Streamnotes: April 29, 2019

Since I started releasing my little reviews in my Monday Music Week posts, it's gotten hard to write any sort of meaningful introduction to the monthly archives. Last time I just copied the last Music Week preface, which only applied to a quarter of the archive, and casually at that. Trying here to write something different, but coming so late in the day, while trying to wrap the update up and hoping to get to bed soon, I don't have much to say. Maybe I need to rethink the process a bit? Maybe just skip future introductions?


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 March 25. Past reviews and more information are available here (12862 records).


Recent Releases

Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (2019, Question Everything/RCA): Rapper Clifford Ian Simpson, has a couple albums under this alias, but more recently has been involved in the group Brockhampton. This is short (32:21), released in three spurts before being consolidated into an album. Loose, some catchy bits, more I didn't quite get. B+(**)

Charlotte Adigéry: Zandoli (2019, Deewee, EP): Belgian singer, roots in French Caribbean, electronic dance grooves, second EP (5 tracks, 22:56). B+(**)

Juan Álamo & Marimjazzia: Ruta Panoramica (2016 [2019], Summit): Marimba player, from Puerto Rico, teaches at University of North Carolina, directing the Percussion Ensemble there. Latin jazz, lots of percussion, several cuts with vocals by Christina Alamo Medina. B+(**) [cd]

Anderson .Paak: Ventura (2019, Aftermath/12 Tone Music): California rapper/singer, Brandon Paak Anderson, fourth album, continues in quick succession his crawl up the coast from Venice through Malibu and Oxnard. Some nice pieces here, but feels a bit like leftovers from Oxnard. B+(***)

Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her (2019, Hyperdub): South African electronica producer Angel Antonio Valerio, trans, veers between hip-hop and electro-noise, beat-heavy but not that simple. B+(*)

Brittany Anjou: Enamigo Reciprokataj (2015-16 [2019], Origin): Pianist, based in New York, originally from Seattle. Debut album, two trio sets, with different bassists/drummers. Background includes touring with Bikini Kill and singing in an experimental metal band. Understands that upbeat keeps it moving. B+(**) [cd]

Laurie Antonioli: The Constant Passage of Time (2018 [2019], Origin): Singer, writes some (lyrics, I think), cut a record with George Cables in 1985, restarted around 2004, working with Richie Beirach, and picked up the pace after her 2014 Joni Mitchell tribute. Two Mitchell pieces here -- she has the voice and manner down pat -- along with Sheryl Crow and Neil Young. With Sheldon Brown on sax and clarinet, Dave McNab on guitar, Matt Clark on piano, plus bass and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are on the Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration (2018 [2019], Pi, 2CD): Formed as a quintet in 1969, out to make "great black music," recorded intensely at first, regularly until the founders started to die out: they tried replacing Lester Bowie (trumpet) in 1999, but didn't do much after Malachi Favors (bass) passed in 2004. Now they are down to two: Roscoe Mitchell (reeds) and Famadou Don Moye (percussion). Joseph Jarman died in 2019 after this was recorded, but doesn't play on it. On the other hand, the Chicago avant-garde turned out en masse here: some vocals I don't like, Moor Mother rap I do, too much strings and flute, but with transcendent stretches, enough to register who they are and what they're about. B+(**)

Michaël Attias: Ëchos La Nuit (2018 [2019], Out of Your Head): Alto saxophonist, parents Moroccan, born in Israel, grew up in Paris and Minneapolis, based in New York, albums since 2002, fewer than I expected. This one is solo improv, somehow imvolving a piano ("the sympathetic resonance of the piano strings set into vibration by the sound of the saxophone"). Slow, contemplative, or maybe just cautiously deliberate. B+(**) [cd]

Seamus Blake: Guardians of the Heart Machine (2017 [2019], Whirlwind): Tenor saxophonist, strong mainstream player, born in London, grew up in Canada, based in New York, twenty albums since 1994. Solid quartet with piano (Tony Tixier), bass, and drums. Then he sings one. B+(***)

Blu & Oh No: A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night (2019, Native Sounds): Rapper Johnson Barnes, active since 2007, and rapper/producer Michael Woodrow Jackson (since 2004), reinforcing each other, building tension and urgency of their Los Angeles fable. B+(**) [bc]

Art "Turk" Burton: Ancestral Spirits (2019, T N' T Music): Percussioist (conga and bongo drums) from Chicago, rooted in Latin jazz but also involved in AACM, playing in Muhal Richard Abrams' big band and Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble. Gathers up three more percussionists here, Eddie Beard on piano and organ, Ari Brown and Edwin Daugherty on saxes, and singer/narrator Maggie Brown. Opens with a nod to Mongo Santamaria, followed by "A Night in Tunisia" and "Killer Joe," and later adds memorable takes of "Summertim" and "Freedom Jazz Dance." Latin groove throughout, although the saxes sometimes get out of hand. A- [cd]

Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People Vol. 1 (2019, Culture Shock Music): Trumpet player, from Trinidad, studied in Florida and at Juilliard, teaches at Michigan State, seventh album since 2006. Plays up his Afro-Caribbean roots, and parties down. B+(**)

The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (2019, Virgin EMI): When I organized my database c. 2000 I filed all the electronica albums under "techno," which is evidently a more limited (shall we say technical?) term. But back then I was thinking of artists like this UK duo, with three fairly major albums 1995-99. They've slowed down, with just four even spaced albums since 2005. But this one sounds much like the early ones, with one foot planted in disco, the other pushing metal hard to the floor. A-

Chord Four: California Avant Garde (2016 [2019], self-released): Pianoless free jazz quartet, based in Los Angeles, the horn players Andrew Conrad (tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet) and Brandon Sherman (trumpet/flugelhorn), backed by bass (Emilio Terranova) and drums (Colin Woodford). Eponymous album in 2010. This seems to be their fourth. Smart, intricate, doesn't grate, could even be characterized as understated. B+(***) [cd]

Club D'Elf: Night Sparkles (Live) (2011 [2019], Face Pelt): Title per cover, although some sources expand to "(Live at the Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA)." Group dates back to their 2000 debut, As Above: Live at the Lizard Lounge, with a 2005 album from the same venue. More of their trademark world-groove jams, with guests David Tronzo (slide guitar) and Moussa Traore (djembe). B+(***)

Romain Collin: Tiny Lights: Genesis (2019, XM): French pianist, studied at Berklee, debut album in 2007, joined here by Matthew Stevens (guitar), Obed Calvaire (drums), and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, with string arrangements by Kazuma Jinnouchi. Starts fusion, a hard groove album, gets fancier when they slow it down. Hype sheet promises two more volumes shortly, Blood and Gold. B+(**) [cd]

The Comet Is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (2019, Impulse!): London-based band, names listed as King Shabaka (Shabaka Hutchings, tenor sax), Danalogue the Conqueror (Dan Leavers, keyboards), and Betamax Killer (Max Hallett, drums). Second album. Inspired by spiritual jazz artists like Alice Coltrane and extraterrestrials (similar but not quite the same thing) such as Sun Ra. B+(**)

Control Top: Covert Contracts (2019, Get Better): Post-punk trio from Philadelphia, female singer (Ali Carter) on bass, plus guitar (Al Creeton) and drums (Alex Lichtenauer), first album: hard, fast, short (29:28, but 11 songs so I don't count it an EP), "cathartic" is a word often used to describe them. Can't make out many words, but with rants against "capitalist patriarchy, . . . indictments of wrongdoing and abuse of power, odes to empathy and ego death," I wouldn't refuse a lyric sheet. A-

Cooper Moore/Stephen Gauci: Studio Sessions Vol. 1 (2019, Gaucimusic): Piano/tenor sax duets, eight numbered improvs, free and far out. The pianist's name is usually hyphenated, hence my sorting. Focus on the piano here. That's what the saxophonist is doing. B+(***)

Ronnie Cuber: Straight Street (2010 [2019], SteepleChase): Baritone saxophonist, approaching 70 when he assembled this quartet -- George Colligan (piano), Cameron Brown (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums) -- about as mainstream as you can get, long (71:19) takes of standards ("All the Things You Are," "Summertime") and bop-era classics (three Coltranes, Gillespie's "Groovin' High," pieces by Scott LaFaro and Philly Joe Jones). B+(***)

Jordon Dixon: On! (2019, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, born in Baton Rouge, based in DC, second album, backed by piano-bass-drums (plus trumpet on one cut). Mainstream, original pieces, lovely tone, soulful. B+(***) [cd]

Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (2019, Secretly Canadian): Singer-songwriter from Perth, Australia, offers what Christgau calls "a catalogue of assholes" -- males, "boys will be boys" -- although I'm also struck by the allergies and bearers of infectious diseases. B+(***)

Steve Earle & the Dukes: Guy (2019, New West): Sings the Guy Clark songbook, marginally better than the originals but not significantly different or even distinctive. Could broaden Clark's audience a bit. B+(***)

Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019, Darkroom/Interscope): Teenage (17) singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, last name O'Connell, home schooled, parents in show biz, older brother started writing songs before her. First album, but her debut was a 26:00 EP released in 2017, containing a single she recorded at 14 and turned into a video hit. Nothing here suggests she's so young. Counted as electropop, the songs stick with you but the hooks are so casual you scarcely notice them. A-

Fleurine: Brazilian Dream (2018 [2019], Pure Imagination): Dutch jazz singer-songwriter, last name Verloop, fifth album since 1995, all self-penned Brazilian tunes here, plays some guitar, with a mostly Brazilian band -- Vitor Gonçalves, Rogerio Boccato, and Chico Pinheiro the best known -- augmented by Brad Mehldau and Chris Potter, strings on one cut, horns on another. Dreamy, indeed. B+(**)

Anat Fort Trio: Colour (2019, Sunnyside): Israeli pianist, based in New York since 1996, has a handful of trio albums, this with Gary Wang (bass) and Roland Schneider (drums). B+(**)

Four: There You Go Thinking Again (2018 [2019], Jazz Hang): Saxophone quartet -- Mark Watkins (soprano), Ray Smith (alto), Sandon Mayhew (tenor), Jon Gudmundson (baritone) -- at least one previous album (although with a different alto player). Trick here is that they've doubled down by dubbing in five more saxophone quartets (two cuts each). B [cd]

Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (2019, Merge): Australian singer-songwriter, solo after two albums with the Twerps. B+(***)

George Freeman: George the Bomb! (2018 [2019], Blujazz/Southport): Jazz guitarist, born 1927 so he's edged over 90, leans heavy on funk and blues here, with the Southport house band, with vocals shared by Billy Branch and Joanie Pallatto. Couple of standout food songs: "Where's the Cornbread?" and "Home Grown Tomatoes." B+(**) [cd]

Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan: Epistrophy (2016 [2019], ECM): Guitar and bass duets, playing standards ranging from "Red River Valley" to two Monks and Paul Motian's "Mumbo Jumbo." Pretty minimal. B+(*)

Larry Fuller: Overjoyed (2018 [2019], Capri): Pianist, from Toledo, Ohio, recorded a trio album in 1998 with Ray Brown and Jeff Hamilton but more often appeared as the pianist in their piano trios. Released a trio album I liked under his own name in 2014, and follows that up here, with Hassan Shakur and Lewis Nash. Two originals, more standards that catch your ear, the title cut from Stevie Wonder. B+(***) [cd]

Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewan/Adam Lane/Kevin Shea: Live at the Bushwick Series (2019, Gaucimusic): Tenor saxophone, with guitar for extra squeal to go with the squawk, plus bass and drums. Three improvs, 38:10. Vigorous, little harsh for my taste. B+(*) [bc]

Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks [This Is Bate Bola OST] (2018 [2019], International Anthem): Soundtrack to a short film that appeared in 2018, so I'm guessing that's the date (could be earlier). Mostly electronics, mostly atmospheric, aside from a bit at the end I zoned out before. B

Polly Gibbons: All I Can Do (2019, Resonance): Jazz singer qua blues belter, third album, wrote 2 (of 12) songs, the best surprise from Prince. Backed with piano, organ and guitar (Paul Bollenbeck). B [cd]

Girls on Grass: Dirty Power (2019, self-released): Brooklyn alt/indie band, led by singer-songwriter Barbara Endes (also plays guitar), with girl drummer Nancy Polstein and two blokes. Second album. One lyric jumped out at me: "Capitalism ruins everything that's worth doing." Also something about "Commander in Thief." B+(**)

Ariana Grande: Thank U, Next (2019, Republic): Pop star, fifth album coming rather fast after her well-reviewed (except by me) Sweetener. This suggests to me that she's stabilizing as a top-tier pro, rather than (as I thought at the time) declining into a hack. Will keep an eye on her. B+(**)

Ross Hammond & Sameer Gupta: Mystery Well (2018, Prescott): Guitar and tabla duo. Guitarist has been prolific over a decade, including a previous duo album with Gupta. Doesn't have the twang of a sitar, but fits in nicely. B+(***) [bc]

William Hooker: Cycle of Restoration (2018 [2019], FPE): Avant drummer, discography goes back to 1975, trio with Mark Kirschenmann (trumpet) and Joel Peterson (drums), sounds like some uncredited electronics mixed in. One improv set live in Detroit, starts "serene" so takes a while to get interesting ("Panchromatics 1" and "2"). B+(*)

Salif Keita: Un Autre Blanc (2018 [2019], Naive): A quite remarkable singer from Mali, born to royalty, cast out for his albinismo, gained fame as "the golden voice of Africa," first with his group Les Ambassadeurs then as a solo act from 1987. Past 70 now, with one of his better albums, the rhythm not quite as effortless as I'd like. B+(***)

Khalid: Suncity (2018, RCA, EP): Surname Robinson, first album showed his mastery of his topic, American Teen, now moving somewhat more cautiously into adulthood. Seven tracks including an intro skit and an interlude, 21:09. B+(*)

Khalid: Free Spirit (2019, RCA): Impressive second album, attractive, catchy in spots, pleasant throughout, but runs a bit longer than my interest holds out. B+(***)

Larry Koonse: New Jazz Standards Vol. 4 (2019, Summit): Guitarist, born in San Diego, based in Los Angeles, father was another jazz guitarist, Dave Koonse, and they have a couple of duo albums (one in 1978 when Larry was a teenager, another in 2003). Not much directly under Koonse's name, but lots of side credits -- seems like every jazz album recorded in LA over the last two decades. He leads a quartet here, with Josh Nelson (piano), Tom Harrington (bass), and Joe LaBarbera (drums), but the real auteur doesn't play: Carl Saunders, who's compiled 100 of his compositions into the book New Jazz Standards, and recruited the leaders of he previous volumes in this series: Sam Most, Scott Whitfield, and Roger Kellaway. As a big band trumpeter, Saunders knows what he's doing. But aren't standards supposed to be recognized first? B [cd]

Joachim Kühn: Melodic Ornette Coleman: Piano Works XIII (2018 [2019], ACT): German pianist, many albums since 1969, including a live duo in 1996 with Coleman. This is solo, Coleman tunes plus one original tribute. Makes a fair case for Coleman as a melodist, but that always seemed rather tangential to his genius. B+(*)

Pablo Lanouguere Quintet: Eclectico (2019, self-released): Bassist, from Argentina, based in New York, plays electric as well as upright, first album, original compositions that feature Nick Danielson on viola, backed by guitar (Federico Diaz), piano (Emilio Teubal), and drums (Franco Pinna). Struck me as avant-classical, so took me a while. B+(**) [cd]

Remy Le Boeuf: Light as a Word (2017 [2019], Outside In Music): Alto saxophonist, from Santa Cruz, California, based in Brooklyn, first album under his own name following three with brother Pascal as the Le Boeuf Brothers. Sextet with Walter Smith III (tenor sax), Aaron Parks (piano), guitar, bass, and drums. Postbop, a little slick but goes somewhere. B+(**) [cd]

Jenny Lewis: On the Line (2019, Warner Bros.): Singer-songwriter, fourth studio album (not counting her tenure with Rilo Kiley or various other ad hoc projects). She has good pop sense, but I'm not picking up much here. B+(*)

Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (2019, Nice Life/Atlantic): Melissa Jefferson, third album, raps, sings, wails, whines, cracks wise. Says she pledges to be "Aretha Franklin for the 2018 generation." Doesn't have the voice, but cranks up the drama, and the music is punched up to the max. She makes an outsized impression, only fading a bit at the end. A-

Russ Lossing: Changes (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): Pianist, from Ohio, based in New York since 1986, at least 15 albums, mostly trios (many unconventional), mostly original material, tends to find his own idiosyncratic way (much like his long-time drummer and mentor, Paul Motian). This is fairly conventional, a trio with Michael Formanek and Gerald Cleaver, mostly standards (3 Monk, 2 Ellington, opens with "Bye, Bye Blackbird"). B+(***)

Russ Lossing: Motian Music (2019, Sunnyside): The late drummer Paul Motian led kind of a dual life. On the one hand, he played in a remarkable series of piano trios, starting with Bill Evans and including Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Marilyn Crispell, Enrico Pieranunzi, Martial Solal, Geri Allen, and Lossing. On the other, he rarely used piano on his own records (a favorite trio was with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell). This, a trio with Masa Kamaguchi (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums), is Lossing's second album of Motian compositions. It effectively merges the two paths, but the results, like Motian, are somewhat inscrutable. B+(**)

Amber Mark: Conexão (2018, Virgin EMI, EP): Pop/r&b singer-songwriter, has some self-released singles before graduating to this 4-song, 17:32 EP. Despite title, songs in English. I'm not finding any bio. A promising outing. B+(**)

Wynton Marsalis: Bolden: Music From the Original Soundtrack (2019, Blue Engine): Dan Pritzker directed the movie, released May 3, starring Gary Carr as Buddy Bolden (1877-1931, but unrecorded and locked up after 1907), the first of the legendary New Orleans cornet players, and Reno Wilson his better known successor, Louis Armstrong. Marsalis was the obvious choice to score this, using his Jazz at Lincoln Center crew and guest vocalists: Catherine Russell, Brianna Thomas, and most often Wilson, who does his best to sing like Pops and isn't really up to it. B+(***) [cd]

Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra: Shiny! (2019, Uncle Marvin Music): Her bio includes a lot of soundtrack work as well as playing saxophone for Guns 'n' Roses and Spinal Tap. This is her big band debut, dedicated to the late trumpeter Lew Soloff, mostly New York players, the best known with fusion/crossover credits. Splashy. B+(*) [cd]

Reba McEntire: Stronger Than the Truth (2019, Big Machine): Country singer, from Oklahoma, in her sixties now, debut album in 1977, this is her 33rd in 43 years. Neotrad sound, strong drawl, some sad songs, some upbeat, a single ("Freedom") with the potential to be abused something awful. B+(*)

Mekons: Deserted (2019, Bloodshot): Venerably Anglo (now Chicago?) cowpunk group reunited for another roundup, starts out sounding strong (and angry), hits a skid spot midway, and and I tend to lose interest after that, not that I don't hear things that make me wonder if more plays might bring it around. B+(***) [bc]

Xose Miguélez: Ontology (2018 [2019], Origin): Tenor saxophonist, from Galicia in Spain, the panhandle due north of Portugal, an autonomous region of Spain with its own language and folk culture -- something Miguélez specializes in. With guitar, bass, drums, and vibes on a couple cuts, an extra saxophonist (Matt Otto) on a few more. Ends with a 1981 field recording, but all along seemed a bit off the beaten path. B+(**) [cd]

Mdou Moctar: Ilana: The Creator (2019, Sahle Sounds): Tuareg from Niger, plays guitar, sings, got me thinking that if Ali Farka Tuareg was the John Lee Hooker of the Sahara, he just might be the Jimi Hendrix. Then he tails off a bit, the old groove and trance getting the upper hand. B+(***) [bc]

Billy Mohler: Focus! (2019, Make): Bassist, based in Los Angeles, Bandcamp page talks about "returns his Focus to jazz after a successful career in rock, pop and R&B production and songwriting." This may be his first album, a pianoless free jazz quartet, with Chris Speed (tenor sax/clarinet), Shane Endsley (trumpet), and Nate Wood (drums). Starts with a bit of bass solo, then the band cuts loose. Slows down toward the end, but still holds your interest. A- [cd]

Helado Negro: This Is How You Smile (2019, RVNG Intl): Singer-songwriter Roberto Carlos Lange, born in Florida, parents from Ecuador, half-dozen albums since 2009. Woozy tempo with shifting shapes, reminds me a bit of Arto Lindsay at his most Brazilian, but even more deliberately -- so much I doubt I really caught much of it. B+(*)

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint (2018 [2019], Storyville): Directed by drummer Adonis Rose, a big band, several guest vocalists -- Dee Dee Bridgewater, Phillip Manuel, Gerald French -- nine songs, as advertised. B+(**) [cd]

OGJB Quartet [Oliver Lake/Graham Haynes/Joe Fonda/Barry Altschul]: Bamako (2016 [2019], TUM): Alto sax, cornet, bass and drums. Haynes the youngest (b. 1960), the least avant, most African-oriented, but manages to fit in. Lake speaks on the Haynes' title piece. Mostly interesting mish-mash, except when Lake gets up a full head of steam and runs away with everything. B+(***) [cd]

Sam Ospovat: Ride Angles (2018 [2019], Skirl): Drummer, originally from Lincoln, Nebraska; based in Bay Area, has at least one previous record. Trio with Matt Mitchell (most impressive on piano) and Kim Cass (bass), plus scattered guests -- Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Nick Lyons (alto sax), and Lorin Benedict (scat vocals) -- each adding an interesting twist. B+(**) [cd]

Nicki Parrott: From New York to Paris (2019, Arbors): Bassist from Australia, based in New York, sang a bit at first, and was so appealing she moved on to whole albums, mostly standards from the swing era. Plenty of New York and Paris songs to choose from -- my favorite is the one in French, "La Mer." Gil Goldstein's accordion adds that Gallic touch, with John DeMartino (piano), Alvin Atkinson (drums), and Harry Allen on tenor sax. B+(**)

Bennett Paster: Indivisible (2018 [2019], self-released): Keyboard player, grew up in New Mexico, studied in Boston, based in New York, has a few previous records. Backed by bass and drums, guitar (Al Street) on most cuts, tenor sax (Kenny Brooks) on half, plus scattered congas and percussion. Nice, lively mix, with some Latin tinge. B+(*) [cd]

Pedro the Lion: Phoenix (2019, Polyvinyl): Indie rock band formed in Seattle in 1995, broke up after their fourth album in 2004, singer-songwriter David Bazan going on to a checkered solo career. Bazan is an interesting guy with things to say, but his music never did much for me. The band beefs it up. B+(**)

Jeremy Pelt: Jeremy Pelt the Artist (2018 [2019], HighNote): Trumpet player, close to twenty albums since 2001, leads this off with his layered five-part "Rodin Suite." Two keyboard players (Victor Gould on piano), guitar, the vibraphone/marimba stands out (Chien Chien Lu). Balance of album inches toward hard bop. B+(*)

Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley: Strings 3 (2018 [2019], Leo): Continues the prolific tenor saxophonist's series from last year, all albums (so far) featuring Maneri on viola -- the first with two violins, the second with cello. This one adds some trumpet dischord to the core ugliness, although in the end you could learn something from the messiness of freedom. B+(*) [cd]

Ivo Perelman/Mat Maneri/Nate Wooley/Matthew Shipp: Strings 4 (2018 [2019], Leo): Add the pianist and it all becomes much more coherent, even if he never seems to be conspicuous. B+(***) [cd]

Pet Shop Boys: Agenda (2019, X2, EP): Four songs, short, punchy hits (13:08), mostly topical ("On social media," "What are we going to do about the rich?," "Give stupidity a chance"). B+(**)

Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum (2018 [2019], X2): Live at the Royal Opera Hall, released as a DVD although I'm just going by the audio. I don't think the duo gains anything in the concert hall, although the crowd noise draws (even a singalong on "West End Girls") you into the experience, and they have no trouble drawing twenty-plus terrific songs -- sometimes two or three to a cut -- from their deep discography. Ends with a reprise of "The Pop Kids" -- their latest, a pure throwback to their heyday, although songs like "It's a Sin" and "Go West" tower even higher. A-

Quelle Chris: Guns (2019, Mello Music Group): Rapper Gavin Tennille, underground division, pretty good duo album last year with Jean Grae (cameo here), like the beats here, I'm a little slow on the words. Choice cut: "Obamacare." B+(***) [bc]

Andrew Rathbun: Character Study (2017 [2018], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, from Canada, moved to New York, came up in 2000 on Fresh Sound New Talent, mainstream player, gets some strong support from Tim Hagans (trumpet) and a top-notch rhythm section (Gary Versace on piano, Jay Anderson, and Bill Stewart). B+(**)

Joshua Redman Quartet: Come What May (2018 [2019], Nonesuch): Second-generation tenor saxophonist, was an instant star back in 1992 so seems like he's been around forever, but he's still under 50. Standard quartet: Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Gregory Hutchinson (drums). Solid set, sounds like he's got his own sound back, some spark too. B+(***)

Eric Reed: Everybody Gets the Blues (2019, Smoke Sessions): Mainstream pianist, couple dozen albums since 1991, his first dedicated to Art Blakey, this one kicking off with "Cedar Waltzin'" (for Walton). With Tim Green (alto sax), Mike Gurrola (bass) and McClenty Hunter (drums). Blues may be the ground, but this is too bright and bouncy to get bogged down. B+(**)

Steph Richards: Take the Neon Lights (2019, Birdwatcher): Trumpet player; from Calgary, Canada; based in Brooklyn; has recorded with Vinny Golia and Henry Threadgill. Second album (first was credited to Stephanie Richards), backed by piano trio (James Carney, Sam Minaie, Andrew Munsey). B+(***)

Jason Ringenberg: Stand Tall (2019, Courageous Chicken): Country rocker from Illinois, called his first band Jason & the Scorchers -- their 1983 EP Fervor earned the name -- tried a solo album in 1992, occasionally recorded as Farmer Jason, this his first since a Christmas album in 2014. In 2017, he got a gig as artist-in-residence at Sequoia National Park, and wrote a couple of songs about the tall trees there, as well as the title instrumental. Added a Ramones tribute, and a few titles like "John the Baptist Was a Real Humdinger," "Hobo Bill's Last Ride," and "Many Happy Hangovers to You." Sixty now, and still scorchin'. A- [sp]

Royal Trux: White Stuff (2019, Fat Possum): Garage rock band from DC, formed 1988 by Neil Hagerty (ex-Pussy Galore) and Jennifer Herrema, released ten albums by 2002, regrouped here, as part of a deal to reissue their old records. Reports are they've already broken up again, beause Hagerty refuses to tour. I haven't heard their old stuff, and probably won't, but seems likely they have a cult following somewhere. B+(**)

Ruby Rushton: Ironside (2018 [2019], 22a): British jazz group, led by Ed Cawthorne (aka Tenderlonious; flute, soprano sax, synth, wah pedal, percussion), with Aidan Shepherd (keyboards) also writing a couple of songs, plus Nick Walters (trumpet) and Tim Carnegie (drums). Has some ambition, edge and drive, but nothing really sticks with me. B

Hama Sankare: Ballébé: Calling All Africans (2018, Clermont Music): From Mali, plays a style called calabash, guitar has some drone and voice some moan giving him a desert blues vibe. B+(***)

Hama Sankare: Niafunke (2019, Clermont Music): Second album. Christgau prefers the first but they strike me as pretty interchangeable. B+(***)

Dave Scott: In Search of Hipness (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): Trumpet player, based in New York (teaches at Western Connecticut State), not to be confused with Dave Len Scott (another trumpet player), sixth album since 1995. Sextet with violin (Sarah Bernstein), guitar (Nate Radley), piano (Jacob Sacks), bass, and drums. "Hip" strikes me as too dated a word for such fancy postbop. B+(*)

Silk Road Assassins: State of Ruin (2019, Planet Mu): UK electronica trio, from Bath, monikers Tom E Vercetti, LovedrOid, Chemist. Vacillates between industrial and grime, picking up my ears with the latter. B+(*) [bc]

Marcos Silva: Brasil: From Head to Toe (2019, Green Egg): Keyboard player, born in Rio de Janeiro, based in Bay Area, which has become a major center for Brazilian music in the US. Band includes Gary Meek on sax and flute. Mostly a pleasant groove album, soaring a bit. B [cd]

Sir Babygirl: Crush on Me (2019, Father/Daughter, EP): Kelsie Hogue, started in hardcore bands, solo debut is a 9-track (but if you scratch the reprises and outro more like six songs), 26:24 mini. Christgau: "So fake they're funny and so shiny they squeak." B+(***)

Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive (2019, Extreme Eating): British duo, vocals heavily accented rap, beats owe more to punk, politics as far as I can follow, although this seems less angry and less urgent than records past. B+(**)

Jim Snidero: Waves of Calm (2019, Savant): Mainstream alto saxophonist, couple dozen albums since 1984, last album celebrated Cannonball Adderley, here goes for "deep reflection and restrained maturity," occasioned by "his father's ongoing struggle with Parkinson's disease." Lovely album, with help by Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Orrin Evans (piano), Nat Reeves (bass), and Jonathan Barber (drums). B+(***)

SOL Development: The SOL of Black Folk (2019, self-released): Oakland hip-hop collective, acronym stands for Source of Light, title reflects on W.E.B. DuBois's best-known book. So much talent the styles clash, but "Nobody" puts it all together, and I'd probably find more if I put in the time. B+(**) [bc]

Solange: When I Get Home (2019, Saint/Columbia): Knowles, long overshadowed by her sister Beyoncé, got a lot of attention for 2016's A Seat at the Table, follows that up here. I find both albums subdued and inscrutable, this one perhaps even more so. Cover art very similar, with her looking dazed and sad. B+(*)

Spellling: Mazy Fly (2018 [2019], Sacred Bones): R&b singer-songwriter Tia Cabral, second album, "experimental" in the sense that she doesn't fit the mold, or any other I can think of. B+(**)

George Strait: Honky Tonk Time Machine (2019, MCA Nashville): Dependable, predictable: his first two albums were called Strait Country and Strait From the Heart, but he was smart enough not to return to that well, moving on to One Step at a Time and Always Never the Same in the late 1990s, and more recently Here for a Good Time and Cold Beer Conversations. This is his 30th album, a little more explicit in honky tonk references, probably because the songs speak less. B

Dave Stryker: Eight Track III (2019, Strikezone): Guitarist, been around, soul jazz groove with organ (Jared Gold), vibraphone (Stefon Harris), drums (McClenty Hunter), and congas on a few cuts. Covers include Steely Dan and a lot of Motown. B+(**) [cd]

James Suggs: You're Gonna Hear From Me (2018, Arbors): Trumpet player, from Pennsylvania, teaches at University of South Florida, seems to be his first album, lined up some impressive backup: Houston Person (tenor sax), Lafayette Harris (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums). B+(**)

Sunflower Bean: King of the Dudes (2019, Mom + Pop, EP): Indie rock trio from Long Island, Julia Cumming the singer/bassist, with two albums and three EPs -- this one 4 snappy cuts, 12:03. B+(**)

Swindle: No More Normal (2019, Brownswood): British grime/dubstep producer Cameron Palmer, with some ties to the new jazz scene, but this never finds a real vibe, and strikes me as overblown. B-

Terraza Big Band: One Day Wonder (2017 [2019], Outside In Music): Co-led by Michael Thomas (alto sax) and Edward Perez (bass), who composed most of the pieces, arranged the rest. Standard sections, mostly New York names I recognize, plus guitar and (3/9 cuts) extra percussion (Samuel Torres). B+(*) [cd]

Tiger Hatchery: Breathing in the Walls (2017 [2018], ESP-Disk): Avant-sax trio, with Mike Forbes, Andrew Scott Young (bass), and Ben Billington (drums), group together since 2010 (Forbes has a 2009 album with Young and Weasel Walter). Rugged, striking, relatively short (30:18). B+(***) [cd]

Fumi Tomita: The Elephant Vanishes (2018 [2019], OA2): Bassist, based in New York for 15 years, teaches at U. Mass in Amherst, evidently his first record, subtitled "Jazz Interpretations of the Short Stories of Haruki Murakami." Easy-flowing postbop, with Jason Rigby (sax), Mike Baggetta (guitar), Art Hirahara (piano), and drums. B [cd]

Trapper Keaper: Meets Tim Berne & Aurora Nealand (2019, Ears & Eyes/Caligola): New Orleans "space-funk" duo, William Thompson IV (mostly keyboards) and Marcello Benetti (drums), one previous album, meet up here with two alto saxophonists (Nealand also plays accordion). One's tempted to credit Berne, but there's a lot going on. B+(***) [cd]

Warren Vaché: Songs Our Fathers Taught Us (2019, Arbors): Cornet player, retro swing when he started out in the late '70s, plays standards here from "My Melancholy Baby" and "Slow Boat to China" to "Birks Works." Guitarist Jacob Fischer is a steady force here, carrying most of the songs. Also with Neal Miner (bass) and Steve Williams (drums). B+(***)

Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (2019, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter from New Jersey, fifth album, finds an engaging groove and haunts it. B+(*)

Petra Van Nuis & Dennis Luxion: Because We're Night People (2018, String Damper): Voice and piano duo from Chicago. Fifth album for the singer (-songwriter?), including a couple of previous duos with guitarist (husband) Andy Brown. The pianist played with Chet Baker in the 1980s, and with vocalist Diane Delin -- Discogs credits him with one album each, but his own website lists 6 and 4, as well as a dozen more albums with various leaders. B+(*)

Cory Weeds Quintet: Live at Frankie's Jazz Club (2019, Cellar Live): Alto saxophonist, studied at UNT and Capilano U, owns Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver and their label, fourteen albums since 2008 -- haven't heard any before, but Everything's Coming Up Weeds is a good title. Standard bebop quintet with Terell Stafford (trumpet), Harold Mabern (piano), bass, and drums. Live sound's a little thin. B+(*)

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Worldwide (2019, Orenda): Tenor saxophonist, first recorded in 1989, one of a cluster of richly-toned mainstream players from the 1990s, although I can't say as I followed him closely -- mostly a name that followed Benny Wallace like a shadow. Until I track down his 1990s albums, I can't really attest that this is his best ever, but both fast and slow it's a sax lovers delight. The Europeans are Carl Winther (piano), Andreas Lang (bass), and Anders Mogensen (drums). A- [cd]

Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning (2018 [2019], Origin): Saxophonist (tenor/soprano), also plays wood flute, teaches in Bay Area, fifth album since 2003 (or 1996?), backed by piano trio (Taylor Eigsti), upbeat, in commanding form throughout. B+(***) [cd]

Dave Zinno Unisphere: Stories Told (2018 [2019], Whaling City Sound): Bassist, third album, all under this group rubric, a hard bop quintet with Mike Tucker (tenor sax), Eric 'Benny' Bloom (trumpet/flugelhorn), Tim Ray (piano), and Rafael Barata (drums). Bright and upbeat, except for the cover of "Michelle," which (Like most Beatles songs) is a tarpit for jazz musicians. B+(*) [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume One (1967 [2019], Tramp): Previously unreleased Afro-Cuban jazz from San Francisco, a group led by vibraphonist Ulysses Crockett, with piano (John Miller), tenor sax/oboe/flute (Robert Harvey), bass (Robert Bing Nathan), drums (Robert Belinsky), and "guests" Paul Jackson (bass) and Harold Haynes (congas). Not super Cuban, with tunes like "Straight No Chaser" and a fast-tracked "The Girl From Ipanema." B+(**)

Afro-Blue Persuasion: Live at Haight Levels: Volume Two (1967 [2019], Tramp): More, both volumes could have squeezed onto a single CD but the main release focus is vinyl. Starts with "Cuban Fantasy" and ends with "A Night in Tunisia." B+(**)

Louis Armstrong: Sparks, Nevada 1964! (1964 [2018], Dot Time): Late in his career -- he didn't record much after 1966, and died in 1971 -- but this catches him on top of the world, with a smash single ("Hello Dolly"), a crack (if no longer All Star) band (Billy Kyle and Arvell Shaw are still in). His voice has an extra load of gravel, but he's still remarkably nimble, especially as he pushes his hit to 7:05, and his trumpet is as brilliant as ever. Still, he takes a break, giving Shaw a long solo on "How High the Moon," then turning the microphone over to Jewel Brown for two cuts. But she's terrific, and he returns for the closing crowd pleaser: "When the Saints Go Marching In." A-

Imamu Amiri Baraka: It's Nation Time: African Visionary Music (1972 [2018], Motown): Poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, wrote an important book on music (Blues People), made his name as Leroi Jones then changed it in 1965, appeared on a record that year with New York Art Quartet. This builds on his 1970 book It's Nation Time, a potent mix of black power politics and avant-jazz, notably with Gary Bartz (alto sax), various keyboards and guitar, scattered horns, Reggie Workman (bass), and lots of percussion -- intense, angry, frazzled. B+(***)

Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber: Twentieth Anniversary Mixtapes: Groiddest Schnizzits: Volume Two (2001-17 [2019], Trugroid/Avantgroidd): Back in 1999 rock critic Greg Tate decided to try his hand at cosmic jazz, rounding up friends and acquaintances, his own credit most often "conduction" -- the Butch Morris term for a conductor trying to direct improvisers. Tate's a word guy, so he recruited singers. I'm not, so I've always had trouble following that aspect. For their 20th, they came out with three discs of remixes -- this is the only one I've found so far (otherwise I'd be tempted to review them as a set). B+(***)

Betty Carter: The Music Never Stops (1992 [2019], Blue Engine): Jazz singer, dubbed Bebop Betty when she started out in the mid-1950s, deep voice, nimble scat, her work on Verve from 1980 up to her death in 1998 is especially revered -- albeit not by me: I've been impressed by her bands, but never cared much for the vocals. I should probably reacquaint myself, as she shows remarkable poise and range here, in a previously unreleased Jazz at Lincoln Center tape. Some small group cuts, more big band, some strings arranged by Geri Allen: I doubt any of those are really up to her standards, but they work well enough. A- [cd]

Elecktrokids: Elektroworld (1995 [2019], Clone Classic Cuts): Billing: "based in Flint, Michigan, USA, the four young sons of an electrician welded together their debut album." No names, but one or both members of Drexciya are implicated in this Krautrock move, where the few lyrics are repeated at length, a strategy that works better for the beats. B+(**) [bc]

Duke Ellington: In Coventry, 1966 (1966 [2018], Storyville): Solo piano for the 9:13 openener, "New World A-Comin'," then joined by the orchestra. Set in Coventry Cathedral, he decided to go sacred, most melodramatically with 20:39 of "In the Beginning God" -- lifted midway with a bit of gospel hoedown, before he gets way too serious again. B

Ben Lamar Gay: 500 Chains (2013-14 [2018], International Anthem): Chicago-based musician, sings/speaks, plays cornet, probably more, recorded seven unreleased albums since 2010 before his "greatest hits" debut, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun. This is the first of the seven "source albums" to appear. Hard to wrap my head around the spoken parts, but spots (especially with the horn) impress (actually a bit more than the "best of"; he's a project). B+(***)

Ben Lamar Gay: Grapes (2013-14 [2018], International Anthem): Very experimental, closer to rock or soul than to jazz, which isn't to say it's predictable or easy. B+(*)

Ben Lamar Gay/Edinho Gerber: Benjamin E Edinho (2011-13 [2018], International Anthem, EP): Adds a tropicalia vibe with Brazilian guitar master, from a couple stretches when the duo co-resided in Rio de Janeiro and Chicago. Eight cuts, 28:27. B+(*)

Joanne Grauer: Introducing Lorraine Feather (1977 [1978], MPS): Pianist, based in Los Ageles, eponymous debut in 1974, only a few albums after this sophomore effort. Trio on the A-side, three B-side tracks introduce the singer and also mark an early appearance for tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts. B+(*)

Infinite Spirit Music: Live Without Fear (1979 [2019], Jazzman): One-shot Chicago group, best known member is percussionist and singer Kahil El'Zabar, although Ka T' Etta Aton also sings, and there are two more percussionists, plus Henry Huff (most impressive on sax), Soji Abedayo (piano), and Michaka Uba (bass). I'm not a big fan of the vocals (although the title hits home), but the music transcends such concerns. Vol. 27 in Jazzman's Holy Grail Series. Makes me wonder what else I've missed. A- [bc]

Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental and New Age Music 1980-1990 (1980-90 [2019], Light in the Attic): Beware the version differences: the full 3-LP package has 25 tracks, the 2-CD a bit less at 23, but the digital, which is the only one I've heard, stops at 10 (41:47). This doesn't sound like much at first: a bit of quiet piano, a shift to synth and more electronics, the occasional light rhythm track. Nice and calming, not meditative (at least not exactly). Grows on you, or maybe just gets comfy. A-

Live at Raul's (1979 [2019], Steady Boy): Ten songs from five punk/garage bands I'd never heard of -- The Explosives, Standing Waves, Terminal Mind, The Next, The Skunks -- recorded live in Austin, TX, released at the time. Reminds one what a shock to the system punk was back then. Also that Austin was still a backwater. B+(*)

Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) (1984-94 [2018], Soundway): Crate-digging, no one here I recognize, and nothing that really stand out, but every cut has energy and panache, and they all flow together nicely. B+(**) [bc]

Mark Turner/Gary Foster: Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster (2003 [2019], Capri, 2CD): Foster's is a name I haven't heard in a while. Born in 1936, mostly plays alto sax, debut album in 1968, a few more through 1984, less often up to a 2006 duo with Putter Smith (bass), most when he was featured on someone's album. Turner is 29 years younger, had a smashing debut in 1994 and major label presence for a decade, until a saw mishap set him back. He's been busy lately, but his string of A-list albums predates this, a warm and friendly two-sax quartet, with Smith and Joe LaBarbera (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Weaponise Your Sound (2019, Optimo Music): British electronica comp, on "Diet Clinic's sublabel," "all proceeds go to London based charity, Focus E15, which demands social housing, not social cleansing." No one I've ever heard of. Not all electronic, veers a bit into exotica, all worth hearing. B+(**) [bc]

Old Music

Mandy Barnett: I Can't Stop Loving You: The Songs of Don Gibson (2013, Rounder): She built her career in Patsy Cline tributes, and has the voice for the job. Turns her attention here to the writer of Cline's signature song, "Sweet Dreams," which she nails perfectly. Elsewhere I miss Gibson's own self-effacing swing, not that I mind her torching his laments -- she has the voice. B+(***)

The Comet Is Coming: Channel the Spirits (2016, The Leaf Label): First album, more groove and harder grind, but not quite all the way through. B+(***)

Bill Cunliffe/Gary Foster: It's About Love (2003, Torii): Piano-alto sax quartet, with Jeff D'Angelo (bass) and Tim Pleasant (drums), mostly ballads, lush tending toward gorgeous, lovely showcase for the sax voice. B+(***)

Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller III (1992-97 [2013], Clone Classic Cuts): Detroit techno duo, James Stinson and Gerald Donald, constructed a whole mythology "of underwater dwellers descended from pregnant slave women thrown overboard during the trans-Atlantic deportation. Starting with their 1992 Deep Sea Dweller EP, they kept at it for a decade (Stinson died in 2002), then languished until this Dutch label started collecting their early work on four CDs. I reviewed I and II when they came out, but didn't notice later comps. This is nearly as good (maybe a bit less consistent) as the first. A- [bc]

Drexciya: Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller IV (1992-97 [2013], Clone Classic Cuts): Mopping up, including five "Unknown Journey" cuts. Some introduce a newly developed warble which adds a dimension to their sound, but doesn't seem as perfectly paced. B+(***) [bc]

Drexciya: Neptune's Lair (1999, Tresor): After enough short releases to fill the four Clone Classic Cuts CDs, the Detroit techno duo's first full-fledged album. B+(***)

Drexciya: Grava 4 (2002, Clone): Third (and last) album. Attractive beats, but fades a bit. B+(**)

Billie Eilish: Don't Smile at Me (2017, Darkroom/Interscope, EP): Eight track, 26:00 debut, "a sleeper hit," cracked the charts a month and a half after its release, going on to earn nearly a million "album-equivalent units" and "more than 1.2 billion on-demand audio streams" -- not that I noticed, at least until her follow-up album appeared. Singles are more pop, more easily distinguished from the filler. B+(***)

Salif Keita: The Mansa of Mali: A Retrospective (1978-94 [1994], Mango): Mostly from three Mango albums, with one long song from much earlier and three more songs from soundtracks. Probably the place to start, though it trails off a bit toward the end. B+(***)

Lee Konitz and Gary Foster: Body and Soul: Dedicatd to the Memory of Warne Marsh (1995 [1996], Insights): Two alto saxophonists, both with longstanding ties to the Tristanoite tenor saxophonist -- there is Warne Marsh Meets Gary Foster, but that came out 13 years after Foster appeared on Marsh's Ne Plus Ultra. Recorded in Tokyo with Masao Nakajima (piano), Tsutomu Okada (bass), and Jimmy Smith (drums). B+(***)

Russ Lossing: Dreamer (2000, Double Time): Pianist's first album, a trio with Ed Schuller (bass) and Paul Motian (drums). Seven originals, two Monks, one piece from Andrew Hill. B+(**)

Russ Lossing/Ed Schuller/Paul Motian: As It Grows (2002 [2004], Hatology): Same piano-bass-drums trio, a couple years down the road, with Lossing writing nearly everything. B+(**)

Russ Lossing: All Things Arise (2005 [2006], Hatology): Solo piano. Opens with a 4-part, 27:00 suite, featuring a fair amount of drama, then tacks on six more pieces: one original, two Ellingtons, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, "Alabama Song." B+(**)

George Strait: Strait Country (1981, MCA): First album, ten songs none running more than 3:06 (27:51 total), mostly draws songs from Dean Dillon and Frank Dycus, relationship songs that understand it's complicated: "Every Time You Throw Dirt on Her (You Lose a Little Ground)," "She's Playing Hell Trying to Get Me to Heaven," "Her Goodbye Hit Me in the Heart." B+(**)

George Strait: Strait From the Heart (1982, MCA): Second album, marginally longer (28:45), recorded his first original ("I Can't See Texas From Here"), better than "Marina del Rey" let alone "Lover in Disguise." B

George Strait: Right or Wrong (1983, MCA): Another short one, but his voice is maturing, and his roots are spreading. After three albums the label decided they had enough to release a Greatest Hits, and I thought it was pretty good. But I won't complain about the filler here, except to note that he didn't write any of it. B+(***)

George Strait: Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984, MCA): No fluff, his shortest album yet (25:55), the honky tonk songs done elegantly and/or plaintively, which is to say with a bit less inspiration than one would wish for. B+(**)

George Strait: Something Special (1985, MCA): Hits his stride here, even if he doesn't break a sweat trying. Better songs are the key, nothing especially classic, but tapping ten different writers/teams suggests he's looked high and low. And he's so relaxed singing them he delivers his longest album to date (32:49). A-

George Strait: The Best of George Strait [20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection] (1983-93 [2002], MCA Nashville): The standard Strait compilation these days is probably 50 Number Ones (2004), but rather than wallow in all that I thought I'd first check this short one (12 songs, 39:01), as I missed it last time I tried going deep on the series. But aside from one 1983 hit ("You Look So Good in Love") this sticks to a fairly narrow time slice, 1987-93. Given his career (even just to date), I doubt I'd pick more than 3-4 of these. B+(**)

George Strait: 50 Number Ones (1982-2004 [2004], MCA Nashville, 2CD): He released one album nearly every year from 1981 through 2009 (skipping 1995, 2002, and 2007), usually with 3-4 singles from each, so steady production adds up. He has four albums and no hit singles since 2009, but Wikipedia credits him with the most number one Billboard US country singles ever (45, disputing ten songs here) and the second-most top-tens (86, behind Eddy Arnold's 92). One new song here, making 51 total (and yes, it was released as a single and went number one). His always sounds fine, never rubs you the wrong way -- his consistency is truly remarkable, but I doubt he's turned out a stone cold classic, here or elsewhere. B+(***)

Timosaurus: I Love You More Than Yesterday (2011, self-released): Avant sax-guitar-drums trio: Matt Nelson, Andrew Conklin, and Sam Ospovat. Free jazz squall up front, energetic but rough. Deconstructs later on, isolating the sounds while still retaining interest. B+(**) [bc]

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:


Kuzu: Hiljaisuus (2017 [2019], Astral Spirits/Aerophonic): 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). I wrote that back after streaming last fall, then got a CD in the mail in February, causing various bookkeeping issues: the release in September 2018 was vinyl and digital, so is the February 2019 CD a reissue, or should I treat the real new release as 2019? I procrastinated, but when I finally did give it a spin, I was blown away. I used to hate this kind of free jazz squall, then got to where I could stand it, and once in a while even thrill to it -- this one of those rare cases. As for the bookkeeping, this gets a double entry -- I'll leave it in the 2018 lists at the lower grade, but include it in 2019's A-list as a new record. (Some comparable cases: I still figure on treating Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy as a 2018 release even though its CD didn't come out until Feb. 22, as I, and pretty much everyone else, heard it in 2018. On the other hand, I missed the 2018 digital release of Eric Dolphy's Musical Prophet, only hearing it after the CDs dropped on January 25, so I'm treating it as 2019.) A- [cd]

Serengeti: Dennis 6e (2018, People): [was B+(**)] B+(***)

Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): Piano trio with Michael Bisio (bass) and Taylor Baker (drums). Seemed like a typically solid performance when I streamed it, but I took more time with it after the CD arrived, and it gradually fell into place -- less raw power than his best previous trios, but he keeps building. [was B+(***)] A- [cd]

Notes

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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sp] available at Spotify