Monday, August 28, 2017


Music Week

Music: Current count 28590 [28563] rated (+27), 374 [378] unrated (-4).

August weekly rating totals: 18, 30, 25, 27, for a total of 100, down a bit given that typical months top 120. Streamnotes draft file currently has 111 reviews, so maybe the rated counts have missed a few things. I'll post Streamnotes by the end of the month, Thursday at latest. Maybe I'll find something more by then, but I currently have 14 new A- records. That's actually a bit above average -- e.g., see my 2016 list, which shows 142 new A/A- records last year (average month just under 12). My 2017 list currently shows 88 A- (no A) records so far, so I'm averaging 11/month. The split is currently 49 jazz, 39 non-jazz. In recent years, as far back as I've noticed, jazz runs up a big edge early then non-jazz catches up when I start looking at EOY lists. Last year's split wound up 74 jazz, 67 non-jazz.


Guitarist John Abercrombie died last week. You can find my grade list here. As I recall, I had Timeless on LP back shortly after it appeared. I was rather underwhelmed at the time, but came to appreciate him over the last 10-15 years, often when he made appearances on other folks' records. Could be I still have The Third Quartet underrated. It garnered a crown in the last edition of the Penguin Guide. When I initially panned it, ECM's publicist wrote me to ask if I was feeling OK. As it happened, I wasn't -- it was shortly after a very traumatic event. I eventually went back to the album, gave it another chance, and found much more there. Died at age 72.


One piece of news last week was that the Village Voice announced they would cease publication of its print edition, which had been distributed for free since 1998. The paper was founded in 1955, and had become famous enough that I bought a subscription when I was living in Wichita in 1968 or 1969. (Somewhat before I also had a subscription to the New York Free Press; no Wikipedia and very little Google on that -- did it only exist in 1968?) I mostly read politics and theater reviews then, but several years later, after I started reviewing records for the Voice, I was able to find Robert Christgau's 1969 articles stashed away in my parents' attic. I doubt I read the Voice regularly while I was at college in St. Louis, but after I dropped out, I started reading a lot of rock crit. wrote a little, and wrote to Christgau in 1975. He wrote back and asked me to write a review of a new Bachman-Turner Overdrive album (see my archive). I moved to New York City a couple years later and got to know him pretty well, but never developed much of a relationship with the Voice except through him. I stopped writing for the Voice in 1979, moved to New Jersey to write software, and on to Massachusetts, back to NJ, and finally returned to Kansas in 1999. In 2004 Christgau asked me to write a Jazz Consumer Guide for the Voice, which continued past 2006 (when Christgau was fired) until Rob Harvilla left in 2011.

The Voice continues online, and since Peter Barbey bought the paper from New Times (the company responsible for the mass firings of 2005-06) they've started to bring back some of the writers who made the paper so distinctive. It's been over a decade since I've even seen a print copy, but still this seems like another end-of-era moment. To mark this, the following are a couple links to articles with reminiscences by several writers/editors:


New records rated this week:

  • Laura Ainsworth: New Vintage (2017, Eclectus): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow (2016 [2017], Not Two): [r]: A-
  • Gerald Beckett: Oblivion (2017, Summit): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Fred Hersch: Open Book (2016-17 [2017], Palmetto): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jon Irabagon/John Hegre/Nils Are Drønen: Axis (2013 [2017], Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(*)
  • Noah Kaplan Quartet: Cluster Swerve (2011 [2017], Hatology): [cd]: A-
  • LAMA + Joachim Badenhorst: Metamorphosis (2016 [2017], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Liberation Music Collective: Rebel Portraiture (2017, Ad Astrum): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Pale Horse: Badlands (2015 [2016], 5049): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dave Potter: You Already Know (2017, Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Chris Speed Trio: Platinum on Tap (2016 [2017], Intakt): [cd]: A-
  • Bobby Zankel & the Wonderful Sound 6: Celebrating William Parker @ 65 (2017, Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Omri Ziegele: Where's Africa: Going South (2016 [2017], Intakt): [cd]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Paul McCandless: Morning Sun: Adventures With Oboe (1970-2010 [2017], Living Music): [cd]: C+

Old music rated this week:

  • Jon Irabagon/Andrew Neff/Danny Fox/Scott Ritchie/Alex Wyatt: Here Be Dragons (2009 [2012], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
  • Noah Kaplan Quartet: Descendants (2008 [2011], Hatology): [r]: B+(**)
  • Schweizer Holz Trio [Hans Koch/Urs Leimgruber/Omri Ziegele]: Love Letters to the President (2008, Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chris Speed: Yeah No (1997, Songlines): [r]: B+(**)
  • Chris Speed: Deviantics (1998, Songlines): [r]: B+(**)
  • Chris Speed: Emit (2000, Songlines): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chris Speed/Chris Cheek/Stéphane Furic Leibovici: Jugendstil (2006 [2008], ESP Disk): [r]: B
  • Chris Speed/Zeno De Rossi: Ruins (2011-13 [2014], Skirl): [r]: A-
  • Chris Speed: Really OK (2013 [2014], Skirl): [r]: B+(***)
  • Omri Ziegele Billiger Bauer: The Silence Behind Each Cry: Suite for Urs Voerkel (2001 [2002], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Omri Ziegele Billiger Bauer: Edges & Friends (2004 [2006], Intakt): [r]: B
  • Omri Ziegele's Where's Africa Trio: Can Walk on Sand (2009 [2010], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dave Douglas: Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf Music): October 20
  • Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12): October 20
  • Philipp Gerschlauer/David Fiuczynski: Mikrojazz: Neue Expressionistische Musik (Rare Noise): cdr, September 25
  • Dave Rempis: Lattice (Aerophonic): October 10
  • The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Cochonnerie (Aerophonic): October 10