Streamnotes: March 30, 2020


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 February 24. Past reviews and more information are available here (14424 records).


Recent Releases

070 Shake: Modus Vivendi (2020, GOOD Music/Def Jam): Hip-hop singer-songwriter Danielle Balbuena, from New Jersey, first album (after a mixtape and an EP). B+(**)

Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band: Just Like Moby Dick (2020, Paradise of Bachelors): Singer-songwriter from the western fringe of country, born in Wichita, grew up in Lubbock (title of his 1979 album, probably his best), has a reputation as a visual artist as well as over a dozen albums. B+(***)

Bad Bunny: YHLQMDLG (2020, Rimas): Puerto Rican reggaeton rapper Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, third album (counting last year's one with J Balvin), acronym stands for "Yo hago lo que me da la gana" ("I do what I want"). B+(**)

Kenny Barron/Dave Holland Trio Featuring Johnathan Blake: Without Deception (2019 [2020], Dare2): Piano-bass-drums trio, on Holland's label, crediting him as producer. Credits favor Barron 4-2, with covers of Ellington, Monk, Mulgrew Miller, and Sumi Tonooka -- pianists all (Miller was Barron's partner for The Art of Piano Duo: Live, and Tonooka was one of his assistants at Rutgers, and a brilliant pianist in her own right). One of those rare piano trios where everything seems just right. A- [cd]

Gerald Beckett: Mood (2019 [2020], Pear Orchard): Flute player, half-dozen albums since 2004, wrote four (of nine) pieces here, covers other postbop jazz musicians (Barron, Mabern, Marsalis, Chestnut, Ron Carter) to take out his own mainstream turf. B [cd]

Marc Benham: Biotope (2020, SteepleChase): French pianist, trio with John HÚbert (bass) and Eri McPherson (drums). Three originals, rest covers including famous pieces by Ellington, Waller, Gillespie, and Rollins. B+(**)

Lakecia Benjamin: Pursuance: The Coltranes (2020, Ropeadope): Alto saxophonist, from New York, third album, bassist Reggie Workman co-produces. No credit details for the "over 40 jazz heavyweights" employed here, but Jazzmeia Horn, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Dee Dee Bridgewater sing (or scat), and the Last Poets narrate, with mentor Gary Bartz opening and Greg Osby closing. De trop, but pans out here and there. B+(*)

Steve Beresford & John Butcher: Old Paradise Airs (2019 [2020], Iluso): Avant-jazz duo, Butcher plays soprano and tenor sax, Beresford is credited with piano, objects, electronics -- not his usual kit, but after 40+ years as a gadfly I'm still not sure what is. B+(*) [bc]

Jerry Bergonzi: Nearly Blue (2019 [2020], Savant): Tenor saxophonist, many records since 1984, recorded this in Italy with Renato Chicco (organ) and Andrea Michelutti (drums). Three originals, seven standards. His best records have been his most straightforward, and this is no exception. A- [cd]

Antoine Berjeaut: Moving Cities (2017 [2019], I See Colors): French trumpet player, third album, cover proclaims "produced by Makaya McCraven." The drummer also share composition credits, and many sources give him top-line co-credit, merited far beyond his beats. B+(**)

Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Fantastic Mrs. 10 (2019 [2020], Intakt): Alto saxophonist, debut in 1979, released four albums on ECM with this group -- Oscar Noriega (clarinets), Matt Mitchell (piano), Ches Smith (drums), replacing Ryan Ferreira with Marc Ducret at guitar (Ducret played with Berne on many 1991-2007 albums). A bit too much clutter for my taste, but a lot of talent, with a few amazing stretches. B+(***)

Andy Bianco: NYC Stories (2020, Next Level): Guitarist, based in New York, couple previous albums, cover singles out Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax) and George Burton (piano) for "featuring." B+(*)

Daniel Bingert: Berit in Space (2019 [2020], Moserobie): Swedish bassist, father is saxophonist Hector Bingert (originally from Uruguay, where Daniel lived as a child), first album, composed, arranged, conducted, and produced but doesn't play: Torbj÷rn Zetterberg plays bass, with Per Texas Johansson and Jonas Kullhammar the saxophonists, Karl Olandersson on trumpet, Charlie Malmberg on piano, and Moussa Fadera on drums. Elegantly composed pieces, nothing too harsh. B+(***)

Jeb Bishop Flex Quartet: Re-Collect (2015 [2019], Not Two): Trombonist, originally from North Carolina, made his mark in Chicago (especially in the early Vandermark Five), where this was recorded. Quartet with Russ Johnson (trumpet), Jason Roebke (bass), and Frank Rosaly (drums). What you look for in a pianoless quartet: two freewheeling horns, the main distinction here that the trombone gives as good as it gets. A-

Jeb Bishop/Jaap Blonk/Weasel Walter/Damon Smith: JeJaWeDa: Pioneer Works Vol. 1 (2019, Balance Point Acoustics): Trombone, voice/electronics, drums, bass. Much noise, Blonk's appetite for chaos seems boundless, and the other have fun -- more than the listener, I'm sure. B+(*) [bc]

Raoul Bj÷rkenheim: Solar Winds (2019 [2020], Long Song): Guitarist, born in Los Angeles but mother is Finnish and he grew up there, breaking in with drummer Edward Vesala before starting his fusion group, Krakatau, in 1988, and later, Scorch Trio. Quartet with violin (Emanuele Parrini), bass, and drums, playing six Coltrane tunes and two originals. Exciting to start, wears a bit toward the end. B+(***)

Boogat: El Gato Y Los Rumberos (2020, Ray-On, EP): Daniel Russo Garrido, born in Montreal, parents from Mexico (and Paraguay?), dozen albums since 2004, sings and raps in Spanish (and French?). Title cut jumps, but slips elsewhere. Five songs, 20:22. B

Benjamin Boone With the Ghana Jazz Collective: Joy (2019 [2020], Origin): Saxophonist, teaches in Fresno, CA; has two very good records with poet Philip Levine. Got a Fulbright Scholar ticket to Ghana, where he put this ambitious group together. Strikes me as excessive on many counts, which makes it hard to hear the trad fusion concepts. B [cd]

Calle Loiza Jazz Project: There Will Never Be Another You (2019 [2020], self-released): Latin jazz group, from Puerto Rico, reunites a quartet first formed in 1990 -- listed first is either pianist Mark Monts de Oca or drummer Jimmy Rivera -- with ample reinforcements. B+(**) [cd]

Caribou: Suddenly (2020, Merge): Dan Snaith, from Canada, started in laptronica, more electropop now, fifth album as Caribou (other names he's used are Manitoba and Daphni). B+(**)

Franšois Carrier/Tomek Gadecki/Marcik Bozek/Michel Lambert: Wide (2018 [2019], FMR): Alto sax/drums duo, one of my favorites, goes to Poland, picks up a second saxophonist (Gadecki, on tenor) and a bassist (Bozek, who also plays French horn). The result is a freewheeling riot, a bit too much for me, although when I can pick Carrier out, he sounds as sharp as ever. B+(***) [cd]

Chicago Farmer: Flyover Country (2020, Chicago Farmer): Folksinger-songwriter Cody Dieckhoff, grew up in the small farming community of Delavan, Illinois, wound up unassimilated in Chicago, covers Hank Williams (an eery "Ramblin Man"), cites John Prine as his model. Seventh album, including a live one from 2018 that Christgau recommended and I was unable to find. Takes pride in dirty uniforms, disparages $13 beer, invokes the Mississippi Delta. A-

Brandy Clark: Your Life Is a Record (2020, Warner): Country singer-songwriter, third album, more or less as good as the first two. Picks up a surprise duet partner (Randy Newman) on her most political song ("Bigger Boat"). A-

Cornershop: England Is a Garden (2020, Ample Play): British group, Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres, formed in 1991, fused Punjabi influences with electropop, released brilliant albums in 1997 and 2002, to which everything else more or less compares. This sounds much like them, reviving a sound we've been missing. A-

CP Unit: One Foot on the Ground Smoking Mirror Shakedown (2018 [2020], Ramp Local): Led by alto saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos, who also contributes electronics, backed by electric guitar (Sam Lisabeth), electric bass (Henry Frazer), and drums/more electronics (Jason Nazary). Fourth group album, short at 4 tracks, 32:29, gets a bit overheated toward the end. B+(***)

Jeremy Cunningham: The Weather Up There (2020, Northern Spy): Drummer, based in Chicago, originally from Cincinnati, second album, in a number of projects, ranging from a duo with Dave Rempis to crossover efforts. This starts with his quartet -- Josh Johnson (alto sax/bass clarinet), Jeff Parker (guitar), and Matt Ulery (bass, although Paul Bryan takes over for 4 songs here) -- then adds guests, including his Chicago Drum Choir (with Makaya McCraven and Mike Reed), Jamie Branch (trumpet), Ben LaMar Gay (vocals/electronics), Dustin Laurenzi (tenor sax), and Tomeka Reid (cello). B+(**)

Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats: Unlocked (2020, Loma Vista, EP): Florida rapper, four albums since 2013, produced by Kenneth Blume III, tied into a 24-minute short film. Eight tracks, 17:52. B+(*)

Davido: A Good Time (2019, RCA): David Adedeji Adeleke, born in Atlanta but parents are Nigerian, his father a prince and a billionaire business magnate (his company is called Pacific Holdings Limited). He grew up in Nigeria, attending elite schools in Lagos, college in the US, then after his interest turned to music he moved to London. Closer to neo-soul than to afrobeat, but his mix of beats and production glitz serves him well. B+(***)

Day Dream: Originals (2019 [2020], Corner Store Jazz): Piano-bass-drums trio: Steve Rudolph, Drew Gress, Phil Haynes. Rudolph wrote four pieces, the others (much better known musicians) three each. Thoughtful, nicely balanced. B+(**)

Destroyer: Have We Met (2020, Merge): Vancouver BC band, principally singer-songwriter Dan Bejar, twelfth album since 1996, who also lurks in the background of New Pornographers. Some nice touches here and elsewhere, but ultimately never enough to make me care. B+(*)

Aaron Diehl: The Vagabond (2020, Mack Avenue): Pianist, from Columbus, Ohio, fifth album, a solid, thoughtful trio with bass and drums. B+(*)

Vito Dieterle: Anemone (2018 [2020], Ride Symbol): Tenor saxophonist, based in New York, first album (shares release date with a second, recorded later, mainstream affair with organ (Ben Paterson), guitar (Kris Kaiser), and drums (Aaron Seeber). One original (the title song), with two Billy Strayhorn songs always catching my ear. B+(***) [cd]

Vito Dieterle/Joel Forrester: Status Sphere (2019 [2020], Ride Symbol): Duets, tenor sax and piano, five songs by the pianist, seven by Thelonious Monk. B+(**) [cd]

Beatrice Dillon: Workaround (2017-19 [2020], Pan): British electronica, mostly beats ("a hypnotic series of polymetric permutations at a fixed 150bpm tempo"). B+(**)

John DiMartino: Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (2019 [2020], Sunnyside): Pianist, tends to look back at the tradition, as he does here, re-examining the usual book of Strayhorn classics. Eric Alexander (tenor sax) is in good form, and the rhythm section -- Boris Kozlov (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) -- are impeccable. Raul Midˇn sings "Lush Life." B+(**) [cd] [04-10]

Yelena Eckemoff: Nocturnal Animals (2018 [2020], L&H Production, 2CD): Russian pianist, got a good education in classical music before moving to US in 1991, where her interests eventually turned to jazz (especially from 2009 forward). Recorded this one in Oslo with all-stars Arild Andersen on bass and Jon Christensen and Thomas Str°nen on drums. B+(**) [cd]

Sarah Elgeti Quartet With Friends: Dawn Comes Quietly (2019 [2020], Gateway Music): Danish tenor saxophonist, also plays flute and bass clarinet, several previous albums. Writes lyrics as well as music, sung here by Sidsel Storm. One title is "A Lot of People -- A Lot of Sad Stories." Most in Danish, I presume, but sad, sure. B [cd]

Liberty Ellman: Last Desert (2019 [2020], Pi): Guitar player, was a reputation as a producer, leads a sextet of label regulars -- Steve Lehman (alto sax), Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Jose Davila (tuba), Stephan Crump (bass), Damion Reid (drums). Clever postbop, surfaces slipping easily past one another. B+(***) [cd]

Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group: Earth (2018 [2020], Whaling City Sound): Plays soprano sax and recorder here. Quintet dates from 2013, fourth album, with members contributing songs: Matt Vashlishan (wind synth), Bobby Avey (piano), Tony Marino (electric bass), Alex Ritz (drums/kanjira), while Liebman ties this to a series of previous albums with other groups: Water (1997), Air (2006), and Fire (2016). B+(*)

Fat Tony & Taydex: Wake Up (2020, Carpark, EP): Houston rapper Anthony Jude Obi, father an engineer from Nigeria, has a handful of albums, depending on where you divide the short ones -- e.g., this one has nine tracks, 22:03. Don't know anything about the beat guy, but he earns his keep. B+(***)

Amina Figarova Edition 113: Persistence (2018 [2020], AmFi): Azerbaijani pianist, clasically trained in Baku, based in New York. More than a dozen albums, this one distinguished by Rez Abbasi on guitar, but also dotted with flute, EWI, and guest vocals. B [cd] [04-10]

Nick Finzer: Cast of Characters (2019 [2020], Outside In Music): Trombonist, from Rochester, based in New York (although he seems to have a connection to UNT), several albums, this a sleek postbop sextet with Lucas Pino (reeds), guitar, piano, bass, and drums. B+(*)

Fire! Orchestra: Actions (2018 [2020], Rune Grammofon): Free jazz orchestra, grew from Mats Gustafsson's Fire! trio, picking up a wide swath of mostly Scandinavian avant-jazzers. This is a single 40:01 piece by Krzysztof Penderecki, recorded live at a festival in Krakow. B+(**)

Elliot Galvin: Live in Paris at Fondation Louis Vuitton (2018 [2020], Edition): British pianist, a "young Django Bates" if you like, has appeared on albums recently with Laura Jurd and Binker Golding, goes solo for this one, a bit commandeering. B+(*)

Naama Gheber: Dearly Beloved (2019 [2020], Cellar Music): Standards singer, born in Israel, based in New York, first album, backed by Ray Gallon's piano trio plus Steve Nelson, whose vibraphone gently washes over the nicely done classics. B+(**) [cd] [04-10]

Vincent Glanzmann/Gerry Hemingway: Composition O (2017 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): Two percussionists, some electronics, voice, harmonica; joint composition, runs 36:33 in 6 parts. Limited palette, but consistently interesting. B+(***) [cd]

Al Gold: Al Gold's Paradise (2019 [2020], self-released): Bluesman from New Jersey, plays guitar and mandolin, sings, writes his own songs. Don't know much about him other than that he organizes block parties and jams. Sounds old and gritty enough for the blues, even with his light touch. Roped some jazz musicians into his project, including Dave Stryker and Jared Gold. A-

The Good Ones: Rwanda, You Should Be Loved (2019, Anti-): Group from Rwanda, led by singer-guitarist Adrien Kazigira, with Janvier Havugimana and Javan Mahoro adding background vocals and percussion. B+(*)

Alex Goodman: Impressions in Blue and Red (2019 [2020], Outside In Music, 2CD): Guitarist, from Canada, based in New York City, sixth album since 2007. Two discs, two quartets with the same lineups (alto sax, bass, drums) but different musicians. B+(***)

Joyce Grant: Surrounded by Blue (2019 [2020], Craftedair/Blujazz): Standards singer, but three (of eight) songs are by pianist Douglas McKeehan, and the others aren't all that standard ("My Baby Just Cares for Me," "Help"). B [cd]

Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (2020, 4AD): Canadian pop singer-songwriter Claire Boucher, born in Vancouver, studied in Montreal, fifth studio album since 2010. Hard to get a firm handle on this, as it gets hard and even a bit noisy toward the end, but is likely to grow on you. B+(***)

Muriel Grossmann: Reverence (2019, RR Gems): Saxophonist (soprano/alto/tenor), born in Paris, grew up in Austria, based in Ibiza (Spain), eleventh album since 2007. Quintet with guitar, organ, bass, and drums: long, sinewy groove pieces with cosmic dust, reminiscent of Coltrane at his (or her) most spiritual (do I detect a bit of uncredited harp?). A- [bc]

The Haden Triplets: The Family Songbook (2020, Trimeter): The late bassist Charlie Haden's daughters (Petra, Rachel, Tanya), second group album (Tanya has by far the most substantial solo career). Old songs, tight harmony, guitar. B+(**)

Wolfgang Haffner: Kind of Tango (2019 [2020], ACT Music): German drummer, several dozen albums since 1989, this billed as the third entry in a "Kind of . . ." trilogy. Three Astor Piazzolla tunes are more than kind of, but the band's originals are less. With guitar (Ulf Wakenius), accordion, piano, vibes, and bass/cello (Lars Danielson). B

Ross Hammond/Oliver Lake/Mike Pride: Our Place on the Wheel (2020, Prescott): Guitarist, more than two dozen albums since 2008 -- I've heard less than a third, my favorite 2013's Cathedrals. Credited with steel guitar here, he plays a low key, almost ambient, blues, with alto sax shading and harmonizing, and percussion accents. A-

Harrison▓: Trout in Swimwear (2019 [2020], self-released): Toronto-based quartet, pronounced "Harrison Squared," the group name from Harrison Argatoff (tenor sax) and Harry Vetro (drums), with Mike Murley (tenor sax) and Steve Wallace (bass). Edgy postbop. B+(***) [cdr]

Paul Heaton/Jacqui Abbott: Manchester Calling (2020, Virgin EMI): The singer-songwriter star behind my favorite 1990s group, the Beautiful South, and the group's alternate singer (1994-2000). Fourth duo album, occasional blasts of the old songcraft, nothing that's really sunk in given the short time I've allocated -- a far cry the the hundreds of spins I gave Welcome to the Beautiful South (1990) and 0898 Beautiful South (1992). Then comes "A Good Day Is Hard to Find" and I wonder if I've given it short shrift. B+(**)

The Heliocentrics: Infinity of Now (2020, Madlib Invazion): London jazz-funk collective, core members Malcolm Catto (drums), Jake Ferguson (bass), and Jack Yglesias (keybs); original inspiration was Sun Ra, but they've adapted to key guests (Mulatu Astatke, Lloyd Miller, Orlando Julius, Melvin Van Peebles) and mostly recorded on world/funk labels (Madlib's sole credit here is executive producer). I have my doubts about the vocals, but the instrumental pieces are pretty impressive, especially the closer, "People Wake Up." B+(***)

Monika Herzig: Eternal Dance (2019 [2020], Savant): German pianist, previous album called Sheroes, credits "Monika Herzig's Sheroes" on the cover, including Jamie Baum (flute), Reut Regev (trombone), Lakecia Benjamin (alto sax), Leni Stern (guitar), and Akua Dixon (cello), others on bass, drums, and percussion. Five originals, one each from Regev and Stern, covers of Queen, Bowie/Eno, and "Motherless Child." B+(*) [cd]

Lisa Hilton: Chalkboard Destiny (2019, Ruby Slippers): Pianist, from California, two dozen albums since 1997. Quartet with JD Allen (tenor sax), Luques Curtis (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). Not her first album with Allen, who is an asset here, though not as strong as on his own albums. B+(**)

JC Hopkins Biggish Band: New York Moment (2019 [2020], Twee-Jazz): Pianist, third album with this group, has done some producing on the side. Band is big enough (about ten pieces), not counting five vocalists that lean toward cabaret. Odd song out here is the one cover (and one instrumental), a super-hot take of Mingus' "Better Git It in Your Soul." B+(**) [cd] [04-05]

J Hus: Big Conspiracy (2020, Black Butter): British rapper Momodou Lamin Jallow, mother a Fula from Gambia, second album. B+(**)

Christopher Icasiano: Provinces (2018 [2020], Origin): Filipino-American percussionist from Seattle suburbs, not sure if he was born in US or immigrated, but works some Filipino field recordings into this debut solo effort (after a couple records with/as Bad Luck), along with synthesizer and shells. Too ambient too much of the time, but has some moments. B [cd]

Idle Hands: Solid Moments (2019 [2020], Posi-Tone): Label artists, assembled by producer Marc Free into a house supergroup: Will Bernard (guitar), Behn Gillece (vibes), Sam Dillon (tenor sax), Art Hirahara (piano), Boris Kozlov (bass), Donald Edwards (drums). Lively mainstream mix. B+(*)

Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You? (2019 [2020], International Anthem): Voice and texts by Camae Ayewa, better known as Moor Mother, backed here by a free jazz quartet -- sax (Keir Neuringer) and trumpet (Aquilles Navarro), bass (Luke Stewart) and drums (Tcheser Holmes), with extra percussion from all. A- [bc]

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis: The Music of Wayne Shorter (2015 [2020], Blue Engine, 2CD): Big band, working their way through ten Shorter compositions, arranged by nine band members (Sherman Irby doubled up), with guest solos by Shorter himself. The latter stand out, but the band is uncharacteristically out of sorts. B-

Dawda Jobarteh: I Met Her by the River (2018, Stern's Africa): Singer-songwriter from Gambia, based in Copenhagen, plays kora, opens with an instrumental. B

Kirk Knuffke: Brightness: Live in Amsterdam (2020, Royal Potato Family): Trumpet player, straddles avant and mainstream, prolific since 2009, leads a trio with Mark Helias (bass) and Bill Goodwin (drums). B+(*)

Landgren & Lundgren: Kristallen (2018 [2020], ACT Music): Swedish duo, Nils & Jan, trombone/vocals and piano, active since 1984 and 1993, respectively. Nils' vocals are nothing special, but occasionally touching (e.g., "The Nearness of You"), even though I'd rather hear his trombone. Jan is in both cases a sensitive accompanist. B+(**)

Urs Leimgruber/Andreas Willers/Alvin Curran/Fabrizio Spera: Rome-ing (2018 [2019], Leo): Swiss saxophonist (soprano and tenor), thirty-some albums since 1983, backed here with guitar, piano, and drums, from a live date in Rome. Four parts, 68:50, joint improv. B+(**)

Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (2020, Warner): English pop star, parents Albanians from Kosovo, second album, multiple co-writers and producers everywhere, eleven tight songs (only one over 3:41), mixes the hardest dance grooves up front, peaking with "Physical" (as in "let's get"). A-

Charles Lloyd: 8: Kindred Spirits (Live From the Lobero) (2018 [2020], Blue Note): Tenor saxophonist, quintet -- Julian Lage (guitar), Gerald Clayton (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Eric Harland (drums) -- celebrating his 80th birthday. Available in a deluxe box with 3-LP, 2-CD, DVD, and 96-page hardcover book, but all I've heard is a 4-track, 59:47 stream. Doesn't strike me as something special, although his sax is still a source of delight. B+(**)

Hayoung Lyou: Metamorphosis (2019 [2020], Endectomorph Music): Pianist, born in Korea, studied in Boston, based in New York, first album, quintet with two saxophones (Jasper Dutz on alto and Jacob Shulman on tenor), bass, and drums. Wonni Jung sings one song, similar to but less appealing than the slippery saxes. B+(***) [04-17]

Paul Lytton/Nate Wooley: Known/Unknown (2018 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): Drums-trumpet duo, Lytton from the late 1960s a key figure in the European avant-garde, mostly in groups led by others (e.g., Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Alexander von Schlippenbach, later on Ken Vandermark). Wooley is 27 years younger, attracted to those same leaders, prolific since 2005. Three cuts, 77:09, both add some minor electronics, with not much obviously happening for long stretches. Ends with a nice stretch. B+(*) [cd]

Harold Mabern: Mabern Plays Mabern (2018 [2020], Smoke Sessions): Pianist from Memphis, moved to New York in 1959 and landed a gig with "Sweets" Edison. He cut his first album in 1968, and this looks to be his last, from a three day stand that previously yielded Iron Man: Live at Smoke, before dying in September 2019. The latter was a quartet, with Eric Alexander (tenor sax), John Webber (bass), and Joe Farnsworth (drums). This set, with two covers, five Mabern originals, and one by Alexander, adds Vincent Herring (alto sax) and Steve Davis (vibes), making it a little busy. B+(**)

Denise Mangiardi: Brown Book (2019 [2020], Alice's Loft Music): Singer-songwriter, based in London although she started in New York and studied at Berklee, has composed classical works ("3 full-scale orchestral works as well as many chamber pieces"). Added words to a Monk piece, wrote the rest, employing well known jazz musicians (Mark Soskin on piano, saxophonists are Tony Dagradi, Dave O'Higgins, and Jerry Bergonzi), with strings by the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. B+(**) [cd]

Thomas Marriott: Trumpet Ship (2016 [2020], Origin): Trumpet player, from Seattle, twelfth album, quartet with Orrin Evans (piano), Luques Curtis (bass), and Mark Whitfield Jr. (drums). Title song from Sonny Simmons, most others originals. B+(*) [cd]

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet: When Angels Fall (2019, WMQ/Agora Muzyka): Polish bassist, at least ten albums since 2008, released an impressive Polka album in 2014, turns here to his country's premier jazz composer, Krzysztof Komeda (1931-69). Quintet with trumpet, tenor sax, piano, and drums. Some remarkable passages here, surprise shifts, maybe a bit much drama. A-

Christian McBride: The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons (2013 [2020], Mack Avenue): Mainstream bassist, has been working on this since 1998, when he first performed it, his icons Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King Jr., a decade later adding Barack Obama with "Apotheosis: November 4th, 2008." With big band, choir, narrators reciting inspirational words -- although Obama's conciliatory inaugural address elicits more sadness than anything else today. Several monologues break into song. By far the best is least political, most cultural victory, "Rumble in the Jungle." B+(**)

Thollem McDonas/William Parker/Nels Cline: Gowanus Sessions II (2012 [2020], ESP-Disk): Piano/bass/guitar, the cover listing only the former's first name (as usual), the others' surnames. Leftovers from their 2012 album, two LP-sized jams (18:42/18:49). Cline doesn't do much other than add color here. B+(**)

Mike McGinnis/Elias Bailey/Vinnie Sperrazza: Time Is Thicker (2020, Open Stream Music): Clarinet/bass/drums, five joint originals, four covers, ending with a sprightly "Just One of Those Things." B+(**) [cd]

Joe McPhee/John Edwards/Klaus Kugel: A Night in Alchemia (2018 [2020], Not Two): Leader credited with trumpet and saxophones, backed by bass and drums, a live set from Krakow, Poland. The sort of powerhouse performance he always seems capable of. A-

Megan Thee Stallion: Suga (2020, 300 Entertainment, EP): Rapper Megan Pete, quickly follows last year's debug mixtape with a nine-cut, 24:33 EP. A-

Pat Metheny: From This Place (2020, Nonesuch): Jazz guitarist, gained a popular following with his fusion work (RIP Lyle Mays) although he's often ventured elsewhere. This is rather expansive, with groove and texture, even the Hollywood Studio Symphony. B+(*)

Mac Miller: Circles (2018 [2020], Warner): Rapper Malcolm McCormick, from Pittsburgh, overdosed a month after his fifth album dropped, was working on this at the time, finished off by Jon Brion. Started out as some kind of redneck rapper, sung more later, dulling his image, but nothing prepared me for these relaxed, easy going grooves. He never made it as a soul man, but somehow turned into a pretty attractive ghost. A-

Roscoe Mitchell With Ostravska Banda: Performing Distant Radio Transmission Also Nonaah Trio, Cutouts for Woodwind Quintet and 8.8.88 (2019 [2020], Wide Hive): As the Art Ensemble of Chicago founder and mainstay turns 80 this year, his work is being adapted for various classical ensembles, with his participation. I wish it worked better. B+(*)

John Moreland: LP5 (2020, Old Omens): Country singer-songwriter, born in Texas, based in Tulsa, fifth album with just his own name (after two with the Black Gold Band, one with the Dust Bowl Souls). I liked the last two a lot, but this seems a bit understated, or maybe (judging from the title) uninspired. B+(**)

Tami Neilson: Chicka Boom! (2020, Outside): Born in Canada, moved to New Zealand in 2007, singer-songwriter on the rockabilly side of country, fifth album, third with a bang in the title. Ten short songs, 27:51. Half rock hard, half aim for deep. B+(**)

Never Weather: Blissonance (2019 [2020], Ridgeway): Drummer Dillon Vado, grew up in San Jose, played in Rata-Tet and Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, first album for this quintet, maybe for Vado as leader. With sax (Aaron Wolf), trumpet (Josh D. Reed), bass (Tyler Harlow), and guitar (Justin Rock). Defines blissonance as "when an otherwise blissful experience in nature is disrupted by the recognition that one is having an adverse impact on that place they are ejoying by being there." In other words, postmodern irony. B+(*)

Nutria: Meeting in Progress (2019 [2020], Ears & Eyes): Byron Asher, originally from Maryland, based in New Orleans, plays tenor sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet. With his large Scrontch Music group, released a well-regarded album last year. This group is a trio with bass (Trey Boudreaux) and drums (Shawn Myers). They keep it tighter, more intimate. B+(***) [cd]

Agnes Obel: Myopia (2019 [2020], Blue Note): Danish singer-songwriter, fourth album, wouldn't put much weight on that it's on a jazz label, or that it's also distributed by Deutsche Grammophon. She plays keyboards, augmented by violin and cello. Has a haunting ambience to it. B+(**)

Shunzo Ohno: Runner (2019 [2020], Pulsebeats): Japanese trumpet player, eighteenth album since 1975, first I've heard, although he has moved in circles I may have crossed, such as his work with Gil Evans. Not seeing any string credits, but his "symphonic vision" is much in evidence. Short (29:45). B [cd] [04-03]

Arußn Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls (2019 [2020], Intakt): Cuban pianist, based in New York, the others drums and percussion (the latter is also Cuban), all three also credited with voice -- mostly on the opener. B+(**) [Later: A-]

Kassa Overall: I Think I'm Good (2020, Brownswood): Jazz drummer, from Seattle, based in Brooklyn, also plays hip-hop, which seems closer to the mark here until you notice that most of the "feat." entries are for jazz musicians (Joel Ross, Theo Croker, Sullivan Fortner, Aaron Parks, Vijay Iyer -- on a tribute to Geri Allen). B+(*)

Keith Oxman: Two Cigarettes in the Dark (2018 [2020], Capri): Denver-based tenor saxophonist, sixth album since 1995, joined here by Houston Person (tenor sax) on six (of ten) cuts, backed by piano (Jeff Jenkins), bass, and drums. Three Oxman originals, one from Jenkins. Annette Murrell sings two songs. Mainstream with a lot of terrific-sounding sax. B+(***)

Painted Faces: Tales From the Skinny Apartment (2017 [2019], ESP-Disk): Florida "weirdo" David Drucker, moved to New York in 2011, has more than a dozen albums starting in 2009, announces his intentions here with "Chicks That Are Into Beefheart (and Jandek)." I checked this out because it's on a label that's into adventurous avant-jazz releases, but with their "only the artist decides" aesthetic, they're susceptible to weirdos of all stripes, and have trouble sorting them out. Guitar and reverb, lo-fi noise, aleatory vocals, not devoid of interest but more work than I care to exert. B-

Evan Parker/Paul Lytton: Collective Calls (Revisited) (Jubilee) (2019 [2020], Intakt): Duo, tenor sax and drums, title refers back to their 1972 duo, Collective Calls (Urban) (Two Microphones). Nothing jarring here, just remarkable interaction cultivated over half a century. A-

Jonah Parzen-Johnson: Imagine Giving Up (2020, We Jazz): Baritone saxophonist, based on Brooklyn, half-dozen albums since 2012. This one appears to be solo (and not for the first time), playing over electronic rhythm tracks. B+(**)

Jeremy Pelt: The Art of Intimacy, Vol. 1 (2019 [2020], HighNote): Trumpet player, impressed early on with his chops, seeks a comfort zone here with George Cables (piano) and Peter Washington (bass). B+(*)

Vanderlei Pereira and Blindfold Test: Vision for Rhythm (2020, Jazzheads): Brazilian drummer, long based in New York, Discogs lists 15 albums since 1986 he's played on, but this may be his first as a leader. Shifting rhythms and textures. B+(*) [cd] [05-22]

Charles Pillow Ensemble: Chamber Jazz (2019 [2020], Summit): Alto saxophonist, also plays flute and other woodwinds (including oboe and English horn here), often found leading or in big bands. This is billed as a nonet but I count a few extras, even before getting to the strings. Extravagantly lush, gets on my nerves. B

Jure Pukl: Broken Circles (2019 [2020], Whirlwind): Slovenian saxophonist (soprano, tenor, bass clarinet), half-dozen albums since 2010. Quintet with guitar (Charles Altura), vibes (Joel Ross), bass (Matt Brewer) and drums/kalimba (Kweku Sumbry). B+(**)

Radical Empathy Trio: Reality and Other Imaginary Places (2017 [2019], ESP-Disk): Thollem McDonas (keyboards), Nels Cline (guitars), and Michael Wimberly (drums). Two tracks conceived as LP sides (18:30 and 18:31). B+(*) [bc]

Gloria Reuben & Marty Ashby: For All We Know (2018 [2020], MCG Jazz): Canadian standards singer, better known as an actress (mostly TV, but was in the movie Lincoln), also wrote a memoir. May be her first album. Ashby is a guitarist, and arranged these songs, mostly taking them slow and steady. B+(**) [cd]

Reverso [Frank Woeste/Vincent Courtois/Ryan Keberle]: The Melodic Line (2019 [2020], Out Note): Chamber jazz: piano, cello, trombone. As with the group's 2018 debut (Suite Ravel), they draw inspiration from modern classical composers (in this case Les Six, a group including Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc). B+(*) [cd]

Stephen Riley: Oleo (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, from North Carolina, steady stream of albums since 2005. Quartet with Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Jay Anderson (bass), and Adam Nussbaum (drums), mostly playing Sonny Rollins songs (4, with "On Green Dolphin Street" and 4 more from Ellington, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Gigi Gryce). B+(***)

Caroline Rose: Superstar (2020, New West): Real name, singer-songwriter from Long Island, fourth album, first two country-ish (Napster lists her as "rockabilly revival"), since moved into pop, but title is a stretch. B

Dan Rosenboom: Absurd in the Anthropocene (2020, Gearbox): California trumpet player, born in Berkeley, teaches in Pasadena, ranges from avant to fusion to soundtrack work, signed to a London label he tries his hand at their crossover funk and damn near nails it. B+(**)

Suzanna Ross: Is Bewitched* . . . *Not Bothered, Not Bewildered (2019 [2020], self-released): Standards singer, first album. Title song is the theme to the Elizabeth Montgomery TV show (1964-72), not the Rodgers & Hart classic, so you can't complain the title wasn't explicit enough. Other picks are less obscure, aside from two in French. Pianist Gregory Toroian produced and arranged, and is backed by bass and drums. B [cd]

Chanda Rule + Sweet Emma Band: Hold On (2018 [2020], Blujazz/PAO): Jazz singer, rooted in gospel and soul, added lyrics to several trad songs (7/9 credited to Trad, the other "I'll Fly Away" and "Come Sunday"). Has some blues spunk, and horns. B+(**) [cd]

Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble: The New Immigrant Experience: Music Inspired by Conversations With Dreamers (2019 [2020], Tapestry, 2CD): Brazilian saxophonist, teaches in Massachusetts, just listed as composer and conductor here, with a full big band at his disposal. He's taken on ambitious projects of late -- The Awakening Orchestra, The Reunion Project -- and this is one of the most sweeping. B+(*)

Carl Saunders: Jazz Trumpet (2019 [2020], Summit): Trumpet player, originally from Indianapolis, moved to Los Angeles, played with Stan Kenton, starting a long career of playing in big bands (Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Gerald Wilson, Clare Fischer), straddling a couple decades in Las Vegas. Quartet, backed by piano (Josh Nelson), bass (Chuck Berghofer), and drums (Joe Labarbera), about half originals, the rest bop-friendly standards. Good showcase for a fine trumpet voice. B+(***) [cd]

Schapiro 17: New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60 (2019 [2020], Summit, 2CD): Big band, Jon Schapiro arranged and conducted, and wrote six pieces to go with five from Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and one from pianist Roberta Piket. Doesn't much remind me of the album, but something mysteriously infectious about it. B+(***) [04-03]

Alexander von Schlippenbach/Dag Magnus Narvesen Duo: Liminal Field (2018 [2019], Not Two): Piano-drums duo, second album together, the Norwegian drummer has impressed repeatedly since 2007. Still less remarkable than the pianist, who "morphs Monk" and more. A- [bc]

The Secret Sisters: Saturn Return (2020, New West): Sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers, from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, fourth album since 2010. Nice harmonies, inspirational closer. B+(*)

Sestetto Internazionale: Live in Munich 2019 (2019 [2020], Fundacja Sluchaj): Italian group name, but only one Italian in line up: Gianni Mimmo (soprano sax). The others are Alison Blunt (violin, British, born in Kenya), Achim Kaufmann (piano, German), Veli Kujala (quartet tone accordion, Finnish), Ignaz Schick (turntables/sampler, German), and Harri Sj÷str÷m (soprano and sopranino sax, Finnish). Has its chamber jazz air, but broken up, especially with the electronics adding surprising percussion. B+(***) [cd]

Dave Sewelson: More Music for a Free World (2018 [2020], Mahakala Music): Baritone saxophonist, first album the precursor this is more of, but I've been aware of him for a while, in groups like Microscopic Septet, Fast 'N' Bulbous, and William Parker's big bands. Quartet with Steve Swell (trombone), Parker (bass), and Marvin Bugalu Smith (drums). Two long improv pieces, a shorter one to close. A-

SFJazz Collective: Live: SFJazz Center 2019: 50th Anniversary: Miles Davis In a Silent Way and Sly & the Family Stone Stand! (2019 [2020], SFJazz): Group started in 2004 with Joshua Redman as artistic director, Gil Goldstein arranging and composing, and Bobby Hutcherson eminent, but they were gone by 2007, as the evolving group has turned into a premier repertory jazz ensemble -- as evidence by this program, the two 1969 albums intercut. Martin Luther McCoy sings Sly's parts. Ensemble is down to a septet, all recognized names, with Warren Wolf keeping the vibes prominent, and guitarist Adam Rogers visiting from New York. Nice concept for a concert. B+(**)

Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (2015 [2020], Impulse!): British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, born in London, grew up in his parents' native Barbados, a prominent member of two of England's most successful jazz outfits (Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming), second album with this group, recorded in Johannesburg with South African musicians. Expands on pan-African roots with spirit of Coltrane and Sanders. A-

Tim Shaghoian: Gentle Beacons (2019 [2020], Origin): Tenor saxophonist from California, first album, all originals, nice, highly textural postbop with guitar, piano, bass, and drums. B+(*) [cd]

Paul Shaw Quintet: Moment of Clarity (2019 [2020], Summit): Drummer, from New Jersey, played in Air Force bands, first albums as leader, wrote all seven pieces, somehow wrangled what I'd call an all-star band: Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Brad Shepik (guitar), Gary Versace (piano), Drew Gress (bass). B+(***) [cd]

Shopping: All or Nothing (2020, FatCat): British post-punk trio, Rachel Aggs sings and plays guitar, fourth album, all good, this short (10 songs, 30:54) one especially reminding me of Gang of Four. A-

Sl°tface: Sorry for the Late Reply (2020, Nettwerk): Norwegian punk/pop group, Haley Shea sings, co-writes with guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, originally called Slutface (new spelling keeps old pronunciation). Second album. Could be prophetic. B+(***)

Jay Som: Anak Ko (2020, Polyvinyl): Singer-songwriter Melina Mae Duterte, from California, parents Filipino. Fourth album since 2016. Has a quiet, subtle charm. B+(**)

Kandace Springs: The Women Who Raised Me (2020, Blue Note): Standards singer, jazz/soul crossover, third album, has an intriguing voice, styles this as a tribute to a dozen iconic women singers ranging from Billie Holiday to Norah Jones (the one who shows for a duet). Backed by Steve Cardenas, Scott Colley, and Clarence Penn, with various featured guests (notably two Chris Potter cuts). Has some moments, but turned me off toward the end. B

Moses Sumney: Grae: Part 1 (2020, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter from San Bernardino, CA; parents from Ghana, where he moved at age 10, before returning to study at UCLA. Second album, or first half of it (a Part 2 is promised for May). Has opened for Dirty Projectors, and if you imagine them trying to do soul, you might find yourself in his vicinity. B

Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn't Make It (2020, Joyful Noise): Jerry Williams, started out as an Atlantic r&b producer, released a brilliant debut as Swamp Dogg in 1970, and has been fading in and out ever since, his best moments the ones farthest out. Plays it safe here with a round of soulful blues, but lured John Prine in to cameo on two nostalgic ones, which are daring enough. B+(**)

Curt Sydnor: Deep End Shallow (2019 [2020], Out of Your Head): Keyboard player, based in Richmond [VA], Google lists him as "progressive rock," his own self-description as "a different kind of jazz" is more credible but hardly more inspiring. Come to think of it, I can imagine his rave-ups filling the dead space in a Yes album, but they'd disrupt the chill. B- [cdr]

Ohad Talmor: Long Form (2015 [2020], Intakt): French saxophonist, grew up in Geneva, based in New York, not much under his own name but he met Lee Konitz in 1989, and has frequently toured and recorded with him. Sextet, with Shane Endsley (trumpet), Miles Okazaki (guitar), Jacob Sacks (piano), bass, and drums. B+(***)

The Third Mind: The Third Mind (2020, Yep Roc): Legend has it that Teo Macero's formula for producing Miles Davis albums was "gather great musicians in a studio, pick a key and a groove and then record everything live over several days." Then edit and shape those improvs into compositions. Dave Alvin decided to try working like that, with Victor Krummenacher (bass), David ImmerglŘck (guitar/keybs), Michael Jerome (drums), and "special guest" Jesse Sykes (guitar). The latter provides a vocal, as do most of the others, on most of the songs, lest you think they've done a jazz record. Still, great to hear Alvin's distinctive guitar stretch out. And as songs go, those are pretty good, too. A-

Torres: Silver Tongue (2020, Merge): Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott, fourth album since 2013, also writes poetry and short stories, and has a fondness for Broadway theatre. That develops into a density I've never found easy to parse. Not without its appeal, though. B+(*)

Oded Tzur: Here Be Dragons (2019 [2020], ECM): Israeli tenor saxophonist, based in New York, not his first album although this is touted as his "ECM debut." Backed by piano (Nitai Hershkovits), bass (Petros Klampanis), and drums (Johnathan Blake). Originals, ending with a cover ("Can't Help Falling in Love"). Nice balance, piano makes the strongest impression. B+(**)

The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: Air Power! (2019 [2020], self-released): Big band, 18 musicians plus Technical Sgt. Paige Wroble singing a couple songs, opens with standards before they bury the originals in the middle. Especially fond of high brass notes and sharp blasts of massed horns, perhaps trying to add a bit of irony to the title. B- [cd]

U.S. Girls: Heavy Light (2020, 4AD): Singer-songwriter Meghan Remy, from Chicago, married a Canadian musician and moved to Toronto in 2010. Seventh album. Read a review that refers to her as "a sound collagist and pop music obsessive," and I can hear more of that than I care to credit. Lots of scattered talk, and occasional heavy riffs. Not unimpressive, but I can't say as I like any of it. B-

Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (2020, Merge): Katie Crutchfield, from Alabama, fifth album since 2012, doesn't rock much, and I'm too slow on the uptake to figure out the rest. Still, after several plays, gets me in the end. A-

Torbj÷rn Zetterberg & Den Stora Fragan: Are You Happy (2019 [2020], Moserobie): Swedish bassist, lots of side credits since 2005, fourth album leading this group: originally a sextet -- trumpet (Susana Silva Santos), trombone (Mats ┼lekint), sax (Jonas Kullhammar), clarinet (Alberto Pinton), drums (Jon Fńlt) -- plus organ and more drums on two cuts. A- [cd]

Waclaw Zimpel: Massive Oscillations (2020, Ongehoord): Polish clarinetist, varied catalog since 2008. Mostly electronics here, rendering the title literal, toned down for the last piece, which adds guest bass and voice. B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

16-17: Phantom Limb (1995-2018 [2020], Trost): Hardcore noise group, sax-bass-guitar-drums, recorded in Switzerland in 1995, vocals dubbed in recently in San Francisco, mixed and mastered by saxophonist Alex Buess (also credited with electronics), and palmed off as metal (on an avant-jazz label). B

Terry Allen + Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steel + Four Corners (1985-93 [2019], Paradise of Bachelors, 3CD): First piece fills a 35:32 side. The latter collects four slightly shorter works (25:46-28:57). Spoken word, interesting (albeit long-winded) stories, music ambient with the occasional Texas twist. B+(*)

Duke Ellington: Uppsala 1971 (1971 [2019], Storyville): Vault tape, a concert in Sweden, with his great 1960s orchestra starting to give way (Johnny Hodges died in 1970, and the only name left from his legendary brass section is Cootie Williams, with Cat Anderson most irreplaceable). Paul Gonsalves gets a nice feature spot, there's a long (and rather messy) "Tone Parallel to Harlem," a "Medley" with vocalists, followed by Money Johnson growling his way through "Hello Dolly." B+(**)

Brent Jensen: The Sound of a Dry Martini: Remembering Paul Desmond (2001 [2020], Origin): Alto saxophonist, reissue of his first album, recorded live at the Bakery in North Hollywood, quartet with guitar (Jamie Findlay), bass, and drums. Three Desmond songs (including a terrific "Take Five"), seven more standards. Nice way to start a career. B+(**)

Hank Jones: In Copenhagen: Live at Jazzhus Sklukefter 1983 (1983 [2018], Storyville): Previously unreleased piano-bass-drums trio date from Copenhagen, with Mads Vinding on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. They stretch out on a nice set of standards, including one from Bud Powell and two from Charlie Parker. B+(***) [bc]

Hank Jones Trio: Live at Jazzhus Slukefter Vol. 2 (1983 [2020], Storyville): The day after the differently titled volume one, with Jones on piano, Mads Vinding on bass, and Shelly Manne on drums. Standards, the pianist's touch as deft as ever. B+(***)

Antoinette Konan: Antoinette Konan (1986 [2019], Awesome Tapes From Africa): Singer-songwriter from C˘te D'Ivoire, first album, arranged by Bamba Moussa Yang. B+(*) [bc]

Mogadisco: Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991) (1972-91 [2019], Analog Africa): Even before war tore the country apart near the end of this period, one of Africa's poorer and more mistreated countries, which doesn't make for a particularly vibrant music scene. Twelve tracks, most similar to Ethiopian with a lot of organ and a bit of Arabic influence, three from what's probably the nation's most famous band (Dur-Dur Band), two each from Mukhtar Ramadan Iidi, Bakaka Band, and Ilfin Band. Still, a most agreeable dance groove. B+(***)

New Improvised Music From Buenos Aires (2012-17 [2019], ESP-Disk): Various artists, only a few I've heard of (Pablo Ledesma, Paula Shocron), fourteen tracks, compiled by Jason Weiss. Interesting stuff, my favorite a piece by avant-sax trio CinÚtica, "Improvisation 0681." B+(***) [bc]

New Stories: Speakin' Out (1999 [2020], Origin): Seattle-based piano-bass-drums trio, with Marc Seales, Doug Miller, and John Bishop; recorded four albums 1994-2001 (counting one headlined by Lynn Bush). Bonus here is tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, who guests on five (of nine) tracks, and blows everyone away. B+(***) [cd]

Charlie Parker: The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection (1944-48 [2020], Craft, 4EP): I don't have the slightest interest in the packaging: four 10-inch LPs (6-8 songs each), packed in a box with a booklet I haven't seen. The music is essentially the same as I first head on 1976's 2-LP Bird/The Savoy Recordings (Master Takes) (later on a single 1985 CD, which unlike this is organized chronologically by session), and has been repackaged numerous times since. I must have a half-dozen copies of everything here, and at various times have graded it anywhere from B to A-, varying by how crummy the sound was, whether any vocal tracks were included, and how bad a mood I was in. I'm not going back to systematize those grades, but figured a quick streaming pass would give me a temperature check. The music originally appeared on 78s. The 10-inch LPs this is modeled on appeared as New Sounds in Modern Music (1950-52), followed by 12-inch LPs like Charlie Parker Memorial (1955). I recognize almost everything, noting that Parker (like Monk) tends to reuse his pet ideas, also that the singles format compresses many pieces to the point of claustrophobia, the hour-plus wearing me thin and sore. I'd never buy this packaging, but shouldn't dock it: perhaps it helps to break it up into 15-20 minute chunks. B+(**)

Arthur Russell: Iowa Dream (1974-85 [2019], Audika): Born 1951 in Iowa, died 1992 in New York, age 40, AIDS, at the time little known, mostly as a disco producer and occasional cellist with a couple of obscure records. Soul Jazz Records tried to make a case for him with their 2003 comp, The World of Arthur Russell, and his archives have since yielded a few more albums. This starts off with demos for Paul Nelson at Mercury, trying on the singer-songwriter mode of the time. Undistinguished, until he starts throwing us some curves, like the talkie "Barefoot in New York" (not that they always come close to the plate). B+(*)

Pharoah Sanders: Live in Paris 1975 (1975 [2020], Transversales Disque): Tenor saxophonist, a decade into his career, he has plenty of material to work with. Quartet with Danny Mixon (piano/organ), Calvin Hill (bass), and Greg Bandy (drums) -- the sung finale a cosmic hoedown. B+(**)

The John Tchicai Quartet: Live at the Stone (2007 [2020], Minus Zero): Danish tenor saxophonist, part of New York Art Quartet back in 1964, died in 2012. Returned to New York for this date, his pick up band: Garrison Fewell (guitar), Adam Lane (bass), Vijay Anderson (drums), with Steve Dalachinsky reading a poem. B+(*)

Waco Brothers: Resist! (1995-2005 [2020], Bloodshot): Mekon Jon Langford's Chicago bar band, motto "hard times call for hard country," twenty-five years since their debut. You'd think the times would help write a new batch of songs, but they decided to pick some old ones, sounding harder than ever. Lots to resist these days, but not them. A-

Ben Webster: Ben Webster's First Concert in Denmark (1965 [2019], Storyville): Tenor sax great, visited Copenhagen in 1965 and liked it enough to move there. Opens with a bit of solo piano -- Webster's first instrument, and he still pounds out a respectable beat. Then quartet, with Kenny Drew (who had moved to Denmark some years earlier), Niels-Henning ěrsted Pederson (bass), and Alex Riel (drums). His standard fare, from "Pennies From Heaven" to "Cottontail," and as gorgeous as it gets. A- [bc]

Old Music

Marc Benham: Fats Food: Autour De Fats Waller (2016, FrÚmeaux & AssociÚs): French pianist, first album, solo, mostly Waller pieces, sneaking in four originals. B+(*)

Jeb Bishop: 98 Duets (1998, Wobbly Rail): Trombonist, based in Chicago, a key member in Vandermark 5. No idea what the title signifies, as I count only 12 duets with 6 partners: Josh Abrams, Hamid Drake, Mats Gustafsson, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Wadada Leo Smith, and Ken Vandermark. No big surprise that this is all fairly marginal. B+(*)

Jeb Bishop Trio: 2009 (2009, Better Animal): Trombone trio, with bass (Jason Roebke) and drums (Frank Rosaly). B+(***)

Jeb Bishop: Three Valentines & Goodbye (2016 [2017], 1980): Solo trombone with "later processing." Gets a little harsh. B [bc]

John Coltrane Featuring Pharoah Sanders: Live in Seattle (1964 [1994], Impulse!, 2CD): His famous Quartet plus a second tenor sax (Sanders) and Donald Garrett (bass clarinet), often muddying the waters. First released in 1971 as a 2-LP (72:36), expanded here (same six tracks, but now 132:44). B+(*)

Martin Creed: Thoughts Lined Up (2016, Telephone): Scottish conceptual artist, won the Turner Prize in 2001, third albums since 2012, some more recent singles. Twenty-four short songs, all over the map, some interesting enough to justify Christgau's recent CG discovery, others . . . well, they'd take more work than I feel up to at the moment. B+(***)

Dexter Gordon: Atlanta Georgia May 5, 1981 (1981 [2003], Storyville): Tenor sax great, emerged in the 1940s, moved to Europe in 1962, back to US in 1976, recordings thin out quickly after 1980, with his death in 1986, so this live set is rather late. Quartet with Kirk Lightsey (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Eddie Gladden (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Harold Mabern: Iron Man: Live at Smoke (2018, Smoke Sessions, 2CD): Pianist, pretty good shape for 81, quartet with Eric Alexander (tenor sax), John Webber (bass), and Joe Farnsworth (drums). One to remember him by, even if he's frequently upstaged by Alexander, who hasn't sounded this vigorous in ages. A-

Charlie Parker: In Sweden 1950: The Complete Recordings (1950 [2002], Storyville): Live shot, based on three shows, with a pick up band, notably Rolf Ericson on trumpet. LP (10 tracks) originally appeared on Sonet in 1959. Storyville reissued it in 1973, and Spotlite came up with a more complete 2-LP in 1973, matching these 14 tracks. Storyville's 14-track version bears the label's 50th Anniversary sticker, suggesting 2002, but the Bandcamp date is 2020. (Definitive also reissued all 14 tracks in 2002.) Sound is so-so, but give Parker some breathing room, and he eventually he'll do something with it. B+(**) [bc]

Evan Parker/AgustÝ Fernßndez: The Voice Is One (2009 [2012], Not Two): Tenor sax and piano, recorded in Barcelona, often dazzling. [4/6 tracks] B+(***)

Evan Parker & Joe McPhee: What/If/They Both Could Fly (2012 [2013], Rune Grammofon): Duo set from Konsberg Jazzfestival, Parker on tenor sax, McPhee starts on pocket trumpet but also plays soprano sax (in what sounds like an homage to Parker). Title lists the three pieces, total 39:13. Two giants, cautiously circling each other. B+(***)

Pharoah Sanders: Deaf Dumb Blind (Summun Bukmun Umyun) (1970, Impulse!): Two sidelong pieces, draws on Arabic for the title, Africa for the rhythms, and the cosmos for shimmering aura. With Woody Shaw (trumpet), Gary Bartz (alto sax), Lonnie Liston Smith (piano), and pretty much everyone adding to the percussion. B+(***)

Pharoah Sanders: Thembi (1970-71 [1971], Impulse!): A mixed bag, with with some sax close to and some beyond the pain threshold, exotic flutes and fifes, and various other diversions. Title cut is wonderful, but nothing else works out nearly as well. B+(*)

Pharoah Sanders: Black Unity (1971, Impulse!): One 37:21 piece, originally split over 2 LP sides, mostly groove and jive, with a few rough spots. B+(**)

Pharoah Sanders: Live at the East (1971 [1972], Impulse!): Starts strong with a 21:43 "Healing Song," ends in typical fashion, drags in the middle. B+(*)

Pharoah Sanders: Love in Us All (1972-73 [1974], Impulse!): Two extended pieces, "Love Is Everywhere" and "To John" (which no doubt means Coltrane). With James Branch adding to the flute, Joe Bonner on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, lots of percussion. B+(**)

Pharoah Sanders: Love Will Find a Way (1978, Arista): First of two albums he did with Norman Connors on Arista. It's not a very fruitful pairing, with chintzy strings and Phyllis Hyman vocals. Occasionally the saxophone peeks through. B

Pharoah Sanders: Save Our Children (1998, Verve): Second Verve album, last chance he had to show off on a major label, and he does indeed offer a neat encapsulation of his worldview -- exotic percussion from Trilok Gurtu and Zakir Hussain, funk keyboard by Bernie Worrell, electronic mix by Bill Laswell. Doesn't short change the saxophone but keeps it bound up. B+(*)

Pharoah Sanders/Graham Haynes: With a Heartbeat (2003, Evolver): His discography thins out after 2000, with this the last (or latest?) album listing his name first, although he's popped up in guest slots at least through 2014. Not especially strong here, but Haynes (cornet/electronics) and Bill Laswell (producer, bass, keyboards, flute, arrangements) have turned out a fitting extended treatment of Sanders' long-established cosmic vibe. B+(***)

Archie Shepp/Don Cherry/J.C. Moses/John Tchicai/Don Moore: Archie Shepp & the New York Contemporary Five (1963 [2004], Storyville): Recorded live in Copenhagen four days after the set initially released on Sonet and later on Delmark (2010), with several of the same songs -- this one initially appearing in 1972. Two saxes (Shepp on tenor and Tchicai on alto), cornet, bass, and drums. A-

Archie Shepp/Lars Gullin Quintet: The House I Live In (1963 [1980], SteepleChase): A radio shot from Jazz Club Montmartre in Copenhagen, with the tenor saxophonist early in his career, the baritonist late, Tete Montoliu on piano, Niels-Henning ěrsted Pedersen on bass, and Alex Riel on drums. Four tracks, 9:20 to 19:00, standards, Shepp blowing hard but harder to place the usually swinging Gullin. B+(***)

Swamp Dogg: 13 Prime Weiners, Everything on It: The Best of Swamp Dogg (1970-76 [2013], Essential Media Group): Originally compiled in 1982 (on War Bride). Six songs from his 1970 debut, Total Destruction to Your Mind, leaving six more good ones, plus seven slightly later songs from Gag a Maggot (1973) and/or Greatest Hits (1976, nothing from the debut). His 1995 Best of 25 Years is a broader overview, but this covers a period when he was erratic but could be intensely soulful (as well as funny). A-

Swamp Dogg: You Ain't Never Too Old to Boogie (1976 [2013], Essential Music Group): Originally recorded by Vee-Jay and released on DJM in 1976. Sound is rather shoddy, but with organ and horns doesn't need much finesse. Songs are crude, too, from "It's a Bitch" to his epitaph-to-date, "I Had a Ball (I Did It All)." B+(**)

Swamp Dogg: Don't Give Up on Me: The Lost Country Album (1976 [2013], Essential Music Group): No info on when this was recorded, why it was "lost," or who found it. The "digitally remastered" CD is available at retailers, and it's on most streaming platforms, but hasn't been entered into the discographies at Discogs, Musicbrainz, or AMG. I did find them on The Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg Vol. 5 (2007), attributed to "unreleased country album 'The Mercury Record'," following You Ain't Never Too Old to Boogie (1976), but couldn't find a Vol. 6 to pin the date down. Nine songs, runs 31 minutes, the title from Solomon Burke, no obvious country covers or production, but one song (evidently an original) is "He Don't Like Country Music (And He Hates Little Kids)." B+(*)

Swamp Dogg: Finally Caught Up With Myself (1977 [2013], Essential Music Group): Originally released by Musicor in the label's last days (only 4 more albums in the 2500 series, the last A Piece of the Rock by Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes Starring Sir Monty Rock III. This one was attributed to Swamp Dogg & the Riders of the New Funk. Dabbles with funk and disco and winds up just a bit smoother than before. Among the puzzles: "Understanding California Women" (which he doesn't). B+(*)

Swamp Dogg: An Opportunity . . . Not a Bargain!!! (1977 [2013], Essential Music Group): Originally on Wizzard Ltd., recycles eight (of nine) songs from You Ain't Never Too Old to Boogie (1976), adding two new ones: "Shafts Mama" (a funny spin-off) and "Let's Do It Again" (and again and again). B+(***)

Swamp Dogg: Swamp Dogg (1981 [2013], Essential Music Group): Released on Wizard in 1981 and/or ALA in 1982. Five cuts, 34:39, most stretched out with disco grooves -- I keep expecting "Salty Dog" to morph into "YMCA." B

Swamp Dogg: Resurrection (2007 [2013], Essential Music Group): Originally on SDEG Records. Jump forward and he gets political, starting with "In a Time of War Who Wins" and asking "What kind of fool were we to let them crown an idiot king?" More on race too, including the 12:05 title song, a rant I don't feel like enduring again, even if I can respect the anger. B

Waco Brothers: Waco Express: Live and Kickin' at Schuba's Tavern Chicago (2008, Bloodshot): As befits a great bar band, a hot live sampler. B+(***)

Waco Brothers & Paul Burch: The Great Chicago Fire (2012, Bloodshot): Burch is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter with more than a dozen albums since 1996. Title cut is hot enough, rest not their sharpest. Ends with a raved-up Dylan cover. B+(*)

Ben Webster: At Montmartre 1965-1966 (1965-66 [2003], Storyville): Two quartet sets, NHěP (who else?) on bass for both, Kenny Drew and Alex Riel on the longer (9 songs, 50:51) January 1965 set, Atli Bj°rn and Rune Carlsson on 3-song, 22:52 appendix. Common songbook gems, nicely but unexceptionally done. B+(**) [bc]

Ben Webster: In Norway (1970 [2013], Storyville): Live at PUB Trondheim, with a presumably local piano trio -- Tore Sandnaes, Bj°rn Alterhaug, Kjell Johansen. Emphasis on ballads, as gorgeous as ever, plus tamer than usual takes on his Elliigton classics, "C Jam Blues" and "Cottontail." B+(**) [bc]

Ben Webster: Live at Stampen Stockholm 1969-1973 (1969-73 [2004], Storyville): Tracks from three sets (2-3 each), all backed with piano-bass-drums (Red Mitchell from 1971, Teddy Wilson and Ed Thigpen in 1973), most with trumpet (Arne Ryskog or Roffe Ericson). Webster died six months after the last session. My impression has long been that he faded a few years before, but he gets quality help here, especially on a 12:43 "Satin Doll." Note that they shuffled the 1971 set to the end, so it ends with the sax up front. B+(***) [bc]

Music Weeks

Current count 32823 [33007] rated (+184), 244 [219] unrated (-25).

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

March 30, 2020

Current count 33007 [32971] rated (+36), 219 [212] unrated (+7).

Not an exceptional week, but as expected, rated count topped 33000. Unless things change, that's more a measure of time than anything else. I'd reckon my average haul per week is about 30, so I chalk up another thousand every 30-35 weeks, roughly 7-8 months. Looking back, I crossed 32000 the week of September 2, 2019, so I must be averaging a bit more. This week got off to a slow start, but picked up speed when I delved into Pharoah Sanders' back catalog. Didn't find anything there I had missed as good as Tauhid (1966), Village of the Pharoahs (1973), Africa (1987), Welcome to Love (A+ in 1990), or Crescent With Love (1992).

Spent some time last week adding recent reviews to my Jazz Guide draft files. Got up to December, so I should finish that task this week. Page counts up to 835 (20th Century, 335k words) and 1855 (21st, 857k words). I'm also collecting non-jazz capsules (827k words, but works out to 1928 pages with a less dense font). The guides are sorted by artist, so that can get tedious. The non-jazz capsules are just collected in order published, so that's easier.

March 23, 2020

Current count 32971 [32935] rated (+36), 212 [216] unrated (-4).

Three 2019 releases in this week's A- haul: two (Jeb Bishop, Wojtek Mazolewski) didn't appear on any 2019 lists, so I'm including them on my 2020 list; the other (Ben Webster in Denmark) was one that I knew about and looked for, but it's only recently become accessible via Storyville Records' Bandcamp page. Also found the first volume to the Hank Jones set I reviewed last week, and a few more items of interest. Storyville is a Danish label which has specialized in picking up archival recordings of American stars, especially on tour in their environs. Also a fair number of releases by Scandinavian artists. I'm looking forward to exploring the label further.

I will flag a slight caveat on Irreversible Entanglements: I'm not fully satisfied with my understanding of the record, but I usually limit Bandcamp releases to two plays, after which I go with my best guess. I also gave an A- to their eponymous first album, and a B+(**) to their EP. On the other hand, I've never given Moor Mother (vocalist Camae Ayewa) better than a B+(**) for her hip-hop albums. I like the jazz group quite a bit, but she's still something of a mystery to me.

Still another week before I have to close out March Streamnotes. Assuming a normal week, the rated count should clear 33,000.

PS: Just heard that pianist Mike Longo, 83, is a casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic -- see Nate Chinen's obituary. I have four of his albums in my database, notably [B+(***)] Step On It, a 2013 trio with Bob Cranshaw and Lewis Nash.

March 16, 2020

Current count 32935 [32897] rated (+38), 216 [223] unrated (-7).

Nothing much to say here. We're in a self-imposed lockdown, perhaps related to pandemic fears but with overtones of disappointment and maybe disgust at the world around us. Being "retired," and not uncomfortable, that's a luxury we can afford.

One technical matter I should note is that I've decided to add to the 2020 tracking file and associated lists records released in 2019 that I never noted in the 2019 tracking file. This mostly affects the 2020 metacritic file, which I've been building up to reflect favorable reviews as compiled by various sources -- the first big chunk came from December 2019 releases that Dave Sumner mentioned in his The Best Jazz on Bandcamp: January 2020.

I've always allowed for previous-year records to appear in current lists, especially for items that I received promos of after January 1, or sometimes for records that I simply had no cognizance of until after the calendar rolled over. The first example like that this year was Franšois Carrier's Wide, released in Dec. 2019. I decided a fair test for this would be whether the record appeared in my music tracking list, since that incorporated everything that showed up in any tracked EOY list for 2019 (5170 records in the tracking file; 4912 in the EOY aggregate files). Since I only decided on this course last week, there may be a few records caught in the lurch.

Most of the carryover records were released in late 2019, but technically I'm allowing any unlisted 2019 records to appear in the 2020 lists. That includes the Schlippenbach-Narvesen Duo record below, which I certainly knew existed (but couldn't previously find) but somehow escaped my 2019 lists. (Also Duke Ellington's Uppsala 1971, which we'll deal with next week.) On the other hand, Muriel Grossmann's Reverence, out Dec. 15, 2019, had appeared on a couple of minor 2019 lists, so remains there, despite my "discovery" of it among Sumner's picks. So it's all a bit arbitrary, but is at least a system. (Occurs to me that I could go back into the 2019 list and pull out release dates after Thanksgiving -- Francis Davis's Jazz Critics Poll cutoff -- and include them in both lists. Need to think on that, but that might be the right thing to do.)

Under old music, I did take a flyer on some one Swamp Dogg records, since nearly all of them appear to have cropped up on Napster and/or the artist's Bandcamp. I didn't exactly get done, though I did get a bit exhausted. I'm still a big fan of his 1996 compilation, Best of 25 Years: F*** the Bomb, Stop the Drugs, as well as his 1970 debut, Total Destruction to Your Mind (which, if I recall correctly, didn't even figure in the comp).

Looked for but didn't find the Vol. 1 to go with the Hank Jones vault issue. Was pleased to find a Bandcamp page for an earlier Schlippenbach-Nardesen Duo release, but it only had two "bonus" tracks on it, not enough for a review. They did sound pretty good.

March 9, 2020

Current count 32897 [32856] rated (+41), 223 [244] unrated (-21).

Quite a few records this week, with close to half of them coming from my promo queue, which I cut in half. Such attention was overdue, but I was also having trouble figuring out which records to look up on Napster and Bandcamp, so in some ways this was just easier. Not as many finds this week as last, but three A- records is a pretty average week.

Was delighted to get some promos from the Polish label Fundacja Sluchaj, then disappointed that they turned out to be rather marginal. I also received a copy of Georg Graewe/Ernst Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Concertgebouw Brugge 2014, which I had previously graded B+(**) based on their Bandcamp stream. I reviewed 15 of their records in 2019 -- the only A- was AgustÝ Fernandez: One Night at the Joan Mirˇ Foundation, with Awatair: Awatair Plays Coltrane, Brad Barrett: Cowboy Transfiguration, and Franšois Carrier: Nirguna at B+(***). A- records from previous years: Barry Guy: Barry Guy @ 70 (2018), and Evan Parker/RGG: Live @ Alchemia (2017).

Shouldn't be so hard to identify new records worth streaming now that I have my 2020 metacritic file up and running. I'm tracking all but the metal grade lists (80+) on AOTY and Metacritic (but looking less often at the latter, as it takes more work). I'm also factoring in a few other review sources (including All About Jazz, Downbeat, and Free Jazz Collective) and lists (like Phil Overeem's latest), and I've started to look at Bandcamp's guides. The latter got me to thinking about 2019 releases that only got noticed after January 1. In recent years I've been very hard-assed about filing them in their calendar years, but if I do that I lose track of them. Besides, EOY lists (including Jazz Critics Poll) are almost always slightly out of sync with the calendar. I finally decided the rule should be: any late 2019 record that didn't get any points in the 2019 EOY Aggregate will be counted as new in the 2020 list. Of course, that means I have to go back to a few reviews that I initially skipped, so things are a bit inconsistent at the moment.

March 2, 2020

Current count 32823 [32856] rated (+33), 244 [245] unrated (-1).

Back to music, an exceptional number of A- records this week, all (but one) in the "new music" domain. Three came from my queue (Kenny Barron, Al Gold, TorbjÍrn Zetterberg). One was a leftover from December 2019 that only showed up in Dave Sumner's January edition of The best jazz on Bandcamp. There is quite a bit of back catalog by Muriel Grossmann, so I should probably search further, but it's also possible that Llorenš Barcelˇ's organ is what made the difference this time. Guitarist Ross Hammond was known to me, but looks like he has a bunch of records I've also missed.

Of the others, the late rapper Mac Miller's swansong is the biggest surprise, and the only record here that's been widely praised. (Well, further down the list there's Grimes, and further still Destroyer, 070 Shake, J Hus, and Beatrice Dillon.) The Evan Parker/Paul Lytton duo is the third straight A- from Intakt -- but the Tim Berne Snakeoil, despite the return of Marc Ducret from his best-ever period, didn't quite make it four straight. I suppose I should have resisted Waco Brothers' retreads, but couldn't. Stuck in my brain ever since: "$ Bill the Cowboy." [PS: Only after my initial draft did I figure out that these are reissues instead of remakes.]

I did an update to Robert Christgau's website last week, then didn't get around to making a public announcement (beyond the one on the website itself), or even my promised update to the "tech" mailing list. Added to the website are all the pieces from And It Don't Stop subscription newsletter. We had always planned on adding them sooner or later, but it proved difficult to nail down just when (even after I went ahead and did it). As subscribers know, some content there is restricted to those who pay for it ($5 per month), and some is free. I believe you can subscribe to just get the free stuff, but haven't tested that. The restricted material is primarily the new Consumer Guides, as they demand by far the most work to research and write, so it was felt that they should be withheld for a fairly long period, so subscribers get a sense of exclusivity for their money. The number they came up with is eight months, so I locked that in to the Consumer Guide columns. It was also (eventually) decided to embargo the free material for one month, but that happened after my update, so what got through is already unlocked. In the future, I'll apply the one-month lock on free articles, but not on Xgau Sez, because it's easiest (for now) just to plug it into the pre-existing unlocked framework.

Notes

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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com