Monday, August 27, 2018


Music Week

Music: current count 30216 [30165] rated (+51), 275 [310] unrated (-35).

Running on a new server. I ordered the replacement from Hosting & Designs non Tuesday. Everything is kind of a blur now, but I think it was late Friday afternoon when I was finally able to log in and start configuring accounts and rebuilding websites. Unfortunately, we had a miscommunication on setting up the nameservers, so I didn't get DNS running properly until Saturday evening. I now recall that I made the same stupid error when we set up the initial server eight years ago. By Saturday night I had rebuilt four websites I had active copies of: hullworks.net, tomhull.com, carolcooper.org, and caroladibbell.com (the latter lost some pages that had been managed by WordPress).

I'm still digesting a lot of server details -- I'm getting a lot more status email than I ever did before. The first message, even before I got my login directions, was a notice that hackers tried to login and have been blocked. I expected the Russians would chomp at the bit, but the first blocked address was from China, the second from the US, then half a dozen other countries (Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Colombia, France, Thailand) before Russia showed up. I've been saving those notices, and have 30-40 blocked IPs so far. Nothing very troubling so far, but I can't say as I understand it all.

One thing that happened last time was that some of my website software broke because the security setup blocked some of the PHP functions I was using. So far that does not appear to have happened. Still, the server has moved from PHP 5 to PHP 7, and that transition broke a lot of things when I changed my local server several months back. I'd appreciate it if you'd be on the outlook for breakage and let me know so I can get it fixed. This particular server change does not affect robertchristgau.com, but I'm still mid-stream in dealing with similar issues there.

I still have four more websites to set up, but three are basically empty stubs, and I'm waiting on some configuration info for the fourth. So, I figured those could wait a bit, and like God, I decided to take a day of rest. Well, of doing some of my own writing. I came up with Weekend Roundup, but didn't actually get it done until late afternoon Monday. Then, of course, there's this. After which, I'll have to do my first partial update of my website. Shouldn't be a problem, but I've been running into a lot of Murphy lately.

My plan to start writing short, single-topic news/politics posts got put on hold with the server crash. The planned outlet is one of the WordPress websites I haven't set up yet. Still seems like the right thing to do, especially after juggling a half-dozen topics in Weekend Roundup. I wound up rather flummoxed by the Korea piece, which ran on through 16 paragraphs, leaving me thinking: it was too long, it didn't cover everything that needed to be covered, and it didn't come to a real conclusion. I have an idea for a simpler piece: a simple op-ed, on "Trump should start by ending the Korean War now." Then save the stuff on how American mental attitudes lead us to such stupid and arrogant policies.

Another piece might be on McCain. I said pretty much what I wanted to say, but it doesn't feel like I made the points in proper order. And I added a couple of points today that could have been woven into the main piece. On the other hand, I probably understated the extent to which McCain has been a media creation, and what this says both about us and the media.

Those two issues overwhelmed the week, but another half-dozen items deserve deeper, more focused treatment. I also have thoughts on Masha Gessen's book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia: not so much about the political system in Russia as the overall mindset which supports Putin, and how common that mindset is even in the United States. I'm reminded of much here, ranging from the classic studies by Arendt, Adorno, and Fromm (which Gessen cites) to Chris Hedges' still-important American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2012). Much to write about there.


Not much to say about the music below. The new jazz queue had shrunk to almost nothing a couple weeks ago. It's back up to 20 records now, but most of them have September-October release dates, so they didn't seem very urgent. August is relatively slow for new releases. Several weeks ago I made an effort to catch up with many of the 2018 releases that showed up on mid-year lists, so I doubted more research now would yield much. But also, a couple weeks ago I started streaming records I have long listed as U (unrated) in my database. Some were old LPs I had long ago but never jotted down a grade for. Most were used CDs I bought at closeout sales c. 2000-2004, when I was still buying a lot of CDs on spec, before I started getting all the promos I could handle. And some were promos I received but didn't find time to get to (mostly non-jazz from 2006-07; pending counts from 2005-17 are: 6, 20, 14, 6, 4, 8, 8, 2, 1, 0, 1, 0, 2). My unrated list peaked over 900, but I've been slowly knocking it down for many years now. I took a big chunk out of it last week, dropping under 300 for the first time since I've been counting, winding up at 275.

Early in the week I worked off the database rock files. Later on I just pulled all the unrateds out regardless of where they came from. I also started collecting a list of Christgau A-list records I hadn't heard (or at least graded), and occasionally tried something there. Three of this week's six A- records came from Christgau's A-list (Amy Allison's No Frills Friend, Chic's Real People, and Paul Pena). Two came from my unrated CDs (Amédé Ardoin, Art Neville). The other Amy Allison record I just picked up when I was in the neighborhood.

I'll probably continue the tactic another week or so, but at this point half of what I look up isn't on Napster. On the other hand, I do presumably have physical copies of these records, somewhere, and I've started to find and play some (Art Neville was one). On the other hand, I'm likely to have a lot of distractions the next couple of weeks. The new server and the Christgau website still need a lot of work. I'm trying to wrap up one last pass through the Notebook, this time to collect all of the non-jazz reviews and most of the non-review scraps I've written on music. The former I hope to hand over to Michael Tatum, in the hopes that he can fix my mistakes, flesh out the many places where I'm too cryptic (or evasive), and fill in the numerous gaps. I doubt the latter has any value as a book, but it should make it easier to find scraps that can be used elsewhere. I'm currently in 2009, so about half of the way through. When I'm done, I will have hacked the notebook into nine volumes, ranging from 800 to 1,800 pages each -- should run close to 15,000 pages in total. It's most of what I have to show for nearly two decades of ranting and raving "on the web."

August ends on Friday, so if nothing major breaks I'll post a Streamnotes by then. Currently the draft file includes a very low 32 new records, 3 recent compilations, 137 old records, and 2 grade changes, so 173 total records. That's a pretty big month -- I should check whether I've ever topped it. (Let's see: the most ever for a column was 206 on November 8, 2009, but that covered 41 days after September 28; the most on a monthly schedule was 185 for November, 2013, followed by 179 for September, 2015. The most so far this year was 165 in February, followed by 163 in July and 157 in January. Not much chance I'll top 206, but 185 is possible, and 179 is likely.)


New records rated this week:

  • Darrell Katz and the JCA Orchestra: Rats Live on No Evil Star (2016-17 [2018], JCA): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Stéphane Spira: New Playground (2017 [2018], Jazzmax): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Miguel Zenón: Yo Soy La Tradición (2017 [2018], Miel Music): [cd]: B+(***)

Old music rated this week:

  • Amy Allison: No Frills Friend (2003, Diesel Only): [r]: A-
  • Amy Allison: Everything and Nothing Too (2006, Cheater's World): [r]: B+(***)
  • Amy Allison: Sheffield Streets (2009, Urban Myth): [r]: A-
  • Amédé Ardoin: The Roots of Zydeco: I'm Never Comin' Back (1930-34 [1995], Arhoolie): [r]: A-
  • Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys: Swingin' West (1995, Hightone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Black Light Burns: Cruel Melody (2007, I Am Wolfpack): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chic: Chic (1977, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Chic: C'est Chic (1978, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Chic: Les Plus Grand Succès de Chic (Chic's Greatest Hits) (1977-79 [1979], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chic: Real People (1980, Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Fall Out Boy: From Under the Cork Tree (2005, Island): [r]: B-
  • The Follow: Up With the Sun (2006, Oni Music): [r]: B-
  • For a Life of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country (1994, Bloodshot): [r]: B
  • Stefan Grossman: Guitar Landscapes (1990, Shanachie): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Hartford: Me Oh My, How the Time Does Fly: A John Hartford Anthology (1976-84 [2003], Flying Fish): [r]: B+(**)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: African Piano (1969 [1973], Japo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Flaco Jiminez: Arriba El Norte (1969-80 [1989], Rounder): [r]: B+(**)
  • Flaco Jiminez: Entre Humo Y Botellas (1982-87 [1989], Rounder): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joachim Kühn: I'm Not Dreaming (1983, CMP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joachim Kühn: Dynamics (1990, CMP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Christine Lavin: Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind (1988, Philo): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Leaves: Hey Joe (1966 [1993], One Way): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ray Lema: Kinshasa-Washington D.C.-Paris (1983, Celluloid): [r]: B+(*)
  • Laurie Lewis: Restless Rambling Heart (1986, Flying Fish): [r]: B+(***)
  • Loreena McKennitt: An Ancient Muse (2006, Verve/Quinlan Road): [r]: B+(**)
  • Charles Mingus: Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife . . . (1959-71 [1988], Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • Art Neville: His Specialty Recordings: 1956-58 (1956-58 [1992], Specialty): [cd]: A-
  • No-Man: Schoolyard Ghosts (2008, K-Scope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paul Pena: Paul Pena (1972, Capitol): [r]: A-
  • Portastatic Featuring Ken Vandermark & Tim Mulvenna: The Perfect Little Door (2001, Merge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Quodia: The Arrow: A Story in Seven Parts (2007, 7d Media): [r]: B-
  • Ride Your Bike: Bad News From the Bar (2007, Deep Elm): [r]: B+(**)
  • Shapes and Sizes: Shapes and Sies (2006, Asthmatic Kitty): [r]: B-
  • Jo-El Sonnier: Cajun Roots (1994, Rounder): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stew: The Naked Dutch Painter . . . and Other Songs (2002, Smile): [r]: B+(*)
  • Big Joe Turner: Rhythm & Blues Years (1952-59 [1986], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Laura Veirs: Saltbreakers (2007, Nonesuch): [r]: B+(*)
  • Caron Wheeler: <,i>Beach of the War Goddess (1993, Capitol): [r]: B+(*)
  • Andrew W.K.: I Get Wet (2001 [2002], Island): [r]: B+(***)
  • Miguel Zenón: Looking Forward (2001 [2002], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Fred Frith Trio: Closer to the Ground (Intakt): September 18
  • Myriad 3: Vera (ALMA)
  • Ivo Perelman/Rudi Mahall: Kindred Spirits (Leo, 2CD)
  • Ivo Perelman/Jason Stein: Spiritual Prayers (Leo)
  • VWCR [Ken Vandermark/Nate Wooley/Sylvie Courvoisier/Tom Rainey]: Noise of Our Time (Intakt): September 18