Streamnotes: December 31, 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 November 25. Past reviews and more information are available here (13808+ records).


Recent Releases

Abjects: Never Give Up (2019, Yippee Ki Yay): London-based post-punk trio, all women, all immigrants (from Spain, Japan, Italy) -- something Brexit is meant to put an end to, so they wrote a song about it. B+(**)

Stefan Aeby: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): Swiss pianist, first solo after several trio albums, expands the instrument's range with various preparations and electronic post-processing. B+(*)

Albare: Albare Plays Jobim (2019, Alfi): Wikipedia describes Albert Dadon as "an Australian businessman, philanthropist and musician." He was born in Morocco, grew up in Israel and France, moved to Australia in 1983, where he runs Ubertas Group ("a diversified funds management and property development company"), and has been chairman of United Israel Appeal and Melbourne Jazz Festival. Also plays guitar, as Albare, and has a series of quite respectable albums. He dresses Jobim's melodies up in fancy strings -- arrangements by his pianist, Joe Chindamo, providing a backdrop the guitar darts across. B+(**) [cd]

Eric Alexander: Eric Alexander With Strings (2019, High Note): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, called his 1992 debut Straight Up, has 40+ albums since, even more side credits (including more than a dozen in One for All). Cover credits his long-running quartet (David Hazeltine, John Webber, Joe Farnsworth), as well as Dave Rivello for arranging and conducting the strings -- not terribly interesting on their own, but not saccharine fluff either. B+(*)

Gonçalo Almeida/Martin van Duynhoven/Tobias Klein: Live at the Bimhuis (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): Bass, drums, alto sax or bass or contrabass clarinet. B+(***)

Rodrigo Amado/Dirk Serries: Jazzblazzt (2018 [2019], Raw Tonk): One of my favorite tenor saxophonists, in a duo with a prolific (but hitherto unknown to me) Belgian guitarist, aka Vidna Obmana. Rather fractured, onto something. B+(**)

Rebecca Angel: Santa Baby (2019, Timeless Grooves, 1): Actually, just a 3:28 single, something I wouldn't review but for being sent the CD. Song dates to Eartha Kitt in 1953 -- wonder why it's not done more often. Delicious, and no penalty for quitting while she's ahead. B+(***) [cd]

Atmosphere: Whenever (2019, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Minneapolis hip-hop duo, rapper Slug (Dea Daley) and DJ/producer Ant (Anthony Davis), beaucoup albums since 1997. More relationship songs here, always a staple. B+(***)

Awatair: Awatair Plays Coltrane (2019, Fundacja Sluchaj): Polish-Ukrainian trio: Tomasz Gadecki (tenor/baritone sax), Mark Tokar (double bass), Michal Gos (drums). Three stretched Coltrane pieces plus an 10:57 "Improvisation for Jr. J.C." B+(***) [bc]

Backxwash: Deviancy (2019, Grimalkin, EP): Trans rapper from Zambia, based in Montreal. Eight tracks, 21:01. Most hard and/or furious, although "You Like My Body the Way It Is" changes everything up. B+(***)

Philip Bailey: Love Will Find a Way (2019, Verve): Soul singer, did the high leads for Earth Wind & Fire's big hits, went solo in 1983, released 10 albums through 2002 (as well as a gospel compilation), nothing since until this one. Three originals (two with help from Robert Glasper), two from Curtis Mayfield, one Marvin Gaye, several credited to jazz musicians, odd song out is "Once in a Lifetime" (Talking Heads). B+(*)

Barker: Utility (2019, Ostgut Ton): British techno producer, based in Berlin, first album after some EPs and a duo. Fairly minimalist synth patterns, very attractive. B+(***)

Courtney Barnett: MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne) (2019, Marathon Artists): Recorded October 22, 2019, so little more than a month before the December 6 release date. Her acoustic guitar isn't nearly as potent as her electric, but she picks up resonance with a cello in the band. Also picks up a couple guests, and closes with a strong cover of Leonard Cohen's "Goodbye Marianne." B+(**)

Beck: Hyperspace (2019, Capitol): Singer-songwriter, released some of the best albums of the 1990s, has been hard to even recognize since 1999's funk move, Midnite Vultures. Collaborator here is Pharrell Williams, which should be good for a few cheap hooks. Too bad I couldn't recognize that many. B

The Big Yes: The Big Yes (2018 [2019], Nakama): Scandinavian free jazz quartet, two horns -- Anna Högberg (sax) and Maria Bertel (trombone) -- bass and drums, storming through one 30:58 track. B+(**) [bc]

Johnathan Blake: Trion (2018 [2019], Giant Step Arts, 2CD): Drummer from Black Art Jazz Collective, has some range in groups with Kenny Barron, Oliver Lake, Donny McCaslin, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, plus a couple albums under his own name. He's terrific in this basic sax trio, as is bassist Linda May Han Oh, but after a brief intro this is really a tour de force for Chris Potter. A-

Bones [Ziv Taubenfeld/Shay Hazan/Nir Sabag]: Reptiles (2017 [2019], NoBusiness): Bass clarinet/bass/drums trio, recorded in Amsterdam, released on vinyl. Free jazz, fairly intimate. B+(**) [cdr]

Bonzo Squad: There's Always Tomorrow (2019, self-released, EP): Chicago quartet, group name comes from a title released in 2016 under saxophonist Corbin Andrick's name. He's credited with "reeds" here, the others "keys/lasers," "bass/pedals," and "drums." Seven tracks, 28:31. Nothing special about the groove, but the sax does soar above. B

Boogie: Everythings for Sale (2019, Shady/Interscope): Rapper Anthony Dixson, from Compton, first album after three mixtapes. B+(*)

Anthony Braxton: Quartet (New Haven) 2014 (2014 [2019], Firehouse 12, 4CD): One "Improvisation" per disc, each 57:14-64:09, each dedicated to a pop star you probably couldn't blindfold guess (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, James Brown, Merle Haggard). Braxton plays saxes from sopranino to contrabass but no tenor (alto is his main axe), joined by Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet and family), Nels Cline (electric guitar), and Greg Saunier (drums). Gave it one play and was delighted, often amazed, never annoyed (well, until the last few seconds of Disc 3). One could spend ages further dissecting, but I doubt I will. A-

Patrick Brennan/Abdul Moimęme: Terraphonia (2019, Creative Sources): Alto saxophonist, from Detroit, has a handful of records including a couple as Sonic Openings Under Pressure, in a duo here with a Portuguese experimental guitarist, who has 25 albums since 2008, mostly small groups with all names on the masthead. Something more than just harsh noise, but that's most of it. B+(*)

Peter Brötzmann: I Surrender Dear (2019, Trost): German avant-saxophonist, defined the noise wing of the movement with his 1968 classic Machine Gun and has rarely let up in the fifty years since. But he does take it easy here, feeling his way solo through a batch of covers (counting Misha Mengelberg's "Brozziman"). sometimes awkwardly. B+(**)

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: On Firm Ground/Tierra Firme (2019, Linus Entertainment): Soprano saxophonist, also plays flute and trompeta china, has used this group name since her 2014 album. As Latin rhythms go, this is impressive enough, but the vocals throw me off. B

Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science: The Waiting Game (2019, Motéma, 2CD): Drummer, studied at Berklee with Alan Dawson, built a solid post-bop reputation in the 1990s, lately has turned to crossover pop, including quite a bit of hip-hop here, sprinkled with guest stars, with a few political lyrics. Second disc is lighter, a 42:19 instrumental orchestrated by Edmar Colón. B+(**)

Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman/Hilliard Greene/Federich Ughi: Electric Telepathy Vol. 1 (2018 [2019], 577 Records): Aka the Telepathic Band: saxes/clarinet/trumpet, clarinet, keyboard, bass, drums. B+(***)

Cochemea: All My Relations (2019, Daptone): Saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum, spent the last 15 years in Sharon Jones' band, the Dap-Kings. Dropped last name for his second album, takes aim at his roots, which are not just African, starting with a chant, ending with a groove. B+(**) [bc]

Anthony Coleman: Catenary Oath (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): Pianist, debut was 1992, some of his early records offered an avant take on klezmer. Solo piano here, starts with a dedication to Roscoe Mitchell, ends with Ellington. B+(**) [cdr]

Chick Corea/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Trilogy 2 (2010-18 [2019], Concord, 2CD): A sequel to the trio's 2014 3-CD Trilogy, adding select tracks from a 2016 tour to leftovers from the first period. B+(**)

Rodney Crowell: Texas (2019, RC1): Country singer-songwriter, originally from Texas, 21 albums since 1978, had a run of hits off his 1988 album (Diamonds & Dirt), but hasn't enjoyed much attention lately. Got some guest help this time, mostly fellow Texans like Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, and Billy Gibbons. (Exception to the rule: Ringo Starr.) B+(***)

Nina De Heney/Karin Johansson/Henrik Wartel: Quagmire (2018 [2019], Creative Sources): Bass-piano-drums, the bassist dominating (especially early on), for a very claustrophobic sound. B+(*)

Deep State: The Path to Fast Oblivion (2019, Friendship Fever): Athens, GA post-punk group, sounds promising until they slow down. B

John Dikeman/George Hadow/Dirk Serries/Martina Verhoeven/Luis Vicente: Ideal Principle (2016 [2018], Raw Tonk): Tenor saxophonist, born in Nebraska, grew up in Wyoming, wound up in Amsterdam. Others play drums, electric guitar, double bass, and trumpet. Strong free jazz outing, the trumpet a highlight. B+(***) [bc]

Doja Cat: Hot Pink (2019, Kemosabe/RCA): LA rapper Amala Zandile Dlamini, second album, promises more skin, holds back a bit. B+(**)

Dopolarians: Garden Party (2019, Mahakala): Sextet, or merger of trios: one (relatively young) cluster is made up of Chris Parker (piano), Chad Fowler (alto sax), and Kelley Hurt (voice), and they do most of the writing; the other is well known: Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), William Parker (bass), and Alvin Fielder (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Dumb: Club Nites (2019, Mint): Postpunk band from Vancouver, BC. Not so dumb. Kind of catchy, even. B+(***)

Earthgang: Mirrorland (2019, Dreamville/Interscope): Atlanta-based hip-hop duo, third album (first on a major label). Choppy, often rushed, with the occasional brilliant splotch. B+(*)

Marc Edwards/Guillaume Gargaud: Black Hole Universe (2019, Atypeek Music): American free jazz drummer, played with David S. Ware in the 1980s, teams up here with a French guitarist. Reminds me of Sonny Sharrock, maybe even more intense, but I'm not quite there with it yet. B+(**)

Petter Eldh: Koma Saxo (2018 [2019], We Jazz): Swedish bassist, based in Berlin, recorded this quintet in Helsinki with three saxophonists (Otis Sandsjö, Jonas Kullhammar, and Mikko Innanen) plus drums (Christian Lillinger). Horns play some kind of fuzzy harmony, underscoring the centrality of the bass. B+(**)

Andy Emler/David Liebman: Journey Around the Truth (2018 [2019], Signature Radio France): French keyboardist, playing organ here, pumped up for dramatic effect like a hoary old soundtrack. The saxophonist builds on that, with tenor and soprano. B+(*)

Emmeluth's Amoeba: Chimaera (2019, Řra Fonogram): Danish alto saxophonist Signe Emmeluth, leading a group with piano (Christian Balvag), guitar (Karl Bjorĺ), and drums (Ole Mofjell). Second album. Impressive stretches. B+(***)

Erin Enderlin: Faulkner County (2019, Black Crow Productions): Singer-songwriter from Arkansas, has had some success peddling songs in Nashville, third album. Old time sound, lots of booze and wallowing blues, could use a stiffer backbone, or a shot of feminism. B+(*)

Ellery Eskelin/Christian Weber/Michael Griener: The Pearls (2018 [2019], Intakt): Tenor sax-bass-drums trio, mixing avant improv with older forms, including two "rag" titles, one each from Jelly Roll Morton and Count Basie. B+(***)

Ras G & the Afrikan Space Program: Dance of the Cosmos (2019, Akashik, EP): Gregory Shorter Jr., DJ/producer from Los Angeles, 24 albums/mixtapes since 2008, died at 40 in 2019. Dense grooves with scattered talk. [Napster only has 4/5 tracks; other track on Bandcamp, total 28:50.] B+(**)

Gang Starr: One of the Best Yet (2019, TTT/Gang Starr): Hip-hop duo, six albums 1989-2003, founder MC Guru died in 2010, leaving some vocal tracks (2005-09) that are the basis for this "seventh and final studio album," produced by DJ Premier, with extra guest vocals. Keeping it old style. B+(*)

Elena Gilliam/Michael Le Van: Then Another Turns (2019, Blujazz): Standards singer and pianist (who wrote music to one song). I only found one previous album for her (as Elena), but she's old enough to snag a "Living Legend of Jazz" honor, and her voice supports the claim. Nice piano leads too, backed with bass and drums, with spots for trumpet and saxophone. B+(***) [cd]

Gorilla Mask: Brain Drain (2019, Clean Feed): Alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel's rockish power trio, with electric bass (Roland Fidezius) and drums (Rudi Fischerlehner), fourth group record. Seems almost too easy to make this formula work, so the occasional glitches stand out. B+(***)

Georg Graewe/Ernst Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Concertgebouw Brugge 2014 (2014 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Piano-cello-drums trio, first joined together 30 years ago (1989). B+(**) [bc]

Devin Gray GPS Trio: Blast Beat Blues (2019, Rataplan, EP): Drummer, with Chris Pitsiokos (alto sax) and Luke Stewart (bass), five short pieces (13:47), too fancy for punk jazz, but that's the impulse. B+(*) [bc]

Devin Gray: Devin Gray's Algorhythmica (2019, Rataplan, EP): Two pieces, 5:28 and 5:36, composed by the drummer and played by a quartet with Maria Grand (tenor sax), Mara Rosenbloom (piano), and Carmen Rothwell (bass). Ambitious postbop, but just a sketch. B+(*) [bc]

Alex Harding/Lucian Ban: Dark Blue (2019, Sunnyside): Duets, baritone sax/bass clarinet and piano, a nice match. B+(**)

Jason Hawk Harris: Love & the Dark (2019, Bloodshot): Singer-songwriter, from Houston, based in Los Angeles, on an alt-country label, first album. Reportedly darkly powerful on his own ("the literary and sonic audacity of early Steve Earle"), but went overboard with the production. C+

Lafayette Harris Jr.: You Can't Lose With the Blues (2019, Savant): Pianist, from Baltimore, debut 1992, this a trio with the superb Peter Washington and Lewis Nash. Still not really what I'd call bluesy. B+(*)

Joel Harrison: Still Point: Turning World (2019, Whirlwind): Guitarist, twenty albums since 1994, changes up here by working with and composing for the Talujon Percussion Quartet, adding Indian musicians like Anupam Shobhakar (sarode) and Swaminathan Selvaganesh (percussion), also Hans Glawaschnig or Stephan Crump (bass), Dan Weiss (drums/tabla), and Ben Wendel (sax/bassoon). Ambitious album, leaves a strong impression. B+(**)

Hiromi: Spectrum (2019, Telarc): Japanese pianist, Hiromi Uehara, has recorded steadily since 2003, understands that one key to popularity is keeping it brisk. This one is solo, so she doubles down, and keeps it going for 73:16. B+(**)

Eric Hofbauer's Five Agents: Book of Water (2018 [2019], Creative Nation Music): Guitarist, based in Boston, has done interesting work at pushing the boundaries of postbop without quite crossing over into avant-garde. Comes especially close here, with three veterans of Ken Vandermark's Boston-Chicago nexus -- Jeb Bishop (trombone), Nate McBride (bass), Curt Newton (drums) -- plus Jerry Sabatii (trumpet) and Seth Meicht (tenor sax). B+(***)

Eric Hofbauer & Dylan Jack: Remains of Echoes (2019, Creative Nation Music): Guitar and drum duo, picking their way through covers from Ellington to the Police. B+(**)

Jazzmeia Horn: Love and Liberation (2019, Concord): Jazz singer, originally from Dallas, moved to New York at 18, second album, all covers on her first, mostly originals here. Half could rate as well-above-average neo-soul, some her impressive technique goes overboard with. Closes with a formidable "I Thought About You." B+(***)

Hot Chip: A Bath Full of Ecstasy (2019, Domino): English electropop group, seventh studio album since 2006. Catchy, most of the time. B+(*)

The Hot Sardines: Welcome Home/Bon Voyage (2019, Eleven): Retro-swing band from New York, formed in 2007 by pianist Evan Palazzo and fronted by French singer Elizabeth Bougerol, got my attention with their eponymous 2014 album. This one's live from Koerner Hall in Toronto and Joe's Pub in New York, familiar songs, warmed up nicely. B+(***)

Brittany Howard: Jaime (2019, ATO): Singer-songwriter, gone solo after two records fronting Alabama Shakes, did a fair Otis Redding impersonation there. Bits of retro-soul here, too, mixed in with unclassifiable experiments. Her diva move? B

Carl Ludwig Hübsch/Pierre-Yves Martel/Philip Zoubek: Otherwise (2018, Insub): Tuba player, the others credited with viola da gamba and piano, both also with synthesizer. Two side-long tracks, ambient but never gets too comfortable. B+(*) [bc]

Ill Considered: Ill Considered 8 (2018 [2019], Ill Considered Music): British jazz group, based in London, quartet with Idris Rahman (sax/fx), Leon Brichard (electric bass), Emre Ramazanoglu (drums), and Satin Singh (percussion), adds another live document to their fast-growing catalogue. Strong bass riffs, flexes a lot of muscle. B+(***)

Insignificant Other: I'm So Glad I Feel This Way About You! (2019, Counter Intuitive): Alt/indie band from Birmingham, Alabama, punkish guitar-bass-drums trio with Sim Morales the singer. B+(*)

Loraine James: For You and I (2019, Hyperdub): From London, first album, produces glitchy electronica, vocals up front, including her brand stake, "Glitch Bitch." B+(**)

Keith Jarrett: Munich 2016 (2016 [2019], ECM, 2CD): Solo piano, has well over a dozen such albums, Like many this one runs long, and tries my patience -- not that he doesn't impress me here and there. B+(*)

Goran Kajfes Tropiques: Into the Wild (2019, Headspin): Swedish trumpet player, at least seven records since 2000, second with this quintet -- Christer Bothen (bass clarinet), Alexander Zethson (keyboards), Johan Berthling (bass), Johan Homegard (drums) -- after three with his Subtropic Arkestra. B+(***) [bc]

Katarsis 4: Katarsis 4 (2019, NoBusiness): Sax quartet from Lithuania, biased toward alto -- two members list alto first, the others second (after baritone and soprano) -- so this doesn't have much in common with the harmonic focus of WSQ or ROVA. Some electronics, loads of atmosphere. B+(**) [cd]

Kaytranada: Bubba (2019, RCA): Louis Kevin Celestin, born in Haiti, grew up in Canada, second album after a lot of EPs, mixtapes, and production credits (some as Kaytradamus). Has a real knack for pop trifles. B+(**)

Kimchi Moccasin Tango: Yankee Zulu (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Norwegian trio -- Karl-Hjalmar Nyberg (tenor sax), Karl Bjorĺ (guitar), Dag Erik Knedal Andersen (drums) -- the group name parsed for three pieces, the title for the fourth. Avant-noise from the start, can change up a bit here and there, in ways that are ultimately winning. B+(**)

Guillermo Klein: Los Guachos Cristal (2019, Sunnyside): Argentine pianist, has used "Los Guachos" as an album title and/or as his group name: a large one, 11-pieces here, mostly New Yorkers, like his sax section -- Miguel Zenon (alto), Bill McHenry (tenor), and Chris Cheek (soprano/tenor/baritone) -- and trumpets: Diego Urcola and Taylor Haskins. Impressive section work, moved along by a strong rhythm. B+(***)

Kokoroko: Kokoroko (2019, Brownswood, EP): London-based Afrobeat collective, with saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, Sheila Maurice-Gray (trumpet), Richie Seivwright (trombone), plus guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums. Four cuts, 24:24. B+(*)

Lee Konitz Nonet: Old Songs New (2019, Sunnyside): Arranged and conducted by Ohad Talmor. The nonet balances reeds and strings: 4 each, the leader's alto sax shadowed by flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet; 2 celli between viola and bass; plus George Schuller on drums. Lush and unashamedly gorgeous. B+(***)

Ingrid Laubrock + Aki Takase: Kasumi (2018 [2019], Intakt): Sax and piano duo, a German based in New York and a Japanese based in Berlin. B+(**)

José Lencastre Nau Quartet: Live in Moscow (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Portuguese alto saxophonist, backed by two-thirds of RED Trio (Rodrigo Pinheiro and Hernâni Faustino, piano and bass), plus his brother Joăo on drums. B+(**)

Ari Lennox: Shea Butter Baby (2019, Dreamville/Interscope): Neo-soul singer, original name Courtney Salter, first album, goes through the motions, impresses on occasion but not much sticks. B+(*)

Danny Lerman: Ice Cat (2019, Blujazz): Saxophonist, studied at UNT and Berklee, pictured on soprano. Short album, five tracks (31:18), most with funk beats and vocals, can impress you with his instrument. B- [cd]

Jeff Lofton: Jericho (2019, self-released): Trumpet player, based in Austin. Blues-based bop, with "The Christmas Song" a change of pace I'll pardon this week, and two vocal takes of "Compared to What" (by Carolyn Wonderland and Murali Coryell). B+(**) [cd]

Mat Maneri Quartet: Dust (2019, Sunnyside): Leader plays viola, mostly known as son of avant-clarinetist Joe Maneri, and for playing side-roles in Matthew Shipp's orbit. Closer to the mainstream here with Lucian Ban (piano), John Hébert (bass), and Randy Peterson (drums). B+(*)

MC Yallah X Debmaster: Kubali (2019, Hakuna Kulala): Rapper Yallah Gaudencia Mbidde, from Uganda, and producer Julien Deblois, from France, with a short cassette. Densely fractured, could come from any high-tech haven. B+(*)

Tom McDermott: Meets Scott Joplin (2018 [2019], Arbors): Trad jazz pianist, from St. Louis, first record was called New Rags (1982), returns to the old ones here. Mostly solo, but picks up when some friends drop in (notably trombonist Rick Trolsen). B+(**)

Metropolitan Jazz Octet Featuring Dee Alexander: It's Too Hot for Words: Celebrating Billie Holiday (2019, Delmark): Chicago group, name comes from one Tom Hilliard assembled for a 1959 tribute to Bix Beiderbecke. The new group connects to the old through Hilliard protégés Jim Gailloreto (tenor sax) and John Kornegay (alto sax). The band exudes power, the singer strength. Hard to fault either, but doesn't quite seem right. B+(**)

Camila Meza and the Nectar Orchestra: Ámbar (2019, Sony Masterworks): Chilean singer-songwriter, based in New York, has a reputation as a jazz guitarist, fourth album, group adds strings to piano-bass-drums, lush and dramatic (not my favorite combination). B

Haviah Mighty: 13th Floor (2019, self-released): Canadian rapper, from Toronto, started in a group called the Sorority. First solo album, after an EP. B+(***)

Roscoe Mitchell Orchestra: Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College, March 19-20, 2018 (2018 [2019], Wide Hive): No musician credit for Mitchell (78), just composed, orchestrated, and conducted by. Twenty-five piece orchestra, with a fair number of strings and most of the classical horns (but no saxophones), a harp, some exotica. B+(**)

Van Morrison: Three Chords & the Truth (2019, Exile/Caroline): After a spate of covers albums, he's back with a batch of original songs (one co-authored), reportedly new ones but sounding ever so much like his old ones (perhaps I should A:B "Days Gone By" with "Days Like This"?). In fact, they sound so classic that it's finally clear how much his voice has thickened up. B+(***)

Nacka Forum: Sĺ Stopper Festen (2019, Moserobie): Scandinavian free jazz group, sixth album since 2002, originally a quintet but now down to four: Goran Kajfes (trumpet), Jonas Kullhammar (saxophones), Johan Berthling (bass), and Kresten Osgood (drums), with most switching off to other instruments (Osgood to vibes and organ). All write, but mostly Kullhammar. A- [cd]

Qasim Naqvi: Teenages (2019, Erased Tapes): Drummer from Pakistan, first noticed in the piano trio Dawn of Midi, has moved more into electronica lately, especially with this "music for modular synthesizer." B+(*)

The New Pornographers: In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (2019, Concord): Rather arty alt/indie band from Vancouver, seemed like a big deal with their debut in 2000, but I didn't like that one, and despite repeated attempts have never found much in their fairly substantial catalog. This sounds as good as any for a few minutes, then loses interest. More string synths than I recall. The change of pace helps ("You Won't Need Those Where You're Going"). B+(*)

Isabelle Olivier/Rez Abbasi: OASIS (2019, Enja/Yellowbird): Harp (with electronics) and acoustic guitar, backed by Prabhu Edouard (tabla & kanjira) and David Paycha (drums). Title an acronym for Olivier Abbasi Sound In Sound. After an unsettling "My Favorite Things," originals, mostly from Olivier, whose harp blends in but is frequently overrun by the percussion. B+(**) [cd]

Henrik Olsson/Ola Rubin: Olsson/Rubin (2019, Barefoot): Guitar and trombone, both Swedish (although Olsson is based in Copenhagen), label is a collective. Instruments are rarely used conventionally, with rough bits of electronic noise most common. Still, fairly listenable for that. B+(**) [cd]

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton: Concert in Vilnius (2017 [2019], NoBusiness): Avant sax-bass-drums trio, together frequently since 1980 (probably before). Plays his distinctive soprano as well, but his best records are all tenor. B+(***) [cd]

Rozina Pátkai: Taladim (2018 [2019], Tom-Tom): Hungarian singer, strikes me as folk-pop but she's drawn a lot on bossa nova in the past, and promoted this as a jazz record. B+(**) [cd]

Junius Paul: Ism (2016-19 [2019], International Anthem): Chicago bassist, first album, recorded 17 pieces on eight dates, using the same quartet on three, rotating other players on the others. That contributes to, but doesn't really explain, the indeterminateness that pervades the album, a mix of ambient and chaos. Note that Makaya McCraven edited and co-produced. B+(*)

Ken Peplowski/Diego Figueiredo: Amizade (2018 [2019], Arbors): The Brazilian guitarist has nine albums since 2006, two with singer Cyrille Aimée, and now this one with the retro-swing clarinetist. A couple of originals, various Brazilian classics, a spritely "Caravan," and the most languorous "Stompin' at the Savoy" I've ever heard. B+(*)

Lee Scratch Perry: Heavy Rain (2019, On-U Sound): Reportedly a dub remix ("companion to") the auteur's Rainford, one of this year's best albums. Not obviously redundant: all new song titles, a couple guests (Eno's piece is "Here Come the Warm Dreads"), relaxed, happy to indulge whatever odd sounds emerge. A-

Lee Scratch Perry: Life of the Plants (2019, Stones Throw): Label just names the Jamaican dub master, but a sticker adds Peaking Lights (Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis) and Ivan Lee, who are probably responsible for the electronics the rest is built on. Five nine-minute tracks, same powerful groove. B+(***)

Caroline Polachek: Pang 2019, Columbia): Singer-songwriter, leader of Chairlift (3 albums, 2008-16), first solo album (at least under her own name). B+(*)

Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Ephemeral Certainties (2019, Delmark): Piano player from Chicago, his real name for all I know -- my first reaction was to think of bluesmen but Javier is a plausible first name, unlike Louisiana, Piano, Speckled, and Tampa. First album, quartet with Jake Wark (tenor sax), Ben Dillinger (bass), Gustavo Cortińas (drums). Major poise and balance. A-

Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New (2018 [2019], Cuneiform): Cellist, grew up near DC, studied in Chicago and built her connections there before moving on to New York. Second Quartet album, with Mary Halvorson (guitar), Jason Roebke (bass), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). Seems small, like the strings folding back on themselves, but not without its unique Halvorson moments. B+(***) [dl]

Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba: Hallowed (2017-18 [2019], Advance Dance Disques): Postbop pianist, born in Oakland, based in New York, took a turn toward Afro-Cuban jazz with her New Yor-Uba "musical celebration of Cuba in America," and continues here, with three specialists in batá and congas, a raft of horns, and vocalist Nina Rodriquez. B+(***)

Sampa the Great: The Return (2019, Ninja Tune): Sampa Tembo, born in Zambia, raised in Botswana, studied in California, based in Australia, first album, after a couple of mixtapes. Sings, raps, entertains many guests, epic sweep running on for 19 songs, 78 minutes. B+(***)

Sault: 5 (2019, Forever Living Originals): Nothing I can find on this group or (more likely) individual, but name means a leap or jump, or less archaically "a fall or rapid in a river." First album, followed in short order by 7. I've seen various comparisons, but not the one that occurred to me: Chic. Well, minus the great bass lines, but everything else is there, and new again. A- [bc]

Sault: 7 (2019, Forever Living Originals): Second album, released less than five months after the debut, extends the groove and, if anything, tightens up the songcraft. A- [bc]

SEED Ensemble: Driftglass (2019, Jazz Re:freshed): London-based 10-piece jazz band led by saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, who also has a hand in Nérija and Kokoroko. Strong groove, massive horns, several guest vocals don't quite register. B+(*)

Derek Senn: How Could a Man (2019, self-released): Folksinger-songwriter, from California, third album. Has some stories. Tunes, too. B+(***)

Bob Sheppard: The Fine Line (2019, Challenge): Mainstream saxophonist, plays them all but best known for tenor, based in Los Angeles, has a few albums since 1991 but has done a ton of studio work, especially backing vocalists. Backed by piano (John Beasley), bass, and drums, with a few guests. Very respectable outing. B+(**)

Kalie Shorr: Open Book (2019, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Maine, based in Nashville, songs have some country in them, production has a lot of Nashville. B+(*)

Slayyyter: Slayyyter (The Mixtape) (2019, self-released): Catherine Slater, electropop singer from suburban St. Louis, first album. Leads with sex, which never comes clear in the dense mix, not that I especially mind. B+(**)

Sly & Robbie/Roots Radics: The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics (2019, Serious Reggae): Roots Radics started in the late 1970s as the studio band for Channel One, have several dozen albums, mostly meet-ups with dub-oriented singers and producers -- Dunbar & Shakespeare have much the same resume, often working with even bigger stars. No problem evoking reggae's heyday, but not so easy building on that. B+(**) [yt]

Sly & Robbie: Dub Serge (2019, Taxi): Refers back to a 1979 Serge Gainsbourg album, Aux Armes Et Caetera, which Sly, Robbie, Ansel Collins, and other Jamaicans played on (backing vocals were the I Threes: Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, and Rita Marley). This "remake" disposes of the vocals and makes Gainsbourg's songs unrecognizable, buried under layers of classic dub. B+(*)

Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline (2019, Fontana North): Canadian First Nations hip-hop duo, from the Haisla reserve village of Kitamaat, now based in Vancouver, third album. Hard to get a handle here, but obviously much in jest, and serious nonetheless. A-

Somersaults [Olie Brice/Tobias Delius/Mark Sanders]: Numerology of Birdsong (2018 [2019], West Hill): Bass-sax-drums trio, Delius playing tenor and clarinet, kept the title of their previous record as a group name. Smart, measured free jazz. B+(***) [bc]

Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 1) (2019, RareNoise): Sonar is a Swiss guitar-guitar-bass-drums band, principally Stephan Thelen, tunings feature tritones, rhythm very buttoned down, straight enough for rock, clever enough for jazz. Second album with guitarist Torn, who probably adds something, but fits in so seamlessly it's hard to discern what. A- [cdr]

Tim Stine Quartet: Knots (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Chicago guitarist, has a couple previous albums. Joined here by Nick Mazzarella (alto sax), Matt Ulery (bass), and Quin Kirchner (drums). B+(*)

Stormzy: Heavy Is the Head (2019, Merky/Atlantic): English rapper Michael Owuo Jr., grime star, second album. Fast, dense, some politics, some serious charges. B+(**)

Dave Stryker: Eight Track Christmas (2019, Strikezone): Guitarist, close to 40 albums since 1990, counting the band he co-leads with Steve Slagle. Released Eight Track in 2014 with this no-horn, groove-oriented quartet -- Stefon Harris (vibes), Jared Gold (organ), McClenty Hunter (drums) -- and aside from the season focus this would be IV. Leans secular, with "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" the one non-traditional tune. B [cd]

Sudan Archives: Athena (2019, Stones Throw): Brittney Denise Parks, born in Cincinnati, based in Los Angeles, self-taught violin, learned to feed that through loops and added her voice. First LP after two EPs. Defies genre, so another hip young singer-songwriter. "All we got is the Internet" is a sign of the times, for better and/or worse. B+(**) [bc]

Christian Meass Svendsen With Nakama and Rinzai Zen Center Oslo: New Rituals (2017-18 [2019], Nakama, 3CD): Bassist, went overboard here: each disc has the same titles, the first pass for group plus "chant choir," the second just group, the third all the way down to solo bass. The group, Nakama, has violin, piano, bass, drums, and voice. They're quite lively with the choir, but slow down on their own side, and you know what to expect with solo bass. B+(*) [bc]

Svetlost: Odron Ritual Orchestra (2019, PMG): Eleven-piece jazz band from Skopje, Macedonia. Two long pieces, each starting slow before flowering into something splendid. B+(***)

Steve Swell/Robert Boston/Michael Vatcher: Brain in a Dish (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): Trombone, piano/organ, drums, a strong outing for a trombonist who's been one of free jazz's leading lights for more than a decade. A- [cd]

Thick: Thick (2019, Epitaph): Post-punk trio from Brooklyn, guitar-bass-drums, all women, all credited with vocals, sound thickens into shoegaze. Three songs, 9:04. B+(*)

Pat Thomas/Dominic Lash/Tony Orrell: Bley School (2018 [2019], 577 Records): British pianist, distinct from two other musicians of same name (one from San Francisco, the other Ghana). I'm rather shocked that I didn't have a database entry for this one, as he's appeared on 40+ albums since 1993, starting with Lol Coxhill and Derek Bailey. A tribute to the late Paul Bley, more focused on approach than canon. B+(***) [bc]

Trigger: Pull (2019, Shhpuma): Avant-thrash trio: Will Greene (electric guitar), Simon Haines (electric bass), Aaron Edgcomb (drums). Intense, relentless, still it does eventually melt together. B

Fay Victor: Barn Songs (2018 [2019], Northern Spy): Striking jazz singer-songwriter, closest we have to a second coming of Betty Carter. Dusted off some old songs from her Amsterdam exile, given stark and foreboding framing with cello (Marika Hughes) and alto sax (Darius Jones). B+(**)

Juan Vinuesa Jazz Quartet: Blue Shots From Chicago (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): Tenor saxophonist, from Spain, spent a couple years in Chicago where he put this group together: Josh Berman (cornet), Jason Roebke (bass), and Mikel Patrick Avery (drums). Free jazz, has a nice lyrical feel. B+(***) [cd]

Bobby Watson/Vincent Herring/Gary Bartz: Bird at 100 (2019, Smoke Sessions): Three alto saxophonists, Bartz (the eldest, with 13 years on Watson and 24 on Herring) the one I think of most literally as a Charlie Parker clone, but I couldn't pick them apart here. With David Kikoski (piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Carl Allen (drums). I don't really feel this as relating to Parker, unless they're just saying all you need is chops. But chops they have, and that can be fun. B+(*)

Jennifer Wharton's Bonegasm: Bonegasm (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): Trombonist, first album, a trombone quartet (John Fedchock, Nate Mayland, Alan Ferber) backed by piano-bass-drums. B+(*)

The Who: Who (2019, Polydor): In 1994 they released a box set called Thirty Years of Maximum R&B, but by my calculation it was more like six (1965-71) -- sure, Quadrophenia (1973) has its fans, but the decline through It's Hard (1982) was undeniable. I'd say they set themselves up with "I hope I die before I get old," especially when only Keith Moon did (1978). Aside from profit-taking boxes, this is only their second album since -- Endless Wire appeared in 2006. Got to give them credit here for sounding like no one else. Still, he record runs longer than their inspiration. B

Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five: Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry (2019, BMG): Small Faces guitarist, tried his hand at a solo career in the 1970s but settled for the job security of another British Invasion blues band. He wrote a sloppy intro here ("Tribute to Chuck Berry"), then reverted to form, coasting on someone else's genius. Imelda May sings a blues, he sings the rest with a broad grin, and the band is super-hot. B+(***)

Billy Woods: Terror Management (2019, Blackwoodz Studioz): Rapper, born in DC, parents intellectuals from Jamaica and Zimbabwe, spent the 1980s living in Africa, got into music in the late 1990s, part of Armand Hammer, has a dozen albums more/less on his own. This one would take some time to sort out. B+(**) [bc]

Yong Yandsen/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Paal Nilssen-Love: Hungry Ghosts (2018 [2019], Nakama): Avant-sax trio, recorded in Kuala Lamur -- evidently home base for the tenor saxophonist, a co-founder of EMACM (Experimental Musicians & Artists Co-operative Malaysia -- and released in Norway, home of the bassist and drummer. One searing 39:00 tear. B+(***) [bc]

YBN Cordae: The Lost Boy (2019, Atlantic): Rapper Cordae Dunston, from North Carolina, grew up in Maryland, wound up in Los Angeles, in a collective that goes by YBN (e.g., YBN Nahmir, YBN Glizzy, YBN Almighty Jay). First album, after several mixtapes (as Entendre). Sound stories, cute skits, various guests but holds his own. A-

Young Nudy & Pi'erre Bourne: Sli'merre (2019, RCA): Atlanta rapper Quantavious Tavario Thomas with producer Jordan Jenks, who has an album and several mixtapes on his own. Guest spots for 21 Savage, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, and Lil Uzi Vert. B+(***)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Atom[TM]: Lassigue Bendhaus/Matter (1992 [2019], AtomTM Audio Archive, 2CD): One of many aliases for Uwe Schmidt, German electronica producer based in Chile. Clangy beats, whisper vocals, runs too long but very impressive. No idea about dozens more where this came from. A- [bc]

Bobby Bradford/Frode Gjerstad/Kent Carter/John Stevens: Blue Cat (1991 [2019], NoBusiness): Cornet player, had a legendary two-horn quartet with John Carter, tries to conjure up a bit of that dynamic with alto saxophonist Gjerstad. Recorded in London with local bass/drums legends. B+(**) [cdr]

Burial: Tunes 2011 to 2019 (2011-19 [2019], Hyperdub, 2CD): British electronica producer William Bevan, variously classed as dubstep, downtempo, and ambient, released two proper albums 2006-07, but only EPs since then -- seven of them collected here, sequenced (mostly) latest to earliest, vainly trying to reverse a decade-long decline. (My EP grades, from 2019 to 2011: B, B, *, **, A-, A-, ***.) First disc is over half done before anything catches my ear. Second is better, maybe even worth the while. B+(*)

Joseph Daley: The Seven Deadly Sins/The Seven Heavenly Virtues (2010-13 [2019], Jodamusic): Reissues two albums, one broadly orchestral I've previously heard and graded B+(***), the other more string-laden, below. Averages out to: B+(**)

Dusko Goykovich: Sketches of Yugoslavia (1973-74 [2019], Enja): Trumpet player, a Serb born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, incorporated folk idioms into jazz from Swinging Macedonia (1966) on. Leads a quartet here, fronting the rather lacklustre NDR Radio Orchestra Hannover. B+(*)

Dadisi Komolafe: Hassan's Walk (1983 [2019], Nimbus West): Plays flute and alto sax, only album I can find, quintet with piano (Eric Tilman), bass, drums, and vibraphone, recorded in Los Angeles. Has a deep African vibe. B+(**) [bc]

Yusef A. Lateef: Hikima: Creativity (1983 [2019], The Key System): Tenor saxophonist, changed his name when he converted to Islam, early on developed an interest in African and Middle Eastern music. Recorded a lot from 1957 into the 1970s, hit a thin patch, but bounced back from 1989, first with Atlantic then his own YAL label. This is one of two records he recorded in Nigeria, with a local group with singers and a lot of percussion. B+(**) [bc]

Sam Rivers Quintet: Zenith [Sam Rivers Achive Project, Volume 2] (1977 [2019], NoBusiness): Tenor saxophonist, also plays soprano, piano, and (quite a bit of) flute. Quartet with Joe Daley (tuba/euphonium), Charlie Persip (bass), and Barry Altschul (drums), live set in Berlin. I might complain about the flute, but the rhythm section more than picks up the slack. A- [cd]

Masahiko Satoh/Sabu Toyozumi: The Aiki (1997 [2019], NoBusiness): Piano-drums duo, major figures in Japanese avant-garde since 1969 (Satoh) and 1974 (Toyozumi). Two pieces (37:24 + 19:51), relentlessly inventive, most impressed by the drummer. A- [cd]

Makoto Terashita Meets Harold Land: Topology (1983 [2019], BBE): Japanese pianist, had one previous trio album from 1978, doesn't seem to have had much since, but this was picked out for the label's J Jazz Masterclass Series. His meeting with the alto saxophonist is backed by Yasushi Yoneki (bass) and Mike Reznikoff (drums). The piano trio is quite satisfying on its own, and Land is as poised and fierce as I can recall. A- [bc]

Old Music

Johnathan Blake: Gone, but Not Forgotten (2014, Criss Cross): Drummer-led quartet, with bass (Ben Street) and two saxophonists (Chris Potter and Mark Turner). Something to be said for the extra harmony, but they do meander more, sometimes with alto flute or soprano sax, and wind up with a bit of swing. B+(***)

Olie Brice/Tobias Delius/Mark Sanders: Somersaults (2014 [2015], Two Rivers): Delius plays tenor sax and clarinet, with bass and drums -- all English, although Delius has long lived in Amsterdam, his best known band the ICP Orchestra. B+(***)

Joseph Daley: The Seven Heavenly Virtues (2013, Jodamusic): Tuba player, from New York, side credits since 1971 (Taj Mahal, Gil Evans, Sam Rivers), first under his own name The Seven Deadly Sins (2011), with his 24-piece Earth Tones Orchestra. This sequel is mostly string orchestra and percussion, some piano. I can't say as I've ever found violins heavenly. Closes with three "sketches" referring to Warren Smith, Billy Bang, and Bill Dixon. B+(*)
[Both reissued on one CD in 2019 as The Seven Deadly Sins/The Seven Heavenly Virtues (Jodamusic). Averages to B+(**)]

Emmeluth's Amoeba: Polyp (2017 [2018], Řra Fonogram): Danish alto saxophonist Signe Emmeluth, group based in Oslo, first album. B+(*)

Kristijan Krajncan: Drumming Cellist (2017, Sazas): Slovenian cellist-drummer, overdubs the two instruments, first album, adopted its title as his artist credit on his second (Abraxas). Fills the first half with J.S. Bach's "Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor." B+(*) [bc]

Music Weeks

Current count 32248 [32156] rated (+92), 224 [219] unrated (+5).

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

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