Streamnotes: December 31, 2017

Not really ready, but had to push this out before the month and year ended. The 161 records are the most all year, topping 156 in January, even more so 144 last December. This late spurt brings the Year 2017 list to 1023 (including 11 still pending) -- nowhere near a record but a respectable quantity, I'd think. It's been a struggle as promo copies have become scarcer, but the whole year has been a struggle. I fully expected to listen to less this year, but fell back into old habits not knowing what else to do.

Still accumulating EOY lists for my EOY Aggregate, which has been pretty stable almost since the beginning, but as the database grows I become aware of more things I had no awareness of previously. January, as usual, will pick up more of these stragglers. I'll freeze the Year 2017 list in late January -- probably a bit more than 2016's 1075 records, though again nowhere near record levels.

As the last hours of 2017 tick away, I've failed to accomplish two fairly mechanical tasks I expected to complete: the compilation of my Jazz Guides, and an update to Robert Christgau's website. The latter is probably still a week away. No idea about the Jazz Guides -- end of January might be possible if I knuckle down, but that would require a big change from recent practice.


Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on November 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (10531 records).


Recent Releases

Espen Aalberg/Jonas Kullhammar/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Susana Santos Silva: Basement Sessions Vol. 4 (The Bali Tapes) (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Three previous volumes listed saxophonist Kullhammar first, with bassist Aalberg and drummer Zetterberg -- perhaps because Aalberg wrote all the pieces (except for a "Javanese traditional"). Last one was recorded in Ljubljana with Jřrgen Mathisen. This one in Bali with Santos Silva on trumpet, and everyone dabbling in gamelan. The Indonesian touches are hard to discern, but Kullhammar remains one of the most distinctive saxophonists working. B+(***)

Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman: Triple Fat Lice (2017, Stones Throw, EP): Third EP collaboration, five songs, 17:41, the former's word density a plus, especially as the beats (notably piano for the opener) rise to the occasion. B+(***) [bc]

Yazz Ahmed: La Saboteuse (2017, Naim): Plays trumpet and flugelhorn, describes herself as "British-Bahraini" but doesn't elaborate. Second album, has a side-credit with Radiohead and covers one of theirs here, writing all but one of the rest, more often than not with vibraphonist Lewis Wright. Some enticing Arabic rhythmic wrinkles, strong guest spots from Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet. B+(**)

Fabian Almazan: Alcanza (2017, Biophilia): Pianist, born in Cuba, raised in Miami, also credited with electronics here, backed by bass (Linda Oh), drums (Henry Cole), and string quartet, with Camila Meza singing and playing guitar. Eleven parts to the title suite, interludes to spotlight the trio instruments, vocals arch and arty. B-

Alvvays: Antisocialites (2017, Polyvinyl): Canadian indie-pop group, second album, Kerri MacLellan the key vocalist, also plays Farfisa adding an organ-like effect to the guitar-bass-drums. B+(**)

Denys Baptiste: The Late Trane (2017, Edition): British saxophonist, tenor and soprano, fifth album since 1999, picks pieces from Coltrane's 1963-67 records backed by a quartet schooled in The Quartet plus "special guests" Gary Crosby (bass) and Steve Williamson (tenor sax). They get the basic idea right, revel in the deep sax search, but in their enjoyment they lose track of Coltrane's own fear and dread. B+(**)

Bargou 08: Targ (2017, Glitterbeat): Named for an isolated valley where the Atlas Mountains of Algeria lap into Tunisia, "a forgotten place." A little rustic for Arabic pop, almost Saharan dry. B+(*)

Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice (2017, Matador): Singer-songwriters, one from Australia, the other from Philadelphia. Last time out she released one of the best records of the 2015 -- not just my opinion there, as it finished 2nd in the Pazz & Jop poll -- while Vile (real name) is well-regarded (27th in same poll), although not much by me. No doubt she brightens up his drab songs, a pretty comfy album until it sours a bit toward the end. B+(*)

John Beasley: Presents MONK'estra Vol. 2 (2017, Mack Avenue): Monk pieces done up big band style -- credits I see look like they could use more trombones, although they weigh in heavily enough, so much so that the Monkishness can get lost. Guests include Dianne Reeves singing "Dear Ruby." Beasley plays keyboards and conducts. B

Ernaldo Bernocchi: Rosebud (2017, RareNoise): All joint credits, so intent is probably eponymous. Leader plays baritone guitar and electronics, joined by FM Einheit ("metals, sand, stones, tools and electronics") and Jo Quail (cello), for a gloomy, nostalgic post-industrial soundscape. B+(*) [cdr]

Blushh + Maddie Ross: Split (2017, self-released, EP): Los Angeles-based DIY rockers, four songs, 11:04, two each: Blushh a guitar-bass-drums quartet with singer Shab Ferdowsi, Ross a single with a similar (same?) band, less catalogue, but more punch. B+(**) [bc]

Sam Braysher With Michael Kanan: Golden Earrings (2016 [2017], Fresh Sound New Talent): Alto sax and piano duo, seems to be the former's first album, while Kanan has a single album from 2002. One Braysher original, the rest a mix of standards and early bop favorites (Parker, Dameron), ending with a brief "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans." Nothing flashy, just easy and intimate, cozy even. B+(***)

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps (2017, Dead Oceans): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, first album, starts pretty slow, too wrapped in strings for folk rock, picks up enough speed to disqualify as slowcore either, but sad -- it is that, just not pathetic. B+(*)

Alan Broadbent With the London Metropolitan Orchestra: Developing Story (2017, Eden River): Pianist, perhaps best known as the guy who added lushness (including string arrangements) to Charlie Haden's Quartet West. Goes whole orchestra here, dubbing his piano trio -- with Harvie S (bass) and Peter Erskine (drums) -- in separately. Five pieces by Broadbent, four by others (Tadd Dameron, John Coltrane, Miles Davis twice). Lush and gorgeous, a bit overblown. B+(*)

Brockhampton: Saturation (2017, Question Everything/Empire): Music collective, hip-hop group, "the Internet's first boy band," formed in Texas, based in California, the one member I've heard of before Kevin Abstract. First of three 2017 albums, all but one of the titles four-letter words ("Heat," "Gold," "Star," etc.). B+(*)

Brockhampton: Saturation II (2017, Question Everything/Empire): Growth and development, means using five-letter song titles this time -- "Gummy," "Queer," "Jello," etc., even replacing "Skit" with "Scene." B+(**)

Brockhampton: Saturation III (2017, Question Everything/Empire): And on to the six-letter titles: "Boogie," "Zipper," "Johnny," with the former skits now "Cinema 1-2-3." B+(**)

Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh: Sex Tape (2016 [2017], Trost): Second duo album together, Leigh playing pedal steel guitar, trying to make it even uglier than Brötzmann's reeds, often succeeding. Can't say that the instrument has ever been played like this before, but while she reminds me of bagpipes, that just goes to show it could be worse. B-

John Butcher/Damon Smith/Weasel Walter: Catastrophe of Minimalism (2008 [2017], Ballace Point Acoustics): Live tape, on the shelf for nearly a decade -- Butcher (soprano/tenor sax), Smith (bass, samples, lloopp), Walter (percussion). Can get rough, and sometimes better for it. B+(**)

Call Super: Arpo (2017, Houndstooth): British electronica producer, Joseph Richmond-Seaton, second album plus a bunch of shorter releases since 2011. The little stutter beats don't seem like much at first, but gradually they grow radiant, and even the electronic washes shimmer. A-

Tyler Childers: Purgatory (2017, Hickman Holler): Country singer-songwriter, Saving Country Music's favorite record of 2017, but while he's got the traditional sound down pat -- it really does sound terrific -- the songs don't manage to stick. B+(**)

Billy Childs: Rebirth (2017, Mack Avenue): Pianist, from Los Angeles, played with J.J. Johnson and Nat Adderley in the late 1970s, eleventh album since 1988. He wrote the first six tracks (one, the title track, co-written by singer Claudia Acuńa), covering "The Windmills of Your Mind" and "Peace." He can be a dazzling pianist, but the productions are overkill, especially on the two vocal tracks. Saxophonist Steve Wilson has a nice run on the closer. B-

Collectif Spatule: Le Vanneau Huppé (2017, Aloya): French group, "jazz acoustique," with Chloe Calleston vocals, flutes and saxophones, chromatic harp, cello, bass, two drummers -- precluding any chance this might get pigeonholed as chamber jazz. B+(**)

Eva Cortés: Crossing Borders (2016 [2017], Origin): Singer from Honduras, half-dozen previous albums since 2007, wrote four (of eleven) songs, one in English. B+(*) [cd]

CupcakKe: S.T.D (Shelters to Deltas) (2016, self-released): Chicago rapper, Elizabeth Eden Harris, second mixtape, not yet 20 but, as they say, "barely legal" -- leads off with rap porn like "Best Dick Sucker" and "Cool Fuck," but also raps about growing up rough and throws it all in your face. B+(**)

CupcakKe: Audacious (2016, self-released): Despite the cheesecake on the cover, she dials the porn back a bit -- well, you still get titles like "Spider Man Dick" and "Cock a Doodle Doo," but also "Picking Cotton" on the evolution of slavery and "Birth Mark" like how you carry your scars, the thrills of "running with the LGBT," and how she discovered "Jesus." B+(***)

CupcakKe: Queen Elizabitch (2017, self-released): Artist name Elizabeth Eden Harris, from Chicago, fourth self-released album -- Wikipedia splits calls two of them mixtapes, two "studio albums," but I doubt you can figure out which is which. Order is a bit easier, not so much because she's maturing -- still just 20 -- but over time she draws less on porn (not that "Cumshot" doesn't count here). Also her beats get louder and more cluttered. But her closing freestyle is as sharply political as anything this year. B+(**)

Pan Daijing: Lack (2017, Pan): Born in Guiyang, Southwest China; based since 2016 in Berlin, first album after a couple EPs. Starts with soprano voice against presumably Chinese strings, before moving into her real calling: noise. Relatively choice cut: "The Nerve Meter." B-

Kris Davis & Craig Taborn: Octopus (2016 [2018], Pyroclastic): Piano duets, two of the most accomplished pianists of their generation(s) -- Davis b. 1980, Taborn b. 1970 -- selected from three concerts. Not normally my thing, but remarkable all the way through. A- [cd]

Dev: I Only See You When I'm Dreamin' (2017, Devishot): Devin Tailes, pop singer from California, second album, not all that splashy but knows when to flirt and when to break it off -- title song is about an ex, and she prefers it that way. A-

Dial & Oatts/Rich DeRosa/The WDR Big Band: Rediscovered Ellington: New Takes on Duke's Rare and Unheard Music (2017, Zoho): Pianist Garry Dial and saxophonist Dick Oatts met in Red Rodney's late-1980s quintet and recorded three albums together 1989-93 as Dial & Oatts, hence the attribution. DeRosa, a longtime UNT professor, is an arranger, although Dial has a co-credit in most of the arrangements, and Oatts the rest. The Germans provide the muscle, although Dial and, especially, Oatts claims most of the solos. Delivers on the rare/unheard promise, not least by not sounding very Ellingtonian. B+(*)

Angelo Divino: Love A to Z (2017, self-released): Crooner, unclear on bio but he's worked in New York and Los Angeles, wrote and sang in a piece called "Let Me Be Frank," which hardly needs to be spelled out further. Goes for sappy love songs here, with pianist Rich Eames helping out. B- [cd]

Fabiano Do Nascimento: Tempo Dos Mestres (2017, Now-Again): Guitarist-singer from Rio de Janeiro, second album (in US anyhow), straddles folk and psychedelia, or maybe Brazilian folk just starts out bent like that? B+(**)

FCT = Francesco Cusa Trio Meets Carlo Atti: From Sun Ra to Donald Trump (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Recorded Nov. 23, a few weeks after the apocalyptic American election. Cusa is a drummer from Italy, discography back to 1997, someone I don't know but most likely should. Trio adds Gabriele Evangelista on bass and Simone Graziano on piano, while Atti plays sax. Titles mostly show interest in economics from Smith to Keynes, but for good measure they toss in a "wrestling bout, refereed by Roland Barthes." Still, no words, just well structured tunes with the sax sharpening the edges. A-

Agustí Fernández/Rafal Mazur: Ziran (2016, Not Two): Piano and acoustic bass guitar duo, the latter producing most of the odd sounds that dominate early, before the pianist really kicks in. B+(*)

Fever Ray: Plunge (2017, Rabid/Mute): Singer-songwriter Karin Dreijer, from Sweden, second solo album after her eponymous 2009 debut, although she's recorded in a number of other projects, notably the Knife (a duo with her brother). Darker and drearier than I expect in a pop record. B+(*)

Nick Fraser: Is Life Long? (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): Toronto drummer, several previous albums, the best showcases for tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, again featured here along with Andrew Downing (cello) and Rob Clutton (bass). Malaby gets in some monster runs here, too, but the cello gets a lot of space, and when the saxophonist picks the soprano to duet things can get squeaky. B+(**)

Dori Freeman: Letters Never Read (2017, MRI): Folk singer, eponymous debut album last year was very striking. Remarkable voice, nothing affected but everything she does with it is completely stressless -- even a cappella. Short (28:17), but ten songs, none rushed, all satisfying. A-

David Friesen: Structures (2017, Origin, 2CD): Bassist, probably deserves to be noted as a composer too, with a substantial discography from the mid-1970s on. Two sets of duets: one with Joe Manis on tenor/soprano saxophones, with Friesen also playing some piano; the other with Larry Koonse on guitar, a quiet and intimate encounter. B+(*) [cd]

Champian Fulton & Scott Hamilton: The Things We Did Last Summer (2017, Blau): Piano-playing standards singer from Oklahoma, eighth album since 2007. Backed by bass and drums, gives a good showing for her piano and for Hamilton's tenor sax but feels a bit off. B+(*)

Charles Gayle Trio: Solar System (2016 [2017], ForTune): Free jazz saxophonist, in his 40s before he got a chance to record in 1992, his ability to channel raw power perhaps unmatched, although for a while he seemed in danger of wearing out his welcome. Pushing 80, he's playing typically vigorous alto live in Warsaw with local bassist (Kaswery Wojcinski) and drummer (Max Andrzejewski). He also plays quite a bit of piano, here as impressive as his sax. A- [bc]

Paul Giallorenzo Trio: Flow (2017, Delmark): Pianist from Chicago, leads a bright and bouncy trio with Joshua Abrams (bass) and Mikel Patrick Avery (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Ben Goldberg School: Vol. 1: The Humanities (2017, BAG): Clarinet player, discography starts in 1992, sextet -- alto sax (Kasey Knudsen), trombone (Jeff Cressman), accordion/piano (Rob Reich), bass (David Ewell), drums (Hamir Atwal) -- plays six originals "and a Merle Travis hit" ("Nine Pound Hammer"). B+(**)

Frank Gratkowski/Simon Nabatov: Mirthful Myths (2015 [2017], Leo): Duets, alto sax/clarinet/bass clarinet and piano, both musicians in their 50s with many free jazz albums. Good match. B+(**)

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet: Jersey (2017, Motéma): Drummer from New Jersey, was in the group Heernt, did a duo album with Brad Mehldau. Quartet with Jason Rigby (sax), Fabian Almazan (piano), and Chris Morrissey (electric bass). Some impressive bits, but I don't care for the closing vocals. B+(*)

Charlie Halloran: Ce Biguine! (2017, self-released): Trombonist, originally from St. Louis, based in New Orleans, looks beyond trad jazz, aiming "to capture the dance music of the French Caribbean circa 1950," his old-timey sound underscored by the "pops and scratches" of recording straight to 78 rpm acetate discs. B+(**) [bc]

Aldous Harding: Party (2017, 4AD): "Gothic-folk" singer-songwriter from New Zealand, second album. Voice and guitar, slow and dark (probably the goth part). B

Keyon Harrold: The Mugician (2017, Legacy): Trumpet player, mainstream in 2009 when Criss Cross released Introducing Keyon Harrold, but second album is something else, with funky riddims, guest vocalists, rappers, and occasional clouds of strings. Beware "Ethereal Souls," a good time to jump to "Bubba Rides Again." B+(*)

Emily Herring: Gliding (2017, Eight 30): Austin singer-songwriter with an air of western swing and a few vocal quirks. B

Lilly Hiatt: Trinity Lane (2017, New West): John Hiatt's daughter, based in Nashville, third album. Rocks hard for Nashville, but loses something when she doesn't. B+(**)

Homeboy Sandman: Veins (2017, Stones Throw, EP): Short album, ten cuts, 24:13, seems to be the preferred length for the rapper, typically smart and low-key. B+(**)

Jazzmeia Horn: A Social Call (2017, Prestige): Jazz singer from Dallas, studied at New School, won a Monk Prize in 2015, first album. mostly standards, band seems first rate but it took many clicks to come up with some names: Victor Gould (piano), Ben Williams (bass), Jerome Jennings (drums), plus horns on half of the tracks: Stacy Dillard (tenor sax), Josh Evans (trumpet), Frank Lacy (trombone). Likes to scat, and is pretty good at it. B+(**)

Hvalfugl: By (2017, self-released): Danish trio: bass (Anders Juel Bomholt), guitar (Jeppe Lavsen), piano (Jonathan Fjord Bredholt). Chamber jazz, probably has some folk roots as it seems to have more in common with pre-classical than with jazz. Pretty. B+(**)

Sherman Irby & Momentum: Cerulean Canvas (2017, Black Warrior): Alto saxophonist, made a splash in the late 1990s -- I recommend Big Mama's Biscuits -- half-dozen or so albums since then, some side credits including Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Leads quintet with Vincent Gardner (trombone), Eric Reed (piano), bass, and drums, plus Wyonton Marsalis and Elliot Mason drop in as guests. Still a remarkable player, enough so that I kinda wish he omitted the other horns and stretched out. B+(*)

Irreversible Entanglements: Irreversible Entanglements (2015 [2017] International Anthem/Don Giovanni): "Liberation-oriented free jazz collective: Camae Ayewa (poet, also dba Moor Mother), Keir Neuringer (alto sax), Aquiles Navarro (trumpet), Luke Stewart (bass), Tcheser Holmes (drums). Group started playing at Musicians Against Police Brutality protests, and have just gotten angrier -- with good reason. A-

The Jazz Passengers: Still Life With Trouble (2017, Thirsty Ear): Roy Nathanson-Curtis Fowlkes group dating back to 1987, broke up after two 1998 albums with Debbie Harry (recommended) but issued Re-United in 2010. Current edition includes vibes (Bill Ware), violin (Sam Bardfield), bass (Brad Jones, drums (Ben Perowsky and E.J. Rodriguez), plus the leaders' alto sax and trombone. No real singers but many voice credits, mixed up eclectic as ever. B+(**)

Ingrid and Christine Jensen: Infinitude (2016, Whirlwind): Trumpet and alto/soprano sax, sisters, from British Columbia, with guitarist Ben Monder also getting cover credit, plus Fraser Hollins (bass) and Jon Wikan (drums). Postbop, flittering on the horizon with mirage-like shimmer. B+(**)

Ryan Keberle/Frank Woeste: Reverso: Suite Pavel (2017 [2018], Phonoart): Trombone and piano, backed by cello (Vincent Curtois) and drums (Jeff Ballard). Original pieces by the leaders plus some joint improv, looking back and drawing inspiration from French composer Maurice Ravel, especially a series of piano pieces from 1914-17. The piano has some nice flourishes, but I like it better when the trombone weighs in. B+(**) [cd]

King Krule: The OOZ (2017, True Panther Sounds): Archy Marshall, from London, mixes styles from punk to rap but, this time at least, slows them down and gives them a darker, more abstract cast. B

Lee Konitz: Frescalalto (2015 [2017], Impulse): Alto saxophonist, probably the first major one after Charlie Parker to go off and do something remarkably different, his tone fairly described as cool but his logic markedly more complex. Still in remarkable form at 88 (when this was recorded), backed by a very capable trio -- Kenny Barron, Peter Washington, and Kenny Washington -- although they may be a bit too mainstream for him. One anomaly: a couple of Konitz vocals -- not much voice, but still musical. B+(***)

Alex Lahey: I Love You Like a Brother (2017, Dead Oceans): Singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia, first album, what we used to call power pop, sounds great most of the time but can thicken up and stall when she slows down for melodrama. Not funny enough to catch you quick, but smart enough to keep trying. B+(***)

LEF: Hypersomniac (2017, RareNoise): Initials stand for singer-songwriter Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari. Band includes some fusion/jazztronica notables -- Eivind Aarset (guitar), Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet), Bill Laswell (bass) -- but net effect is somewhere betweel prog and the softer metals. B- [cdr]

Joăo Lencastre's Communion 3: Movements in Freedom (2017, Clean Feed): Portuguese drummer, leads a piano trio with Jacob Sacks and Eivind Opsvik. B+(**)

Liebman/Murley Quartet: Live at U of T (2017, U of T Jazz): Two saxophonists, both play soprano and tenor, Dave Liebman and Mike Morley, the latter teaches at University of Toronto where the former is a visiting professor. Backed by bass and drums, also faculty. Often terrific. B+(***) [cd]

Nick Maclean Quartet: Rites of Ascension (2017, Browntasaurus): Piano/synthesizer player from Toronto, quartet adds trumpet (Brownman Ali), bass, and drums. Mostly originals (one by Ali), plus four "Herbie Hancock classics" -- fairly generic fusion pieces, although the spoken word bits are pretty smart. B+(*) [cd]

Christian McBride Big Band: Bringin' It (2017, Mack Avenue): Bassist, landed a major label deal for his debut in 1994 and remains a perennial poll winner fourteen albums later. Second big band effort, sixteen pieces plus a couple guests, with Melissa Walker singing two songs. Three originals, trombonist Steve Davis guests on his own song, seven covers, plenty of volume atop phat bass lines, yet it doesn't jell into anything interesting. B-

Makaya McCraven: Highly Rare (2016 [2017], International Anthem): Second generation drummer, has a remix of his last album, and this one is frenetic enough I wouldn't be surprised if another remix is in the works. Nick Mazzarella adds an avant touch on alto sax, as does Ben Lamar Gay on cornet and diddley bow, with bass guitar and turntables punching up the beat. B+(***)

Zara McFarlane: Arise (2017, Brownswood): British jazz singer-songwriter, "born to parents of Jamaican heritage," laps into r&b, credits stress her role as arranger, although drummer Moses Boyd shares most writing credits. Nicely crafted, but pretty close to nicheless. B+(*)

Joe McPhee/Pascal Niggenkemper/Stĺle Liavik Solberg: Imaginary Numbers (2015 [2017], Clean Feed): McPhee opens on pocket trumpet before switching to tenor sax. picking up strength as he works through three improv pieces, backed by bass and drums, visiting Brooklyn from Europe. B+(***)

Gary Meek: Originals (2017, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, sixth album since 1991, surprised not to find him in my database, although the side-credits listed on his Wikipedia page aren't major interests of mine: Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Jeff Lorber, Brian Bromberg, Dave Weckl, Green Day. A couple of those are on hand here (Bromberg, Moreira), as well as Randy Brecker, Mitchel Forman, Bruce Forman, and Terri Lyne Carrington. They keep this centered in the mainstream, letting the saxophone shine. B+(**)

Ron Miles: I Am a Man (2016 [2017], Yellowbird): Cornet player, born in Indiana, based in Denver, tenor so albums since 1990. This one sometimes co-attributed to his notable band: Bill Frisell (guitar), Jason Moran (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass), and Brian Blade (drums). Cool and eloquent, tied into a film but I'm not sure which led to what. B+(***) [yt]

Jason Moran and the Bandwagon: Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2016 [2017], Yes): Piano trio, group name comes from their 2003 album, with Tarus Mateen on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums, a long running group. Couldn't follow the patter, and didn't get the vocals or some of the electronics, but clearly still a major talent -- just harder to follow since he departed from Blue Note. B+(*) [dl]

Van Morrison: Versatile (2017, Legacy): Thirty-eighth studio album, another quickie, the covers leaning more toward jazz than the blues on Roll With the Punches. Terrific singer, of course, but there's still something rote about the treatments, although "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is pretty convincing. B+(*)

Kjetil Mřster/Jeff Parker/Joshua Abrams/John Herndon: Ran Do (2015 [2017], Clean Feed): Norwegian avant-saxophonist with a Chicago-based guitar-bass-drums rhythm section, two members of which also play in the post-rock band Tortoise. They might conjure up memories of the leader's own rock encounters (e.g., Motorpsycho), but nothing really sparks. B+(*)

Zaid Nasser: The Stroller (2016 [2017], SteepleChase): Alto saxophonist, father was bassist Jamil Nasser, not sure how old he is but he's played with Jo Jones, Bill Doggett, and Panama Francis. He recorded two terrific bebop albums for Smalls 2007-09 and that seems to be it. Backed by guitar-bass-drums, two originals, covers include two tunes by Lou Donaldson, right up Nasser's alley. B+(**)

NERD: No One Ever Really Dies (2017, I Am Other/Columbia): Pharell Williams/Chad Hugo group, name an acronym for "No-one Ever Really Dies" so their fifth album's (since 2002; last was 2010) title just reiterates their core idea. Their beats are also recycled, sparer and a tad less catchy than before. Opening line has a point: The truth will set you free/but first it will piss you off." B+(**)

New Order: NOMC15 (2015 [2017], Pledge Music, 2CD): Like Elvis, opens with a bit of Wagner before ploughing into their back catalog. The live ambiance/audience doesn't quite do justice to their greatest songs, which were perfect as minted in the studio, but I'm still amazed that a band of four can play them at all. So maybe the value added here is the human dimension. B+(***)

New York Electric Piano: State of the Art (2017, Fervor): Pat Daugherty's piano trio, Aaron Comess on bass and Richard Hammond on drums -- a group name Daugherty's used since 2002 although he plays quite a bit of acoustic here, as well as some organ. B+(*) [cd]

Sam Newsome/Jean-Michel Pilc: Magic Circle (2017, Some New Music): Duets, soprano sax and piano, the latter filling in and supporting rather than racing ahead (as Pilc is quite able to do). Two improv pieces, seven standards including Ellington, Monk, and Coltrane. B+(**)

Jeb Loy Nichols: Country Hustle (2017, Inkind): Singer-songwriter, born in Wyoming, moved to Wales in the 1980s and formed a group called the Fellow Travellers, which released three albums 1990-93. Tenth album since he went solo in 1997 (a Christgau A- I didn't care for). This one strikes me as too slick and slinky, as he just glides through one throwaway after another. B-

Gard Nilssen's Acoustic Unity: Livei n Europe (2017, Clean Feed, 3CD): Norwegian drummer, plays in Cortex and runs this trio with André Roligheten on sax and Petter Eish on double bass -- their 2015 debut Firehouse is recommended. Three full sets here: the first just the trio at the North Sea Jazz Festival, plus guest tenor saxophonists on the other two: Fredrik Ljungkvist in Ljubljana and Jřrgen Mathisen in Oslo. The guests acquit themselves well enough, but I rather prefer the trio. B+(***)

Dick Oatts: Use Your Imagination (2016 [2017], SteepleChase): Alto saxophonist, moved from Iowa to New York in the 1970s, joining the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. All Oatts originals except for the title piece from Cole Porter. Hard bop lineup, with Joe Magnarelli at trumpet, Anthony Wonsey on piano, all very fluid. B+(**)

Dawn Oberg: Nothing Rhymes With Orange (2017, self-released, EP): Piano-playing singer-songwriter, has a couple of highly literate and slightly jazzy albums, knocked out three short topical songs (8:29), including the title tirade on a president she refuses to name ("rhymes with bump, and dump") and a coda that goes "I'd love to be wrong," all wrapped up in an orange mushroom cloud. A lyric sheet would be helpful, but she lost me with the line about "Putin's bitch" -- shows she misses the real basis of the mutual attraction society. B+(*) [bc]

Uwe Oberg/Rudi Mahall/Michael Griener: Lacy Pool 2 (2017, Leo): Another Steve Lacy tribute band, this one led by German pianist Oberg, plus clarinet (replacing trombone on the first Lacy Pool) and drums. The clarinet is faster and shriller, closer to Lacy although they also remind me of Lacy's affinity for Monk. B+(***)

One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2017 (2017, UNT): Home of one of the largest jazz programs in the country, this is UNT's working big band, full of youthful vigor and emerging chops, but still students. Admittedly, if I was teaching I'd grade their efforts higher. B [cd]

Orchestre Les Mangelepa: Last Band Standing (2017, Strut): Kenyan band, formed in Nairobi in 1976, mostly Congolese musicians, contributed two songs to the justly famous Earthworks compilation Guitar Paradise of East Africa. Never toured outside of Africa until 2016, belatedly landing a record on this UK label. This remakes some of their early hits, probably not helped by the mellowing of age, yet remains remarkable. Better late, I suppose, than never. A-

Kelly Lee Owens: Kelly Lee Owens (2017, Smalltown Supersound): Electronica from London, formerly played bass in the History of Apple Pie. First album, muted beats and melancholy moods. B

Emile Parisien/Vincent Peirani/Andreas Schaerer/Michael Wollny: Out of Land (2016 [2017], ACT): Alphabetic order: soprano sax, accordion, voice/percussion, and piano. Of these Parisien is the least important: the others wrote songs (Peirani and Schaerer two each, Wollny one), the accordion is the focal center of the music, and whether or not you like the music depends on how you respond to Schaerer singing, which ranges from operatic to Theo Bleckmann. B

Phil Parisot: Creekside (2017, OA2): Drummer, based in Seattle, second album, was in the earlier group Big Neighborhood. Basically a hard bop quintet -- Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet, Steve Treseler on tenor sax, Dan Kramlich on piano -- all original material, strong up the middle. B+(**) [cd]

Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (2017, Paytone/Ropeadope, 2CD): Trumpet player from New Orleans, started out in the Marsalis-Blanchard mainstream, looked trad for a duo with Doc Cheatham (by far his best album), then got interested in electronics without ever really finding his niche. Still a fine trumpet player. B+(*)

Gary Peacock Trio: Tangents (2016 [2017], ECM): Bassist-led piano trio, with Marc Copland (piano) and Joey Baron (drums). Copland dials it back a notch to give the bassist more space, and that works out nicely. B+(***)

Penguin Cafe: The Imperfect Sea (2017, Erased Tapes): Not to be confused with Simon Jeffes' Penguin Cafe Orchestra, which recorded five studio and two live albums 1976-95, but not unrelated either as the new group -- three albums since 2011 -- is led by son Arthur Jeffes, and plays a similar pop-tinged minimalism, sometimes with all the strings venturing to the lush side, sometimes for the better. B+(**)

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Bobby Kapp: Heptagon (2017, Leo): Tenor sax backed by piano-bass-drums: Shipp has been a nearly constant companion of late, with the pair releasing seven volumes of The Art of Perelman-Shipp back in March. The best one then was a quartet with Shipp's everyday trio (Michael Bisio and Whit Dickey), but Shipp's played even more with Parker and brought Kapp back from obscurity for a superb duo in 2016 (Cactus; Kapp first made his mark with the other great avant-garde saxophonist from South America, the late Gato Barbieri). Superb all around. A- [cd]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Nate Wooley: Philosopher's Stone (2017, Leo): Wooley's trumpet adds a shrill note, which eventually takes over the album, drawing the saxophonist in. B+(*) [cd]

Ivo Perelman/Nate Wooley/Brandon Lopez/Gerald Cleaver: Octagon (2017, Leo): A rare "pianoless quartet" album, the two horns (tenor sax and trumpet) freewheeling against bass and drums, which help steady the rhythm and fill out harmonically -- chemistry that works admirably. A- [cd]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Joe Hertenstein: Scalene (2017, Leo): Tenor sax with piano and drums. Not sure if the drummer, a German in New York with Jörg his given first name, has ever played in this company before, but he keeps up as the leaders knock out some of their fastest and most furious runs. A- [cd]

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/Jeff Cosgrove: Live in Baltimore (2017, Leo): Tenor sax, piano, and drums, a live set (the night's second, as it were) cut within weeks of his latest binge of studio albums. No covers, no songs, just a straight 51:00 improv, roughly equivalent to most of this year's extensive series of Perelman-Shipp collaborations. Of course, always nice to have a drummer on hand. B+(***) [cd]

Margo Price: All American Made (2017, Third Man): Country singer-songwriter, born in Illinois, based in Nashville, first album enjoyed a lot of crossover acclaim, and this one is roughly comparable -- although it tails off a bit after three snappy openers and a 6:19 Willie Nelson duet. B+(**)

Princess Nokia: 1992 Deluxe (2017, Rough Trade): Rapper from New York, "of Afro-Puerto Rican descent," first album after several singles, most famously "Bitch I'm Posh." Beats fold back on themselves, and I lost track of how many times she says "suck my dick," so not a great wordsmith. "Deluxe" expands the EP 1992 to CD (2LP) length. B [Later: B+(***)]

Rapsody: Laila's Wisdom (2017, Def Jam): Rapper Marianna Evans, second studio album. Underground beats mostly from 9th Wonder, featured guests on at least half the tracks, probably too many cooks but many of the writing credits trace back to samples. B+(**)

Ada Rave Trio: The Sea, the Storm and the Full Moon (2015 [2017], Clean Feed): Tenor saxophonist from Argentina, also plays clarinet and flute. Trio with Wilbert De Joode on bass and Nicola L. Hein on prepared guitar, which manages to throw everything off kilter. B+(*)

Red Planet/Bill Carrothers: Red Planet With Bill Carrothers (2017, Shifting Paradigm): Minneapolis-based guitar-bass-drums trio (Dean Magraw, Chris Bates, Jay Epstein -- Magraw was in Boiled in Lead and has seven solo albums) backs off their fusion instincts as the postbop pianist runs away with the album. B+(**)

Nadia Reid: Preservation (2017, Basin Rock): Singer-songwriter from New Zealand, second album, sources peg her as folk but other than remaining credible when she drops down to just voice over guitar I don't hear it -- indeed, when the band chimes in she can rock a little. B+(*)

Riddlore: Afro Mutations (2017, Nyege Nyege Tapes): LA-based MC/beatmaker Henry Lee Owens, has ten or more aliases in his discography including many variations on Riddler -- this one, with a question mark, dates from 2003. Discogs styles this "limited edition of 80" cassette, cut in Kampala, Uganda, as "bass music," although there are hard-to-pin-down wind instruments over the bass riffs and beats. The blues sample on "Whose Gonna Be 2" is a nice change up. B+(**) [bc]

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers (2017, Mack Avenue, 2CD): Jazz singer, born in Miami to Haitian father and French mother, moved to France to study voice and law, quickly jumped to the top of the polls. Fourth album is a live double (3-LP), backed by piano trio (Aaron Diehl) and string quartet. I'm not taken with the band, and find the songs scattershot (although I like the French chanson). She does have a knack for working in idiosyncratic bits, probably a big part of her appeal. B+(*)

Rina Sawayama: Rina (2017, self-released, EP): Japanese-born pop singer, grew up and based in London. Eight tracks (including two interludes), 24:51, splashy tricks, rarely connects. B-

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: The Emancipation Procrastination (2017, Stretch Music/Ropeadope): Third album this year, completing a trilogy known as The Centennial Trilogy. Mostly plays trumpet, but other instrument credits include "sonic architecture" -- seems to be a canned fusion beat, but not a bad one. Strong sax (mostly Braxton Cook), too much flute, doesn't really support its clever title but as solidly enjoyable as its two predecessors. B+(**)

Shotgun Jazz Band: Steppin' on the Gas (2016 [2017], self-released): New Orleans trad jazz band, principally Marla Dixon, who plays trumpet and sings, mostly a sextet with James Evans on C-melody sax and clarinet, plus trampagne, piano, bass, and drums, with extra trumpet and alto sax/clarinet on 5/18 tracks. With a couple Randy Newman songs, perhaps less trad, more Louisiana. B+(**)

Sirius: Acoustic Main Suite Plus the Inner One (2017, Clean Feed): Duo, based in Portugal, the Swazi-born trumpeter Yaw Tembe and French percussionist Monsieur Trinité (Francisco Trindade). Has a "weird folk" vibe, both deeply rooted and abstract. B+(*)

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid (2017, Western Vinyl): American electronic composer, based in Los Angeles, sixth album since 2012, sings, using her voice as fodder for her electronics. Latter is not without interest, but album is cluttered and often annoying. B

Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: Transparent Water (2017, World Village): Cuban pianist, left his homeland in 1993 (age 28) and after stops in Ecuador and San Francisco wound up in Barcelona. Keita, born in Senegal, based in England, plays kora, talking drum, and djembe. Several tracks add guests playing bata, sheng, and/or koto, some with vocals (both artists credited, but more Keita's thing). B+(*)

Chris Stapleton: From a Room: Volume 2 (2017, Mercury Nashville): The room is RCA Studio A in Nashville, a short (9 cut, 32:19) sequel to the short (9 cut, 32:49) Volume 1 released seven months earlier, with the same artwork colored differently. B+(**)

John Stowell/Ulf Bandgren Quartet: Night Visitor (2016 [2017], Origin): Two guitarists, backed by bass and drums. Stowell dates back to the late 1970s, when he was closely associated with David Friesen, and he's been a consistently interesting picker. Bandgren is Swedish, has a previous album from 2001. Bassist Bruno Raberg wrote four (of ten) songs, leaving three each for the leaders. B+(*) [cd]

Moses Sumney: Aromanticism (2017, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter from San Bernardino, CA, parents from Ghana, lived for a while in Ghana but "was too Americanized," not that he fits any pigeonhole: vocals draw on a cappella gospel with a bit of folk, music ambient rather than rhythmic. Might grow on you, not that I gave it much of a chance. B+(*)

Taylor Swift: Reputation (2017, Big Machine): Sixth album, first sold five million, second eleven million, fifth ten million, this one (so far, even these days) over two million. Her lyrics are stuffed with clichés and the beats are mechanical, but they're pretty catchy, and the fact that the one I've heard before is the one I found more memorable is likely to change if I found time to play this obsessively. B+(**)

Takaaki: New Kid in Town (2016 [2017], Albany): Pianist Takaaki Otomo, from Kobe, Japan, moved to New York in 2014, leads this trio with Noriko Ueda (also from Japan) on bass and Jared Shonig (from LA) on drums. Two originals, one from Ueda, with producer Bernard Hoffer conspicuous in the credits -- two compositions and five arrangements, including two Gustav Holst pieces. Other covers include John Lewis and Dave Brubeck. B+(**) [cd]

Tune Recreation Committee: Voices of Our Vision (2017, self-released): Cape Town, South African group, led by Mandla Mlangeni (trumpet), with "special guest" Mark Fransman (saxes/flute/accordion) and "legendary" Madala Kunene (guitar). Four pieces, bent rhythms based loosely on local models, often with voices (not wild about these). [NB: Length 34:35, but CDBaby has a 9-cut version.] B+(*) [bc]

Turnpike Troubadours: A Long Way From Your Heart (2017, Bossier City): Country band from Oklahoma, John Fulbright a former member, current crew (five albums in) pretty anonymous, although the slow one, "Pay No Rent," sounds like a long lost Joe Ely tune until it gets condescending. B

Jeremy Udden/John McNeil/Akyer Kobrinsky/Anthony Pinciotti: Hush Point III (2017, Sunnyside): Website insists "it's a band," but the cover lists the members in the order given. Group has two previous albums, Hush Point and Blues and Reds, which both list senior trumpet player McNeil ahead of the saxophonist (alto/soprano), the second clearly attributed to the group. B+(*)

The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding (2017, Atlantic): Third album, 2014's Lost in the Dream, was a critical breakthrough, a very good sounding alt/indie band. Since then they've got a bigger label, a bigger sound with more keyboard layers, and a lot longer -- nothing there I count as an improvement. B

Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology (2017, Fire): British singer-songwriter, played guitar and sang in groups Kill Laura and Misty Dixon before going solo in 2002. Electropop, but not bright and not bouncy, which gives it a veneer of depth I haven't penetrated. B+(*)

Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life (2017, Dirty Hit): British alt/noise group, second album, Ellie Rowsell sings (also plays guitar and keyboards, as does Jeff Oddie). Strong presence and depth -- I can see why people are impressed. B+(*)

Charli XCX: Pop 2 (2017, Asylum): British pop star, Charlotte Aitchison, officially this is a mixtape, her second this year after two studio albums and two early 2012 mixtapes. Beaucoup guests, thirteen on eight (of ten) songs, mostly other sings who don't sound all that different, the effect catchy enough but rather slapdash. B+(***)

Yaeji: Yaeji (2017, Godmode, EP): Based in New York and Seoul, Kathy Yaeji Lee, the first of two EPs (5 tracks, 19:13) that topped Gorilla vs. Bear's EOY list. Disarmingly talkie vocals over deep house beats that sneak up on you. B+(**)

Yaeji: EP 2 (2017, Godmode, EP): Five more cuts, 18:05. Again, vocals barely above a whisper, beats don't grab you much, but you sort of lose track of time and feel satisfied. B+(***)

Dave Young/Terry Promane Octet: Vol. 2 (2017, Modica Music): Toronto group, the leaders play bass and trombone and do the arrangements, all standards and jazz pieces like Gillespie's "Bebop," Mingus' "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love," and pieces by Duke Pearson and Cedar Walton. B+(*) [cd]

Neil Young + Promise of the Real: The Visitor (2017, Reprise): New (39th studio) album from a Canadian singer-songwriter who's spent most of his life immersed in deep Americana, backed by Lucas Nelson's bland band. As is often the case with immigrants, he appreciates things about America that natives take for granted, and in some ways he's overly generous ("Already Great"), in others he gets overly defensive. None of this brings out his best songwriting, although there's a nice one early on. B

Waclaw Zimpel/Kuba Ziolek: Zimpel/Ziolek (2017, Instant Classic): Two Poles, Zimpel I'm familiar with as an avant (bass) clarinet player; Ziolek seems (I haven't found any credits) to be on guitar and electronics. Four tracks, enough vocals early on to move this out of jazz and into something like Gong-ish prog, but the post-minimalism takes over on the remarkable closer. B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Andina: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes 1968-1978 (1968-78 [2017], Tiger's Milk/Strut): Cover notes "Huayno, Carnaval & Cumbia" -- the latter a style associated with Colombia, something I would have thought more common in coastal Lima than the isolated backbone of the country. But the Incan civilization was centered in the Andes, so what do I know? Starts off remarkably upbeat and plays off that in various ways, some corny, which just adds to the fun. A-

The Bill Evans Trio: On a Monday Evening (1976 [2017], Fantasy): Piano trio with Eddie Gomez on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums, recorded live in Madison, Wisconsin. I don't know much from this period in Evans' discography but I've heard a couple of terrific records from 1978-80, just a couple years before Evans' death. This is close to their order -- I clearly need to take a deep dive to sort them out. B+(***)

Vinny Golia Wind Quartet: Live at the Century City Playhouse: Los Angeles, 1979 (1979 [2017], Dark Tree): Four horns, nothing more, an experiment at the time when sax quartets were just emerging, but half brass (Bobby Bradford on cornet, Glenn Ferris on trombone), the other half reeds (John Carter on clarinet, Golia just credited with "woodwinds"). B+(***) [cd]

Hamad Kalkaba: Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds 1974-1975 (1974-75 [2017], Analog Africa): From northern Cameroon, both sides of all three singles Kalkaba released. Starts super bouncy, a kind of roughed up take on highlife called gandjal. Barely slows down after that, ending too soon at 27:33. A- [bc]

Los Camaroes: Resurrection Los Vol. 1 (1976 [2017], Analog Africa): Group from Cameroon, described as their last album -- I can't find any others, just a bunch of singles 1973-77. Dance pop, similar to the Pop Makossa compilation but more consistent. Six cuts, 32:03. B+(**) [bc]

Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (1959 [2017], Sam, 2CD): Previously unreleased Monk session, mostly versions of well-known Monk tunes recorded by his quartet -- Sam Jones (bass), Art Taylor (drums), and Charlie Rouse (tenor sax) -- plus Barney Wilen (tenor sax) for Roger Vadim's film, but evidently unused and thought lost. The official soundtrack was recorded by Art Blakey (with Wilen), and Duke Jordan later re-recorded his pieces (again, with Wilen). This doesn't strike me as a huge discovery -- sounds pretty familiar -- but at this stage most critics are thrilled to find any unheard Monk. B+(***)

Nice! Jay Saunders' Best of the TWO (2009-14 [2017], UNT, 2CD): Saunders is a trumpet player, has taught at UNT 25 years and directed various UNT Lab Bands -- this selection is from the Two O'Clock Lab Band, scattered over several years. Conventional big band, occasionally with an extra horn or two, bashing about. Ends with two pieces, superb in different ways: a striking Marion Powers vocal of "Detour Ahead," and a rousing "Green Onions." B+(*) [cd]

Now That's What I Call 90s Pop (1990-99 [2017], UMG/Sony): Part of a vast sampler series, the label a joint venture between the two megacorps dominating an industry where creativity has always flowed in from the margins. I've never bothered with their annuals, but having a whole decade to work with here, they make a case for "trickle up." The 1990s were the decade when I finally turned from pop music to new jazz and a systematic dive into old country-blues-pop, so I doubt if I actually own more than a handful of these 18 hits -- "Whatta Man," "Poison," "Gonna Make You Sweat" -- although there are other famous earworms like "MMMBop" and "Livin' La Vida Loca." Cover touts this as "The Ultimate 90s Pop Hits Collection" but that just shows the limits of corporate grasp. It wouldn't be hard to pick out a superior '90s pop mixtape, but this winds up being useful -- the now obscure exceptions that prove the rule. A-

Now That's What I Call Tailgate Anthems (1975-2016 [2017], Sony Music Entertainment): Tag line: "18 Crowd Shakin' Sports Anthems." Cover specifically features football helmets. Actually, none of these songs so much as mentions sports, although four have "party" in the title, so that's a bit closer. Starts with six rock anthems from 1975-86 (Queen, Kiss, Journey, Bon Jovi), then eight generic but upbeat hip-hop pieces (including Pitbull and Black Eyed Peas), Pink's "Get the Party Started," and finally three volleys from Nashville (Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean). So could have been expanded into four (count 'em) more generically satisfactory party albums, but it's upbeat (anthemic) enough you don't dwell on the transitions. What you notice instead is the common denominator: testosterone. B+(*)

Oté Maloya: The Birth of Electric Maloya on Réunion Island 1975-1986 (1975-86 [2017], Strut): Réunion is a volcanic island of 970 sq. mi. and 850,000 people in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, southwest of Mauritius. It is still controlled by France, which claimed and settled the uninhabited island in the 17th century, bringing slaves from Africa and later indentured workers from India. This comp picks up from the introduction of western instruments, effectively the emergence of pop as opposed to folk. Still, it's hard to place, with few obvious ties to any source of the island's melting pot. B+(*)

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 1: Sonny Stitt (1980 [2017], Omnivore, 2CD): The series collects a series of albums Pepper did for the Japanese label Atlas, where he picked a duet partner whose name appeared on the cover -- Pepper had an exclusive deal with Galaxy at the time. This combines two 1980 albums plus three unreleased cuts, with Stitt on tenor, Lou Levy or Russ Freeman on piano, Carl Burnett on drums, mostly racing through vintage bebop material. A-

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 2: Pete Jolly (1980 [2017], Omnivore): Pianist, original name Ceragioli, played in Woody Herman's Third Herd and a great many west coast groups, headlining a few records starting with 1955's Jolly Jumps In. One album, with Bob Magnusson on bass, Roy McCurdy on drums, and Pepper resplendent on alto sax. B+(***)

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 3: Lee Konitz (1982 [2017], Omnivore): Released in Japan in 1982, probably recorded a year or two earlier. Whereas Stitt and Pepper tended to melt together, the two altos here remain distinct (more so, of course, when Pepper switches to clarinet) -- Konitz adding a wry edge to Pepper's fluidity. With Michael Lang (piano), Bob Magnuson (bass), and John Dentz (drums). A-

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 4 With Bill Watrous (1980 [2017], Omnivore): Trombonist, sitting in with Pepper's working quartet: Russ Freeman (piano), Bob Magnusson (bass), and Carl Burnett (drums). Not the most consistent entry in the series, but terrific more often than not: the rhythm section swings hard, the trombone is a delight, and Pepper if often superb. A-

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 5: Jack Sheldon (1980 [2017], Omnivore): Trumpet player, takes a vocal on one of the bonus cuts, came up in big bands including Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton and appears on a couple of Pepper's best records. This is another. A-

Art Pepper: Presents "West Coast Sessions!" Volume 6: Shelly Manne (1981 [2017], Omnivore): Originally released in Japan (only) as Hollywood Jam: Shelly Manne and His West Coast Friends, the drummer joined by Pepper (alto sax), Bob Cooper (tenor sax), Bill Watrous (trombone), Pete Jolly (piano), and Monty Budwig (bass). Seems like Pepper could do no wrong in his last year. Trombone is a nice touch. A-

Perseverance: The Music of Rick DeRosa at North Texas (2011-15 [2017], UNT): Student bands, mostly the One O'Clock Lab Band at UNT, one cut by the UNT Orchestra, playing pieces by DeRosa plus his arrangement of a Billy Strayhorn piece. Lush and overblown, but I suppose that's part of the teaching experience. B- [cd]

Oscar Pettiford Nonet/Big Band/Sextet: New York City 1955-1958 (1955-58 [2017], Uptown, 2CD): Live shots from Birdland by various groups led by the legendary bassist. Group size or composition doesn't make much difference to the boppish sound, although the orchestral instruments the leader is so fond of -- flute, French horn, cello, harp -- are evident. Also, Gigi Gryce and Art Farmer loom large, with Gryce credited -- lots of spoken intros here -- for many compositions. B+(***)

Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976-1984 (1976-84 [2017], Analog Africa): Pop hits from Cameroon, never a major source of Afropop but wedged just east of Nigeria, "makossa" is the Douala word for dance. A dozen songs by as many artists, a couple of them perked my ears, the others passing by amiably enough. B+(*) [bc]

The Rolling Stones: On Air (1963-65 [2017], Interscope): BBC radio shots from their earliest years, mostly covers including a number of things I don't recall from their albums -- their first three UK albums were mostly covers, with just { 3, 3, 4 } originals. Pretty good sound, most unremarkable although I noticed some quirky they only returned to on Some Girls, their reboot after they got a bit too slick. B+(**)

The Rolling Stones: Live 1965: Music From Charlie Is My Darling (1965 [2014], ABKCO): Peter Whitehead filmed a documentary of the Stones touring Ireland and released it in 1966 as Charlie Is My Darling, capturing band and crowds as they lurched toward stardom. The film was expanded in 2012, with this soundtrack eventually spun off. B+(**)

The Rolling Stones: Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (1972 [2017], Eagle Rock): Key line (from Wikipedia): "The film was sold by The Rolling Stones as a tax-incentive based venture capital investment." Film cut from four 1972 concerts, no songs older than 1968, the concept was that by setting theaters up with a new-fangled quadraphonic sound system viewers would feel like they're in the middle of a 10,000 seat arena. In 2010 it was remastered in HD digital and "shown in select theaters." Of course, nowadays it's just streamable product, probably consumed alone on a phone or tablet. Still, this was when they started referring to themselves as "the world's greatest" and at the time the boast seemed credible. A-

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theater 2015 (2015 [2017], Eagle Rock): All ten songs from the 1971 album are featured here, the order shuffled, following three non-album openers and three more songs to close -- a concept for a great band that's been living in its back catalogue for decades. B+(*)

The Rough Guide to the Music of West Africa ([2017], World Music Network): A large and varied landscape, stretching from Cameroon to Senegal or maybe Mauritania -- it's always hell trying to figure out where Rough Guides find their picks, even more so when you don't have their booklets (not that they were ever much help in the past). Offhand, Victor Uwaifo dates back to the early 1970s, but most of the other names I recognize passed through the corporation's more contemporary Riverboat label, so they've moved on from searching the world to recycling their own back catalog. A little scattered, but some gems, and ends strong. B+(***)

Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From the Horn of Africa (1969-20002 [2017], Ostinato): The notes, so far as I can tell, place most of these songs in the 1980s, most recorded in Mogadishu before Somalia turned into a war-torn failed state, some in Djibouti on the other side of Ethiopia. Lots of keyboard vamps, remarkably consistent for the range of dates and locales. B+(***)

Bro. Valentino: Stay Up Zimbabwe (1979-80 [2017], Analog Africa, EP): Calypso singer Anthony Emrold Phillip, probably from Trinidad but with an eye toward revolution elsewhere, with two long singles (total 17:31), one bemoaning white Rhodesia and South Africa, the other celebrating black power in Grenada. B+(***) [bc]

Old Music

Allen Lowe/Roswell Rudd: Woyzeck's Death (1994 [1995], Enja): The second collaboration, with Lowe (tenor sax) composing up to the title piece and the trombonist contributing the last two pieces. With Randy Sandke (trumpet) and Ben Goldberg (clarinets) backed by piano-bass-drums. A meditation on Georg Buchner's famous play (left unfinished at the playwright's death), a bit awkward and dramatic, but great to hear Rudd. B+(*) [sp]

Uwe Oberg/Christof Thewes/Michael Griener: Lacy Pool (2006 [2009], Hatology): German pianist, plus trombone and drums, playing eight Steve Lacy tunes plus two joint improvs. Nicely twisted, disjointed even. B+(***)

The Rolling Stones: Singles 1968-1971 (1968-71 [2005], Abkco, 9CD): The third such box, with a CD for each single, A and B sides in order -- in one case a 4-song EP, another adding three remixes to "Sympathy for the Devil." I was gifted the first two by the publicist but fell off the list for this one. I found that Singles 1963-1965 was short enough I could consolidate the whole box onto a single (quite extraordinary) CD, but this runs a bit long for that. Useless, I think, but some great songs, and some surprises in the obscurities -- I was thrown by "Out of Time" -- sounds pre-1968, only appearing as a single from 1975's "odds and sods" Metamorphosis, yet one of the best things here. B+(***)

Roswell Rudd: Everywhere (1966 [1967], Impulse): The trombonist's only name album for a major label in the 1960s, a session -- four cuts, 47:15 -- that has only been reissued as part of Mixed, co-headlined by Cecil Taylor (prepends three Taylor cuts, one with Rudd). With Giuseppi Logan (flute/bass clarinet), Robin Kenyatta (alto sax), Lewis Worrell/Charlie Haden (bass), and Beaver Harris (drums). B+(***)

Sex Mob: Dime Grind Palace (2003, Ropeadope): Group formed in 1998 -- Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Briggan Krauss (sax), Tony Scherr (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums -- with nine albums through 2016, this their fifth, joined here and there by various guests, notably Peter Apfelbaum, John Kruth, Scott Robinson, Marcus Rojas, and Roswell Rudd (the latter brings the grind to 10 of 16 cuts). B+(***)

Taylor Swift: 1989 (2014, Big Machine): Not on Rhapsody when this came out so I just noticed it after playing the new one. Looking at reviews, I'm struck by complaints about her sounding robotic in her country-to-pop transformation, but she's a lot more limber and sensitive vocally here than she'd become a mere three years later. B+(***)

Waclaw Zimpel: Lines (2015 [2016], Instant Classic): Polish clarinet player (including alto and bass), also plays organ, Fender Rhodes, and kheen here, overdubbing like John Surman but less obvious -- favoring the keyboards for post-minimalist rhythm, using the organ for a churchy air, shading with the clarinets. B+(**)

Revised Grades

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:


Angles 9: Disappeared Behind the Sun (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): A powerhouse nonet, with three brass (notably Magnus Broo), two saxes (including leader Martin Küchen on alto/tenor), piano-bass-drums plus Mattias Stĺhl on vibes. Four pieces start with hard rhythmic figures and branch out chaotically, although the foundation keeps them in some kind of order. The fifth starts slow and tries to sneak up on you. [Was: B+(**)] A- [cd]

Notes

Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo