Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Streamnotes (May 2017)

With 111 titles (90 new) my shortest Streamnotes column this year. Fewer A- records too (6 + 1 new, 3 old). Old music mostly came from trad jazz revivalists (mostly on the reclusive Stomp Off label).


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 based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on April 29. Past reviews and more information are available here (9625 records).


Recent Releases

Gonçalo Almeida/Rodrigo Amado/Marco Franco: The Attic (2015 [2017], NoBusiness): Tenor sax trio from Portugal, avant, all joint improv but bassist got his name listed first -- alphabetical, I presume, but he opens with an arco solo and makes himself heard throughout. Amado, of course, is terrific. He's had quite a run since 2010's Searching for Adam. A- [cd]

Amok Amor [Christian Lillinger/Petter Eldh/Wanja Slavin/Peter Evans]: We Know Not What We Do (2016 [2017], Intakt): In my unpacking, I missed the title (going with the group name), and misspelled bassist Eldh's name. Same quartet has a 2015 album named Amok Amor, so this is one of those groups. All four members contribute songs (3-2-1-3, although it was 3-4.5-2.5-0 last time; I filed under drummer Lillinger, but Discogs lists Eldh first on the previous album). Slavin plays sax, Evans trumpet -- strongest showing I've heard by him since he left MOPDTK. A- [cd]

Anemone [Peter Evans/John Butcher/Frederic Blondy/Clayton Thomas/Paul Lovens]: A Wing Dissolved in Light (2013 [2017], NoBusiness): Piccolo trumpet, tenor/soprano sax, piano-bass-drums, two improv split into two parts. Some dead spots, or maybe just ambient noise, but Butcher has strong moments, and when things pick up it's usually the French pianist at the center. B+(***) [cdr]

David Binney: The Time Verses (2016 [2017], Criss Cross): Alto saxophonist, twenty-some albums since 1990, leads a postbop quartet with Jacob Sacks (piano), Eivind Opsvik (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums) through fourteen of the leader's pieces. Most impressive when he cuts loose. One vocal by Jen Shyu, not a plus. B+(**)

Body Count: Bloodlust (2017, Century Media): Rapper Ice-T's metal band, sixth album since 1992 when "Cop Killer" became a national political scandal. I hadn't noticed any of their albums since the first, but word is that Trump got them energized again, and they sure are. A spoken intro cites Slayer for their precision, and that's sure here. Razor sharp barbs, brutal volume. I'm duly impressed without feeling like giving it a second spin. B+(***)

Bryan and the Aardvarks: Sounds From the Deep Field (2017, Biophilia): Packaging is called BiopholioTM, "a two-sided, 20-panel origami-inspired medium," but does not include a CD -- you get a download code instead, so while they eschew "the harmful effects of plastic in the environment" you'll have to get your own. I've never had a problem with Rubik's Cube, but folding this packaging back together tight enough to slip the little paper band around it is a tall order. I won't comment on the downloading process because the publicist was good enough to mail me a CDR (ok, after I complained). For grading purposes let's forget about the packaging and just deal with the music. Group is led by bassist Bryan Copeland, with Fabian Alamzan (piano), Chris Dingham (vibes), and Joe Nero (drums), plus Dayna Stephens plays EWI and Camila Meza sings some. Frothy fusion with a mind toward the wonders of deep space. B- [cdr]

Buffalo Jazz Octet: Live at Pausa Art House (2016 [2017], Cadence Jazz): Cover suggests title is PausaLive, but spine says otherwise. Local Buffalo musicians, only a couple familiar to me -- chiefly pianist Michael McNeill -- but they form a remarkable large free jazz ensemble, with standout solos on sax, trumpet, and drums, and brisk and energetic group improv that never breaks down. A- [cd]

Peter Campbell: Loving You: Celebrating Shirley Horn (2016 [2017], self-released): Vocalist, second album, voice eerily similar to the sepia tones of the famous line of female jazz singers from Sarah Vaughan to Cassandra Wilson, so he's right at home wading through Horn's ballads. Mark Kieswetter plays piano and directs, and Kevin Turcotte adds some tasteful trumpet. B+(**) [cd]

Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (2017, Carperk): Indie rock band from Cleveland, fourth album, good for a swirling storm of guitar-bass-drums, intermittently catchy, so I was surprised when they cranked up the intensity for the closer ("Realize My Fate"). B+(**)

Daddy Issues: Can We Still Hang (2015, Infinity Cat, EP): Three-piece "grunge pop" band from Nashville -- Jenna Moynihan (guitar/vocals), Jenna Mitchell (bass), Emily Maxwell (drums) -- with an eight-cut, 27:12 cassette. Sometimes they work through their issues with punk rage, sometimes just refrain them to death ("Creepy Girl," "Shitty World"). B+(***)

Daddy Issues: Deep Dream (2017, Infinity Cat): A bit longer -- 10 songs, shortest 3:10, longest 4:13 -- guitar deeper, more resonant, lyrics deeper too, more mature, the one about "boring girls" self-inclusive, though they rise above all that. A-

Whit Dickey/Mat Maneri/Matthew Shipp: Vessel in Orbit (2017, AUM Fidelity): Drums, viola, piano, listed alphabetically with all compositions jointly credited, but the viola is the most obvious lead, with the others adding impressive density. B+(***)

Diet Cig: Swear I'm Good at This (2017, Frenchkiss): Pop-punk duo from New Paltz, NY: Alex Luciano (guitar, vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums). She has a small voice and a couple songs just hang out waiting for a melody, but it usually comes. B+(***)

Duo Baars Henneman & Dave Burrell: Transdans (2016 [2017], Wig): Violinist Ig Henneman has been playing with saxophonist Ab Baars at least since 2006, often as a duo, sometimes with others. Their interaction strikes me as rather sparse and reticent here. Perhaps the pianist has them spooked, but he hardly imposes himself, mostly laying back and looking for cues. B [cd]

Andrew Durkin: Breath of Fire (2012-16 [2016], PJCE): Pianist, released four albums 2001-06 as Industrial Jazz Group, plus a book called Decomposition: A Music Manifesto (2014). Label acronym stands for Portland Jazz Composers' Ensemble, and they're showing more than two dozen albums (by nearly as many artists) on Bandcamp. Group here adds two saxes, guitar, bass, and drums. Postbop, fits nicely together without seeming obvious. B+(***)

Dominique Eade & Ran Blake: Town and Country (2015-16 [2017], Sunnyside): Voice and piano duo, something the pianist has done numerous times, including with Eade on the 2011 album Whirlpool. This seems slight, although familiar tunes like "Moon River" and "Moonlight in Vermont" resonate. B+(*) [cd]

Brian Eno: Reflection (2017, Warp): Solo electronics, although Peter Chilvers is also credited with "mutation software." One 54:00 piece, what you'd call quietly reflective, fully within his ambient range. B+(**)

Feist: Pleasure (2017, Interscope): Singer-songwriter from Nova Scotia. Title song is not just a good idea, it even delivers a bit. But it's also a reminder of what the rest of the album has too little of. B

Joe Fiedler: Like, Strange (2017, Multiphonics Music): Trombonist, has mostly recorded trios including a tribute to Albert Mangelsdorff but went for something funkier with his band Big Sackbutt, and continues that here: a quintet with Jeff Lederer's tenor/soprano sax for contrast, and terrific support from guitarist Pete McCann. B+(***)

Craig Fraedrich With Trilogy and Friends: All Through the Night (2017, Summit): Trumpet/flugelhorn player, Trilogy is presumably the Tony Nalker-led piano trio who backs him, and Friends, as far as I can tell, is singular: singer Christal Rheams, who does a nice job working through old standards, including six credited to Traditional (also two Fraedrich originals). B+(*) [cd]

Fred Frith/Hans Koch: You Are Here (2016 [2017], Intakt): Guitarist, also credited with "various small objects," in a duo where Koch plays "bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, spit." Interesting when they mesh or just clash, separated by awkwardly indeterminate slots. B+(**) [cd]

Gas: Narkopop (2017, Kompakt): Wolfgang Voigt, German electronica producer, co-founded Kompakt, has used many aliases over the years, releasing four albums as Gas 1996-2000, and now he's dusted that old alias off one more time. Probably because the ambient electronics are so thin and dispersed. B

Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice (2017, ESGN/Empire): Rapper from Gary, IN, originally Fredrick Tipton. Third album, along with a joint with Madlib and a pile of mixtapes. Cover a Rennaissance painting of the rapper resurrected and ascending to heaven, an idea that may have occurred to him after being acquitted of rape charges in Austria. But the short (31:49) album is more quotidian, dense and impenetrable, though the closer ("Homesick") does hint at the cover. B+(**)

David Gilmore: Transitions (2016 [2017], Criss Cross): Guitarist, not to be confused with the Pink Floyd guy (Gilmour) despite Google's insistence. Fifth album since 2000, had a lot to do with Steve Coleman's funk-fusion in the 1990s. Quartet with Mark Shim (tenor sax), Victor Gould (piano), Carlo DeRosa (bass), E.J. Strickland (drums), plus a couple guest spots. Various postbop looks, although the one funk-fusion throwback ("Kid Logic") is the most engaging. B+(*)

Girlpool: Powerplant (2017, Anti-): Two girl guitar-bass group based in Los Angeles (Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad) plus a session drummer, variously described as folk punk and dream pop. They play twelve songs in 28:30 without ever seeming rushed. B

GoldLink: At What Cost (2017, Squaaash Club/RCA): Rapper D'Anthony Carlos, from DC, grew up on go-go, which explains why this has more than the usual funk quotient. First album after two mixtapes. Starts a bit tentative but grows on you, then slips up a bit. B+(***)

Grandaddy: Last Place (2017, 30th Century/Columbia): Alt/indie band from Modesto, California, principally Jason Lytle; emerged in the late 1990s, hung it up in 2006, regrouped in 2012 with this their/his first post-hiatus album. Alt/indie, but dreamier than most "dream pop." B+(**)

Pasquale Grasso/Renaud Penant/Ari Roland: In the Mood for a Classic (2014 [2017], ITI Music): Guitar-drums-bass, Grasso born in Italy, moved to New York in 2012, playing in bop bands for Chris Byars and Roland. Classics as advertised, with the bassist rescuing "These Foolish Things." B+(**) [cd]

Chris Greene Quartet: Boundary Issues (2016 [2017], Single Malt): Saxophonist from Illinois, based in Chicago, favors tenor over soprano (7 tracks to 2), quartet includes keyboards, bass, and drums -- some electric, some not. Cover suggests a mad rush, but album itself is fairly even tempered. B [cd]

Jari Haapalainen Trio: Fusion Madness (2017, Moserobie): Swedish drummer, parents from Finland, now based in Berlin. Was lead guitarist for the Bear Quartet (15 albums), also a member of "pop combo" Heikki. Second Trio album, cover just says JH3, with bass guitar (Daniel Bingert) and sax (Per Texas Johansson) that recalls r&b honkers more than prog fusion. Twelve cuts, but short (27:11). B+(**) [cd]

Larry Ham/Woody Witt: Presence (2016 [2017], Blujazz): Piano and tenor sax, in a quartet with bass and drums. Neither has much discography, Ham mostly recording in retro-swing groups, this one more postbop. B+(*) [cd]

Rebecca Hennessy's Fog Brass Band: Two Calls (2017, self-released): Trumpet player from Canada, the extra brass coming from trombone and tuba but none of the horns make a huge impression (though the tuba keeps things moving). Sextet also includes piano, guitar, and drums. B+(*) [cd]

Mats Holmquist: Big Band Minimalism (2015 [2017], Summit): Swedish big band leader, discography goes back to 1986 including tributes to Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter. This time out he borrows the Latvian Radio Big Band and adds guest stars Dick Oatts (alto sax) and Randy Brecker (trumpet). No idea what a successful implementation of his concept might sound like, but this doesn't sound like much of anything coherent. C+ [cd]

Tristan Honsinger/Antonio Borghini/Tobias Delius/Axel Dörner: Hook, Line and Sinker (2016 [2017], De Platenbakakkerij, DVD): Cello, bass, tenor sax/clarinet, trumpet, with Honsinger also singing something vaguely folkish in a sea of free jazz. Recorded live at Spinhuis Amsterdam, pressed up as a DVD -- just musicians at work, the camera wandering, only rarely capturing the full stage, not that I watched much of it. B+(*) [dvd]

Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator (2017, ATO): Alyndra Segarra, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, a folkie attracted to New Orleans, although her label deal affords her a lusher band -- hard to hear this as Americana, though of course it's as wholeheartedly American as can be. B+(*)

Jason Kao Hwang: Sing House (2015 [2017], Euonymous): Violinist, born in Waukegan, IL but developed an interest in Chinese classical music, and has played that off against avant jazz. Quintet, with Steve Swell (trombone), Chris Forbes (piano), Ken Filiano (bass), and Andrew Drury (drums), a group so stellar he has trouble getting out in front -- the trombonist is especially impressive. B+(***) [cd]

Ibibio Sound Machine: Uyai (2017, Merge): Leader Eno Williams, born in London but raised in Lagos, sings in Ibibio (from southeast Nigeria) while drawing on musican sources from all over the map (as Pitchfork put it: "Nigerian highlife as much as new wave, South African jazz as much as techno, Cameroonian makossa as much as disco"). B+(**)

José James: Love in a Time of Madness (2017, Blue Note): Jazz singer, from Minneapolis, based in New York, seven albums since 2007. Has split credits on most songs, with synth player/programmer Antario Holmes his main partner. Soft and slinky, more appealing than usual. B+(*)

B.J. Jansen: Common Ground (2016 [2017], Ronin Jazz): Baritone saxophonist, born in Cincinnati, based in New York, has a couple previous records. A big mainstream sound, powered by a mostly famous sextet: Duane Eubanks (trumpet), Delfeayo Marsalis (trombone), Zaccai Curtis (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass), Ralph Peterson (drums). B+(*) [cd]

Jentsch Group Quartet: Fractured Pop (2009 [2017], Fleur de Son): Guitarist Chris Jentsch, based in Brooklyn, first two releases were styled as suites, and this fits that mold. Two programs, separated by a dead spot with muffled cricket sounds. Group includes Matt Renzi (tenor sax, clarinet, alto flute), bass and drums. Package includes a DVD. B+(*) [cd]

Jlin: Black Origami (2017, Planet Mu): Jerrilynn Patton, from Gary, IN, second album (plus two EPs), associated with Chicago footwork, probably all electronics (aside from scattered voices), but especially strong on percussion, dense and varied, with a quasi-industrial air. B+(**)

Keith Karns Big Band: An Eye on the Future (2015 [2017], Summit): Trumpet player, website has a section called "Woody Shaw Research," big band recorded in Dallas. Karns wrote five (of seven) pieces, covering "Like Someone in Love" and "Without a Song." Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry gets a featuring credit. C+ [cd]

Kehlani: SweetSexySavage (2017, Atlantic): Surname Parrish, from Oakland, 21 when this came out, first album after a couple mixtapes but her career started at age 14 in group PopLyfe -- they had a run on America's Got Talent, but after they broke up she couldn't work and spent some time homeless. This one's got some good songs, some bounce and sass, some oversinging. B+(*)

Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet (2017, Verve): Standards singer, also plays piano, became a big star in the 1990s and still has remarkable phrasing. She recorded this with three small and mostly interchangeable guitar-bass-drums groups (Marc Ribot-Tony Garnier-Kariem Riggins the most interesting on paper but I can't say I noticed much difference, even from Anthony Wilson-John Clayton-Jeff Hamilton). Plus hints of strings and a bit of vibes. All very agreeable, typically remarkable. B+(***)

Oliver Lake Featuring Flux Quartet: Right Up On (2016 [2017], Passin' Thru): The leader is credited with alto sax, although in two plays I didn't notice any -- and he's not normally one to hide in the shadows. Rather, you get an avant string quartet playing rather abstractly modernist compositions, by Lake, some dating back to 1998. B [cd]

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: Onward (2017, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, at least one previous album. Quartet with piano (Steve Feifke), bass and drums, plus guest trumpet (Randy Brecker) on two cuts. Five originals, four covers ("Isn't She Lovely," "Giant Steps," "The Nearness of You," "All of You"). Impressive sax runs, conventional rhythm, makes for a solid mainstream album. B+(**) [cd]

Les Amazones d'Afrique: République Amazone (2017, RealWorld): New group, all women, mostly names I recognize from solo careers -- Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Nneka, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou &) -- none from Les Amazones de Guinée, last heard from on their brilliant 2008 Wamato. This is more limited to beats and chants, but they grow on you. A-

Gregory Lewis: Organ Monk: The Breathe Suite (2017, self-released): Organ player, released Organ Monk in 2010 followed by a couple more sets of Monk tunes, but here he's moved into something else -- song titles like "Chronicles of Michael Brown," "Trayvon," and "Eric Garner" will give you an idea. Mostly quintet with trumpet (Riley Mullins), tenor sax (Reggie Woods), and relative stars on guitar (Marc Ribot) and drums (Nasheet Waits). Fast, furious, a bit heavy. B+(*) [cd]

Jesse Lewis/Ike Sturm: Endless Field (2017, Biophilia): Guitar and bass, as a duo they fashion intricate, pleasant pastorales -- the sort of thing "new age" promised but rarely delivered. However, they also entertain guests (Donny McCaslin, Ingrid Jensen, Fabian Almazan, Chris Dingman, Nadje Noordhuis "& More"), some a plus, some not. [PS: Packaging comes with download code, probably no CD -- mine came with CDR.] B [cdr]

Ed Maina: In the Company of Brothers (2017, self-released): Saxophonist, plays everything from soprano to baritone plus piccolo to alto flute, clarinet, and EWI. From Miami, likes Latin percussion and smooth guitar. B [cd]

Mas Que Nada: Sea Journey (2017, Blujazz): Brazilian and Afro-Cuban jazz group directed by Tom Knific at Western Michigan, eight pieces plus two singers, mostly doing standard fare -- "If I Fell in Love" (John Lennon) the furthest reach. B [cd]

Bob Merrill: Tell Me Your Troubles: Songs by Joe Bushkin, Volume 1 (2017, Accurate): Trumpet player-vocalist, fourth album, all songs by pianist Bushkin (1916-2004), bracketed by stories about Bushkin from Frank Sinatra and Red Buttons, plus a snippet of Bushkin's own piano, all very nicely done -- mostly smooth crooning, but outliers include "Hot Time in the Town of Berlin," "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate," and "Man Here Plays Fine Piano." B+(***) [cd]

Migos: Culture (2017, QC/YRN/300): Atlanta hip-hop crew, three rappers (Quavo, Takeoff, Offset) related and raised by the same mother. Second album, a dozen mix tapes. The polyrhythmic voices can turn catchy, but no guarantee of that. B+(***)

Jason Miles: Kind of New 2: Blue Is Paris (2017, Lightyear): Keyboard player, claims credits on 130 albums, tends toward pop jazz grooves but occasionally throws something more, as when he brought Ingrid Jensen in for his previous Kind of New album. This isn't a repeat, although he's thrown four trumpet players into the void: Russell Gunn, Theo Croker, Patches Stewart, and Jukka Eskola. Says this was "written in reaction to the 2015 Paris terror attacks." The groove pieces are actually rather catchy, and the title vocal (reprised at the end) works just well enough. B+(*) [cdr]

Yoko Miwa Trio: Pathways (2016 [2017], Ocean Blue Tear Music): Pianist, born in Kobe, Japan, studied at Berklee, has six albums. This a trio with Will Slater on bass and Scott Goulding on drums. Four originals, covers of Marc Johnson (2), Joni Mitchell, and "Dear Prudence." Runs 72 minutes but is delightful all the way through. A- [cd]

Michael Morreale: Love and Influence (2013-16 [2017], Blujazz, 2CD): Trumpet player, also some flugelhorn and piano, based in New York. I don't know of any previous albums, but hype sheet says he's been active thirty-some years, and I've seen a number of side credits, especially with Joe Jackson. Mainstream, with Jon Gordon on alto sax, lots of piano. First disc is brighter and sharper; second includes a vocal. B+(*) [cd]

Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked at Me (2017, PW Elverum & Sun): Singer-songwriter Phil Elverum, formerly of the Microphones, whose last album (2003) was titled Mount Eerie. As I write this, the first- (Metacritic) or second-best (AOTY) reviewed album of 2017, a remarkable consensus for a guy with almost no pulse much less dynamism. Still, a not unpleasant waste of time. B+(*)

Mumpbeak: Tooth (2017, Rare Noise): Roy Powell, based in Oslo, plays piano but credited here with "Horner clavinet, Moog Little Phatty, Hammond organ, tubular bells"; backed by Lorenzo Felicati on bass and Torstein Lofthus on drums, so basically midway between an organ trio and keyboard fusion. B [cdr]

Willie Nelson: God's Problem Child (2017, Legacy): Working title: "Still Not Dead" -- one of seven new songs by Nelson and producer Buddy Cannon, but they wound up going with the title song from Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, with what sounds like Johnson doing the bulk of the singing (the bulky parts, anyway). Seems like a perfectly respectable, perfectly average album, which given recent fads may indeed prove he's not dead yet. B+(**)

Noertker's Moxie: Druidh Penumbrae (2011-15 [2016], Edgetone): Bassist Bill Noertker's main group (he also has one called the Melancholics), pieced together from live recordings over the band's run. Annelise Zamula (alto/tenor sax, flute) is the only other constant, with a series of three drummers, two pianists (4/11 cuts), and more horns (ranging from cornet to oboe). B+(*) [cd]

Linda May Han Oh: Walk Against Wind (2016 [2017], Biophilia): Bassist, born in Malaysia, raised in Australia, previously recorded three good albums as Linda Oh plus side credits with Dave Douglas and others. Group features Ben Wendel on sax, plus Matthew Stevens on guitar and Justin Brown on drums, joined by Fabian Almazan (piano on 3 cuts) and Minji Park (janggu & kkwaenggwari on 1). Another solid record, especially when I focus on the bassist. New label, has come up with a packaging gimmick that unfolds into a large many-faceted surface, roughly the equivalent of a 16-page booklet turned into crumpled chaos -- really awful. But the music: [PS: $20 product just comes with empty packaging and a download code.] B+(***) [cdr]

Paramore: After Laughter (2017, Fueled by Ramen): Pop/rock band originally from Tennessee, fifth studio album, only constant member since 2004 is singer-keyboardist Hayley Williams. Starts strong, an interesting voice over the pop hooks, somewhat less so the slow one. B+(***)

William Parker & Stefano Scondanibbio Duo: Bass Duo (2008 [2017], Centering): Two bassists, one famous, the other not (at least not that I'm aware of; he died at 55 in 2012), performing improv duets at a jazz festival in Udine, Italy. Probably not your cup of tea, but I'm fascinated, and don't even mind it for background ambience. B+(**)

Sarah Partridge: Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian (2016 [2017], Origin): Singer from New Jersey, favors standards, half-dozen albums, devoted this one to the songs of Janis Ian, a folkish singer-songwriter who first emerged in 1967 (and who joins for one song here). Somewhat (but not very) surprised I don't have any Ian albums graded in my database, so no surprise that the songs here don't stick with me either. Some nice Scott Robinson saxophone. B [cd]

Simona Premazzi: Outspoken (2016 [2017], self-released): Pianist, originally from Italy, moved to New York in 2004. First album, quartet with Dayna Stephens (tenor/soprano sax), Joe Martin (bass), and Nasheet Waits (drums), plus guest shots (one track each) by vocalist Sara Serpa and trumpeter/producer Jeremy Pelt. B+(*) [cd]

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: So It Is (2017, Legacy): Band dates back to 1963, with bassist/tuba player Ben Jaffe taking over from his father in 1987, and evidently another turn following a tour of Cuba in 2015. For one thing, this is all original material, related to New Orleans trad (and for that matter Afro-Cuban) only in that it's upbeat, celebratory social music. And being geared for hot jazz, they can do that. B+(**)

Chuck Prophet: Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins (2017, Yep Roc): Retro rocker from California, was in the pretty good late-1980s group Green on Red, fourteenth album under his own name -- I liked the only one I've heard, The Hurting Business (2000). Title song is slight, and not as amusing as "Jesus Was a Social Drinker" or "If I Was Connie Britton." On the other hand, "Alex Nieto" does matter, and they crank the guitars up to drive the point home. B+(*)

Eve Risser/Benjamin Duboc/Edward Perraud: En Corps: Generation (2016 [2017], Dark Tree): French piano trio, second album as they carry on their debut title, recorded live in Austria. Two pieces ("Des Corps" and "Des Âmes"), slow to develop from repeated rhythmic patterns, impressive when they do. B+(**) [cd]

Riverside [Dave Douglas/Chet Doxas/Steve Swallow/Jim Doxas]: The New National Anthem (2015 [2017], Greenleaf Music): Pianoless quartet, the brothers playing clarinet/sax and drums, Swallow electric bass, the leader trumpet. The title and two other tunes come from Carla Bley -- the album's most striking pieces -- plus one each by Swallow and Chet Doxas, the title tune bracketed by the leader's "Americano." Full of remarkable passages, but after many plays I'm still finding it a bit too solemn. B+(***) [cd]

Tom Rizzo: Day and Night (2015 [2017], Origin): Guitarist, second album although his side credits go back to 1976. Three originals, covers mostly from jazz sources ranging from Ornette Coleman to Vincent Herring, so not so surprising I don't start recognizing them until he gets to "Living for the City" and "Moon River." With piano-bass-drums plus six horns I scarcely noticed. B [cd]

Jamie Saft/Steve Swallow/Bobby Previte With Iggy Pop: Loneliness Road (2017, Rare Noise): Saft plays piano here, turning this into a classy little cocktail trio, though nothing really familiar as the tunes are all originals. The surprise is his guest crooner, instantly recognizable as Iggy Pop, who pops up 4, then 9, then 12 songs in, personifying the title. B+(**) [cdr]

Shakira: El Dorado (2017, Sony Latin Music): Superstar from Colombia, eleventh album, mostly (but not all) in Spanish, mostly has a good pop beat with a little extra. B+(***)

Elliott Sharp With Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot: Err Guitar (2016 [2017], Intakt): Three guitarists, nothing else, more stutter than flow or harmony, which I take to be Sharp's dominance (he had a hand in 10/12 songs, 5 co-credits with Halvorson, 2 with Ribot, 1 with both). B+(**) [cd]

Jared Sims: Change of Address (2017, Ropeadope): Baritone saxophonist, leads a quintet balanced on Nina Ott's organ, with guitar, bass, and drums -- a funky soul jazz update with distinguished by the deep breathing of the big horn. B+(***) [cd]

Günter Baby Sommer: Le Piccole Cose: Live at Theater Gütersloh (2016 [2017], Intuition): Swiss avant drummer, past 70, leads a pianoless quartet, names likely to be known in his environs -- Gianluigi Trovesi (alto sax/alto clarinet), Manfred Schoof (trumpet/flugelhorn), Antonio Borghini (bass), with all but the bassist contributing pieces. Most work up an interesting sound. Concludes with an 11:06 interview, in Deutsch. B+(*) [cd]

Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer (2017, Merky): English rapper, genre's called grime, first album after singles, an EP, and a mixtape. B+(*)

Sult/Lasse Marhaug: Harpoon (2017, Conrad Sound/Pica Disk): Sult is a Norwegian trio -- Håvard Skaset (guitar), Jacob Felix Heule (percussion), Guro Skumsnes Moe (contrabass) -- with three previous albums. They built the source for this jazz-noise fusion, and Marhaug (probably best known in these parts for his work with Ken Vandermark) "constructed and produced" the result -- i.e., made it somewhat noisier. B+(*) [cdr]

Jeannie Tanner: Words & Music (2017, Tanner Time, 2CD): From Chicago, plays trumpet, wrote nineteen songs here in the "Great American Songbook" vein, had pianist Dan Murphy arrange horns and strings, and brought in "twelve of Chicago's finest vocalists" to sing. The women outnumber the men, and are pretty interchangeable so the album has a consistent flow. No instant classics, but time will tell. B+(**) [cd]

Joris Teepe & Don Braden: Conversations (2009-16 [2017], Creative Perspective Music): Bass and tenor sax/flute, the earliest tracks duos, most with drums (Gene Jackson or Matt Wilson). One original each, one from Wilson, the rest well-worn standards -- the duo on "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" an especially good match. B+(**) [cd]

Klaus Treuheit/Lou Grassi: Port of Call (2016 [2017], NoBusiness): Piano and drums, released as limited edition vinyl. The pianist, from Germany, has several previous albums, going back at least to 1986. The drummer, American, has led several "Po" bands and appeared on dozens more. Pretty sharp all around. B+(***) [cdr]

Trichotomy: Known-Unknown (2016 [2017], Challenge): Piano trio, from Australia, fourth album, principally Sean Foran (piano) and John Parker (drums) plus new bassist Samuel Vincent, all also credited with electronics, helping their bounce and shuffle. B+(***) [cd]

Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Five (2016 [2017], OA2): Conventionally-sized big band led by trumpet and baritone sax, respectively -- until now the collective has always been smaller, down to a quintet last time. Writing duties split between the leaders, Craig Marshall charged with conducting. Recorded in equally inconvenient Dallas, the least impressive of their five convocations, not that there are no sweet spots. B [cd]

Vagabon: Infinite Worlds (2017, Father/Daughter): Laetitia Tamko, born in Youundé, Cameroon, moved to New York at 13, first (short: 8 songs, 28:18) album after an EP. B+(*)

Cuong Vu 4-Tet: Ballet (The Music of Michael Gibbs) (2017, Rare Noise): Trumpet player, born in Saigon during the war, now based in New York, with a dozen albums since 1996. No idea of his relationship to Gibbs, who toiled in obscurity since 1970 but came up with two good 2015 albums on Cuneiform with the NDR Bigband. One of those Gibbs albums was Play a Bill Frisell Set List, and the guitarist is a major addition here -- along with Luke Bergman on bass and Ted Poor on drums. B+(***) [cdr]

Torben Waldorff: Holiday on Fire (2016 [2017], ArtistShare): Danish guitarist, has a handful of records since 1999. Tends to weave his guitar into the mesh, but big help here from Ingrid Jensen on trumpet and Maggi Olin on keyboards. B+(**) [cd]

Bobby Watson: Made in America (2017, Smoke Sessions): Alto saxophonist, one of the greats although he hasn't recorded much lately. Quartet with Stephen Scott (piano), Curtis Lundy (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums). Nine pieces dedicated to more/less obscure black American cultural figures. B+(**)

Ronny Whyte: Shades of Whyte (2016 [2017], Audiophile): Classic crooner stylist, also plays piano, which must be cost-effective, although he uses a bassist here, alternates two drummers, and benefits from Lou Caputo's tenor sax (if not his flute). B [cd]

Jürg Wickihalder/Barry Guy/Lucas Niggli: Beyond (2016 [2017], Intakt): Sax-bass-drums trio, the leader playing soprano, alto and tenor, and writing 7 (of 9) pieces (bassist Guy one, plus one by Michael Griener). B+(***) [cd]

Alex Wintz: Life Cycle (2016 [2017], Culture Shock Music): Guitarist, born in California, raised in New Jersey, studied at Berklee and Juilliard, first album, adds tenor sax (Lucas Pino) on 4/9 cuts, piano on 4 (3 both), nice postbop vibe, and the sax helps. B+(**) [cd]

Zeal & Ardor: Devil Is Fine (2016 [2017], MKVA): Swiss-born New Yorker Manuel Gagneux fuses black field hollers (or chain gang chants) with black metal (and a little xylophone) -- a fairly amusing rather than overbearing combination. Short, but long enough: 9 tracks, 25:00. B+(***)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Joseph Bowie/Oliver Lake: Live at 'A SPACE' 1976 (1976 [2017], Delmark/Sackville): Trombonist, younger brother of Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie, doesn't have much under his own name -- only record I see was Trombone Riffs for DJ's (1993), although he made it to the headline a half dozen times. Duet with the alto saxophonist, who also plays some flute. B+(**) [cd]

Itaru Oki/Nobuyoshi Ino/Choi Sun Bae: Kami Fusen (1996 [2017], NoBusiness): Two trumpets (Oki also plays bamboo flute), bracketing bassist Ino. Contrast interesting, but doesn't generate much momentum. B+(**) [cd]

Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 (1978-92 [2017], Music From Memory): An exotic travelogue, probably more interesting if you have a booklet to follow, but as background it keeps changing without finding its center. B+(*)

Paul Rutherford/Sabu Toyozumi: The Conscience (1999 [2017], NoBusiness): Trombone and drums duo. Rutherford (1940-2007) was one of the most important avant-trombonists in Europe, a pioneer in the rare art of solo trombone. This is as fine a showcase for him as I've heard, but it's the drummer -- previously unknown to me -- who put this archive tape over the top. A- [cd]

Old Music

Gregg Allman: One More Try: An Anthology (1973-88 [1997], Capricorn/Chronicles, 2CD): A founding father of Southern Rock, formed the Allman Brothers Band in 1969 with brother Duane, who died in a 1971 motorcycle crash. The band carried on, released their biggest album in 1973, and broke up and regrouped several times. Meanwhile, from 1973 Gregg had a lackluster solo career, releasing four studio albums 1973-88, one in 1997, another in in 2011, plus live albums in 1974 and 2015, before dying on May 29. A fan recommended this compilation, combining 6 album cuts and 28 previously unreleased demos, live shots, and so forth, and indeed it does a nice job of showcasing the man's voice and keyboards, a charming remembrance. It does, however, get a bit worn when he veers toward gospel. B+(**) [dl]

Ted Des Plantes' Washboard Wizards: Midnight Stomp (1991, Stomp Off): Trad jazz band from Ohio, led by the pianist. Info remarkably scarce, but First album, I think, with: Leon Oakley (cornet), Jim Snyder (trombone), Larry Wright (clarinet, alto/tenor sax, occarina), John Otto (clarinet, alto sax), Frank Powers (clarinet, alto sax), Mike Bezin (tuba), Jack Meilhan (banjo), Hal Smith (washboard, drums), with vocals by Des Plantes and Otto. B+(***)

Ted Des Plantes' Washboard Wizards: Shim-Sham-Shimmy Dance (1997 [1998], Stomp Off): Third album on Stomp Off (plus a couple more elsewhere); Oakley, Otto, Wright, and Smith remain essential, plus a new tuba player and John Gill takes over the banjo and gives them another vocalist (though I have no idea who sings what). Still pulling obscurities out of the '20s, but more assured, less frantic. A-

John Gill's San Francisco Jazz Band: Turk Murphy Style (1989 [1992], GHB): Napster's cover doesn't have this title, but other images do, as do most of the web pages matching this songlist. Moreover, the trombonist on the cover looks like Murphy (1915-1987). Banjoist Gill, pictured on the back cover, started in Murphy's trad jazz band, which carried on the Dixieland flame from Lu Watters. The band: Bob Schulz (cornet), Lynn Zimmer (clarinet, soprano sax), Charlie Bornemann (trombone), Pete Clute (piano), Bill Carroll (tuba), with Gill on banjo and vocals, plus Pat Yankee on two Bessie Smith songs. A-

John Gill's Novelty Orchestra of New Orleans: "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile" (1991, Stomp Off): Can't find any info on this other than the front cover art. Presumably the musicians were similar to those listed below, except that this doesn't show up in Dan Levinson's discography. The title song dates back to a 1931 cartoon short, recorded by Ambrose and His Orchestra, and that's the sort of mirth they're aiming for. B+(***)

John Gill's Novelty Orchestra of New Orleans: Headin' for Better Times (1992 [1993], Stomp Off): All I know about this is from Gerard Bielderman's Swinging Americans discography posted by Dan Levinson (tenor sax and clarinet). The lineup: Charles Fardella (trumpet), David Sager (trombone), Tom Fischer (clarinet, soprano/alto sax), Levinson, Debbie Markow/Elliot Markow (violin), Tom Roberts (piano), Gill (banjo), Tom Saunders (tuba), Hal Smith (drums), with vocals (12/15 songs they list, album has 22) by Sager, Gill, Saunders, and Chris Tyle. B+(***)

John Gill's Dixie Serenaders: "Listen to That Dixie Band!!" (1997 [1998], Stomp Off): Banjo player, a major figure in San Francisco's trad jazz scene starting with bands led by Turk Murphy and Duke Heitger, and on to the Bay City Stompers and his main outfit since 2001, Yerba Buena Stompers, but there is little on him online, and much confusion with London-born/Australian ragtime pianist John Gill (1954-2011). This was the last of his three Dixie Serenaders albums, "featuring" blues singer Lavay Smith (on less than half of the tracks), with Heitger on trumpet, Chris Tyle on cornet, Frank Powers on clarinet, Vince Giordano on tuba, Steve Pistorius on piano -- a fine Dixieland band that doesn't quite take off. B+(**)

John Gill's Jazz Kings: "I Must Have It!" (2004, Stomp Off): Only info I can find is the cover scan, which shows a stage empty except for "Joe Oliver's cornet" and "Johnny St. Cyr's banjo." Back cover offers the date and musician list -- Jon-Erik Kellso (cornet), Orange Kellin (clarinet), Brad Shigeta (trombone), Hank Ross (piano), John Gill (banjo, vocals), and Joe Hanchrow (tuba) -- plus a list of 22 songs (no credits, but "total time: 79:26"). Odd song out is "That's All Right," but where else can you hear it with a tuba break? B+(***)

John Gill: Learn to Croon: John Gill & His Sentimental Serenaders Remember Bing Crosby (2009 [2011], Stomp Off): Very little info online, but I've seen a hint that the old-fashioned crooner here is Gill. The band itself is thick with strings -- couldn't be more retro if Gill had discovered ancient outtakes. Sentimental is an understatement, but oddly enough the soppier it gets, the more I like it ("Pennies From Heaven," "Blue Hawaii"). B+(**)

Duke Heitger and His Swing Band: Rhythm Is Our Business (1998-99 [2000], Fantasy): Trad jazz trumpet player, also sings, from Ohio, moved to New Orleans, eight albums as leader plus side credits (the only one Google seems to care about is with the Squirrel Nut Zippers). This is a mid-sized swing outfit -- trombone, two saxes (with some clarinet), piano, guitar-bass-drums (no banjo-tuba), and Rebecca Kilgore splitting vocals with Heitger. Good showcase for the leader's trumpet, and Chris Tyle's drums really help. A-

Duke Heitger's Big Four: Prince of Wails (2001, Stomp Off): Quartet is compact by trad jazz standards, but stellar: Evan Christopher (clarinet/alto sax), John Gill (banjo), Tom Saunders (tuba/string bass). Gill and Saunders generate plenty of rhythm, and Christopher has an especially strong showing. B+(***)

Duke Heitger With Ken Mathieson's Classic Jazz Band: Celebrating Satchmo (2010, Lake): The trumpeter pledged allegiance to Louis Armstrong when he moved to New Orleans, and drummer Mathieson's Scottish trad jazz band has spent lifetimes learning this music. Still doesn't come close enough to leave you wanting the originals, nor so deficient you wonder why they bother -- actually, rather delightful. B+(**)

Independence Hall Jazz Band: Louis: The Oliver Years (2002, Stomp Off): Yet another New Orleans-based repertory band, best known names trumpet players Jon-Erik Kellso and Duke Heitger. Second album, tunes Armstrong played with King Oliver, done picture-perfect if not all that exceptionally. B+(**)

Sergey Kuryokhin: The Ways of Freedom (1981 [2001], Leo Golden Years of New Jazz): Russian pianist (1954-1996), his first album (of 40+ over 15 years), evidently unauthorized, the reissue adding three cuts. Solo, has no real sense of swing or bop but gets a rhythm going that turns fascinating. Only thing I've heard -- few titles are available, with only the second disc of his 4-CD posthumous Divine Madness online. B+(***)

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker: Live at Dunois (2009, Leo): Avant bass duets, both masters with plenty of tricks up their sleeves, but they open politely, teasing their instruments to sing. Of course, later on Léandre does literally sing -- or something approximate. B+(**)

Keith Nichols & the Cotton Club Orchestra: Harlem's Arabian Nights (1996 [1997], Stomp Off): British pianist, started as a ragtime specialist but expanded to stride and swing. Smallish big band akin to Henderson and early Ellington: three reeds, two each trumpets/trombones, the guitar-bass-drums players doubling on banjo-tuba-washboard. Nichols sings some, as does Janice Day. B+(***)

Chris Tyle's New Orleans Rover Boys: A Tribute to Benny Strickler (1991, Stomp Off): Grew up in Portland where his father, Axel Tyle, was drummer in the Castle Jazz Band. He formed a swing band called Wholly Cats, played some with Turk Murphy, and moved to New Orleans in 1989. His main instrument is cornet and he sings some, but elsewhere I've seen him credited with drums. Strickler played trumpet in the wartime Yerba Buena Jazz Band, but he also shows up in Bob Wills' discography, and died quite young. Clarinet player Bob Helm, whose name is singled out on the cover, was close to Strickler. This group includes Orange Kellin (clarinet), David Sager (trombone), Steve Pistorius (piano), John Gill (banjo/2 vocals), Bill Carroll (tuba), and Hal Smith (drums, 1 vocal). One highlight is what the horns add to the Wills tune ("It Makes No Difference Now"), but there are many more in a typically (for the label) long program. B+(***)

Additional Consumer News:

Previous grades on artists in the old music section.

  • Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (2011, Rounder): B+(*)
  • Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon, GA (2014 [2015], Rounder, 2CD): B+(***)
  • Ted Des Plantes: Ohio River Blues (1994, Stomp Off): B+(*)
  • Ted Des Plantes: Thumpin' and Bumpin' (2006 [2007], Stomp Off): A-
  • John Gill's Dixie Serenaders: Looking for a Little Bluebird (1994 [1996], Stomp Off): A-
  • John Gill's Dixie Serenaders: Take Me to the Midnight Cakewalk Ball (1995 [1998], Stomp Off): A-
  • Duke Heitger/Bernd Lhotzky: Doin' the Voom Voom (2008 [2009], Arbors): B+(*)
  • Joëlle Léandre: 8 other albums
  • Keith Nichols: I Like to Do Things for You (1991 [1992], Stomp Off): B+
  • Keith Nichols: Henderson Stomp (1993, Stomp Off): A-
  • William Parker: 43 other albums
  • Chris Tyle's Silver Leaf Jazz Band: Sugar Blues: A Tribute to Joseph "King" Oliver (1995, Stomp Off): A-
  • Chris Tyle's Silver Leaf Jazz Band: New Orleans Wiggle (1999, GHB): A-

Notes

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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [dvd] based on physical dvd (rated more for music than video)
  • [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