Streamnotes: April 29, 2024

Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on March 25. Past reviews and more information are available here (23741 records).

Recent Releases

1010benja: Ten Total (2024, Three Six Zero): Rapper-singer Benjamin Lyman, based in Kansas City, first album after an EP, finds a groove and sensibility as original as the early mixtapes of Weeknd and Frank Ocean. A- [sp]

Nicki Adams/Michael Eaton: The Transcendental (2023 [2024], SteepleChase LookOut): Piano and tenor saxophone duo, based in Brooklyn, second album together. They relate this to Gunther Schuller's "third stream" movement, for reasons not obvious to a classical-phobe like myself, and pick their way through several Joe Henderson pieces, expertly. B+(**) [r]

Cyrille Aimée: Ŕ Fleur De Peau (2018-23 [2024], Whirlwind): French jazz singer, based in New York, more than a dozen albums since 2006. Album recorded "at Jake Sherman's Apartment and Keyboard Haven in Brooklyn," with the singer credited with acoustic guitar and baritone ukelele, Sherman with "various," Abe Rounds "drums & percussion," various others for a song or two. B+(**) [sp]

Neal Alger: Old Souls (2023 [2024], Calligram): Guitarist, based in Chicago, debut album from 2001, mostly side credits since, including five albums with Patricia Barber. Here with Chad McCullough (trumpet), Chris Madsen (tenor sax), Clark Sommers (bass), and Dana Hall (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Thomas Anderson: Hello, I'm From the Future (2024, Out There): Singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, debut 1989, the first of many finely wrought albums. A dozen new songs here. A- [sp]

Sam Anning: Earthen (2024, Earshift Music): Australian bassist, third album, composed nine pieces, leads a septet most prominently featuring Mat Jodrell (trumpet), with two saxophones, keyboards, guitar, and drums. Most pieces are somber-to-haunting, drawing inspiration from aboriginal land. B+(***) [cd]

Florian Arbenz: Conversation #10 & #11: ON! (2023 [2024], Hammer): Swiss drummer, started this series working remotely, but this appears to be a studio meet, extended over two days (11 tracks, 69 minutes), with more musicians: Yumi Ito (voice), Percy Pursglove (trumpet/flugelhorn), Ivo Neame (fender rhodes/synths), Szymon Mika (guitar), and Jim Hart (vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion). B+(**) [sp]

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Les Jardins Mystiques Vol. 1 (2023, Brainfeeder, 3CD): Los Angeles-based composer, violinist, has several previous albums (back to 2007), this one a monster (even without the promised future volume[s]), running 3.5 hours (also available on 4-LP), no recording dates given but "14 years in the making . . . with contributions from 50+ friends," including a fair number I recognize. Too big and possibly too luxe for me, but makes for consistently engaging background. The few critics who mention it at all rate it very highly. B+(***) [sp]

Jim Baker/Steve Hunt/Jakob Heinemann: Horizon Scanners (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): Pianist, one of few operating in Chicago's vibrant avant-jazz scene, couple dozen albums since his 1997 debut, more side-credits, trio here with drums and bass, Baker also playing ARP-2600. B+(**) [sp]

John Basile: Heatin' Up (2024, StringTime Jazz): Guitarist, ten or so albums since 1985, thoughtfully called the first one Very Early. B+(*) [cd]

Alex Beltran: Rift (2022 [2024], Calligram): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, based in Chicago, looks like his first album, mostly an energetic mainstream quartet with Stu Mindeman (piano/wurlitzer), Sam Peters (bass), and Jon Deitemyer (drums), with guests on two track each: Chad McCullough (trumpet), Lenard Simpson (alto sax). B+(***) [cd]

Beyoncé: Cowboy Carter (2024, Parkwood/Columbia): Mega pop star, "rose to fame" in Destiny's Child, last name then Knowles, now seems to be Knowles-Carter after the merger with the now relatively obscure rapper Jay-Z. Eighth solo album since 2003, first seven debuted at number one, awaiting confirmation on this one. She's parlayed her music into a business empire, where her Wikipedia page has as much about "wealth" and "philanthropy" as music. I thought her early work, both group and solo, was ok at best, more often not. She got better, but I never found any reason to think she was more than money talking. Even after I revised my grade upward and bought a copy, I never played Renaissance again. My inability to recall any of her songs might be chalked up to my aging -- I can't recall much Taylor Swift either -- or maybe just my increasingly broad-but-shallow streaming, where I'm most likely to pick up on my long-cultivated idiosyncrasies. Aware of this, I held off writing up my first play, and gave it a closer listen the morning after. I heard a lot more: nothing I love, but a wide range of credible bits, enough to suggest that with another 3-5 plays, I could edit this 78:21 sprawl down to a 45-minute high B+ (but probably not a 35-minute A-). The result would be even less cowboy than this is: I'm all for genre-fuck, but she gave up that game with the "Blackbird" cover in the two slot (even with four certified country guests, including Tanner Adell), then slipped the album's best song (six writers, but my guess is that Raphael Saadiq is key) in between "Texas Hold 'Em" and "Jolene." Aside from Saadiq, other notable contributors include Nile Edwards, Pharrell Williams, and Shawn Carter, as well as guests Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Miley Cyrus, and snips from Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson: all things you can do with money to make more. B+(**) [sp]

Owen Broder: Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. Two (2021 [2024], Outside In Music): Alto saxophonist, also plays baritone, more from the sessions that generated Vol. One in 2022, four songs Johnny Hodges had a hand in writing, four more he left his indelible mark on. Comparing them against the originals would be hopeless, but they certainly evoke the swing era Hodges towered over. With Riley Mulkerkar (trumpet), Carmen Staaf (piano), Barry Stephenson III (bass), and Bryan Carter (drums). A- [cd]

Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love: Chicken Shit Bingo (2015 [2024], Trost): Posthumous archive dig but not too deep, a set from Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp, with Brötzmann opting for relatively soft horns (tarogato, bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet), Nilssen-Love with a lot of experience in sax/drums duos. B+(*) [bc]

Paul Brusger: A Soul Contract (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): Bassist, several albums since 2000, mainstream quintet here with Eric Alexander (tenor/alto sax), Steve Davis (trombone), Rick Germanson (piano), and Willie Jones III (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Martin Budde: Back Burner (2023 [2024], Origin): Guitarist, based in Seattle, seems to be first album but had a 2021 group album as Meridian Odyssey. Recorded in Alaska, eight originals plus a Joni Mitchell cover, backed by bass (Ben Feldman) and drums (Xavier Lecouturier). Nice enough. B+(*) [cd]

Caporaso Ensemble: Encounter (2023 [2024], Psychosomatic): Guitarist André Caporaso, who has some records going back to 1984, leads a quintet with Jim Goetsch (soprano sax), David Strother (electric violin), Tony Green (bass), and Breeze Smith (drums). Effective fusion. B+(*) [cd]

Mackenzie Carpenter: Mackenzie Carpenter (2023, Valory Music, EP): Country singer-songwriter from Georgia, one of the writers on the Megan Moroney single "I'm Not Pretty," debut 5-song EP (15:57). Annoying when it takes longer to look up a label and release date than it takes to listen to a record (and that doesn't even count the 17:27 "Introducing Mackenzie Carpenter" video on YouTube). Offhand, seems about as credible (and about as pretty) as Moroney. B+(***) [sp]

The Castellows: A Little Goes a Long Way (2024, Warner Music Nashville, EP): Three sisters from Georgetown, Georgia, last name Balkcom (Eleanor, Lily, and Powell), moved to Nashville, signed a contract, released two catchy singles late 2023, expanded into this 7-song, 22:10 mini-album. B+(**) [sp]

Chromeo: Adult Contemporary (2024, BMG): Canadian electropop duo, sixth album since 2004. Dance grooves, hard to resist. B+(**) [sp]

Cďtric Dümmies: Zen and the Arcade of Beating Your Ass (2023, Feel It): Hardcore-punk band from Minneapolis, fourth album since 2017, cover art designed to evoke Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade. B+(*) [sp]

The Core: Roots (2022 [2024], Moserobie): Norwegian jazz group, founded 2001, released eight albums 2004-10, back for one more here. Saxophonist Kjetil Mřster is the best-known member, but Espen Aalberg (drums) wrote four (of six) pieces, with one each for Mřster and Steinar Raknes (bass), zero for Erlend Slettevoll (piano). Expansive, like Coltrane's legendary quartet. A- [cd]

Christie Dashiell: Journey in Black (2023, self-released): Jazz singer-songwriter, first album, seven originals, two covers, with Marquis Hill (trumpet), Allyn Johnson (keyboards), Shedrick Mitchell (organ), Romeir Mendez (bass), and Carroll Vaughn Dashiel III (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Arnaud Dolmen/Leonardo Montana: LéNo (2023 [2024], Quai Son): French duo, Guadeloupian drummer and Brazilian pianist, "long-time collaborators," several separate albums each. I'm not seeing any other credits here, other than "chorus." The rhythm tracks sweep one along, the piano commenting thoughtfully. B+(**) [cdr]

Dave Douglas: Gifts (2023 [2024], Greenleaf Music): Trumpet player, one of the most acclaimed since the mid-1990s, I've often been unmoved by his albums but never doubted his chops, or his commitment to forming challenging groups. Here he adds James Brandon Lewis to a long list of heavyweight champ saxophonists, as well as two younger players we'll hear more from: Rafiq Bhatia (guitar) and Ian Chang (drums). Slips a four-song Billy Strayhorn medley as the sweet center of a sandwich of originals, blurring the edges so they all flow together. A- [cd]

Empress Of: For Your Consideration (2024, Major Arcana/Giant Music): Pop singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, from Los Angeles, parents from Honduras, Berklee grad, fourth album since 2015. B+(**) [sp]

Julieta Eugenio: Stay (2023 [2024], Cristalyn): Tenor saxophonist, from Italy, based in New York, 2022 debut album was one of the year's best. Mostly trio with Matt Dwonszyk (bass) and Jonathan Barber (drums), adding Leo Genovese (Fender Rhodes) on two tracks. Doesn't try to blow you away here, but is steady, assured, and consistently engaging -- not a formula yet, not so easy to normalize. A- [cd]

Four + Six: Four + Six (2024, Jazz Hang): The Four is a saxophone quartet of Mark Watkins, Ray Smith, Sandon Mayhew, and Jon Gudmundson. Their names adorn the top border of the cover, so by one convention I often follow, I could have listed them for the artist credit, but then I should also follow the "Plus Six" named in the other borders, from left to bottom to right: Derrick Gardner (trumpet), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Corey Christiansen (guitar), Justin Nielsen (piano), Braun Khan (bass), Kobie Watkins (drums). But only three or four of those names ring a bell for me -- I'm a bit confused on my Gardners -- and I usually save the cover-listed instruments for the body. Saxophonist Mark Watkins composed and arranged this, upbeat, richly textured, superb big band lacking only the conventional brass overload. A- [cd]

Four Tet: Three (2024, Text): Longtime alias for English DJ Kieran Hebden, a dozen-plus albums since 1999, plus a few jazzier items under his own name (with the late drummer, Steve Reid). Beats up front, then relaxes a bit. As nice as anything he's done in at least a decade. B+(***) [sp]

Hannah Frances: Keeper of the Shepherd (2024, Ruination): Singer-songwriter, based in Chicago, plays guitar, released a debut album in 2018. B+(*) [sp]

Eric Frazier: That Place Featuring "Return of the Panther Woman" (2024, EFP Productions): Percussionist (congas here, trap drums, djembe, piano, tap dance elsewhere), sings, based in Brooklyn, website offers ten albums but Discogs comes up far short, at least under "(4)." His Carribbean funk is loosely engaging, Gene Ghee's sax helps, no complaints when a piano-conga duet stretches out. B+(***) [cd]

Hilary Gardner: On the Trial With the Lonesome Pines (2024, Anzic): Standards singer, from Alaska, based in Brooklyn, one-third of the vocal trio Duchess, has a couple solo albums. looks to the "trail songs" of "singing cowboys" here, which means Gene Autry but also Bing Crosby. B+(*) [sp]

Kenny Garrett & Svoy: Who Killed AI? (2024, Mack Avenue): Alto/soprano saxophonist, a breakout star in the 1990s, back here with a duo with Russian electronica producer Mikhail Tarasov, who has several albums since 2005 (they seem to be most popular in Japan). Some vocals. Some interesting ideas that don't go very far. B+(**) [sp]

Kim Gordon: The Collective (2024, Matador): Sonic Youth's better half, second post-divorce solo album. With beats supposed to be derived from trap (albeit plated with a surface of industrial klang), frayed vocals that could be called rap (but are probably too cryptic). Sonically, it's as distinct as anything her former group rolled out, perhaps more so. Youth? Not really. I have some doubts, but it does quite an impression. A- [sp]

Gossip: Real Power (2024, Columbia): Indie band, formed in Olympia, WA by three Arkansas expats, fronted by plus-sized singer Beth Ditto, who went on to a solo career, wrote a book, did some acting, but is back here for their first album since 2012. B+(**) [sp]

María Grand With Marta Sánchez: Anohin (2024, Biophilia): Saxophonist-vocalist from Switzerland, based in New York, fourth album since 2017, a duo with the pianist. Emphasis is more on voice, but I prefer the saxophone. B+(*) [sp]

Frank Gratkowski/Ensemble Modern: Mature Hybrid Talking (2022 [2024], Maria de Alvear World Edition): German avant-saxophonist, many albums since 1991, plays flute and alto here, conducting the twelve-piece chamber jazz group -- flute/clarinet/oboe/bassoon, trumpet/trombone, piano, violin/cello/bass, no drums -- through the single 45:08 composition. B+(**) [sp]

Guillermo Gregorio: Two Trios (2018-20 [2023], ESP-Disk): Clarinet player from Argentina, where he first recorded in 1963, moved to Vienna, then to Chicago, where he resumed in the 1990s, and finally to New York. First trio here was recorded at Edgefest in Ann Arbor, with Carrie Biolo (vibes) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello). Second was at Downtown Music Gallery in New York, with Iván Barenboim (contralto clarinet) and Nicholas Jozwiak (cello). B+(***) [cd]

Guillermo Gregorio/Damon Smith/Jerome Bryerton: The Cold Arrow (2022 [2023], Balance Point Acoustics): Clarinets, bass, and percussion ("Paiste Bronze Series gongs & selected metal & cymbals, no drums used"). B+(**) [sp]

Noah Haidu: Standards II (2023 [2024], Sunnyside): Piano trio, with Buster Williams (bass) and Billy Hart (drums), following up on their 2023 album, itself preceded by a 2021 Keith Jarrett tribute. B+(**) [cd]

Mercer Hassy Orchestra: Duke's Place (2022-23 [2024], Mercer Hassy): Japanese big band, leader "was born as Masahide Hashimoto in Sapporo, Japan," home base for this exceptionally racous and rather raunchy Ellington tribute band. He is credited as arranger, also for drum programming and guitar. Several vocals, lots of excitement. Group has two previous albums, one in this vein (Sir Duke), the other more varied (Don't Stop the Carnival). Hassy has a non-Orchestra album with strings and traditional Japanese instruments, but also Alan Pasqua and Peter Erskine. This one slops off here and there, but is too much fun not so share. A- [cd]

Alexander Hawkins/Sofia Jernberg: Musho (2023 [2024], Intakt): British pianist, rather prolific since 2011, accompanies the Ethiopian-born but (sources agree) Swedish jazz singer, most often showing up with avant-leaning groups like Fire! Orchestra and Koma Saxo. Has some moments, but mostly fairly arch art song. B+(*) [sp]

Helado Negro: Phasor (2024, 4AD): Roberto Carlos Lange, born in Florida, parents from Ecuador, ninth album since 2009. First approximation is something similar to the slinky Brazilian music of Tom Zé. B+(**) [sp]

Arve Henriksen/Harmen Fraanje: Touch of Time (2023 [2024], ECM): Norwegian trumpet player, dozens of albums since 2000, duo here with a Dutch pianist who also debuted in 2000. B+(*) [sp]

Ill Considered: Precipice (2024, New Soil): British group, dozen-plus albums since 2017, looks like this iteration is back-to-basics, with just sax (Idris Rahman), bass (Liran Donin), and drums (Emre Ramazanoglu). B+(***) [sp]

Jazz Ensemble of Memphis: Playing in the Yard (2023 [2024], Memphis International): Memphis group, assembled by the label owner as a showcase for young talent, remembering other jazz musicians from Memphis over the years: the eldest here is saxophonist Charles Pender II (26), the youngest drummer Kurtis Gray (17), with with Martin Carodine Jr (17, trumpet), Liam O'Dell (21, bass), and DeAnte Payne (25, keyboards, vibes, congas, percussion). B+(*) [cd]

Jlin: Akoma (2024, Planet Mu): Electronica producer Jerrilynn Patton, from Gary, Indiana, fourth (or third) album. Beats, which is all that matters. B+(***) [sp]

Benji Kaplan: Untold Stories (2023 [2024], self-released): Guitarist, born in New York but plays Brazilian influences, including nylon strings. Solo, nine tracks, 28:42. B+(*) [cd] [05-01]

Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones: New Monuments (2024, We Jazz): Brooklyn-based vocalist, third group album, also has duos (Lea Bertucci, Luke Stewart) and has appeared with Darius Jones, Mary Halvorson, William Parker, and Robert Ashley. Group here with Matthew Nelson (soprano sax), Leter St. Louis (cello), Eva Lawitts (bass), and Jason Nazary (drums/synthesizer). B+(**) [sp]

Julien Knowles: As Many, as One (2023 [2024], Biophilia): Trumpet player, based in Los Angeles, first album, a postbop quintet -- alto sax, piano, bass, drums, no one I recognize, plus strings on three tracks -- as ambitious as claimed but returns are marginal for 70:27. B+(*) [cd]

Anysia Kym: Truest (2024, 10k, EP): Brooklyn-based "producer," third album, sings along with her hip-hop beats and shadings, some guest rap (MIKE), not much press. Nine songs, 22:48. B+(*) [sp]

Last Word Quintet: Falling to Earth (2021-22 [2024], Origin): Group formed when performance poet Marc Kelly Smith hooked up with "four of Chicago's more active musicians and songwriters": Al Day (vocals/guitar), Bob Long (piano), Doug Lofstrom (bass/keyboards), and Brian Gephart (sax), with Sarah Allen (drums) listed on back cover but not in group pic. Day's vocals are rather talkie, rather like Mose Allison, so they blend in with the poetry as opposed to giving you two distinct voices. For that, you have the sax. B+(**) [cd]

Matt Lavelle/Claire Daly/Chris Forbes: Harmolodic Duke (2023, Unseen Rain): Trumpet player, credits start in 2001, including large groups led by Butch Morris and William Parker, developed bass clarinet as a second instrument, plays alto and piccolo clarinet here, with Daly on baritone sax and Forbes on piano. Did a Harmolodic Monk album in 2014, again the aim here is to put an Ornette twist on a classic. Needs more study than I can muster, or more swing than they're willing to allow. B+(**) [sp]

Matt Lavelle: In Swing We Trust (2022, Unseen Rain): Trio, names below the title are Phil Sirois (bass) and Tom Cabrera (drums), so this has rhythm even if it is somewhat at odds with what I think of as swing. Lavelle plays trumpet, bass and E-flat piccolo clarinets. B+(**) [sp]

Matt Lavelle: The House Keeper (2022 [2023], Unseen Rain): Quintet, other names on cover mostly familiar from recent albums: Claire Daly (baritone sax), Chris Forbes (piano), Hilliard Greene (bass), Tom Cabrera (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Matt Lavelle & the 12 Houses: The Crop Circles Suite Part One (2022 [2024], Mahakala Music): Starting from an idea he first articulated in the 1990s, the trumpeter-composer describes this as his "life's work," or half of it anyway, the first six pieces in a 12-piece suite, with "Crop Circles 7-12" still in development. B+(***) [sp]

Andy Laverne: Spot On (2023 [2024], SteepleChase): Pianist, from New York, started with Woody Herman 1973, debut 1978, 36th album on this label, quartet with Mike Richmond (bass), Jason Tiemann (drums), and impressive newcomer Ben Solomon (tenor sax). B+(**) [sp]

Ellie Lee: Escape (2024, self-released): Korean pianist, original first name Seunghyung, studied at Berklee and in New Jersey, counts Joanne Brackeen and Bill Charlap among her tutors, first album, originals (one an arrangement of Benny Golson), shows remarkable poise, helped considerably by saxophonist Steven Wilson. With Steve LaSpina (bass) and Jongkuk Kim (drums). B+(***) [05-24]

Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future (2024, 4AD): Singer-songwriter, best known as leader of Big Thief, has several solo albums, two before Big Thief, three since. Very basic, guitar and voice, harmonies adding resonance, the songs standing on their own, and faring well. B+(***) [sp]

Molly Lewis: On the Lips (2024, Jagjaguwar): Musician from Orange County, California, plays ukulele and other novelty instruments, and whistles, her early albums out for laughs, this one reminding me more of soft jazz pleasantries. B+(*) [sp]

Joăo Madeira/Margarida Mestre: Voz Debaixo (2022 [2024], 4DaRecord): From Portugal, bass and voice duo, the former does its job of setting up and framing the latter, which offers limited interest. B+(**) [cd]

Kali Malone: All Life Long (2024, Ideologic Organ): American composer, from Denver, based in Stockholm, sixth album since 2017, started with electronics plays pipe organ here, with a choir (Macadem Ensemble) and brass quintet (Anima Brass). Very solemn. B+(*) [sp]

Shawn Maxwell: J Town Suite (2023 [2024], Cora Street): Alto/soprano saxophonist (also flute), seventh album since 2005, this one backed by electric bass, keyboards, and drums. Nice ending. B+(**) [cd] [05-01]

Ron McClure: Just Sayin' (2024, SteepleChase): Bassist, started in 1960s, has close to two dozen albums as leader, composed eight (of ten) songs here, a quartet with Anthony Ferrara (tenor sax), Michael Eckroth (piano), and Steve Johns (drums). Very solid mainstream outing, especially for Ferrara. B+(***) [sp]

Ava Mendoza/Dave Sewelson: Of It but Not Is It (2021-22 [2024], Mahakala Music): Duets, guitar and baritone sax, two Mendoza arrangements of William Parker lyrics, so voice too -- Sewelson a gruff blues declaimer, Mendoza adds some harmony and callback. B+(***) [sp]

The Messthetics/James Brandon Lewis: The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis (2024, Impulse!): Bassist (Joe Lally) and drummer (Brandan Canty) from Fugazi, plus jazz guitarist Anthony Pirog, formed this post-rock power trio for two 2018-19 albums, return here with the reigning heavyweight tenor sax champ riffing over heavier-than-usual beats. He's supreme, as usual, but Pirog doesn't really rise to the occasion -- unlike, the Ex guitarists in Lean Left, to pick a somewhat comparable example. B+(***) [sp]

Ms. Boogie: The Breakdown (2024, self-released): Brooklyn-based rapper, drill style, first album. B+(*) [sp]

Cornelia Nilsson: Where Do You Go? (2022-23 [2024], Stunt): Swedish drummer, based in Copenhagen, first album as leader, combines two trio sessions, one with pianist Aaron Parks, the other with tenor saxophonist Gabor Bolla, both with Daniel Franck on bass. Both sides are pretty impressive. B+(**) [sp]

The Michael O'Neill Sextet: Synergy: With Tony Lindsay (2021 [2024], Jazzmo): Saxophonist (tenor/soprano, bass clarinet), sextet with Erik Jekabson (trumpet), John R. Burr (piano), bass, drums, and extra percussion, swings, swaggers even, with Lindsay singing eleven songs -- a Burr original, some standards, three songs from Stevie Wonder, one from Bill Withers. B+(**) [cd]

Old 97's: American Primitive (2024, ATO): Indie band founded 1992 in Dallas, thirteenth studio album, alongside eight solo efforts (2002-22) from leader Rhett Miller -- perhaps a tad more pop, where the band leans harder on the guitar. I ran out of patience with this one pretty fast, not that objectively it's all that bad. B+(*) [sp]

Sam Outlaw: Terra Cotta (2024, Black Hills): Country singer-songwriter, based in Nashville, fourth album since 2015, original name Morgan but adopted his mother's maiden name -- kind of pulls a punch he really never throws. B+(*) [sp]

Chuck Owen & Resurgence: Magic Light (2019-23 [2024], Origin): Pianist (also accordion and hammered dulcimer), based in Florida, started his Jazz Surge as a big band in 1995, this edition is slimmed down -- a no-brass sextet, with Jack Wilkins (sax), Sara Caswell (violin), Corey Christiansen (guitar), bass, and drums, plus Kate McGarry singing five (of eight) songs, the only non-original being the opener, "Spinning Wheel." B+(*) [cd]

Charlie Parr: Little Sun (2024, Smithsonian Folkways): Folk/blues singer-songwriter from Duluth, plays resonator guitar and banjo, couple dozen albums since 2002. B+(*) [sp]

Jonah Parzen-Johnson: You're Never Really Alone (2024, We Jazz): Baritone saxophonist, also plays flute, from Chicago, solo here (as are most of his albums), but with some electronics mixed in. Eight tracks, 39:39. B+(**) [sp]

Ivo Perelman Quartet: Water Music (2022 [2024], RogueArt): Avant tenor saxophonist from Brazil, started releasing albums in 1989, did a duo with pianist Matthew Shipp in 1996, and they've released scores of albums ever since, probably more than the years Lincoln counted at Gettysburg. Both not only play a lot together, they're happy to let others join in, especially when they contribute as much as Mark Helias (bass) and Tom Rainey (drums) do here. A- [cdr]

Ivo Perelman/Chad Fowler/Reggie Workman/Andrew Cyrille: Embracing the Unknown (2024, Mahakala Music): Tenor sax, stritch/saxello, bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Ivo Perelman/Barry Guy/Ramon Lopez: Interaction (2017 [2024], Ibeji Music): Tenor sax, bass, drums/tabla. An exceptionally fine outing for the saxophonist, divided into two parts (73:52 + 55:18). A- [dl]

Ivo Perelman/Mark Helias/Tom Rainey: Truth Seeker (2022 [2024], Fundacja Sluchaj): Tenor sax/bass/drums trio, his ideal format (apologies to Shipp), especially when he gets a bassist this remarkable. A- [dl]

Ivo Perelman/Tom Rainey: Duologues 1: Turning Point (2024, Ibeji Music): Tenor sax and drum duets, seven unnamed files, no telling how many more "duologue" albums are planned. B+(***) [dl]

Rich Perry: Progression (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, from Cleveland, mainstream, regular albums since 1993, quartet here with Gary Versace (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), and John Riley (drums). B+(**) [sp]

PNY Quintet: Over the Wall (2022 [2024], RogueArt): Free jazz meeting in France: Steve Swell (trombone), Rob Brown (alto sax), Michel Edelin (flutes), Peter Giron (bass), John Betsch (drums). Most brought songs, and the rest they improvised. B+(**) [cdr]

Dave Rempis/Pandelis Karayorgis/Jakob Heinemann/Bill Harris: Truss (2023 [2024], Aerophonic/Drift): Alto/tenor/baritone saxophone, with piano, bass, and drums. Two long pieces. I've grown accustomed to the free jazz thrash, finding it both stimulating and relaxing, heightened, of course, by the fascinating various stretches of foreplay. A- [cd]

Travis Reuter: Quintet Music (2022 [2024], self-released): Guitarist, born in Seattle, has a previous album from 2012, a variety of side credits since, lists his quintet on the cover as you should recognize the names: Mark Shim (tenor sax), Peter Schlamb (vibraphone), Harish Raghavan (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums). Slippery, often fractured, rhythm is interesting. B+(***) [cd]

Ride: Interplay (2024, Wichita): English shoegaze band, four albums 1990-96, third album since they regrouped in 2017. B+(*) [sp]

Ernesto Rodrigues/Bruno Parinha/Joăo Madeira: Into the Wood (2023 [2024], Creative Sources): Portuguese trio: viola, bass clarinet, bass. Live improv set, the bassist does an exceptional job of binding the sounds together into an engine of endless fascination. A- [cd]

Jim Rotondi: Finesse (2021 [2024], Cellar Music): Trumpet player, originally from Montana, studied at UNT, played in New York, now based in Graz, Austria. Backed here by the Notes and Tones Jazz Orchestra, a big band, plus an unnamed Orchestra with strings and reeds (flute, oboe, bassoon, horn) on six (of 13) tracks. Jakob Helling arranged and conducted Rotondi's compositions, with featured soloists Steve Davis, Dick Oatts and Danny Grissett. B [sp]

Angelica Sanchez/Chad Taylor: A Monster Is Just an Animal You Haven't Met Yet (2023 [2024], Intakt): Piano and drums duo. B+(***) [sp]

Marta Sanchez Trio: Perpetual Void (2023 [2024], Intakt): Spanish pianist, based in New York, albums since 2008, trio here with Chris Tordini (bass) and Savannah Harris (drums). B+(***) [cd]

Schoolboy Q: Blue Lips (2024, Interscope): Los Angeles rapper Matthew Hanley, sixth album since 2011, this after a five-year break. Sharp beats, ends on a catchy note, but I didn't get much more. B+(*) [sp]

Dave Schumacher & Cubeye: Smoke in the Sky (2024, Cellar): Baritone saxophonist, leads a very credible Latin jazz outfit with trumpet, often a second sax, and a rhythm section with Manuel Valera (piano), Alex "Apolo" Ayala (bass), and two drummer-percussionists (Mauricio Herrera and Joel Mateo). B+(***) [cd]

Radam Schwartz: Saxophone Quartet Music (2023 [2024], Arabesque): Keyboard player, mostly organ, first album 1988, second on Muse 1995, maybe a half-dozen approximately soul jazz albums since. This one is something else, with Schwartz not playing but arranging for a saxophone quartet (Marcus G Miller, Irwin Hall, Anthony Ware, Max Schweber), with isolated guest spots (guitar, vocal, percussion). Starts off delightful, mixes it up from there, ends with "My Ship." A- [cd] [05-01]

Claudio Scolari Project: Intermission (2022 [2024], Principal): Italian drummer, discography goes back to 2004, seventh group album (although Discogs only lists two), quartet features a second drummer, Daniele Cavalca (also keyboards, with Scolari some "synth programming"), trumpet (Simone Scolari), and electric bass (Michele Cavalca). Occasionally hits an Miles Davis fusion vibe, which is excellent, but not really the point, so it tails off into something more ambient, which is also fine. A- [cd]

Altin Sencalar: Discover the Present (2024, Posi-Tone): Trombonist, first album, nonet has most of the label's regulars on board, including Diego Rivera, Michael Dease, Art Hirahara, and Rudy Royston. B+(*) [sp]

Shabaka: Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace (2022 [2024], Impulse!): British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, parents from Barbados, bills this as "his solo debut album," but I've counted one previous one as Shabaka (now deemed an EP, at 28:36), two as Shabaka & the Ancestors, plus his dominant presence in groups Sons of Kemet, Melt Yourself Down, and The Comet Is Coming. Limits his tenor sax here to one track, as he plays clarinet (3), shakuhachi (2), flute (6), and svirel (1), with a rotating cast of guests, leaning hard on the harps (Brandee Younger and Charles Overton), exotic instruments (André 3000, Rajna Swaminathan), electronics (Surya Botofasina, Floating Points), and spot vocalists (Elucid, Eska, Anum Iyapo, Laraaji, Lianne La Havas, Moses Sumney, Saul Williams). I'm tempted to slag this off as new agey, but it's not so bad B+(**) [sp]

Shakira: Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran (2024, Sony Latin): Colombian superstar, twelfth studio album, mostly Spanish. B+(***) [sp]

Matthew Shipp Trio: New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz (2023 [2024], ESP-Disk): Pianist, has been major since c. 1990, both on his own records and accompanying saxophonists, notably David S. Ware and Ivo Perelman. Went through an avant-jazztronica that I was so taken by I wound up writing a consumer guide to his work (plus a lot more by William Parker) and a Rolling Stone guide entry. Since then, he's refocused on trio and solo albums, exhaustively it can seem. This is his sixth trio album with Michael Bisio (bass) and Newman Taylor Baker (drums), following many more with various others (starting with Parker and Whit Dickey, then Bisio and Dickey). I've heard pretty much all of them, and still I have no idea what the "new concepts" are here. This is, however, a superb sample of what he's been doing for many years now. A- [cd]

Idit Shner & Mhondoro: Ngatibatanei [Let Us Unite!] (2023 [2024], OA2): Alto saxophonist, based in Oregon, as is her group, although they channel Zimbabwe, most directly through percussionist John Mambira (and vocal on the title cut), but with music far more universal. A- [cd]

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Revelations (2024, Abeyance): Grew up as a homeschooled fundamentalist in North Carolina, didn't turn out that way, fourth album, more rock than country. B+(**) [sp]

Jacob Shulman: High Firmament (2024, Endectomorph Music): Tenor saxophonist, also plays clarinets, based in Los Angeles, has a previous album from 2021, and an earlier opera (Role Playing Game), which at least exists on Bandcamp. Also a second new album, Ferment Below, which showed up with this one, an advance looking like a double album, but they are treated as separate digitally, and I don't see any evidence of them existing otherwise. Both albums have piano (Hayoung Lyou), bass (Walter Stinson), and drums (Kayvon Gordon). Fancy postbop, more interesting to read about ("thousands of years of conjecture and agony have led us to conclude that our world diverges from Euclidean geometry in unresolvable ways" -- you can't just observe that?) -- than to listen to. B [cdr]

Jacob Shulman: Ferment Below (2024, Endectomorph Music): Annoyed me even more than the first one, until it inexplicably got better. Maybe I relaxed once I ditched the Pythagoras and realized that the review, like the record, would eventually end. But then it turned back into opera. B [cdr]

Skee Mask: ISS010 (2024, Ilian Tape): German techno producer Bryan Müller, from Munich, also released records as SCNTST (2013-18), title denotes 10th album in this series. Steady beats. B+(*) [sp]

Ronny Smith: Struttin' (2024, Pacific Coast Jazz): Guitarist, "melodic and soulful," writes funky originals, covers Wes Montgomery, also credited "keys, bass, programming," second song adds vocals to sound like a Chic outtake (but just that one), elsewhere there's a nice bit of sax. B+(*) [cd]

Geoff Stradling & the StradBand: Nimble Digits (2023 [2024], Origin): Pianist, also plays electric and synths, leads a very raucous big band here with occasional extras (mostly Latin percussion) through nine originals plus "Poinciana." B+(***) [cd]

Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made (2022 [2024], Curtis Taylor Music): Trumpet player, bio hints at Cleveland, southern California, University of Iowa ("currently inspiring students"), seems to have two previous albums, side credits in big bands. Mainstream group here, backed by piano-bass-drums, with tenor sax (Marcus Elliot) on four (of 7) tracks. B+(**) [sp]

Mary Timony: Untame the Tiger (2024, Merge): Singer-songwriter from DC, been through several indie bands (Helium, Wild Flag, Ex Hex, Hammered Hulls) as well as several solo albums (one called Ex Hex before the group). B [sp]

Erik Truffaz: Clap! (2023, Blue Note): Trumpet player, born in Switzerland, close to twenty albums since 1997. B+(*) [sp]

Tyla: Tyla (2024, Epic): Popiano (pop + amapiano) singer-songwriter from South Africa, last name Seethal, first album after a worldwide breakout single in 2023 ("Water"). B+(**) [sp]

Vampire Weekend: Only God Was Above Us (2024, Columbia): Major group, first three albums (2006-13) were poll contenders, not so much for their fourth album (2019), where singer-songwriter Ezra Koenig carried on after the departure of Rostam Batmanglij. Seems this one is being recognized as a return to form, but my reaction is very indifferent, even as I admire their occasional dazzle. B+(**) [sp]

Jordan VanHemert: Deep in the Soil (2023 [2024], Origin): Alto saxophonist, Korean-American, based in Oklahoma, has several previous albums, leads a very flash all-star sextet of Terrel Stafford (trumpet), Michael Dease (trombone), Helen Sung (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums), through two originals, two from the band, and four more or less standards. B+(**) [cd]

Julia Vari Feat. Negroni's Trio: Somos (2024, Alternative Representa): Mexican-American standards singer, couple previous albums (but none on Discogs), backed by Puerto Rican pianist José Negroni, who has at least four Trio albums with Josh Allen (bass) and Nomar Negroni (drums, José's son). Seven songs, 35:19, the sort of singer and trio I rarely give a second thought to, but everything here delights me -- the torchy opener in Spanish, seguing into "Nature Boy," "Song for My Father" with lyrics in Portuguese, and especially the bits of French in "C'est si bon," a language I know just well enough to feel the phrase without having to translate it. A- [cd]

Fay Victor: Herbie Nichols SUNG: Life Is Funny That Way (2023 [2024], Tao Forms, 2CD): Jazz singer, born in Brooklyn but moved around a lot, with Trinidad and Zambia figuring in her childhood, Long Island for her teens, with Japan and Amsterdam major pivots in her career. She's probably sick of the Betty Carter comparisons, but after this album it's Carter who should be honored. I've been a huge fan of Nichols since I first heard his Blue Note trios in a 1975 2-LP (The Third World, but still have no idea how she managed to arrange those compositions into these pieces (adding her lyrics, or often just scat), except to note that Nichols' legacy has long inspired other geniuses (Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, and Roswell Rudd leap to mind). (By the way, I'm only now noticing that the original LPs were in two volumes as The Prophetic Herbie Nichols, following on The Amazing Bud Powell, The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, etc.; for CDs, look for The Complete Blue Note Recordings, originally on Mosaic but reissued by Blue Note in 1997, and also look out for his Bethlehem album, Love, Gloom, Cash, Love. A good place to start for Nicols projects in Regeneration (1983), with all three names I dropped above, but they've each done more, as have many others.) Group here is superb, with Michaël Attias (alto/baritone sax), Anthony Coleman (piano), Ratzo Harris (bass), and Tom Rainey (drums). (Like Carter, she really knows how to work a band.) A [cd]

Bob Vylan: Humble as the Sun (2024, Ghost Theatre): British grime/punk/hip-hop duo, singer/guitarist Bobby Vylan and drummer Bobbie Vylan, released a terrific EP in 2018 (We Live Here), later expanded to album length and followed up with a 2022 album (The Price of Life). Back here with 10 songs, 34:44. Title song suggests they're getting nice, but this picks up soon enough, and ends strong with the reminder, "I'm Still Here." A- [sp]

Waxahatchee: Tigers Blood (2024, Anti-): Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, out of Alabama (Bandcamp puts her in Kansas City), formerly of P.S. Eliot, also of Plains, sixth Waxahatchee album since 2012, currently 4 on AOTY's "highest rated albums of 2024" (86/26, more reviews than anyone above; fewer than two other top-ten albums I don't particularly like). If I'm being evasive here, it's probably because while the songs sound good enough, I'm not connecting with them. Pehaps one to revisit later? B+(***) [sp]

Dan Weiss: Even Odds (2023 [2024], Cygnus): Drummer, over 100 side-credits since 1998, a dozen-plus of his own compositions since 2005, the latter I rarely enjoyed but here he tries something different: a bare-bones trio with brilliant improvisers -- Miguel Zenón (alto sax) and Matt Mitchell (piano) -- making the most out of his broken free rhythms. A- [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon: In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album (1972 [2024], Jazz Detective): Two West Coast trumpet players, both sing sometimes -- Baker more often, or at least more famously, but I like Sheldon's extra swing -- backed by Jack Marshall (guitar), Dave Frishberg (piano), Joe Mondragon (bass), and Nick Ceroli (drums). Eleven tracks, 36:16. B+(**) [cd]

Burnt Sugar/The Arkestkra Chamber: The Reconstru-Ducted Repatriation Road-Rage ReMiXeS (2020-21 [2024], Avantgroidd): Jazz/funk group, mostly under the direction of the critic Greg Tate from 2000 to his recent death. Marque Gilmore tha' Inna-Most remixes of their 2021 album Angels Over Oakanda. B+(**) [bc]

John Coltrane Quartet + Stan Getz + Oscar Peterson: Live/Dusseldorf March 28, 1960 (1960 [2024], Lantower): Another live set from a much recorded European tour, the Quartet at this point with Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). This sounds like Peterson dominates the piano (does Kelly even play?), while Getz is less imposing on tenor sax. B+(*) [r]

Franco & OK Jazz: Franco Luambo Makiadi Presents Les Editions Populaires (1968-1970) (1968-70 [2024], Planet Ilunga): Like James Brown, Franco's earliest recordings date from 1956, but he didn't really hit his stride until the 1970s, so this late-'60s compilation can still be considered early, rough, not quite ready, but it's pretty exciting nonetheless. Belgian label looks to have much more worth checking out. A- [bc]

Gush: Afro Blue (1998 [2024], Trost): Scandinavian trio -- Mats Gustafsson (reeds), Sten Sandell (piano), Raymond Strid (drums) -- mostly recorded 1990-99 with a couple later reunions. This one recorded live in Stockholm, with two variations of Sandell's "Behind the Chords" (27:22 + 18:53) and 19:17 of the Mongo Santamaria title song. B+(***) [bc]

Sven-Ĺke Johansson und Alexander von Schlippenbach: Über Ursache und Wirkung der Meinungsverschiedenheiten Beim Turmbau zu Babel (1994 [2024], Trost): Swedish free jazz drummer, has played in duos with the German pianist at least since 1976, their relationship going back further in Globe Unity Orchestra. This was billed as a "Musikdrama in einem Akt," with Shelley Hirsch joining Johansson (who plays accordion) for vocals, and a small group that includes piano, drums (Paul Lovens), reeds (Dietmar Diesner and Wolfgang Fuchs), and cello (Tristan Honsinger). I can't speak to the libretto, but the music is a riot. B+(**) [bc]

Pete Jolly: Seasons (1970 [2024], Future Days): Pianist (1932-2004), actual surname Ceragioli, born in Connecticut but considered a West Coast player; played with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Marty Paich, Shorty Rogers, Shelly Manne, many others; 1955 debut title Jolly Jumps In; recorded this album for Herb Alpert at A&M, with guitar (John Pisano), bass (Chuck Berghofer), drums, and percussion. A fairly minor groove album. B+(*) [sp]

Yusef Lateef: Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon (1972 [2024], Elemental Music, 2CD): Tenor/soprano saxophonist (1928-2013), originally Bill Evans, one of the first major jazz figures to adopt a Muslim name and a pan-African worldview, also one of the first to incorporate flute as a major part of his sonic toolkit. Quartet with Kenny Barron (piano), Bob Cunningham (bass), and Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Merengue Típico, Nueva Generación! (1960s-70s [2024], Bongo Joe): From the Dominican Republic: "Curated by Xavier Daive, aka Funky Bompa, the compilation unveils rare '60s and '70s gems, providing a glimpse into a transformative period following the fall of the Trujillo regime." The genre dates back to the 19th century, when accordions came over on German trade ships. Just ten brief singles, 32:13, hard to resist, like polka or cajun played dizzyingly fast. A- [sp]

Microstoria: Init Ding + _Snd (1995-96 [2024], Thrill Jockey, 2CD): Electronica duo of Markus Popp (Oval) and Jan St. Werner (Mouse on Mars), recorded six albums 1995-2002, the first two reissued here. Not exactly ambient, but not much to distinguish itself either. B+(*) [sp]

Mixmaster Morris/Jonah Sharp/Haruomi Hosono: Quiet Logic (1998 [2024], WRWTFWW): The former is Morris Gould. Discogs only credits him this one album, but also lists DJ Mixes and Compilations with titles like God Bless the Chilled, Abstract Funk Theory, and Calm Down My Selector (but not Give Peace a Dance?). Sharp is younger, from Scotland, also has a rep for UK chill rooms. Hosono's name wasn't on the original release, but this was crafted in his studio. Definitely chill, but a lot of fascinating detail rarely revealed in ambient. A- [bc]

Austin Peralta: Endless Planets [Deluxe Edition] (2011 [2024], Brainfeeder): Jazz pianist, also plays soprano sax, regarded as a prodigy, moved from classical to jazz at 10, won a prize at 12, released his first album at 16, died at 22, a year after this third album, touted now as the first jazz release on the label (executive producer aka Flying Lotus). Hints at fusion but never gets too comfortable, repeatedly fracturing the rhythm, filling with Strangeloop electronics, and giving the saxophonists (Zane Musa and Ben Wendel) free reign. Adds a vocal by Heidi Vogel toward the end. Deluxe edition adds a second LP of variations -- doesn't add much, other than cost, but reminds us of the loss. A- [sp]

Rail Band: Buffet Hotel De La Gare, Bamako (1973 [2024], Mississippi): Band from Bamako in Mali founded 1970, lead singer to 1982 was Salif Keita, who went on to Les Ambassadeurs and a successful solo career, at least through 2018. The band carried on as Super Rail Band, but their 1970-83 period is best documented on three 2-CD Syllart/Sterns sets. Both Discogs and the label list this LP reissue as Rail Band, but Christgau reviewed it as Buffet Hotel de la Gare, which is how I parsed the cover, adding the smaller-print Bamako -- it is a venue they played regularly at -- but I stopped short of other splotches of print. A- [r]

Sonny Rollins: Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings (1959 [2024], Resonance, 3CD): Starts with a set I've heard before as St. Thomas in Stockholm 1959, which I've long recommended as one of his best live sets, and rarely drops below that level as he moves on across Europe, trios with Henry Grimes on bass and various drummers (Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, Joe Harris). A- [cd]

Sonic Youth: Walls Have Ears (1985 [2024], Goofin'): Official release of a 1986 bootleg drawn from three UK concerts, situated between Bad Moon Rising and Evol -- in my database, their two weakest albums, well before the albums I took to be breakthroughs (Daydream Nation and Dirty). So, songwise, nothing here rings a bell, but soundwise, which is what really matters with them, it's mostly here, and there are really terrific stretches -- basically, any time they real momentum going, especially when Kim Gordon is on a rant. B+(***) [sp]

Sun Ra: At the Showcase: Live in Chicago 1976-1977 (1976-77 [2024], Jazz Detective, 2CD): Two shows, long on their space shtick, judging from audience response must have been much more fun to witness than they are to listen to now. Your mileage may vary, but in my favorite Sun Ra discs the groove finds some miraculous way to escape Earth's gravity. This feels more like a revival, which can be tough on non-believers. B+(*) [cd]

Art Tatum: Jewels in the Treasure Box: The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Club Recordings (1953 [2024], Resonance, 3CD): Legendary pianist (1909-56), remarkable facility -- a friend noted that he often sounds like three guys playing at once -- starting with his 1933 solos (later collected as Piano Starts Here) up to the remarkable series recorded by Norman Granz from 1953-56, later boxed up as The Tatum Solo Masterpieces and The Tatum Group Masterpieces -- the latter's session with Ben Webster is an all-time favorite. These sets are mostly trio, with Everett Barksdale (guitar) and Slam Stewart (bass), occasionally dropping down to solo. I wouldn't rate this among his very best work, with the later sets going through his trademark motions, but the first disc is a real delight. A- [cd]

Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy: The Mighty Warriors: Live in Antwerp (1995 [2024], Elemental Music, 2CD): Piano and soprano sax giants, often played as a duo, but are joined here by Reggie Workman (bass) and Andrew Cyrille (drums), who are precisely the rhythm section one might pray for. Long pieces, timed for four 23-25 minute LP sides, the two shorter ones Monk covers, a shared bond. A- [cd]

Old Music

Billy Boy Arnold/Jimmy McCracklin/Charlie Musselwhite/Christian Rannenberg With Keith Dunn/Henry Townsend with Ben Corritore: The Walter Davis Project (2013, Electro-Fi): Davis (1911/1912-63) was a blues pianist-singer, born in Mississippi, ran off to St. Louis, left a bunch of unrecorded songs, featured here. Rannenberg produced, with Arnold singing nine (of 18) songs. B+(***) [sp]

Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Club Session With Colyer (1956 [2000], Lake): English trumpet/cornet player (1928-88), played trad jazz and skiffle, sang some. Penguin Guide picked this particular album (originally in Decca in 1957) as part of their "core collection," and it certainly is a primo example of the genre, a sextet of Ian Wheeler (clarinet), Mac Duncan (trombone), John Bastable (banjo), Ron Ward (bass), and Colin Bowden (drums), playing "good ol' good 'uns." A- [r]

Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Up Jumped the Devil (1957-58 [2001], G.H.B.): Eleven songs, originally on Upbeat in 1958, rags to open and close, Jelly Roll Morton conspicuous in between, septet here, adding pianist Ray Foxley to the usual suspects. B+(**) [r]

Ken Colyer and His Jazzband: Colyer's Pleasure (1963, Society): Sextet plays more classics, John Bastable (banjo) and Ron Ward (bass) are carryovers from the 1956 band, Sammy Remington (clarinet) getting a "featuring" credit on the 1993 CD reissue (Lake, with extra cuts I haven't heard). B+(***) [r]

Walter Davis: Volume 1: 2 August 1933 to 28 July 1935 (1933-35 [1994], Document): Blues singer-songwriter, born in Mississippi, ran away to St. Louis, started singing with Roosevelt Sykes and Henry Townsend, taught himself piano, and wound up recording 150 songs from 1933-52, available on seven CDs on this Austrian label, with selections on various other labels (all in Europe; I don't think RCA has touched him since 1970's Think You Need a Shot, but even that was only released in UK and France). Scratchy masters, par for the course with this label, but at least they give you dates and credits: note that Sykes plays piano on 1-15, Davis 16-25, with Townsend and/or Big Joe Williams on guitar. B+(***) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 2: 28 July 1935 to 5 May 1937 (1935-37 [1994], Document): Hitting his stride here, his piano is serviceable but lacks the sparkle of Sykes, his vocals and songs credible and easy to listen to, but he rarely rises to the level of Tampa Red or Big Bill Broonzy, to cite two comparable but often superior artists. B+(**) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 3: 5 May 1937 to 17 June 1938 (1937-38 [1994], Document): Not sure whether he's running out of steam, or I am. B+(*) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 4: 17 June 1938 to 21 July 1939 (1938-39 [1994], Document): From "Good Gal" to "Love Will Kill You." B+(*) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 5: 21 July 1939 to 12 July 1940 (1938-39 [1994], Document): Eight tracks in the middle here have Davis playing piano behind Booker T. Washington -- his entire Bluebird output, just short two 1949 tracks from being his complete works. The fit is pretty seamless. B+(**) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 6: 12 July 1940 to 12 February 1946 (1940-46 [1994], Document): Three sessions up to 5 December 1941, a long break, then picks up one track from 1946. B+(**) [sp]

Walter Davis: Volume 7: 12 February 1946 to 27 July 1952 (1946-52 [1994], Document): Three more tracks from 1946, four more from 1947, more sessions from 1949-50, and one last one in 1952, just before his career was ended by a stroke, not long after he turned 40 (he died a decade later, in 1963). B+(**) [sp]

Walter Davis Trio: Illumination (1977, Denon Jazz): Jazz pianist (1932-90), not related to the blues pianist, played with Dizzy Gillespie (1956-57) and Art Blakey (1959-61), led one Blue Note album in 1959 as Walter Davis Jr. (Davis Cup, with Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean). Resumed his career with this second album, mostly trio with bass (Buster Williams) and drums (Art Blakey or Bruno Carr), plus flute (Jeremy Steig) on one track. B+(*) [sp]

Walter Davis Jr. Trio: Scorpio Rising (1989, SteepleChase): Last album, a piano trio with Santi Debriano (bass) and Ralph Peterson (drums), the title song an original from his 1977 album, with two more originals plus three standards. B+(**) [sp]

Joan Díaz Trio: We Sing Bill Evans (2008, Fresh Sound New Talent): Spanish piano trio, with Giulia Valle (bass) and Ramón Angel (drums), "introducing" singer Silvia Perez [Cruz], who had a previous album or two, with a half-dozen more since. Songs composed by Evans, with lyrics mostly from others (only one by Perez). B+(**) [sp]

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard: Who's That Knocking? (1965 [2022], Smithsonian/Folkways): Bluegrass singers, first album, Dickens (1925-2011) is the real deal from West Virginia, father a banjo-playing Baptist minister, most of her six brothers coal miners. Gerrard (b. 1934) came out of Seattle, got into folk music at Antioch College, moved to DC and joined Dickens and future husband Mike Seeger in the Strange Creek Singers. Only knock I have against this is that all 15 songs, plus 11 more (including some of their best), have long been available on CD as Pioneering Women of Bluegrass, but if you gotta have vinyl, this should suit you well. B+(***) [sp]

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerard: Won't You Come and Sing for Me (1973 [2022], Smithsonian/Folkways): Their second Folkways album together, came out the same year as one on Rounder called Hazel & Alice which I've long regarded as their best. This opens very strong. A- [sp]

Guillermo Gregorio: Faktura (1999-2000 [2002], Hat Now): Clarinet player from Argentina, then based in Chicago, fairly minimal pieces, some trio with Carrie Biolo (vibes/marimba) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), other guest spots including Jim Baker (piano), Jeff Parker (guitar), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Jeb Bishop (trombone), and François Houle (clarinet), with two "concrete sound" interludes crediting engineer Lou Mallozzi. B+(**) [sp]

Kuumba-Toudie Heath: Kawaida (1970, O'Be): Artist per Discogs, but you know him as Albert "Tootie" Heath (1935-2024), who came out of Philadelphia with his brothers Percy (1923-2005) and Jimmy (1926-2000) to have major careers in jazz. He played on numerous classic albums from 1956 on, but this is the first listing him as leader -- although it was later reissued under the marquee names of Herbie Hancock and Don Cherry, with Heath relegated to a second tier of Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams, James Mtume, and Ed Blackwell, and most names were Africanized (Mtume was the only one that stuck, although you may recognize Mwandisi). Mtume (1946-2022, who was Jimmy Heath's son but grew up with a stepfather's name) wrote five pieces, the other one credited to "Kuumba." This was from a heady moment when Black Power, Pan-Africanism, and the Avant Garde joined forces to make revolution, or at least throw a heady block party. A- [yt]

Albert Heath: Kwanza (The First) (1973 [2015], Elemental Music): Drummer, a rare album as leader, originally on Muse in 1974, reissued as Oops! on Xanadu in Japan in 1993 with an extraneous piano solo track from 1981. With Jimmy Heath (tenor/soprano sax, flute), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Barron (pianos), Ted Dunbar (guitar), and Percy Heath (bass). B+(**) [sp]

Clarence "Frogman" Henry: Ain't Got No Home: The Best of Clarence "Frogman" Henry (1956-64 [1994], MCA): New Orleans pianist and singer, just passed (1937-2024), title song was a hit (3 r&b, 20 pop), earned him that frog-in-the-voice nickname but that wasn't his only trick (cf. "I'm in Love"), had two more minor hits in 1961 -- "You Always Hurt the One You Love" and "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" (better known from Bobby Charles, and later by Bobby Vinton) -- but settled into a comfortable groove, which is just fine for filling out an 18-song profile. A- [sp]

Radam Schwartz: Two Sides of the Organ Combo (2017 [2018], Arabesque): Organ player, albums (but not many) from 1988, divides this into a "smooth side" and a "groove side": the former with vibes (Bryan Carrott), tenor sax (Mike Lee), and drums (Andrew Atkinson); the latter with trumpet (Marcus Printup), alto sax (Anthony Ware), guitar (Charlie Sigler), and drums (Atkinson again). B+(**) [sp]

Sonic Youth: Confusion Is Sex (1983, Neutral): I paid them no mind until Christgau warmed up to them on Sister (1987), after badmouthing their debut EP (C), this initial album (C+), and more (rising to B+ for Evol, which I guess I did check out, registering a B- in my database -- my grades continued to trail his, until they matched on Daydream Nation, and I liked Dirty even more). But when I finally did give the debut a chance -- in a 2006 reissue that was more bonus tracks than not -- I was impressed enough for B+(***). And with the newly-reissued 1985 bootleg (an A-, per Christgau) sounding pretty good, I figured it's time to fill in the holes, at least in their studio discogrpahy. (I can't see myself going through their dozens of live archives, but Joe Yanosik did, so maybe I'll get to a couple more.) They now seem to have had a pretty good idea of how they wanted to sound from the beginning, but without much sense of how to form that sound into songs. The Kim Gordon vocals work a bit better, and they get a freebie with the Stooges cover. B+(**) [sp]

Sonic Youth: Kill Yr Idols (1983, Zensor, EP): Four-track EP (20:58), recorded live at the Plugg Club in NYC, released in Germany, later tacked onto DGC's CD reissue of Confusion Is Sex, where it's quite at home. B+(**) [sp]

Sonic Youth: Bad Moon Rising (1985 [1986], Blast First): Second studio album, originally an 8-track LP (37:09), CD a year later added 4 bonus tracks (15:01), mostly dead weight, but the album already had a lot of that. B [sp]

Sonic Youth: Anagrama/Improvisation Adjoutée/Tremens/Mieux: De Corrosion (1997, SYR, EP): First in a series of self-released experimental asides, four tracks, 22:35. B+(*) [r]

Sonic Youth: Slaapkamers Met Slagroom/Stil/Herinneringen (1997, SYR, EP): Three tracks, 28:30, title translates from Dutch as "bedrooms with whipped cream." B+(*) [r]

Sonic Youth: Live in Los Angeles 1998 (1998 [2019], Sonic Youth Archive): Cover says "Los Angeles, CA * Veterans Wadsworth Theatre * May 28, 1998," but we'll go with the more economical Bandcamp title. This is the one archive title that Christgau reviewed after Joe Yanosik compiled his consumer guide to the whole archive, so seems like the obvious place to dip into, "standing on the shoulders of giants," etc. Context is between A Thousand Leaves and NYC Ghosts and Flowers, both A- in my book, but not albums I have much recollection of -- I wonder if by this point their sound hadn't become so comfortable any iteration would suffice. Starts with "Anagrama," which remains a warm-up exercise, and meanders a fair bit, but packs multiple high points, which prove how terrific they could be. B+(***) [bc]

Sonic Youth: The Destroyed Room: B-Sides and Rarities (1994-2003 [2006], DGC): Opens with a 10:22 outtake from Sonic Nurse, closes with the "full version" (25:48) of of a track cut down to 19:35 on Washing Machine. Pretty trivial, but as someone who used to play "Sister Ray" to calm his nerves, I can't completely dismiss the latter. B+(*) [r]

Pauline Anna Strom: Trans-Millenia Consort (1982, Ether Ship): Electronic music composer (1946-2020), synthesizers and taped sounds, first album (of seven through 1988, was a "Reiki master, spiritual counselor, and healer," so her music was part and parcel of all that. This and two more albums were boxed up for 2023's Echoes, Spaces, Lines, which is on Bandcamp but Spotify only has the albums broken out, so we'll take them one-by-one. Constructs a universe of peace and beauty, with few distractions. B+(***) [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Plot Zero (1982-83 [1983], Trans-Millenia Consort): Further developing her sense of keyboard rhythm, also spacey flights, with one unseemly crescendo detracting from the soothing bliss. A- [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Spectre (1982-83 [1984], Trans-Millenia Consort): More of the same, seeming a bit less wondrous, as tends to happen. B+(**) [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Echoes, Spaces, Lines (1982-83 [2023], RVNG Intl, 4CD): This compiles her first three albums -- see above: Trans-Millenia Consort, Plot Zero, and Spectre -- and adds two cuts (6:30) at the end, the extra CD probably due to the reshuffling to also box the same music on 4-LP. I gave the second album a slight edge over the others, but it's possible that the variations add up to something more than the parts. (Also that the packaging helps, although I haven't seen it. Note that the individual album remasters are available separately, at least on Bandcamp.) B+(***) [sp/bc]

Julia Vari: Adoro (2015, Alternativa Representa): Mexican-American, not much on her but reportedly sings in eight languages and plays piano, even less on this album -- just the release date, a note that it's her second, and that there is a 4-song EP of the same name, but this has 10 songs, 45:09. Mostly Spanish (presumably, at least nothing I recognize), some excellent piano, a bit of nice sax. B+(**) [sp]

Julia Vari: Lumea: Canciones del Mundo en Jazz (2013, Alternativa Representa): This does seem to be her first album. Credits would be helpful, but I can't find any -- other than to note one standard in English, and at least one Jobim, but most must be in Spanish. More notes: "multilingual singer-songwriter and pianist"; "both albums soared to the top of the jazz-blues charts in Latin America"; "divides her time between Miami and Mexico City"; "BMI songwriter"; "performs as a Headliner on luxury cruise lines." B+(*) [sp]

Julia Vari: Bygone Nights (2018, Alternativa Representa, EP): Four songs, 12:37, title song an original in English, followed by two songs in Spanish I can trace back to others ("Achupé," "Te Veo"), and a Latin twist on old Yiddish, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen." B+(*) [sp]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 36534 [36534] rated (+0), 149 [149] unrated (+0).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:


Sources noted as follows:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [bc] available at
  • [r] available at (formerly Rhapsody)
  • [sp] available at
  • [yt] available at
  • [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

Grades are probably self-explanatory, aside from B+, which is subdivided 1-2-3 stars, because most records that come my way are pretty good, but they're not all that good.