happened had Rabin not been assassinated; had his successor, Shimon Peres, not recklessly provoked a wave of Hamas terrorism which got him voted out; had Benjamin Netanyahu not come to power and used that power to subvert the "process"; had Ehud Barak, elected with a mandate to deliver the "final status" negotiations, not gotten cold feet, reneged on his promises, tore up the Oslo agreement, initiated the so-called "Second Intifada" while ushering Ariel Sharon into power to nail the coffin shut. But what we know now is that the growing power of Israel's settler movement, its militarist security state, and its right-wing political parties, has buried, as far into the future as we can see, any prospect for equal rights, for justice and peace, under Israel's yoke.
It's unfair to blame the Second Intifada for killing Oslo, but the resort to violence by Hamas and factions of the PLO, especially the practice of "suicide bombing," helped to harden right-wing Israeli attitudes and determination. I always thought the two Intifadas were completely different phenomena: the former a spontaneous mass revolt in the face of Israel's overwhelming potential violence; the latter a calculated attempt by small cadres of militants to show Israel's powers that their subversion of the "peace process" must have adverse consequences for the Israeli people. The former exposed the rotten truth about Israel's "enlightened occupation"; the latter revealed that in a naked test of violence with Israel the Palestinians never stood a chance.
The great failure of Arafat's political leadership was that he was never able to move beyond his famous UN speech where he offered Israel the choice of peace or war, symbolized by an olive branch and an AK-47. When he failed to negotiate a "final status" deal with Barak in 2000 -- which as we now know was almost totally Barak's fault -- his natural instinct was to pick up the gun. It's not clear to me that's what he did: he always held out the hope for further negotiations, but he couldn't distance himself from the militants without admitting that he had no control over them, and as such no leverage against Israel (or for that matter use to Israel). The notion that Arafat launched the "Al-Aqsa Intifada" -- the term widely abused to associate the Second Intifada with the Moslem holy site, hence with Jihad -- is as ridiculous as the notion that Arafat rejected "unprecedentedly generous offers" at Camp David. Besides, we now know the Intifada was something the Palestinians were goaded into: by Barak's self-serving spin after Camp David, by Sharon's massive armed "visit" to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and most of all by Chief of Staff Shaul Moffaz's decision to open fire on Palestinian demonstrators against Sharon's provocations. It's never seemed quite right to view the violence of 2000-05 as an intifada when it was originally set up as an ambush.
It's hard to change long-established terminology, but it would make more sense to refer to the 2000-05 ("Second Intifada") period as the Counter-Intifada. The original Intifada led to the Oslo Agreements and the "peace process" which the Counter-Intifada destroyed: that much should by now be perfectly clear. One can debate whether the Counter-Intifada ever ended: Arafat died in November 2004, depriving the Intifada of its most prominent boogeyman (his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was so firmly opposed to the Intifada that he was useless as an enemy face, a role that was quickly shifted to Hamas); Sharon withdrew Israeli settlements from Gaza in September 2005; in 2006 Hamas called a truce, and entered the Palestinian Authority's electoral system, winning a landslide before being cut off by a US-sponsored coup attempt. And while Israel's military actions against Palestinians never really subsided, including massive shellings against Gaza in 2006 (and 2008-09 and 2012 and 2014), the violence was at least temporarily eclipsed by Israel's brutal 2006 bombardment of Lebanon (Condoleezza Rice's notorious "birth pangs of a new Middle East").
Levels of eruptive violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have waxed and waned, but Israel has always threatened and exercised much more violence in its efforts to control Palestinians. In most years since 1967, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces is ten times as many as the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian "terrorists." Ironically, the ratio drops to about four-to-one in 2001-03, the one (and only) period where there was significant armed Palestinian resistance. (By the way, the distinction between "eruptive" and "potential" violence is a key concept in the book The One State Condition: Occupation and Democracy in Israel/Palestine, by Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir. Eruptive violence is something that Israelis and Palestinians can compete at, but potential violence totally favors Israel: it is, for instance, what allows Israel to require permits, to impose checkpoints, to pick up and hold prisoners. Comparing the ratios of killed or injured, even when we're talking ten-to-one, doesn't even hint at balancing the power scales.)
Most eruptive violence is, at least as rationalized by those who perpetrate it, retaliatory, which means as a first approximation is perpetual, a self-sustaining cycle. However, the actual incidence is far from regular. Palestinians, who suffer disproportionately, are more likely to declare unilateral truces and less likely to break them. And while Palestinians will sometimes inflict violence just to remind Israel that Israel's own violence will not go unanswered, Israelis put much more stock in the deterrence value of violence. Moreover, Israelis are much more likely to see violence as a path to personal advancement. For starters, a majority of Israel's Prime Ministers built their careers on their military records -- more if you count paramilitary terrorists like Begin and Shamir. And as Israel continues its drift toward the extreme right, even mainstream politicians take on genocidal airs.
But while Israel's eruptive violence never seems to go away -- the one exception was the year-and-a-half from when Barak won with his peace mandate in 1998 until he squandered it at Camp David and let Sharon run amok at Al-Aqsa in 2000 -- the eagerness of Palestinian militants to match Israel's violence with their own seems to roughly correlate with a generational (12-15 year) cycle -- making this year's uptick in stabbings seem like a harbinger of a third Intifada. I think three things are going on here: (1) people confuse intifada -- a significant increase in activism meant to "throw off" the occupier -- with violence, a tactic that cannot conceivably stand up against the military and police power of Israel; (2) much of the talk of Intifada comes from militant groups seeking to exploit widespread discontent for their own sectarian purposes (or, conversely, from Israelis who see the militants as their ticket to more devastating repression; (3) while at the same time a rigorously non-violent intifada, aimed at soliciting international support especially for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, has been the predominant political expression of Palestinians for the last decade -- Israelis hope that by provoking more violence they can draw attention away from non-violent and increasingly international organization.
The uptick in violence that's been getting the most attention (at least in the US press) concerns stabbing attacks, notably in Jerusalem. The location is significant because Netanyahu's administration has been especially active in building Jewish-only settlements and in isolating Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. One thing that can drive people to desperate acts of violence is hopelessness, and life for Palestinians in East Jerusalem has never been grimmer. I've yet to see a comprehensive report on such events (maybe one will show up in the links below), but my initial impression is that the stabbings are ineffective even on their own terms: hardly any of the people stabbed die, few are injured seriously, while nearly all of the stabbers are quickly apprehended and/or killed on the spot. Rather, this seems like some form of suicide ritual. Some years back one of Israel's security gurus said that the goal of the occupation was to convince Palestinians that they are "an utterly defeated people." When I read that I didn't know what it might look like, but here it is.
Of course, what I just said only applies to Palestinians attempting to stab Jews. There have been a similar number of Israeli Jews stabbing Palestinians (plus at least one case of an Israeli Jew stabbing a Mizrahi Jew mistaken as Arab). In those cases the assailant is much less likely to be apprehended, let alone gunned down immediately. And if arrested, the Israeli Jew is less likely to be convicted, and far less likely to serve any significant time behind bars. Israel has different courts for Jews and Palestinians, different laws, different rights of appeal, and different punishments -- there is, for instance, no death penalty for Israeli citizens, but Palestinians are routinely targeted extrajudicially. Again, I haven't seen a clear statistical analysis, but a casual review of news items (Kate's compendia at Mondoweiss is a good source) suggests that Israeli settlers have become much more violent in the last couple of years, and that officials are doing little to curb their enthusiasm.
Israel's elections last year brought the most extreme right government to power in the nation's history, with Netanyahu finally making explicit his opposition to any form of peace settlement. His cabinet includes members who have called for the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians, in some cases Israeli citizens as well as the unfortunate inhabitants of the Occupied Territories. Last year Israel stepped up harassment of the West Bank, then turned to a 51-day bombardment of Gaza where its kill rate rivals that of Syria's Assad regime. (For some reason you never hear about Israel "killing its own people" like Saddam and the Kurds or Assad and the Sunnis although the ethnic differences are comparable.) Lately various Israeli religious leaders have issued ruling that aim to legitimize indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, while the Netanyahu government has adopted the policy of shooting stone throwers.
If you know one thing about Israel it should be the utter unwillingness of its right-wing political class to do anything to mitigate a conflict that goes back 50 or 70 or 100 years. (Amy Dockser Marcus' Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israel Conflict sees the origin in 1913 resolutions that committed Zionists to seeking exclusive power over Eretz Israel.) They grew up on that conflict, thrived even, advancing to the most prestigious positions in an increasingly militarized society. And quite frankly, they wouldn't know what to do without the conflict -- so they fight on, inventing new existential threats to replace vanquished ones. (Egypt might have been a real one had they focused on Israel but Nasser had other preoccupations. Syria was never a threat without Egypt as an ally. Iraq had actually fought Israel in 1948, but Saddam Hussein was much more interested in the Lebensraum to his east. And Iran, even under the Ayatollahs, had never been less than friendly toward Israel, but Netanyahu sold them to the Americans as a monstrous threat -- which worked because deep down Americans realized that Iran had good reason to hate the United States.) They even find threats hiding in the closets, like the so-called demographic problem. And they've so conditioned the Israeli public, long steeped in the legacy of Jewish victimhood from the razing of the ancient temples to the Holocaust, that every act against them, regardless of how trivial -- like the rockets from Gaza that never hit anything, or a vote from an American church group to divest from companies that profit from the occupation, or an agreement between Iran and the world ensuring that Iran won't develop nuclear weapons -- is received by ordinary Israelis as nothing less than bone-chilling terror.
The main thing you'll learn if you read Tom Segev's 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East is how split Israelis were over the coming war: on the one hand, the military leaders were utterly confident of victory; on the other hand, the Israeli public was completely terrified. Of course, overconfidence is endemic in the military (cf. Germany and Japan in WWII, everyone in WWI, Bush in Iraq), but has rarely been rewarded so quickly as when Israel attacked Egypt in 1967. Victory inflated the egos of all Israelis, especially the quaking masses who concluded they were protected not just by the IDF but by God. Israel's leaders were still cognizant enough of world (and especially American) opinion to treat lightly, but almost immediately a dynamic developed where civilians (notably the energized Gush Emunim) and politicians competed to see who could most aggressively expand the Yishuv onto Palestinian land, over the Palestinian people.
For many years, politicians like Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon exploited the settler movement for their own (mostly militarist) purposes, but under Netanyahu it's hard to tell who's pushing whom, in large part because the settler movement and the political powers have largely become one. Netanyahu's own contribution to this comes not just from his pedigree as right-wing royalty -- his father was Vladimir Jabotinsky's secretary in exile in New York -- as from his conceit that he is a master not just of Israeli but of American politics. Moshe Dayan famously said that "America gives us money, arms, and advise; we take the money and arms, and ignore the advice." Even as powerful a politician as Sharon had to humor George Bush when he came calling. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has repeatedly flaunted his contempt for Obama, confident that no matter what the President feels the US is stuck in its carte blanche support of all things Israeli.
Whether Netanyahu is right about America remains to be seen, but for how his position has freed Israel from any pretense of civility -- the last barrier against all sorts of ghastly policies. One could write a whole book about what right-wing Israelis are up to, both as officials and as vigilantes -- indeed, Max Blumenthal wrote one such, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, but his 2013 book already seems quaintly dated. The upshot is that a growing number of Israelis have decided that they can't abide the presence of non-Jews anywhere in Eretz Israel, even completely submissive ones. That's probably not a majority view yet, but one should recall that in 1937, when the British offered to "transfer" all the Arabs out of the proposed Jewish partition of Palestine, the notoriously pragmatic David Ben-Gurion was little short of ecstatic. (A decade later, Ben-Gurion engineered the nakba -- the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from territory seized by Israel. Ben-Gurion argued against seizing more land in the 1967 war on grounds that this time the Arabs wouldn't flee, but like everyone else got caught up in the glory of Israel's "victory.") The fact is that as far back as 1913 "transfer" has been a fundamental (albeit sometimes tactically unspoken) plank of the Zionist platform. The question isn't whether a majority of Zionist-identified Israelis approve of "transfer" -- it's only whether it can be done cleanly, and even that matters less as Israel proves they can get away with ugly.
As it happens, Netanyahu is running two pilot projects to show the feasibility of "transfer" ("ethnic cleansing" is the more accurate term, even if it, too, is merely a euphemism -- the Serbs coined it at Srebrenica). One involves the Bedouin who have for ages lived in the Negev Desert in the southern quarter of Israel. The plan there is to force them off the land and move them into newly constructed Arab-only villages (synonyms are ghettos and concentration camps). This would allow Israel to build new Jewish-only settlements pushing ever further into the Desert. The other is in East Jerusalem, which Israel took from Jordan in the 1967 war and "annexed" days later. Israelis have been building Jewish-only neighborhoods ever since, but as "security tensions" increase they've become more aggressive at isolating and separating Palestinian neighborhoods. The latest round of closures, house demolitions, and exiles are clearly meant to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem, eventually aiming at a city where only Jews can live. And when that happens, demands to raze the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build a Third Temple -- something we already hear -- will be deafening.
For many years now critics have pointed out the similarities between Israel and other colonial settler states -- notably South Africa, with its Apartheid policies. The links if anything go deeper: Israelis call their foundation, in emulation of the United States, their War for Independence, but in fact Israel preserved nearly all of Britain's intrinsically racist colonial laws -- they merely reshuffled who was privileged and who was not. Ever since 1948, Palestinians under Israeli control have lived under unequal laws and an often brutal administration, impoverished by both formal and informal descrimination. But while growing inequality is a grave political and economic, indeed moral, problem in the US (and very likely within the Jewish segment of Israel), non-Jews under Israeli control are locked by birth into a life of perpetual crisis, one that is currently worsening, one which ultimately, at least on the individual level, is a matter of life or death.
Whether Israel arrives at the final solution that is the logical outcome of Zionist ideology and unchecked power ultimately depends on whether they can stop themselves. There are, for instance, some number of dissenters within Israel: some are explicitly anti-Zionist, some style themselves as post-Zionist; more are repulsed by the growing violence of the settler movement, or by the chokehold of established orthodox Judaism. The BDS movement is also likely to become more of a burden to Israel, especially if the atrocities the current regime seems to produce like clockwork mount and the credibility of Israeli hasbara wanes. Given how modest the BDS movement's goals are -- equal rights for all, the one thing we should all be able to compromise on -- one can't call BDS a threat to Israel, except inasmuch as Israelis insist that their privileges and prerogatives should be maintained to the exclusion of everyone else.
Some recent links:
Monday, October 19. 2015
Music: Current count 25626  rated (+38), 449  unrated (+0).
Last week was disrupted by a "sleep study": turns out I don't get enough oxygen when I sleep, which leads to all sorts of unfortunate side effects, ranging from heart trouble to early senility. I've been feeling exceptionally tired this week, and pretty stupid as well. Presumably an expensive treatment regimen will follow. That is, after all, the American way.
I did make a stab at a Weekend Roundup, but didn't get it done in time to post on Sunday. Look for it later this week -- hopefully tomorrow. Also, beware that it won't cover all the stupid things going on in the world right now. Thus far it's limited to Israel, and why the so-called Third Intifada is a ruse meant to derail an increasingly successful BDS movement by clouding the issue with senseless violence.
This week I hope to do some serious cooking. Birthday dinner is coming up. Hopefully we can find some guests. I'm thinking Cuban, which means I'll finally have to learn how to make coffee.
Usual mixed bag of records this week. Christgau recommended the Bottle Rockets and two John Kruth records. I didn't find the latest Kruth [PS: it's on Bandcamp], but took a look at holes in both back catalogs (I only knew Kruth from his duo with John Greene, Tribecastan). I also looked into Ulrich Gumpert's back catalog: a pianist from East Germany, he was at the center of one of the most adventurous jazz circles behind the Iron Curtain (along with Conrad Bauer, Günter Sommer, Klaus Koch, and the remarkable saxophonist, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky). Gumpert has one of this week's two new A- jazz records: the other I attribute to Joe McPhee but I've also seen an album cover with Jamie Saft's name in big print, and the pianist is clearly the one who holds it together.
Much more new jazz in the queue, including some real prospects. I got a large package of material from a Spanish label I wasn't familiar with: UnderPool. Also a package from my Dutch friends at ToonDist -- but it was a little light, omitting the new (and presumably last) one from ICP Orchestra. Reports are that the brilliant Misha Mengelberg has been sidelined with dementia -- very sad news, incredible given the mental dexterity of his work going back to the 1960s.
Among the stupider things I did this week was to write a letter to the Village Voice to inquire whether the new ownership might have any interest in reviving Jazz Consumer Guide. I'm not sure that's a good idea, but in my benighted state it seems at least like something I can still do.
Latest Rhapsody Streamnotes draft count is 104 records. I guess that means I'm due to release one in the next week or so. I should also note that I took a pass at a year-end list: actually, two, one for jazz and another for non-jazz. I expect to do much resorting before the actual end-of-year, as well as adding more records, so take this list with more than the usual grain of salt. One thing that is clear is that the jazz list is shaping up as close to last year's (currently 52 new records, vs. 69 last year), but I'm way short of last year's pace for non-jazz (33 vs. 76 last year). The latter almost certainly reflects lack of effort on my part. Even though I've kept a tracking file this year, it isn't very comprehensive nor have I made much effort tracking things down. I expect to do better by the actual end-of-year, but it's beginning to look like a tall order.
New records rated this week:
Old music rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
Monday, October 12. 2015
Music: Current count 25588  rated (+16), 449  unrated (+12).
Two weeks ago, Monday Sept. 28, we packed up the car and drove east from Wichita, the main objective being to pick up the late Liz Fink's dog, Sadie, and bring her back to Wichita. (For more on Liz, look here.) We finally got out around 1PM, bypassed Kansas City before traffic got bad, had dinner in Columbia [MO], skipped north of St. Louis, finally pulling into our day's destination, a cheap motel in Effingham [IL], 565 miles out. Seems like I've done that drive dozens of times -- most recently a year ago when I drove to Cape Cod. Last year my second day pushed into southwestern Pennsylvania, but this time we faced constant rain and only made 405 miles, to Cambridge [OH].
That turned out to be close enough to reach Brooklyn on Wednesday. Overcast all day, rain threatening but we never got more than a few sprinkles here and there (and some eerie fog crossing an Appalachian pass). Drove through the Holland Tunnel, then "straight ahead for 3.8 miles" (as the GPS lady put it: down Walker merging into Canal, over the Manhattan Bridge, down Flatbush to Grand Army Plaza) then unload and park -- the part I dreaded most. (We played the "alternate side" parking game that night, then found a safe lot the next morning.) The apartment felt disheveled but mostly familiar -- the closets had been emptied of clothes, and someone unplugged everything so it took a while to get Internet working. My nephew Mike came over, as did Liz's friend Carol, who brought the dog -- a 7-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Laura had spent much time with but I barely recognized. (I had visited in spring 2014, my first New York venture since 2004. In the interrim and after, Laura had been there ten or so times.)
Next day, Pearl Smith (Big Black's widow, Liz's heir, not that there's not much Liz hadn't already given away), Larry Fink (Liz's brother, the famed photographer), his daughter Molly (Snyder-Fink), and some others came over to sort through affects -- packing some things to pick up later but not taking much at the moment. Over the next few days several other friends of Liz showed up to look around, reminiscence, and occasionally pick up mementos. A few of our friends also came over to chat, and sometimes to go out for a bite to eat. When we got to NYC, the weather forecast called for five straight days of rain climaxing with Hurricane Joaquin (expected to miss us but not clear by how much). We only ventured into Manhattan once, a dinner with Georgia Christgau, Steve Levi, Robert Christgau, and Carola Dibbell.
I figured the best time to get out would be Sunday afternoon. My nephew and his fiancée came over to help us load up the car. The drive down Flatbush, across the Manhattan Bridge, up Canal and through the tunnel was as easy as I could imagine. I would normally have driven half way across Pennsylvania after such an exit, but we were due for an oil change, and the dealers didn't do service business on Sunday. So I settled with driving to a friend's house near Newton, NJ, figuring I'd get the oil changed first thing Monday morning. That worked out pretty much as planned, and by 11AM we had driven back to I-80 and turned west. We made it through Akron and turned southeast, stopping in Mansfield, OH for the evening. Tuesday we got off to our earliest start and wound up in Columbia, leaving about 330 miles for Wednesday, home by 5PM.
Normally when I drive that far, I have people and spots I want to see along the way, but Laura doesn't have a lot of patience for that, and I was feeling pretty miserable the whole trip. Before the trip, we had talked about the possibility of stopping in DC on the way out, coming back through Buffalo-Detroit-Chicago, and possibly making a side-trip to Cape Cod. None of that happened this time. (In 2004, I drove out through Kentucky to DC, then went to western Massachusetts before coming back through Buffalo and Detroit, then I took a detour to Ste. Saint Marie and Duluth just to see what I had never seen before. In 2014 I drove straight out to NJ, then on to Cape Cod, back to NJ, up to Buffalo, then down to Arkansas and Oklahoma. In 2001 I took a deeper southern return route, through DC into NC and across Tennessee and Arkansas.)
Since we got home, Sadie has gotten a radical trim and been to the vet's, so now we have all the paperwork in order to get her properly licensed. (A lot more effort than it takes to get an UZI or AR-15 here in Kansas.) We have a two story house (plus a basement of sorts), and a fenced-in backyard she can have the run of -- stocked with squirrels and birds and occasionally visited by wilder life. She seems to be adjusting. Maybe I will too.
I didn't manage to get a Weekend Roundup done yesterday. Had to work on the yard, plus my rhythm is totally screwed up due to a bad head cold on top of all the time changes. Anyhow, I didn't skip this weekly exercise because there was nothing to write. (I usually go into a news deepfreeze when I travel but somehow missed that this time.) Still, this week's stories diverge only marginally from last week's, or next week's, and one gets tired of writing the same over and over again -- so maybe the occasional break is needed just to maintain sanity.
Still, two things I want to at least mention:
I have very little to add about the records below -- roughly one-half of a week's worth. The two picks were items I found on Liz Fink's shelf, and are possibly not the best Jazz Tribune picks for either artist -- Bechet is also represented by Volumes 1/2 which goes back to the mid-1930s, and RCA has both a slice of c. 1930 big band Armstrong and a 1947 live set, The Complete Town Hall Concert. Also, arguably I also overstepped my needs, in that I already have most of the music here, in Armstrong's 4-CD The Complete RCA Victor Recordings and Bechet's The Victor Sessions: Master Takes. Still, there's something to be said for not coming home empty handed.
New records rated this week:
Old music rated this week:
Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks: