Streamnotes: July 31, 2018

Second largest monthly haul this year. As with February, the trick is chasing down a lot of old jazz records on Napster (100 then, 60 this month, for totals of 165 and 163).


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 June 30. Past reviews and more information are available here (11469 records).


Recent Releases

Against All Logic: 2012-2017 (2018, Other People): Nicolas Jaar, electronica producer from Chile based in New York, used this alias (sometimes abbreviated A.A.L.) for a couple of EPs 2013-14, but this period compilation seems to be new (previously unreleased) work. Nothing ambient here: hard dance beats with heavy samples and shrill vocals, sometimes over the top -- meant to be fun, mostly is. B+(***)

Amen Dunes: Freedom (2018, Sacred Bones): Damon McMahon, released his first record as Inouk in 2004, one under his own name in 2006, and since 2009 five as Amen Dunes. Singer-songwriter fare, slight whine in his voice but not in the music. B+(*)

Tucker Antell: Grime Scene (2017 [2018], OA2): Tenor saxophonist, leads a quartet with guitar and organ nodding toward soul jazz, plus Jason Palmer on trumpet for 5/8 cuts. B+(**) [cd]

Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (2018, Domino): In which Alex Turner tries his hand as a cocktail bar crooner, segueing into a tryout for a horror show. C+

John Bailey: In Real Time (2017 [2018], Summit): Trumpet player, debut at age 52 but he has side credits going back to 1988. Quintet with Stacy Dillard on tenor/soprano sax, John Hart on guitar, Cameron Brown on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. Sharp, upbeat, makes a splash, two Brazilian covers (Nascimento and Gil). B+(**) [cd]

Barker Trio: Avert Your I (2017 [2018], Astral Spirits): Drummer Andrew Barker, led a sax-piano trio I liked back in 2003 but only rarely heard from since. Another sax trio here, with Michael Foster (tenor, soprano, electronics) and Tim Dahl (electric bass). Intense, screechy. B+(*) [bc]

Beach House: 7 (2018, Sub Pop): Dream pop band from Baltimore, principally Victoria Legrand (vocals/keyboards) and Alex Scally (guitar/keyboards). Seventh album, settling into a middle-aged groove that suits them, without going bland. B+(**)

Beats Antique: Shadowbox (2016, Antique): Oakland group, world fusion although Middle Eastern dub hits the high points, founded over a decade ago by belly dancer Zoe Jakes, David Satori, and Tommy Cappel. Interesting concept, somewhat scattered results. B+(***)

Big Freedia: 3rd Ward Bounce (2018, Asylum Worldwide, EP): Frederick Ross, of New Orleans, "the undisputed Queen Diva of Bounce Music." Loud, lots of bounce. Four cuts, 14:33. B

Big Heart Machine: Big Heart Machine (2017 [2018], self-released): Eighteen-piece big band (standard horns; vibraphone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums in the rhythm section), conducted by Miho Hazama, compositions by Brian Krock (alto sax), produced by Darcy James Argue. Nothing strikes me as special, not that they didn't put a lot of effort into it, and they did at least achieve big band volume. B [cd]

Binker and Moses: Alive in the East? (2017 [2018], Gearbox): British duo, Binker Golding (tenor sax) and Moses Boyd (drums), although there are also guests here and there, including Evan Parker (tenor/soprano sax, pretty hard to miss). Sounds like guitar on one track, but the closest credit seems to be harp (Tori Handsley. Rather scattered, would take some time to sort out, but much is terrific, not least the drums. A- [bc]

Andy Biskin: 16 Tons: Songs From the Alan Lomax Collection (2018, Andorfin): Clarinet player, has mostly worked with traditional and early American melodies, like his exploration of Stephen Foster. By "the Alan Lomax Collection" he means ancient folk songs that Lomax recorded in his tours of the 1930s South and Appalachia, starting and ending with "Sweet Betsy From Pike." His group evokes another Americana tradition: brass bands, although here he's joined by three trumpets, and nothing else but drums, which gives it an odd, postmodern air -- I'm tempted to say Ivesian, but I'm not confident I'm expert enough to make that stick. B+(**) [cd]

Leon Bridges: Good Thing (2018, Columbia): Retro soul singer, still in his 20s, second album, got his sound down pat. B+(*)

Justin Brown: Nyeusi (2015-17 [2018], Biophilia): Drummer, from Oakland, also plays keyboards here, probably his first album although he's played with various jazz groups (also Thundercat and Flying Lotus). With Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan on keyboards, Mark Shim on "wind controller," and Burniss Travis on bass. [Packaging did not include CD -- evidently some kind of "environmentally friendly" inconvenience.] B

Jarod Bufe: New Spaces (2017 [2018], OA2): Tenor saxophonist, based in Chicago, first album, a quartet with Tim Stine on guitar, Matt Ulery on bass, Jon Deitemeyer on drums. Starts quite impressive, doesn't quite sustain but remains very listenable. B+(***) [cd]

Burna Boy: Outside (2018, Atlantic): Damini Ogulu, from Nigeria, combines hip-hop, dancehall, and Afropop, in a rather mixed bag. Includes a feat. Lily Allen, but not as good as his on her album. B+(*)

Camila Cabello: Camila (2018, Syco/Epic): From Cuba, moved to Miami at age 5, appeared on The X Factor and failing there was pooled into Fifth Harmony. First solo album. Fairly generic pop, gaining strength on the ballads, ease when she lets up a bit. B+(**)

The Carters: Everything Is Love (2018, Parkwood/Roc Nation): Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, and his wife, the even more famous Beyoncé, in concept at least resolving the marital issues that fueled their respective last albums. Beats more in his domain than in hers, but maybe I'm just much more familiar with his work -- I never really got into her recent records, and didn't like the early ones at all. Of course, being filthy rich they can hire whatever extra talent they need (note Pharrell Williams on the single). Still can't complain about that. B+(***)

Neko Case: Hell-On (2018, Anti-): Singer-songwriter, born in Virginia, moved to Vancouver in 1994, joined the alt/indie group New Pornographers there and has stuck with them while running a solo career that started alt-country but hasn't sounded like that for well over a decade (even in her folkie harmony group with K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs). But her versatility makes her anonymous, a chameleon with no distinct identity. Clearest example here is a duet Eric Bachmann wrote and dominates. B+(*)

Brent Cobb: Providence Canyon (2018, Low Country Sound/Elektra): Country singer-songwriter from Georgia, third album. B+(**)

The Coup: Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack (2018, UMGRI Interscope): Boots Riley, Oakland rapper, called his first group the Mau Mau Rhythm Collective, changing the name to the Coup in 1992. We last heard from the in 2012 on Sorry to Bother You, a title Riley recycled for his film debut this year. I don't know much about the movie ("a bananas satirical comedy about code-switching and exploitative capitalism"), but his soundtrack offers nine in-your-face pop songs, with Tune-Yards adding jangly noise to the infectious "Hey Saturday Night," Janelle Monáe adding cyborg cool to two more songs, and guest raps from Killer Mike and E-40. Short (35:46), tight, explosive. A-

Tomasz Dabrowski Ad Hoc: Ninjazz (2018, ForTune): Polish trumpet player, backed by a Japanese piano trio visiting Warsaw: Hiroshi Minami (piano), Hiroki Chiba (bass), and Horishi Tsubo (drums). Opens up with solo trumpet, then the trio jumps in very aggressive. Tails off midway, running out of steam. B+(*) [bc]

The End: The End (2018, RareNoise): Norwegian group, two major saxophonists (Mats Gustafsson and Kjetil Møster), Anders Hana on baritone guitar, Greg Saunier (drums/voice), and Sofia Jernberg (voice). The noise level, even without the vocals, exceeds what I find tolerable. And the vocals are way over the top. D+ [cdr]

Florence + the Machine: High as Hope (2018, Virgin EMI): Singer Florence Welch and keyboardist Isabella Summers, group name a contraction of Florence Robot and Isabella Machine, with a couple others since 2007, and more here. B+(*)

Future and Young Thug: Super Slimey (2017, Epic/300 Entertainment/Freebandz): Atlanta rappers, mixtape came out last October to scant notice. Reviews I've seen complain about lack of chemistry. Indeed, it comes off as fairly anodyne, not so slimy after all. B+(*)

Future: Beast Mode 2 (2018, Epic/Freebandz): Classified as a retail mixtape, name checks a 2015 mixtape. Low key but catchy "sing-rap blues." A-

Ben LaMar Gay: Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun (2010-18 [2018], International Anthem): Producer, I guess, "has been creating music professionally for over 20 years now," as Gay, Ben Lamar, or other permutations of his full name, working in the interstices of "jazz, blues, hip-hop and electronic." This is compiled from eight years of unreleased work, with a couple dozen musicians floating in and out. He's credited with cornet, synth, voice, flute, and "other instruments." More pastiche than jazz, often interesting, but would take quite some effort to sort out. B+(**)

Freddie Gibbs: Freddie (2018, ESGN/Empire, EP): Rapper Frederick Tipton, from Gary, IN, styled the artwork after Teddy Pendergrass, but not so similar beyond that. Ten tracks, 25:02. B+(**)

Gorillaz: The Now Now (2018, Parlophone): Originally a cartoon sketch by Jamie Hewlett, their first album (way back in 2001) brought Britpop-going-world maestro Damon Albarn together with estimable hip-hoppers known as Dan the Automator, Del the Funkee Homosapien, and Kid Koala. But six albums in, only Albarn remains, which with all the synth washes isn't much different than you'd expect had Blue stuck together. Evidently the cartoon still has more brand appeal. B-

Maria Grand: Magdalena (2018, Biophilia): Tenor saxophonist, from Switzerland, based in Brooklyn, also sings some though credits are unclear, crediting Jasmine Wilson and Amani Fela with spoken word; also guitar (Mary Halvorson), piano (David Bryant and Fabian Almazan), bass, and drums. [received packaging without CD] B+(**)

Grouper: Grid of Points (2018, Kranky, EP): Liz Harris, I've been filing her under electronica from first notice, but that's not a good fit, especially here. Nor is "ambient" or "dream pop" (Wikipedia's suggestions), although "ambient dream pop" might work. The central instrument here is piano, with voice (don't know if her own) arranged like an aura. Seven cuts, 21:52. B

Grupo Mono Blanco: ¡Fandango! Sones Jaroches de Veracruz (2018, Smithsonian Folkways): I don't see any recording dates, even in the substantial booklet PDF. The group (translates as White Monkey) was formed in 1977, its leader, Gilberto Gutiérrez, born in 1958, looking in photographs younger (but not a lot) than his present age. I've seen some evidence of a 2004 album called ¡Fandango! credited to Mono Blanco y Stone Lips, but there's no mention of Stone Lips here. The music is a regional folk style ("jarocho" from Veracruz, which seems to have more African influence) that goes back at least to the mid-1800s. Voice(s), guitar-like instruments, percussion, nothing rushed. B+(***)

Rich Halley 3: The Literature (2017 [2018], Pine Eagle): The letter suggested "something different," but I didn't look at the fine print before putting on what appeared to be his usual tenor sax trio. I didn't notice the difference until I heard "Mood Indigo" wafting through, although I should have picked up earlier that they were doing standards: Monk, Davis, Coleman, and Jimmie Rodgers came earlier, with more Monk and Coltrane, Mingus and Sun Ra, a boisterous "Motherless Children" to follow. Terrific. A- [cd]

Haley Heynderickx: I Need to Start a Garden (2018, Mama Bird): Folkie singer-songwriter from Oregon, first album after a couple of EPs, acoustic guitar style harkens back to John Fahey, eventually finds a band -- the title song is choice, partly because its actual title is "Oom Sha La La." B+(**)

Nipsey Hussle: Victory Lap (2018, All Money In/Atlantic): LA rapper, Ermias Asghedom, started out with a series of Bullets Ain't Got No Name mixtapes. First studio album, with guest spots for Pugg Daddy, Kendrick Lamar, The-Dream, Cee-Lo Green, a bunch more. Hard and dense, almost impenetrable. B+(*)

Susie Ibarra: Perception (2017, Decibel Music): Percussionist, credits musicians as DreamTime Ensemble, has a chamber jazz feel even with the drums: piano/guitar, violin, cello, electronics, voice (Claudia Acuña). B

The Internet: Hive Mind (2018, Columbia): Neo-soul group from Los Angeles's Odd Future orbit, fourth album, lead singer Sydney Bennett (aka Syd the Kyd, or just Syd on her solo debut), with a guitarist named Steve Lacy co-writing most of the songs and singing some. Pretty laid back, low-key, something you might get comfortable with, not turned on. I'm tempted to call it ambient groove. B+(**)

Juice WRLD: Goodbye & Good Riddance (2018, self-released): Jared Higgins, 19-year-old rapper from the Chicago suburbs, based in Los Angeles. They grow up so fast these days. B+(*)

Kids See Ghosts: Kids See Ghosts (2018, GOOD/Def Jam, EP): The third entry in Kanye West's parade of seven-cut productions, with West forming a duo with Kid Cudi. Title track has some appeal, as does the Louis Prima sample. Seven cuts, 23:50. B+(*)

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80: Black Times (2018, Strut): Youngest son of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, wound up running his legendary father's band -- fitting because he's a dead ringer, playing alto sax, singing, writing and leading irresistibly bouncy political rants. If they run shorter than his father's side-long essays, that's because he has even more to complain about, and hope for. A-

Kyle: Light of Mine (2018, Atlantic): Rapper Kyle Thomas Harvey, from Ventura, CA, first studio album after a couple of mixtapes. Has a charming light touch both rapping and singing. A-

Jeremy Ledbetter Trio: Got a Light? (2018, Alma): Pianist, from Toronto, with Rich Brown on bass and Larnell Lewis on drums, with a couple of guest vocal spots. Trained in classics, is "musical director and producer for calypso superstar David Rudder," plays in a Latin jazz band called CaneFire. Album ranges widely, chops impressive, still nothing seems to stick. B [cd]

Jennifer Lee: My Shining Hour (2018, SBE): Bay Area singer-songwriter, last name Sevison, wrote 11/13 songs, covering Harold Arlen and Abel Zarate. Three previous records. Long credits list, most for only a track or two, adding to the eclecticism. B [cd]

Peggy Lee: Echo Painting (2017 [2018], Songlines): Cellist, from Vancouver, should be well known by now but Google still brings up the singer, even when you add "cello" to the search string. Ten-piece band here, four horns and five strings (including guitar and pedal steel). Mostly orchestral, taken at an even stroll, but on a couple of tracks guitarist Cole Schmidt goes berserk, bringing lots of noise. As a bonus track, Robin Holcomb does a nice job of singing "The Unfaithful Servant." B [bc]

Charles Lloyd & the Marvels + Lucinda Williams: Vanished Gardens (2017 [2018], Blue Note): The tenor saxophonist's group includes Bill Frisell (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal steel and dobro), Reuben Rogers (bass), and Eric Harland (drums), although it drops down to just Lloyd and Frisell on the last two tracks. So it lists a bit toward Americana, taking on a roughened and battered air with the guest vocalist (on 5 of 10 songs, 4 her own, one from Jimi Hendrix) -- not enough to take command, leaving you with a rather pretty curio. B+(***)

Nicolas Masson/Colin Vallon/Patrice Moret/Lionel Friedli: Travelers (2017 [2018], ECM): Swiss saxophone/clarinet player, backed by pianor-bass-drums. A bit atmospheric, the way the label likes them. B+(**)

Pete McCann: Pay for It on the Other Side (2017 [2018], McCannis Music): Guitarist, from Wisconsin, based in New York, discography goes back to 1998, often impressive but goes a bit over the top here, with Henry Hey's organ the main amplifier, Matt Clohesy on electric as well as acoustic bass, John O'Gallagher on alto sax, and Mark Ferber on drums. B+(*) [cd]

Lori McKenna: The Tree (2018, CN/Thirty Tigers): Singer-songwriter, folk division, with possibly the clearest, most immediately appealing batch of songs in a twenty-year career. Does tail off a bit toward the end. A-

Joachim Mencel Quintet: Artisena (2015 [2018], ForTune): Polish pianist, also plays hurdy-gurdy, "inspired by traditional Polish dances" (not to mention Chopin). With violin, guitar, double bass, and drums. Nice chamber jazz feel. B+(*) [bc]

Shawn Mendes: Shawn Mendes (2018, Island): Teen pop star from Canada, still just 19 on his third album, all three number ones both in Canada and the US. Co-wrote all of the songs, co-produced most, some quite striking ("Nervous," "Like to Be You") but even the bare ballad "Perfectly Wrong" is captivating (with a swell the hook). Has a soul voice, verging on falsetto but not committed to it. B+(***)

Migos: Culture II (2018, Quality Control): Three Atlanta rappers, had a commercial breakthrough with last year's Culture so decided to do it again, then thought it might be clever if Culture II was not just a sequel but twice as long. Wears on your patience, especially as they only have one distinctive beat framework to squeeze everything into. B+(**)

Nas: Nasir (2018, Mass Appeal/Def Jam, EP): Part of producer Kanye West's 7-song EP series, with West co-writing all of the songs (along with Mike Dean and rapper Nasir Jones). B+(**)

Adam O'Farrill's Stranger Days: El Maquech (2018, Biophilia): Trumpet player, brother Zach (drums, both here and with Adam in the O'Farrill Brothers), son of Arturo, grandson of Chico. Quartet with Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (tenor sax) and Walter Stinson (bass). [Packaging did not include CD.] B+(*)

Old Crow Medicine Show: Volunteer (2018, Columbia Nashville): Country string band, formed 1998 in Harrisonburg, VA; topped the bluegrass charts with 2004's O.C.M.S. and have been a folk-bluegrass institution ever since. Motto: "I ain't gonna change my sound/when I get to Nashville town." Ain't gonna start thinkin' either. B+(*)

Oneohtrix Point Never: Age Of (2018, Warp): Daniel Lopatin, from Massachusetts, parents from Russia, makes electronica, though not much beat here, some vocals (by Lopatin and/or guests), the sonic squiggles interesting but he seems to be all over the place. B+(*)

Houston Person & Ron Carter: Remember Love (2018, HighNote): Tenor sax and bass duets, both major players since the early 1960s, with a couple of previous albums together -- their Chemistry was my favorite jazz album of 2016. Ballads here, even slower than usual, possibly suggesting that they're losing a step, or maybe just playing for their own pleasure (others might prefer fewer/shorter bass solos). B+(***)

Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles (2017 [2018], MAMA): Alto saxophonist, from Virginia, not a lot under his own name but shows up in a lot of New York area big bands. Figured as we're approaching the 50th anniversary of Bitches Brew, Miles Davis's pioneering fusion music should get the treatment. Shows that may not have been such a good idea -- that not everything sounds better with more brass.. B [cd]

Pocket Aces: Cull the Heard (2016 [2018], Creative Nation Music): Trio, names listed alphabetically -- Aaron Darrell (bass), Eric Hofbauer (guitar), Curt Newton (drums) -- all pieces jointly credited, but Hofbauer is by far the best established, and effectively the lead. Nothing splashy, just tight, prickly probing at what may possibly be a melody. B+(**) [cd]

Post Malone: Beerbongs & Bentleys (2018, Republic): Austin Richard Post, from Syracuse, second album (first: Stoney), described as "a rich kid whose parents essentially paid his way into music," which leads to a lot of other dumb shit -- odds appear to be 50-50 that he'll turn into Kid Rock. Still, he makes a strong first impression, singing more than rapping but with a rapper's focus on the words, and not just slinging them out. B+(**)

Allen Ravenstine: Waiting for the Bomb (2018, Morphius/ReR Megacorp): Keyboard player, best (almost totally) known from Pere Ubu, concocts a bunch of sonic tableaux that can be ominous, or just spooky. B+(*)

John Raymond & Real Feels: Joy Ride (2018, Sunnyside): Flugelhorn player, originally from Minneapolis, based in New York, has a couple previos records including 2016's John Raymond & Real Feels. Trio with Gilad Hekselman (guitar) and Colin Stranahan (drums). Postbop, moderate pace, nice resonance between the horn and guitar. B+(**)

Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Joshua Abrams: Ithra (2017 [2018], Aerophonic): Chicago trio, Rempis plays alto and tenor sax, matched against cello and bass, which tend to slow him down without providing an effective counterpoint. Still remarkable in its own way. B+(**) [cd]

Dave Rempis/Jasper Stadhouders/Frank Rosaly: Icoci (2017 [2018], Aerophponic): Stadhouders plays guitar and electric bass, giving this a little more boost than the sax/strings trio. Drummer helps, too. B+(***) [cd]

Rhio: A Rhio Good Thing (2018, Beso): Standards singer, also does four songs by "long-time partner" and producer Leigh Crizoe. Standards start with "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl," pass through Phil Ochs and Jobim, and end with "Hoy Quiero Aprender." Probably just my mood, but I found "God Bless the Child" especially touching -- not an emotion her voice suggests. B+(*) [cd]

Roller Trio: New Devices (2018, Edition): British jazz-rock trio from Leeds: James Mainwaring (sex), Chris Sharkey (guitar/bass, replacing Luke Wynter), Luke Reddin-Williams (drums). B+(*)

Royce Da 5'9: The Book of Ryan (2018, EOne): Detroit rapper, Ryan Montgomery, formed a duo with Eminem in 1998 called Bad Meets Evil, briefly joined D12, then went solo in 2002 (regrouping as Bad Meets Evil for a 2012 EP). Recorded two more duo albums as PRhyme, returning here for his seventh solo. Some good politics. "Caterpillar Remix" (with Eminem and Logic) is a blast. B+(*)

Dori Rubbicco: Stage Door Live! (2017 [2018], Whaling City Sound): Standards singer, cover says "backed by the John Harrison Quintet," meaning pianist John Harrison III, and not quite all of the six musicians listed. Standards lean towards '70s rock, which works much better on something like "Twisted" (which they can swing) than "Imagine" (which they can't). B+(**) [cd]

Saba: Care for Me (2018, Saba Pivot): Chicago rapper Tahj Malik Chandler, second album after some mixtapes, worked with Chance the Rapper (who appears here). Might be onto something, but listening conditions make it hard to sort out. B+(***) [sp]

The Jamie Saft Quartet: Blue Dream (2017 [2018], RareNoise): Pianist, got an early start on organ and keyboards so his emergence as a conventional pianist has been a revelation. Quartet is fairly mainstream with Bill McHenry (tenor sax), Bradley Christopher Jones (bass), and Nasheet Waits (drums), leaning to ballads, but not that simple. Three covers, including a whiff of "Sweet Lorraine." A- [cdr]

Rafal Sarnecki: Climbing Trees (2017 [2018], Outside In Music): Polish guitarist, based in New York, has at least one previous album. Music, with Lucas Pino on tenor sax/bass clarinet and Glenn Zaleski on piano, has a whimsical quality, but I don't care for the scat vocals (Bogna Kicinska). B

Ty Segall: Freedom's Goblin (2018, Drag City): Garage rocker from Laguna Beach, CA, tenth album since 2007. Revealed a T-Rex fetish on an EP mid-way, and I'm hearing echoes all over this record. Not as catchy, nor as cutesy, which matters less on the rare track when Segall cranks up the noise. Overkill at 19 tracks, 74:48. B

Ty Segall & White Fence: Joy (2018, Drag City): The latter's Blogspot is titled "White Fence/Art Collective." Discogs lists ten albums since 2010, including two with Segall. I don't know what they sound like on their own, but their first album was on Make a Mess Records, before they moved on to Woodsist, Castle Face, and Drag City. Here they stoke Segall's T-Rex fetish, making it less pop and more cleverly underground, generally a plus. B+(*)

Shame: Songs of Praise (2018, Dead Oceans): British post-punk band, debut album. Have some rage issues and not a lot of range, but can construct a satisfying song; e.g., "Friction." B

Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: The World of Dew (2018, Human Resource): Trumpet and guitar duo, Shragge playing something he calls the Dragon Mouth Trumpet, as well as flugelhorn and shakuhachi. Melodies are inspired by various zen poets, also Charles Bukowski. B+(*) [cd]

Sibarg Ensemble: Cipher (2016 [2018], self-released): Based in California, led by Iranian vocalist Hesam Abedini, with a mix of Iranians and American jazz musicians (bassist Kyle Motl is the one I recognize), lyrics from classic poems including Rumi and Omar Khayyam. B+(**) [cd]

Marc Sinan/Oguz Büyükberber: White (2016 [2018], ECM): German guitarist, mother "Turkish-Armenian," has several previos albums, two previous credits on ECM, in a duo with the Turkish clarinetist (also electronics), with several pieces including 1916 field recordings made in German detention camps of Armenian prisoners of war. B

Skee Mask: Compro (2018, Ilian Tape): Munich DJ Bryan Müller, second album, attractive breakbeats with the occasional splash of ambient. Nothing spectacular, but quite attractive. B+(***)

Sloan: 12 (2018, Yep Roc): Alt-rock band originally from Halifax c. 1992, since relocated to Toronto, add pop hooks to their guitar jangle, impressing some friends back in the 1990s but always sounding rather generic to me. Still going, title probably signifies their 12th studio album, only the second I've checked since 1993. Perked my ears a bit mid-way, but lost my interest toward the end. B

Snail Mail: Lush (2018, Matador): Singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan, first album, young (19), takes her guitar seriously. Band adds bass and drums, and producer Jake Aron through in some unobtrusive bells and whistles. B+(*)

SOB X RBE: Gangin (2018, Empire): Acronym for Strictly Only Brothers x Real Boi Entertainment. From Vallejo, CA, four members: DaBoii, Yhung T.O., Slimmy B, and Lul G. Group had a turn on Black Panther. Wouldn't call this gangsta, but it's pretty ghetto. Would like it better if it weren't so, uh, parochial. B

Sophie: Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides (2018, MSMSMSM/Future Classic): Singer-songwriter, electronica producer, DJ. First proper album, after a 2015 compilation of singles and odd bits that attracted a following but mostly just confused me. (Among other things, I took Sophie to be an alias for Samuel Long. Now I see that her name is Sophie Xeon, from Scotland, although that still looks a little suspicious.) Broken beats, smashed up shrouds of sonic fuzz. Best song contrasts "Whole New World" with "Pretend World," and I'm as confused as ever. B+(***)

Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore: After Caroline (2017 [2018], Northern Spy): Bass clarinetist, based in Chicago, has a couple albums under this group name, a trio with Jason Roebke (bass) and Mike Pride (drums). Stein struck me as awkward and tentative when he first appeared, but he's turning into a powerhouse. A- [bc]

Sunflower Bean: Twentytwo in Blue (2018, Mom + Pop): Alt/indie trio from Long Island, two lead singers -- Julia Cumming (bass) and Nick Kivlen (guitar) -- and a drummer. "Musical Influences" section on their Wikipedia page is an amusing mish-mash, but Tame Impala is the one they named a song for. B+(*)

The Thing: Again (2017 [2018], Trost): I usually take promo copies that look like this as actual releases -- many releases these days are done up with minimal packaging -- but I see from Discogs that my copy is a promo: back cover is different, and I didn't get the Brian Morton liner notes. Three tracks, timed for vinyl (39:06). Group cut their eponymous debut in 2000 (one of their best), the little known (back then) rhythm section now stars in their own right (Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love), with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson bringing the noise. There are limits to how much thrash and squeal I can stand in free jazz, and he can easily cross that line, but he generally doesn't here -- even with Joe McPhee helping on the middle track. Still not easy listening, but easier here to appreciate their talent. A- [cdr]

Toronto Jazz Orchestra: 20 (2017 [2018], self-released): Big band, founded in 1998 to play repertory, including works by Stan Kenton, Gil Evans, Thad Jones, and Bob Brookmeyer. Josh Grossman directs, and for their 20th anniversary wrote most of the material -- plus a cover of Brad Mehldau's arrangement of "Dear Prudence." B+(*) [cd]

Turnstile: Time & Space (2018, Roadrunner): Hard rock group from Baltimore, tight enough some regard them as punk, with only three songs approaching 3 minutes (total 13: 25:15) but the howl is closer to metal, and I'd guess they know their math, but don't want to show off.. B+(*)

Underworld & Iggy Pop: Teatime Dub Encounters (2018, Caroline, EP): English EDM duo, started in Cardiff in 1980, sound eternally vital, at least on the opener. Pop toasts along, a role he was born to play, again best on the opener. Three songs top 7 minutes, total for all four 27:28. B+(**)

Verve Jazz Ensemble: Connect the Dots (2018, Lightgroove Media): New York group, postbop I guess (although not by much), handful of albums, organized here in various configurations from trio to septet, with drummer Josh Feldstein the leader, Steve Einerson on piano, Elias Bailey on bass, and Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet) and Jon Blanck (tenor sax) the principal horns. Sounds like most people expect jazz to sound like. B [cd]

Kobie Watkins Grouptet: Movement (2017 [2018], Origin): Drummer, from Chicago, father played drums in church, has a previous album, side credits mostly with Bobby Broom. Basic hard bop quintet, with tenor/soprano sax (Jonathan Armstrong), trumpet (Ryan Nielsen), piano/Fender Rhodes, and bass. Watkins originals, plus one by Nielsen, and closes with a swinging cover of "Manteca." B+(**) [cd]

The Weeknd: My Dear Melancholy (2018, XO/Republic, EP): R&B singer from Toronto, Abel Tesfaye, one of the first artists to build his career on free mixtapes, since going on to release three studio albums and this mini (6 tracks, 21:50). Has his sound down so tight it's gotten to be difficult to discern any difference in his songs (or albums). B+(*)

Tierra Whack: Whack World (2018, UMGRI/Interscope, EP): Rapper from Philadelphia, formerly known as Dizzle Dizz, debut consists of 15 songs, each exactly 1:00 long, most cryptic, some funny. Easiest to find with a video, which fills each minute with wonder and awe. B+(***)

Dr. Michael White: Tricentennial Rag (2018, Basin Street): New Orleans trad clarinet player, fifteen or so albums since 1983, this one marking the 300th anniversary of his home town's founding. Classic songs, some vocals (trumpet player Leon "Kid Chocolate" Brown), lots of brass (from cornet to sousaphone) and banjo, Steve Pistorius on piano. B+(**)

Buster Williams: Audacity (2017 [2018], Smoke Sessions): Bassist, from Camden [NJ], father was a jazz musician, got his start as a teenager playing with Jimmy Heath, then Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt. Cut his first album in 1975, with fifteen more since, plus hundreds of side credits. Sax-piano quartet, six original pieces plus one each from his band: Steve Wilson (sax), George Colligan (piano), and Lenny White (drums). B+(*)

Kamaal Williams: The Return (2018, Black Focus): Keys, based in Loncon, first solo album after his Yussef Kamaal duo with Yussef Dayes and a pile of singles/EPs as Henry Wu. Jazz-funk trio, with Pete Martin on bass and Joshua McKenzie (MckNasty) on drums. B+(**)

Florian Wittenburg: Four Waves (2018, NurNichtNur): German composer, works with electronics but also credited here with organ and vibraphone, employs a bit of help this time. Oriented a bit more toward jazz than avant-classical or ambient, but with a good deal of overlap. B+(***) [cd]

Wye Oak: The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs (2018, Merge): Alt/indie duo from Maryland, named after the state tree, with a half-dozen albums since 2007: Jenn Wasner (vocals) and Andy Stack (drums), both also credited with guitar, bass, and keyboards, plus they've added a regular bassist for the road. Nice pop vibe. B+(*)

Years & Years: Palo Santo (2018, Polydor): British synthpop band, second album. Beats danceable, vocal harmonies soft. As for content: "The album and its imagery will continue the concept of a genderless dystopian society populated by androids known as Palo Santo." So maybe their soullessness is just artifact? B

YoshimiO/Susie Ibarra/Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe: Flower of Sulphur (2018, Thrill Jockey): First two are drummers, the former also known as Yakota Yoshimi. Lowe, whose aliases range from Rob Lowe to Lichens, adds electronics and voice, shadings that can color or distract from the drums. B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Don Cherry: Home Boy (Sister Out) (1985 [2018], Wewantsounds): Trumpet player, made his mark in Ornette Coleman's legendary quartet, later in their three-quarter reunion Old and New Dreams. In between, he enjoyed a remarkable career, mostly in Europe, mixing avant-jazz and world music, expanding everyone's mind. This was cut in Paris in 1985, a mixed bag of funk beats, reggae, African percussion, spoken word, a soul ballad (sung by Cherry), sea shells, some proto-industrial disco. Can't say it all works, but gives you a taste of the breadth of an extraordinary love for the world. B+(***) [bc]

Erroll Garner: Nightconcert (1964 [2018], Mack Avenue): Piano trio with Eddie Calhoun (bass) and Kelly Martin (drums), a previosly unreleased midnight set at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Sparkling standards served with the pianist's usual flourishes. Fine sound. Piano jazz fans will be thrilled. A-

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Tokyo 1975 (1973-77 [2018], Elemental Music): From the tenor saxophonist's exile years in Denmark, four previously unreleased tracks from his first-ever tour of Japan, with Kenny Drew (piano), Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), and Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums); sly vocal on "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly" presumably Gordon. CD adds one earlier and one later track with slightly different personnel, both superb. B+(***)

Millie Jackson: Exposed: The Multi-Track Sessions Mixed by Steve Levine (1972-79 [2018], Ace): Levine's a British producer, active since 1975, his most famous act Culture Club. Jackson's an r&b singer with some good albums and minor hits in the 1970s, best known risqué (cf. Live and Uncensored). Her heyday coincided with disco, so her music was danceable, but never as slick as strings Levine's remixes enmesh her in. Still, sometimes she breaks free. B

Woody Shaw: Tokyo '81 (1981-85 [2018], Elemental Music): Six tracks from the trumpeter's Tokyo gig, with Steve Turre (trombone), Mulgrew Miller (piano), Stafford James (bass), and Tony Reedus (drums), capped by a 14:48 "Sweet Love of Mine" credited to Paris Reunion Band (an octet with Shaw and Dizzy Reece on trumpet, Slide Hampton on trombone, Johnny Griffin and Nathan Davis on sax), recorded in Den Haag in 1985. B+(**)

Old Music

Ahmed Abdullah Quartet: Liquid Song (1987, Silkheart): Trumpet player, born Leroy Bland, played in New York's loft scene in the 1970s, joined Sun Ra in 1976. Not a lot under his own name, but I've filed two A-listed group albums there (Melodic Art-Tet and the Group's Live), as well as his own Tara's Song. With Charles Brackeen (tenor sax), Malachi Favors (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). Follows and adds something to the his mentor's avant-swing vision. A-

Ahmed Abdullah: Ahmed Abdullah and the Solomonic Quintet Featuring Charles Moffett (1987 [1988], Silkheart): Not sure why drummer gets the featuring credit, other than that he wrote two of eight pieces (Abdullah penned the rest). Quintet is rounded out with David S. Ware (tenor sax/stritch), Masuhjaa (guitar), and Fred Hopkins (bass). (Masujaa, aka Hugh Riley, also has side-credits with Ronald Shannon Jackson and Henry Threadgill from 1987-2004.) B+(***)

Bob Ackerman Trio: Old & New Magic (1993, Silkheart): Saxophonist, credit plural (also clarinet and flutes), not a lot under his own name but has recorded with Dennis Gonzalez and Pam Purvis and popped up recently (well, 2012) in the Essex Improviser's Collective. A serious student of the instrument -- even owns his own saxophone shop -- with several titles referring to Coltrane, Hodges, Carter, and Bartok. Backed by Wilber Morris on bass and Dennis Charles on drums. B+(***)

Gene Ammons & Dexter Gordon: The Chase! (1970 [1996], Prestige): Title track is Gordon's famous bebop romp with Wardell Gray, one of the most legendary sax duos in jazz history. Meanwhile, Ammons made a specialty out of sax jousts, mostly with Sonny Stitt, so this seems like a natural pairing. Not all fast stuff, which given that Ammons is an all-time great ballad artist (and Gordon isn't too shabby) is jake. Even the original 4-track LP was split between two run-of-the-mill rhythm sections. Bonus cuts, pushing the CD to 70:49, include a Vi Redd vocal on a Billy Eckkstine song. A-

Binker and Moses: Dem Ones (2014 [2015], Gearbox): British improv duo, Binker Golding (tenor sax) and Moses Boyd (drums), just the two of them with no overdubs. Good basic combination, nice intro without the added complication of guests. B+(***) [bc]

Binker and Moses: Journey to the Mountain of Forever (2016 [2017], Gearbox, 2CD): First disc recapitulates their first album, with more interesting tenor sax/drums duets. Second disc anticipates their third by adding a mixed bag of guests: Byron Wallen (trumpet), Tori Handsley (harp), Sarathy Korwar (tabla), Yussef Dayes (drums), and Evan Parker (tenor/soprano sax), but not yet to such dramatic effect. B+(**) [bc]

Thomas Borgmann/Wilber Morris/Denis Charles Trio: The Last Concert: Dankeschön (1998 [2000], Silkheart): Saxophone trio, with bass and drums. Trio recorded several albums in 1997-98 before Charles died, a couple weeks after this set. (Morris died in 2002.) While Borgmann is a very solid improviser, this especially serves as a reminder of the unsung skills of the ill-fated rhythm section. B+(***)

Charles Brackeen: Bannar (1987, Silkheart): Avant saxophonist, tenor but leads off with soprano here, from Oklahoma, fairly short discography with a 1968 debut, three more as a leader in 1987, a few side credits from 1973 (Don Cherry) through 1989 (Dennis González, who plays trumpet here). Quartet with Malachi Favors (bass) and Alvin Fielder (drums). One vocal, extolling love for Allah. B+(*)

Roy Campbell Pyramid: Communion (1994, Silkheart): Avant-trumpet player, from Los Angeles, a leader of Other Dimensions in Music and the Nu Band until his death in 2014, recorded three albums with his Pyramid Trio -- this is the first -- with William Parker on bass and various drummers (Reggie Nicholson here). B+(**)

Roy Campbell Pyramid Trio: Ethnic Stew and Brew (2000 [2001], Delmark): Third album, third drummer, with Hamid Drake (replacing Zen Matsuura of Ancestral Homeland). The world focus extends to "Impressions of Yokohama," where William Parker plays shakuhachi, but also ranges from the ancient "Imhotep" to the breaking news of "Amadou Diallo" (you know, shot 47 times by New York police, an event repeated many times since, but still unmatched for savagery). A-

Daniel Carter/William Parker/Roy S. Campbell Jr./Rashid Bakr: Other Dimensions in Music (1989 [1995], Silkheart): Pretty clearly intended as a group from the start, and should be credited as such for four later albums up to 2011 (Campbell died in 2014), but the names are spread out across the top of the cover: sax (alto and tenor, also flute and trumpet), bass, trumpet (flugelhorn, recorder), drums. Four long pieces (15:27-22:58), exploring without discovering much. B+(*)

Andrew Cyrille: What About? (1969 [1992], Affinity): Drummer, from Brooklyn, family Haitian, joined Cecil Taylor Unit in 1964, developing into one of the avant-garde's most remarkable drummers. First album, originally released in BYG's Actuel series in France. Five pieces, solo percussion, of marginal interest, nonetheless remarkable. B+(*)

Andrew Cyrille & Maono: Metamusicians' Stomp (1978, Black Saint): Quartet with two horns -- Ted Daniel on trumpet and David S. Ware on tenor sax -- plus Nick DiGeronimo on bass. Ware seems rather restrained here, but within those limits sounds uniquely like himself. B+(***)

Andrew Cyrille: Special People (1980 [1981], Soul Note): Same quartet, although the bassist's name is given as Nick De Geronimo here (DiGeronimo seems to be correct, although I can't find either name elsewhere). The bassist is actually pretty active here, although the horns (especially Ware) get the glory. B+(***)

Andrew Cyrille-Richard Teitelbaum Duo: Double Clutch (1981 [1997], Silkheart): Teitelbaum plays keyboards and electronics, not much under his own name, but he's played in drummer Cyrille's group, also with Anthony Braxton. With neither a proper leader, they takes a while to find themselves. B+(*)

Andrew Cyrille Quintet: Ode to the Living Tree (1994 [1995], Venus): Recorded in Senegal with an all-star group: David Murray (tenor sax/bass clarint), Oliver Lake (alto sax), Adegoke Steve Colson (electric piano), Fred Hopkins (bass). Two Cyrille pieces, one each by Murray and Colson, plus a 19:12 slice from "A Love Supreme." Loud, raucous even, still feels cluttered and slipshod. B-

Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble: South Side Street Songs (1993, Silkheart): Chicago saxophonist (alto, tenor, flute) improvises joyous avant-street music, mostly quintet steeped in Sun Ra and AACM, with trumpet (Ameen Muhammad), guitar (Jeff Parker), bass (Yosef Ben Israel), and drums (Avreeayl Ra) -- album cover drops one of the latter while adding trombonist Steve Berry (one cut). B+(***)

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Ancestral Song: Live From Stockholm (1987 [1988], Silkheart): Chicago drummer Kahil El'Zabar's long-running project, first heard on 1981's Three Gentlemen From Chikago (saxophonists Henry Huff and Edward Wilkerson were the other two), most recently in 2014 celebrating their 40th anniversary. Trombonist Joseph Bowie replaces Huff here -- like Wilkerson, also adding to the percussion. The live mix has the loose informality that has always been the group's signature. B+(***)

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Ka-Real (1997 [2000], Silkheart): Up to a quartet here, with Atu Harold Murray an extra percussionist (earth drums, talking drum, flute), and Ernest Dawkins taking over Wilkerson's sax slot. Of course, Dawkins and trombonist Joseph Bowie also contribute to the percussion. B+(**)

Joel Futterman Quartet: Vision in Time (1988 [1990], Silkheart): Pianist, originally from Chicago but moved to Virginia Beach in 1972, retaining his avant inclination, maintaing ties with AACM pioneers like Joseph Jarman (tenor sax/bass clarinet) here. CD drops down to piano trio for a couple of bonus cuts. The latter are interesting enough, but blot out my impressions of Jarman, who should be key here. B+(**)

Joel Futterman Trio: Berlin Images (1991, Silkheart): Unconventional piano trio, with Raphé Malik on trumpet and Robert Adkins on drums. The piano still dominates, taking pounding solos and breaks between jousts. B+(***)

The Joel Futterman/'Kidd' Jordan Quintet: Nickelsdorf Konfrontation (1995 [1996], Silkheart): Recorded live in Austria, with Futterman's trio (Jordan on tenor sax and Alvin Fielder on drums) augmented by Mats Gustafsson (tenor/baritone sax) and Barry Guy (bass). [Napster edition abridged.] B+(*)

The Joel Futterman/'Kidd' Jordan Trio With Alvin Fielder: Southern Extreme (1997 [1998], Drimala): Piano-sax-drums trio, Futterman originally from Chicago but long resident in Virginia; the others from Louisiana and Mississippi, but the drummer also has a Chicago connection (played with Sun Ra in the 1950s and was an early AACM member). Seems to be Jordan's debut, although he's the same age as Fielder and 11 years older than Futterman, who recorded his first back in 1979. Given that most centers of jazz in the US Southeast tend to mainstream or even retro, this is extreme indeed. B+(**)

Joel Futterman and Ike Levin: Live in Chicago (2007 [2017], Charles Lester Music): Futterman's model as a pianist is no doubt Cecil Taylor -- a connection made even more obvious when he recorded a series (1984-91) of albums with Jimmy Lyons. He got similar results with all the others -- Hal Russell, Kidd Jordan, Raphé Malik (trumpet), and again here with Levin, a tenor saxophonist from Chicago who replaced Jordan in 2004. Here they drop down to a duo for a live set, two pieces: "Rhizome" (51:26) and "Renewal" (9:03). Nice that they can slow it down for an occasional respite, and that it's lovely when they do. B+(***)

Charles Gayle Trio: Spirits Before (1988 [1989], Silkheart): Tenor saxophonist, originally from Buffalo, moved to New York City in the 1970s, spending many years there homeless, playing on the streets. Cut his first albums for this Swedish label -- three in one week, including this trio with Sirone on bass and Dave Pleasant on drums -- then finally got some attention in 1991 with Touchin' on Trane (FMP), a Penguin Guide crown album. Sounds pretty typical of his 1990s work, but no one could have known that at the time. Rather, one heard echoes of Ayler's holy ghost, with newfound urgency. B+(***)

Charles Gayle Trio: Homeless (1988 [1989], Silkheart): Same trio, recorded the same two days as Spirits Before, the CD fleshed out with two extra tracks beyond the LP's four -- originals except for "Life Every Voice" (although it's not much more recognizable). aB+(**)

Charles Gayle Quartet: Vol. 1: Translations (1993 [1994], Silkheart): With two bassists -- William Parker (also cello and half-size violin) and Vattel Cherry (also kalimba and bells) -- and drums (Michael Wimbley), with Gayle credited with bass clarinet and viola in addition to tenor sax. I'm not sure when Gayle developed his signature interest in scratchy strings, but it's the dominant motif here. While his sax struggles mightly against that backdrop, it rarely breaks out. B+(*)

Dennis Gonzalez New Dallas Sextet: Namesake (1987, Silkheart): Avant trumpet player from Dallas, second album after his superb debut Stefan, a little messier but packed with power -- a second trumpet (Ahmed Abdullah), two saxes (Charles Brackeen and Douglas Ewart, also on clarinet and flute), with Malachi Favors (bass) and Alvin Fielder (drums). B+(**)

Dennis Gonzalez New Dallasangeles: The Desert Wind (1989, Silkheart): Septet, presumably with some musicians from Los Angeles although the recorded this in Dallas. Trumpet, trombone, two saxes (Charles Brackeen and Michael Session), cello, bass, and drums (Alvin Fielder, who composed one piece). Seems torn between fancy and free, not all that satisfactory either way. B+(*)

Dexter Gordon/Wardell Gray: Citizens Bop (1946-52 [1994], Black Lion): Two tenor saxophonists, early boppers, played together often in the late 1950s -- most famously on "The Chase" and "The Steeplechase" (the name later taken by the Danish label that welcomed Gordon in 1964), but it looks like the duo are only together on the 1952 session here (7 tracks), with Gray alone on four tracks from 1946 and one from 1947. These sessions were first released in 1966 by Fontana as The Master Swingers!, and indeed they swing more than bop. B+(**)

Dexter Gordon: Dexter Blows Hot and Cool (1955 [2010], Essential Jazz Classics): Originally a 9-track album for Dootone -- along with Daddy Plays the Horn (also 1955), Gordon's only albums between 1953-1960 -- picked up five bonus tracks from two months earlier, with different piano and drums but same bassist (Leroy Vinnegar). B+(***)

Dexter Gordon: The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon (1960, Jazzland/OJC): After producing outstanding records for Savoy and Dial 1947-53, Gordon only released two 1955 albums until this Cannonball Adderley-produced comeback shot, launching his second prime period. (A third one can be mapped from his return to the US in 1976, although he recorded regularly while in Denmark, especially for the SteepleChase album named for him. Sextet, the rest of the band nothing special (best known are Dolo Coker on piano and Lawrence Marable on drums), but the saxophone is ummistakable. B+(**)

Dexter Gordon: Body and Soul (1967 [1988], Black Lion): Recorded live in Copenhagen with his usual quartet: Kenny Drew (piano), NHØP (bass), and Albert Heath (drums). Five covers, 9:31-13:25 stretches of four standards and Lou Donaldson's "Blues Walk." B+(**)

Dexter Gordon: The Tower of Power (1969 [1993], Prestige/OJC): Still in Copenhagen, but Back on an American label for the first of eight albums through 1973. Quartet with Barry Harris (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Tootie Heath (drums), plus James Moody for the opening double sax chase. B+(**)

Dexter Gordon: More Power! (1969 [1994], Prestige/OJC): Same quartet, same session, and keeping with the "more" theme five cuts (instead of four), two (instead of one) with James Moody joining in. Seems like he can crank out records at this level whenever he gets the chance. B+(**)

Dexter Gordon: The Jumpin' Blues (1970 [1994], Prestige/OJC): New quartet, recorded in New York: Wynton Kelly (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Roy Brooks (drums). Leans heavily on bop standards and lights them up. B+(***)

Dexter Gordon: The Panther! (1970 [1992], Prestige/OJC): Another quartet -- not sure he ever enjoyed sharing the set with a trumpet -- and a relatively good one, with Tommy Flanagan (piano), Larry Ridley (bass), and Alan Dawson (drums). Includes a long "Body and Soul," and a relatively short "The Christmas Song" -- especially nice where corny was more likely. A-

Dexter Gordon: Ca' Purange (1972 [1973], Prestige/OJC): Spoke too early about Gordon eschewing trumpets, as he's joined here by Thad Jones (also on flugelhorn), with Hank Jones on piano, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Louis Hayes on drums. Four pieces, just 31:25, with the saxophonist playing even less. B+(***)

Dexter Gordon: Generation (1972 [1973], Prestige/OJC): Formal attempt at a Hard bop quintet, the saxophonist joined by trumpet Freddie Hubbard), piano (Cedar Walton), bass (Buster Williams), and drums (Billy Higgins) -- impressive on paper, but nothing special. CD adds a second take of "Milestones." B+(*)

Dexter Gordon: Tangerine (1972 [1975], Prestige/OJC): Looks like leftovers, with three tracs from the Ca' Purnage quintet, plus one from the Generation quartet, appearing a couple years after Gordon left Prestige. B+(**)

Dexter Gordon Quartet: The Apartment (1974 [1975], SteepleChase): Ubiquitous Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen managed to break into this superb lineup of Americans in Copenhagen: the tenor saxophonist, Kenny Drew (piano), and Tootie Heath (drums). B+(***)

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Something Different (1975 [1980], SteepleChase): What's different is guitarist Philip Catherine instead of a piano player. NHØP is on bass, Billy Higgins drums. B+(***)

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Biting the Apple (1976 [1977], SteepleChase): Recorded in a New York studio about a month before his live Homecoming at the Village Vanguard. Backed by Barry Harris, Sam Jones, and Al Foster. B+(***)

Dexter Gordon: Homecoming: Live at the Village Vanguard (1976 [1977], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): I remember this as a big deal at the time, and even managed to wrangle a free ticket to one of the sets, but remember little other than the hulking presence of the saxophonist. Backed by Woddy Shaw (trumpet), Ronnie Matthews (piano), Stafford James (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums) -- some sources also credit Rene McLean (sax), but most don't. Starts in a good mood, working in one of his trademark quotations early. Shaw is in especially fine form, further inspiration for the conquering hero. A-

Grupo Mono Blanco: Soneros Jarochos: The Arhoolie Recordings 1989-1990 (1989-90 [2006], Arhoolie): Clearly dated, produced by Chris Strachwitz on a trip to Veracruz, with five musicians but only four on the cover, the only constant between here and the new(er) Smithsonian record the leader Gilberto Gutierrez Silva. The harp gives this a distinctly percussive sound, but sometimes it sounds like the microphone got left in the wrong room. B+(***)

Jim Hobbs Fully Celebrated Orchestra: Peace & Pig Grease (1993 [1994], Silkheart): Alto saxophonist from Indiana, possibly his first album -- although Babadita has a lower catalog number, and is attributed to the more generic Jim Hobbs Trio, even though this group is the same trio, with Timo Shanko (bass) and Django Carranza (drums). Touches on Ornette; 10:08 "Ice on Fire" really takes off. [PS: cover scan shows recorded January 19-20, 1993] A-

Jim Hobbs Trio: Babadita (1994, Silkheart): Alto sax trio, with Timo Shanko (bass) and Django Carranza (drums), same as his Fully Celebrated Orchestra group -- don't have a recording date, but seems likely this came earlier. Also don't have song credits, but "A Posse" is pure Ornette Coleman -- only one of several distinct impressions he makes. B+(***)

William Hooker/Billy Bang: Joy (Within)! (1994-95 [1996], Silkheart): Drums and violin (with Bang playing flute on the title tune), from two live sets at Knitting Factory, about a year apart. Seems marginal at first, until Bang finds his magic, and the drummer manages to keep up. B+(***)

'Kidd' Jordan Quartet: New Orleans Festival Suite (1999 [2002], Silkheart): Avant saxophonist from New Orleans, plays tenor, with Joel Futterman on piano (also soprano sax), William Parker (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). Jordan was a well-kept secret until Katrina, when he was evidently discovered among the wreckage -- he even managed to play cameos in Tremé (at one point, Wendell Pierce's trombonist blurts out, as Jordan and Donald Harrison enter, "here come the real jazz musicians"). Two half-hour pieces plus an 11:58 closer, nothing sweet to it, the sax caustic, the piano explosive. B+(***)

Steve Lacy Sextet: The Gleam (1986 [1987], Silkheart): One of the soprano saxophonist's favorite configurations, with at least six Sextet albums from 1974-92. Group includes Steve Potts (alto/soprano sax), Bobby Few (piano), Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass), Oliver Johnson (drums), and Irène Aebi (violin/vocals). I dislike Aebi's vocals so much I usually dock Lacy's albums one notch per song. Not so bad here, but much better when she lays out (or just plays violin). B+(*)

Steve Lacy: 5 x Monk 5 x Lacy (1994 [1997], Silkheart): Soprano saxophone, solo, five Monk songs, five originals, both sets deliberate and methodical. B+(**)

Jimmy Lyons/Andrew Cyrille: Something in Return (1981 [1988], Black Saint): Alto sax/drums duo, both played in Cecil Taylor's most legendary group, but hardly need any help or outside inspiration here. Warms up with a sly take on "Take the A Train," followed by two pieces each, winding up with a joint improv, the extraordinary 15:41 "Fragments I." A-

Jackie McLean Featuring Dexter Gordon: The Meeting (1973 [1990], SteepleChase): The first of two albums from two nights at Montmartre Jazzhus in Copenhagen, originally The Meeting Vol. 1 followed by The Source Vol. 2, with the volume numbers dropped on reissue, as more tracks were added. The saxophonists were backed by local residents Kenny Drew (piano), Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), and Alex Riel (drums), with Drew writing three (of five) pieces. McLean earns his top billing. B+(***)

Alexander von Schlippenbach: Globe Unity (1966 [1967], SABA): Album attributed to the pianist (his first), recorded a month after the Berliner Philharmonie concert that launched his famous free jazz ensemble. Cast of thirteen, including two drummers (Jackie Liebzeit, Mani Neumeier), two bassists (Peter Kowald, Buschi Niebergall), three brass (cornet, trumpet, tuba), five reeds (including Peter Brötzmann and Willem Breuker, plus Gunter Hampel on bass clarinet and flute) -- most very young at the time (Schlippenbach was 28). This could be taken as the founding document of the European avant-garde: might even lead to the conclusion that instead of evolving piecemeal, it erupted in a big bang. A-

A Tribe Called Quest: Revised Quest for the Seasoned Traveller (1989-91 [2018], Jive/Legacy): Released in 1992, remixes of songs from their first two albums and/or period singles "If the Papes Come" was the flip of "Can I Kick It?"). Not sure whether the goosed up mixes increase the appeal or complicate a vibe that was too subtle for me to grasp back then. Either way, some first rate songs. B+(***)

Assif Tsahar Trio: Ein Sof (1997, Silkheart): Tenor saxophonist, born in Israel, moved to New York in 1990. Seems to be his second album (after Shekhina in 1996, on Eremite), a trio with William Parker (bass) and Susie Ibarra (drums). Terrific energy out of the gate, but does wear you down a bit. B+(***)

David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss Volume 1 (1990 [1991], Silkheart): Pictured on cover playing flute, which he does on 7/8 tracks, more than tenor sax (2), saxello (3), or stritch (1). His quartet, which first recorded in 1988, features Matthew Shipp (piano) and William Parker (bass), with Marc Edwards the drummer. Lots of potential here, at least on the tenor sax tracks, where Ware is a commanding presence, and Shipp's comp rumble is already unique. B+(**)

David S. Ware Quartet: Great Bliss Volume 2 (1990 [1994], Silkheart): Flute tracks down to two, vs. saxello (1), stritch (2), and tenor sax (3). B+(**)

David S. Ware Quartet: Oblations and Blessings (1995 [1996], Silkheart): Drummer -- the only position that changed over the Quartet's 15-year run -- now Whit Dickey, no doubt brought in by pianist Matthew Shipp, whose trios started with and still feature Dickey. Ware has settled on tenor sax. 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:


A Tribe Called Quest: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990, Jive): Rechecked this after the remixes above, figuring I had almost certainly underrated it -- if only because I could still recall a number of songs (probably thanks to The Anthology, which came out in 1999 after they broke up). Of course, the remixes have a bit more punch, but the flow here shows they were really onto something, and it just took me way too long to appreciate what. (And no, not 28 years: I have their next three albums at A-, a slight drop for the 4th, and also highly recommend The Anthology and their 2016 reunion album. A-

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