Saturday, June 8, 2019


Music Week

Music: current count 31614 [31587] rated (+27), 251 [248] unrated (+3).

Ran the numbers late Sunday evening, but added Monday's unpacking, so the numbers have a slight skew from reality. I'm especially pleased to get a copy of Orakel, the Swedish label Moserobie. It's currently ranked number two on Chris Monsen's Favorites list, and follows a Moserobie release that topped my own 2018 list. It's gotten very expensive to mail CDs from Europe to the US recently, and several of the last few labels I've been getting service from seem to have dropped out (the ones I've felt the worst about are Intakt and NoBusiness, plus Clean Feed a couple years back). With labels like that, I try to find streaming sources, but it's not always easy.

Joe Yanosik wrote to tell me he's working up a Franco discography, and asked whether I've considered doing a deep dive, especially into his numerous Sonodisc recordings. I had, in fact, picked up a couple of them in my shopping days, and have generally enjoyed everything I picked up. Napster has a few of them I hadn't heard, so before long I started working my way through them -- limiting myself to ones I could figure out dates for. The grades below split 3 A-, 4 B+(***), but there wasn't all that much to separate best from worst.

Notable music links this week:

  • Hank Shteamer: Anthony Braxton's Big Ideas.

  • New York City Jazz Record: I've never managed to see this before, although it seems like most of the Jazz Critics Poll voters write for it. I was first struck by Kurt Gottschalk's label spotlight on Fundacja Sluchaj -- a Polish label I follow fairly closely because they put whole records up on Bandcamp.


New records reviewed this week:

Akiko Hamilton Dechter: Equal Time (2018 [2019], Capri): Organ-guitar-drums trio, with Akiko Tsuruga on organ, Jeff Hamilton on drums, and Graham Dechter on guitar. Straightforward soul jazz here, a steady groove with a little embellishment. B+(*) [cd]

Angles 9: Beyond Us (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): The expanded edition of saxphonist Martin Küchen's Angles 3, fourth album at this number (plus one Angles 8), with five horns, piano (Alexander Zethson), vibes (Mattias Ståhl), bass, and drums. Five cuts, live, huge ensemble sound with some major solos (Magnus Broo stands out). B+(***)

Big Thief: U.F.O.F. (2019, 4AD): Brooklyn-based indie band, third album (although leader Adrianne Lenker also has a solo). Nothing hard, or even very solid, yet the songs hold together nicely, with lots of minor pleasures. A-

Alan Broadbent Trio: New York Notes (2019, Savant): Mainstream pianist, from New Zealand, discography dates from 1974, close to thirty albums as leader, seems like I first became aware of him in Charlie Haden's Quartet West (1987-2002?). Trio with Harvie S (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums). He's always been a fine pianist, but this one's exceptionally dazzling. A-

Avishai Cohen: Arvoles (2019, Razdaz/Sunnyside): Israeli bassist, leads a piano trio (Elchin Shirinov and Noam David), adding trombone (Björn Samuelsson) and flute (Anders Hagberg) on four cuts (of 11). Mostly rhythmic vamps, captivating pieces, the horns adding weight and color -- the trombone, anyway. B+(***)

Satoko Fujii/Ramon Lopez: Confluence (2018 [2019], Libra): Piano-drums duo. Starts and ends slow, contemplative even, with a strong middle section that shows the pianist moving past her Cecil Taylor inspiration. B+(***) [cd]

Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve (2019, Senaca Village): Phoenix hip-hop trio, debut album after a couple mixtapes, runs rough but the beats and scratches are first-rate, the words come and go, and they know a hook when they hang one. B+(***)

Kedr Livanskiy: Your Need (2019, 2MR): Russian, Yana Kedrina, lays her vocals on thick over electronics, the dance beats evidently the work of producer Flaty (Zhenya). B

Rosie Lowe: Yu (2019, Wolf Tone): British (Leeds) singer-songwriter, second album, electropop, but avoid glitz, the slackness drawing you in. B+(**)

Kelsey Lu: Blood (2019, Columbia): Based in L.A., plays cello and sings, last name McJunkins, not sure if Lu is her middle (she has recorded as Lu Lu McJunkins). First album, after an EP. Cover reminds me of Solange, albeit with more exposure. Songs expose more too. Surprise move is the cover of 10cc's "I'm Not in Love." B+(**)

Martha: Love Keeps Kicking (2019, Dirtnap): Indie band from a village called Pity Me in County Durham, far northeast of England. Third album, very upbeat, a bit busy with all four musicians (guitar-guitar-bass-drums) singing. B+(**)

Orville Peck: Pony (2019, Sub Pop): "Psychedelic outlaw cowboy croons love and loss from the badlands of North America." Wears a red hat and a black leather mask. Voice/guitar reminds of Robert Gordon, which probably means nothing to you. Lost me on a song about Kansas. He could be onto something, or could get even more annoying. B-

Red Kite: Red Kite (2019, RareNoise): Norwegian "jazz-rock power quartet, Even Helte Hermansen the guitarist, plus bass, keyboards, and drums, impressive as long as they keep it hard. B+(**) [cdr]

Chanda Rule: Sapphire Dreams (2016 [2019], PAO): Standards singer, born in Chicago, based in Vienna, Austria, has at least one previous album. Mostly Austrian musicians, with notable exception of pianist Kirk Lightsey. B [cd]

The Jamie Saft Quartet: Hidden Corners (2019, RareNoise): Piano player, started as a groove guy but lately has been playing free. With Dave Liebman (tenor/soprano sax, flute), Bradley Christopher Jones (bass), and Hamid Drake (drums). Mixed bag. B+(**) [cdr]

The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019, Rock Action): Scottish post-punk band, fifth album since 2007. Way post-punk, but live up to their name. B

Federico Ughi: Transoceanico (2016 [2019], 577): Drummer, from Rome, based in Brooklyn, twenty years worth of records (unnoticed by me thus far), this an avant-sax trio with Rachel Musson (tenor) and Adam Lane (bass). Slows down a bit near the end, but I'll need to keep an ear open for this British saxophonist. A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: When Will the Blues Leave (1999 [2019], ECM): Piano-bass-drums trio. Not sure how far they go back together, but their earlier 1999 album was described as a reunion, Bley did a duo with Peacock in 1970, and Motian joins them in 1975 (if not earlier). All stars by this point, interesting as ever. B+(**)

Alex Chilton: Songs From Robin Hood Lane (1991-94 [2019], Bar/None): Four previously unreleased songs, the others from two early-1990s albums (Medium Cool and Clichés) -- jazz standards, perhaps the point of the titles. B+(*)

Old music:

Franco Et TP OK Jazz: 1967/1968 (1967-68 [1992], Sonodisc): Congo's greatest bandleader, the most comparable Americans would be Duke Ellington and James Brown, from early (1956) up to his death (1989). Discography is vast, begetting a series of hard-to-find chronological compilations (as with Ellington and Brown). I doubt if these are as completist. Seems marginal two or three cuts in, then finds its own sweet groove. A-

Franco Et TP OK Jazz: 1966/1968 (1966-68 [1992], Sonodisc): Should probably have listed this one above 1967/1968, but found it later, and have little more to add. Nothing blows me away, but everything is thoroughly enjoyable. B+(***)

Franco & Le TP OK Jazz: 1971/1972: Likambo Ya Ngana (1971-72 [1994], Sonodisc): Kicks it up a notch here, not that anyone is in much of a hurry. A-

Franco, Vicky Et L'OK Jazz: Marceline Oh! Oh! (1972 [1998], Sonodisc): "Early '70s," some tracks appeared in 1972, near the end of singer Vicky Longomba's 1961-72 stretch with OK Jazz (often as Vicky et l'OK Jazz). Feels a little pieced together, leaving me with little or no sense of Vicky, although Franco often delivers, as he so often does. B+(***)

Franco Et Le T.P. OK Jazz: 79/80/81 Live: Kinshasa Makambo (1979-81 [1994], Sonodisc): Title track is a slow ballad, perhaps a lament, hard to say. Picks up a little midway, especially on the two long takes of "Bokolo Bana Ya Mbanda." B+(***)

Franco Et Le TP OK Jazz: Makambo Ezali Bourreau: 1982/1984/1985 (1982-85 [1994], Sonodisc): Five nice groove pieces, running 9:20 to 12:18. B+(***)

Franco/Simaro/Jolie Detta Et Le T.P. O.K. Jazz: 1986-1987-1988 (1986-88 [1994], Sonodisc): Two (of four) cuts from a 1986 album with singer Jolie Detta. Not sure where the rest comes from, but Discogs credits Franco with 16 albums in these three years, including one with "Le Poete Lutumba Simaro" (4 tracks, none here). The other nine pieces are short (3:02 to 5:39) but meaty. A-

Franco Et Le TP OK Jazz: Les Rumeurs (Inedits 1988-1989) (1988-89 [1994], Sonodisc): Five previously unreleased cuts, 52:33, "en compagnie de Sam Mangwana." Another delightful groove album. B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sharman Duran: Questioning Reality (self-released)
  • Rosana Eckert: Sailing Home (OA2): June 21
  • Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie)
  • La La Lars: La La Lars II (Headspin)
  • Xavier Lecouturier: Carrier (Origin): June 21
  • Greta Matassa: Portrait (Origin): June 21
  • Moutin Factory Quintet: Mythical River (Laborie Jazz)
  • Matt Olson: 789 Miles (OA2): June 21
  • Marlene Rosenberg: MLK Convergence (Origin): June 21
  • Chanda Rule: Sapphire Dreams (PAO)
  • Erik Skov: Liminality (OA2): June 21
  • Ståhls Trio: Källtorp Sessions: Volume One (Moserobie)