Streamnotes: September 30, 2019


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 August 26. Past reviews and more information are available here (13400+ records).


Recent Releases

Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble: Aqisseq (2016 [2018], ONJazz): French pianist, close to a dozen albums since 2000, backed by bass and drums. Piano sounds prepared, never quite where you expect it. B+(**)

Franco Ambrosetti Quintet: Long Waves (2019, Unit): Swiss trumpet player, father Flavio Ambrosetti was a saxophonist of some note, played in his father's quintet 1963-70, starting a long relationship with pianist George Gruntz. Close to three dozen albums, only one I've previously heard, but his supporting group here would have been hard to miss: John Scofield (guitar), Uri Caine (piano), Scott Colley (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). B+(***)

AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (2017 [2019], Clear Now): Pinton, an Italian based in Stockholm, plays baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, piccolo and bass flute. Thirteen albums since 2001, first title adopted for his label name. Mixed bag, with Mats Åleklint's trombone a consistent delight, the leader in fine form, Mattias Ståhl adding vibes, Selma Pinton's vocals a needless complication. B+(**) [cd]

Kenyatta Beasley Septet: The Frank Foster Songbook (2019, Art Vs Transit, 2CD): Trumpet player, from New Orleans, regards Foster (alto saxophonist, a major arranger for Count Basie, died 2011) as a mentor. Beasley's septet is effectively a big band, especially with a batch of special guests. Unabashed swing, runs long. B+(**)

Blarf: Cease & Desist (2019, Stones Throw): Someone named Eric Andre, from Florida, mixed Haitian-Jewish, studied at Dreyfoos School of the Arts and Berklee but seems to be best known for low-budget TV comedy. First album. Has a long stretch of noise, which isn't totally awful, surrounded by all sorts of pastiche -- some bits are funny, sure, but not something I feel up to working through. B- [bc]

Ray Blue: Work (2019, Jazzheads): Tenor saxophonist, several records since 2001, wrote a couple songs here but mostly sticks with standards. Backed by guitar, piano, bass, drums, and occasional guests (some trombone, plus piano spots for Kirk Lightsey and Benito Gonzalez). Easy listening as it should be. B+(**) [cd]

Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me: Remembering Ella & Joe (2019, Strong Brew Music, EP): Jazz guitarist, half dozen albums since 2007, second one titled Groovin' Wes, and standards singer, three albums on her own (first in 1993). "Joe" is Pass, who did a duo album with Fitzgerald in 1970. Six songs, 27:17, not as striking as their inspirations, but a game effort. B+(*) [cd]

Peter Brötzmann/Alexander von Schlippenbach/Han Bennink: Fifty Years After: Live at the Lila Eule 2018 (2018 [2019], Trost): Three founders of the European avant-garde reunite at the venue of the saxphonist's fifty-year-old Machine Gun, but not to look back. The pianist missed that album, but he was as seminal a figure, his initial albums dating from the same period (Globe Unity from 1966). He is remarkable here, adding more dimensions to the saxophonist's primeval roar. A-

Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (2019, Drag City): American singer-songwriter, recorded thirteen albums as Smog 1990-2005, followed by six under his name. Not much more than voice and guitar, reminds me a bit of Dave Alvin but falls short. The extras on "Lonesome Valley" make a difference. B+(*)

Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (2019, Matador): Will Toledo, self-recorded a bunch of albums before signing his label deal, scored his breakthrough with Teens of Denial (2016), but since then his new product has been old: a remake of his 2011 Twin Fantasy, and now this live tour comp, recycling those same songs once more. I'm not unimpressed, but I've never been much invested. B+(**)

Matt Carson: No Regrets (2019, Bunba): Country singer-songwriter from South Carolina, first album, a short one -- 9 songs, 29:22, six originals, three context-setting covers). A serious young man with hurt in his voice. B+(**)

James Carter Organ Trio: Live From Newport Jazz (2018 [2019], Blue Note): From Detroit, the most impressive of the "tough young tenors" to emerge in the 1990s, unclear why he's been so rarely heard since 2011 (unless he's been holding out for another major label). He formed his Organ Trio for a live album in 2005, revived it for another in 2011, then nothing until this festival date. With Gerald Gibbs on organ and newcomer Alexander White on drums. Some extraordinary saxophone. Organ doesn't strike me as anything special. B+(***)

Cat in a Bag: Cat in a Bag (2019, Clean Feed): Quartet, recorded in Berlin but Portuguese musicians: Bruno Figueira (sax), João Clemente (guitar), João Lucas (bass), Duarte Fonseca (drums). Rockish in spots, although too avant to fit easily into the fusion bag. B+(***)

Corey Christiansen: La Proxima (2019, Origin): Guitarist, sixth album since 2008, backed by bass, drums, and more percussion. Long on groove, with a touch of Abercrombie. B+(*) [cd]

Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai: Playing the Room (2018 [2019], ECM): Two Israelis, trumpet and piano, very intimate. B+(*)

Marco Colonna/Agustí Fernandez/Zlatko Kaucic: Agrakal (2017 [2018], Not Two): Clarinet/baritone sax, backed by piano and drums. Tends toward harsh, but the rhythm can get energetic enough to overcome that problem. B+(**)

Frankie Cosmos: Close It Quietly (2019, Sub Pop): Greta Kline, fourth studio album after dozens of "Bandcamp exclusives," many attributed to Ingrid Superstar. Short songs, 21 of them. B+(**)

Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (2019, 4AD): Atlanta-based band, eighth studio album since 2004, only Brad Cox (vocals) and Moses Archuleta (drums) on all of them. Has a certain artiness to it, some nice stretches, some that drag a bit. B

Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019, Polydor/Interscope): Sixth album, starts with a dollop of strings and proceeds so slyly, so ethereally, I never really notice the title in the title song. Still, nearly every song seduces me in the end, maybe with a riff on "Summertime," or a choice expletive I happened to notice. Ends with: "Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have." Claims it anyway. A-

Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Between Two Worlds (2019, Ridgeway): Bass-guitar-drums trio, Denson and Pilon splitting the writing credits. Nothing very splashy, but intricate, nicely done. B+(*) [cd]

DSC [Leon Lee Dorsey/Greg Skaff/Mike Clark]: Monktime (2019, Jazz Avenue 1): Bass, guitar, drums, playing eight Monk tunes. Press package makes it clear that Dorsey, a bassist from Pittsburgh with two records 1995-99, is the leader here, although Skaff is more prominent, co-produced, and is marginally more famous (5 records since 1996). B+(*) [cd]

Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For (2019, Musical Fanzine/Get Better): Northampton MA punk group, guitar/vocals Mattie Hamer, others list their pronouns as "they/them." Short album (10 songs, 23:21), following a couple of shorter cassettes, but still long enough to evolve from thrash to something approaching songs. B+(*)

Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (2019, Rosebud Music): Jazz singer, member of New York Voices and Moss, has several previous albums on his own. Werner, of course, is the well-known pianist, so you might hope for something like the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans duets, but the music starts off with thick (hype sheet says "lush") strings. Better on the rare occasions when they let up, but not much. C- [cd]

Eliane Elias: Love Stories (2019, Concord): Jazz pianist from Brazil, pretty well established before she started playing (1990) or singing (1994) Jobim, but vocals and Brazilian rhythms have increasingly dominated her work, as is evident here. That's not necessarily a problem, but sometimes the strings are. B+(*)

Avram Fefer Quartet: Testament (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Alto/tenor saxophonist, backed by guitar (Marc Ribot), bass (Eric Revis), and drums (Chad Taylor) -- although "backed" isn't quite right word: Ribot dominates so thoroughly I have to strain my ears even to discern the leader's presence. I've played this a lot, and there are stretches near the end that make me want to hear it again, but it takes too long to get there, and I was never hoping for this kind of fancy fusion drive. (Note that without Ribot, this trio's Eliyahu was a ballot pick in 2011.) [Nov. 8] B+(***) [cd]

Haruna Fukazawa: Departure (2019, Summit): Flute player, from Japan, based in New York, has a previous record as Jazz Triangle. Quintet with Steve Wilson (soprano sax/flute), piano, bass, and drums. Four originals, four covers, nice arrangements of Strayhorn and Silver. B+(*) [cd]

Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (2019, Bella Union): Singer-songwriter, started leading Ezra and the Harpoons, still thinks in band terms (I've seen this credited to "Ezra Furman & the band with no name"). Describes this as "our punk record," by which he seems to mean short songs: 11 in 27:27, some crunch to the music, some grit in the lyrics. E.g.: "I refuse to call this living life and I refuse to die . . . The ache inside reminds my mind my body's really there . . . I'm not sure I can bite the hand that feeds me anymore." A-

Jayda G: Significant Changes (2019, Ninja Tune): Canadian DJ Jada Guy, based in Berlin, various singles/EPs since 2015, "has risen steadily and steathily through the dance music underground," this first album with a few vocals a modest step. B+(*)

Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (2019, Now Generation): Wu-Tang rapper, 13th album on his own. Short one (33:15). Tells a fine tale, beats resolutely old school. B+(***)

Frode Gjerstad/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Matthew Shipp: Season of Sadness (2018 [2019], Iluso): Alto sax/clarinet, cello, and piano. "We are living in a sad moment in time." Avant music that demands thinking, that doesn't lull you into a comfort zone, but also doesn't offer many answers. B [bc]

Tim Hecker: Anoyo (2019, Kranky): Canadian electronica musician, ambient division, close to a dozen albums albums since 2001, previous one with the similar title Konoyo. String sounds give it a bit of fuzz to sharpen the edges, such as they are. B

Weldon Henson: Texas Made Honky Tonk (2018, Hillbilly Renegade): Country singer-songwriter, grew up in Humble, Texas, sounds a lot like vintage Joe Ely. The voice, anyway -- doesn't have the piano, but gets by with his guitar (and some pedal steel), especially when he doesn't dawdle. (Not that I have any complaints about "Not the Kind to Hang Around.") A- [os]

The Highwomen: The Highwomen (2019, Elektra): Patterned on the Highwaymen -- the 1984 supergroup of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson -- starting with Jimmy Webb's title melody, keeping the syllable count from "waymen" to "women." Not so super voices, but accomplished writers -- Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires -- with guest slots (Yola, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert). Lot of talent. Not much to show for it. B

Olli Hirvonen: Displace (2019, Ropeadope): Finnish guitarist, based in New York, third album, quartet with piano (Luke Marantz), bass, and drums. Got some high-flying groove. B+(**) [cd]

Florian Hoefner Trio: First Spring (2018 [2019], ALMA): German pianist, based in St. John's, Newfoundland (not a town I've ever associated with jazz before). Fifth album I've heard, trio with Andrew Downing (bass) and Nick Fraser (drums). Always strikes me as a sharp, thoughtful player, roughly comparable to Fred Hersch. B+(***) [cd]

The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (2019, Frenchkiss): Craig Finn's steady band, seventh studio album since 2004, second since Finn started releasing albums under his own name (four since 2012, including I Need a New War earlier this year). Difference, I reckon, is that he gives the band more head, and they swing as well as rock. Still, Finn's voice uniquely catches the ear, and he's usually reeling off a line you want to hear. A-

Chrissie Hynde With the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble: Valve Bone Woe (2019, BMG): Rocker, long-time leader of Pretenders, only the second album released under her own name, this doing covers with a large orchestra. Not a bad singer for this material, but lushness tends to overwhelm. B

I Jahbar and Friends: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (2019, Bokeh Versions): Jabari Miller, aka Jahbar I, album cover (and Bandcamp page) suggests this parse. Dancehall evolves, picking up all sorts of cosmic crud. B- [bc]

Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet: Whenufindituwillknow (2019, Golden): Guitarist, recorded the album Clarity in 1976 with future stars Oliver Lake, David Murray, and Leo Smith, plus a few more into the 1980s when he turned more to pop and started using the name Michael Gregory. Reclaimed his full name, and his avant-jazz rep, recently. Quartet with alto/soprano sax (Sion Spang-Hanssen), bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Kokoko!: Fongola (2019, Transgressive): Congolese band, from Kinshasa, first album, armed with homemade instruments -- less rattly than Konono No. 1's, which may mean they're better engineers, but doesn't make them better musicians. B+(**)

Cate Le Bon: Reward (2019, Mexican Summer): Welsh singer-songwriter, Cate Timothy, based in Los Angeles, fifth album since 2009. B

Urs Leimgruber/Jacques Demierre/Barre Phillips/Thomas Lehn: Willisau (2017 [2019], Jazzwerkstatt): Cover lists the saxophonist (tenor/soprano) above the title, the others (piano, bass, analogue synthesizer) below, Lehn standing out in red (like the title). Joint improv, has some moments but widely scattered. B

Roberto Magris Sextet: Sun Stone (2019, JMood): Pianist, from Italy, mainstream player fond of cool jazz icons -- has featured Herb Geller, and here sets the tables for Ira Sullivan (flute, alto/soprano saxes). Sextet adds trumpet (Shareef Clayton), tenor sax (Mark Colby), bass, and drums. Lush isn't the right word, but does seem like some kind of luxury. B+(***) [cd]

Todd Marcus: Trio+ (2019, Stricker Street): Bass clarinet player, based in Baltimore, fifth album, the trio is with Aleem Saleem or Jeff Reed on bass and Ralph Peterson or Eric Kennedy on drums, the plus is Sean Jones (trumpet) on four cuts. B+(**) [cd]

Joe McPhee/John Edwards/Klaus Kugel: Journey to Parazzar (2017 [2018], Not Two): McPhee plays tenor sax and pocket trumpet, free and hard, backed by bass and drums. B+(***)

Mercury Rev: Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited (2019, Partisan): Indie rock band from Buffalo, debut album 1991, Christgau described their fifth (first gold) album as "soundtrack-rock." This is their tenth, something different: a remake of most of the one-hit country wonder's 1968 second album with an "Old to Billie Joe" thrown in for good measure. Each song has a guest singer, starting with Norah Jones and finishing with Lucinda Williams, but most could be anonymous. B

Dave Miller Trio: Just Imagine (2019, Summit): Need to sort this out some time. Initially file this under guitarist Dave Miller, but this one plays piano, somewhere in Northern California, "for quite a few years," with a previous album identified as his fifth. Backed by bass and drums, this is a romp through the George Shearing songbook, which is to say standards (including Charlie Parker) done bright and frothy. B+(**) [cd]

Derel Monteith: Connemara: Solo Piano Improvisations (2017 [2019], self-released): Pianist, based in Illinois (Peoria, I think), grew up and studied in North Carolina, day job attorney. Has two new records, this solo plus a trio, seem to be his debut. Improv pieces have some bounce, leading to a favorable roll. B+(**) [cd] [10-18]

Derel Monteith Trio: Quantity of Life (2019, self-released): Piano trio, with Andy Crawford (bass) and Jason Brannon (drums), playing the leader's sensible, sensitive pieces. B+(*) [cd] [10-18]

Muna: Saves the World (2019, RCA): From Los Angeles, three women, Katie Gavin the singer, the others started on guitar but evolved toward electropop -- not sure who the drummer is, but there is one, and that matters. Second album, plenty of ambition, even if they'd would rather save the world than conquer it. B+(**)

Nérija: Blume (2019, Domino): London jazz collective, mostly female septet, best-known is Nubya Garcia (tenor sax), also includes alto sax (Cassie Kinoshi), trumpet (Sheila Maurice-Grey), trombone (Rosie Turton), guitar (Shirley Tetteh), bass (Rio Kai), and drums (Lizy Exell). Some groove with their slick post-bop. B+(*)

Ian Noe: Between the Country (2019, National Treasury): Country singer-songwriter, from Kentucky, first album, after an EP. B+(***)

Bill O'Connell and the Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off the Hudson (2019, Savant): Pianist, New Yorker, first album 1978, since then moved into Latin jazz, mostly with the Latin Jazz All-Stars. The Latinos here are mostly in the rhythm section (Robby Ameen, Roman Diaz), while the horn section is chocked full of stars (Craig Handy, Ralph Bowen, Gary Smulyan, Alex Sipiagin, Conrad Herwig). B+(**) [cd]

The Ogún Meji Duo: Spirits of the Egungun (2019, CFG Multimedia): Duo, drums (Mark Lomax) and tenor saxophone (Edwin Bayard), looks like the seventh duo album since #BlackLivesMatter in 2014, although I'm finding very few details on this particular one. They've worked together at least since 1999, powerful in small groups, intense as a duo. The main thing I worry about is that when I go back their trademark sound is so imposing I'll be unable to differentiate and get bowled over by all of them. A-

Mike Pachelli: High Standards (2019, Fullblast): Guitarist, several previous albums. Trio with Tony Levin (bass) and Danny Gottlieb (drums), playing standards. B+(*) [cd]

Jason Palmer: Rhyme and Reason (2018 [2019], Giant Step Arts, 2CD): Trumpet player, half-dozen albums since 2014. Pianoless quartet, second horn is Mark Turner's tenor sax, backed by Matt Brewer (bass) and Kendrick Scott (drums). Four longish pieces on each disc, very solid work. B+(***)

Jeff Parker/Jeb Bishop/Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride/Luther Gray: The Diagonal Filter (2018, Not Two): "The Diagonal" seems to be a group name, but even the label parses the album this way. Boston-based piano trio with two Chicagoans: Parker on guitar and Bishop on trombone. Each impressive on his own, they don't quite fit together seamlessly. B+(**)

Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (2018 [2019], self-released): Alto saxophonist Jeff Pearring, from Colorado, based in New York since 2002, has a previous album under this moniker. Trio with Adam Lane (bass) and Tim Ford (drums), with a bit of edge and a steady hand. B+(***) [cd]

Alberto Pinton Trio: Röd (2018, Clear Now): Italian reed player, based in Stockholm, plays baritone and alto sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet, backed by bass (Vilhelm Bromander) and drums (Konrad Agnas). B+(***) [bc]

Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (2018 [2019], self-released): Tenor saxophonist, first album 2007, this a septet, mostly name players: Jason Palmer (trumpet), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), Kris Davis (piano), Rob Schwimmer (haken continuum/clavinet), Kim Cass (bass), Rudy Royston (drums). Lampert, a trumpet player with five records since 2004, doesn't play here, but recently composed the single wide-ranging 48:49 title piece. I can't discern a unifying theme, but the many-faceted band shines. A- [cd] [10-04]

Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (2019, Drag City): One-shot album by singer-songwriter David Berman, who recorded as Silver Jews 1994-2008, released less than a month before he killed himself at 52. Seems like a very solid effort, open and accessible, could grow on you, although I doubt I want to explore his suicide. B+(***)

Michele Rabbia/Gianluca Petrella/Eivind Aarset: Lost River (2018 [2019], ECM): Italian percussionist, albums start in 1996 but he rarely gets top billing. Here with trombone and guitar, everyone also credited with electronics or "sounds." Fades into ambient, and doesn't do much there. B

Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (2019, Asylum/Atlantic): British rapper Kwadwo Adu Genfi Amponsah, London-born, parents from Ghana, fourth EP, but at 10 cuts, 29:30 I'll count it as an album. B+(*)

Rapsody: Eve (2019, Roc Nation): Rapper Mariana Evans, from North Carolina, old enough to cite MC Lyte as a model. She had a commercial breakthrough last time out, netting more guests and samples here, 16 songs that run long, that will no doubt pay dividends if given more attention than I can muster. B+(***)

Enrico Rava/Joe Lovano: Roma (2018 [2019], ECM): With Giovanni Guidi (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums), listed on cover below the title. Leaders play trumpet and tenor sax (plus tarogato), and are justly famous. Live meeting, must have seemed like a big deal, but only occasionally seems to connect. B+(*)

Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Beautiful Lie (2019, Next Waltz): Country singer-songwriters, he from Texas, she from Virginia, married 1996, by which time she was better established, recorded a holiday album together in 2006, three more duo albums since 2013. B+(**)

Christophe Rocher/Joe Fonda/Harvey Sorgen: New Origin (2018 [2019], Not Two): Clarinets-bass-drums trio, the Americans a long-running team, Rocher only described as "European" -- Discogs only lists one previous album, but he's worked in various groups for at least 20 years. B+(**)

Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (2019, Columbia): Soul singer-songwriter, started in the group Tony! Toni! Toné! (1988-96), went solo in 2002, only his fifth album, eight years after Stone Rollin' took the critics' polls by storm. Ghetto drama, lament for a dead brother, but the music is strong enough to persevere. Highlight is a rap, Change of pace is a gospel in lieu of a funeral. A-

David Sanchez: Carib (2018 [2019], Ropeadope): Tenor saxophonist from Puerto Rico, had a strong run of albums for Columbia 1994-2004 (pick hit: Obsesion), haven't heard much from him since Ninety Miles in 2011. Lots of percussion here, featuring the barril de bomba as well as Obed Calvaire's drums. With Luis Perdomo on keyboards, Lage Lund on guitar, Ricky Rodriguez on bass. Of course, the sax sounds terrific. B+(***)

Dana Saul: Ceiling (2018 [2019], Endectomorph): Pianist, first album, all original pieces, sextet with Kevin Sun (tenor sax), Adam O'Farrill (trumpet), Patrick Brennan (vibes), bass, and drums. Early on the music builds tension while featuring the vibraphone to introduce tiny fissures. Then the horns fill in and finally build the whole thing up. A candidate for debut album of the year (as was Sun's 2018 debut, Trio). A- [cd]

Rob Scheps: Comencio (2019, SteepleChase): Saxophonist (pictured with a tenor, but plays the whole gamut), originally from Oregon, studied at New England Conservatory, may be first album as leader. With Jamie Reynolds (piano), Cameron Brown (bass), and Jesse Simpson (drums). B+(**)

Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (2019, Wilsuns): Postpunk group from Philadelphia, Christina Halladay the singer, Kyle Seely lead guitar. Got attention with three 7-inch EPs and their 2017 LP. B+(**)

Leo Sherman: Tonewheel (2019, Outside In Music): Bassist, seems to be his first album, originals plus one cover of a Victor Jara song. Quintet, with tenor sax (Paul Jones), guitar (Alex Goodman, piano (Ben Winkelman), and drums (Dan Pugach). Tries to do a lot of different things: Jones' more avant stretches always catch my ear before moving on to something else. [10-25] B+(*) [cd]

Elza Soares: Planeta Fome (2019, Deck): Brazilian singer, started in 1960 with samba, adding some jazz touches including scat. Thirty-seventh album, most recorded before 1980 and unknown to me, but her two latest blew me away. At 82, her voice is well aged but far from shot. B+(***)

Harvey Sorgen/Joe Fonda/Marilyn Crispell: Dreamstruck (2018, Not Two): Drums-bass-piano trio, no obvious reason why they are listed in this order, as most pieces are joint improvs (two covers, one from Crispell's long-time drummer Paul Motian). Starts with a soft one, then adds more strength here and there, drawing you in. A-

Lyn Stanley: London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's (2019, A.T. Music): Standards singer, from Tacuma, half-dozen albums, did a Julie London tribute last year. Reprises three songs here, adds nine more. "You Never Can Tell" jumps out at me, but I'm also taken by her "Body and Soul." B+(**) [cd]

Colin Stranahan/Glenn Zaleski/Rick Rosato: Live at Jazz Standard (2018 [2019], Capri): Piano trio, together since 2010, not a lot of reason to list the drummer first, as Zaleski wrote all but two of the songs (one by Rosato, one by Jerome Kern). Zaleski does the credits toward the end, too. But the names line up with the cover photo, and he looks best in the middle. B+(*) [cd]

Taylor Swift: Lover (2019, Republic): Pop megastar, seventh album, the first six multi-platinum, Wikipedia notes her age (29) and net worth ($360 million). With that kind of money, she can hire good help -- chiefly Jack Antonoff and Joel Little -- while stretching her product out to 18 songs, a bit over an hour. Album has some lulls, but I have no doubt it could be edited down and sharpened up. Two songs I always notice: "Paper Rings" and "You Need to Calm Down." B+(***)

Emi Takada: Why Did I Choose You? (2018 [2019], self-released): Standards singer, born in Sapporo, Japan, based in Houston, has a couple albums. Backed by piano (Michael Kanan), guitar, bass, and drums, with Marion Cowings singing some. Swings some, can get a bit corny. B+(*) [cd]

The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet: Sweet Oranges (2017 [2018], Not Two): Thornton was an avant trumpet player (1936-89), did most of his work 1966-78, including a couple of big years with Archie Shepp, other notable side work from Sun Ra to Joe McPhee to Anthony Braxton. Group here: Daunik Lazro (baritone/tenor sax), Joe McPhee (valve trombone/tenor sax), Jean-Marc Foussat (synthesizer), and Makoto Sato (drums). Title piece runs 43:58, followed by an 8:25 "Encore." B+(*)

Tanya Tucker: While I'm Livin' (2019, Fantasy): Country singer, been around so long I'm surprised she's only 60, but she was 13 when she broke her first hit. Twenty-fifth album, her first since 2009's My Turn, which without much research I ventured was her best ever. (I did listen to The Upper 48 Hits: 1972-1997, and gave it a B.) Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings produced this one, with Carlile co-writing 7 (of 10) songs (only one co-credited to Tucker). Still, the covers are more striking. B+(**)

Tucker Brothers: Two Parts (2019, self-released): Nick (bass) and Joel (guitar) Tucker, first album, with Sam Imboden (sax) and Brian Yarde (drums), plus scattered guests (best known is tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III). B [cd]

Molly Tuttle: When You're Ready (2019, Compass): Bluegrass singer-songwriter from Santa Clara County, California, plays banjo and guitar. Played in family group the Tuttles, at 13 recording an album of duets with her father Jack Tuttle. First solo album, fortified by her fingerpicking. B+(**) [bc]

Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar: No-Exit Corner (2016 [2018], Not Two): Tenor sax and clarinet, a set recorded live at Alchemia Club Krakow, with local bass (Tokar) and drums (Kugel). I should hedge this a bit, but this is the full-throated way you like to hear him play. [3/5 tracks] B+(***)

Luís Vicente/Vasco Trilla: A Brighter Side of Darkness (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Trumpet and percussion duo, from Portugal and Spain respectively. Three extended pieces, rather difficult going, but they do surprise now and then. B+(*)

Dee White: Southern Gentleman (2018, Easy Eye Sound/Warner Music Nashville): Country singer-songwriter from Alabama, long-haired male barely 20, first album. Oddly enough, song that most impressed me was his drippiest ballad ("Oh No"). Brings out something in his voice. B+(**)

Wilma Vritra: Burd (2019, Bad Taste): Collaboration between London-based "artist" Wilma Archer and LA-based rapper Pyramid Vritra. Even-tempered rhymes riding not-quite ambient waves. B+(*)

Charli XCX: Charli (2019, Asylum): British pop singer, Charlotte Aitchison, third album plus several mixtapes. Some grime around the edges. B+(**)

John Yao's Triceratops: How We Do (2018 [2019], See Tao): Trombonist, based in New York, has several previous albums including a big band affair. Quintet with two saxophonists (Billy Drewes and Jon Irabagon), bass and drums. Like its namesake, slow and dull at first, but formidable when they finally get moving. B+(**) [cd]

Jason Yeager: New Songs of Resistance (2018 [2019], Outside In Music): Pianist, based in New York, fifth album, mostly originals (Chico Buarque gets a cover), most with words (sung by Erini, Farayi Malek, or Mirella Costa), piano trio with guest spots for horns and cello. Much to resist these days, but I doubt these will prove at catchy as the folkies of yore or various hip-hoppers. B+(*) [cd]

Thom Yorke: Anima (2019, XL): Vocalist for Radiohead, probably the most exalted of the 1990s wave of Britpop bands -- can't say as I was ever a fan, but I listened dutifully and rather liked In Rainbows (2007). Third solo album, slotted as electronic, although the London Contemporary Orchestra and Choir are also credited. Not awful, but feels pretty empty. B-

Young Thug: So Much Fun (2019, 300/Atlantic/YSL): Atlanta rapper Jeffery Williams, officially his debut studio album (although I have a dozen others in my database). B+(***)

Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (2019, Miel Music): Tribute to the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter (1931-87), known as El Sonero Mayor. Starts disconcertingly with vocals, what sounds like a sample, but soon the alto saxophonist's superb quartet takes over: Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Henry Cole (drums). Dazzling at speed, soulful on the ballads. A- [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (1969 [2019], Craft): Standard live set from a period when the band could do no wrong, hit singles, the odd cover, winding up with two 10+ minute grinds ("Keep On Chooglin'" and "Suzie Q"). Strikes me as redundant, but nothing particularly wrong with it. B+(***)

Jambú E Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia (1974-86 [2019], Analog Africa): Dance rhythms from Belém, near the mouth of the Amazon River, a large city these days but not one that figures prominently in popular Brazilian music. Indeed, sounds closer to Colombia, Cuba, Mexico even. B+(***)

The Vaughn Nark Quintet: Back in the Day (1982-83 [2019], Summit): Trumpet player, based in DC, spent twenty years with the USAF Airmen of Note, spanning the period when this was recorded. Three originals, repertoire from Gillespie through Walrath with a few standards like "Caravan" and "Over the Rainbow." Has some chops. B [cd]

Art Pepper: Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (1979 [2019], Omnivore, 5CD): In his last years (d. 1982), the alto saxophonist recorded furiously, piling up so many masterpieces that his 16-CD The Complete Galaxy Recordings seems like an infinite trove of wonders. Still, he managed to sneak aside, recording the 6-CD series of West Coast Sessions for the Japanese Atlas label that Omnivore reissued in 2017, and four more records for Artists House, collected here with extra cuts. The albums were So in Love, Artworks, New York Album, and Stardust, recorded over several dates with two piano-bass-drums trios: Hank Jones/Ron Carter/Al Foster, and George Cables/Charlie Haden/Billy Higgins -- mostly the latter. A lot more than I can readily sort out, but most sounds much like everything else he was doing at the time, which is to say marvelous. A-

Prince: Originals (1981-91 [2019], NPG/Warner Brothers): Previously unreleased demos for songs Prince wrote (or co-wrote) for other artists. As demos go, these are far from minimal, although the backup is fairly generic. Not sure why I find them so tedious. Not his better songs, although the exception ("The Glamorous Life") was simply better in other hands (nod to Sheila E.). B-

Sounds of Liberation: Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (1973 [2018], Dogtown): Avant-jazz group from Philadelphia led by Byard Lancaster (reeds) and Khan Jamal (vibes), with Monnette Sudler (guitar), Billy Mills (bass), Dwight James (drums), and William Brister (percussion). Group recorded one studio album, which I know from its 2010 reissue as Sounds of Liberation, but was originally (and most recently) titled New Horizons. Lancaster's sax is the strong voice here, but he defers early to the vibes, and B+(*)

Star Band De Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana De Senegal (1960s-70s [2019], Ostinato): Formed a year after the Cuban Revolution -- this is billed as a 60th anniversary tribute -- Ibrahim Kassé's band, a forerunner of Etoile de Dakar and Orchestra Baobab -- was one of the first to bring Cuban music back to its African roots. Not clear when these particular tracks were recorded. [The band's works have been collected in 12 volumes, but no dates on them either. The songs on this compilation are from volumes 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, and 12.] B+(***)

Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (1970s-80s [2019], Ostinato): Mostly recorded in Khartoum before the 1989 coup turned the nation toward Salafi Islam and against pop music, although it's possible some tracks were recorded later, in exile -- this label doesn't offer discographical details. Closer to Ethiopia than to Egypt, more emphasis on groove, also on cheese. A- [bc]

Old Music

Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967, Capitol): Roberta Lee Streeter, born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, recorded seven albums 1967-71, first album named for his crossover pop single. Second best song: "Bugs." B

Bobby Gentry: The Delta Sweete (1968, Capitol): Second album, reissued in 1971 as Tobacco Road and 1972 as Way Down South. No hits, a very scattered mix ranging from delta blues to Cajun hoedown to baroque pop (very baroque). C+

Weldon Henson: Weldon Henson's Honky Tonk Frontier (2015, Hillbilly Renegade): Fourth album, does a nice job of working up his light, breezy honky tonk sound, closer to Lubbock than his home town of Humble (near Houston, in 1903 an oil boomtown, later the name of one of the Standard Oil companies). B+(***)

Weldon Henson: One Heart's Gone (2011, self-released): Working backwards, seems closer to his honky tonk roots, but keeps his head down. B+(**)

Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed (2000 [2004], SteepleChase): First album, unclear how old he was/is but his CV includes touring with big bands led by Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, and Gerry Mulligan. Composer only here, but septet includes a credit for Rich Lampert (piano, sequencing, synthesizer, trumpet), as well as Rich Perry (tenor sax), Joe Locke (vibes), Charles Blenzig (piano), plus electric bass, drums, and congas. Postbop, smart and heady, nice tinkle to go with the horns. B+(***)

Steve Lampert: Music From There (2006 [2007], Bridge): A 12-piece suite, electronics plus various jazz musicians, the composer playing trumpet, Rich Perry tenor sax, others scattered about, with words on one piece. B+(**)

Louis Moholo-Moholo: Duets With Marilyn Crispell: Sibanye (We Are One) (2007 [2008], Intakt): South African drummer, duets with the pianist, in her usual good form here. B+(***)

Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-95 [2003], Columbia/Legacy): Shortened his surname from Mahoney, probably thought that was appropriate when his 1977 debut went double-platinum. Released three more platinum albums up to 1986 (highest peak was 17), two more top-200 to 1991 (as far as this comp goes), four more with one just before his 2019 death. Had some singles too, but only 10 cracked the top-40, their peaks almost randomly distributed (4, 9, 11, 11, 14, 16, 21, . . . ). Usually a 2-CD series, but he was so slight this 15-cut single seemed more than adequate, and sat unplayed on my shelves until now. He took a path we came to call "arena rock" -- big sound, sweeping gestures, clichés as hooks, and he played a little sax for occasional flourishes. He was uninteresting at the time. In retrospect, tolerable until he wasn't. B- [cd]

Eddie Money: The Essential Eddie Money (1977-91 [2014], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): Expanded to 35 cuts for the bits-are-cheap digital era, dropping the one cut from his 1995 album Love and Money (not on Columbia, so the cross-licensing would have hit their budget), filling up with odds and sods -- a single version, acoustic demos, some live cuts. Rounds him out, not that it helps. C+

Alberto Pinton: Nascent (2012 [2013], Redhorn): Quartet, Pinton playing his usual range of reeds (plus melodica), backed with guitar (Peter Nylander), double bass, and drums.

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:


Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): Singer-songwriter from Michigan, second album, strong on guitar, especially early on. [was: B+(*)] B+(**)

Additional Consumer News:

Previous grades on artists in the old music section.

Music Weeks

Current count 32047 [31984] rated (+63), 229 [236] unrated (-7).

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

September 9, 2019

Music: current count 32047 [32020] rated (+27), 229 [227] unrated (+2).

Some of these things cut into my listening time, which was pretty scattered anyway. Two records I had held back from last week managed to slip over the A- cusp. After making a dent in my new jazz queue, I got stuck on Avram Fefer's Testament, which I've played at least five times without writing up a grade. Release date isn't until November 8, so I'm tempted to put it aside until then. At some point I started looking for country music, and was struck at how the first four albums I sampled -- Tanya Tucker, Molly Tuttle, Dee White, Matt Carson -- wound up at the same B+(**) with different virtues and flaws. Four more records were easier to spread out (Mercury Rev, Highwomen, Ian Noe, Weldon Henson). Checked out a couple of old Bobbie Gentry albums after listening to Mercury Rev, and was surprised to find that the "classic" was a much bigger mess than the revival.

September 2, 2019

Music: current count 32020 [31984] rated (+36), 227 [236] unrated (-9).

Rated count topped 32,000 this week. I'd count that as a milestone, if not exactly news, as the accumulation has been as steady as time since I posted my first rated count of 8,080 in January 2003. That was about the time I started writing Recycled Goods plus the occasional Village Voice review, leading up to Jazz Consumer Guide, and a bit of work for Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, and F5. Those outlets opened up a stream of promo copies that continues (somewhat abated, often just a trickle) to this day. But as the mail thinned out, I resorted increasingly to streaming to make up the difference and expand my horizons. Since 2003, I've averaged a bit less than 30 per week (28.75), a bit less than 1,500 per year (1495). If I made a chart of that, I imagine it would show an upward slant from 2003-11 (when Jazz CG ended, then a plateau, tailing off a bit the last couple years).

Before 2003, that 8,080 came from close to 30 years of record buying (with a few promos in the late-1970s). That averages out to about 5 records per week, 270 per year, but a graph wouldn't be flat: you'd find an initial bulge peaking around 1977-78, a long trough, and a marked increase from 1995 on. I listened to music in my teens, but never bought much until I got my first steady job around 1973. My early music writings start in 1974, including a few reviews for the Village Voice in 1975-79. I gave them up around 1980, when I landed an engineering job and moved to New Jersey. I cut way back on my record buying there, and it's possible that some years I bought less than 100, maybe as few as 50. I moved to Boston in 1985, and found myself spending more time in record stores. I started buying CDs relatively late, and my pace picked up around 1995 when I got into a big jazz/roots kick. That continued when I returned to Kansas in 1999, as I built up the level of expertise that allowed me to write Recycled Goods and Jazz Consumer Guide.


As I wrote the above, I listened to three more albums, including a rather nice one by Florian Hoefner that is certain to remain below damn near everyone's interest threshold. I have little more to add on the records listed below. One thing is that there's only one non-jazz album among the new releases (but three in the recent compilations). Partly, I played quite a few new albums from the promo queue. I also added the 4.5/5.0 star reviewed records from The Free Jazz Collective to my 2019 metacritic file, and that pointed me to more new jazz (including several 2018 releases I had missed). But partly it was just one of those weeks when I felt much more certain about the jazz I heard than the non-jazz. The non-jazz exceptions this week came from Phil Overeem's latest list update (ok, Two Niles was on his 2018 list, but I found it on the Bandcamp page for Star Band De Dakar).

I listened to two other non-jazz records from this list, but couldn't make up my mind and held them back: Lana Del Rey's Norman Fucking Rockwell (number 5) and Raphael Saadiq's Jimmy Lee (18). I'm attracted to and resistant to both, which means they'll probably wind up high B+, but I'm not certain enough to say. Thanks to working on the metacritic file, I'm probably more aware of new non-jazz right now than any time this year, but less sure of my ears. On the other hand, this is definitely a good year for jazz.

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
  • [dvd] based on physical dvd (rated more for music than video)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sc] available at soundcloud.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com
  • [os] some other stream source
  • [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