Rhapsody Streamnotes: March 28, 2013

After a short February, up to 56 records this month. Most of the good ones were first identified elsewhere -- cf. Jason Gubbels on Bomba Estéreo; Christgau flagged Monroe, Musgraves, Nash, Overall, and Waxahatchee, although sometimes Michael Tatum and/or Gubbels got there first. They also got to Stampfel first, but I wound up enjoying the hoedown more than they did, while other picks left me with reservations. The only prime record here I can claim to have found myself is the 2008 kiss-off to our former president. I may have cut it a bit of grade slack, but I appreciate the sentiment, not to mention the analysis.

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 February 26. Past reviews and more information are available here (3227 records).

Ellen Allien: LISm (2011-12 [2013], Bpitch Control): Ellen Fraatz, born and lives in Berlin, fourteenth album since 2001, just one 44:58 track, a soundtrack for dancers. Mostly synths, some spoken word, the themes shifting around but captivating. B+(***)

ASAP Rocky: Long. Live. ASAP (2013, Polo Grounds/RCA): Rakim Mayers, loves those dollar signs, jumped from a well-received freebie mixtape to major label much like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar last year, except he neglected to come up with a more impressive record. Still, two songs in the middle stand out: the Skrillex-remixed "Wild for the Night" and "1Train" with Lamar and more mixtape all-stars. Before that he gets by on Clams Casino beats, and afterwards he doesn't. B+(**)

Autechre: Exai (2013, Warp, 2CD): Electronica duo, Rob Brown and Sean Booth, eleventh album since 1993, basic beats and blips in a matrix that suggests primitivism but has more going on. Runs long, rarely a problem. B+(***)

Bilal: A Love Surreal (2013, E1): Neo-soul guy from Philadelphia, dropped an album in 2001 then the label shelved his follow-up and it took him a decade to regroup. Does a nice job here, although subtlety seems to always be the neo-soul trap. B+(**)

Bomba Estéreo: Elegancia Tropical (2012 [2013], Soundway): Colombian group, has a couple albums, closer to house than to cumbia, forsaking the latter's grind for hints among Simón Mejía's loops and bass lines, topped with Liliana Saumet's cagey vocals. A-

David Bowie: The Next Day (2013, Columbia): Last of his records I have graded in my database: 1983's Let's Dance. This is his 13th since then, as steady as his 1967-83 production, where I only missed his debut and one or two more. So score this as a comeback, a batch of new songs that manage to sound identifiably like the old songs, especially c. Heroes (whose cover pic is recycled here but mostly blotted out). B+(*)

Cakes Da Killa: The Eulogy (2013, Mishka): The "MacArthur Park" intro is as hoary as "Also Sprach Zarathustra," but the Coochie speed-rap is promising, at least until dissolving into giggles. B+(**) [bc]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky (2013, Bad Seeds): Someone I was warned away from early and never took an interest in, although with twenty-some records since 1979 he has both a critical and popular following. So he'd be a project if I wanted one that bad. Indeed, this is listenable (albeit dark and moody), and "Jubilee Street" got me thinking of Leonard Cohen, at least until "I got a fetus on a leash" reminded me that words matter, and so does the music. B

Chelsea Light Moving: Chelsea Light Moving (2013, Matador): Thurston Moore's post-divorce incarnation of Sonic Youth, missing Kim Gordon -- always the human touch that elevated the band from good to great -- and perhaps adding an uncharacteristic bit of restraint, like he senses that this is no time to push buttons or breach borders. B+(**)

J Cole: Yours Truly (2013, self-released, EP): Five cuts, reportedly outtakes from an unfinished album, not much time but the tempo is so relaxed they stretch out nicely. The Spanish guitar sample in "Can I Holla at Ya" is perfect, the synth on "Crunch Time" comes close, the angst for "ODB" wanders into hood lore, you make your own bed, but you don't get to pick the sheets. B+(***) [dl]

Dub Colossus: Dub Me Tender, Vols. 1 & 2 (2011 [2013], Real World): Jamaican-Ethiopian fusion, a marriage no doubt sanctioned by Jah. My sources leave the Ethiopians anonymous, while citing Nick Page, aka Dubulah, who presumably mixes up the brew. The single CD rolls up an earlier LP (Volume 1), expanding 8 tracks to 14 (hence Volume 2). More complex and less mannered than most dub; still rolls along effortlessly, like it should. B+(**)

Mary Flower: Misery Loves Company (2011, Yellow Dog): From Indiana, once led a group called the Mother Folkers, has close to ten albums leaning heavily on blues, which she sings straightforwardly, like no big deal. B+(**)

Ben Goldberg: Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (2008 [2013], BAG): Clarinet player, has a dozen or so albums since 1992 not counting membership in New Klezmer Trio, Tin Hat, Myra Melford's Be Bread, etc. Joshua Redman's tenor sax blends in with the clarinet, but Ron Miles' trumpet breaks free, and provides most of the excitement. Goldberg also plays contra-alto clarinet, deepening Devin Hoff's bass. And while the group doesn't need two drummers, he evidenlty couldn't decide, so went with both of his regulars: Ches Smith and Scott Amendola. B+(***)

Ben Goldberg: Unfold Ordinary Mind (2012 [2013], BAG): Clarinetist, arranged this group to feature his E-flat contra alto clarinet ("a weird member of the family, pitched below the bass clarinet"), with two tenor saxes at least nominally as the lead horns (Ellery Eskelin, Rob Sudduth), Nels Cline on guitar, and Ches Smith on drums. Goldberg's idea was to use his clarinet like a bass, but it's so resonant with the saxes it adds a deep well to the harmony -- except when Cline gets excited and turns this into some kind of heavy metal. B+(**)

Good Riddance, George W. Bush (2008, Selector Series): "Kill yourself," advises Immortal Technique. Mr. Lif adds, "You manifest evil." Ted Leo remains "Loyal to My Sorrowful Country," James Blood Ulmer moans over "Katrina," Sharon Jones plays the tax card, Ministry declaims "Señor Peligro," and the Blakes urge us, "don't send your money to Washington/to fight a war that's never done." This slipped out unnoticed in December 2008, ignored for the sake of hope and change, but we let him off the hook too easy. Hell, even these ten artists cut the vile motherfucker more slack than is called for. Like they say about the Holocaust: never forget. A-

Wycliffe Gordon: Dreams of New Orleans (2012, Chesky): Trombone player, could be the real life analogue of the trombone star in Treme except that he's generally more versatile -- just not here, where he not only recycles the old tunes but built a band with banjo and tuba to keep them sounding old. Why they're so subdued is another story. B

Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell: Old Yellow Moon (2013, Nonesuch): Crowell wrote 4 of 12 songs -- no idea whether they are new, but they needn't be, especially with Harris writing nada. She remains the greatest backing singer in country music, and she meshes as well with Crowell as she did with Gram Parsons -- enough delight to put the album over, plus they're both smart enough to pick songs worth hearing. B+(**)

Iceage: You're Nothing (2013, Matador): Danish rock band, seemed to have some promise on their 2011 debut but just get louder, heavier, denser, and dumber here. B

Koby Israelite: Blues From Elsewhere (2013, Asphalt Tango): London-based Israeli, plays everything but seems to prefer accordion, has several albums on Tzadik which I'd guess are more klezmerish, but on this Berlin gypsy label he zigs and zags and winds up no where in particular: a tough "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is followed by "East of Nashville" and "Bulgarian Boogie," winds up with "Just Cliches" and "Kashmir" (yep, Led Zeppelin's). B

Kool A.D.: 63 (2013, self-released): Das Racist MC, the less funny one, answers for his laziness by dropping two simultaneous mixtapes, named for Oakland bus lines that may or may not still run. Content? Well, it's supposed to spontaneously flow, but nearly every song has a "feat." or a guest "prod." to mix up the chemistry. B+(**) [bc]

Kool A.D.: 19 (2013, self-released): More, more, more, so much I figure this for the outtakes, but mostly because I recognize so few of the guest "feat." and "prod." credits, the more recognizable names kin the titles (like "Jaleel White" and "Jenny Holzer" and "Kriss Kross"). B+(*) [bc]

Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House: Strong Place (2012 [2013], Intakt): German saxophonist, alto mostly, avant, has played with a lot of great musicians lately and is almost always the weakest one on their albums, not really spoiling things but making you wonder why Tony Malaby wasn't available. Here she rounds up four of them -- Kris Davis (piano), Mary Halvorson (guitar), John Hébert (bass), and Tom Rainey (drums) -- and they slow down to her speed. They even make it work, but it takes a while to get into it. B+(*)

Local Natives: Hummingbird (2013, Frenchkiss): Second album, falsetto singer and keybs tweaked high, threatening to break into something catchy, which would probably be even worse. B-

The Lone Bellow: The Lone Bellow (2013, Descendant): Three singers, Zach Williams dominant and mandolinist Kanene Doherty Pipkin his better half, play "Brooklyn country music": I wasn't sure what that meant until I heard an Eagles lick and tried mapped that onto the Dodgers, reversing their move from Flatbush to Chavez Ravine. OK, that doesn't help much. How about the Lumineers crossed with the post-crash Lynyrd Skynyrd? B-

Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition: White Buffalo (2012 [2013], Fat Possum/Turnstile): Ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper, has a solo career now that straddles blues and Americana, grasping the forms while missing the point of each -- or at least not expressing it very well. B

The Mavericks: In Time (2013, Valory): Country-rock group, emerged in 1991, had a pretty good album in 1994 (What a Crying Shame), and never really folded up despite efforts from leader Raul Malo and others to pursue solo careers. More Tex-Mex this time, maybe with a dash of Cuban spice, like they're trying to turn into the Los Lobos of Miami. Choice cut: "As Long as There's Loving Tonight"; dud: "(Call Me) When You Get to Heaven." B

Pat Metheny: The Ochestrion Project (2012 [2013], Nonesuch, 2CD): The guitarist's one-man band project, a room full of instruments that can be controlled from the guitar. The gear got a studio workout in 2010's Orchestrion album. Here it goes on the road. May be neat visually, but winds up a bit thin, something more than solo guitar, but not an awful lot. B

Ashley Monroe: Like a Rose (2013, Warner Brothers): Had an EP and an unreleased album as a teenager, joined Miranda Lambert as one-third of the Pistol Annies, and got another album shot here. It's a thin one, nine songs, 31:50, but most stick with you, and she has a lot more voice than Kacey Musgraves. Also has co-credits on all the songs, and a Blake Shelton duet at the end that drops two names and dismisses all too readily. A-

Gurf Morlix: Finds the Present Tense (2013, Rootball): Lucinda Williams' ex-lots-of-things, doesn't have much of a voice but can carve a song out of the blues and managed to write several good ones here, the one about guns ("Bang Bang Bang") especially right on. B+(***)

Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park (2013, Mercury Nashville): Young country singer from Texas, has a piece (but not all) of every writing credit. Not a huge voice, not much twang, but pleasantly effective, as are the twelve songs, with "Follow Your Arrow" likely to emerge as an anthem, albeit a modestly stated one. A-

Kate Nash: Girl Talk (2013, INgrooves): Third album, following two of the brighter Brit-pop records of the past decade -- not that she came close to Lily Allen. Here she kicks up the volume, tightens the rhythms toward punk. This has been roundly panned, but I liked it fine on first spin, and keep finding new things when I replay it. A-

Next Collective: Cover Art (2012 [2013], Concord): Up and coming jazz stars -- Logan Richardson (alto sax) is the one I've been most impressed with, but also Walter Smith III (tenor sax), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Gerald Clayton (piano), Kris Bowers (keybs), Ben Williams (bass), Jamire Williams (drums), plus a couple guest spots for Christian Scott (trumpet), covering rock and rap tunes. For the most part, the instrumentation and flexibility win out, the songs losing their character and melding together into nothing much at all. B-

Kassa Overall: Stargate Mixtape (2011, Greedhead): Drummer, has some jazz cred working with Geri Allen and Peter Evans, some hip-hop with Das Racist and Kool AD, tries his own mixtape, rapping a little, along with the flow. No doc on who does what, where the samples come from, or whatever. A- [dl]

Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory: Elements of Light (2013, Rough Trade): German electronica producer Hendrik Weber goes with the bells this time -- rack bells, hand bells, blossom bells, tubular bells, dobachis, gong, triangle, vibes, marimba, waterphone, all sorts of drums and percussion -- and winds up with a nice slice of ambience. B+(**)

Madeleine Peyroux: The Blue Room (2013, Emarcy): Jazz singer, close in style and phrasing to Billie Holiday, comes up with an interesting song selection this time, most successfully country tunes ("Take These Chains," "Born to Lose," "I Can't Stop Loving You," "You Don't Know Me"), although the real prize is Randy Newman's "Guilty," which shines clear of Vince Mendoza's strings -- something otherwise promising songs from Leonard Cohen and Warren Zevon fail at. B+(**)

Pissed Jeans: Honeys (2013, Sub Pop): Hardcore, I guess, from Allentown, PA, which left them with a chip on their shoulders. Wonder if I'd like them better if I could lift the words out of the murk, but when I can, I don't. B-

Pye Corner Audio: Black Mill Tapes Volume 1: Avant Shards (2010, self-released, EP): Described as a selection of 1/4" and cassette tape transfers, this has an old-fashioned synth sound, mild ambient rather than danceable, short at 27:11. B+(*) [bc]

Pye Corner Audio: Black Mill Tapes Volume 2: Do You Synthesize? (2011, self-released, EP): Same idea, similar sense that we're dealing with an earlier generation of synths, but the emphasis leads to more variety, even if the final fadeout is pure ambience. A bit longer at 32:46, but that's just what you can stream -- the product packages seem to vary. B+(*) [bc]

Pye Corner Audio: Black Mill Tapes Volume 3: All Pathways Open (2012, self-released): At 12 tracks, 44:06 (plus a higher list price), we won't tag this one as an EP. The guy who assembled these "tape transfers" calls himself the Head Technician. Still, these feel less like technical exercises than basic IDM, which is more than just the addition of some beats (although the beats are critical). B+(**) [bc]

Rhye: Woman (2013, Polydor): Electronica merger, Milosh (Mike Milosh, from Canada but living in Berlin) and Quadron (Robin Hannibal, from Denmark), first album. Not much beat to it, and no idea about the singer (reportedly Milosh mimicking Sade). B

Carrie Rodriguez: Give Me All You Got (2013, Ninth Street Opus): Country singer, plays fiddle, came up working with songwriter Chip Taylor, went solo in 2008 and continues to get her act together. B+(**)

Caitlin Rose: The Stand-In (2013, ATO): Third album for the singer-songwriter, has a countryish matter-of-fact style and can belt them out. B+(*)

Boz Scaggs: Memphis (2013, 429): Old coot cranks out an easy-going blues album, working in a Steely Dan song for a jazz tinge. Not sure if his voice is shot or he's just resting it, nor that it matters. B+(**)

Sex Mob: Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti: Sex Mob Plays Fellini (2013, The Royal Potato Family): Meaning the music of Nino Rota, of course. The group -- Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Briggan Krauss (alto/baritone sax), Tony Scherr (electric bass), Kenny Wollesen (percussion) -- has been around since 1998, aiming (mostly) at avant-jazz takes on pop culture (Sex Mob Does Bond was an early title). Fellini may seem high-brow, but they rough him up plenty, much of the music still tends toward the sublime. B+(***)

The Slide Brothers: Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers (2013, Concord): Sacred pedal steel "icons" -- Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell, Aubrey Ghent -- serve up eleven gospelish blues covers, with "My Sweet Lord" the furthest stretch and sorriest result. B

Son Volt: Honky Tonk (2013, Rounder): Jay Farrar's post-Uncle Tupelo group, founded 1995, shelved 1999, returned 2005. Title suggests a deeper twang to the usual country-rock, but this settles into a pleasant, dusty sameness, like the abused plains. B+(*)

Alexander Spit: A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside (2013, Decon): Underground rapper, the beats functional even though he's hoping to hop around the universe. B+(**)

Peter Stampfel & the Ether Frolic Mob: The Sound of America (2013, Frederick Productions/Red Newt): Can't find credits so don't know where these songs came from, much less who beyond the utterly unmistakable leader sings or plays, but "Deep in the Heart of Texas" is a cover given previously unfathomed depth, and the others are most likely relative obscurities. The group dynamic is hootenany with a dash of Spike Jones. A-

Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob (2013, Vapor/Sire): Canadian duo, started folkie but have fleshed their sound out with pop hooks and rock drums. Gives them a sound, all right, and I suspect they have some songs, but none grabbed me right away. B+(**)

They Might Be Giants: Nanobots (2013, Idlewild): Hard to overstate how much I loved their eponymous 1986 debut, but nothing since then has come anywhere close, and there's been an awful lot of it. Not that they haven't produced witty songs -- just nothing so deliciously sublime. This one is tempting. For one thing the music seems tougher and more sinewy than usual, and of course there's much to think about, including yet another song about Tesla. For it does drag on for 25 songs: excess remains their trademark. B+(***)

Richard Thompson: Electric (2013, New West): Thirty years since Shoot Out the Lights and he still sounds incomplete, although he's standing up strong on his own, his anger toned down -- aside from a song about needing his enemy -- the tempos moderate, no more guitar flash than is needed to sustain his rep, and he saves the good stuff for the closer. B+(**)

Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience (2013, RCA): Boy group crooner turned dance-pop star, although he didn't spend the seven-year gap between his second and third albums working very hard, at least on the music -- the best stuff here sounds like watered-down Prince ("Strawberry Bubblegum" most explicitly). A couple morsels could pan out -- "Tunnel Vision" tempted me, but then I played it again. B+(*)

Torres: Torres (2013, self-released): Debut album, songs credited to Mackenzie Scott, 22, Nashville-based, no whiff of country in her voice or guitar -- more like Liz Phair, but slower, deeper into herself, less inclined to just say "fuck it," which is what this introspection needs. B+(**)

Waxahatchee: American Weekend (2012, Don Giovanni): Played this year-old debut after the new one. Eleven songs, 33:50, Feels crude and cramped, the voice struggling to be heard over the guitar strum, succeeding when she tones it down. B+(*)

Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt (2013, Don Giovanni): Katie Crutchfield, who had a punk band called P.S. Eliot with her twin sister Allison, alone here, sounding very alone with little but guitar shaping small songs on everyday subjects -- although occasional bass and drums adds muscle and flesh without detracting from the singer. A-

Omri Ziegele/Yves Theiler: Inside Innocence (2012 [2013], Intakt): Sax-piano duets, same format as Ziegele's superb Where's Africa only substituting for the redoubtable Irène Schweizer. The previous album worked in large part because it cut against expectations into the mainstream. This one is more avant, abstract, except for some poetry. B+(*)


Records I looked for but didn't find on Rhapsody:

  • Atoms for Peace: Amok (2013, XL)
  • The Black Twig Pickers: Rough Carpenters (2013, Thrill Jockey)
  • The Carrots: New Romance (2013, Elefant)
  • John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot (2013, Sunnyside)
  • Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie "Prince" Billy: What the Brothers Sang (2013, Drag City/Palace)
  • My Bloody Valentine: MBV (2013, self-released)
  • Angel Olsen: Half Way Home (2012, Bathetic)
  • The Woggles: The Big Beat (2013, Wicked Cool)

Recycled Goods

The following were written during this period for Recycled Goods:

Art Ensemble of Chicago: A Jackson in Your House/Message to Our Folks/Reese and the Smooth Ones (1969 [2012], Snapper, 2CD): Lester Bowie on trumpet, Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell on reeds, Malachi Favors on bass, everyone doubling up on all manner of percussion, the purveyors of Great Black Music spread themselves thin in 1969 by laying it on thick: this useful reissue collects three of more than a dozen albums they released in that watershed year. The preach and jive hasn't worn well, and the doodling can strain your patience. But there are times, like the ultra-bent funk on "Rock Out," where they astonish -- and there's something to be said for the fertile history. B+(***)

As separate albums:

  • A Jackson for Your House: Memorable title, music less so. B+(**)
  • Message to Our Folks: From "Old Time Religion" to "Rock Out." B+(***)
  • Reese and the Smooth Ones: Smooth, my ass, but long suits them. B+(***)

Art Ensemble of Chicago: Tutankhamun (1969, Black Lion): The usual bits and pieces -- pungent trumpet, slippery reeds, confusing verbal hoodoo, everyone winging it on percussion. B+(*)

Borah Bergman with Andrew Cyrille: The Human Factor (1992 [1993], Soul Note): An underrated avant-garde pianist who passed last year (1933-2012) with a couple dozen albums from 1975 on, mostly intimate affairs like this duo with drummer Cyrille; his high speed flights can be exuberant and explosive (and sometimes melodramatic), his rarer balladry touching and precise ("When Autumn Comes" is a good example here). B+(***)

Borah Bergman with Hamid Drake: Reflections on Ornette Coleman and the Stone House (1995, Soul Note): Piano-drums duo, playing six Ornette Coleman songs (with a Bergman co-credit on "Stone House"); the sharp angles undo the slipperiness of the originals, doubling down on a previously unnoticed percussiveness. B+(*)

Marion Brown: Porto Novo (1967-70 [1994], Black Lion): Alto saxophonist, a fierce avant-gardist working in a trio with Maarten van Regteren Altena on bass and Han Bennink on drums, the 11:55 title cut a highlight, especially for the drummer; CD adds two later (1970) duo tracks with trumpeter Leo Smith, both filling in on percussion so the horns rarely interact. B+(***)

Barry Guy: Fizzles (1991 [1993], Maya): Solo bass, inevitable for an avant-gardist of his stature but a while coming as Guy has mostly focused on large groups; a broad range of sounds, but little envelope pushing, focusing on moderate arco melodies, pushing his unique musicality. B+(**)

Barry Guy and the Now Orchestra: Study/Witch Gong Game 11/10 (1994, Maya): Away from his London Jazz Composers Orchestra, the avant-bassist finds a similarly disposed monster of an orchestra in Vancouver, one which rarely records except to honor its guest stars; two pieces here, both heat up, especially the long closer, and that's when the stars break loose. B+(*)

Barry Guy: Symmetries (2001 [2002], Maya): A second bass solo exercise, including "Seven Fizzles" reworking themes from his first album; the music is thin and scratchy, the fascination the broad array of sounds he coaxes from the big fiddle. B+(***)

Charlie Haden: The Golden Number (1976 [1977], A&M): Bassist, came up in Ornette Coleman's quartet and went on to a remarkable career, with this set of duets relatively early; four pieces, one each with Don Cherry (trumpet, flute), Archie Shepp (tenor sax), Hampton Hawes (piano), and Coleman (trumpet, played slow); Shepp and Hawes make the strongest impression, while his former bandmates draw out the bassist. B+(***)

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Live (1964-1970) (1964-70 [2012], Hip-O Select, 3CD): Only three top-ten pop hits, all 1956-57, followed by a whole lotta controversy, which he persevered by putting on the hottest rock and roll revival shows in the early 1960s -- he was as likely to play Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and a souped up Ray Charles as his own hits. Then in 1968 he turned to country for a change of pace, his hits running 1968-71 -- "Another Time, Another Place" to "Chantilly Lace" -- but even decades later he never lost his knack for turning on the gas. He cut four live albums 1964-70 and they're collected here with a few extras. The classic, of course, is the first Hamburg set, with more of his Sun hits, played louder and faster than ever. Later that year, in Birmingham, he slipped his mischievous ad-libs into Charlie Rich's "Who Will the Next Fool Be," and he trended more country after that, sometimes following Ray Charles, sometimes blazing his own path, and laughing more along the way. And so what if he landed in Las Vegas? A-

As separate albums:

  • Live at the Star Club, Hamburg (1964, Phillips): In the old Beatles hangout, one of the hottest sets ever. A
  • The Greatest Live Show on Earth (1964, Smash): Back in the USA, in Birmingham, AL, working in a bit of country. A-
  • By Request: More of the Greatest Live Show on Earth (1966, Smash): Live in Fort Worth, TX, slowing down a bit, and talking more. B+(**)
  • Live at the International, Las Vegas (1970, Mercury): Not as good at picking country tunes as rockers, but Linda Gail helps out. B+(***)

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton and Marilyn Crispell: After Appleby (1999 [2000], Leo, 2CD): The English avant-garde's long-running sax trio plus an explosive American pianist who works more frequently with bassist Guy; this runs long, and Parker's inside out technique limits the sonic range but the group makes a lot out of it. B+(***)

Irène Schweizer/Louis Moholo (1986 [1996], Intakt): Swiss avant-pianist, one of a handful of duo albums with drummers, this one a expat from South Africa, who brings along his baggage; cf. the lovely township jive of "Angel," sandwiched between "Free Mandela" and "Exile (Song for Johnny Dyani/Africa[na]/We Will Win the War" -- some exceptional piano in the latter. B+(**)

Irène Schweizer/Günter Sommer (1987 [1996], Intakt): Piano-drums duets, the drummer also from Switzerland, their relationship and rapport deep, he springs her loose for some of her most dynamic playing, lightning runs and thundering rolls. A-

Irène Schweizer/Andrew Cyrille (1988 [1996], Intakt): Piano-drums again, the drummer born in New York of a Haitian mother, went on to a long stretch playing with Cecil Taylor; Schweizer gets compared to Taylor a lot as few other pianists are as surprising or as volatile, but unlike Taylor she never loses the rhythm completely, with or without a drummer, and Cyrille is one of the best. A-

Irène Schweizer/Pierre Favre (1990 [1992], Intakt): Piano-drums duets, again, with another Swiss drummer; again, some of the most remarkable piano of the era, an irresistible rhythmic force; perhaps the best of the drum-duets series . . . A

Irène Schweizer/Han Bennink (1995 [1996], Intakt): . . . Or maybe this one is: more piano-drums, this time with the great Dutch percussionist, as lively as ever, able to work in a swing feel even in anarchic time; again, the pianist is outstanding. A

Irène Schweizer: Chicago Piano Solo (2000 [2001], Intakt): Solo piano, almost as many of those as she has duo albums, and hard to pick between them -- in fact, I'm not; just noting that this is typically vigorous and occasionally ingenious, but I don't quite feel the drive, or the challenge, that her best drummers bring. B+(***)

Irène Schweizer/Pierre Favre: Ulrichsberg (2003 [2004], Intakt): Piano-drums duet, second round, live -- like most of the others, although the crowd is more intrusive here; Favre remains a superb partner, and the piano just keeps on coming. A-

Irène Schweizer/Omri Ziegele: Where's Africa (2004 [2005], Intakt): More duets, but alto sax this time, and surprisingly mainstream; don't have song credits, but some names ("Monk's Mood," "Speak Low") and more melodies are familiar -- Ziegele even sings a couple ("Isn't It Romantic") -- nothing explosive from the pianist, and all the more charming for that. A-


Everything streamed from Rhapsody, except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd (but made most sense to review here)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, or may be a promo deal