An occasional blog about populist politics and popular music, not necessarily at the same time.
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Monday, September 23, 2019
Music: current count 32117  rated (+37), 229  unrated (+2).
Didn't get my unpacking done until late Monday afternoon, so that became the cutoff -- adding 2 rated albums from Sunday night, and flipping the unrated count from -9 to +2. Before unpacking, I had managed to empty the new jazz queue, but it's up to 12 now. And it turns out that most of the new records don't drop until November, so I probably shouldn't rush on them.
Robert Christgau's first post-Noisey Consumer Guide was mailed out last week. As he promised in his introduction (It's a Start), "the first one is free," so here it is. Follow one of the "Subscribe now" buttons to make get the second and subsequent consumer guides, plus any additional missives, delivered straight to your mailbox.
Probably because he was working off a backlog, but I had heard all but two albums from this month's offering (both various artists comps): The Daisy Age (Ace) and Lost in China (Riverboat). And I only found one of those streamable, so it's in this week's haul. This won't be a regular feature, but I thought I'd table up our grades (his first):
Presumably some of these differences can be chalked up to reports that he plays these records at least twice as many times as I do, plus has the benefit of working from physical copies. (I own none of them, although on his word I've ordered The Daisy Age, which Amazon informs me should arrive by Xmas.) The one I most likely shortchanged was probably the National, which I recall only gaving one spin. The only non-trivial differences are on Paranoid Style (I'm not nearly as impressed by Elizabeth Nelson as he is) and Springsteen (perhaps there is some redeeming social merit there, but I doubt it's worth digging out). Nelson, by the way, has a much-praised recent essay on The Mekons Rock 'N' Roll.
I could do the same thing with Michael Tatum's latest A Downloader's Diary (51), which doesn't have much more I hadn't heard. Again, his grades first, mine after, '*' for ones I got to after the fact:
So not much there I didn't know about and went on to find brilliant (and sure, I still have some listening to do), but the reviews themselves were way beyond anything I could have written (one reason, I'm afraid, I rarely bother anymore).
Took a dive into Teddy Edwards this week. Idea came up when I saw Out of This World as a new reissue, but given that it's digital only, I used the hard-copy dates. His best record remains Together Again!, with Howard McGhee (1961). I might also note that the Art Pepper box isn't quite up to many of his period recordings, including most of The Complete Galaxy Recordings, or a lot of the live bootlegs Laurie Pepper has been reissuing. Still remarkable.
September has five Mondays, one more after today, so I can wait until then to index September Streamnotes.
New records reviewed this week:
Reid Anderson/Dave King/Craig Taborn: Golden Valley Is Now (2018 , Intakt): Bad Plus bassist and drummer split writing credits 7-3, with a different keyboard player, but where a big point of Bad Plus was playing acoustic instruments, this is nearly all electronic -- mostly minor groove pieces, occasionally congealing into ambience. Not unattractive, but hard to see the point. B-
AP6C [Alberto Pinton Sestetto Contemporaneo]: Layers (2017 , Clear Now): Pinton, an Italian based in Stockholm, plays baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, piccolo and bass flute. Thirteen albums since 2001, first title adopted for his label name. Mixed bag, with Mats Åleklint's trombone a consistent delight, the leader in fine form, Mattias Ståhl adding vibes, Selma Pinton's vocals a needless complication. B+(**) [cd]
Terrence Brewer & Pamela Rose: Don't Worry 'Bout Me: Remembering Ella & Joe (2019, Strong Brew Music, EP): Jazz guitarist, half dozen albums since 2007, second one titled Groovin' Wes, and standards singer, three albums on her own (first in 1993). "Joe" is Pass, who did a duo album with Fitzgerald in 1970. Six songs, 27:17, not as striking as their inspirations, but a game effort. B+(*) [cd]
Taylor Ho Bynum 9-tette: The Ambiguity Manifesto (2019, Firehouse 12): Cornet player, an Anthony Braxton protégé, often works with a sextet -- Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Bill Lowe (bass trombone/tuba), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) -- expanded here with Ingrid Laubrock (tenor and soprano sax), Tomeka Reid (cello) and Stomu Takeishi (elecrric bass guitar). B+(**)
Jimmy Cobb: This I Dig of You (2019, Smoke Sessions): Veteran drummer, played with Miles Davis circa Kind of Blue, with Coltrane in 1958-59, and into the 1960s: the Adderleys, Wynton Kelly, Wes Montgomery. no albums under his own name until 1994, but more than a dozen since. Recorded this one a month after turning 90, with Peter Bernstein (guitar), Harold Mabern (piano), and John Webber (bass). Pretty easy going, with the guitar taking most of the leads, and Mabern (who has since died) a delight. B+(**)
Jimmy Cobb: Remembering U (2016 , Jimmy Cobb World): Cover adds "featuring Roy Hargrove" (actually, just two tracks, with Napster adding "& Javon Jackson," for one of them). Other than that, a trio with Tadataka Unno (piano) and Paolo Benedettini (bass). Hargrove died in 2018, so earlier than that, the best clue being that this was credited as Rudy Van Gelder's last recording session, and he died in 2016. B+(*)
The Raymond De Felitta Trio: Pre-War Charm (2019, Blujazz): Pianist, better known for directing and writing films, but has a previous album, a solo tribute to Earl Hines. Two trios here, a conventional one with Mike Alvidrez on bass and Paul Kreibich on drums, and another which swaps bass for clarinet (Alex Budman), adding nice colors to the ballads, a plus you don't miss much on the upbeat ones. B+(***) [cd]
Laszlo Gardony: La Marseillaise (2019, Sunnyside): Hungarian pianist, based in Boston, more than a dozen albums since 1988, this one solo. Originals, one based on the title anthem, plus "O Sole Mio," "Misty," and one from Denny Zeitlin. B+(**) [cd] [10-24]
Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (2019, Now Generation): Wu-Tang rapper, 13th album on his own. Short one (33:15). Tells a fine tale, beats resolutely old school. B+(***)
Gordon Grdina Quartet: Cooper's Park (2019, Songlines): Canadian, plays guitar and oud, long list of albums since 2006. This is a strong quartet, with Russ Lossing (piano, rhodes, clavinet), Oscar Noriega (alto sax, bass clarinet), and Satoshi Takeishi (drums). Five pieces, each developing slowly before finally sinking teeth. B+(***)
Keiji Haino/Merzbow/Balasz Pandi: Become the Discovered, Not the Discoverer (2019, RareNoise): Guitar, electronics, and drums, not that those first two are very distinct. The first two are Japanese, are pioneers in noise with many dozens of albums, things I have only rarely sampled, partly because their appeal to me is pretty limited. B+(*) [cdr] [09-27]
Chrissie Hynde With the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble: Valve Bone Woe (2019, BMG): Rocker, long-time leader of Pretenders, only the second album released under her own name, this doing covers with a large orchestra. Not a bad singer for this material, but lushness tends to overwhelm. B
Indoor Pets: Be Content (2019, Wichita): British rock band, first album after an EP, catchy enough to be pop but more crunch than usual. Could turn out to be significant, or not. B+(*)
Ethan Iverson Quartet With Tom Harrell: Common Practice (2017 , ECM): A live set from the Village Vanguard, with the ex-Bad Plus pianist's new trio -- Ben Street on bass and Eric McPherson on drums -- plus trumpet. Two Iverson originals, the rest standards, mostly slow ones suiting Harrell, not giving the pianist a lot of space. B+(*)
Jpegmafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019, EQT): Rapper Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks, also known as Devon Hendryx, third album after a number of mixtapes. Beats chill verging on abstract, music has a cut-up quality that's off-putting at first. I'm not there yet, but appreciate the cornball effort. B+(**)
Led Bib: It's Morning (2018 , RareNoise): British quasi-fusion jazz group, ninth album since 2005, led by drummer Mark Holub with two saxophonists (Pete Grogan and Chris Williams), newcomer Elliot Galvin on keybs, but the big change here is vocalist-lyricist Sharon Fortnam, moving them toward art song -- not that the band never sneaks in some trouble. B [cd]
Ben Markley Quartet Featuring Joel Frahm: Slow Play (2019, OA2): Pianist, fourth album, wrote everything, recruited a top-notch tenor saxophonist, and pace title let him run with a full head of steam. B+(**) [cd]
Monoswezi: A Je (2017, Riverboat): African-Nordic group, the Africans hailing from Mozambique and Zimbabwe (and Mali?), the others from Norway and Sweden with jazz sides. Third album, low keyed groove and chant. B+(*)
Tish Oney With the John Chiodini Trio: The Best Part (2019, Blujazz): Jazz singer, bio refers to her as "Dr. Oney," fifth album, writes some, draws on other originals including guitarist Chiodini, who composed three songs for Peggy Lee lyrics. B- [cd]
Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp: Efflorescence: Volume 1 (2018 , Leo, 4CD): Tenor sax and piano, long relationship (at least since 1996), lots of recent records, too many to distinguish but their basics are solid as ever. Still, not immune to fatigue, more likely mine than theirs. B+(***) [cd]
Peterson Kohler Collective: Winter Colors (2018 , Origin): Core group is guitarist Dave Peterson, Lee Kohler (piano), and Rob Kohler (bass), all from Montana, cousins even. Group rounds out with label owner John Bishop on drums and Brent Jensen on sax. Multiple flavors of postbop, depending on where the focus flows. B+(**) [cd]
Alberto Pinton Trio: Röd (2018, Clear Now): Italian reed player, based in Stockholm, plays baritone and alto sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet, backed by bass (Vilhelm Bromander) and drums (Konrad Agnas). B+(***) [bc]
Noah Preminger Group: Zigsaw: Music of Steve Lampert (2018 , self-released): Tenor saxophonist, first album 2007, this a septet, mostly name players: Jason Palmer (trumpet), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), Kris Davis (piano), Rob Schwimmer (haken continuum/clavinet), Kim Cass (bass), Rudy Royston (drums). Lampert, a trumpet player with five records since 2004, doesn't play here, but recently composed the single wide-ranging 48:49 title piece. I can't discern a unifying theme, but the many-faceted band shines. A- [cd] [10-04]
Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (2019, SWub Pop): Ben Jaffe's venerable New Orleans trad jazz outfit made a pilgrimage to Cuba in 2015, filmed for a documentary with this inevitable soundtrack. I'm not seeing any credits, but figure some pieces to be by other groups, with the Cuban tinge predominant. B+(*)
Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (2019, Asylum/Atlantic): British rapper Kwadwo Adu Genfi Amponsah, London-born, parents from Ghana, fourth EP, but at 10 cuts, 29:30 I'll count it as an album. B+(*)
Markus Rutz: Blueprints Figure One: Frameworks (2018 , OA2): Trumpet player, based in Chicago, has a deep band with saxophonist Brice Winston a strong contrast up front, backed by piano, guiar, bass, drums, and congas. B+(**) [cd]
Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain (, Naive): Algeria's most famous raï star, based in Paris, died last year at 59, not sure exactly when this was recorded but it sounds like an evolutionary step from his later work, including his "first song in English." The fast ones don't rank with his best, but he's aged gracefully, a most pleasant surprise. A-
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:
Lost in China: Off the Beaten Track From Beijing to Xinjiang (, Riverboat): Very little info on the artists here, although World Music Network decided to put this on their new music label as opposed to their Rough Guide series. My impression -- more of a wild guess -- is that it favors the isolated north and west rather than the populous south and east. B+(**)
Art Pepper: Promise Kept: The Complete Artists House Recordings (1979 , Omnivore, 5CD): In his last years (d. 1982), the alto saxophonist recorded furiously, piling up so many masterpieces that his 16-CD The Complete Galaxy Recordings seems like an infinite trove of wonders. Still, he managed to sneak aside, recording the 6-CD series of West Coast Sessions for the Japanese Atlas label that Omnivore reissued in 2017, and four more records for Artists House, collected here with extra cuts. The albums were So in Love, Artworks, New York Album, and Stardust, recorded over several dates with two piano-bass-drums trios: Hank Jones/Ron Carter/Al Foster, and George Cables/Charlie Haden/Billy Higgins -- mostly the latter. A lot more than I can readily sort out, but most sounds much like everything else he was doing at the time, which is to say marvelous. A-
Teddy Edwards Quartet: Good Gravy! (1961, Contemporary): Tenor saxophonist, from Mississippi via Detroit, a young bebopper in the 1940s, settled into mainstream with Contemporary and Prestige in the early 1960s, spent some time in Europe during the dark years, but came back strong in the 1990s up to his death in 2003. This is a fairly typical quartet, with Danny Horton or Phineas Newborn in piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Milt Turner on drums. B+(**)
Teddy Edwards: Heart & Soul (1962, Contemporary): Continuity with Vinnegar (bass) and Turner (drums) again, but Gerry Wiggins' organ opens up a nod to soul jazz. B+(*)
Teddy Edwards: Nothin' but the Truth (1966 , Prestige): With Walter Davis Jr. a bluesy piano player, plus guitar and extra percussion to add a whiff of Brazil. Still, his best sax run is the straightest, "On the Street Where You Live." B+(*)
Teddy Edwards Quartet: Out of This World (1980 , SteepleChase): Recorded in Copenhagen with Kenny Drew (piano), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), and Billy Hart (drums): the tenor saxophonist's only album for Nils Winther, although had he stuck around he would have fit nicely with their stable of American expats. B+(**)
Teddy Edwards/Houston Person: Close Encounters (1996 , High Note): Two gracious tenor saxophonists, did a 1994 album together, take seven standards even easier here, backed by piano trio (Stan Hope, Ray Drummond, Kenny Washington). B+(**)
Teddy Edwards: Smooth Sailing (2001 , High Note): The tenor saxophonist's final album, another quartet playing standards, with Richard Wyands (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), and Chip White (drums), released a month before he died. Nice. B+(**)
Steve Lampert: Venus Perplexed (2000 , SteepleChase): First album, unclear how old he was/is but his CV includes touring with big bands led by Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, and Gerry Mulligan. Composer only here, but septet includes a credit for Rich Lampert (piano, sequencing, synthesizer, trumpet), as well as Rich Perry (tenor sax), Joe Locke (vibes), Charles Blenzig (piano), plus electric bass, drums, and congas. Postbop, smart and heady, nice tinkle to go with the horns. B+(***)
Steve Lampert: Music From There (2006 , Bridge): A 12-piece suite, electronics plus various jazz musicians, the composer playing trumpet, Rich Perry tenor sax, others scattered about, with words on one piece. B+(**)
Alberto Pinton: Nascent (2012 , Redhorn): Quartet, Pinton playing his usual range of reeds (plus melodica), backed with guitar (Peter Nylander), double bass, and drums. B+(**)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: