Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Music Week

September archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33954 [33914] rated (+40), 212 [215] unrated (-3).

Another week that started slow but hit 33 records Sunday evening, before I realized I was going to take an extra day. Spent that extra time listening to bassist Gary Peacock, who died last week (85). Wikipedia credits him with a dozen albums as a leader. Discogs expands that list to 69, picking up collaborations with his name further down the artist line. Including side credits, Wikipedia winds up at 98. He started 1958 with Bud Shank, with Bill Evans in 1963, and on two landmark 1964 albums: Tony Williams' Life Time and Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity. He recorded 10 albums with Paul Bley (mostly after Bley married his wife, Annette), and 22 with Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio. His most impressive album as a leader was probably Tales of Another (1977), with Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, well before Standards (1983). Ethan Iverson tweeted that he thought Mr. Joy was a masterpiece. I checked it out, under far from ideal circumstances, and concur.

Running into technical problems with Napster, which may mean I need to consider a new streaming provider. I have two computers, and Napster is behaving badly on the new one: search and selection are very slow, actually streaming music virtually impossible. Rebooting offers a temporary workaround. On the other hand, the older computer plays it fine, but the speakers have some unexplained static. Haven't spent any serious time debugging this, but it's one reason I spent more time on Bandcamp this week.

I don't have much more to say at this point. I do have a new batch of answers to reader questions. Ask more.


New records reviewed this week:

The Blam Blams: Opening Night (2020, LunaSea Media): Nashville group, bill themselves as a "theatrical glam rock band," drawing on "Bowie, Queen, and the Beatles." Front cover continues: A Tale of Sydney Fabel & the Galactic Theatre Company. I could care less for the dramaturgy, but pop hooks help. B

Bully: Sugaregg (2020, Sub Pop): Nashville indie band, principally Alicia Bognanno, third album. Fast, trashy. B+(*)

Burna Boy: Twice as Tall (2020, Atlantic): Nigerian singer-rapper, hip-hop with a little Afrobeat. B+(**)

Hayes Carll: Alone Together Sessions (2020, Dualtone): Quarantine project: acoustic versions of old songs, many memorable, ranging from 2002-19, plus a Lefty Frizzell cover, with extra help phoned in (Darrell Scott "played just about all the instruments"; Allison Moorer and Ray Wylie Hubbard sang one each). Line I jotted down: "why doesn't anybody speak about truth any more/maybe that's what songs are for." That from Trouble in Mind, still his best. B+(**)

Kathleen Edwards: Total Freedom (2020, Dualtone): Canadian singer-songwriter, folkie division, recorded four albums 2003-12, returns from a hiatus here. Seems quite nice, but nothing stands out. B

Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut: Live in Graz (2019 [2020], Multiphonics Music): Trombonist, organized this trombone-tuba choir for its eponymous first album in 2011. Ryan Keberle and Luis Bonilla are the other trombonists, and Jon Sass plays tuba. Dedicated to Roswell Rudd, reprising three of his songs. B+(**)

John Finbury: American Nocturnes (2019 [2020], Green Flash Music): Composer, plays piano on one track but mostly defers to Tim Ray. With strings, harmonica, accordion, Peter Eldridge vocalese on one track. C+ [cd]

Jason Foureman and Stephen Anderson: Duo (2020, Summit): Bass and piano duo; Foureman teaches in North Carolina, wrote two pieces (rest are covers, mostly by postbop jazz musicians), this looks like his first album. Anderson has a bit more exposure, also seems to have a NC connection. Runs 78 minutes, consistently engaging. B+(**) [cd]

Jacob Garchik: Clear Line (2018 [2020], Yestereve): Trombonist, just listed as composer/conductor here. Group is a horn choir: four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, no rhythm section -- which, of course, is the rub. B+(*)

Karen Jonas: The Southwest Sky & Other Dreams (2020, Yellow Brick): Country singer-songwriter from Virginia, namechecked Oklahoma in her 2014 debut, draws on open spaces here from West Texas to California deserts. B+(**)

Sukyung Kim: Lilac Hill (2019 [2020], self-released, EP): Pianist, from Korea, based in New York, considers this short album (5 tracks, 30:17) an EP. Quintet, alto saxophonist Ethan Helm makes a good showing, backed by guitar, bass, and drums. B+(*) [cd]

La Pingo's Orquesta & Todd Clouser: Midwest/Bajio (2020, Ropeadope Sur): Clouser is a guitarist from Kansas City and Minneapolis, based in Mexico City, writer of 7 (of 9) songs. The Orquesta is from Bajio, considered the Midwest of Mexico. B+(*) [bc]

Bettye Lavette: Blackbirds (2020, Verve): Soul singer, had some singles in the 1960s, an album in 1982, a breakthrough in 2002. Voice ragged, songs slow and deliberate, verging on haunting. B+(***)

Dua Lipa & the Blessed Madonna: Club Future Nostalgia (2020, Warner): Remixes from her second album, a critical and popular hit and well up on my A-list. Unnecessary, of course, but glittering with ear candy -- my favorite a Neneh Cherry rap, reminding me I should dig that CD (Raw Like Sushi) out. B+(***)

Meridian Brothers: Cumbia Siglo XXI (2020, Bongo Joe): Colombian group, eighth album since 2006, figure they're updating cumbia for the 21st century -- Cumbia Siglo XX was a pioneering 1970s cumbia group. B+(***)

Vee Mukarati: Vital Signs (2020, Primrose, EP): Singer from Zimbabwe, also plays sax, based in Geneva, short album (6 tracks, 26:33), billed as Afro-jazz but strikes me as mbira-driven groove pop. B+(*)

No Joy: Motherhood (2020, Joyful Noise): Shoegaze group from Montreal, fourth album since 2010, Jasamine White-Gluz (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Jorge Elbrecht (guitar, bass, vocals, additional instruments) the co-writers. B+(*)

Zephaniah OHora: Listening to the Music (2020, Last Roundup): Brooklyn-based trad-friendly country tunesmith, second album, calls his band the 18 Wheelers. Finds his calling in recycling old Merle Haggard riffs. Liberal country anthem of the year: "All American Singer." A-

Okuden Quartet [Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Hamid Drake]: Every Dog Has His Day but It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (2018 [2020], ESP-Disk): Alto saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, and flute. Fourth album, all with Shipp on piano, second quartet with Parker (bass) and Drake (drums) -- really hit the jackpot of rhythm sections. Free jazz, nice balance spread over eight Walerian originals (ranging from 10:54 to 18:21), room for the stars as well as the leader.. A- [cd]

Old 97's: Twelfth (2020, ATO): Rhett Miller's long-running band, alt-country or "loud folk" or just pop. Wikipedia lists 21 albums since 1994, but if you drop out the compilations, the live albums, and maybe the Xmas album, this may be close to its name. B+(***)

Angel Olsen: Whole New Mess (2020, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter from St. Louis, based in NC, fifth album, well regarded by critics, but more languid than ever. B

Ryan Porter & the West Coast Get Down: Live in Paris at New Morning (2020, World Galaxy): Trombonist, from Los Angeles. Napster classified him as children's music, probably because his debut reworked classic children's nursery rhymes (Spangle-Lang Lane). Some confusion over artist credit and title, but I'm going with the front cover small print (ignoring a much larger "Ryan Porter"). Also hard to find credits, surprising given that Kamasi Washington is the tenor saxophonist, and also delivers the album's high points. B+(***)

PVRIS: Use Me (2020, Warner): Electropop band from Massachusetts, pronounced "Paris" but styled for legal reasons, third album. Has some bounce to it. B

Dan Rosenboom: Points on an Infinite Line (2020, Orenda): Trumpet player, several records, leads a quartet with Gavin Templeton (alto sax), Billy Mohler (bass), and Anthony Fung (drums). B+(**)

Sara Schoenbeck/Wayne Horvitz: Cell Walk (2020, Songlines): Bassoon and piano duets. B

Sneaks: Happy Birthday (2020, Merge): Eva Moolchan, from DC, started in a band called the Shitstains, tried some other aliases (Blood, Young Trynas) before settling on Sneaks. Fifth album, but the first I've heard where her electropop hits a fine balance. Or as she puts it: "I'm not overrated/I'm not underrated/I'm just slightly sophisticated." B+(***) [bc]

South Florida Jazz Orchestra: Cheap Thrills: The Music of Rick Margitza (2020, Summit): Chuck Bergeron directs, and John Hart and Brian Lynch get featured credit on the cover, but the tenor saxophonist is pretty obviously Margitza, and it's great to hear him again at length. B+(**) [cd]

Fumi Tomita Featuring David Detweiler: Celebrating Bird/A Tribute to Charlie Parker (2020, Next Level): Bassist, presumably from Japan but based in New York over fifteen years, with at least three previous records. Detweiler plays tenor sax, with Art Hirahara (piano) and Jimmy MacBride (drums). Eight originals, four each by Tomita and Detweiler, all close to bebop standards, lightly glossed over, the rhythm spot on as well. B+(***) [cd] [09-25]

Toots & the Maytals: Got to Be Tough (2020, BMG): Reggae legends, originally The Maytals in 1962, led by Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, who turned 20 that year. Big stars in the 1970s, slowed down a bit in the 1990s, with their first new record since 2010. Nothing great here, but upbeat, voice I'd recognize anywhere. B+(*)

Ulf Wakenius: Taste of Honey: A Tribute to Paul McCartney (2019 [2020], ACT Music): Swedish guitarist, couple dozen records since 1979, trio with Lars Danielsson (bass/cello) and Magnus öström (drums). Title cut was a Beatles cover in 1963, but is widely known in pop jazz versions by Martin Denny, Acker Bilk, and Herb Alpert. Two originals here, another odd cover choice ("Besame Mucho"), and eight McCartney songs (six co-credited to John Lennon). B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe/Four Men Only: Complete Recordings (1968-73 [2020], NoBusiness -3CD): German group: Herbert Joos (trumpets) probably a best known, with Willfried Eichhorn (reeds), Helmuth Zimmer (piano), Klaus Bühler (double bass), and Rudi Theilmann (drums). Recorded two albums, on the first two CDs here, then when Bühler dropped out they changed their name to Four Men Only, which with the addition of trombonist Wolfang Czelusta became Four Men Only + 1 for the final album. First disc is most impressive, genuinely exciting. A- [cd]

Old music:

Paul Bley: Mr. Joy (1968, Limelight): Pianist, leads a trio here with Gary Peacock (bass) and Bill Elgart (drums). One Bley original, one Ornette Coleman cover, and six songs by Annette Peacock (Gary's ex-wife, by then married to Bley -- she was the Peacock in the Bley-Peacock Synthesizer Show). A lot of banging about here, even on the bass, which kicks around as energetically as a guitar. A- [yt]

EABS: Repetitions (Letters to Krzysztof Komeda): Live at Jazz Club Hipnoza (Katowice) (2018, Astigmatic): Komeda songs, done up with a bit of hip-hop. B+(***) [bc]

EABS: Slavic Spirits (2019, Astigmatic): Original material, at best an idea inspired by Komeda. Group remains mostly electric, but the turntablist and rapper are gone, and missed. B+(*)

Gary Peacock: December Poems (1977 [1979], ECM): Six original compositions, four solo bass, two add Jan Garbarek on tenor/soprano saxophone. B+(*)

Gary Peacock/Art Lande/Elliott Zigmund: Shift in the Wind (1980, ECM): Front cover suggests attributing this to pianist Lande, but back cover lists the bassist first, and the labels solely name Peacock. Compositions were split 3 Peacock, 2 Lande, 2 all including drummer Zigmund. B+(**)

Gary Peacock: Voice From the Past - Paradigm (1981 [1982], ECM): Bassist composed all six pieces, leading a quartet with Tomasz Stanko (trupet), Jan Garbarek (tenor/soprano sax), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). B+(**)

Gary Peacock: Guamba (1987, ECM): Another quartet, with Garbarek again, plus Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Peter Erskine (drums). B+(***)

Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner: Oracle (1993 [1994], ECM): Bass and guitar duets, recorded in a studio in Norway, song credits split 6-2-1. B+(**)

Wayne Shorter: The Best of Wayne Shorter (1964-69 [1988], Blue Note): One of a series of single-CD "best-ofs" at this time. Shorter recorded 11 albums for Blue Note 1964-70, while he was a key member of the Miles Davis Quintet. I only rate one of those at A-, but graded the 2-CD The Classic Blue Note Recordings a full A. Should be even easier to construct a one-CD best-of, but this one strikes me as decidedly mixed. B+(***)


Grade (or other) changes:

EABS: Puzzle Mixtape (2012-15 [2016], Astigmatic): Polish group, later albums appear to be Komeda tributes but this early mixtape features electric keyb-bass-guitar and turntables with guest rappers (Jeru the Damaja opens, Ben Lamar Gay plays trumpet, and another rapper is named Marek Pedziwiatr). [was: B+(*)] B+(**) [bc]

Wayne Shorter: Adam's Apple (1966 [1987], Blue Note): One of his best-regarded albums, the title track belongs on best-ofs, and "Footprints" became a signature tune, but the ballads are less rewarding. With Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman, and Joe Chambers. CD bonus track is a plus. [was: B] B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Kaze & Ikue Mori: Sand Storm (Libra) [09-18]
  • Jacám Manricks: Samadhi (Manricks Music)
  • Okuden Quartet [Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Hamid Drake]: Every Dog Has His Day but It Doesn't Matter Because Fat Cat Is Getting Fatter (ESP-Disk, 2CD)
  • Matthew Shipp Trio: The Unidentifiable (ESP-Disk)