Streamnotes: March 29, 2021


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 22. Past reviews and more information are available here (16577 records).


Recent Releases

Albare: Albare Plays Jobim Vol. 2 (2020 [2021], Alfi): Guitarist Albert Dadon, Australian tycoon though born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France, has released albumsm since 1992, including his previous Albare Plays Jobim in 2020. B+(*) [cd]

Franco Ambrosetti Band: Lost Within You (2020 [2021], Unit): Trumpet/flugelhorn player, from Switzerland, debut in 1965, father was a saxophonist (both played with George Gruntz). Group with John Scofield (guitar), Scot Colley (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and either Renee Rosnes or Uri Caine (or DeJohnette) on piano. B+(**) [cd]

Baker's Brew: New Works (2020 [2021], Psychosomatic, 2CD): Los Angeles experimental jazz group led by drummer Maury Baker, whose side credits date back to Janis Joplin and "played with" list includes Scott LaFaro (d. 1961), as well as the band Ars Nova. Second album under this name. First disc is "New Jazz Works"; second "New Electronic Works." I rather prefer the latter, although it doesn't sound very electronic. Maybe because the former doesn't sound very jazzy. B+(*) [cd]

Nik Bärtsch: Entendre (2019 [2021], ECM): Swiss pianist, has an impressive string of albums since 2000, most with his Ronin and Mobile groups, where he seems more intent on improvising rhythm than melody. This is solo, several pieces looking back. The opener wanders, but he eventually returns to form. B+(**)

Dan Blake: Da Fé (2019 [2021], Sunnyside): Saxophonist (soprano/tenor), half-dozen albums since 2011, postbop quintet with two keyboard players (Carmen Staaf and Leo Genovese), bass, and drums. Runs impressively fast and loose, but not the most appealing sound. B+(**)

Jakob Bro/Arve Henriksen/Jorge Rossy: Uma Elmo (2020 [2021], ECM): Norwegian guitarist, albums since 2003, fifth on ECM, trio with trumpet and drums. Atmospheric, not much beyond the trumpet. B

Joe Chambers: Samba De Marcatu (2020 [2021], Blue Note): Drummer, I associate him with Blue Note albums of the late 1970s (I count 24 from 1964-69, including 9 with Bobby Hutcherson), has more than a dozen albums under his own name since 1974. By the way, he picked up vibraphone, which he overdubs here, along with various percussion instruments. One thing I don't associate him with is Brazilian (or Latin) music. Even here, it only enters as occasional whiffs (especially with the two guest vocals). B

Ian Charleton Big Band: A Fresh Perspective (2020 [2021], none): Conventional 17-piece big band, the leader composed four songs, arranged the rest, but isn't credited as playing (seems to have originally been a saxophonist). Second album. Nothing new, but well done. Emily Charleton joins for two vocals -- I especially liked her "Everything I've Got." B+(***) [cd]

Emmet Cohen: Future Stride (2021, Mack Avenue): Pianist, debut 2011, has taken to looking back recently, with four Masters Legacy Series volumes and a mostly-Fats Waller joint called Dirty in Detroit (with glances toward Monk and Cedar Walton). This is a mix of oldies and original reflections thereon, mostly trio (Russell Hall and Kyle Poole), with Marquis Hill (trumpet) on four tracks, plus Melissa Aldana (tenor sax) on three of them. B+(**)

Cowboys & Frenchmen: Our Highway (2020 [2021], Outside In Music): New York-based group, two saxophonists (Owen Broder and Ethan Helm), piano (Addison Frei), bass, and drums. Group name from a David Lynch name, but with more cowboys. Third album. The saxes make a strong initial impression, but then the flutes come out, and more postbop doldrums follow. B+(*) [cd]

Charley Crockett: 10 for Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand (2021, Son of Davy): Hand was a country singer-songwriter, died last year at 67. I sampled two of his albums, rated both high B+. Crockett is much younger, but survived his own health scare in 2019, so that may have factored in here. Or maybe he was just looking for better songs. B+(**)

Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over the Country Club (2021, Polydor/Interscope): Singer-songwriter, seventh studio album since 2012, following up her hugely acclaimed Noran Fucking Rockwell with something slower, softer, harder to grasp. Closes with a Joni Mitchell song, leaving precisely that impression. Not sure that's right, but two plays leave me wondering how much more work to put into it. B+(**)

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band Featuring Bonnie Eisele: Hot Night in Venice: Live at the Venice Jazz Club (2020 [2021], Origin): Drummer, sings some, reminds me in that regard of Louis Prima, more so when he brings his better half out a third of the way in: second third of the set features Eisele, and both sing toward the end. All standards, most obscure is the funniest ("Woe Is Me"). No horns. They've had hotter nights. B+(*) [cd]

Pat Donaher: Occasionally (2020 [2021], none): Alto saxophonist, also a yogi, based in Boston, Bob Brookmeyer protégé, fourth album, lush and vibrant postbop sextet with Jason Palmer (trumpet), Carmen Staaf (piano), guitar, bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd] [04-09]

Rebecca Dumaine and the Dave Miller Trio: Someday, Someday (2020 [2021], Summit): Standards singer, half-dozen albums, swapped billing order with Miller's piano trio on number four. Bright voice, plenty of poise, can't say I enjoyed this particular batch of songs, but they were catchy and nicely turned out. B+(*) [cd]

Yelena Eckemoff: Adventures of the Wildflower (2019 [2021], L&H Production, 2CD): Russian pianist, classical training, came to US in 1991 and switched to jazz, has a substantial catalogue since 2010, original compositions, last two albums doubles. She recorded this one in Finland with local musicians, trio plus spots for guitar, sax, and/or vibes. B+(**) [cd]

Elephant9: Arrival of the New Elders (2020 [2021], Rune Grammofon): Norwegian fusion band, ninth album since 2008, members: Stĺle Storlřkken (keyboards), Nikolai Hćngsle (bass/guitar), Torstein Lofthus (drums). B+(**)

Yoav Eshed/Lex Korten/Massimo Biolcati/Jongkuk Kim: A Way Out (2019 [2021], Sounderscore): Israeli guitarist, based in New York, several albums since 2013, backed by piano, bass, and drums. Nice enough. B+(*) [cd]

Floating Points/Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra: Promises (2021, Luaka Bop): British electronica producer Sam Shepherd, three previous albums, puts his classical training and passion for jazz to good use. The saxophonist is the draw here, the other bits of minor interest. B+(**) [bc]

Michael and Peter Formanek: Dyads (2019 [2021], Out of Your Head): Famous bassist and his unknown son, playing tenor sax and clarinet, probably his first album. Something more than a nice duo album, the bass solos could stand on their own, but the extra color and shading extends interest, in this case all the way to 72:36. A- [cd]

Amit Friedman: Unconditional Love (2018 [2021], Origin): Israeli saxophonist (tenor/soprano), third album, backed by piano-bass-drums, plus oud and/or percussion on a couple tracks. Nice tone. I don't care for the two vocal pieces. B [cd]

Satoko Fujii: Hazuki: Piano Solo (2020 [2021], Libra): Japanese avant-pianist, tons of records since 1995, cut this solo at home in Kobe during lockdown. No idea how many solo albums she has -- certainly fewer than Keith Jarrett or Cecil Taylor, but I'm not sure about anyone else. By her standards, we'll call this "contemplative." B+(***) [cd]

Futari: Beyond (2019 [2021], Libra): Duo, Taiko Saito (vibraphone) and Satoko Fujii (piano), mostly the latter's compositions. B+(*) [cd]

Ghetts: Conflict of Interest (2021, Warner): British rapper Justin Clarke, third studio album plus six mixtapes. Grime beats, thoughtful lyrics. B+(*)

Frank Gratkowski/Achim Kaufmann/Wilbert de Joode/Tony Buck: Flatbosc & Cautery (2018 [2020], NoBusiness): Free improv: alto sax (plus clarinets/flutes), piano, bass, drums. Can get noisy, but pianist is heroic both as alternate lead and support, and the bassist goes a long way toward holding it together. A- [cd]

Barry Guy: Irvin's Comet (2019 [2020], NoBusiness): British bassist, leader of London Jazz Composers Orchestra, offers an impressively varied solo performance. B+(*) [cd]

George Haslam/Joăo Madeira/Padro Catello Lopes/Mario Rua: Ajuda (2019 [2020], Slam): Tárogató, bass, percussion, drums; the title the name of the studio in Lisbon where this was recorded. Haslam, also notable as a baritone saxophonist, has a long career in the British avant-garde, thirty-some albums since 1989 (few I've heard, nearly all on this label, which Haslam owns but which has hosted dozens of other musicians). B+(***) [cd]

The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy (2021, Positive Jams): Craig Finn's post-Lifter Puller group, eighth album since 2004, Tad Kubler (guitar) and Galen Polivka (bass) constants since the group's founding, while Finn has recorded a few solo albums. Something slightly off about the sound here, but the songs are deeply observant -- I doubt anyone else writes more third-person songs about women. B+(**)

Chris Hopkins: Meets the Jazz Kangaroos: Live! Vol. 1 (2020, Echoes of Swing): Retro-swing pianist, based in Germany, mostly records as Echoes of Swing. I haven't found anything else by the Jazz Kangaroos, but they're Australian, led by violinist/vocalist George Washingmachine, with David Blenkhorn (guitar) and Mark Elton (bass). Standards, ends with "Fine and Dandy." Vocals are passable, but the violin moves this into Hot Club territory. B+(**)

In Layers: Pliable (2018 [2020], FMR): Free jazz quartet: Luis Vicente (trumpet), Marcelo Dos Reis (guitar), Kristján Martinsson (piano), Onno Govaert (drums). Nice balance, Vicente continues to impress. B+(***) [cd]

Ethan Iverson/Umbria Jazz Orchestra: Bud Powell in the 21st Century (2018 [2021], Sunnyside): Pianist, "Do the Math" blogger, has another big project called "MONK@100," so seems to be focusing on roots recently. Half originals, one Monk tune, the rest from Powell, played by Italian big band horns arrayed aroud an all-star quintet: Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Dayna Stephens (tenor sax), Ben Street (bass), Lewis Nash (drums). Not sure why I'm not more impressed. Maybe what was radical in 1950 is old hat today? B+(**)

Jazz Worms: Squirmin' (2017 [2021], Capri): Denver quintet -- Ron Miles (cornet) and Keith Oxman (tenor sax) are the best known, with Andy Weyl (piano), Mark Simon (bass), and Paul Romaine (drums) -- cut a debut record in 1987, regrouped here for a pretty straightforward 30th anniversary bash. B+(*) [cd]

Marcus Joseph: Beyond the Dome (2021, Jazz Re:freshed): British alto saxophonist/spoken word artist, has a previous EP. Opener is a pretty irresistible groove piece, at least once the tuba jumps in. The spoken word is neither here nor there, but I would have cut the album one track short, omitting singer Randolph Matthews' feature. B [bc]

Jonathan Kane and Dave Soldier: February Meets Soldier String Quartet (2020 [2021], EEG): Kane plays drums, guitar, and bass. Soldier is credited with strings. Four extended riff pieces, "file under rock-blues-jazz-experimental. B+(**) [cd]

Achim Kaufmann/Ignaz Schick: Altered Alchemy (2016 [2021], Zarek, 2CD): German pianist, fairly prolific since 2004, takes the lead here, with Shick adding more-or-less ambient noise (turntables, sampler, live electronics). B+(**) [cd]

Reza Khan: Imaginary Road (2020 [2021], Painted Music): Guitarist, from Bangladesh but based in New York, sixth album, silky grooves, often augmented by other slick guitarists (Sergio Pereira, Miles Gilderdale). B- [cd]

Andy LaVerne: Rhapsody (2021, SteepleChase): Pianist, several dozen albums since 1976, played with Stan Getz 1977-79, someone I clearly haven't payed enough attention to (my one database record is 1993's A- First Tango in New York). Quartet with Zach Brock (violin), Mike Richmond (bass/cello), and Jason Tiemann (drums). B+(**)

Mark Lewis Quartet: Naked Animals (2019-20 [2021], Audio Daddio): Alto saxophonist, also plays flute, backed by piano, bass, drums. Albums date back to 1979, and title cut here may have been recorded in 1990 (liner notes unclear). B+(*) [cd] [04-02]

Lukas Ligeti: That Which Has Remained . . . That Which Will Emerge . . . (2015 [2021], Col Legno): Percussionist, also electronics, son of famed Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti, studied in Vienna and South Africa, teaches in Los Angeles, widely scattered projects since 1991. This one was the result of a residency at the POLIN Museum in Warsaw, a meditation on the Holocaust. I can't much follow the singer (Barbara Kinga Majewska), so I'm missing that whole dimension. B+(**) [cd]

Johan Lindström Septett: On the Asylum (2020 [2021], Moserobie): Swedish guitarist, also plays "pedal steel and more, group includes saxophonists Per Texas Johansson and Jonas Kullhammar, trombone, organ/piano, bass and drums, plus "special guests" -- Elvis Costello snuck in a lyric, which started the album off in a hole. B+(*) [cd]

Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough (2007-20 [2021], Legacy): Fourth album since 2016 produced by John Carter Cash, all including sessions from 2007 plus later songs. I don't know the mix, but she's 88 now, and had a stroke in 2017 which delayed the release of Wouldn't It Be Great. So it's surprising she sounds so steady all the way through this one. Helps that it's short (35:09), mostly built arounnd new versions of her classics, padded out with three gospel pieces (including the creepy "I Don't Feel at Home Anymore." Still, happy to hear her singing so strong. A-

Doug MacDonald Duo: Toluca Lake Jazz (2020 [2021], Doug MacDonald Music): Guitarist, albums since 1981 but more frequently of late, with Harvey Newmark on bass, adding depth without making himself conspicuous -- the effect is much like a solo guitar album, but sounds a bit better. Nice mix of MacDonald originals and overs -- "These Foolish Things" is especially tasty. B+(**) [cd]

Joăo Madeira/Hernâni Faustino: dB Duet (2020 [2021], FMR): Double bass duo, Portuguese, Faustino best known for RED Trio, Madeira has a much shorter discography starting in 2015. Sonic range is limited (as expected), but much of interest going on. B+(***) [cd]

Shai Maestro: Human (2020 [2021], ECM): Israeli pianist, sixth album, second for ECM, previous one a trio with Jorge Roeder (bass) and Ofri Nehemya (drums), this one adds Philip Dizack on trumpet. B+(*)

Magnet Animals: Fake Dudes (2020 [2021], RareNoise): Guitarist Todd Clouser, originally from Minneapolis, based in Mexico City, also sings and talks, second album for this group -- Eyal Maoz (guitar), Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass), Jorge Servin (drums) -- also has another trio, A Love Electric, and other projects back to 2006. Not sure about the lyrics, but the guitar improvs stagger, even if they lean to the rock side of fusion. A- [cdr]

Roberto Magris & Eric Hochberg: Shuffling Ivories (2019 [2021], JMood): Italian pianist, couple dozen records since 1990, duo here with the American bassist, recorded in Chicago. Fluid, light touch, very nice. B+(**)

Mai-Liis: Mai-Liis on Life (2019-20 [2021], OA2): Singer-songwriter, originally from Toronto, based in Vancouver (or maybe Seattle), first album, gets help from pianist Darin Clendenin with the melodies. Backed by piano trio, plus guest spots on most songs. B+(**) [cd]

Wu Man/Kojiro Umezaki: How (2019 [2021], In a Circle): China meets Japan in Los Angeles with this pipa and shakuhachi duo. B+(*) [cd]

Meridian Odyssey: Second Wave (2020 [2021], Origin): Seattle musicians at one point, since scattered but reconvened in Alaska to record this group album: Santosh Sharma (tenor sax), Martin Budde (guitar), Dylan Hayes (keyboard), Ben Feldman (bass), Xavier Lecouturier (drums). All five contribute songs, tightly wound postbop. B+(*) [cd]

Hafez Modirzadeh: Facets (2018-19 [2021], Pi): No Wikipedia entry -- seems like a pretty big omission. Born in North Carolina (1962), Iranian descent (if memory serves), Professor of Creative/World Music at San Francisco State, has developed the idea of "chromodal discourse," which is the basis of this and other works. Plays tenor sax, in duets with three pianists (Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, and Craig Taborn). B+(***) [cd]

Ben Monder/Tony Malaby/Tom Rainey: Live at the 55 Bar (2020 [2021], Sunnyside): Guitar-sax-drums trio, recorded last March just before lockdown, a piece called "Suite 3320" (3 parts, 61:35). I've never thought of Monder as a free player, but evidently he's had an association with Malaby for some time, playing with various drummers. Good luck this particular night. B+(***)

Sana Nagano: Smashing Humans (2020 [2021], 577): Violinist, from Tokyo, moved to Oregon as an exchange student, studied at Memphis and Berklee, based in New York, first album, with Peter Apfelbaum (tenor sax), Keisuke Matsuno (guitars), Ken Filiano (bass), and Joe Hertenstein (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Gary Negbaur: You've Got to Be Carefully Taught (2020 [2021], BluJazz): Pianist-singer, wrote 3 (of 10) songs, covers include the Rodgers & Hammerstein title song about bigotry ("to hate all the people your relatives hate") and two from Lennon-McCartney. B+(*) [cd]

Willie Nelson: That's Life (2021, Legacy): A second volume of Frank Sinatra songs, following 2018's My Way, same producers (Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings), feels like leftovers, or just an afterthought. I've never quite bought the notion that there even is a "Sinatra songbook" -- he worked the same songs many others did, and while he had an exceptional knack, few strike me as being exclusively his (one here is "Luck Be a Lady"). Nelson can also be a pretty great interpretive singer, but not in the same way, and their hyped association doesn't amount to much more than famous people are conscious of one another. This album's duet partner is Diana Krall, who should be a step up from Norah Jones, but when you queue up "I Won't Dance," the one that's stuck in my head is by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. B

Larry Newcomb Quartet: Love, Dad (2020 [2021], Essential Messenger): Guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli a mentor, third album since 2015 although he's old enough to have three songs, including featured bassist Jake Newcomb. Quartet adds Thomas Royal (piano) and Dave Marsh (drums). Six originals, but the covers stand out more, especially the closing "The Song Is You." B+(*) [cd]

Ben Patterson: Push the Limits (2020 [2021], Origin): Trombonist, originally from Oklahoma, spent 22 years in the US Air Force's Airmen of Note, now based in DC, has a couple previous albums (including one featuring Chris Potter), not the pianist Ben Paterson (who has albums on the same label). Quintet, Shawn Purcell's guitar the other lead, plus keyboards (Chris Ziemba), bass, and drums. B+(*)

Charlie Porter: Hindsight (2020 [2021], OA2): Trumpet player, third album, all originals, two with lyrics (sung by Jimmie Herrod, plus a rap by Rasheed Jamal and a cut with Hallowed Halls Gospel choir. Various lineups, built around a piano trio led by Orrin Evans. B [cd]

Reggie Quinerly: New York Nowhere (2020 [2021], Redefinition): Drummer, from Houston, studied at Juilliard and wound up teaching there. Fourth album since 2012, postbop quintet with trumpet (Antoine Drye), tenor sax (John Ellis), piano (John Chin), and bass. B+(*) [cd]

Logan Richardson: Afrofuturism (2020, WAX Industry): Alto saxophonist, impressive FSNT debut in 2006, has been erratic since then. B [bc]

Jason Ringenberg: Rhinestoned (2021, Courageous Chicken): Former front-man of 1980s country-rock band Jason & the Scorchers, cut a solo album in 1992, but didn't get serious about it until 2000, and often as not called himself Farmer Jason. I didn't notice much of that until his terrific 2019 album, Stand Tall. The best parts here are comparable, and it's a good sign that they are all originals (e.g., "The Freedom Rides Weren't Free"). On the other hand, he might reconsider his covers (starting with "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"). B+(**)

Schapiro 17: Human Qualities (2020 [2021], Summit): Big band, second album, leader Jon Schapiro composed 7 (of 8) pieces, the sole cover from Ewan MacColl, but doesn't play. Roberta Piket (piano), Eddie Allen (trumpet), Deborah Weisz (trombone), and Sebastien Noelle (guitar) are among the better known musicians. Solid group. B+(**) [cd]

Ignaz Schick/Oliver Steidle: Ilog2 (2020 [2021], Zarek): German duo, Schick on turntables and electronics, Steidle drums and more electronics, both with discographies dating back to early 2000s. Feints toward noise, but an early bit with sampled vocals reminded me of DJ Shadow, and the drumming ultimately nudged this over. Their previous Ilog came out in 2015. A- [cd]

Zoe Scott: Shades of Love (2020, Zoe Scott Music): Singer, originally from London, left for Rome, then Los Angeles, acted, sang in rock bands. Has a couple albums, this one leaning toward bossa nova, mostly Jobim and Bacharach, but also slips in Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, and Amy Winehouse ("I'm No Good). B+(*) [cd]

Charlie Sepúlveda: Charlie Sepülveda & the Turnaround (2020 [2021], HighNote): Trumpet player, from the Bronx, cousin of Eddie Palmieri. Hot Latin jazz group plus a roster of special guests, including Steve Turre and Miguel Zenon. B+(**) [cd]

Archie Shepp & Jason Moran: Let My People Go (2017-18 [2021], Archieball): Tenor sax and piano duo, recorded at two European festivals (Paris and Mannheim). I've lost track of the pianist since he retreated to his own label and stopped promotion, but he is secondary here anyway. High point is Shepp inching his way through gorgeous ballads (like "Lush Life"). Low point is probably his singing, but only when the spirit moves him. B+(***) [bc]

Idit Shner: Live at the Jazz Station (2019 [2021], OA2): Alto saxophonist, based in Oregon, juggles jazz and classical repertoires with several albums in each. This is jazz, backed by piano trio, the band contributing a song each (two for pianist Torrey Newhart). B+(**) [cd]

Grete Skarpeid: Beyond Other Stories (2018 [2021], Origin): Singer-songwriter, from Norway, has a degree in Music Therapy, second album, recorded in New York, produced by pianist Aruán Ortiz, with Rob Waring (vibes), Cameron Brown (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums). Originals take a while to sink in, but her cover of "My Favorite Things" leaps out. B+(**) [cd]

Slowthai: Tyron (2021, Method): British rapper Tyron Frampton, debut the memorably titled Nothing Great About Britain, sophomore effort just another of many times rappers have name-checked their given names. Organized as two discs, but they only add up to 35:17. B+(*)

Jim Snidero: Live at the Deer Head Inn (2020 [2021], Savant): Alto saxophonist, many albums since 1989, this one billed as his first live album since then, a "safe, limited-audience gig at Pennsylvania's famed Deer Head Inn." Quartet leans retro -- Orrin Evans (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums) -- and the program is all standards, from "Now's the Time" to "Old Man River." B+(**) [cd]

Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel's 20th Century in 100 Songs (2021, Louisiana Red Hot): One song per year, $60 for CDs (not sure how many, but at least 4) with an 88-page booklet that's bound to be interesting. Stampfel has one of the most distinctive voices ever, but tones down the weirdness that's been his stock and trade, while still wandering eclectically. Hit and miss, especially later years. B+(**) [bc]

John Stowell/Dan Dean: Rain Painting (2018-20 [2021], Origin): Jazz guitarist, couple dozen albums since 1977, this a duo where Dean is credited with "vocals, fretless acoustic bass guitar, electric & fretless electric basses, percussion, drum programming." The vocals, mostly scat, are the problem. B [cd]

Steve Swell: The Center Will Hold (2019 [2020], Not Two): Trombonist, cover adds a "featuring Andrew Cyrille," but doesn't mention Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Robert Boston (piano/organ), or Ariel Bart (harmonica). Strings are a little squelchy here, but the free trombone is superb. B+(***)

Yuma Uesaka/Cat Toren/Colin Hinton: Ocelot (2019 [2021], 577): Young Brooklyn-based trio, reeds/piano/drums; Uesaka has a debut out in January, a duo with Marilyn Crispell, while Toren's first record dropped last year. This is a quiet record, with an understated strength, the pianist most impressive. B+(***) [cd]

Theo Walentiny: Looking Glass (2020 [2021], self-released): Pianist, from New Jersey, based in Brooklyn, first album, solo, all original pieces/improvs. Several impressive stretches. B+(*) [cd] [04-02]

Amber Weekes: My Romance: A Special Valentine (2020 [2021], Amber Inn Productions, EP): Standards singer, really just a single -- 2 songs, 8:27, title from Rodgers & Hart, flip side from Legrand and the Bergmans, with a feat. credit for Mon David. Strings. C [cd]

Ruth Weiss: We Are Sparks in the Universe to Our Own Fire (2018 [2021], Edgetone): Beat poet, born 1928 in Berlin, died 2020. She grew up in Vienna, managed to keep one step ahead of the Nazis, moving to Amsterdam in 1938, then to America, eventually San Francisco. She has some twenty books of poetry since 1958, and several jazz albums. Fairly minimal backing, with synth, bass, wooden log, and tasty squibbles of Rent Romus sax and flute -- puts this record over the top. By the way, Romus credits George Russell with introducing him to Weiss (in 2013). A-

Rodney Whitaker With the Christ Church Cranbrook Choir: Cranbrook Christmas Jazz (2020 [2021], Origin): Release date Jan. 15, so they missed the season, and listening to this in February is trying my patience. Usual songs, Vanessa Rubin leads a long list of singers backed by the Choir. Leader plays bass, and Sextet is ably fronted by Timothy Blackmon on trumpet. Not bad if you're in the market. B [cd]

Chris White/Lara Driscoll: Firm Roots (2020 [2021], Firm Roots): Piano duets; Driscoll from Chicago, released an album I liked last year; White from Toronto (although Discogs attributes this album to a British saxophonist of same name) but now based in Chicago. five original pieces plus four covers, including Walton and Silver. B+(**) [cd]

Greg Yasinitsky Yazz Band: New Normal (2019-20 [2021], Origin): Saxophonist, alto probably his main choice but also plays soprano, tenor, and baritone. Big band, or close enough for practical purposes. B [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Derek Bailey/Mototeru Takagi: Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987 (1987 [2020], NoBusiness): Guitar and soprano sax duets. Bailey (1932-2005) was a major figure in the English avant-garde, with a vast discography I've barely sampled and never made much of. This seems typical of his abstract scratch. Takagi (1941-2002) has at least a dozen albums, from 1971 on, mostly playing tenor sax. B+(**) [cd]

Don Cherry: Cherry Jam (1965 [2021], Gearbox, EP): Plays cornet here, already famous as part of Ornette Coleman's Quartet but didn't step out as a leader until 1965. Four tracks, 22:24, cut in Copenhagen with a pick up quintet: tenor sax (Mogens Bollerup), piano (Atli Bjřrn), bass (Benny Nielsen), drums (Simon Koppel). All nice. B+(*) [os]

Edo Funk Explosion Vol. 1 (1980-85 [2021], Analog Africa): From Benin City, in south-central Nigeria, twelve tracks, 78:37, limited to three major artists of the period: Akaba Man, Sir Victor Uwaifo, and Osayomore Joseph. B+(**)

Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977 (1977 [2021], Origin, 2CD): Pianist, born 1938, steady stream of albums since 1971, always superb but I often need something extra to single out one of his albums. Here it's the horns, with Randy Brecker on trumpet and Michael Brecker on tenor sax. Discs run 51:31 and 36:08, three long tracks each, with the usual bass (Wayne Dockery) and drums (Bob Moses) solos. Superb piano, too. B+(***) [cd]

Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America: A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute (2021, Ginsberg): Fifty years after publication of the poet's The Fall of America: Poems of These States, 1965-1971, adds new music to 20 poems, many read by Ginsberg himself. Dedicated to the late Hal Willner, figuring this is the sort of production he might have done. (Willner produced another Ginsberg project, The Lion for Real, in 1989.) B+(**)

Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band: Hot Night in Roslyn: 1976 Radio Broadcast Recording (1976 [2021], Hobo): She had a couple solo albums out, and most recently co-credit on Gram Parsons' posthumous Grievous Angel. Parsons provides most of the song list here, with a nod to Patsy Cline ("Sweet Dreams"), Merle Haggard ("The Bottle Let Me Down"), Chuck Berry ("C'est La Vie"), Buck Owens ("Together Again"), Hank Williams ("Jambalaya"), and others nearly as obvious. This surfaced as a bootleg in 2014, but looks to be official now. B+(***)

Juju: Live at 131 Prince Street (1973 [2021], Strut): Saxophonist Plunky Nkabinde and what I take to be a mostly African group -- later known as Oneness of Juju -- including Babatunde on congas and Lon Moshe on vibraphone. The address was Ornette Coleman's gallery, and the music fits the bill. Seven long pieces (114:44), Pharoah Sanders' "Thembi" a highlight, but they're all rearkable. A- [bc]

Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy (1992 [2021], Strut): Saxophonist (1942-2012), should be better known for his 1970s work, which I think of as black power/avant-garde fusion -- an attempt to make the latter more accessible by making it more political. Starts out with flute here, backed by "Drummers From Ibadan." B+(***) [bc]

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Montreux Jazz Festival 1967 [Swiss Radio Days Volume 46] (1967 [2019], TCB, 2CD): Saxophonist, debut 1964, by 1967 was playing the Fillmore and Monterey, like a potential star. Young quartet here, fast becoming famous: Keith Jarrett (piano), Ron McClure (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). The leader is hit-and-miss, leaving a lot of space to the band. The drummer is especially sharp. B+(**)

Irene Mawela: The Best of the SABC Years (1982-88 [2019], Umsakazo): South African singer, active from the late 1950s to recent, but her name is usually buried in vocal groups, some as legendary as Dark City Sisters and Mahotella Queens. Twenty-two easy going transcriptions of radio shots. B+(***)

Juozas Milasius/Tomas Kulavicius/Dalius Naujokaitis/Lithuanian Young Composers Orchestra: Live at Willisau, 1993 (1993 [2020], NoBusiness): Guitar/piano/drums, with extra participation from the "orchestra" -- most credited with "vocal, cymbal, clapping, tramping"; i.e., screams and cacophony. Not to my taste. C+ [cd]

Now That's What I Call Music! Outlaw Country (1968-2015 [2021], NOW): I've never bothered with this series or any of its offshoots -- the flagship line is up to 78 volumes now, and Now This Is What I Call Country is up to 10. Needless to say, this is envisioned as another series, most likely with the usual diminishing returns. Still, "outlaw country" started with a compilation, and that's always seemed like its natural format. No surprise that the core comes from the 1970s. The three post-2000 songs (Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert) don't fit the bill, but are gritty enough to fit in. B+(***)

Joe Strummer: Assembly (1986-2002 [2021], Dark Horse): Clash frontman, had a checkered solo career brought to a sudden end by a massive coronary in 2002 (age 50). Three previously unreleased live versions of Clash songs, most of the rest from his three Mescaleros albums (1999-2003). About half of this is also on the 2-CD 001, and every bit as erratic. Too bad. B+(**)

Masauyki JoJo Takayanagi/Nobuyoshi Ino/Masabumi PUU Kikuchi: Live at Jazz Inn Lovely 1990 (1990 [2020], NoBusiness): Japanese free jazz, something of a specialty for this Lithuanian label: guitar, bass, piano -- the pianist (1939-2015) best known for his Tethered Moon group, the guitarist (1932-91) known for several recent reissues on Blank Forms Editions. A bit sketchy, opening up space for all three. B+(**) [cd]

Neil Young With Crazy Horse: Way Down in the Rust Bucket (1990 [2021], Reprise, 2CD): Another bootleg (originally appeared as Feedback Is Back and Home Grown in 1991), given an official release: 19 songs, 6 topping 10 minutes, total 156:59. Slot after Freedom and Ragged Glory, a return to form after wasting much of the 1980s experimenting with electronics and/or horns. Familiar songs here, most memorably from a decade earlier. Can't say as they're exceptional takes, but far from disappointing. B+(**)

Old Music


Bob Andy: Bob Andy's Songbook (1966-68 [1970], Studio One): Reggae singer-songwriter Keith Anderson (1944-2020), a founder of the Paragons. First album, actually a compilation of early Studio One singles. "I've Got to Go Back Home" is the one I know best from Tougher Than Tough, but all 12 songs have a gentle, knowing flow, and many have terrific sax refrains. A-

Big Youth: Dreadlocks Dread (1975, Klik): Jamaican toaster Manley Buchanan, his 1972 debut Screaming Target is the definitive classic of the style. Tony Robinson produced this follow up, the riddims seductive but understated, as are the toasts, which tail off toward the end. B+(***)

Big Youth: Natty Cultural Dread (1976, Trojan): Sings more here, not much of a ballad voice although he's enough of a weirdo to get away with most of it. Exception: a pop ditty I wish I could unhear. B

Big Youth: Hit the Road Jack (1976, Trojan): Starts with four covers: "What's Going On?"; "Hit the Road Jack"; "Wake Up Everybody"; "Get Up Stand Up." Nothing terribly interesting there, although he has much more feel for Marley than for Gaye. Rest is his improvisational toasting/singing mix, impressive when he finds his groove, but he's not his best producer. B+(*) [yt]

Big Youth: Isaiah First Prophet of Old (1978, Negusa Nagast): Seems to have rounded off his rough edges without losing his faith. B+(**)

Big Youth: Progress (1979, Negusa Negast): Rasta is real, but few prophets/entertainers have enjoyed themselves more in its service. A- [lp]

Big Youth: A Reggae Collection (1973-80 [1992], Essex Entertainment): Best-of, roughly equivalent to Trojan's 1980 Everyday Skank (Best of Big Youth), repeating 9 songs (of 15), but I happen to have picked up this one somewhere along the way. Still, no best-of matches Screaming Target (1972), but if you want more I'd suggest Blood & Fire's 3-CD Natty Universal Dread 1973-1979, or maybe Trojan's 2-CD Ride Like Lightning: The Best of Big Youth 1972-1976. Still: A- [cd]

Big Youth: The Chanting Dread Inna Fine Style (1973-82 [1982], Heartbeat): Compilation, second on label following 1981's Some Great Big Youth, not much info on when these tracks were recorded, but they were licensed from Negusa Nagast, and they get the general vibe right, albeit modestly. B+(***)

Big Youth: Live at Reggae Sunsplash (1982 [1984], Sunsplash): Live, skips through a decade of material, with a light touch that lets' him flow. Wish he'd skipped "Every Ni**er Is a Star," but it fades quickly as he reverts to rasta roots revival, and after the band is introduced to "Roll River Jordan," his last pop shot ("Hit the Road Jack") climaxes on schedule. B+(**) [yt]

Big Youth: A Luta Continua (1984 [1985], Heartbeat): The struggle continues, the music getting easier while the inspiration gets harder. Still, not a bad balance. B+(**)

Big Youth: Manifestation (1988, Heartbeat): Seems like a perfectly average album, which at this stage could be taken as decline. Still love the riddim. B+(*)

Big Youth: Higher Grounds (1995, VP): His discography thins out after 1988, aside from this and another album in 1995 and another in 2006. Still, this is a pretty solid effort, unlikely to be mistaken for anyone else. B+(*)

Ken Boothe: Mr. Rock Steady (1968, Studio One): The Jamaican hitmaker's first album, lays his claim to the new style, with bigger hits to follow. I rarely like Jamaican covers of American soul hits, but his "Mustang Sally" is terrific. B+(**)

Sid Catlett: The Chronological Sid Catlett 1944-1946 (1944-46 [1997], Classics): One of the great swing drummers (d. 1951 at 41), mostly leading his own groups including a quartet with Ben Webster, plus a couple tracks each led by Edmund Hall and Al Casey. Nearly everything directly under Big Sid's name, but he played with everyone from Armstrong and Henderson through Condon and Goodman and Hawkins and Young and on to Byas and Gillespie. I don't have full credits here, but Art Tatum and Barney Bigard are on the jam session opener, and Illinois Jacquet comes along later. Closes with two blues vocals and two boogie tracks. A-

Joe Chambers: The Almoravid (1971-73 [1974], Muse): Drummer, first album as leader, four originals, covers of Joe Zawinul and Andrew Hill, titles rooted in Muslim world. Recorded in three sessions, only one with horns -- Woody Shaw (trumpet) and Harold Vick (flute/tenor sax). B

Joe Chambers: Phantom of the City (1991 [1992], Candid): A live set at Birdland, Bob Berg (tenor sax) getting second tier type, smaller for Philip Harper (trumpet), George Cables (piano), and Santi Debriano (bass). Postbop, seven pieces stretched out, some good spots for Berg. B+(*)

Joe Chambers: Mirrors (1998 [1999], Blue Note): Plays vibes as well as drums in his return to Blue Note. Some quintet tracks with Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Vincent Herring (saxes), Mulgrew Miller (piano), and Ira Coleman (bass), or subsets all the way down to solo. B+(*)

Johnny Clarke: A Ruffer Version: Johnny Clarke at King Tubby's 1974-78 (1974-78 [2002], Trojan): A big star in Jamaica from the early 1970s, working mostly with Bunny Lee and the Aggrovators, signed by Virgin in 1976, and moved on to England in 1983. He released albums through the 1990s, and a few since. King Tubby adds his customary dub echoes, but this leaves me with the question: ruffer than what? B+(**)

Johnny Clarke: Dreader Dread (1976-1978) (1976-78 [1998], Blood & Fire): Same years, but different recordings -- only song in common is "Play Fool Fe Get Wise" (longer here). Bunny Lee's productions are more balanced. B+(***)

Dillinger: CB 200 (1976, Mango): Lester Bullock, started as a DJ, emerged as a toaster, gangsta name suggested by Lee Perry. Early album, probably his second, had a hit with "Kokane on My Brain." A- [yt]

Phyllis Dillon: One Life to Live (1972, Trojan): Rocksteady singer, recorded singles for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label from 1966, leading up to this single LP. Mostly covers of US-UK pop hits, poorly selected ("Love the One You're With," "Something," "Close to You"). B-

Baby Dodds: Baby Dodds (1944-45 [1993], American Music): New Orleans drummer (1898-1959), brother of clarinetist Johnny Dodds, played from 1918 with Sonny Celestin, Fate Marable, and King Oliver, following Louis Armstrong through his Hot Five and Hot Seven groups. Mostly talking and drum solos -- special interest, but gives you an idea how much thought goes into his craft -- with a few group cuts interspersed. B+(*)

Baby Dodds: Jazz A' La Creole (1946-47 [2000], GHB): Several sessions (some only dated "Mid 1940s"), but the 1946 trio included Albert Nicholas (clarinet) and Don Ewell (piano), and the 1947 quintet had Nicholas and James P. Johnson (piano), plus an uncredited singer (Dodds?). B+(***) [yt]

Dr. Alimantado: Best Dressed Chicken in Town (1973-76 [1978], Greensleeves): Winston Thompson, Jamaican toaster, producer and DJ, first (and most famous) album, various singers (two for Gregory Isaacs) and engineers (including Upsetter and King Tubby). B+(***)

Mikey Dread: World War III (1980, Dread at the Controls): Reggae singer Michael George Campbell (1954-2008), trained as an engineer, worked as a broadcaster, recorded with Lee Perry and Joe Gibbs, aligned with dub. Third album. Rasta themes, dense and dark, title track posits war could happen any minute, then attacks with weird whistles, not that he doesn't have better ideas. B+(***)

Mikey Dread: Pave the Way (1982, Heartbeat): Eighth album, but the interval is mostly dub quickies. B+(**)

Don Drummond: Jazz Ska Attack 1964 (1964 [1999], Jet Set): Trombone player for the Skatalites, credited as "backing band" here, but Drummond (1932-69) is credited with writing all 20 pieces, recorded at Treasure Isle and produced by Duke Reid. B+(**)

Drums Parade: From New Orleans to Swing 1937/1945 (1937-45 [1997], Jazz Archives): French label used by EPM Musique for 160+ CD compilations vintage jazz released 1988-2004. I bought at least a dozen back in the day, so when I saw the link, I figured this would be fun. For what it's worth, the New Orleans cuts are few and late: two each for Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton, all 1940 or later. The only pre-1939 cuts are two with Chick Webb. Also skips luminaries like Gene Krupa, but gives a nod to Lionel Hampton, Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, and Jo Jones, along with some less famous names. High point: the three-track Cozy Cole sequence (two with Coleman Hawkins). Also an especially hot ending. B+(***) [yt]

Clancy Eccles: Freedom: The Anthology (1967-73 [2005], Trojan, 2CD): More reknowned as a producer and entrepreneur than as a singer-songwriter, although his name claims or shares the artist credit on more than half of these 50 singles -- Eccles has no albums, just a few compilations -- and I recognize few of the other names. Has enough moments that a single-CD edit would rate a bit higher, but still seem minor. B+(*)

Eek-a-Mouse: Wa-Do-Dem (1981 [1982], Greensleeves): Jamaican singer Ripton Hylton, second album. Playful name, playful vocals, starting with the nonsense title rhyme. B+(***)

Alton Ellis: The Best of Alton Ellis (1968-69 [1969], Studio One): Genre-defining rocksteady star, singles start around 1962, but I can't date anything here before 1968 -- Discogs credits him with 19 singles in 1968, so there's a lot more where these came from, and many more years -- he recorded regularly into the 1990s, and died in 2008. B+(**)

Joe Gibbs & the Professionals: African Dub All-Mighty (1975, Joe Gibbs Record Globe): Jamaican producer, studied electronics, started with a repair shop, built it into a sound system, hired a band, and cut hundreds of hit records. Cover is ambiguous here, with "Solid Gold," and "a Joe Gibbs production" also appearing, but credit is usually as stated. Instrumental pieces, tight, crunchy grooves. B+(***)

Joe Gibbs & the Professionals: African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 2 (1976, Joe Gibbs Record Globe): B+(***)

Joe Gibbs & the Professionals: African Dub All-Mighty Chapter 3 (1978, Joe Gibbs Record Globe): Some vocals here. I don't see the credit, and it may not matter, because they're more like cheers, mixed in with other special effects. A-

Joe Gibbs & the Professionals: African Dub Chapter 4 (1979, Joe Gibbs Music): "All-Mighty" no longer evident on the cover, although some sources still claim it. Omission probably not an admission that this is the first "Chapter" to feel like they're going through the motions. B+(**)

Joe Gibbs & the Professionals: African Dub Chapter Five (1984, Joe Gibbs Music): More, more, more. B+(**)

Allen Ginsberg: Songs of Innocence and Experience (1970, MGM/Verve Forecast): The beat poet recorded many readings of his works, but this is something else, as he set 18th-century English poet William Blake's "Songs" to music -- drawn on English folk models, but not too rigidly. Aided by jazz-oriented musicians -- notably Don Cherry and Bob Dorough -- Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky sing inexpertly, with others pitching in. B+(***)

Allen Ginsberg: The Complete Songs of Innocence and Experience (1970 [2017], Omnivore, 2CD): Reissue adds a second disc of "Blake Songs" and three "Mantras." Not as much fun as the original, but that's here too. B+(**)

Marcia Griffiths: Naturally (1978, Shanachie): Jamaican singer, started with Byron Lee in 1964, sang backup and duets with Bob Marley, whose backup singers recorded as the I Threes. Second solo album, nice voice over classic riddim, but only standout song is "Melody Life." B+(**)

The Heptones: Cool Rasta (1976, Trojan): Jamaican vocal trio, one of the first groups picked up by Island/Mango for US release, but didn't have much kick. By the time Night Food (1973) appeared in the US, they tried something more roots/rasta, but it still came out rather smooth. B+(*)

Keith Hudson: Pick a Dub (1974 [1994], Blood & Fire): Dub producer/toaster, nicknamed "Dark Prince of Reggae," died 1984 (38). Mostly instrumental, hits some unsettling low notes, but carries on. B+(**)

Keith Hudson: Rasta Communication (1978, Greensleeves): He moved to New York in 1976, signed with Virgin, got dumped, and returned with this record. He sings here, rasta/roots themes, not much dub effect.

George Lewis: George Lewis and His New Orleans Stompers: Vol. 1 (1943 [1994], American Music): New Orleans clarinet player (1900-68), played in various bands in the 1920s but didn't record as a leader until these sessions. In the 1950s he became the most famous of New Orleans revivalists, perhaps because he got in early and never wavered. B+(***)

George Lewis: George Lewis and His New Orleans Stompers: Vol. 2 (1943 [1994], American Music): Eleven pieces, but four are alternate takes, all exciting. B+(***)

George Lewis: At Manny's Tavern 1949 (1949 [1994], American Music): Credits include cornet, two trumpets, and a second clarinet player (Bill Shea), with Lewis also switching to alto sax. B+(***)

George Lewis: Hello Central . . . Give Me Doctor Jazz (1953 [2001], Delmark): Radio shot from San Francisco, the clarinetist leading a septet with trumpet (Kid Howard), trombone (Jim Robinson), piano (Alton Purnell), banjo, bass, and drums. B+(**)

George Lewis: The Beverly Caverns Sessions, Vol. 2 (1953 [1996], Good Time Jazz): I've long considered the previous volume, from the same Hollywood club, to be Lewis' pinnacle, but these are hardly sloppy seconds. Same septet, classic tunes, as buoyant as ever. Kid Howard and Joe Watkins each get a vocal. A-

George Lewis With George Guesnon's New Orleans Band: Endless the Trek, Endless the Search (1962 [1997], American Music): New Orleans trad jazz, shows its roots in old marching bands without getting mired. With Kid Thomas (trumpet), Jim Robinson (trombone), banjo (Guesnon), bass, and drums. A-

George Lewis: At Castle Farm 1964 (1964 [2001], American Music): Relatively late, showing signs of slowing down. Ends with the classics. B+(**)

A Love Electric: Son of a Hero (2014, Ropeadope): Guitarist-vocalist's Todd Clouser trio, with Aaron Cruz (bass) and Hernan Hecht (drums), fifth album since 2010. Songs predominate, which may not be the band's strong suit. B

A Love Electric: A Permanent Immigrant (2020, Imagination Demand): Leans harder into the trio's sound, occasionally with spoken vocals which cut against the grain. B+(*)

The Maytals: Never Grow Old: Presenting the Maytals (1962-63 [1997], Heartbeat): Vocal trio, with Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias flanking soon-to-be-leader Toots Hibbert. Early tracks, not quite together although the organ points the way. Reissue adds four terrific bonus tracks, starting with their fully formed "Six and Seven Books of Moses." B+(***)

Jackie Mittoo: Now (1970, Studio One): Jamaican keyboard player, hooked up with Coxsone Dodd while still in his teens, recording "thousands of tunes," many with their house band, the Skatalites. Plays organ here, mostly groove-steady instrumentals, Skatalites minus horns. B+(**)

Prince Buster: Fabulous Greatest Hits (1964-68 [1968], Melodisc): Cecil Bustamente Campbell (1938-2016), early Jamaican ska star, associated with Coxsone Dodd. This early compilation misses his early singles (from 1961), but includes his biggest ("Al Capone") and several others (especially "Take It Easy"). A better package may be possible, but this is classic. A-

Scientist: Scientist Meets the Space Invaders (1981, Greensleeves): King Tubby protégé Hopeton Overton Brown, proclaimed himself Heavyweight Dub Champion in 1980, and went on to orchestrate dozens of mythic battles, encounters, and jams, of which this is one of the more legendary, although it feels like something he could do dozens of times. B+(***)

Scientist: Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of Vampires (1981, Greensleeves): More dub themes, titles add werewolves, zombies, and "Ghost of Frankenstein" to the vampire mix. Roots Radics plays, the bass gets deeper, and while I've already forgotten what the vocal was about, it was a highlight track (not that I recall which one). A-

Scientist: Scientist Encounters Pac-Man (1982, Greensleeves): Not sure what "Pac-Man" signifies here -- not a collaborator, and not likely anything related to the video game, but the cartoons on the cover suggest some kind of menace. Seems like his average album. B+(**)

Scientist: Scientist Wins the World Cup (1982 [2002], Greensleeves): Original album offered 10 untitled tracks, later grouped as "Ten Dangerous Matches," with the addition of five "Extra Time" and one "Golden Goal." B+(**)

Scientist/Hempress Sativa: Scientist Meets Hempress Sativa in Dub (2018, Conquering Lion): Latter is Kerida Johnson, who has a previous (2016) album, Unconquerebel. She provides a center for his dub early on, although my favorite cut is Ranking Joe's feature on the closer. B+(***)

Garnet Silk: It's Growing (1992, VP): Short-lived dancehall star, Garnet Smith, singles from 1985, died 1994 (28) in a freak gun accident (shot hit a propane tank, starting a fire, which killed Silk's mother, and him trying to rescue her). First album. B+(**)

Sizzla: Bobo Ashanti (2000, Greensleeves): Dancehall star Miguel Collins, debut 1995, prolific since them. After 10 albums in 5 years, thinking rastafari here. B+(**)

Skatalites: Ska Authentic, Vol. 1 (1967, Studio One): Hype sheet describes these as "solid tracks," which is exactly right. B+(**) [bc]

Skatalites: Ska Authentic, Volume 2 (1970, Studio One): Occurs to me that these compilations were recorded over multiple years, but I'm only identifying when they originally came out. More ace grooves, occasionally developed into memorable songs, always with their crack horn section. B+(***) [bc]

The Upsetters: Return of Django (1969, Trojan): Lee Perry's band's first album, title a reference to Sergio Corbucci's 1966 spaghetti western Django. Perry kept the group name through 1978 (plus a 1986 album), the titles mostly drawing on movies (most famously 1976's Super Ape). Instrumental pieces, Glen Adams' organ most prominent, with a few vocal intros. B+(***)

The Upsetters: The Good, the Bad and the Upsetters (1970, Trojan): Lee Perry's second album, more instrumentals, more focus on chunky rhythm. B+(***)

U-Roy: 30 Massive Shots From Treasure Isle (1970-74 [2009], Attack): Duke Reid productions, with U-Roy toasting over various singles, some familiar, some obscure. The only ones I've been able track down date from 1970-71, and they represent a small subset of U-Roy's singles from the period. B+(**)

U-Roy: Version of Wisdom (1971-74 [1990], Front Line/Virgin): One of several CD reissues with similar covers. Notes say this combines two albums -- Version Galore (originally attributed to Hugh Roy) and With Words of Wisdom (1979) -- but the 1978-79 dates were reissues of the original Jamaican albums. A- [dl]

U-Roy: The Lost Album: Right Time Rockers (1976 [1998], Sound System): Originally released in 1977 as Dubbing to the King in a Higher Rank (King Attarney, in Canada). A- [dl]

U-Roy: Love Is Not a Gamble (1980, TR International): After his big decade, he seems ready to cruise along into middle age. Tony Robinson produced, capturing his sound and style, and adding a little rocksteady groove. B+(***)

U-Roy: Serious Matter (1999, Tabout 1): Roots throwback, songs feature vocalists, most from back in the toaster's heyday -- Horace Andy, Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Third World, Israel Vibration -- old verities (like "money is the root of all evil"), possibly old tunes too. B+(*)

Bunny Wailer: Protest (1978, Island): Second album, like his debut Blackheart Man picked up by Island in US/UK, but has never been as well-regarded -- I missed it even when I was writing the Rolling Stone Record Guide entry on Bunny. Some kind of pop move, betraying its title with soft funk, and reprising his "Johnny Too Bad" as bubblegum. B

Bunny Wailer: Struggle (1979, Solomonic): Jamaica-only album, prime political anthems although one could quibble that he sees his struggle against "the old dragon" (aka Lucifer) as opposed to more mundane sources of injustice. Five (of seven) songs repeat on Crucial! Roots Classics, which is the one you want. Without that alternative, I could have graded this higher. The other two songs are pretty good, except I could do without the "unborn children" line. A-

Bunny Wailer: Rock 'n' Groove (1981, Solomonic): Politics may be a higher calling, but dancehall pays the bills. And he delivers as advertised. B+(***) [yt]

Bunny Wailer: Tribute (1981, Solomonic): Bunny Wailer Sings the Wailers reclaimed the group's early songs, mostly his own, with scant reference to Bob Marley, whose became a huge star after Bunny and Peter Tosh left. But with Marley dying in 1981, Bunny knocked off this quickie, with seven of Marley's most famous songs. Not sure we need the extra versions. B+(**) [yt]

Bunny Wailer: Time Will Tell: A Tribute to Bob Marley (1981 [1990], Shanachie): The label started carrying Bunny's albums in 1983, starting with an augmented reissue of In I Father's House (new title: Roots Radics Rockers Reggae). This is another, reissuing Bunny's Bob Marley Tribute plus two cuts, presumably (not that I'm sure) from the same sessions. "Bellyfull" is nothing special, but "Rebel Music" is. B+(***) [yt]

Bunny Wailer: Marketplace (1985, Shanachie): "The more we live together/the irier we shall be." B+(*)

Bunny Wailer: Liberation (1989, Shanachie): Lots of words on the cover -- one of the ways he's found to make his political points without compromising his dancehall groove. Not what I'd call an ideal synthesis, but has some merit. B+(**) [yt]

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:


Bunny Wailer: Crucial! Roots Classics (1979-82 [1994], Shanachie): Neville Livingston claimed the Wailers' spirit even as he left the group to Bob Marley. Still, I've been playing this compilation a lot more recently than I have anything by Marley, not just because it delivers on its subtitle, but because this may be the most inspiring political music ever recorded. Also because the earworms are irresistible. Bunny just died, at 73, so let's give him his due. [was: A] A+

Music Weeks

Current count 35141 [34967] rated (+174), 218 [249] unrated (-31).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

March 1, 2021

Music: Current count 35005 [34967] rated (+38), 236 [249] unrated (-13).

Last week I speculated that I might nudge this week's Music Week up a day to fit it into February. Of course, it could have been that I was in no mood to wrap up February Streamnotes. (I certainly wasn't.) However, my post on Tom Cotton's Big Plan chewed up all my time on Sunday. Then it occurred to me that February was a wasted month anyway, so why not cut my losses and get a fresh start on March. It was easy enough to move this week's reviews forward. And I can still postpone the wrap up bookkeeping a few days, so no pressure there.

I did make a dent in the new CD queue this week, but still quite a lot to get to there. Admittedly, didn't find much I liked there. Also my attempts at streaming new non-jazz (Willie Nelson, The Hold Steady, Slowthai) were also disappointing, so my only solid recommendations below are old music. I started the week listening to more records by the late Jamaican toaster U-Roy (including two recommended by Clifford Ocheltree), then stumbled onto some more reggae I felt like playing. After floundering around a bit, I decided to look for an expert list, and found this one on Mojo: The 50 Greatest Reggae Albums. I'm not sure it's a very good list, but it gave me some ideas to follow up on. I feel like sticking with it for a while. My own interest in reggae started in the 1970s, when I got on Island's promo list (although I may have had some earlier). Over the years, I've listened to a fair amount (although there's plenty more I haven't gotten to).

The reggae albums were just the push I needed to lift the rated count over 35,000. I was surprised to see that happen this week, but it's a big, round number I've been closing in on, so was just a matter of time before I would hit it. Not something I have to think about any more.

One thing I am tempted to think about is Chuck Eddy's 150 Best Albums of 1976. That was the year before I moved to New York, when Don Malcolm and I were planning out Terminal Zone, when my view of the rock world was at its most idealistic. My years in New York were richer in life experiences, and probably in music, but 1976 was when I started to feel like I really knew something.

Worth noting that Eddy's top two records are probably mine as well: Have Moicy! and Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. Also that at the time I used to figure I had to have at least one mainstream rock band in my top ten, and he has the year's two best: Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune (5) and Bob Seger's Night Moves (7). I can't imagine I'll ever warm to Aerosmith or Thin Lizzy or Boston or Crack the Sky or Heart, but I should track down some of his disco obscurities, especially as others are prominent on my list (and we share Silver Convention's Madhouse). Personal fave I'm surprised to see here is Michael Mantler's The Hapless Child and Other Inscrutable Stories (114).

Lawrence Ferlinghetti died last week, at 101. Seems like just yesterday we were touting his 101st birthday, so I'm still more in the mode of celebrating his life than mourning his death. There was a day (many decades ago) when I read a lot of poetry, and he was the North Star everyone else rotated around.

March 8, 2021

Music: Current count 35047 [35005] rated (+42), 228 [236] unrated (-8).

Music Week is mostly a function of time, so I should be able to knock these out every Monday, as long as I spend any time listening to new or previously unrated music. That habit persists, although I'm not working nearly as hard at searching out new records. Indeed, I only rarely bother to add things to the tracking file, and I'm not following metacritic ratings at all. In theory, this gives me more time to work on other projects, but that hasn't worked out very well so far. I did finally write a possible first page for the memoir, but even after turning the lines over in my mind for weeks, I have no feel for how good or bad it is.

Seems like I don't have much feel for anything these days. Life's a chore, making it all the harder to get anything done. Took me 30 minutes tonight just to change a light bulb. (Curses on whoever invented G10 sockets! Next time a bulb burns out, I'm replacing the fixture -- and the dimmer, because it won't work with new fixtures.) Still have to do laundry tonight, and the dryer door latch is broken, so that'll be a lot more work than it should be. (Something else I need to fix, but have you ever tried ordering replacement parts?) And those are just among the little things.

Probably my fault that I don't have anything new I really recommend. (In Layers is probably the best of this week's jazz albums.) But the week hasn't been a complete waste. Still scrounging the bottom of the reggae barrel, and finding a few notable albums.

March 15, 2021

Music: Current count 35082 [35047] rated (+35), 223 [228] unrated (-5).

Music Week is mostly a function of time, so I should be able to knock these out every Monday, as long as I spend any time listening to new or previously unrated music. That habit persists, although I'm not working nearly as hard at searching out new records. Indeed, I only rarely bother to add things to the tracking file, and I'm not following metacritic ratings at all. In theory, this gives me more time to work on other projects, but that hasn't worked out very well so far. I did finally write a possible first page for the memoir, but even after turning the lines over in my mind for weeks, I have no feel for how good or bad it is.

Seems like I don't have much feel for anything these days. Life's a chore, making it all the harder to get anything done. Took me 30 minutes tonight just to change a light bulb. (Curses on whoever invented G10 sockets! Next time a bulb burns out, I'm replacing the fixture -- and the dimmer, because it won't work with new fixtures.) Still have to do laundry tonight, and the dryer door latch is broken, so that'll be a lot more work than it should be. (Something else I need to fix, but have you ever tried ordering replacement parts?) And those are just among the little things.

Probably my fault that I don't have anything new I really recommend. (In Layers is probably the best of this week's jazz albums.) But the week hasn't been a complete waste. Still scrounging the bottom of the reggae barrel, and finding a few notable albums.

March 22, 2021

Music: Current count 35113 [35082] rated (+31), 218 [223] unrated (-5).

More old music than new, again. Probably too early to call that a trend, but the relative ease of processing familiar artists was the main thing that pushed the rated count above 30 this week. Old jazz this week. Started with a friendly link to Drums Parade, which might have rated higher had I given it more time, which would have happened if I had an actual CD to look at while it played. Some good stuff there, especially toward the end. That led to Sid Catlett and Baby Dodds. I might note that The Chronological Cozy Cole 1944 is even better than the Catlett. And the reminder that most of the trad jazz albums on American Music are on Napster pointed me to New Orleans clarinetist George Lewis. I also thought I'd check out Joe Chambers' back catalog after not liking his new album, and didn't much care for the old ones either. Oh, well.

By the way, I counted up Chambers' Blue Note albums for the review below, but held back from noting my guess of how many A-list albums he was on. It think that guess was 10-12, but when I checked, famous albums by Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Sam Rivers, Wayne Shorter, and McCoy Tyner fell short. Here's the actual list (all A-):

  • Andrew Hill: Andrew!!! (1964, Blue Note)
  • Andrew Hill: Compulsion!!!!! (1965, Blue Note)
  • Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue (1965, Blue Note)
  • Bobby Hutcherson: Happenings (1966, Blue Note)
  • Bobby Hutcherson: Oblique (1967, Blue Note)
  • Archie Shepp: Fire Music (1965, Impulse!)
  • Archie Shepp: Kwanza (1969, Impulse!)

Since I'm no longer tracking new releases, I'm having some trouble finding new things I want to listen to. Some records below come from Phil Overeem, who seems to be struggling a bit himself. I doubt I'll ever manage the 7-CD Julius Hemphill box, or for that matter William Parker's 10-CD Migration of Silence Into and Out of the Tone World. (I have a promo sampler of the latter, and haven't bothered to play it yet.) More likely I will check out Peter Stampfel's 20th Century in 100 Songs, as it seems to be complete on Bandcamp (minus the "88 pages of liner notes," which is likely to make a difference).

March 29, 2021

Music: Current count 35141 [35113] rated (+28), 212 [218] unrated (-6).

Very little I feel like adding here. Rated count is down. I blame that Peter Stampfel monstrosity, but I probably would have made up the loss had I gotten onto an archive kick. New A-list this week is marginal, but at least it's all 2021 releases. And while I don't feel very certain about Lana Del Rey, I did play it four times, so I figure I gave it plenty of chance. Stampfel only got one play, as did the live doubles from Neil Young and Charles Lloyd.

Life remains stubbornly stuck. Wrote a bit in my memoir, but not much. Spent a little more time collecting bits for a book roundup. I'll probably post that mid-week.

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
  • [lp] based on physical lp (vinyl)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.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