Streamnotes: January 31, 2019

Running out of month, with no time left to write an introduction. Still, one of the longest Streamnotes compilations ever (200 albums plus regrades and corrections -- also no time left to look up whether that's a record, but it's way above my monthly average).

I should note that eleven of the A/A- releases (8 new, 2 comps) are 2019 releases, all jazz. That's way above an average month, as my Best Jazz Albums of 2018 list only came up with 63 new and 22 old A/A- releases.

Rated count for 2018 releases is currently 1085. This is about when I normally freeze the 2018 list, but I don't feel all that done with it yet.


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 December 30. Past reviews and more information are available here (12471 records).


Recent Releases

6lack: East Atlanta Love Letter (2018, LoveRenaissance/Interscope): Atlanta rapper Ricardo Valdez Valentine, business name a typographic quirk, meant to be pronounced Black. Second album, all slack beats and soft sing-song, beguiling at first, not sure how much is really there. B+(***)

10^32K: The Law of Vibration (2018, self-released): Trombone-bass-drums trio -- Frany Lacy, Kevin Ray, Andrew Drury -- second album, joined by Roswell Rudd on one cut, his "Yankee No-How" (no recording dates, but Rudd died in December 2017). B+(**) [dl]

The 14 Jazz Orchestra: The Future Ain't What It Used to Be (2018 [2019], self-released): Big band, or something close to such, especially once you factor in guests like Randy Brecker, arranged by Dan Bonsanti, featuring saxophonist Ed Calle. First jazz arrangement I can recall of "Sixteen Tons" -- doesn't really work, but "I'll Be Seeing You" winds up a little over-ripe, too. B [cd]

The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (2018, Dirty Hit/Interscope): British pop-rock band, from Manchester, third album. Kinda sweet, but mopey. B

Christopher Ali Solidarity Quartet: To Those Who Walked Before Us (2018, Jazz Och Solidaritet): Swedish group with a Middle Eastern twist (oud/fretless guitar player Filip Bagewitz), led by tenor/soprano saxophonist Christopher Ali Thorén, who has a previous album as Cats and Dinosaurs. B+(**)

Amnesia Scanner: Another Life (2018, Pan): Finnish duo -- Martti Kalliala and Ville Haimala -- based in Berlin, guitar tilts this away from electronica toward avant-noise, with vocals split between Oracle (10 tracks) and Pan Daijing (2). Marginal for me, but I can see someone more turned on by the din getting off on it. B+(*)

Aphex Twin: Collapse EP (2018, Warp, EP): Richard D. James, a major figure in electronica since 1992. Five tracks, 28:59. Some real nice examples of his art here, nice ambience with even better beats. B+(***)

Archivist & Fugal: Undertow (2018, BleeD, EP): The former a Seattle-based DJ, the latter a Korean-American from Seattle but now based in Berlin, neither established enough that Discogs lists their actual names, neither with more than a few EPs to their name. This one has four cuts (three songs plus a remix), runs 27:29. B+(**)

Armand Hammer: Paraffin (2018, Backwoodz Studioz): New York rap duo, Billy Woods and Euclid, third album. B+(**)

Art Brut: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! (2018, Alcopop!): British art punk band, vocalist Eddie Argos, fifth album, title recalls their 2005 debut (Bang Bang Rock & Roll), but not necessarily an improvement. Still, they haven't gotten anywhere near as godawful as Arctic Monkeys. B+(**)

Atmosphere: Mi Vida Local (2018, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Familiar Minneapolis underground rapper, started around 1997, has more than a dozen albums, pretty much all this deft, most more riveting. B+(**)

Daniel Avery: Song for Alpha (2018, Phantasy Sound/Mute): British DJ, second album, dozens of singles/EPs. Mildly annoyed at his starting gambit, but he stuck with it and turned it into something. B+(*)

Baco Exu Do Blues: Bluesman (2018, self-released): Brazilian rapper/singer, Diogo Alvaro Ferreira Moncorvo, self-styled Bachus of the Blues, from Salvador, 22, second album, seems to be tied to a film, hard to say what either has to do with the blues, at least as we understand them. B+(**)

Baloji: 137 Avenue Kaniama (2018, Bella Union): Born in Congo, father Belgian, moved to Belgium where he formed hip-hop group Starflam. Third solo album. Mostly in French, more rapped than sung, beats have a touch of Afrobeat. B+(***)

Daniel Bennett Group: We Are the Orchestra (2018, Manhattan Daylight Media, EP): Not much of a group, let alone orchestra, with just two members: Bennett plays alto sax (other reeds, piano, percussion) and Mark Cocheo guitar (banjo, other guitars). Not much of an album either: 8 cuts, 28:29, amusingly upbeat but just goes around in circles. B

Bhad Bhabie: 15 (2018, Bhad Music): Rapper Danielle Bregoli, mixtape title reflects her age, 6:28 "Outro" recapitulates her discovery and entry to the business. Letter 'h' is silent. Album not well regarded, but I found it agreeably tart. Does use the B-word ad nauseum, evidently spelled "Bich." B+(**)

David Binney: Here & Now (2018, Mythology): Alto saxophonist, more than two dozen albums since 1990, generally in the postbop mainstream, tries for something else here: mostly overdubbed solo, where he's also credited with electronics, synths, vocals, bass, and guitar. Gets help on bass and/or drums on a few cuts. Music is a mixed bag, but saxophone is impeccable. B-

Ran Blake/Clare Ritter: Eclipse Orange (2017 [2019], Zoning): Two pianists, mostly playing duets. Ritter was a student of Blake's (also of Mary Lou Williams'), and has produced some notable albums of late. What she achieves here is to crystalize and brighten up the miniaturism that has been his stock in trade for fifty-some years. A nice plus is that several cuts add Ken O'Doherty on saxophone. A- [cd]

Blue Standard: A Good Thing (2018 [2019], Big Time): Duo: singer Raoul Bhaneja (also plays harmonica on one cut) and pianist Jesse Whiteley, sing standards like "When I Fall in Love" and "Teach Me Tonight," "What a Wonderful World" and "Crazy Rhythm." B [cd]

Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz: Volume Two (2012-18 [2019], Origin): More from the sessions that produced last year's volume, with the former (and now late) Poet Laureate of the United States reading his words, remembering his youth in "pre-burnt" Detroit, notably during WWII. He is always interesting, while the much younger saxophonist gives him a score and dramatically lifts the whole performance. A- [cd]

Itamar Borochov: Blue Nights (2018 [2019], Laborie Jazz): Trumpet player, born in Israel, based in Brooklyn, quartet includes piano (Rob Clearfield), bass (Avri Borochov, oud one cut), and drums (Jay Sawyer), and one track features a Moroccan vocal group, Innov Gnawa, which could point to an interesting album in its own right. B+(**) [cd]

Samantha Boshnack's Seismic Belt: Live in Santa Monica (2018 [2019], Orenda): Trumpet player, seems to be her first record, although she's appeared in other groups I'm familiar with, like Alchemy Sound Project. Group includes Ryan Parrish (tenor/baritone sax), Paul Cornish (piano), plus violin, viola, double bass, and drums. Titles reflect an interest in geology: "Subduction Zone," "Tectonic Plates," "Convection Current," some more specific: "Summer That Never Came" reflects on the Laki volcanic eruption in Iceland in 1783 -- I would have guessed the much more famous 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (the site of this year's tsunami), but 1783 had disastrous consequences across the Arctic, and effects as far away as India (most striking to me was: "ice floes in the Gulf of Mexico"). A- [cd]

Brothers Osborne: Port Saint Joe (2018, EMI Nashville): Country music duo, brothers T.J. and John Osborne, name distinct from the 1960-70s Osborne Brothers bluegrass group. Sounds fine, but not all that notable. B

Peter Brötzmann & Fred Lonberg-Holm: Ouroboros (2011 [2018], Astral Spirits): Duo, credits vague: reeds on the one hand, "strings & electronics" on the other (cello is his main instrument). No chance this will convert a non-believer, but the squawk is classic, and the setting distinctive. B+(***) [bc]

Sheldon Brown Group: Blood of the Air (2015-16 [2018], Edgetone): Plays alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet. Album is based on the poetry and "speech melodies" of Philip Lamantia (1927-2005). The words don't stand out all that impressively, but the music oftentimes makes up for it. B+(*)

Bruce: Sonder Somatic (2018, Hessle Audio): British DJ Larry McCarthy, first album, singles/EPs go back to 2014 (Not Stochastic). B+(**)

Dillon Carmichael: Hell on an Angel (2018, Riser House): Singer-songwriter from Burgin, KY, has a couple of uncles in the business (Eddie and John Henry Montgomery), first album. His country twang and ethos are impeccable, but he really likes those hard electric guitar chords, so tends toward ALL CAPS. B+(*)

City Girls: Period (2018, Quality Control): Hip-hop duo from Miami, Caresha Brownlee (Yung Miami) and Jatavia Shakara Johnson (JT), first album. Beats sharp, attitude developed, should work on their raps. B

City Girls: Girl Code (2018, Quality Control): Second album, out six months after the first, doesn't show much development, but by burying the vocals deeper, doesn't come off as dumb either. B

Cloud Nothings: Last Building Burning (2018, Carpark): Indie rock band from Cleveland, founded 2009, half-dozen albums, still have some crunch and the occasional hook. B+(**)

The Coathangers: Live (2017 [2018], Suicide Squeeze): After five albums since 2007, including a couple of real good ones, no doubt they're entitled to look back, even with the scrawny live sound that once was de rigeur for live rock albums. B+(**)

Elvis Costello & the Imposters: Look Now (2018, Concord): Thirtieth studio album over forty-some years now, comes after a five-year gap -- something he calls an "uptown pop record with a little swagger." Three songs co-credited with Burt Bacharach, one with Carole King. He's worked steady, still has an instantly identifiable voice, but hasn't produced an A-list album since 1986. So I was surprised to see this show up on a coupe dozen EOY lists. Less surprised that this is as pompous and overwrought as any of his last dozen albums. Even his nostalgia appeal is limited; e.g., by lines like "I'm a man who loves the British Empire." B-

CupcakKe: Eden (2018, self-released): Chicago rapper Elizabeth Eden Harris, first album since she turned 21, forth (or sixth if you count mixtapes, and I definitely count Cum Cake) overall. She's getting harder (except on "Garfield"), but hasn't forgotten what got her here. B+(***)

Denzel Curry: TA13OO (2018, Loma Vista): Rapper from Florida, Bahamian descent, third album, half-dozen mixtapes. Napster shows this as 3-discs, but adds up to 43:20. Caught my attention with the Trump dis midway, on "Sirens. B+(***)

Kris Davis/Matt Mitchell/Aruán Ortiz/Matthew Shipp: New American Songbooks: Volume 2 (2018, Sound American): No repeat musicians from Volume 1, so figure this as the label's project, or maybe we should credit common producer Nat Wooley? Four pianists here, each solo, two shorter pieces by Shipp and Mitchell, one longer one each by Davis and Ortiz. The shorter pieces are the more striking, while the longer ones linger more. B+(**) [bc]

Chuck Deardorf: Perception (2017-18 [2019], Origin): Bassist, credit reads "acoustic bass, acoustic bass guitar, fretless bass; at least one previous album, scattered side credits. Mostly quartet with Hans Teuber (tenor sax/flute), Dawn Clement (piano and other keyboards), and Matt Wilson (drums), plus others on several cuts. B+(**) [cd]

The Delines: The Imperial (2019, El Cortez): One of two retro-country groups led by novelist Willy Vlautin: the other is called Richmond Fontaine, but this one features singer Amy Boone. Second album, strikes me as a bit too sedated, but interesting and touching. B+(***)

Christopher Dell/Johannes Brecht/Christian Lillinger/Jonas Westergaard: Boulez Materialism: Live in Concert (2017 [2018], Plaist): Vibes, electronics, drums, bass; short album (2 parts, 31:09). Fractured, interesting. B+(**) [bc]

Julien Desprez/Luís Lopes: Boa Tarde (2016 [2018], Shhpuma): Two guitarists, one from France, the other Portugal. Basically a noise album, not really my cup of tea but manages to stay interesting throughout. B+(**)

Dessa: Chime (2018, Doomtree): Singer-songwriter from Minnesota, degree in philosophy, started out in a hip-hop collective and mostly rapped on her debut, mostly sings on her fourth album here. One of the year's best pop albums, probably too mature to become a star in that idiom, but I don't know what more you could ask for. A-

Dos Santos: Logos (2018, International Anthem): Chicago quintet, led by singer Alex Chavez (also guitar, keyboards, percussion), with electric guitar, electric bass, drums, and congas, plus many horns as guest cameos. B+(*)

Dave Douglas Quintet: Brazen Heart: Live at Jazz Standard: Saturday (2015 [2018], Greenleaf Music, 2CD): First I've seen of multiple live sets supporting the 2015 Brazen Heart album -- website has an 8-CD box also broken down into four nightly albums. Leader on trumpet, plus Jon Irabagon (saxophones), Matt Mitchell (piano), Linda My Han Oh (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). I wasn't all that impressed with the studio album, but outstanding chops here. Time: 128:39. B+(***)

Kit Downes: Obsidian (2016 [2018], ECM): British piano player, mostly works in named groups, prolific since 2007, plays pipe organ here, mostly solo (tenor saxophonist Tom Challenger joins on one cut). Sounds churchy, inevitably, even if that's not the intent. B

Yelena Eckemoff/Manu Katché: Colors (2017 [2019], L&H Production): Pianist, classically trained in Moscow before she left the Soviet Union in 1991, then drifted into jazz. All her original material, duets with the French percussionist, who seems to offer all the help she needs. B+(***)

Moppa Elliott: Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band (2017-18 [2019], Hot Cup, 2CD): Bassist, from Pennsylvania, has run the most important band in jazz for well over a decade but hardly anyone seems to recognize that -- I credit them with eight A/A- albums since 2006, but they've yet to show up on DownBeat's Best Group ballot. And lately they've started to lose members and churn a bit, so this could be seen as a desperate retrenchment, the first group album under the bassist's name since his 2004 debut. It's structured as three LPs on 2 CDs, the titles Advancing on a Wild Pitch, Unspeakable Garbage, and Acceleration Due to Gravity. The groups vary, and likely aliases dominate the middle (Rock?) band -- "Dr. Rocks" sounds a lot like Jon Irabagon to me. Regardless of the guise, this is loud and raucous, also catchy as hell. A- [cd]

Extra Large Unit: More Fun Please (2017 [2018], PNL): Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's not-quite big band (Large Unit, 8 pieces here), grossly expanded with 20 Intuitive People, for one 33:28 romp. Oddly, "more" doesn't even produce more volume, much less more fun. B [bc]

Bryan Ferry and His Orchestra: Bitter-Sweet (2018, BMG): I suppose I heard most of them while watching Babylon Berlin, a Netflix series set in 1920s Berlin, although the only one that registered immediately was the title song, with its German verse: "Nein, das ist nicht das Ende der Welt/gestrandet an Leben und Kunst" -- a bit from 1974, recast as a classic. With other more/less familiar Ferry songs, recontextualized. When you're feeling old, perhaps there's solace in pushing one's history even further back. B+(**)

Joe Fiedler: Open Sesame (2018 [2019], Multiphonics Music): Trombonist, first noticed with his tribute/exploration Plays the Music of Albert MAngelsdorff, goes for something a bit more popular here, with his arrangements of Sesame Street ditties. Trumpeter Steven Berstein is special guest, but saxophonist Jeff Lederer is the one taking a star turn. B+(***) [cd]

Fire!: The Hands (2018, Rune Grammofon): Norwegian jazz/rock/noise band, six albums since 2009, core Mats Gustafsson (saxophones), Johan Berthling (bass), Andreas Werlin (drums); most albums have had guests, but this one is back to basics. Differs from the Thing in that bass riffs dominate here, including some that could be Black Sabbath rips. Of course, that is only possible if Gustafsson holds back a little. B+(**)

First Aid Kit: Ruins (2018, Columbia): Swedish alt/indie group, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg. They sing in English, harmonize but eschew dance beats, have no particular knack for pop hooks. Gives them a folkie air that doesn't seem rooted anywhere. B

George FitzGerald: All That Must Be (2018, Double Six): British DJ, based in Berlin, second album, beats lift off nicely but aren't that exceptional, Tracey Thorn vocal works well. B+(**)

Nils Frahm: All Melody (2018, Erased Tapes): Modern classical composer, plays piano, other keyboards, electronics, fairly long list of albums since 2005, mixes in strings, percussion, guitar, a choir here, trumpet on two cuts. B+(**)

Gaika: Basic Volume (2018, Warp): Gaika Tavares, from London, parents from Grenada and Jamaica, first album (after a couple mixtapes and some EPs), mix of danehall and grime, or maybe just trip hop -- sometimes hard to tell (or recall). B+(*)

Iro Haarla, Ulf Krokfors & Barry Altschul: Around Again: The Music of Carla Bley (2015 [2019], TUM): Piano-bass-drums trio, nothing spectacular but Bley's compositions fascinate, and the careful renderings repay close attention. A- [cd]

Scott Hamilton Trio: Live at Pyatt Hall (2017 [2018], Cellar Live): Retro swing tenor saxophonist, trio with Rossano Sportiello (piano) and J.J. Shakur (bass), playing standards at a gig in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nice, pretty much as expected. B+(**)

Helena Hauff: Qualm (2018, Ninja Tune): German DJ/electronica producer, based in Hamburg, second album (half-dozen EPs). Strong on beats, little else on the near-perfect opener. B+(***)

Alexander Hawkins: Iron Into Wind: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): English pianist, varied discography including some organ since 2006, my favorite a duo with Evan Parker (Leaps in Leicester), has a number of interesting groups (e.g., Decoy, Convergence Quartet). Second solo album. B+(**) [cd]

Miho Hazama: Dancer in Nowhere (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): Japanese pianist, based in New York, has a couple of previous albums (plus a big band album by Big Heart Machine), composes and conducts here, a 14-piece group including four saxes (reeds) and an embedded string quartet but not much brass, plus a couple guest slots -- vocalist Kavita Shah on two tracks, guitarist Lionel Loueke on one. B+(**) [cd]

Tim Hecker: Konoyo (2018, Kranky): Canadian electronica producer, well-regarded, seems promising at first but nothing much sticks. B

Carlos Henriquez: Dizzy Con Clave: Live From Dizzy's Club Coca Cola (2018, RodBros Music): Bassist, from the Bronx, a regular with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and their go-to guy when they want to put on Afro-Cuban airs. Second album, a substantial slice of Dizzy Gillespie's songbook. Credits are hard to find, but one source lists: Michael Rodriguez and Terrel Stafford (trumpets), Melissa Aldana (tenor sax), Marshall Gilkes (trombone), Manuel Valera (piano), Obed Calvaire (drums), and Anthony Almonte (congas). (Another source, which strikes me as further removed, replaces Stafford, Gilkes, and Calvaire, while adding vocals to Almonte's credit.) Whoever's playing knows this music well, and brings a lot of fire to it. B+(***)

Here's to Us: Animals, Wild and Tame (2018, Hoob Jazz): Swedish trio -- Lisen Rylander Love (tenor sax), Nils Berg (bass clarinet, flute), and Josef Kallerdahl (acoustic bass) -- plus Portuguese trumpet player Susana Santos Silva, in a mild-mannered avant chamber setting. B+(**)

Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions (2014-15 [2019], Flat Langston's Arkeyes): Subtitled "12 jazz/poetry hi-fi dig its!" Group founded by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis and tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. One of their first gigs was opening for poet-critic Amiri Baraka shortly before his death in 2014. I knew Baraka as Leroi Jones: I read everything he wrote in the 1960s, even featured some of his poems in the Poetry Notebook that got my brother expelled from 9th grade. I didn't follow his name change and later work very closely, but always respected and admired him. The title implies participation by Baraka, but this was recorded over three sessions after his death. I'm not even sure the words are his, but if not the authors have read him closely. Vocals by Margaret Morris and Catalina Gonzalez offer a contrast to Ellis and whoever else reads. And the music, from the rhythm up to the towering sax, raises the rafters. A [cd]

Will Hoge: My American Dream (2018, Thirty Tigers/EDLO, EP): Country-rocker from Tennessee, Wikipedia lists ten albums and three EPs since 1997 but hasn't caught up to this one yet (eight cuts, 25:20). "Still a Southern Man" but not without regrets or second thoughts. Still an American, too, but got over that dream. B+(**)

Julia Holter: Aviary (2018, Domino): Singer-songwriter, based in Los Angeles, produces a kind of pop gothic I have trouble with. Does have a moderate critical following. B

Human Feel [Chris Speed/Andrew D'Angelo/Kurt Rosenwinkel/Jim Black]: Gold (2017 [2019], Intakt): Tenor sax/clarinet, alto sax/bass clarinet, guitar, drums/ROLI (not sure what this is: company mostly makes synth keyboards, but they have a Beatmaker Kit for "finger drumming"). The clarinets soften the feel, but the horns often come through strong enough. Not getting so much out of the electronics. B+(*) [cd]

Juan Ibarra Quinteto: NauMay (2017 [2018], self-released): Drummer, from Uruguay, first album (as far as I can tell), with Gonzalo Levin (tenor/soprano/alto sax), Ignacio Labrada (piano), Martin Ibarra (guitar), and Antonino Restuccia (double bass). Expansive postbop, long too (8 tracks, 73:50). B+(*)

Nabihah Iqbal: Weighing of the Heart (2017, Ninja Tune): London-based DJ/producer, previously did business as Throwing Shade, first album under her own name. Guitar-tinged for an alt/indie aura, vocals too subdued for singer-songwriter, ambience satisfying. B+(*)

Christoph Irniger Pilgrim: Crosswinds (2018 [2019], Intakt): Swiss tenor saxophonist, third group album with Stefan Aeby (piano), Dave Gisler (guitar), Raffaele Bossaro (bass), and Michi Stulz (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Janczarski & McCraven Quintet: Liberator (2016 [2018], ForTune): When I noticed this album on the Polish label's Bandcamp, I thought of young phenom Makaya McCraven, but got his father, Stephen, instead. He studied at Berklee with Alan Dawson, cut his debut album in 1979, has a few more including ones that feature Archie Shepp and Arthur Blythe. This is his second with tenor saxophonist Borys Janczarski, Rasul Siddik on trumpet, Joanna Gajda on piano, and Adam Kowalewski on bass. Fairly lush mainstream sax. Siddik croons a ballad, rather successfully. B+(*) [bc]

The Jayhawks: Back Roads and Abandoned Motels (2018, Legacy): Country-rock band, debut album in 1986, singer-guitarist Gary Louris and bassist Marc Perlman the only constant members. Tenth album. Karen Grotberg adds a second voice (also keyboards). B

J.I.D: DiCaprio 2 (2018, Dreamville/Interscope): Atlanta rapper Destin Route, second album (after The Never Story; DiCaprio was a 2015 EP). B+(*)

Thomas Johansson: Home Alone (2016 [2018], Tammtz): Norwegian trumpet player, in several groups I've run across lately (Cortex, Friends & Neighbors, Large Unit, Scheen Jazzorchester), solo here. Tough to do on trumpet, but he keeps it interesting. B+(**)

Jones Jones [Larry Ochs/Mark Dresser/Vladimir Tarasov]: A Jones in Time Saves Nine (2016 [2018], NoBusiness): Sax-bass-drums trio, Ochs playing tenor and sopranino and dominating the show. B+(***) [cdr]

Michael Kocour: East of the Sun (2018 [2019], OA2): Pianist, a couple of previous albums plus a credit in Unhinged Sextet. Plays solo here, engaging enough, Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" an inspired closer. B+(*) [cd]

Adam Kolker & Russ Lossing: Whispers and Secrets (2014 [2018], Fresh Sound): Tenor sax (also soprano sax and bass clarinet) and piano, but in a quartet with Masa Kamaguchi (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums). A slow ballad album, starts with a Wayne Shorter tune, the rest originals (three from Kolker, Lossing one, both one, plus two from Mintz) -- pretty but cautious. B+(*)

Sarathy Korwar and Upaj Collective: My East Is Your West (2018, Gearbox): Percussionist (tabla/drums), born in US, raised in India, based in London. Group is fairly large, some horns and keyboards but mostly traditional Indian instruments, deployed in large waves, rather reminiscent of Ravi Shankar. B+(**)

Joachim Kühn New Trio: Love & Peace (2017 [2018], ACT): German pianist, major figure, second album under this moniker, with Chris Jennings (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums). Mostly originals, including one each by Jennings and Schaefer, with covers from Ornette Coleman, the Doors, and Modest Mussorksky. B+(**)

Rolf Kühn: Yellow + Blue (2018, Edel/MPS): German clarinet player, older brother of pianist Joachim Kühn, not sure when this was recorded but seems to be recent, and he's 89 now, with a discography that dates back to 1957. Quartet with piano (Frank Chastenier), bass, and drums. Very solid work, especially on "Body and Soul." [6/11 tracks] B+(**)

Kukuruz Quartet: Julius Eastman: Piano Interpretations (2017 [2018], Intakt): Swiss group, four pianists (Duri Collenberg, Lukas Rickli, Philip Bartels, Simone Keller), playing four pieces by minimalist composer Eastman (1940-1990). The extra pianos certainly belies the minimalist concept, except perhaps on the 16:44 "Buddha," which I found virtually inaudible -- not sure if that was a technical glitch or the plan, but it hurt the grade. B+(*)

Kuzu: Hiljaisuus (2017 [2018], Astral Spirits): Chicago trio: Dave Rempis (alto/tenor/baritone sax), Tashi Dorji (guitar), and Tyler Damon (percussion). This is very harsh free jazz, similar to when the Thing hooks up with a rock guitarist who just wants to freak out, but better (if you can stand it). Title is Finnish for silence -- presumably some kind of joke. B+(***) [Later: A-]

Adrianne Lenker: Abysskiss (2018, Saddle Creek): Solo album by Big Thief singer-guitarist. Acoustic, seems slight, but holds your interest. B+(*)

Let's Eat Grandma: I'm All Ears (2018, Transgressive): British pop-rock duo, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingsworth, from Norwich, second album. B+(*)

Lil Baby: Harder Than Ever (2018, Quality Control): Atlanta rapper Dominique Jones, first studio album after a bunch of mixtapes. B+(**)

Lil Baby & Gunna: Drip Harder (2018, Quality Control): Atlanta rappers, each has a solo studio album with "Hard" in the title, also several mixtapes (as is this one). Gunna seems to have the corner on "Drip" titles (including three volumes of Drip Season. Nice flow over that chunky trap beat. B+(***)

Lil Wayne: Tha Carter V (2018, Young Money/Republic, 2CD): Announced in 2012 as the album Dwayne Carter would retire on, various delays most likely matters of money, which along with fame will haunt him all the rest of his days. Runs long, 87:43, could have been edited down into something more satisfying, but not sure that matters any more. B+(**)

Brandon Lopez: Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis (2018, Astral Spirits): Double bass player, from New Jersey, more strange sounds one can coax from the big instrument. B+(*) [bc]

Jon Lundbom Big Five Chord: Harder on the Outside (2018 [2019], Hot Cup): Guitarist, main group, quintet with two saxophonists -- Justin Wood on alto and soprano, Bryan Murray on tenor and balto -- with Moppa Elliott on bass and Dan Monaghan on drums. "Basic Bitches" is strong enough they close with an alt. take. B+(***) [cd]

Loretta Lynn: Wouldn't It Be Great (2006-17 [2018], Legacy): Co-produced by John Carter Cash, midway through a series of albums planned to recap Lynn's career somewhat like Rich Rubin did for Cash's father. This one was delayed by a stroke and a fractured hip, but I gather at least some of the songs were recorded as far back as 2006. In any case, she sounds remarkably strong and vital. On the other hand, nearly half of the songs are remakes -- a couple of very familiar hits, and one called "God Makes No Mistakes" that gives me the creeps on several levels. B+(**)

Doug MacDonald Trio: View of the City (2016 [2018], Blujazz): Guitarist, figured if he went to New York he could round up a trio and make a nice little record. He found Harvie S (bass) and Steve Williams (drums), and did just that. B+(*) [cd]

Mad Crush: Mad Crush (2018, Upon This Rock, EP): Two vocalists, John Elderkin and Joanna Sattin, converse as much as sing through seven songs, 24:46, backed with a little violin as well as the usual alt/indie guitar-bass-drums. B+(**)

Maribou State: Kingdoms in Colour (2018, Counter): British electronica duo, Chris Davids and Liam Ivory, third album, swishy, sparkly, leans in to electropop. B+(*)

Bill McHenry Trio: Ben Entrada La Nit (2015 [2018], Fresh Sound New Talent): Tenor sax trio, with Eric Revis (bass) and RJ Miller (drums), not really "new talent" although McHenry was when he joined the label in 1998. Recorded live in Barcelona, a very solid session. B+(***)

Dave Meder: Passage (2018 [2019], Outside In Music): Pianist, based in Dallas, teaches at UNT, debut album, trio cuts are solid impressive, "The Old Rugged Cross" a nice touch. For guests he recruited Miguel Zenón and Chris Potter, and they deliver as expected. B+(***) [cd]

Meek Mill: Championships (2018, Maybach Music Group/Atlantic): Beats good enough this would rate higher were I not a bit wary of the words, which I haven't (and won't) take the time to fully parse. B+(***)

Metric: Art of Doubt (2018, Metric/BMG): Canadian synthpop group, Emily Haines the voice, seventh album since 2003 -- a couple I like. This one has its moments, especially the closing "No Lights on the Horizon." B+(***)

Mac Miller: Swimming (2018, REMember Music/Warner Bros.): Rapper Malcolm McCormick, dead of a drug overdose at 26, one month after this, his fifth album, dropped. By far his best received album, although I'm more struck by how understated it is. B+(*)

Miss Red: K.O. (2018, Pressure): Israeli MC Sharon Stern, second album, beats are Jamaican dancehall with a bit of grime. B+(***)

Joel Moore/Nick Mizock/Paul Scherer/Michael Barton/Paul Townsend: Magnetic EP (2018, Blujazz): Postbop quintet, although the slipcase cover (especially the back) is designed to evoke 1960s Blue Note hard bop. Moore plays tenor and soprano sax, Mizock guitar, Scherer piano and synth, the others bass and drums. Five pieces, 36:37. B+(*) [cd]

Kelly Moran: Ultraviolet (2018, Warp): Electro-acoustic composer, plays piano although this sounds more like harpsichord, most strings plucked rather than hammered. Has a chamber quaintness to it, which seems gratifying, as far as it goes. B+(*)

Whitey Morgan and the 78's: Hard Times and White Lines (2018, Whitey Morgan Music): Long-haired country rock band from Flint, Michigan; fourth album, still fighting those hard times, not so sure about the white lines. B+(*)

Van Morrison: The Prophet Speaks (2018, Exile): Keeping busy, finding it easier to crank out albums when he doesn't have to write new tunes -- although he does claim six credits here (not sure if they're old or new songs; eight more come from blues and soul). Joey De Francesco (organ) returns, but not on the cover. B+(**)

Møster!: States of Mind (2018, Hubro, 2CD): Norwegian group, mainly Kjetil Møster (sax, clarinet, electronics, percussion), plus guitar, synth/lap steel guitar, electric bass, and drums. [8/10 cuts, missing the two big ones: 20:11 + 22:22] B+(*)

Jack Mouse Group: Intimate Adversary (2017 [2019], Tall Grass): Drummer, has several records, leads a postbop quintet with tenor sax (Scott Robinson), trumpet (Art Davis), guitar (John McLean), and bass (Bob Bowman). B+(*)

Greg Murphy Trio: Bright Idea (2018 [2019], Whaling City Sound): Pianist, from Chicago, several previous albums including one credited to Rashied Ali Tribute Band. Trio, with Eric Wheeler (bass) and Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Quinsin Nachoff's Flux: Path of Totality (2016-17 [2019], Whirlwind, 2CD): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, postbop but seems to have tapped into a deep vein lately. Six long pieces spread out over two discs, core group with David Binney on alto/C-melody sax, Matt Mitchell on piano/keyboards (synth, but also harpsichord and mellotron), and two drummers (overlapping on two pieces), but there's also a guest list with brass, organ, Tibetan singing bowls, tap dance, etc. A- [cd]

Boy Azooga: (One) (Two) (Kung Fu!) (2018, Heavenly): Welsh alt/indie band, first album, cover uses Chinese titles, translated as above, but I've also seen the label list this as 1, 2, Kung Fu!. Actually, aside from the cover not a hint I can discern of East Asia, but pleasing nonetheless. B+(*)

Judy Night Quintet: Sliding on Glass: Live at 210 (2018, Blujazz): Pianist, some synth, first album, basically a piano trio plus guitar and pedal steel guitar; title song is original, covers aren't common standards, like guitarist pieces by John Abercrombie and Robert Fripp. B+(*) [cd]

Eva Novoa's Ditmas Quartet: Live at IBeam (2016 [2018], Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, from Barcelona, Spain; studied in Netherlands and New York, where she formed this group for her 2016 Butterflies and Zebras album. With Michaël Attias (alto/baritone sax), Max Johnson (bass), and Jeff Davis (drums). Very strong sax performance, but the fractured rhythm is even more of a marvel. A-

Objekt: Cocoon Crush (2018, Pan): British techno producer, based in Berlin, has a previous album (Flatland) that I like, and a sizable stack of singles, EPs, and DJ mixes. B+(**)

May Okita: Art of Life (2018 [2019], Origin): Standards singer, presumably from Japan, based in Los Angeles since 2013, studying clinical psychiatry at UCLA. First album, backed with piano (Josh Nelson) and guitar (Larry Koonse). Closes strong from "Smile" to "Every Time We Say Goodbye." B+(**) [cd]

Orquesta Del Tiempo Perdido: Stille (2016-17 [2018], Shhpuma): Despite the Portuguese translation of Proust in the group name, mostly Dutch (or at least Amsterdam-based, like Michael Moore), composed and produced by Jeroen Kimman, whose credit reads "all other instruments." (Further research: guitars, pedal steel guitar, glockenspiel, harmonium, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, percussion, vibraphone, banjo, electronics, vocoder.) Amusing to start, turns overblown. B

Kresten Osgood: Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz (2018, ILK, 2CD): Danish drummer, has a few albums under his own name, many more notable side-credits since 2000. Quintet is the classic hard bop lineup, with trumpet, sax, piano, and bass (print is awfully small so I'll skip the names). "Jazz" is the classics, mostly from 1950s and 1960s, like Dolphy, Davis, Ellington, Monk, and Mingus, with three apt originals included. Would be a fine primer, but still sounds fresh. A- [cd]

Otherworld Ensemble: Live at Malmitalo (2017 [2018], Edgetone): Mostly Finnish quartet, led by Heikki Koskinen (tenor recorder, e-trumpet, flutes, piano, kantele) and "Finnish American" Rent Romus (alto sax, kantele, flutes, bells), with Mikko Innanen (alto/baritone/sopranino sax, flutes, percussion) and Tappo Hauta-aho (double bass), a live set recorded in Helsinki. B+(*)

Grant Peeples & the Peeples Republik: Settling Scores Vol. II (2018, Gatorbone): Folkie singer-songwriter, can't find much about him, but has at least three previous albums (from 2008). B+(**)

Proc Fiskal: Insula (2018, Hyperdub): Joe Powers, electronica (grime) producer from Edinburgh, Scotland, first album. B+(**)

Joey Purp: Quarterthing (2018, self-released): Chicago rapper Joey Davis, associated with Chance the Rapper and lesser lights, second album. B+(**)

Rae Sremmurd: SR3MM (2018, Ear Drummer/Interscope, 3CD): Hip-hop duo from Mississippi, two brothers, Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi, wound up in Atlanta. Third album, 38:04 group disc is slight but upbeat and fun, followed by two shorter solo efforts (35:13 for Swaecation, 28:13 for Jxmtro). That way they get to showcase their respective weaknesses. B

Tom Rainey Trio With Mary Halvorson and Ingrid Laubrock: Combobulated (2017 [2019], Intakt): Drummer-led trio with guitar and tenor sax, the credit carefully thought out although the three of them have been playing together for a while now, under all combinations of credit lines. This only takes off when all three are fired up. B+(***) [cd]

Mette Rasmussen & Chris Corsano: A View of the Moon (From the Sun) (2015 [2018], Clean Feed): Danish alto saxophonist, in a duo with the American drummer. Runs hot and cold. Hot is better. B+(**)

Mette Rasmussen/Tashi Dorji: Mette Rasmussen/Tashi Dorji (2016 [2018], Feeding Tube): Dorji is a guitarist, based in Asheville, NC, with 38 releases on Bandcamp -- nothing I've heard before. Very harsh free jazz here, mixed over the top by Lasse Marhaug. B-

Rejoicer: Energy Dreams (2018, Stones Throw): Yuvi Havkin, from Israel, second album, "keyboard-driven future funk that fused billowy, wandering ambient-soul melodies and upfront clap-snare rhythms" -- unclear the relationship to hip-hop. Reminds me more of Krautrock, but when you're trying to describe something new you rarely think that far back. B+(**)

Jay Rock: Redemption (2018, Top Dawg/Interscope): Rapper Johnny McKinzie, from Los Angeles, third album since 2011 (after a pile of mixtapes). B+(*)

Caroline Rose: Loner (2018, New West): Singer-songwriter, third album since 2012, early records regarded as folk/country, this one more pop/rockabilly. Played it once, had some appeal, instantly forgotten. B

Jeff Rosenstock: Post- (2018, Polyvinyl): Singer-songwriter, started in ska punk and sometimes retains a whiff of rockabilly. B+(*)

Ross From friends: Family Portrait (2018, Brainfeeder): Felix Clary Weatherall, techno/house producer from South London. Jumpy beats are attractive enough. Voices aren't necessarily helpful. B+(**)

Dave Rudolph Quintet: Resonance (2018 [2019], self-released): Drummer, based in Tampa, Florida. First album, I think, with tenor sax (Zach Bornheimer), guitar, piano, bass, a guest vocal. B+(*) [cd]

Jamie Saft/Steve Swallow/Bobby Previte: You Don't Know the Life (2018 [2019], RareNoise): Organ (+ harpsichord)/electric bass/drums, sort of a funk/fusion combo that isn't especially sharp (let alone funky) despite all the high-level talent. B [cdr]

Greg Saunier/Mary Halvorson/Ron Miles: New American Songbooks: Volume 1 (2017, Sound American): Drums-guitar-cornet, the latter sounding a little harsh to me, although the others no doubt pushed Miles in that direction. Saunier is best known as the drummer in Deerhoof. The standards come from all over the map, from John Williams and James P. Johnson, from Billy Strayhorn and Brian Wilson, from Elliott Smith and Gary Peacock and Fiona Apple. B+(**)

Boz Scaggs: Out of the Blues (2018, Concord): Soft rocker/light soul man, started in 1965 and built up to hit records 1976-80 before tailing off into obscurity, only to make a comeback from 2013's Memphis as he drifted into blues. Released his best album ever in 2015 (A Fool to Care). Doubles down here, but comes up short. B+(*)

Serengeti: Dennis 6e (2018, People): Chicago rapper David Cohn, invented his alter ego Kenny Dennis long ago, touts this as "Kenny's final chapter." B+(**) [Later: B+(***)]

Troye Sivan: Bloom (2018, Capitol): Pop star, born in South Africa, family moved to Australia when he was two, second album, has done some acting. Three gold singles here and none of them caught my attention. B

Sleaford Mods: Sleaford Mods (2018, Rough Trade, EP): English punk-rap duo, some terrific albums since 2007, settled for this 5-cut, 15:03 bit of 45rpm vinyl this year. They barely bothered. Didn't even think up a title. B

Caitlyn Smith: Starfire (2018, Monument): Singer-songwriter from Minnesota, noted for writing songs for others (Meghan Trainor, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers), first album. Has some promising moments, but wears thin when the production gets overblown. B

Wadada Leo Smith: Rosa Parks: Pure Love: An Oratorio of Seven Songs (2016-17 [2019], TUM): Trumpet player, has gotten a lot of grant work lately for high-falutin' compositions, which I rarely enjoy as much as his more intimate improvisation. This one is mostly classical strings and operatic voice, things I find hard to listen to. Features a text by Parks, more by Smith. Credits read: Diamond Voices, RedKoral Quartet, Blue Trumpet Quartet, Janus Duo. Includes musical excerpts from Anthony Braxton, Steve McCall, and Leroy Jenkins. Comes with a thick booklet in work-of-art packaging. Graded leniently: I don't expect to play it again, but imagine that if I did I'd start noticing some things I like. Already have trumpet on that list. B+(*) [cd]

Walter Smith III: Twio (2017 [2018], Whirlwind): Tenor saxophonist, debut was Casually Introducing in 2006, so casual I hadn't bothered with five subsequent albums although I've noticed him with other mainstream stars, like Christian Scott, Terence Blanchard, Eric Harland, and Ambrose Akinmusire. Trio with Harland on drums and either Harish Raghavan or Christian McBride on bass, with Joshua Redman adding a second tenor sax on two cuts. A- [bc]

Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Joel Ross/Harish Raghavan/Marcus Gilmore: In Common (2017 [2018], Whirlwind): Tenor sax trio plus guitar (Stevens) and vibes (Ross), not the sort of support that lets the leader cut loose. B+(**)

Alister Spence and Satoko Fujii Orchestra Kobe: Imagine Meeting You Here (2017 [2019], Alister Spence Music): Austalian keyboard player, trio albums date back to 2000, played on two of Fujii's 2018 albums (including Kira Kira's Bright Force, the pick of the litter). Here he conducts, with Fujii playing piano in one of her four big bands. B+(***) [cd]

Spiritualized: And Nothing Hurt (2018, Fat Possum): British space rock band, formed in 1990, only continuous member is guitarist-singer Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), although keyboardist John Coxon (Spring Heel Jack) has been in nearly as long. Not sure about spacey, but stretched out grooves alternately provoke and comfort -- among the former, "The Morning After" is the most stirring prog rock jam I've heard in a long time. A-

Kristen Strom: Moving Day: The Music of John Shifflett (2018, OA2): Saxophonist (soprano, alto, tenor, plus flutes/clarinets), teaches at Stanford, two previous albums, couple dozen side credits. Shifflett was a bassist-composer (1953-2017), no records under his own name but I recall many of his side-credits, and he taught Strom at San Jose State. Core group includes guitar, bass, and drums, and most cuts have extras -- sometimes piano, often brass. B [cd]

Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E. (2018, GOOD Music/Def Jam, EP): R&B singer from New York, second album, a short one to fit in with Kanye West's batch of one-per-week releases last summer: 8 tracks, 22:53. Title acronym for "Keep That Same Energy." Starts ugly. Ends ridiculous. B

Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar (2015-18 [2019], Moonjune): Guitarist, b. 1959 in California, based in Zürich, Switzerland, studied mathematics and got a PhD there in 1990, main vehicle is the group Sonar ("instrumental systemic jazz meets math-rock type band"), which has a half-dozen albums since 2012, including one with Markus Reuter in 2017 and another with David Torn last year. Torn, Reuter, Barry Cleveland, Hery Kaiser, and others add layers of guitar here to Thelen's fractal gadget ("a rhythmic delay with a very high feedback level that creates cascading delay patterns in odd time signatures such as 3/8, 5/8, or 7/8"). A- [cd]

Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake: In Between the Tumbling a Stillness (2015 [2018], Hopscotch): Tenor sax trio, recorded at the saxophonist's club in Tel Aviv with the best rhythm section one could hope for. Opens long at 34:22, followed by shorter pieces (14:59, 4:29). [Later: A]A- [dl]

The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: Best of the Jazz Heritage Series Volume 1 (2018, self-released): Clearly a compilation from multiple sessions, based on one big name guest per song, but no dates given, and hardly any personnel below the rank of Mst. Sgt., so should probably be treated as a new album. Mostly pretty ordinary, but for once I find myself enjoying New York Voices ("Sing Sing Sing"). B- [cd]

The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: Global Reach (2018 [2019], self-released): From the liner notes: "Global Reach is the ability of the United States Air Force to project air power swiftly anywhere on Earth, and it is a powerful tenet embraced by every American Airman. To achieve this crucial capability, the Air Force utilizes not only cutting-edge technology and highly trained personnel but also soft power assets such as The United States Air Force Band, which are critical to develop, strengthen and maintain relationships with strategic allies around the world." Not as unpalatable as their mission, but nothing of what we listen to jazz for either. C [cd]

Ken Vandermark/Nate Wooley: Deeply Discounted II/Sequences of Snow (2018, Pleasure of the Text/Audiographic, EP): Duets, reeds and trumpet, timed for vinyl, so one piece/side at 14:13, the other 15:16. Pitched into the warbly stratosphere. B [bc]

Leon Vynehall: Nothing Is Still (2018, Ninja Tune): British DJ, Wikipedia treats this as his first studio album, Discogs as his 3rd, I was most impressed by Rojus (Designed to Dance) in 2016. Pieces designated "Chapter" and "Footnote," many with strings, one bit of sax, some ambient, most more intrusive. B+(**)

Ernie Watts Quartet: Home Light (2018 [2019], Flying Dolphin): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, has some earlier credits but started getting noticed in the 1980s, especially in Charlie Haden's Quartet West. Quartet with Christof Saenger (piano), Rudi Engel (bass), and Heinrich Koebberling (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Jamie Lin Wilson: Jumping Over Rocks (2018, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Texas, what she calls "Guy Clark territory," has a couple albums -- a voice, an eye for detail, an ear for truth. B+(**)

Martin Wind: Light Blue (2017 [2018], Laika): German bassist, moved to New York in 1996, counts this as his 20th album. Mostly two groups, with Scott Robinson (saxophones and clarinet) tying them together: the first half with Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Gary Versace (piano/organ), and Matt Wilson (drums) flirts with soul jazz; the second veers Brazilian with Anat Cohen (clarinet), Duduka Da Fonseca (drums), and Maucha Adnet (vocals). Excessive in both cases. B-

Wing Walker Orchestra: Hazel (2017 [2019], Ears & Eyes): Twelve-piece group, Drew Williams (bass clarinet) composed the "Hazel Suite," the other piece by Tune-Yards; produced by Alan Ferber, other names I recognize are Marta Sanchez (piano) and Adam Hopkins (bass). B+(*) [cd]

Peter Zak Quartet: One Mind (2017 [2018], Fresh Sound New Talent): Cover continues: "Featuring Marcos Varela." Not sure why the bassist would be singled out here, but he is the "new talent" -- one previous album, wrote one song here. Zak plays piano, and has ten or so albums for SteepleChase since 2007, while tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake goes back to 1994, and drummer Billy Drumond is eleven years older, with hundreds of credits. Blake is in fine form, but the pianist is clearly in charge. B+(**)

Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit (2018, MVKA): Classified as metal but vocals draw on slave hollers or, even more obliquely, on Billie Holiday's anti-lynching lament, which puts Manuel Gagneux vocally out of the norm, no matter how much guitar thrash and drums pile on. B+(*)

Denny Zeitlin/Buster Williams/Matt Wilson: Wishing on the Moon (2009 [2018], Sunnyside): Piano trio, the pianist cut his first record in 1963, the others haven't been around that long but both must have well over 100 credits. B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Gordon Beck Quartet: When Sunny Gets Blue: Spring '68 Sessions (1966-68 [2018], Another Planet): British pianist, group includes John McLaughlin (guitar), Jeff Clyne (bass), and Tony Oxley (drums), all on their best behavior with Joy Marshall trying to float between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. B+(*)

Ran Blake/Jeanne Lee: The Newest Sound You Never Heard (1966-67 [2019], A-Side, 2CD): In 1962, singer Lee (1939-2000) and pianist Blake (b. 1935) debuted with The Newest Sound Around. Blake has gone on to make more than a dozen duo albums with singers, but his work with Lee always seemed special. This adds much to their association: a couple of sessions, some redundant songs, a mix of standards and recent pop tunes. A-

James Brown & the Famous Flames: The Federal & King Singles As & BVs 1956-61 (1956-61 [2018], Acrobat, 2CD): Fifty-seven songs, so half as many singles, 4-5 per year, a dozen on the r&b charts, including his first ("Please Please Please") and one more ("Try Me") before 1960 ("Think"). Those hits justly stand out, but his voice and innate sense of rhythm are consistent -- not yet the star he would become, but well on his way. A-

Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (1963 [2019], Resonance, 3CD): Legendary alto saxophonist, also played flute and was largely responsible for establishing the bass clarinet as a jazz instrument. He died in 1964 at age 36, leaving a brief but often brilliant 5-year recording career, from his 1960 group with Booker Little (trumpet player who started with Max Roach and died even younger in 1961) and his 1961 work with John Coltrane up through his 1964 masterpiece, Out to Lunch. These previously unreleased recordings come from sessions in July 1963, mostly leftovers from the 1963 album Conversations (reissued in 1964 as The Eric Dolphy Memorial Album) and Iron Man (which appeared posthumously in 1968). I went back and played those albums, and found both of them slowed down by solo pieces -- something I didn't notice here. This does have a few weak spots: especially the operatic vocal on the second disc, which also concentrates most of the flute. On the other hand, this sounds much better on my stereo than the old releases do on my computer. And the 96-page booklet adds to this release's historical value. A- [cd]

Feeling Kréyol: Las Palé (1988 [2018], Strut, EP): From Guadeloupe, back when zouk was king -- the Earthworks compilation Hurricane Zouk is one of my all-time favorites -- six tracks, 27:16. Rhythmic concept is right here, but something's a bit off. B+(*)

Svein Finnerud Trio: Plastic Sun (1970 [2018], Odin): Norwegian pianist (1945-2000), second album, covers Ornette Coleman and Annette Peacock (twice), the originals split between Finnerud and bassist Bjørnar Andresen with one joint credit including drummer Espen Rud. Tricky, but sometimes hard to hear. B+(*)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!! And Rights!! ([2018], FOLC): Madrid [Spain] label, never heard of them [HT: Phil Overeem] but they have an even hundred albums on Bandcamp, none by anyone I've ever heard of, nor do I know any of the 14 groups here, nor do I have any idea when any of this was recorded -- most of it could date back to the 1950s (rockabilly, doo wop, hot and heavy boogie) but probably doesn't, and not just due to the bits of punk (most but not all is in English). Title is another disconnect: sounds like more males than females, not that you can tell these days. Only doubt I don't have is the bit about fun. A- [bc]

Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie in 1980s South Africa (1980s [2018], Soundway): Selected by Miles Cleret and DJ Okapi, no artists I've heard of, not as cute as the title suggests but then you probably wouldn't take note of another disco collection -- basically what this is. B+(**)

André Hodeir: Essais: Complete Paris & New York Sessions (1954-60 [2017], Fresh Sound, 2CD): French composer/arranger (1921-2011), trained as a classical violinist but fell in love with jazz and did much to popularize it in France in the 1950s -- I've always thought of him more as a critic, although I was aware of records by Kenny Clarke and Martial Solal playing his compositions. This collects four LPs, only one session recorded in New York (actually, Hackensack), with Donald Byrd, Idrees Suleiman, Hal McKusick, Bobby Jaspar, and others, with an Annie Ross vocal. Trumpeter Roger Guérin was a regular for the Paris sessions, with Clarke and Solal joining in 1960. The music has some interesting surprises, but the Christiane Legrand vocals are a bit hard to take. B+(*)

Guy Lafitte: Quartet & Sextet Sessions 1956-1962 (1956-62 [2018], Fresh Sound): French tenor saxophonist (1927-98), relatively early recordings, combining two 7-inch EPs and three 10-inch LPs into a single 72:52 CD. Several cuts with unremarkable vocals. B+(**)

Guy Lafitte: His Tenor Sax and His Orchestra 1954-1959 (1954-59 [2018], Fresh Sound): Combines a single with three 10-inch LPs, total 62:48, large orchestra at the end, not clear whether all of the credits are spelled out earlier, but the leader's saxophone is nicely focused throughout. B+(***)

Dave McKenna: Dave McKenna in Madison (1991 [2018], Arbors): Basically a retro-swing pianist, died in 2008, no dates on the album cover but some digging suggests this was recorded in 1991 at Farley's House of Pianos, solo, on a Steinway Model C. Four medleys here, so he gets to touch on many standards. B+(**)

The Paranoid Style: Rock & Roll Just Can't Recall + 3 (2015 [2018], Bar/None, EP): DC duo, Elizabeth Nelson and Timothy Bracy, five-cut EP which Christgau raved about when it came out in 2015, plus three (new?) songs that still don't quite flesh it out to album length, now on a bigger label -- the one that picked up their only full-length album so far (2016's Rolling Disclosure). Extra songs don't add much, but do rock a bit harder. "The Last Days of the Monoculture" evokes an interesting idea. B+(***)

John Prine: Live in Asheville '86 (1986 [2016], Oh Boy): A bootlegged live set (24 songs) between the studio releases of Aimless Love and German Afternoons -- not exactly a prime period but not too shabby, and works in a few classics from the '70s. Mostly redundant, but closes with a terrificly rousing "Spanish Pipedream." B+(**) [bc]

Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Sun Ra With Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold: Judson Hall, New York, Dec. 31, 1964 (1964 [2018], Enterplanetary Koncepts): That would be Harold Murray, credited here with flute and log drum. The tenor saxophonist was 24 at the time, coming off his first records for ESP-Disk, filling in for John Gilmore. B+(**) [bc]

Sun Ra: Astro Black (1972 [2018], Modern Harmonic): After many years of self-released albums, Ra signed with Impulse! (owned by ABC at the time), and led off with this album, playing up his space-age kink. Title song includes a June Tyson vocal. Ra plays minimoog, space organ, and electro-vibraphone. B+(*)

Sun Ra: The Cymbals/Symbols Sessions (New York City, 1973) (1973 [2018], Modern Harmonic, 2CD): Part of Ra's Impulse! deal, given a catalog number but not released at the time -- some of this appeared in 2000 on The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums. Eight musicians, but no more than six per cut. Meanwhile, the lost album has more than doubled in length, with lots of bubbly keyboard, ragged rhythm, and John Gilmore. B+(***) [bc]

Sun Ra: Crystal Spears (1973 [2019], Modern Harmonic): Another album scheduled for Impulse! but ultimately rejected. Space chaos, built on keyboards and percussion, although Gilmore's sax is ultimately decisive, besting Marshall Allen's flutes and oboe. B+(**) [bc]

Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Discipline 99 (Out Beyond the Kingdom Of) (1974 [2018], Enterplanetary Koncepts): Recorded at Hunter College, released multiple times with "different-colored labels," "total press run is unknown, but presumably it totals in the hundreds, not the thousands." Rather scattered, ending in a oddball 10:21 June Tyson vocal medley that goes to Saturn and Jupiter. B+(**)

Sun Ra: Of Abstract Dreams (1974-75 [2018], Strut): Previously unreleased Philadelphia radio session, date approximate (because he did this pretty often), group a nonet including regulars John Gilmore and Marshall Allen. Four pieces, with lots of flute, bass clarinet, oboe, congas, and vocals: fairly typical for the period, but one where all of his idiosyncrasies pay dividends. A-

Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Taking a Chance on Chances (1977 [2018], Enterplanetary Koncepts): Recorded in Chicago, made even more obscure than most by defects in the original pressing. Ra starts off on organ, rather playful until Gilmore unleashes a solo. Mostly standards here, bop from Tadd Dameron and Miles Davis, "Over the Rainbow," "St. Louis Blues," "Take the 'A' Train." Still, what you notice is usually Gilmore's sax. B+(***)

Sun Ra: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (1979 [2018], Cosmic Myth): Piano trio, with Hayes Burnett (bass) and Samarai Celestial (drums), originally released on El Saturn in 1979. Evidently "the only complete piano-bass-drums studio session in the massive Sun Ra catalog," this reminds you how dynamic a pianist Ra could be. While his piano was always in evidence, he usually was satisfied just to stir up the universe. Here he overwhelms it. A-

Sun Ra: Sun Ra Plays Gershwin (1951-89 [2018], Enterplanetary Koncepts): A posthumous concept album, pulling bits and pieces from very nearly the full span of his career, few clearly identified (as to time and credits, at least on the Bandcamp page). Which doesn't make this all that useful, not that nothing interesting happens. B

Jesse Sharps Quintet & P.A.P.A.: Sharps and Flats (2004 [2018], Nimbus West/Outernational Sounds): Los Angeles musician, involved with Horace Tapscott (who plays piano on two cuts here), credit is "reeds" -- soprano sax seems to be his main instrument, but has been known to play a wide range of clarinets, flutes, and bassoon. Quintet includes Steve Smith (trumpet), Joel Ector (bass), Carl Burnett (drums), and Nate Morgan (piano if not Tapscott). Six tracks by quintet, then one 16:35 piece by the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra (which doesn't seem to include Sharps here, although he's played with them elsewhere): opens with unmistakable Tapscott piano, adds two saxes (Billie Harris and Sabir Mateen), two flutes, two basses. Really choice cut ("Mckowsky's First Fifth"). B+(***)

Cecil Taylor: Conversations With Tony Oxley (2008 [2018], Jazzwerkstatt): Piano-drums duo. Oxley emerged as an important figure in English avant-jazz in the late 1960s. He played with Taylor in Berlin in 1988 -- a month which produced about 15 albums -- both as a duo and in the Feel Trio (with William Parker), which lasted several more years. The last Taylor record in my database was a duo with Oxley, recorded about six months after this set. Much of this is typically remarkable. Seems to give up at one point, then rebounds stronger than ever. A-

Old Music

Curtis Amy & Paul Bryant: The Blues Message (1960, Pacific Jazz): Tenor saxophonist (1929-2002), originally from Houston, moved to Los Angeles, recorded six records (1960-63) for Pacific Jazz (the one I've long admired is called Katanga!), not much more after 1966. This was his first, with Bryant on organ, Roy Brewster on trombone (3/5 tracks), bass and drums. Prime soul jazz groove, gives the saxophonist license to wail. [Fresh Sound reissued this under Bryant's name, adding Bryant's own Burnin', with Jim Hall.] B+(***)

Curtis Amy & Paul Bryant: Meetin' Here (1961, Pacific Jazz): Here they go for show tunes rather than straight up blues, which makes the grit and the grind a bit less compelling. B+(**)

Curtis Amy & Paul Bryant: Meetin' Here (1961-62 [2013], Fresh Sound): Reissue adds seven (of ten) cuts from the only LP, Back in Town, by bluesman Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton, 1905-68; Document has compiled eight volumes of his singles, starting in 1934). The idea is that Amy plays on the album, although Bryant doesn't (replaced by Richard "Groove" Holmes). On the other hand, the three tracks missing here had Les McCann on organ, so got stuck on the reissue of his On Time. B+(**)

Curtis Amy & Frank Butler: Groovin' Blue (1961, Pacific Jazz): This was his third, with Butler on drums, Carmell Jones (trumpet), Frank Strazzeri (piano), Jimmy Bond (bass), and Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) -- just 20 at the time, making a big impression. B+(**)

Curtis Amy: Way Down (1962, Pacific Jazz): Cover adds "featuring Victor Feldman," but the pianist only plays on 4 (of 7) tracks, the others with John Houston. With Marcus Belgrave (trumpet), Roy Brewster (valve trombone), Ron Ayers (vibraphone), plus bass and drums. B+(**)

Curtis Amy: Tippin' On Through (1962, Pacific Jazz): Down from seven to six, with John Houston on piano, Ron Ayres on vibes, Roy Brewster on valve trombone, and no trumpet. B+(*)

Curtis Amy: Groovin' Blue/Way Down/Tippin' On Through (1961-62 [2013], Fresh Sound, 2CD): Nice compilation of half of Amy's Pacific Coast recordings, as above. West Coast cool, lighter than hard bop or soul jazz, with notable vibraphone on all three albums (mostly Ron Ayers, with a very young Bobby Hutcherson on the debut). B+(**)

Curtis Amy Sextet: Peace for Love (1994, Fresh Sound): The tenor saxophonist's only album after 1969 (or maybe 1966), although he had a few side credits along the way. Sextet reunites him with pianists Frank Strazzeri and Don Wyatt (three tracks each), with Bob McChesney on trombone and Steve Huffsteter on trumpet (three tracks). Not much change from his 1960s work: no vibraphone, more Coltrane influence, poise, and a bit more gravitas. B+(***)

Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee: Free Standards: Stockholm 1966 (1966 [2013], Fresh Sound): Piano-voice duets, a week or so before the first of the newly issued sessions, with more Beatles and less "Caravan." Originally released by Columbia [France] in 1995. B+(***)

Paul Bryant: Burnin' (1960, Pacific Jazz): Fresh Sound's twofer reissue singled out guitarist Jim Hall among the second-banner names, but at the time he wasn't much more recognized than the leader (organ) or the others: Jimmy Bond (bass) and Jimmy Miller (drums). A deeply soulful organ player, surprising that he didn't record after 1964, but reports are he played regularly to 2007, two years before he died. B+(**)

Paul Bryant Featuring Curtis Amy & Jim Hall: The Blues Message (1960 [2010], Fresh Sound): Two albums reissued on one CD. The title originally listed Amy's name first, while the latter (under Bryant's name) barely mentioned the now-famous guitarist. Good showcase for an underappreciated organ master. B+(**)

Bumble Bee Slim: Back in Town! (1962, Pacific Jazz): Bluesman Amos Easton (1905-68), cut a lot of singles from 1934 on -- Document has compiled them into eight CDs -- but this is the only LP in his discography. Fresh Sound decided to split this up, using seven tracks on Curtis Amy & Paul Bryant: Meetin' Place (with Richard Holmes on organ); and three on Les McCann Ltd: On Time (with McCann on piano). B+(**)

Chicago Farmer: Midwest Side Stories (2016, self-released): Folkie singer-songwriter Cody Diekhoff, cut his first album in 2005, not sure where this one falls but I decided to give it a try after failing to find the Christgau-recommended Quartet Past Tonight. Country twang, working class identified, shows promise, could use more wit. B+(**)

Curtis Counce: You Get More Bounce With Curtis Counce! (1956-57 [1984], Contemporary/OJC): Bassist (1926-63), from Kansas City, moved to California in 1945. Standard quintet closer to cool than to hard bop: Jack Sheldon (trumpet), Harold Land (tenor sax), Carl Perkins (piano), Frank Butler (drums). Two Counce originals, standard from Irving Berlin to Charlie Parker. B+(**)

The Curtis Counce Quintet: Exploring the Future (1958, Boplicity): A sign of the times, the bassist in a red space suit out among the stars, space looking surprisingly friendly. With Rolf Ericson on trumpet, Harold Land on tenor sax, Elmo Hope on piano, and Frank Butler on drums -- Hope wrote four originals, Land one, so all Counce had to do was to keep bouncing. B+(***)

Eric Dolphy: In Europe Vol. 1 (1961 [1990], Prestige/OJC): From Copenhagen, Sept. 8, half quartet with piano-bass-drums, one flute-bass duet, one bass clarinet solo ("God Bless the Child" -- actually my favorite cut here). Some of this was originally released on Debut in 1962, then in this form by Prestige in 1964, setting the stage for more volumes. B+(**)

Eric Dolphy: In Europe, Vol. 2 (1961 [2006], Prestige/OJC): Still in Copenhagen, released by Prestige in 1965 and OJC in 1990, with an extra track in 2006. Support is local (Bent Axen, Erik Moseholm, John Elniff), mostly plays alto sax but flute on 2 (of 5) tracks. Gets much better when he puts the flute down, which makes me wonder why they added 13:09 of it (a second take of "Don't Blame Me") in 2006. B+(*)

Eric Dolphy: In Europe/Volume 3 (1961 [1990], Prestige/OJC): Same night in Copenhagen, three relatively long pieces (10:25, 12:11, 16:59 -- the latter combining three takes of the only original, 'In the Blues"), all quartet, no flute. B+(***)

Eric Dolphy: Conversations (1963, FM/Vee Jay): Four songs, the first tracks released from the sessions released this year as Musical Prophet, this must have seemed odd when it first appeared. The "A" side had two joyful quintet pieces, Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" (with Dolphy on flute) and the African-sounding "Music Matador" (with Dolphy on bass clarinet), written by Prince Lasha (flute) and Huey Simmons (alto sax, you know him as Sonny). The "B" side was minimal, with a 3:25 alto sax solo by Dolphy and a 13:30 bass clarinet duet with bassist Richard Davis. B+(***)

Eric Dolphy: Iron Man (1963 [1990], West Wind): More from the July 1963 New York sessions, three originals with an octet (including bassoon, flute, Clifford Jordan on soprano sax, Woody Shaw on trumpet, and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes), and two covers solo -- the Ellington on bass clarinet, Jaki Byard's "Ode to C.P." on flute. The latter are interesting, as usual, but only the group sides pack much punch. B+(***)

Les McCann Ltd.: On Time (1962, Pacific Jazz): Pianist, has a lively trio with Leroy Vinnegar (bass) and Ron Jefferson (drums), started in 1959 and recorded a lot over the next few years. This one add "special guest" guitarist Joe Pass. [Fresh Sound reissue (2013) adds three tracks from Bumble Bee Slim's Back in Town!, with McCann on piano.] B+(*)

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra: We Travel the Space Ways (1960 [2012], Enterplanetary Koncepts): Octets, first released in 1966 by El Saturn, paired with Bad and Beautiful for Evidence's 1992 twofer. B+(*)

Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music From Vintage Disney Films (1988, A&M): I file this under producer Hal Willner, who brought a distinctive mix of jazz and pop stars to his tributes to Monk, Mingus, and (most remarkably) Kurt Weill. I was reminded of this by the Sun Ra credit, but bothered mostly because I vaguely recall once owning a copy but didn't note it in my database. 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:


The End [Sofia Jernberg/Mats Gustafsson/Kjetil Moster/Anders Hana/Greg Saunier]: Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen (2018, RareNoise): No grade change, but turns out that in my disgust I missed the illegible album title, offering The End instead. Corrected above, with the artist credit extended to identify the guilty parties. D+ [cdr]

Maria Muldaur: Don't You Feel My Leg: The Naughty Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker (2018, The Last Music Company): [was A-] A

Joshua Redman/Ron Miles/Scott Colley/Brian Blade: Still Dreaming (2017 [2018], Nonesuch): [was B+(**)] B+(***)

Tierra Whack: Whack World (2018, self-released, EP): Fifteen song-bits in fifteen minutes, seemed too short and fragmented to be more than a curiosity, but the accompanying video made its point, and didn't seem rushed at all. Still, I promoted this on two further spins of just the audio. [was B+(***)] 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
  • [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