Music Week [0 - 9]

Monday, October 3, 2022

Music Week

October archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38804 [38768] rated (+36), 43 [44] unrated (-1: 15 new, 28 old).

Made very little progress on my promised books post last week, but wrote another Speaking of Which yesterday, mostly because the war in Ukraine took a couple of nasty turns. Zelensky and his more hawkish backers seem convinced that as long as the arms spigot remain open full bore they can drive Russia from pre-2014 Ukrainian territory and hand Putin a complete defeat, the humiliation of which should drive his top Kremlin lackeys to sweep him from office. Putin, in turn, has called up reinforcements, and (again) threatened to use nuclear weapons: the message there is that Russia cannot be defeated, at least as imagined by his enemies. I believe that he is correct, even if he is not as insane as many of his opponents claim. (If I am right, his sanity may never be forced to a test. However, I do question the sanity of those who think the West can afford to prolong the war indefinitely.) Still, all the more reason to negotiate a ceasefire and start to resolve the remaining issues. Beware that anyone not talking in those terms is totally full of shit.

I don't subscribe to The Atlantic -- well, actually, my wife doesn't; I don't subscribe to anything, but she does and I get a free ride sometimes -- but if I did it would probably prove a rich source of references for Speaking of Which, both for insights and bad examples. In the latter category is a James Kirchick piece that Paul Woodward cited, provocatively titled How the anti-war camp went intellectually bankrupt. I know I shouldn't feel defensive when the author's lead example of "the anti-war camp" is Ron Paul, but he fails even to deal with that case honestly or accurately. There is, in fact, a long history of "Russophobic bloodlust" in the interstices of American foreign policy -- that was precisely the point of backing the mujahideen in Afghanistan -- and while "the last dead Ukrainian" has the brevity of a snappy talking point, it's hardly "specious": it is the logical endpoint of all proxy wars (of which this is one, even if that's not the only thing this war is). I suppose I should expect pieces like this: every war starts off with slanders against its critics. Not only does this pave the way for escalation, it lays a foundation for excuses after a war turns disastrous ("who would have thought?").

By the way, I looked up Kirchick, who Google describes as "a conservative or neoconservative." One recent article I found by him was The Sanctification of George Soros. Consider this line in the sixth paragraph: "Soros, in case you couldn't tell, happens to be Jewish, a fact that has absolutely nothing to do with his ideas about criminal justice reform, or with Rubio's opposition to them." I can't say for sure about Rubio, but I think it's pretty certain that most of the right-wingers who depict Soros as an ultrarich puppet master behind the left's nefarious schemes not only know that he is Jewish but fully understand the resonance of 150 years of antisemitic propaganda. That's precisely why they single him out.

I finally did the indexing for September Streamnotes, adding in the month's Music Week intros. I found myself hating that bit of busy work more than ever, spending the whole time thinking about how I don't want to keep doing this. I suppose I'll hang on until the end of 2022, but that's likely to be it.

Birthday coming up toward the end of October, which has me thinking about my annual dinner ritual. Even modest dinner efforts have been prohibitively painful, so it's tempting to call it quits there, too. But as I think about it, one possible approach would be to recruit some help to largely take over, and a fallback would be to do one that is so simplified I can still do it myself. (The latter involves chicken and dumplings.)

Not a lot of records this week, but a high percentage of them are very good. As usual, Phil Overeem's latest list helped.

New records reviewed this week:

Horace Andy: Midnight Scorchers (2022, On-U Sound): Journeyman reggae singer, perhaps best known for his 1972 hit "Skylarking," nicely summed up by his 1970-76 comp Feel Good All Over, may have hit a peak with 1977's In the Light, but never let up, so he has dozens of later albums I haven't heard. The one I have heard was this year's much-touted "comeback" (after a 3-year gap) Midnight Rocker. Nice record, but this one turns up the heat considerably, earning its title. B+(***) [sp]

Kenny Beats: Louie (2022, XL): Producer Kenneth Blume III, first album under his name only -- he has at least four more co-credited to rappers, and is producer for many more. B+(*) [sp]

Kristin Berardi: The Light & the Dark (2019 [2022], Earshift Music): Australian jazz singer, writes her own songs, albums since 2006. This one recorded in New York, with Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Miro Sprague on piano, plus bass and drums, and a couple guest spots. B+(*) [cd] [10-14]

Crow Billiken: If I Don't Have Red I Use Blue (2022, self-released, EP): Rapper R.A.P. Ferreira delivers a short country blues album (6 songs, 21:37). "Alvin Youngblood Hart, Skippy James, Robert Petway, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Leroy Stewart Sr all contributed compositionally." B+(*) [bc]

Bitchin Bajas: Bajascillators (2022, Drag City): Cooper Crain, nominally a solo side project, but he has close to twice as many albums here (11 since 2010) as with his psychedelic drone group Cave (6 since 2008). It probably helps that these are conceptually simpler: four pieces ranging between 9:42 and 14:30, most attractive groove patterns drawn out. B+(**) [sp]

Alina Bzhezhinska & HipHarpCollective: Reflections (2022, BBE): Harpist, born in Ukraine, based in London, has at least one previous record, Bandcamp credits this to AlinaHipHarp. Credits unclear, but there is some sax (Tony Kofi), trumpet (Jay Phelps), bass, percussion, vocals (rap), and violin/viola (Ying Xue). B+(*) [sp]

Corey Christiansen: Standards (2022, self-released): Guitarist, from Utah, from 2000-07 worked as "senior editor ad guitar clinician" for Mel Bay Publications, and released his first album and books there. Since then he released six albums on Origin, and now this crowdfunded trio with Ben Williams (bass) and Carl Allen (drums). B+(**) [sp]

DJ Marz Y Los Flying Turntables/DJ Jester the Filipino Fist: Made in USA (2022, self-released): Mixtape, the DJs based in Texas (Austin and/or San Antonio), almost zero chance the samples got cleared. Looks like three cuts/one side each, the same title covering everything. The sort of thing that's only as good as it's funny. B+(**) [bc]

John Escreet: Seismic Shift (2022, Whirlwind): English pianist, eighth album since 2008, trio with Eric Revis (bass) and Damion Reid (drums), original pieces, kicks it up a notch (or two). B+(***) [cd] [10-07]

Fox Green: Holy Souls (2022, self-released): Mild-mannered rock band from Little Rock, probably wouldn't have given them a second listen but for knowing the guitarist. But the extra listens helped, especially once the Howlin' Wolf tribute caught my ear, and each song on the second side came into focus. A- [sp]

Gogol Bordello: Solidaritine (2022, Cooking Vinyl): Gypsy-punk band from New York, led by Ukrainian singer-songwriter Eugene Hütz, the only continuous member since their 1999 debut, although Russian violinist Sergey Ryabtsev comes close. I'm not catching every word, but the raw energy and rustic rage makes a fine soundtrack for writing my thoughts on the Ukraine War. A- [sp]

Keith Jarrett: Bordeaux Concert (2016 [2022], ECM): The best-selling pianist in jazz history has recorded nothing since his 2018 stroke, but his label has kept him current by releasing older tapes each year. This is the third solo set from his 2016 tour of Europe (following Munich 2016 and Budapest Concert). With over two dozen solo albums, I've given up on comparing them, so any grade is just a momentary impression. He is, of course, a great pianist, but he's also slowed down a bit. B+(**) [sp]

Laura Jurd: The Big Friendly Album (2021 [2022], Big Friendly): British trumpet player, best known for her band Dinosaur, has a couple albums on her own. Group here extends the brass with euphonium and tuba, plus guitar (Alex Haines), bass, and drums, with Jurd playing some piano, plus several guest spots (strings, soprano sax, and Frode Haltli's accordion on five tracks. Has a playful feel, almost circusy. B+(**) [sp]

Nikki Lane: Denim & Diamonds (2022, New West): Country singer-songwriter, fourth album since 2011. B+(**) [sp]

Yosef Gutman Levitt: Upside Down Mountain (2022, self-released): Bassist from South Africa, based in Jerusalem, plays acoustic bass guitar, doc sometimes omits "Levitt" from his name. Has a few albums, this one with Omri More (piano) and Ofri Nehemya (drums). Nice ambiance to it. B+(**) [cd]

Marxist Love Disco Ensemble: MLDE (2022, Mr Bongo): Italian group, seeks to resurrect the cheesy Euro-disco of the mid-1970s (they cite Patrick Juvet as an inspiration -- a name I recall, but not well enough to include when I constructed my original grade list), or maybe to mock it, or perhaps just to embue it with political meaning, although the titles suggest their politics were formed around the same historical moment. B+(**) [sp]

Bennie Maupin/Adam Rudolph: Symphonic Tone Poem for Brother Yusef (2022, Strut): For Yusef Lateef, who had a significant import for both musicians, including a long association with Rudolph. Just a duo here, with Maupin playing various reeds and flutes, and Rudolph keyboards and a long list of percussion. Set up as five movements, the middle drags a bit as if trying to find its way out of something dark and foreboding -- which it eventually does. A- [sp]

Ashley McBryde: Presents: Lindeville (2022, Warner Music Nashville): Country singer-songwriter from Arkansas, "presents" a concept album based in a fictional town named for Dennis Linde (1943-2006 -- been a while since I've thought of him), with guest artists playing various roles, taking over most of the songs, for better or worse. B+(***) [sp]

Marc Mommaas: The Impressionist (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Dutch saxophonist (tenor/soprano), based in New York, sixth album since 2003 on label. Quartet with Gary Versace (piano), Nate Radley (guitar), and Jay Anderson (bass). B+(**) [sp]

The Ogún Meji Duo: Freedom Suite (2021 [2022], CFG Multimedia): Columbus-based duo of Eddie Bayard (sax) and Mark Lomax II (drums), have a long-term partnership not limited to the seven albums they're released under this name. This takes off from Sonny Rollins' 1958 album. Hard to say how closely this adheres, as Rollins has never had a drummer who can solo like Lomax, and Bayard is one of the few saxophonists up to the task. A- [os]

The Red Microphone: A Bleeding in Black Leather (2022, ESP-Disk): Group formed in 2010, with John Pietaro reading Bertolt Brecht to avant-sax (Ras Moshe and Rocco John Iacovone), bass (Laurie Towers), and percussion (Pietaro), reconvened here with some extras (mostly guitar), with Pietaro reading his own poetry (also published in book form). Several stories stand out, including a history of bebop and one on a New York neighborhood that turns tragic. "Punk Jazz" earns its title. Ivan Julian produced. A- [cdr]

Todd Snider: Live: Return of the Storyteller (2021 [2022], Aimless, 2CD): This one is easy. I doubt I'll ever like it as much as his 2011 Live: The Storyteller -- I recognize fewer of the songs (as much as I like his recent albums, I don't know them nearly as well as the ones from East Nashville Skyline through The Devil You Know), and the stories seem more random. But I enjoy them nonetheless, and most of all the pacing, which I doubt anyone else can match. A- [sp]

SonnyJim & the Purist: White Girl Wasted (2022, Daupe, EP): British rapper, Sonny Sathi, has released a lot of material since 2008, mostly co-credits, this one with Lawrence Lord, who also has a long list of credits. Includes a piece featuring MF Doom & Jay Electronica. A quick play (8 tracks, 20:41). B+(*) [sp]

Sunny Sweeney: Married Alone (2022, Aunt Daddy): Country singer-songwriter, has a great voice and solid-plus songs. B+(***) [sp]

Andrés Vial: When Is Ancient? (2020 [2022], Chromatic Audio): Pianist, from Montreal, third album, trio with Martin Heslop (bass) and Tommy Crane (drums), names on the cover but parsed below the title. Original pieces, nice, engaging. B+(**) [cd]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Biluka Y Los Canibales: Leaf-Playing in Quito, 1960-1965 (1960-65 [2022], Honest Jon's): Brazilain Dilson de Souza, traveled to Ecuador, where he learned to play a picked ficus leaf. No idea what that should sound like, unless it's the flute over the jaunty organ grind and percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Lionel Hampton Orchestra: 1958: The Mess Is Here Revisited (1958 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Started as Louis Armstrong's drummer, but soon switched to the vibraphone, which he established as a jazz instrument. His late-1930s studio sessions introduced Dizzy Gillespie and bebop, and his 1940s big band (with Illinois Jacquet) deserves at least an assist for inventing rock and roll. He continued recording well into the 1990s. This is a big band he put together in Germany, with power horns, dazzling vibes, a strong blues vocal from Cornelius James, ending with an upbeat "Hamp's Boogie Woogie." B+(***) [bc]

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure to Compulsion!!!!! Revisited (1965 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Two of the pianist's Blue Note albums squeezed onto a single CD. Point of Departure has long been counted as a high point, with saxophonists Eric Dolphy ad Joe Henderson, Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Richard Davis (bass) and Tony Williams (drums). The later album may have been picked to fit -- a tight squeeze at 79:47, helped by using a couple alternate takes -- but is another essential album, with John Gilmore (tenor sax/bass clarinet), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), bass, drums, percussion (including African thumb piano). I'm not a big fan of the label's reissuing of albums that are already widely available, but I can't quarrel with the music. A- [bc]

Luciano Luciani Y Sus Mulatos: Mulata, Vamos A La Salsa (1970 [2022], Vampisoul): Alto saxophonist from Italy, moved to Peru and put this band together, with Benny del Solar and Kiko Fuentes on vocals, and lots of percussion, combining his interest in cumbias and Nuyorican salsa. First album, after a couple singles, released another in 1975 but is hard to find. B+(***) [bc]

Archie Shepp: Fire Music to Mama Too Tight Revisited (1965-66 [2022, Ezz-Thetics): Tenor saxophonist, made his initial mark 1963-64 in Denmark with New York Contemporary Five, followed by a wave of explosive albums on Impulse! -- starting with Four for Coltrane and Fire Music, and continuing to 1973. This collects two albums on one CD, starting with Fire Music -- a sextet with Marion Brown (alto ax), Ted Curson (trumpet), trombone, bass, and drums -- and tacking on Mama Too Tight, an octet several albums down the road. I suspect the latter was picked because it's short enough to fit (78:28 total). The roster looks impressive on paper -- Perry Robinson (clarinet), Tommy Turrentine (trumpet), Roswell Rudd and Grachan Moncur III (trombones), Howard Johnson (tuba), Charlie Haden (bass), and Beaver Harris (drums) -- but it doesn't quite cohere. B+(**) [bc]

Horace Tapscott Quintet: The Quintet (1969 [2022], Mr Bongo): Piano great, the central figure in the Los Angeles jazz scene, recorded this for Flying Dutchman to follow his debut A Giant Is Awakened, but somehow it didn't get released. With Arthur Blythe (alto sax), Everett Brown Jr. (drums), and two bassists (David Bryant and Walter Savage Jr.). B+(***) [sp]

Old music:

Amina Baraka/The Red Microphone: Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone (2017, ESP-Disk): Née Sylvia Robinson, mother and grandfather were union organizers, she was a founder of the Newark Art Society in 1963, before she married writer Amiri Baraka in 1966. She is a poet in her own right, and here ventures into spoken word over avant-jazz. The group was organized by percussionist John Pietaro, with two saxophonists (Ras Moshe Burnett and Rocco Jon Iacovone), and bass guitar (Laurie Towers). "The Things I Love" is easy to love, but she doesn't flinch from harsher fare, like "The Fascist," which gives the band reason to drill down. A- [sp]

Ronnie Boykins: The Will Come, Is Now (1975 [2009], ESP-Disk): Bassist from Chicago, died young (1935-80), best known in Sun Ra Arkestra, recorded this one album as leader, untitled at first, named for its lead song in a 2002 reissue. With three saxophones (alto and soprano, plus flute), trombone, and congas (no one I've ever heard of), but the bass leads are most intriguing. B+(**) [sp]

Matt Lavelle & Reggie Sylvester: Retrograde (2018, ESP-Disk): Duo with drums, Lavelle playing trumpet, flugelhorn, and alto clarinet. B+(***) [bc]

The Ogún Meji Duo: For Those Who Have Gone, but Still Remain (2018, CFG Multimedia): Sax and drums duo, Edwin Bayard and Mark Lomax II. Not much info beyond "pay homage to artistic Ancestors," of which Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Charlie Cook (?) are named in titles, the other piece called "Each Passing Moment." Short (34:48) but dense. B+(***) [sp]

The Red Microphone: And I Became of the Dark (2020 [2021], ESP-Disk): The group from the Amina Baraka album, formed a decade earlier to support a Brecht reading, but this seems to be the first album they did on their own, with percussionist John Pietaro providing words ("provocative, political poetry") and vocals, and Dave Ross joining on guitar. First track, "Revenge of the Atom Spies," is fast enough you can say he's singing. B+(***) [bc]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Trevor Dunn Trio - Convulsant Avec Folie à Quatre: Seances (Pyroclastic) [10-28]
  • Pablo Lanouguere Quintet: Altar (self-released) [10-14]
  • The Red Microphone: A Bleeding in Black Leather (ESP-Disk) [09-30]
  • Walking Cliché Sextet: Micro-Nap (Endectomorph Music) [10-21]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Music Week

September archive (finished).

Music: Current count 38768 [38717] rated (+51), 44 [46] unrated (-0: 16 new, 28 old).

I want to keep this brief. I haven't wrapped up the September archive file (link above) yet. I also haven't caught up with last week's releases in the metacritic file. Plenty of time for that sort of thing later.

I wrote up another big Speaking of Which yesterday. I picked up a couple links as far back as last Tuesday, but didn't write much of anything until Saturday. In between, I worked some on a future Book Roundup post, which I had hopes for last week but couldn't pull together in time. For what little it's worth, I developed a new scratch file to work in until I get enough material for a real post. No problem sharing the link, but I don't know how useful it will be (for you, although the jury is still out on how well it works for me).

I got some tips for this week's music from Chuck Eddy's Best Albums of 2022 So Far list, including an A- rapper I had never heard of. Christian Iszchak published a similar list. I spent less time with it, because I was already much more in tune with it -- I have 32 of 50 albums at A- or higher, 9 more at B+(***), only 1 as low as B, the last unrated belatedly added to today's list.

The Britney Spears dive was occasioned by a question to last week's Xgau Sez.

Pharoah Sanders died last week. I don't have much to say at this point, but my grade list is here. While there are good albums early and late -- in between was a struggle for most jazz musicians -- my favorite is 1990's Welcome to Love, which I've long regarded as the most gorgeous saxophone record ever recorded. Here are some obituaries: Andy Cush (Pitchfork); Andrew Flanagan/Nate Chinen (NPR); Jon Parles (New York Times).

Three more death to note way too briefly: Hillary Mantel (one of my wife's favorite writers); Anton Fier (drummer for Golden Palominos and other groups); Richard Cobeen (a music teacher and friend of friends). Also note that Dorothy Billings' memorial is this week.

Got a new dishwasher installed this week. I was surprised at how painful the whole process was: how hard it was to compare shopping information, how difficult to deal with dealers, how messy the whole delivery and installation process got. I'm not happy either with my choice or with the install (although not really the fault of the guy who did it). I've installed my own before, but decided to save myself some pain. If I ever do feel better, maybe I'll pull it out and redo it right, but for now it works ok. I used to pride myself as a smart shopper, but I'm on an extended losing streak.

Upgraded one computer to Ubuntu 22.04 last week with no issues, then finally did my main writing computer last night. Big problems. They lost my Firefox data (history, bookmarks, passwords, settings). Also broke my web server. Both problems are fixed now, but it took quite a bit of digging, config file editing, and shell programming to get it fixed. One reason I'm rushing to get this out.

New records reviewed this week:

Ingrid Andress: Good Person (2022, Warner Music Nashville/Atlantic): Country singer-songwriter, grew up in Colorado, studied at Berklee, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Linda Ayupuka: God Created Everything (2022, Mais Um Discos): Singer from Ghana, first album, "the future of fra fra music." Voices over beats, of varying intensity. B+(**) [sp]

Sasha Berliner: Onyx (2022, self-released): Vibraphonist, second album, backed by James Francies (keyboards), Burniss Travis (bass), and Marcus Gilmore (drums), with guests Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Julius Rodriguez (synths), and Thana Alexa (vocals). B+(**) [bc]

The Beths: Expert in a Dying Field (2022, Carpark): Indie pop band from New Zealand, Elizabeth Stokes the singer and rhythm guitarist, Jonathan Pearce the lead guitarist. Third album, jumps out fast. B+(***) [sp]

Bobby Broom: Keyed Up (2021 [2022], Steele): Guitarist, debut album 1981, does a pretty fair Wes Montgomery impression. Quartet with piano/organ (Justin Dillard), bass (Dennis Carroll), and drums (co-producer Kobie Watkins). Makes it look easy. B+(**) [cd]

Butcher Brown: Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey (2022, Concord Jazz): Jazz quintet from Richmond, Virginia; albums since 2013 veer between punk and funk with a Fela tribute on the side, but mostly this one, featuring MC and multi-instrumentalist Tennishu, goes for hip-hop. B+(*) [sp]

Cäthe: Chill Out Punk (2022, Träum Weiter!): German singer-songwriter, last nameSieland, fourth studio album since 2011. Light electropop, or perhaps deeper if I could decipher more than the occasional word, but definitely a chill album, and no, not punk. B+(***) [sp]

Cave In: Heavy Pendulum (2022, Relapse): Metalcore band from Massachusetts, debut 1998, a couple of their early releases wound up in my database but I never heard them until this showed up as the highest rated unheard album this year (tied for 150 on my list). Only their 7th studio album: they had a hiatus between their 2005 and 2011 releases, and didn't follow the latter up until 2019. Gruff vocals, more tolerable than the usual metal thrash, but awful long. B-

Raven Chacon/Tatsuya Nakatini/Carlos Santistevan: Inhale/Exhale (2020 [2022], Other Minds): Trio from New Mexico: guitar, percussion, bass, with electronics, live improvs on two side-long pieces (39:10 total). B+(*) [sp]

The Comet Is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (2022, Impulse!): British fusion group, third or fourth album since 2016, with King Shabaka (Shabaka Hutchings) on tenor sax, Danalogue (Dan Leavers) on keyboards, and Betamax (Maxwell Hallett) on drums. B+(**) [sp]

Deca: Smoking Gun (2022, Coalmine): New York rapper Matthew Kenney, 10th album since 2004, delivery reminds me of Buck 65, beats too, guest spots for Blu and Homeboy Sandman. A- [sp]

Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Finding Light (2022, Ridgeway): Bassist, albums since 2012, divided songwriting with guitarist Pilon 6-4, with Blade on drums. Tends toward ambient. B+(*) [cd]

DJ Travella: Mr Mixondo (2022, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Nineteen-year-old singeli producer from Tanzania: hip-hop beats, but faster. B+(*)

Djo: Joe Keery (2022, Awal): Joe Keery, better known as an actor (Stranger Things, since 2016), started in the band Post Animal, second solo album. B [sp]

Edoheart: Pandemonium (2022, Edoheart, EP): Esohe Arhebamen, from Nigeria, family moved to Detroit when she was seven, alias honors the Edo people of Nigeria, has studied the butoh dance of Japan, choreographed, published books of poetry, and released close to 10 albums and EPs. This one runs five tracks, 17:24, a star burst of ideas. B+(**) [sp]

El Khat: Albat Alawi Op. 99 (2022, Glitterbeat): Tel Aviv group, varied backgrounds (Iraq, Poland, Morocco, Yemen), named for a social drug common in Yemen, which "provides a feeling that promotes community and relaxation." B+(*) [sp]

Emperor X: The Lakes of Zones B and C (2022, Dreams of Field): Singer-songwriter Chad Metheny, originally from Florida, based in Berlin, debut 1998 but I didn't notice him until 2011's Western Teleport. I've been impressed with most of his work, but don't seem to be latching onto much here, even though the song titles are interesting, and the music is forthright. B+(**) [sp]

Alex G: God Save the Animals (2022, Domino): Singer-songwriter Alex Giannascoli, fourth album on this indie label after as many self-released efforts, going back to 2010. B

Noah Garabedian: Consider the Stars Beneath Us (2022, Outside In Music): Bassist, has a previous record or two, wrote everything here, played by Dayna Sephens (tenor/soprano sax), Carmen Staaf (piano), and Jimy Macbride (drums), with producer Samuel Adams credited for "effects, programming, additional recording, Moog Minitaur, Juno JU-06A." B+(***) [cd]

Connie Han: Secrets of Inanna (2022, Mack Avenue): Pianist, from Los Angeles, fourth album, trio with John Patitucci (bass) and Bill Wysaske (drums), plus spots for Rich Perry (tenor sax) and Katisse Buckingham (flute/piccolo). B+(*) [sp]

Jasper Høiby/Planet B: What It Means to Be Human (2021 [2022], Edition): Danish bassist, several albums, this is second of a promised four albums, starting with 2020's excellent Planet B, same trio with Josh Arcoleo (sax) and Marc Michel (drums). The bass is the pulse of life, the sax an adventure, the drums play off that. Includes spoken word texts from Grace Lee Boggs, Ruby Sales, and Jane Goodall. A- [sp]

Jon Irabagon: Rising Sun (2021 [2022], Irabbagast): Tenor saxophonist, Filipino roots, first noticed in Mostly Other People Do the Killing, won a Monk Prize (which got him a record on Concord, where he had to make nice and delivered a pretty good one anyway). Hit and miss in his solo work. Composed this (only cover is "Bebop") during an extended family roadtrip through the upper mountain states, and recorded it with a stellar quartet -- Matt Mitchell, Chris Lightcap, and Dan Weiss -- with guest spots for Miles Okazaki (guitar) and Adam O'Farrill (trumpet). B+(***) [bc]

Samara Joy: Linger Awhile (2022, Verve): Jazz singer, grew up in the Bronx, second album, still 22. Credits hard to come by, but guitarist Pasquale Grasso is featured on three songs, backed by Ben Paterson (piano), David Wong (bass), and Kenny Washington (drums). Mix of standards and jazz tunes she's written vocalese lyrics to. B+(**) [sp]

Julian Lage: View With a Room (2022, Blue Note): Guitarist, I count nine albums on mid-to-major labels, including his 2009 debut. Trio returns with Jorge Roeder (bass) and Dave King (drums), plus second guitarist Bill Frisell. B+(**) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock/Tom Rainey: Counterfeit Mars (2021 [2022], Relative Pitch): Saxophone (tenor/soprano) and drums duo, something they've done a lot of since the pandemic locked them down. B+(***) [bc]

Urs Leimgruber/Christy Doran/Bobby Burri/Fredy Studer: OM 50 (2022, Intakt): Avant-fusion band (soprano sax, guitar, bass, drums), founded 50 years ago, released 5 albums 1975-80 -- their 2006 A Retrospective is a good sampler -- got back together for a live album in 2010, another in 2020, then this shortly before the drummer died. Too many spots where they lay back, but most are rewarded with outstanding returns. B+(***) [sp]

James Brandon Lewis Quartet: MSM Molecular Systematic Music Live (2021 [2022], Intakt, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, swept last year's Jazz Critics Poll with his Red Lily Quintet album Jesup Wagon, building on a streak of superb albums going back to 2014 (Divine Travels, on Okeh). This live set expands on his 2020 Quartet album Molecular -- with Aruán Ortiz (piano), Brad Jones (bass), and Chad Taylor (drums) -- reprising 9 (of 11) songs, stretch to 89:48. B+(***) [sp]

Charles Lloyd: Trios: Ocean (2020 [2022], Blue Note): Second of three trio albums, following Trios: Chapel earlier this year, with a box set scheduled for November 18 collecting all three. This one has the tenor saxophonist backed by piano (Gerald Clayton) and drums (Anthony Wilson), with Lloyd also playing a fair amount of flute. B+(**) [sp]

Marilyn Mazur's Shamania: Rerooting (2022, Clap Your Hands): Percussionist, born in US but family moved to Denmark when she was six, albums since 1984, including Shamania in 2019. Josefine Cronholm and Sissel Vera Petterson sing -- latter also plays alto sax, with Lotte Anker on tenor sax, plus trumpet, trombone, keyboards, electric bass, and two more percussionists. B+(**) [cd]

Makaya McCraven: In These Times (2022, International Anthem): Chicago-based second-generation drummer, mother a Hungarian folk singer (he includes one of her songs here), albums since 2012 including some crossover potential -- this one is distributed by XL in Europe, and Nonesuch in the US. Long credits list, which doesn't qualify as a big band but provides even more textural and rhythmic options. Unfortunately, that's basically all he has, but it makes for a swell ride, as long as it lasts. B+(**) [sp]

Cario Mombelli: Lullaby for Planet Earth (2021 [2022], Clap Your Hands): From South Africa, plays electric bass, voice credit threw me as there's not much of that. Has a record with Charlie Mariano from 1990. Otherwise, discography picks up in 2014. This was recorded in Basel with Wolfgang Muthspiel on guitar and Jorge Rossy on drums and vibraphone. Atmospherics, light and airy. B+(***) [cd]

Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge: Jazz Is Dead 14: Henry Franklin (2022, Jazz Is Dead): The producers continue their tongue-in-cheek series featuring (mostly) forgotten figures of the decade jazz came closest to dying: the 1970s. Franklin is a bassist who released three obscure albums in the 1970s (the first two on Black Jazz), then struggled to find an outlet until 2000. Eight tracks with 7-9 musicians each, total 31:06. B+(*) [sp]

No Age: People Helping People (2022, Drag City): Indie rock duo, Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt, have an impressive string of albums since 2007. This one flies a bit under the radar. B+(**) [sp]

Oriental Brothers International Band: Oku Ngwo Di Ochi (2022, Palenque): Nigerian highlife band, founded in 1973, working under various names, sometimes featuring vocalist Dr. Sir Warrior or guitarist Godwin "Kabaka" Opara, neither of whom are still around for this new recordings (their first in 20 years). But the current crew, including band leader Ferdinand Dansatch Opara, have earned the right to keep this marvelous band name going. A- [bc]

Chris Pitsiokis: Art of the Alto (2022, Relative Pitch): Alto saxophonist, has produced quite a bit since 2012, including his group CP Unit. This one is solo, second time he's done that. First impression is that this is as good/bad/unlistenable as Anthony Braxton's For Alto. But ultimately it's a bit more varied, which helps. B+(*) [bc]

Shawn Purcell: 180 (2022, Origin): Guitarist, from Pittsburgh, based in DC region, spent eight years in Airmen of Note, teaches at George Mason. Basically an organ trio, with Pat Bianchi and Jason Tiemann, plus trombone on one track, vocals (Darden Purcell) on three. B [cd]

Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade: Long Gone (2022, Nonesuch): Supergroup (tenor sax, piano, bass, drums), all four established themselves as leaders in the 1990s, came together for the well-regarded 2020 album Round Again. B+(***) [sp]

Sampa the Great: As Above, So Below (2022, Loma Vista): Rapper Sampa Tembo, from Zambia, raised in Botswana, based in Australia after she turned 20. Second album (after two mixtapes). B+(**) [sp]

Rina Sawayama: Hold the Girl (2022, Dirty Hit): Pop singer, born in Japan, moved to London at age five, got a degree at Cambridge in political science, has worked as a model and actress. Twenty singles, but this is just her second album. I didn't like her earlier work, possibly sounded too metal, but this at best sounds like '90s Madonna, and there's something to even the most overwrought ballads. B+(**) [sp]

Suede: Autofiction (2022, BMG): Britpop group, first four albums (1993-99) were big hits in UK, three later albums (2013-18) returned to top ten there. For most of this time, they were known as London Suede in the US, but that seems not a problem this time. Music seems framed for the arena: big and heavy. B [sp]

Two Shell: Home (2022, Mainframe Audio, EP): British electronica duo, from London, eight releases since 2019, mostly EPs, which is how this one is billed, but at 5 tracks, 33:03 it could be an album. But it seems to slip by awful fast. B+(*) [sp]

Will Vinson: Tripwire (2021 [2022], Whirlwind): British alto saxophonist, based in New York, dozen-plus albums since 2004, this a trio with Matt Penman (bass) and Eric Harland (drums), plus guest Melissa Aldana (tenor sax) on two tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Katharina Weber: In Marta's Garden: Piano Solo (2022, Intakt): Swiss pianist, has a 2001 duo credit, a previous 2008 solo album, more albums since. B+(*) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Suzi Analogue: Infinite Zonez (2016-19 [2022], Disciples): Hip-hop/electronica producer, compiled this from four Zonez volumes. B+(*) [sp]

John Ondolo: Hypnotic Guitar of John Ondolo (1961-68 [2022], Mississippi): Tanzanian singer-songwriter, frequented the Kenyan scene in Nairobi, played guitar, a member of Vijana Jazz Band. This collects early singles. Feels primitive, but is still very beguiling. A- [bc]

Celestine Ukwu and His Philosophers National: No Condition Is Permanent (1971-74 [2022], Mississippi): Nigerian (Igbo) highlife singer (1940-77) and bandleader, recorded a half-dozen albums with this group (1971-76). Five tracks (32:57), selected from singles and albums. Loses a bit when they slow it down, but the closer ("Tomorrow Is So Uncertain") is especially lovely. B+(***) [bc]

Old music:

The Dils: Class War (1977-80 [2000], Bacchus Archives): Los Angeles punk band, released two singles in 1977 ("I Hate the Rich"/"You're Not Blank" and "Class War"/"Mr. Big"), and three more songs in 1980, with a 10-track live album appearing in 1990, all combined here. Two members went on to the country-rock Rank and File. The singles are notably political, and they display some embryonic tunecraft. B+(*) [sp]

Highlights From the Mercury Blues 'n' Rhythm Story (1945-55 [1996], Mercury/Chronicles): Single-CD sampler from the 8-CD box, 20 tracks. Cuts way back on the redundancy with only one song per artist, but plenty to go around. I suspect I could pick an alternate I'd like even more, but this does the job. A-

Nova Twins: Nova Twins EP (2016, Robotunes): British funk-metal duo, Amy Love and Georgia South, 5-song debut (15:03), start out closer to hip-hop but with heavier bass lines. I recommend their two subsequent full-length albums, but this should get you going. A- [sp]

Britney Spears: . . . Baby One More Time (1998 [1999], Jive): Teen pop princess, cast in The Mickey Mouse Club at 11, signed a record deal at 15, released this debut album at 17, looking pert and wholesome on the cover, last time you could say that. Sold 25 million copies: her most ever, although the next one came close (20 million). Front-loaded. The ballad "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart" seemed like a fall, but turned out to be catchy enough. B+(**)

Britney Spears: Britney (2001, Jive): Third album, another big seller (10 million), seems to have found her sound here, compressed with a staccato beat. B+(***)

Britney Spears: Circus (2008, Jive): Sixth album, after In the Zone (B) and Blackout (high B+), which this outsold 4 million to 3.1. Her ballad is a bust, but the dance beats are tight, even if there's little to distinguish the songs. B+(*)

Britney Spears: The Essential Britney Spears (1998-2012 [2013], RCA/Legacy, 2CD): Seven albums in -- Britney Jean came out later and contributed nothing here -- so less to choose two discs (33 songs) from than the single disc (14 songs) Greatest Hits from 2004. But as she grew out of teendom, she got dirtier, and her beats got denser, so while she never came up with a particularly interesting pop persona, her records got better even as the individual songs grew less memorable. Her early phase end 9 songs in with "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." The rest is consistenty enjoyable, although I could say the same for 2011's Femme Fatale (4 songs here), or for that matter 2016's Glory (her last album before her neuroses and conservatorship put her out of commission). A-

Britney Spears: Britney Jean (2013, RCA): Still charting high (although topping out at 4 was her lowest ever), but the raw sales have collapsed (as was happening throughout the industry). She describes this as her most personal album, and indeed has a piece of all the songwriting credits, but also a lot of help. B

Limited Sampling: Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Neptune Power Federation: Le Demon De L'Amour (2022, Cruz Del Sur): Australian fuzz metal band since 2012, singer Lauren Friedman (aka Screaming Loz Sutch), have a drummer who goes by Mr Styx. - [yt]

Grade (or other) changes:

Britney Spears: Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (1998-2004 [2004], Jive/Zomba): Premature: compiled after four albums, baited with two new singles: the title cut (a Bobby Brown cover) is sharper than all but a couple of her own hits, which oddly seems to diminish them. [was: B] B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • George Colligan: King's Dream (P.Ice) [11-11]
  • Marilyn Mazur's Shamania: Rerooting (Clap Your Hands) [09-16]
  • Cario Mombelli: Lullaby for Planet Earth (Clap Your Hands) [09-16]
  • Kerry Politzer: In a Heartbeat (P.Ice) [10-21]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Music Week

September archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38717 [38685] rated (+32), 46 [48] unrated (-2: 19 new, 27 old).

Rated count is down, but that's partly explained by multi-disc sets: especially the 8-CD Mercury box, which took more than a day (including one I did some cooking on). But I also played more old music, including a big chunk of the ridiculously packaged Beg Scream & Shout: The Big Ol' Box of '60s Soul (an A- in my database).

This week's two A- records were featured in Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide. I previously graded Etran De L'Aïr: Agadez, and The Mountain Goats: Bleed Out as A-; also Kabaka International Guitar Band and The Mountain Goats: Getting Into Knives as B+(***). I didn't get to Fox Green this week, and doubt I'll be seeing the Dusty Springfield comp (Ace rarely shows up on streaming services, although sometimes someone constructs a usable playlist; I still have no clue how to construct a playlist on Spotify).

Another Speaking of Which out Sunday night. I've started reading J. Bradford DeLong's big book (Slouching Towards Utopia), and it's already kicking off a lot of thoughts in my head. For instance, DeLong argues that before 1870 gains in technology and productivity were always diverted into more population (per Malthus) instead of more wealth per capita, but that changed after 1870 (basically doubling wealth every 33 years, until recently). It occurs to me that the 1870 shift wasn't global. In particular, Africa continued growing population, which correlates with low per capita growth, and widespread poverty. On the other hand, Asia did make the shift, mostly well after 1870, but the richest nations there are par with Europe, and most others are catching up fast (aside from politically excluded countries like Afghanistan and North Korea). It's a big book, so I'll probably be stuck on it for quite some time.

I've been wanting to do a Books post. Perhaps this week. Also have quite a bit of domestic work to get done, hopefully this week (but not likely until it cools off a bit). Only 7 September releases in my demo queue, and 2 of those not until 9/30. On the other hand, September is bringing more interesting new releases: in addition to the Miles Davis box below, there are new records waiting from the Beths, Gogol Bordello, Jesca Hoop, Samara Joy, Julian Lage, James Brandon Lewis, Rhett Miller, No Age, Rina Sawayama, Suede, and something called the Marxist Love Disco Ensemble. Also finally out is Jessica Pavone's Spam Likely, which I gave an A- to back in June.

New records reviewed this week:

Stacy Antonel: Always the Outsider (2022, self-released): Singer-songwriter, move to Nashville puts her in the country orbit, but she won't let that define her (even as she loads up on pedal steel). B+(*) [sp]

The Broken Spokes: Where I Went Wrong (2022, Broken Spokes Music): Country band from Houston, self-titled debut in 2016, singer Brent McLennan and guitarist Josh Artall write the songs, which feature more than a little western swing, and they keep the ballads on the sweet side. B+(**) [sp]

Charley Crockett: The Man From Waco (2022, Son of Davy): Country singer-songwriter from Texas, debut 2015, 11th album since 2015, 2nd this year. Trad sound, supplemented with horns. B+(**) [sp]

John Dikeman/Peter Ajtai/Nicolas Field: The Throes (2018 [2022], Orbit577): Avant sax-bass-drums trio, recorded in Amsterdam. Major thrash, for five tracks, 61:17. B+(*) [bc]

Dave Douglas Quintet: Songs of Ascent: Book 1 -- Degrees (2020-2021 [2022], Greenleaf Music): Trumpet player, postbop composer, long history as a preëminent player, most often leading quintets with someone equally skilled on reeds (Jon Irabagon here). Rhythm section is also superb: MattMitchell (piano), Linda May Han Oh (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). Thematically, he continues from last year's interest in Secular Psalms. There's also a Book 2 -- Steps, which is exclusive to his digital subscribers. B+(***) [10-07]

Homeboy Sandman: I Can't Sell These (2022, self-released): New York rapper Angel Del Villar II, very prolific since 2007 (mostly in the EP-to-short-album range), counts this 20-track long-player as a mixtape, based as it is on uncleared samples. Helps with the music, but I mostly hear words, which fascinate and pick up momentum over the long haul. A- [bc]

Jockstrap: I Love You Jennifer B (2022, Rough Trade): English electropop duo, Georgia Ellery (also of Black Country, New Road) and Taylor Skye, first album after several EPs. Has an interesting glitchiness, which isn't quite the same thing as hooklessness. B+(**) [sp]

Freedy Johnston: Back on the Road to You (2022, Forty Below): Singer-songwriter from Kinsley, KS, moved to New York 1985, debut album 1990. Only his second album since 2010, nice and tuneful. B+(**) [sp]

Kimberly Kelly: I'll Tell You What's Gonna Happen (2022, Show Dog Nashville): Country singer from Texas, father and sister in the business, self-released her debut in 2007, this her third album, shows a lot of poise. Has a connection to Billy Joe Shaver that pays off with an ace cover of "Black Rose." B+(***) [sp]

Mach-Hommy: Dollar Menu 4 (2022, self-released, EP): Rapper Ramar Begon, born in Haiti, grew up in New Jersey, has an album dated 2004 but really picks up only in 2016, with 2021's Pray for Haiti his breakthrough. Released three Dollar Menu tapes in 2017, follows up here with Tha God Fahim: 9 songs, 25:06. B+(***) [sp]

Sana Nagano: Anime Mundi (2020 [2022], 577): Brooklyn-based violinist, second album, trio with Karl Berger (vibes) and Billy Martin (drums). B+(**) [cd] [10-28]

Rachika Nayar: Heaven Come Crashing (2022, NNA Tapes): Brooklyn-based sound designer, uses guitar and electronics, third album, "a left-turn into electronic maximalism." B+(**) [sp]

Petrol Girls: Baby (2022, Hassle): English punk band, Ren Aldridge sings (or more often screams), started with an EP in 2014, no longer all girls, this is their third album, 11 songs in 34:00. B+(**) [sp]

Rick Rosato: Homage (2021 [2022], self-released, EP): Bassist, originally from Montreal, based in New York, first album, solo: eight tracks, 22:51: the original title track, a Monk, one from Elvin Jones, the rest blues. B+(*) [cd] [10-14]

Santigold: Spirituals (2022, Little Jerk): Singer-songwriter Santi White, from Philadelphia, eponymous debut 2009, fifth album but first I've heard in a decade. No obvious gospel tropes or stylings here, but fine with me if the spirit wants to move. A- [sp]

Mista Savona: Havana Meets Kingston Part 2 (2022, Cumbancha): Australian keyboardist/producer, into dancehall, released a 2007 album called Melbourne Meets Kingston, followed it up in 2014 with a Mista Savona Presents Sizzla, then in 2017 with his first Havana Meets Kingston. Seems like a smoother mix than you get with reggaeton. B+(**) [bc]

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers: Pretty Good for a Girl Band (2022, Domestic La La, EP): Australian girl band, leans punk but not real hard, released an EP in 2017 and a couple singles. This one runs 5 songs, 15:01. B+(*) [sp]

Kate Vargas: Rumpumpo (2021, Bandaloop): Singer-songwriter, plays guitar and flute, distinctive voice, fourth album since 2013. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Miles Davis: Live: What It Is: Montreal 7/7/83 (1983 [2022], Columbia/Legacy): After hiatus 1975-80, Davis staged a minor comeback in the early 1980s, probably peaking with the live Star People in 1983. This is much the same band, with the leader on trumpet and keyboards, Bill Evans (sax/flute), John Sccofield (guitar), Darryl Jones (bass), Al Foster (drums), and Mino Cinelu (percussion). Nine songs, 82:59, heavy on the funk groove. B+(***) [sp]

Miles Davis: That's What Happened [The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: 1982-1985] (1982-85, Columbia/Legacy, 3CD): Third disc reissues the Montreal date, available earlier this year on 2-LP. It's preceded by two discs of studio outtakes, mostly the residue of producer Teo Macero's editing. They are pleasantly inconspicuous. The live set is much hotter, but no more varied. B+(**) [sp]

Lou Reed: Words & Music, May 1965 (1965 [2022], Light in the Attic): Looks like Reed is going to get the full posthumous archive exploitation, starting with his earliest and crudest demos, mailed to himself to establish copyright: some songs that would become famous, some long forgotten, some with John Cale joining in, a Dylan-ish "Men of Good Fortune." I've only heard the 11 tracks of the most basic edition, and haven't seen Greil Marcus's liner notes. Rest assured that there are other options to take more of your money. At this level, it offers minor charms and amusements, as well as much room for improvement. B [sp]

Lou Reed: I'm So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos (1971 [2021], RCA): Guitar and vocal takes of 17 songs -- all 10 from his 1972 eponymous solo debut, 4 more from Transformer, 2 that appeared on later albums ("Kill Your Sons" on Sally Can't Dance, and "She's My Best Friend" on Coney Island Baby), plus a VU song Mo Tucker originally sung ("I'm Sticking With You"). The album mixes have always had their detractors, but bare demos feel a little monotonous. B+(**)

Charles Stepney: Step on Step ([2022], International Anthem): From Chicago, died young (1931-76), has some side credits but is best known as a producer, initially for Chess in the 1960s, later for Earth, Wind & Fire and other groups. No albums under his name until this one, which collects 23 undated demo pieces for 78 minutes -- mostly keyboard vamps, with some extraneous patter. The NY Times had a long review of this that described it as "a legacy of love" for someone who was "underrated, under-known, but he was magnificent." Maybe so, but aside from beat samplers, I doubt many will care. B [sp]

Stereolab: Electrically Possessed [Switched On, Vol. 4] (1999-2008 [2021], Duophonic/Warp, 2CD): British electropop, principally Tim Gane (guitar/keyboards) and Laetetia Sadier (vocals/other instruments), founded 1990, broke up 2009, regrouped 2019. Switched On was a 1992 album compiled from earlier EPs and singles, and two more volumes followed to 1998. This picks up with the 1999-2000 EPs The Underground Is Coming and The First of the Microbe Hunters, and then adds various scraps. Initial groove piece is terrific for 9:29, later vocals a bit less so. B+(***) [sp]

Stereolab: Pulse of the Early Brain [Switched On, Volume 5] (1992-2008 [2022], Duophonic/Warp, 2CD): Fifth volume of miscellaneous cuts, has to dig a little deeper, which sometimes means earlier. B+(**) [sp]

Old music:

The Mercury Blues 'n' Rhythm Story 1945-1955 (1945-55 [1996], Mercury/Chronicles, 8CD): Two discs each for Midwest Blues, Southwest Blues, West Coast Blues, and East Coast Blues. Mercury started in 1945 as an independent in Chicago, but they aimed big and spread everywhere, adding labels like EmArcy and Norgran (for jazz) and Smash, moving into Nashville and on to Europe, getting sucked up by Philips (eventually merged into Universal). Despite this breadth, this box winds up leaning heavily on a few artists: on the blues end, Big Bill Broonzy and Sunnyland Slim, and somewhat jazzier, Roy Byrd, Dinah Washington, and Cleanhead Vinson. Comes in an old-fashioned long box with four 2-CD jewel cases, and a big and useful booklet. B+(***) [cd]

Stereolab: Peng! (1992, Too Pure): Described as an "English-French rock band," based in England but singer Laetitia Sadier is French, the others on this debut album have proper English names (Tim Gane, Martin Kean, Joe Dilworth), but also give credit to a Charles Baudelaire text. Finds its groove with "Perversion," then sustains with some Velvet Underground airs. B+(**)

Stereolab: Switched On (1990-91 [1992], Slumberland): Starting off a future series, this combines four tracks each from two EPs (Super-Electric and Super 45) with the two tracks from their single Stunning Debut Album. Seems elementary, but sometimes a groove is all it takes (especially with those Velvet Underground overtones). B+(**) [sp]

Stereolab: Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (1993, Elektra): Title sounds like mere description, but not all that accurate, as most of it is pretty catchy, even a bit song-like. B+(***) [sp]

Stereolab: Mars Audiac Quintet (1994, Elektra): Guitar grinds a little more. B+(**) [sp]

Stereolab: Refried Ectoplasm [Switched On Volume 2] (1992-93 [1995], Drag City): A second compilation of non-album tracks, mostly from 7-inch singles, with one previously unreleased track. Steady groove pieces amplified with drone, a hook in its own right. B+(***) [sp]

Stereolab: Aluminum Tubes [Switched On Volume 3] (1994-97 [1998], Drag City, 2CD): Mostly EPs and side projects (like the "One Note Samba" with Herbie Mann from Red Hot + Rio). This period straddles their best album (Tomato Emperor Ketchup) and the much lamer Dots and Loops, so no surprise that it's more scattered than the first two Switched On volumes. Also longer: 113:12. B+(*) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Owen Broder: Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 1 (Outside In Music) [10-14]
  • Jussi Reijonen: Three Seconds [Kolme Toista] (Challenge) [10-14]
  • Andrés Vial: When Is Ancient? (Chromatic Audio) [09-30]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Music Week

September archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38685 [38637] rated (+48), 48 [56] unrated (-8: 19 new, 29 old).

I don't have much to say about music this week, so the reviews can speak for themselves. I did have quite a bit to say yesterday in Speaking of Which. One thing I didn't bother with was the 21st anniversary of September 11. That's something I don't need to be reminded to "never forget," but the endless memorials have grown tiresome, especially as we still haven't come to terms with the much greater tragedy of the wars G.W. Bush and his merry band of Vulcans then launched to remind the world not to challenge American omnipotence.

If you still are interested, I wrote a bit of memoir and comments on various articles in a September 10, 2021 Speaking of Which, which more or less coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Attica prison massacre, so I wrote about that, too. The pieces cited there are still worth pondering (except for Olson, which I ponder enough), starting with Garrett M Graff's After 9/11, the US Got Almost Everything Wrong. I quoted Graff's section heads there, and they sum up the argument (but I'll add some clarifying notes here):

  • As a society, we succumbed to fear. -- Which was largely orchestrated by political interests, and echoed by a pliant media.
  • We chose the wrong way to seek justice. -- With the blunt instruments of war, guaranteed to compound injustice and regenerate resistance.
  • At home, we reorganized the government the wrong way. -- Elevating an out-of-control security state, concerned only with projecting power abroad (well, and stifling dissent at home).
  • Abroad, we squandered the world's goodwill. -- Only thinking of our own power, and using it to inflict harm far greater than the original offense.
  • We picked the wrong enemies. Starting with peace and social justice advocates at home and elsewhere, with scant concern (and ultimately blanket racism) for the inevitable collateral casualties of war.

I've written about 9/11 many times over the years. The first was written in October, 2001, and backdated for the September, 2001 notebook. One line from then: "Those of us who survived Sept. 11 have survived a wake-up call: we need to look at our lives, and work all the harder to make right." That wasn't a very popular sentiment at the time. And that's part of the problem now.

Also note that all Responsible Statecraft did on 9/11 this year was to reprise their 9/11 at 20: A Week of Reflection pieces.

New records reviewed this week:

Jeff Arnal/Curt Cloninger: Drum Major Instinct (2021 [2022], Mahakala Music): Drummer, I've run across him a number of times since 2000, although rarely as first credit. Based in Asheville, NC, as is Cloninger, who works with modular synthesizers. B+(***) [bc]

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: Popular Culture (Community Music Vol. 4) (2020 [2022], Royal Potato Family, EP): Nine-piece band, recorded Vol. 3 as the Hot 9, reverts here to band name he set up after arranging the Kansas City soundtrack. Six songs (Grateful Dead, Eddie Harris, Beatles, Bessie Smith, Ellington, and Ellington-via-Mingus), 28:42. Finale is typically gorgeous. B+(**) [sp]

Blue Reality Quartet!: Ella's Island (2022, Mahakala Music): Avant jazz supergroup -- Joe McPhee (tenor sax), Michael Marcus (reeds), Warren Smith (vibes), Jay Rosen (drums) -- second group album. Some fine moments, then they dither a bit. B+(**) [sp]

Rob Brown/Juan Pablo Carletti: Fertile Garden (2020 [2022], NoBusiness): Alto sax and drums duo, two improv pieces (57:08). Brown is an associate of William Parker since the early 1990s -- In Order to Survive, Little Huey, Raining on the Moon, various Quartets (O'Neal's Porch), etc. He is in fine form here, which gives the drummer plenty to work with. A- [cd]

George Cartwright/Steve Hirsh/Chad Fowler/Christopher Parker/Kelley Hurt: Notice That There (2020 [2022], Mahakala Music): Date not given, but suggested by "created during the pandemic and in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder." Cartwright plays guitar and sax, Fowler stritch, Parker piano, Hirsh drums, Hurt vocals (not a major factor). B+(**) [bc]

Con+Kwake: Eyes in the Tower (2022, Native Rebel): UK hip-hop duo, Confucius MC (William Carbine-Glean) and producer Kwake Bass, with jazz keyboardist Alexander Hawkins, and Shabaka Hutchings co-credited as producer. B+(***) [sp]

Confucius MC: Somewhere (2021, YNR Productions): British rapper William Carabine-Glean, singles since 2017, seems to be his first album. [sp]

Gustavo Cortiñas: Kind Regards: Saludos Afectuosos (2022, Pesato Candente): Drummer, from Chicago, has a couple albums, this one mostly a vehicle for vocalist-pianist Meghan Stagl, with some nice trumpet from Emily Kuhn, plus guitar and bass. B+(*) [cd]

Steven Feifke/Dijon Watson: Steven Feifke and Dijon Watson Present: Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra (2022, Cellar): Big band, leaders play piano and trumpet, Feifke is the arranger. Guest spots for Kurt Elling and Sean Jones, the band well stocked with mainstream players, some young (like Alexa Tarentino and Roxy Coss), some with big band experience (like John Fedchock). B+(*) [cd]

Tim Fitzgerald: Tim Fitzgerald's Full House (2019-21 [2022], Cellar): Chicago-based guitarist, seems to be his first album, has published a book of Wes Montgomery transcriptions, leads a septet here (wasn't Full House a Montgomery title?), with trumpet (Victor Garcia) and two saxophones (Greg Ward II, Chris Madsen). Ten songs, all penned by Montgomery in new arrangements. B+(*) [cd] [09-16]

Forest Chorus: Forest Chorus (2019 [2022], Orenda): Quintet, Finns Mikko Innanen (baritone/alto/sopranino sax) and Joonas Lappänenn (drums), Argentine Seba Saenz (trumpet), and Americans Caleb Vaazey (guitar) and Miller Wrenn (bass). B+(***) [bc]

Chris Forsyth: Evolution Here We Come (2021 [2022], No Quarter): Guitarist, has a couple dozen albums since 1998, but I hadn't heard of him. So I don't know how this record fits in the greater scheme of things, or even whether he's really jazz (which is suggested by many duo albums, including one with Nate Wooley). This is a quartet, with second guitar, electric bass, and drums, kicking off with a delightful groove piece, and more of the same to come. It also has guest spots, including a Steve Wynn vocal on one track, and Marshall Allen playing EVI on the opener. B+(**) [sp]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Broken Unbroken (2022, Mahakala Music): Arkansas-based free jazz saxophonist, dials it back a bit here by playing stritch, saxello, and alto flute. Backed by bass and drums, with Griffen also playing some trumpet. B+(***) [bc]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Thinking Unthinking (2022, Mahakala Music): Same group, probably same session, three more pieces (47:58). B+(***) [bc]

Joel Futterman/Steve Hirsh: Warp & Weft (2021, Mahakala Music, 2CD): Piano and drums duo. B+(***) [bc]

Joel Futterman/William Parker/Chad Fowler/Steve Hirsh: The Deep (2022, Mahakala Music): Piano, bass, sax, drums, playing one 51:56 piece, recorded in one take. Enough going on that the piano explosions stand out even more. A- [bc]

Matthew Halsall: The Temple Within (2022, Gondwana, EP): British trumpet player, DJ, label head, dozen-plus albums since 2008. Four tracks, 23:10, mixes in flute, harp, piano/organ, bass drums, extra percussion. Likes a good beat. B+(**)

Heart of the Ghost: Summons (2022, No Quarter): Avant-sax trio from DC area, Jarrett Gilgore on alto/soprano sax, with Luke Stewart (bass) and Ian McColm (drums). They have a couple previous cassetts, plus a live album with Dave Ballou. Hype suggests they started in punk, then got creative. Blasts right out of the gate, still steady with the horn chills down or drops out. B+(***) [bc]

Steve Hirsh/Zoh Amba/Luke Stewart: An Unlikely Place (2022, Mahakala Music): Drums, tenor sax/piano, bass. Amba, originally from Tennessee but based in New York, seems to be the breakout free jazz star of the year, but three earlier albums have eluded my grasp. This is an unplanned 48:19 improv, strong enough to suggest that Amba should be a subject for further research. B+(***) [bc]

JER: Bothered/Unbothered (2022, Bad Time): Alias for Jeremy Hunter, of Skatune Network, first album. Upbeat ska. B+(*) [sp]

K.O.G.: Zone 6, Agege (2022, Pura Vida Sounds): Kweku Sackey, from Ghana but based in England, initials for Kweku of Ghana, first album -- Bandcamp has various singles and EPs, attributed to K.O.G. & the Zongo Brigade. Souped up highlife, rapping at times. B+(**) [sp]

The Koreatown Oddity: Isthisforreal? (2022, Stones Throw): Rapper, Dominique Purdy, from Los Angeles (despite the initial misdirection), started in stand up comedy, prolific since 2012. B+(*) [sp]

Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Xaybu: The Unseen (2022, Pi): Alto saxophonist, studied under Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, has released some of the finest avant-jazz albums of the last 15 years, took a radical turn with his 2016 Sélébéyone, a fusion of electronics, hip-hop, and mbalax -- the title translates as "intersection" from Wolof. Here he doubles down, with vocals in Wolof (Gaston Bandimic) and English (HPrizm), an extra saxophone (Maciek Lasserre on soprano), and drums (Damion Reid). Uncredited electronics and samples. Dense, with sharp edges, the sax breaks remarkable, but few and far between. B+(***) [cd]

Enrico Rava/Fred Hersch: The Song Is You (2021 [2022], ECM): Trumpet and piano duets: five standards, ranging from Monk to Jobim, one original each, one joint improv. Very comfortable. B+(***) [sp]

Howard Riley/Keith Tippett: Journal Four (2016 [2022], NoBusiness): Two major avant-jazz pianists in Britain: Riley's 1970 The Day Will Come is a Penguin Crown album, but Tippett (1947-2020) was the flashier player. They each take a warm-up solo here (15:53 for Tippett, 10:26 for Riley) then conclude with a 46:47 duet. B+(**) [cd]

Jeremy Rose: Face to Face (2022, Earshift Music): Australian saxophonist (tenor/soprano, also bass clarinet), several albums (I have a newer one in the queue). Quartet with piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Jackie Ryan: Recuerdos De Mi Madre (2022, Open Art): Standards singer, grew up north of San Francisco, mother was Soledad Garcia, born in Mexico. Songs in Spanish, some even I recognize, with a band that features Paquito D'Rivera. B+(**) [cd] [10-07]

Wayne Shorter/Terri Lyne Carrington/Leo Genovese/Esperanza Spalding: Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival (2017 [2022], Candid): Venerable saxophonist, 83 when he was called on to headline the festival, played one set with his regular quartet, then assembled this one for another set, giving the drummer featured place, followed by piano and bass-vocals. The vocals flow nicely with the music, and as does the sax. B+(**) [sp]

Sonny Singh: Chardi Kala (2022, self-released): Based in Brooklyn, sings, plays trumpet, dhol, and harmonium, drawing on Sikh devotional poetry (gurbani), projecting high spirits as well as "denouncing tyranny, oppression, and dogmatic ideologies, while uplifting oneness and justice." The bit of lyric I understood helped. B [sp]

Clark Sommers Lens: Intertwine (2021 [2022], Outside In Music): Bassist, side-credits since 1998, has a couple albums with his group Ba(SH), Lens seems to be another group -- although Geof Bradfield (reeds) and Dana Hall (drums) overlap, joined here by Chris Madsen (tenor sax) and Matt Gold (guitar). Original pieces, nicely orchestrated postbop. B+(**) [cd] [09-16]

Vic Spencer x Small Professor: Mudslide (2022, Coalmine): Chicago rapper, albums since 2012, while producer Jamil Marshall goes back a bit further. Most memorable cut is a murder yarn. B+(*) [sp]

Sudan Archives: Natural Brown Prom Queen (2022, Stones Throw): Brittney Parks, born in Cincinnati, based in Los Angeles, plays violin, sings, raps, and presumably wrote the 18 bits that toss and turn in this kaleidoscope of an album. A- [sp]

Eric Vloeimans & Will Holshouser: Two for the Road (2021 [2022], V-flow/Challenge): Trumpet and accordion duo, not the most felicitous of combinations, recorded live. B(*) [cd]

Wrecking Crew: Sedale Threat (2022, self-released): Hip-hop collective, Small Professor brings the beats, others I haven't heard of. Title a Lakers basketball reference I didn't get, although I caught a couple more. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:


Old music:

Yugen Blakrok: Return of the Astro-Goth (2013, Iapetus): South African rapper, first album, I liked her 2019 album Anima Mysterium but didn't bother to look back at at whatever else was available. Mostly this album, with its cosmic beats and consciousness to match, noting "of all the things to waste the most terrible is the mind," and pushing: "we need a paradigm shift." A- [bc]

Kanif the Jhatmaster: The Hashemite (2016, Iapetus): South African hip-hop producer Rufus Sebright, "first appeared on the South African hip-hop scene in '97," but this seems to be his first album headlining. Note that 9 of 10 titles end in "Dub" (the other ends in "Ska"). And that's about all there is to it. B+(*) [bc]

Kanif the Jhatmaster: Flight of the 50 Foot Vimana (2016, Iapetus, EP): As understated as dub, but much more inscrutable. Seven tracks (25:01). B+(**) [bc]

Enrico Rava: Il Giro Del Giorno in 80 Mondi (1972 [1976], Black Saint): Italian trumpet player, still active, looks like his first album, appeared on a small label at the time before being reissued here. Title translates to Around the Day in 80 Worlds. Quartet with guitar (Bruce Johnson), bass (Marcello Melis), and drums (Chip White). Tries to be funky but also a bit out. B+(**) [sp]

Enrico Rava: The Pilgrim and the Stars (1975, ECM): First of many records on ECM, backed by guitarist John Abercrombie's trio, with Palle Danielsson (bass) and Jon Christensen (drums). They set a fine pace, and he sounds exceptional. A- [sp]

Enrico Rava: The Plot (1976 [1977], ECM): Return engagement, same quartet, similar vibe. B+(***) [sp]

Enrico Rava: Secrets (1986 [1987], Soul Note): Quintet with electric guitar (Augusto Manicinelli), piano (John Taylor), bass (Furio Di Castri), and drums (Bruce Ditmas). B+(**) [sp]

Enrico Rava/Franco D'Andrea: For Bix and Pops (1994 [1996], Philology): Trumpet and piano duets, not a style of music either is known for, and may seem a bit stiff, but nicely done. B+(**)

Enrico Rava/Ran Blake: Duo En Noir (1999, Between the Lines): Trumpet/flugelhorn and piano duets. One Rava original, the rest standards, with Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" a nice addition to the usual fare (not that they will ever run out of things to do with "Tea for Two"). B+(***) [sp]

Lou Rawls: The Essential Lou Rawls (1963-81 [2007], Philadelphia International/Legacy, 2CD): Soul singer from Chicago, started in church, recorded with the Pilgrim Travelers in 1962, also with Les McCann, becoming a fixture at Capitol (1962-70), but wasn't a very big star there (3 singles charted 13-17-18). He got a second chance on Philadelphia International (1976-81), where he scored his biggest hit -- the still remarkable "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" -- but little else. That's as far as this goes, but he moved on to Epic, and kept releasing records up to his death in 2006. Impresses as a singer, but rarely finds the right song or arrangement. B- [sp]

Shorty Skilz: Spirit Scream (2019, Iapetus, EP): South African rapper, half of Witchcraft Books, short debut album (7 tracks, 24:09). B+(*) [bc]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Bobby Broom: Keyed Up (Steele) [09-23]
  • John Escreet: Seismic Shift (Whirlwind) [10-07]
  • Song Yi Jeon/Vinicius Gomes: Home (Greenleaf Music) [11-18]
  • Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Xaybu: The Unseen (Pi) [08-26]
  • William Parker: Universal Tonality (2002, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD) [09-30]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Music Week

September archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38637 [38595] rated (+42), 56 [51] unrated (+5: 23 new, 33 old).

I'm tired and sick and generally disgusted, so have next to nothing to say about this week's music. If you want to go to a happier place, try Phil Overeem's September list. That's where I found Witchcraft Books (or whatever the proper credit is). Before that, the only A- record on my list was Vol. 6 of the Sam Rivers archives, which is probably the 6th A- in that series so far.

I wrote a pretty long Speaking of Which over the weekend. I thought I could get up today and give is an extra edit pass, but wound up spending most of the day on the August Streamnotes index. Only thing I got out of that was the news that the Streamnotes index passed 20,000 last month.

I did a fairly extensive update of the Robert Christgau website last week. We've had several episodes where resource limits choked the website, and one of those occurred last week. I had been working on coding changes to check for attempted hacks using HTTP arguments (especially the GET variables set from the URL), so I pushed myself and puts checks on the last such cases. There's no proof that the resource limits were being caused by those hacks, but since I knew it was a security risk, it was the obvious fix to make. I've been monitoring the website more closely since then. We've had one fault, but it was short-lived, and I don't know what caused it. As the changes hit most of the database code, let me know if you run into anything amiss. It's also possible that the checks will catch some reasonable requests, so let me know about that, too.

Given today's fault, the changes don't appear to have fixed the problem. The entry process limit exists primarily as a defense against DOS (denial of service) attacks, but I don't see any evidence of that level of traffic. That means, most likely, that some page requests are causing processes to hang. I have no way of identifying hung processes, so I'm left to guessing, looking at code for suspicious loops. (Code injected through arguments can easily cause hangs like that, so my first guess wasn't necessarily a wrong one.) I put some logging code in to help, but after I didn't get any data back in three days, I discovered a bug, and had to start over. (Ah: caught 17 errors so far, some suspicious, but I forgot to log the script name, so should add that.)

New router seems to be working OK. It picked up all the old DHCP addresses, so I ran into less trouble than expected. In some ways the transition was a little too smooth.

The second album (Holy Souls) from my friend Cam Patterson's band Fox Green is available now. I've been slow getting around to it, but you can listen for yourself on Bandcamp, and order a CD or download there. The first one, The Longest April, was a high B+ both by Robert Christgau and yours truly.

New records reviewed this week:

Florian Arbenz: Conversation #6 & #7 (2021 [2022], Hammer): Swiss drummer, has a trio (since 2006) called Vein, started his superb Conversation series during lockdown, entertaining various guests. Guest here is pianist Kirk Lightsey, in a duo for the first part, expanded to a quartet with Tibor Elekes (bass) and Domenic Landolf (tenor sax/bass clarinet). B+(***) [bc]

Karl Berger/Max Johnson/Billy Mintz: Sketches (2017 [2022], Fresh Sound): Mostly piano-bass-drums trio, with Berger also on vibes. All three contribute songs, plus one from Charlie Haden and one trad. B+(***) [sp]

Camp Cope: Running With the Hurricane (2022, Run for Cover): Australian alt-rock trio, Georgia McDonald the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist, two other women on bass and drums. Third album. B+(*) [sp]

The Chats: Get Fucked (2022, Bargain Bin): Australian post-punk group, second album, knock their songs off like bowling pins. B+(***) [sp]

Tashi Dorji/Susie Ibarra: Master of Time (2020 [2022], Astral Spirits): Bhutanese guitarist based in Ashville, NC; numerous albums since 2009, mostly solo improvs and duos, like this one with the drummer/percussionist. She gets into the Buddhist thing. B+(**) [bc]

Drug Church: Hygiene (2022, Pure Noise): Rock band from Albany, NY; somewhere in the punk/hardcore/grunge constellation. Fourth album since 2013. I don't find the grind unlistenable, but don't get much more out of it. B [sp]

Silvana Estrada: Marchita (2022, Glassnote): Mexican singer-songwriter, from Veracruz, second album, title translates as "withered." B+(*) [sp]

The Fernweh: Torschlusspanik! (2022, Winterlude): Brit rock group, from Liverpool, name and title sounded German to me, so I called up Google translate and was amused to find that the English for "Fernweh" is "Wanderlust." The title translates as "last minute panic." Second album. Only non-English song title is French ("Pas devant les enfants"). B+(*) [sp]

Florist: Florist (2022, Double Double Whammy): Indie folk band quartet from Brooklyn, self-released debut EP in 2013, fourth album on the current label, the eponymous title suggesting that they've reached a level worthy of re-introducing themselves. Emily Sprague sings, and seems to be into modular synthesizers. Nice flow to the music. Does run a bit long. B+(***) [sp]

Al Foster: Reflections (2022, Smoke Sessions): Drummer, joined Miles Davis in 1972, had a couple albums as leader 1978-79, a scattered few since including one in 2019 on this label, huge number of side credits along the way. Leads a powerhouse quintet here, with Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Chris Potter (tenor and soprano sax), Kevin Hays (piano and Fender Rhodes), Vicente Archer (bass). I don't care for the ensemble horn tone, but as soloists they're impressive as expected. B+(*) [sp]

Ezra Furman: All of Us Flames (2022, Anti-): Singer-songwriter from Chicago, debut 2007 as front for a band (Ezra Furman & the Harpoons), solo since 2012, has a fairly remarkable string of albums. I'm having trouble focusing on this one, but maybe I should just let it be. B+(***) [sp]

Michael Grossman/Jai Morris-Smith: Curious Music (2020-21 [2022], Research/Astral Spirits): Australian guitar duo, both indulging liberally in "treatments," which fade into ambience. B [bc]

Ben Harper: Bloodline Maintenance (2022, Chrysalis): Singer-songwriter from California, 16th album since 1994, mixed race, mixed genre but blues seems to be his default setting, a reserve of strength when he gets topical, as in "We Need to Talk About It." B+(**) [sp]

Keefe Jackson/Oscar Jan Hoogland/Joshua Abrams/Mikel Patrick Avery: These Things Happen (2016 [2022], Astral Spirits, EP): Sax quartet, leader plays tenor and sopranino, backed by piano, bass, and drums. Opens with a Monk riff, covers Dewey Redman and Herbie Nichols, includes two songs by the pianist, and returns to Monk again. Short enough we'll call it an EP (21:55). B+(**) [bc]

JID: The Forever Story (2022, Dreamville/Interscope): Atlanta rapper Destin Route, third album, debut was called The Never Story. Slippery, some stories. B+(**) [sp]

Lykke Li: Eyeye (2022, PIAS): Swedish singer/songwriter, last name Zachrisson, fifth album since 2008. Soft pop, doesn't grab me, but has some moments. B+(*) [sp]

Roberto Magris: Duo & Trio: Featuring Mark Colby (2012-19 [2022], JMood): Italian pianist, from Trieste, started around 1982, has recorded a lot since 2005. Alternates cuts between a duo with saxophonist Mark Colby (the later session) and a trio with Elisa Pruett (bass) and Brian Steever (drums), adding congas to the latter on two tracks. Nice showing for Colby. B+(**) [cd] [09-01]

Rudi Mahall/Michael Griener: Jazzpreis (2020-21 [2022], Astral Spirits): German duo, bass clarinet/clarinet/baritone sax with drums/vibraphone. Mahall has a lot of shared or side credits since 1992. Griener, two years younger, has about half as many credits, but was leader on a 2014 quartet with Mahall I like, and joined Mahall's group Die Enttäuschung for their 2017 Lavaman album. B+(***) [bc]

Roc Marciano & the Alchemist: The Elephant Man's Bones (2022, ALC/Marci/Empire): Rapper Rakheim Calief Meyer, has a dozen alums since 2010, this the first one with Dan Maman producing. Not much stands out from their inscrutable groove. B+(**)

Matmos: Regards/Uklony Dla Boguslaw Schaeffer (2022, Thrill Jockey): Electronica duo, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, originally from San Francisco, now based in Baltimore, 13th album since 1997, a collection of works by Polish computer Schaefer (1929-2019). Opens with beats. Could use more. B+(*) [sp]

Tommy McLain: I Ran Down Every Dream (2022, Yep Roc): Swamp pop crooner, got on the "one hit wonders" list with his 1966 recording of "Sweet Dreams" -- the only one to chart as pop (15) but these days you know it from Patsy Cline (1963) and I also know it from writer Don Gibson (1956; Faron Young cover sold more, but I'm a bigger fan of Gibson's compilations). McLain recorded a number of albums in the 1970s, but this is only the second one since. Aside from a Fats Domino cover, originals, some sharing credits with Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Van Dyke Parks. Nothing immediately grabs me, but some of it sinks in agreeably. B+(*) [sp]

Mdou Moctar: Niger EP Vol. 1 (2022, Matador, EP): Saharan guitarist from Niger, has uniformly appealing albums since 2013, long on groove, not many vocals. This is long enough (42:58), but starting with two "drum machine version" takes and concluding with four live tracks (most of old songs), is nicely discounted, and about as functional as the other albums. B+(***) [sp]

Mush: Down Tools (2022, Memphis Industries): Post-punk band from Leeds [UK], third album, some jangle in the guitars, some static in the amps. Reminds me of Psychedelic Furs and/or Pavement. B+(**) [sp]

Jessica Pavone: . . . Of Late (2021 [2022], Astral Spirits): Plays viola here, Abby Swidler violin or viola, Aimée Nieman violin on one track, which also has voice from all three. Mostly slow and methodical, thinking of minimalism. A bit more interesting toward the end, but I've never liked the shrillness. B [bc]

Harish Raghavan: In Tense (2021 [2022], Whirlwind): Bassist, based in New York, second album, quintet with Morgan Guerin (reeds), Charles Altura (guitar), Joel Ross (vibes/marimba), and Eric Harland (drums). B [sp]

Joe Rainey: Niineta (2022, 37d03d): Pow wow singer from Minneapolis ("faithful to tradition"), first album, backed by "cinematic, bass-heavy production from Andrew Broder." Jarring at first, grows on you. B+(**) [sp]

Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Joshua Abrams: Allium (2022, Aerophonic): Alto/tenor sax, with cello and drums, in what's by far the most atmospheric album Rempis has ever recorded. Lovely stretch toward the end, but hard to get excited about all the down time. B+(***) [cd] [10-04]

Joan Shelley: The Spur (2022, No Quarter): Folk singer-songwriter from Kentucky, albums since 2010, some in the group Maiden Radio. Nice voice, very pretty album. B+(**) [sp]

Ben Sidran: Swing State (2021 [2022], Nardis): Pianist, started in a rock band with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs, has three dozen solo albums since 1970 (of which I've only heard one before this), I have him down as a vocalist but not here: eight standards (including "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Stompin' at the Savoy," and "Tuxedo Junction"), backed by Billy Patterson (bass) and Leo Sidran (drums, his son). B+(**) [cd] [09-16]

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Let's Turn It Into Sound (2022, Ghostly International): Started with a fascination for synthesizers and sound design, debut 2012, sings some, tenth album, some interesting quirks in the electronics. B+(*) [sp]

Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson (2022, Easy Eye Sound): Country singer, has a big, goofy voice you can't mistake for anyone else, debut in 1980, 22 albums through 2020, most of them charted but only 3 went gold, starting with 1982's Wild & Blue. Not immediately clear how many of these were written by Anderson, or how recently they were recorded. (This starts with John Prine, who died in 2020, singing "1959," written by Gary Gentry, and ends with a Billy Joe Shaver song, and one by Bo Diddley in the middle.) B+(**) [bc]

Charm Taylor: She Is the Future (2021, Sinking City): Born in St. Louis, based in New Orleans, "liberationist & pollinator is generating new music and art as movement in the throes of social revolution, emergent motherhood, and a global yearning for a better world." First album. Sings some, raps more. B+(**) [bc]

Teddy & the Rough Riders: Teddy & the Rough Riders 2022, self-released, EP): Nashville band, guitar-bass-drums plus pedal steel, released an album in 2019, back here with six songs (19:56). B [bc]

Matt Ulery: Become Giant (2022, Woolgathering): Chicago bassist, albums since 2009, goes long on strings here, with three violins, viola, cello, and drums, on the multipart title piece plus one more (total: 36:25). B+(**) [cd]

UNKLE: Ronin II [Mixed] (2022, self-released): Founded in 1990s by British electronia producer James Lavelle, a group that included DJ Shadow (Josh Davis) for their 1998 debut, Psyence Fiction, but has reduced here to someone called Miink and occasional guests, revisiting old tunes and adding a couple new ones. The closer is by far the most impressive. B+(**) [bc]

Wiri Donna: Being Alone (2022, self-released, EP): New Zealand-based "rock project," Bianca Bailey singer-songwriter, six tracks (23:46) EP after a 2-track single. B [bc]

Witchcraft Books [Shorty Skilz/Kanif the Jhatmaster]: Vol I: The Sundisk (2022, Iapetus): Cover can be parsed several ways, with Bandcamp page using "Witchcraft Books" in title as well as artist credit, with the duo names way below. Both artists have separate albums on the label, so I was tempted to elevate their names, but for now will just note them. South Africans (I think), closer to U.S. underground hip-hop than to local grooves (kwaito or amapiano), but was mastered in Marseille and Catalonia, and covers a fair swath of cosmos. A- [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Daunik Lazro/Jouk Minor/Thierry Madiot/David Chiésa/Louis-Michel Marion: Sonoris Causa (2003 [2022], NoBusiness): French saxophonist, albums since 1980, plays baritone here, with contrabass sarrusophone, bass trombone/telescopic tubes, and two 5-string basses, so you could say they "get down." B+(**) [cd]

Prince and the Revolution: Live (1985 [2022], NPG/Legacy, 2CD): March 30 concert in Syracuse, "televised live and semi live around the world," released at the time on tape (VHS/Betamax, with a Laserdisc in 1988), source for numerous bootlegs, until the Estate finally came up with the definitive box set (3-LP, 2-CD, Blu-ray), or just the 2-CD and/or Blu-ray. I'm just streaming the audio. The set draws heavily on his most recent album, Purple Rain, along with familiar earlier material. The auditorium and the crowd don't do the sound any favors, so while the energy is high and the songs are great, I don't see this as terribly useful. B+(**) [sp]

Sam Rivers: Caldera [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 6] (2002 [2022], NoBusiness): Featuring Doug Matthews (acoustic & electric bass, bass clarinet) and Anthony Cole (drums, tenor sax, piano), a trio that had been playing together since 1994. Rivers himself plays tenor & soprano sax, flute, and piano, plus gets a vocals credit. Opens with piano, finds new and varied combinations, what improvisation is all about. A- [cd]

Old music:

Tony Conrad: Early Minimalism: Volume One (1964-65 [1997], Table of the Elements, 4CD): Experimental film/video producer, composed pieces on the drone end of the minimalist scene that developed in New York in the 1960s. The first disc here is "Four Violins," and right away you'll hear the electric viola tone that John Cale brought to the Velvet Underground. Unfortunately, for 32:30 (and it seems much longer) you'll hear nothing else. The later sessions are slightly more fetching, not that the drones vary much there, either. The box is flimsy with a promotional wraparound, but it does include a fairly substantial booklet. B+(**) [cd]

Nazareth: Back to the Trenches: Live 1972-1984 (1972-84 [2001], Sanctuary/Castle, 2CD): Scottish hard rock band, debut 1971, moved into arenas with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog, solid but nondescript, from the era before metal became dead weight. B [cd]

Marianne Nowottny: Manmade Girl: SOngs and Instrumentals (2001, Abaton Book, 2CD): Singer-songwriter, second album after a 1999 debut, Discogs lists four more since. Songs fractured, backed with keyboard. Second disc of instruments, slips into background. B+(*) [cd]

Precocious Noise and Early Electronica Pt. 1: Incantations for Tape (1920s-60s [2018], Sound Miracle): Odd electronic music, from days when anything you could coax out of a circuit seemed like a breakthrough. How valuable this is will depend on the documentation. [NB: Streaming issues may have confused me here: it's possible that some pieces were omitted, while others were added at end.] B+(*) [sp]

Precocious Noise and Early Electronica Pt. 2: Wire Recorded Pieces (1921-62 [2020], Sound Miracle): Most of these date from the 1950s, with early ones from 1921, 1938, 1944. Later pieces include a few well-known names, like Ligeti, Ussachevsky, and Pierre Henry. B+(**) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Richard Baratta: Music in Film: The Sequel (Savant)
  • Kristin Berardi: The Light & the Dark (Earshift Music) [10-14]
  • Rob Brown/Juan Pablo Carletti: Fertile Garden (NoBusiness) [04-20]
  • Gustavo Cortiñas: Kind Regards: Saludos Afectuosos (Pesato Candente) [09-02]
  • Steven Feifke/Dijon Watson: Steven Feifke and Dijon Watson Present: Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra (Cellar) [09-09]
  • Tim Fitzgerald: Tim Fitzgerald's Full House (Cellar) [09-16]
  • Daunik Lazro/Jouk Minor/Thierry Madiot/David Chiésa/Louis-Michel Marion: Sonoris Causa (2003, NoBusiness) [04-22]
  • Shawn Purcell: 180 (Origin) [09-12]
  • Howard Riley/Keith Tippett: Journal Four (NoBusiness) [04-20]
  • Sam Rivers: Caldera [Sam Rivers Archive Project, Volume 6] (2002, NoBusiness) [04-18]
  • Jeremy Rose & the Earshift Orchestra: Disruption! The Voice of the Drums (Earshift Music) [10=14]
  • Clark Sommers Lens: Intertwine (Outside In Music) [09-16]
  • Matt Ulery: Become Giant (Woolgathering) [08-26]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Music Week

August archive (done).

Music: Current count 38595 [38552] rated (+43), 52 [51] unrated (+1).

This is the last Monday in August, so wraps up the August archive (link above). I'll do the indexing later, but for now, the count for the five-week month is +212 rated, -25 unrated. Latter number failed to drop this week because I got a big package of fall releases from Matt Merewitz. All of the pending promos in my queue have September or October release dates. I jumped the gun a couple times below, but generally held myself back.

Two notable, relatively young jazz musicians died last week: Jaimie Branch (39, trumpet/vocals), and Joey DeFrancesco (51, organ). The latter is survived by his father, another organ player, Papa John DeFrancesco. The Branch list will direct you to a couple of A- live albums, but misses the side-credits, which include A- work with James Brandon Lewis, Dave Rempis, Rob Mazurek, and Heroes Are Gang Leaders (Lewis again, but worth noting in their own right).

Also passed last week was producer Creed Taylor (93). He started at Bethlehem Records in the 1950s, headed up ABC's Impulse! label during its 1960s heyday, and ran his own CTI label in the 1970s (results there were mixed, but the 1970s were a tough decade for above-ground jazz).

The Wichita Eagle finally published an obituary for Dotty Billings -- I wrote a bit about her a couple weeks ago. It's a pretty deep survey of a remarkable life. We were fortunate to have known her, and counted her a friend.

Christian Iszchak has published another of his excellent An Acute Case consumer guides. As usual, I'm struggling to keep up. Phil Overeem published a remarkable one-record-per-year list on Facebook. That steered me to the Dead Moon comp, and convinced me to give Tommy Womack some deeper listening. Phil mentions recent reading of a Womack memoir, but as far as I can tell, doesn't specify: Dust Bunnies (2018) seems to be the most recent, but there's also Cheese Chronicles (2008). (I haven't done an album dive on his early Government Cheese group, but I have a 2-CD compilation from 2010 as a high B+.)

Now I'm wondering if I didn't shortchange Loudon Wainwright III's Years in the Making. It's hard to listen to these long multi-CD sets by streaming. Besides, the box violates my album cover formatting standards, but it's more or less at the same level. On the other hand, it's an odds & sods compilation, whereas the Dead Moon and Tommy Womack 2-CD sets are true career summaries.

I wrote another fairly long Speaking of Which last week, posted late last night. It's been suggested that I should break the long paragraphs up, but that runs against my formatting concept. Also the fact that I'm reading it in my text editor instead of on the browser screen, but mostly that I'm exhausted by the first pass and never feel like taking the extra time for an edit. (On the rare occasions when I do, I inevitably wind up changing lots of things. E.g., I just added a line to the Madeleine Ngo item: "Economics has long prided itself on being 'the dismal science,' but its attraction to sadists is less often recognized.")

I should also note that I've changed the website home page to do an automatic redirect to the blog. Another reader request, and a fairly easy one to do. I should probably write a new explainer page.

Only got the new router half-installed: I was gratified to at least get the wired machines working, but still need to work on the wireless and other details. Will resume work on that after this is posted.

Still feeling pretty awful. At east I'm fairly functional, but it's hard to get enthusiastic about anything these days. Summer has gone by in a blur, which is probably a good thing, since (using 100°F days as a standard) this is easily the 4th hottest summer since we moved here in 1999. (Could rank higher if we used 90°F days, or average highs, or average temperature.) Still not done: September usually doesn't cool off much until the last week, and maybe not then. Of course, it's not all weather, and not all pain. At least I have lots to do -- something I have a knack for turning into frustration.

In my article search, I noticed this piece -- Men have fewer friends than ever, and it's harming their health. It doesn't quite describe me, but I've been pretty isolated since the mid-1960s, and most of the time I've gotten by ok, so it's hard to tell. But I can see how isolation has increased -- that was the point of Robert Putnam's 2000 book, Bowling Alone -- and the only mitigating factor I've seen since then has been the rise of virtual friendships through shared interests (probably most of the people I interact with most days).

New records reviewed this week:

Aitch: Close to Home (2022, Capitol): British (Manchester) rapper Harrison James Armstrong, first studio album after several EPs and singles that charted in UK. B+(*)

JD Allen: Americana Vol. 2 (2022, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, refers back to his 2016 album Americana, which was subtitled "Musings on Blues and Jazz." Originals here, aside from "This World Is a Mean Old World" and "You Don't Know Me." With Gregg August (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), plus Charlie Hunter (guitar on 8 tracks). Allen remains an impressive saxophonist, but this seems a little muddy. B+(**) [cd] [08-26]

Roxana Amed: Unánime (2022, Sony Music Latin): Jazz singer from Argentina, debut 2004, moved to US in 2013, only second album since then. Band includes Martin Bejerano (piano) and Dafnis Prieto (drums), and most songs -- only two co-credit Amed -- have featured guests. B+(***) [cd] [09-16]

Chouk Bwa & the Ångströmers: Ayiti Kongo Dub #1 (2022, Bongo Joe, EP): Haitian group, sometimes Chouk Bwa Libète, teamed up with the Belgian production duo -- they have a previous album together, Vodou Alé (2020). Three tracks, 19:04. B+(*) [bc]

Chronophage: Chronophage (2022, Bruit Direct Disques): Indie band from Austin, debut 2017, moved to New York in 2021, third album (following two self-released cassettes). B [bc]

Stella Donnelly: Flood (2022, Secretly Canadian): Australian singer-songwriter, second album, first showed a knack for cataloguing and skewering "male assholes." Some of that here, but not quite as sharp. B+(**) [sp]

Matthew Fries: Lost Time (2021 [2022], Xcappa): Pianist, fifth album, trio with John Hébert (bass) and Keith Hall (drums), original material, dedicates this album to his late mother. B+(**) [cd] [09-23]

Phoebe Green: Lucky Me (2022, Chess Club): Pop singer/songwriter from Manchester, first album after an EP (aside from a self-released CDR from 2016). B+(**) [sp]

Lauran Hibberd: Garageband Superstar (2022, Virgin): Brit singer-songwriter from Isle of Wight, first album after several singles, title stakes out her pitch and claim, and the best pieces sound like some kind of femme Ramones with a bit of Bowie complex. B+(***) [sp]

Julia Jacklin: Pre Pleasure (2022, Polyvinyl): Australian singer-songwriter, started in the garage band Phantastic Ferniture, third solo album. B+(*)

Calvin Keys: Blue Keys (2022, Wide Hive): Guitarist, originally from Omaha, headed to California in 1969 and cut his debut in 1971 (recently reissued). With Gary Bartz (alto sax), Steve Turre (trombone), Henry Franklin (bass), Babatunde Lea (percussion), plus seven others in smaller print. Ends on a strong groove. B+(**) [sp]

Kyle Kidd: Soothsayer (2022, American Dreams): Singer (songwriter not clear), from Cleveland, started in Mourning [A] BLKstar (four albums 2017-20, heard of but haven't heard), solo debut, intro reads "living as a queer, androgynous person," gets a lot of support, transcending genre as easily as gender. B+(*) [bc]

Kokoroko: Could We Be More (2022, Brownswood): British 8-piece Afrobeat band, led by Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), first album after several singles and EPs. B [sp]

Clemens Kuratle Ydivide: Lumumba (2021 [2022], Intakt): Swiss drummer, first album was called Murmullo, so he called the group on his second Clemens Kuratle Murmullo. Ydivide is a new quintet, with alto sax (Dee Byrne), piano (Elliot Galvin), guitar (Chris Guilfoyle), and bass (Lukas Traxel). I'm most impressed when the sax charges ahead. B+(*) [sp]

Steve Lacy: Gemini Rights (2022, RCA): Guitarist in r&b/hip-hop collective The Internet, second solo album after a Demo EP. Should be funkier or smoother or something. B [sp]

The Mountain Goats: Bleed Out (2022, Merge): Singer-songwriter John Darnielle's band, 21st album since 1994. Not sure of the lyrics, which extoll or maybe just call out revenge, "wage wars get rich die handsome," "make you suffer," an endless supply of oxygen and hostages, and lots of blood -- reportedly written during a "pandemic spent devouring classic action films." That leaves strong images, and the music is as appealing as ever. A- [sp]

Lucas Niggli/Matthias Loibner: Still Storm (2022, Intakt): Swiss drummer, albums since 1993, most share headline credits with others and vary accordingly -- I especially like his albums with Aly Keita and Jan Galega Brönnimann. Loibner is from Austria, records since 2001, plays hurdy gurdy and adds some electronics. Starts ambient, grows from there. B+(**) [sp]

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom: Reset (2022, Domino): Singer-songwriter Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective in 1999 and still involved with them, while maintaining a solo career since, well, 1999. Working here with English producer Peter Kember, who he's collaborated with off and on since 2011. I haven't cared for what I've heard in the past -- 3 of 8 albums; 7 more from Animal Collective, never topping B+(*) -- but this is often clever, with some sonic depth and intricacy. Still, I've heard many of the hooks elsewhere (most obviously from the Drifters). B+(**) [sp]

Silvan Schmid: Augmented Space (2019-20 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Swiss trumpet player, first album, solo, credit also for amplifier on the title piece, which he manages to get some rhythm out of. B [bc]

Scorpion Kings X Tresor: Rumble in the Jungle (2020 [2021], Blaqboy): Credit per cover, where Scorpion Kings are South African amapiano producers DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, and Tresor is Mukengerwa Tresor Riziki, a singer originally from Congo, credited as writer of these 14 pieces (99:00). B+(***) [sp]

Superorganism: World Wide Pop (2022, Domino): Indie pop band, based in London but with international members from the Far East (Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand). Second album, sets out to unify the world, but not without a little fragmentation. B+(***) [sp]

Tank and the Bangas: Red Balloon (2022, Verve Forecast): New Orleans-based funk group, half-dozen mostly live albums since 2014, second on this label following 2019's Green Balloon, Tank is singer/rapper Tarronia Ball. B+(***) [sp]

WA Records: If You Fart Make It Sound Good: Ciclo De Improvisacion: Liberada (2018 [2022], WA): From Barcelona, a label and/or collective or perhaps just an ad hoc set of electroacoustic experiments, with most pieces apparently named for their artists, or unnamed by the artists. Not many farts, unless trombones count. Gets better toward the end. B [bc]

Loudon Wainwright III: Lifetime Achievement (2022, StorySound): Folk singer-songwriter, debut 1970, crossed 75 with his 25th studio album. He has been counting the years at least since 2012's Older Than My Old Man Now. He reminds us here that his father died at 62, and he's enough of an ironist to know he's living on borrowed time, turning it into a game where he can do what he wants "for fun and free." Doesn't seem he sweated the music much, even when on the odd occasion he cranked up his band. But he still has things to say, and is finding more all the time. A- [sp]

Miguel Zenón: Música De Las Américas (2022, Miel Music): Alto saxophonist, from Puerto Rico, debut 2022, has won a MacArthur fellowship. Quartet with Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Henry Cole (drums), playing the leader's original compositions. Several guest spots, including one vocal, but most dazzling of all is the sax. A- [cd] [08-26]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Brasil Novo ([2022], Música Macondo): Curated by DJ Tahira (from Sao Paulo) and Tim Garcia (London), eight tracks -- "contemporary," other sources say "over the last fifteen years," and talk about hard-to-find 20th century roots -- something called samba de coco, from the more African-influenced nordeste. B+(**) [bc]

Tommy Womack: 30 Years Shot to Hell: An Anthology (1987-2017 [2022], Schoolkids, 2CD): Singer-songwriter from Kentucky, more alt-rocker than country but his songs can fit and teach them a thing or two. Started with the band Government Cheese, which provides four songs here, plus three more for two bands he played in with Will Kimbrough (The Bis-Quits, Daddy), which leaves 35 from his solo work. More than half is remarkable, rest has a chance. May be too much, but he's entitled to include it all. A- [sp]

Old music:

Dead Moon: Echoes of the Past (1988-2004 [2006], Sub Pop, 2CD): Garage rock band from Oregon, founded 1988, led by Fred Cole (singer/guitarist), with Toody Cole (bass, his wife) and Andrew Loomis (drums). Recorded studio 10 albums through 2004, 4 more live, plus a couple early compilations picking up singles and stuff. I'm not finding any dates here, but Cole saw this as a final summing up: they toured Europe in support of the album, then broke up. Nothing here is great enough to be deemed essential, but none of it is disappointing either. I don't see myself wanting to explore further, but as a chunk of history, this is a pretty fair memento. A- [r]

Esquire's All American Hot Jazz Sessions (1946-47 [1988], RCA): Esquire was (still is, despite numerous ups and downs) a magazine, founded in 1933. It ran a jazz poll piece in 1943, which to organizing concerts. I'm not sure when they stopped, but Playboy, which eclipsed them in the 1960s, ran its own jazz poll for many years. This rounds up their mostly swing-oriented picks for 1946-47, with extra cuts from related artists (Jack Teagarden, Lucky Thompson). I wish it was easier to decipher the credits -- Discogs is no help -- but the first All Stars lead off with Louis Armstrong singing and Duke Ellington on piano, with Johnny Hodges on alto and Don Byas on tenor; the second group only repeats Charlie Shavers, but picks up Buck Clayton, Coleman Hawkins, and Teddy Wilson (among others). Leonard Feather is MC, and claims 8 writing credits. CD adds 5 extra cuts, by Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, and Mildred Bailey. B+(**) [cd]

Michael Jon Fink: A Temperament for Angels (2004, Cold Blue Music, EP): Electronic music composer. Discogs credits him with 7 recordings (4 albums, 2 singles/EPs, 1 miscellaneous), most 2001-04 with outliers (1982, 2014, 2019); also played in the Negative Band on a Stockhausen album I remember from 1975. This is considered a single, but as a single 28:24 piece should at least count as an EP. Ambient electronics, occasional strings and cymbal. B+(*) [cd]

Jim Fox: The City the Wind Swept Away (2004, Cold Blue Music, EP): Electronic music composer, has a handful of records 1998-2013, this one a 22:25 single, performed on piano, strings (a quartet), and trombones (3). Still ambient. B+(*) [cd]

T.D. Jakes: Praise & Worship (1978-98 [2008], Verity/Legacy): Kind of a big deal among the holy rollers, styles himself as the bishop of an unaffiliated Dallas megachurch, The Potter's House, broadcasting his sermons as The Potter's Touch. He's hobnobbed with Bush and Obama, appeared on Dr. Phil and in a handful of films, some based on his novels (a subset of the 30+ books he's published). He works his choir hard, having them solo at the start and for breaks, but they're also foils for his own spiels, which I find amusing but are no doubt as meant as sincere and even profound -- at least as much as this consummate showman can muster. B+(**) [cd]

Draco Rosa: Vino (2008, Phantom Vox): Singer/songwriter from Puerto Rico, started out in boy band Menudo (with Ricky Martin, whose breakout album Rosa produced), went solo in 1988 as Robby. This one is in Spanish, including covers of Cohen and Dylan. Mainstream rock feel, although that may be misleading. B [sp]

Swing-Groups: 1931 to 1936 [Robert Parker's The Golden Years in Digital Stereo] (1931-36 [1987], ABC): Parker (1936-2004) was an Australian audio engineer who developed a process for converting old 78 rpm records to digital stereo. He used this to release several dozen CDs of public domain material, some single-artist sets (Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, Gracie Fields, Al Bowly), but most were topical compilations, ranging from Opera 1904 to 1935 to Saucy Songs 1928 to 1938. This grabs 16 songs from as many big bands, most but not all as white as the cover pic. Sound seems good, but I'm not one to be picky. B+(**) [cd]

The Three Johns: Eat Your Sons (1990, Tupelo): Side project for Mekon guitarist Jon Langford, with John Hyatt (vocals), Philip "John" Brennan (bass), and a drum machine. Ran from 1981-98, producing several great records, especially 1986's The World by Storm, then regrouped for this swan song in 1990. Postpunk, has the urgency but less clear on the mission. B+(**) [lp]

Loudon Wainwright III: Surviving Twin (2017, StorySound): A live performance, recorded as a documentary by Christopher Guest for Netflix, so this counts as a soundtrack. Solo, alternates new songs about his namesakes -- figuring himself as a "surviving twin" to his late father -- with spoken word pieces written by his father. I don't have a lot of patience for the latter, and doubt I'd ever play them again, but they kept me interested, even as I felt they ran too long. B+(*) [sp]

Loudon Wainwright III: Years in the Making (1973-2018 [2018], StorySound, 2CD): Back cover continues with "Forty-five years of offbeaten tracks, and hitherto unheard Loudoniana: A comprehensive 2-CD audiobiography, orphaned album cuts, live recordings, radio appearances, home demos, and much more. Fun by and for the whole family (PG13) with an accompanying booklet filled with dozens of documents, drawings, doodles, and drafts, historical, ephemeral, and otherwise in between." [Caps reduced, punctuation added.] Possible that the booklet provides some dates, but the last song is refers to the occasion of his 71st birthday (he was born in 1947), so I took that and subtracted 45, which goes back to his 4th album (the first one he wrote a title to, Attempted Moustache). Could go earlier, but not much. Some covers, some songs I recognized, some I didn't, like the one that goes "I woke up and I felt so bad/ . . . /Feels like we're right on the brink/ But it ain't Gaza/ No, it ain't Gaza/ It's not as bad as Gaza/ or the Ukraine." That was probably written 5-8 years ago, but feels prety timely right now. B+(***) [sp]

Vickie Winans: Praise & Worship (2003-06 [2008], Verity/Legacy): Gospel singer, birth name Bowman, from Michigan, sang with International Sounds of Deliverance as a teenager, married Marvin Winans (of the gospel group Winans), solo debut in 1985. This draws on her two albums for Verity (plus a live track), long on chorus and bombast. B-

Tommy Womack: Stubborn (2000, Sideburn): Thought I'd check out some of his earlier albums I had missed. This was the oldest I found on Spotify, second in his list. Opens rockabilly, has some interesting songs. B+(**) [sp]

Tommy Womack: Circus Town (2002, Sideburn): Most songs are memorable, the hot ones like "You Can't Get There From Here" instant hits, the ballads take a little longer, unless the jokes are especially obvious. One highlight is everything you need to know about "The Replacements." A- [sp]

The Tommy Womack Band: Washington D.C. (2002 [2003], self-released): Radio shot, title reflects where it was recorded, nothing much you'd consider political. Band credit emphasizes loud and fast, which suits them fine. Not sure whether these songs are original here, but I recognize a number of them from the 30 Years compilation. B+(***) [sp]

Tommy Womack: Namaste (2016, self-released): Title a greeting used in yoga. One song cites the Dalai Lama to become a better Christian, but after surveying ancient Rome and Jerusalem, he concludes ("God Part III"): "I believe in Beatles, I believe in love." Ten more songs, some trivial, some funny, a closer that is plainly lovely, all worth hearing again. A- [sp]

Added grades for remembered lps from way back when:

  • The Negative Band: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Short Wave (1975, Finnadar): B+

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dan Cavanagh and James Miley With John Hollenbeck: Another Life (S/N Alliance) [10-21]: cdr
  • Jeff Denson/Romain Pilon/Brian Blade: Finding Light (Ridgeway) [09-23]
  • Dave Douglas Quintet: Songs of Ascent: Book 1: Degrees [10-07]
  • Joe Fiedler: Solo: The Howland Sessions (Multiphonics) [11-04]
  • Noah Garabedian: Consider the Stars Beneath Us (Outside In Music) [09-23]
  • Yosef Gutman Levitt: Upside Down Mountain (self-released) [09-30]
  • Darryl Harper: Chamber Made (Stricker Street) [10-28]
  • Olli Hirvonen: Kielo (Ropeadope) [11-11]
  • Sana Nagano: Anime Mundi (577) [10-28]
  • Timothy Norton: Visions of Phaedrus (Truth Revolution) [11-04]
  • Rick Rosato: Homage to Be (self-released) [10-14]
  • Eric Vloeimans & Will Holshouser: Two for the Road (V-flow/Challenge) [09-01]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Music Week

August archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38552 [38520] rated (+32), 51 [60] unrated (-9).

Another lousy week, this one again cutting into my listening, as I struggled to find things as well as to write. Still managed to come up with two A- records early in the week (Dangermouse/Black Thought, Megan Thee Stallion). On Thursday, Robert Christgau posted his vacation-delayed Consumer Guide. I had previously recorded grades for 12 (of 14) albums, but mostly lower grades (exception was the Regrettes aptly-titled Further Joy, near the top of my 2022 list). Given that the week was already wasted, I decided to do some re-listening, and several of those albums got better. It helped that Dan had since my initial review sent me a CD. Also that I picked up a physical of Beyoncé: after the revised review below was written, but I noticed much more detail, which helped push it up the list. Senn was probably a just case of shifting weight to the good parts from the less inspired parts. And Lizzo? I went through five more passes, each starting with songs I loved and ending with me having lost attention somewhere in the second half. On a sixth play, I forced myself to pay attention all the way to the end. The second half does have some good stuff, but only if you work at it. That's not my definition of A-list pop. I also gave Kari Faux (a 2021 album I heard and quickly forgot) another spin, and left it at B+(*). Also the Regrettes, which I moved up a bit to the top slot on this year's list. (I didn't bother rewriting the review, which you can find back in June.)

Of the two records I hadn't heard, The Paranoid Style was on my radar, but hadn't been available until this week. Folk and Great Tunes From Siberia and the Far East isn't on my streaming services. (The sample is worth its 2:38, but doesn't prove that 2-CD will be worth the trouble.) I will note that the Russian "republics" -- why the quotes? that's what they're called, while what we call "Russia" is officially a federation of republics -- Christgau has "never heard of" are confused with misspellings, which doesn't attest much to the documentation.

I also wasted time writing a new review of África Negra's Antologia Vol. 1, only to find that I already had one (back in May), same grade but with group name misspelled. I was pretty sure I had heard that one, but couldn't find it until it was too late.

I do have a fairly long Speaking of Which to show for last week. I've had to fiddle with it a few times since: adding the Marcotte example, tuning the Soros language, fixing typos (the 'c' key on this keyboard seems to be on strike) and mental lapses (Barry, not Bobby, Bonds). Still has some points I can see weaving into a book.

I didn't get to this week's releases in my tracking and metacritic files (tracking file is up to 2638 albums, with 896 of my grades). Not much happening in August, anyway, and I'll catch up soon enough. More pressing for me is installing a new mesh wireless router. I'm bugged that it comes with zero documentation, other than "download the app and follow instructions." That's the same sort of "idiot proofing" that came with my printer, which still doesn't work properly, possibly because it's impossible to understand how it's supposed to work. Hopefully, the new wireless will end my wife's complaints about dead spots for her portable devices. I'm still wired for pretty much everything, so the impact on me is more likely to be breaking things.

Speaking of breaking things, I need to install the new Ubuntu release this week. Also need to do some programming. No idea what I'll be listening to.

New records reviewed this week:

Richard Baratta: Music in Film: The Sequel (2022, Savant): Drummer, mostly involved in film production over the last 35 years, did an album of Music in Film in 2020 (subtitle The Reel Deal), returns with a sequel here, mostly familiar tunes, arranged by pianist Bill O'Connell, with Vincent Herring (alto sax), Paul Bollenback (guitar), bass, and percussion. B+(*) [cd] [08-26]

Mike Clark/Leon Lee Dorsey Featuring Mike LeDonne: Blues on Top (2022, Jazz Avenue 1): Drums, bass, piano. LeDonne brought two songs (including the title), the 7 covers mostly jazz standards, with "Willow Weep for Me" and "Can't Buy Me Love" the outliers. B+(**) [cd]

Jeff Coffin: Between Dreaming and Joy (2022, Ear Up): Saxophonist, from Massachusetts, based in Nashville, plays all of them, plus clarinets, flutes, melodica, percussion, coke bottles, and "bungee chair bass." Debut 1999, recorded a lot after that with Béla Fleck and Dave Matthews, his own discography picking up after 2015. Opens with a couple of appealing funk/groove pieces, diversifies later, which can mean Brazilian and Moroccan percussion, DJ Logic's turntablism, or his flute. B+(**) [cd] [08-26]

Danger Mouse & Black Thought: Cheat Codes (2022, BMG): Producer Brian Burton, debut 1999, got more attention for his 2004 Grey Album mash-up of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, has a wide range of albums since then, most notably here duos with rappers Doom (Dangerdoom) and Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley), hooks up here with Roots rapper Tarik Trotter, who has a lot to say. A-

Michael Dease: Best Next Thing (2022, Posi-Tone): Trombonist, a dozen albums since 2010, lines up a particuarly strong sextet here with Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Renee Rosnes (piano), Boris Kozlov (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). B+(*) [sp]

DJ Premier: Hip Hop 50: Vol. 1 (2022, Mass Appeal, EP): Chris Martin, from Houston, half of Gang Starr, later PRhyme, has a lengthy production discography. Five-track (14:00) EP starts to recognize 50 years of hip-hop, each track with a guest star (or 2): Joey Bada$$, Rapsody/Remy Ma, Nas, Run the Jewels, Lil Wayne/Slick Rick. B+(**)

Billy Drummond and Freedom of Ideas: Valse Sinistre (2022, Cellar): Drummer, not related to bassist Ray Drummond (although they played together in a trio called the Drummonds, with Renee Rosnes, who at the time was married to Billy). Wikipedia only credits him with four albums (plus four for the Drummonds), but his side credits run over 350. Impressive group here, with Dezron Douglas (bass), Micah Thomas (piano), and Dayna Stephens (sax). B+(***) [cd]

Fade In: Live Fast, Die a Legend (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): Italian trio: Federico Calcagno (bass clarinet/clarinet), Pietro Ella Barcellona (contrabass), Marco Luparia (drums). First group album, Calcagno has a 2019 album and a few side credits. B+(**) [bc]

Michael Hackett/Tim Coffman Sextet: Western Skies (2022, Summit): Leaders play trumpet/flugelhorn and trombone. Third album for Hackett, first for Coffman (although he has more side credits). Group includes alto sax (Sharel Cassity), piano, bass, and drums, with a couple more credits for extra percussion. B+(*) [cd]

Art Hirahara: Ascent (2022, Posi-Tone, EP): Pianist, has been busy the last couple years as producer/label owner Marc Free kept him in the studio, anchoring a house band for all his other artists. Solo here, brief: 3 songs, 10:40. B+(*) [sp]

Art Hirahara: Verdant Valley (2022, Posi-Tone): Pianist, plays some organ, leads the label's "house band" with Boris Kozlov (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) here as everywhere, plus Donny McCaslin (tenor sax/alto flute) to brighten it all up, and spread joy. B+(***) [sp]

Hudson Mohawke: Cry Sugar (2022, Warp): Scottish DJ/producer Ross Birchard, first alias was DJ Itchy, fourth album since 2009 (not counting his collaboration TNGHT). A bit heavy on the pedal. B+(*) [sp]

Kiwi Jr.: Chopper (2022, Sub Pop): Indie band from Toronto, third album. Upbeat. Catchy. B+(***)

Darren Litzie: My Horizon (2022, Summit): Pianist, first record, has two saxophonists (one doubling on flute) as well as bass and drums, wrote 5 (of 10) pieces, opening with Cole Porter and closing with Monk. B+(*) [cd]

Russ Lossing: Folks (2017 [2022], Sunnyside): Pianist, a couple earlier albums but discography picks up around 2000. This is a trio with John Hébert (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Russ Lossing: Metamorphism (2017 [2021], Sunnyside): Same piano trio, plus Loren Stillman on alto sax. Title split over two lines without hyphen, but most sources take it as a single word. B+(**) [sp]

Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: Songbook Vol. 2: Dance the Way U Want To (2018 [2022], Holistic MusicWorks, 2CD): Trumpet player, one of Art Blakey's last Jazz Messengers, albums since 1988, postbop but also quite a bit of Latin jazz, especially with Eddie Palmieri. Decided to reclaim his legacy by re-recording it, which he started with Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade. Second disc reprises the same songs in radio or alternate versions. B+(***) [cd]

Arlo McKinley: This Mess We're In (2021 [2022], Oh Boy): Country singer/songwriter from Cincinnati, released his debut (Arlo McKinley & the Lonesome Sound) in 2014. Second album since, both on the late John Prine's label. He grows on you, but he's a little short in the humor department. B+(*) [bc]

Megan Thee Stallion: Traumazine (2022, 1501 Certified/300 Entertainment): Rapper Megan Pete, Wikipedia has this as her second studio album, Discogs as her third album, I'd also count the "archival" Something for Thee Hotties. I love everything I've heard by her, and I'm perplexed why others harbor doubts. This feels old style, a bit conservative or at least even-tempered by her standards. Also sports more name guests. Still plenty impressive. A-

T.S. Monk: Live: Two Continents One Groove (2014-16 [2022], Storyville): Drummer, full name Thelonious Sphere Monk III, played in his famous father's group in the 1970s, other than his name is best known for a funk single in 1981 ("Bon Bon Vie"), Discogs divides his work between T.S. Monk (a funk group, 3 albums) and Thelonious Monk Jr. (6 albums), but he's identified as T.S. Monk on all nine. This is a sextet, his first album since 2003, selected from sets in New York and Bern, with Josh Evans (trumpet), Willie Williams (tenor sax), Patience Higgins (alto sax), Helen Sung (piano), Dave Stryker (guitar), and Kenny Davis (bass). B+(*) [sp]

The Paranoid Style: For Executive Meeting (2022, Bar/None): Singer-songwriter and sometime rock critic Elizabeth Nelson, husband Timothy Bracy, and several others, third album, serviceable rock and roll, the speed lets her work more words in, and drop more names (like Barney Bubbles, P.G. Wodehouse, Steve Cropper, and Doug Yule). Ends with a straight cover of "Seven Year Ache," plucked from a list of possibles that probably runs into the hundreds. A- [sp]

Ethan Philion: Meditations on Mingus (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Chicago bassist, arranged ten Mingus compositions for 10-piece band, with Russ Johnson (trumpet) and Geof Bradfield (tenor sax/bass clarinet/flute) the most familiar names in the band. No real surprises: great music, with some juicy bass parts. B+(***) [cd] [08-26]

Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Aymée Nuviola: Live in Marciac (2021 [2022], 5 Passion): Pianist and singer, both from Cuba, both based in Florida. I prefer their 2020 album together (Viento Y Tiempo: Live at the Blue Note Tokyo), probably because the extra rhythm steadies her vocals, whereas she's very much in the spotlight here. B+(**) [cd]

Alex Sipiagin: Ascent to the Blues (2022, Posi-Tone): Russian trumpet/flugelhorn player, moved to US in 1990, played in big bands before his 1998 debut. Has recorded extensively ever since, mostly for mainstream labels Criss Cross and Posi-Tone. He's joined here by Diego Rivera (tenor sax) and the label's rhythm section (Art Hirahara, Boris Kozlov, Rudy Royston). B+(**) [sp]

Sylvan Esso: No Rules Sandy (2022, Loma Vista): Electropop duo from North Carolina, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, fourth studio album. B+(***)

Alune Wade: Sultan (2022, Enja): Originally from Senegal, based in Paris, sings some but main instrument is bass guitar, so this is long on groove. Long on everything else, too. B [sp]

Kelsey Waldon: No Regular Dog (2022, Oh Boy): Country singer-songwriter from Kentucky, fifth album since 2010, rings true as always. B+(***) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Miles Davis Quintet: Live Europe 1960 Revisited (1960 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Part of a Norman Granz package tour, his last tour with John Coltrane, backed by Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, with five long takes of four songs ("So What" opens and closes), total 75:23. Material has been reissued a number of times, most definitively in Miles Davis & John Coltrane: The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Vol. 6 (4-CD), which like this is superb throughout. A- [bc]

Frank Kimbrough: 2003-2006: Lullabluebye/Play (2003-06 [2022], Palmetto, 2CD): Pianist, originally from North Carolina, moved to New York and taught at NYU and Juilliard, died in 2020 (at 64), which has occasioned a reevaluation: I, for one, was never much of a fan, until his 2017 Monk's Dreams, and even more so the multi-artist Kimbrough in 2021. His first album appeared in 1998, but he's best known for his 2003-14 run on Palmetto. This reissues his first two albums there, a trio with Ben Allison and Matt Wilson, and another trio with Masa Kamaguchi and Paul Motian. I underrated both at the time, especially Lullabluebye. B+(***) [cd]

Horace Silver Quintet: Live New York Revisited (1964-66 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Pianist, original leader of the Jazz Messengers, which under Art Blakey invented hard bop. Silver continued with his own quintet, writing some of the most indelible melodies in jazz, especially during this period (this offers two takes of "Afrian Queen," one each of: "Song for My Father," "The Natives Are Restless Tonight," "Que Pasa," "The Tokyo Blues," and "Señor Blues"). With Joe Henderson a tour de force on tenor sax, Carmell Jones or Woody Shaw on trumpet, plus bass and drums. A [bc]

Cecil Taylor: Mixed to Unit Structures Revisited (1966 [2021], Ezz-thetics): First three tracks come from a 1962 album credited to Gil Evans Orchestra (Into the Hot, the follow up to Out of the Cool), but they are distinct from the other three tracks: for starters, Cecil Taylor wrote and played piano on these three, while John Carisi wrote and Eddie Costa was the pianist on the other three. Taylor's cuts featured Archie Shepp, Jimmy Lyons, Henry Grimes, and Sunny Murray; the others went with Gene Quill, Phil Woods, Barry Galbraith, Osie Johnson, etc. When Impulse got around to reissues in 1998, they decided to pull the Taylor cuts out and combine them with a Roswell Rudd session from 1966 (Rudd and Ted Curson played on "Mixed" in the 1961 session; only Rudd returned for the later tracks, so the reissue felt short-changed). This replaces the Rudd tracks with one of Taylor's most famous 1960s albums, with Lyons, Eddie Gale (trumpet), Ken McIntyre (alto sax/bass clarinet), Grimes and Alan Silva (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Cecil Taylor: With (Exit) to Student Studies Revisited (1966 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Student Studies was a quartet set -- piano, Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), Alan Silva (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums) -- recorded in Paris (58:47), originally released as 2-LP in 1973 by BYG, with some later reissues as The Great Paris Concert. This opens with a 19:20 sextet piece -- same group plus Bill Dixon (trumpet) and Henry Grimes (bass) -- from the Blue Note album Conquistador!, bringing this to 78:13. Big finale. B+(***) [bc]

Old music:

Milton Nascimento: Yauarete (1987, Columbia): Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, a major figure since his 1967 debut, albeit one I have next to no experience with. The fast ones have some interesting twists. B+(**) [sp]

Grade (or other) changes:

África Negra: Antologia Vol. 1 (1981-95 [2022], Bongo Joe): [See review.] A-

Beyoncé: Renaissance (2022, Parkwood/Columbia): Last name Knowles, started out in Destiny's Child -- no need to note that any more. She is probably the biggest pop star in America, at least since her 2013 eponymous album, although she's less familiar to me than any contender I can think of. I thought her first 3-4 albums were crap, and even when she got better, I doubt I've played any of them more than 2-3 times. Consensus seems to be that this one is her best yet. I can't argue. I know I should be impressed by her encyclopedic mastery of disco and house beats, and on some level I am, but when I recognize one, I recall liking it better where it came from. [was: B+(***)] A- [cd]

Dan Ex Machina: All Is Ours, Nothing Is Theirs (2022, self-released): New Jersey band and/or singer-songwriter Dan Weiss -- not the drummer, nor the other drummer, but known to me mostly as a rock critic. Several albums and EPs on Bandcamp, little noted elsewhere. This batch was written 2003-11, played live and eventually recorded over the last decade, with shifting lineups, but they get better as the record goes on (and as you play it more). One called "Drinking and Driving (Separately)" finally delivers everything that the pre-rock-and-roll scolds feared. [was: B+(***)]] A- [cd]

Frank Kimbrough: Lullabluebye (2003 [2004], Palmetto): [was: B] B+(***) [cd]

Frank Kimbrough: Play (2005 [2006], Palmetto): [was: B] B+(**) [cd]

Lizzo: Special (2022, Atlantic/Nice Life): R&B singer Melissa Jefferson, fourth album, breakthrough was her third, so this seems more like a second. Starts with three or four possible hits, but fades toward the end -- maybe "fades" isn't the right word for the music, which is strong enough, but doesn't hold my attention like it should. [was: B+(**)] B+(***)

The Regrettes: Further Joy (2022, Warner): [See review.] [was: A-]: A [sp]

Derek Senn: The Big Five-O (2022, self-released): Singer-songwriter from San Luis Obispo, three previous albums, claims he's sold out a venue in Aberdeen ("where his Americana's more popular than with the Americans"). Some topical songs, some personal, at least one on the "Zeitgeist." Mostly mild-mannered, but "Texas Legislature" riles his blood. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jackie Ryan: Recuerdos De Mi Madre (Open Art) [10-09]


  • Beyoncé: Renaissance (Parkwood/Columbia)
  • Miranda Lambert: Palomino (Vanner/RCA Nashville)

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Music Week

August archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38520 [38474] rated (+46), 60 [77] unrated (-17).

I wrote a fairly substantial Speaking of Which last week, posting it on Sunday. I added another link and comment on China/Taiwan today, prompted by mail from Crocodile Chuck. War gaming is not my thing, but every scenario I've been able to imagine is bad to worse for everyone involved. Of course, that was also true for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the dangers of China invading Taiwan are probably an order of magnitude greater. Chuck is so worried by Biden's complicity-verging-on-taunting that he's feeling nostalgic for Trump, but he's in Australia, so would escape many of the horrors another Trump term would entail. I also think he underappreciates how unstable Trump is, especially if his hand-picked cronies decide to challenge his manhood.

Made a sizable dent in the unrated albums list this week. The records I picked up here were mostly filed in the cases I originally set up when we moved here in 1999. 17 of the remaining 60 are new promos, so I know where they are, and I'll pick them up routinely over the next few weeks (11 are still advances). The others are going to prove harder to find, but a big chunk were 2006-08 promos I never bothered with, so they may be hiding out together. (In any case, I probably had good reason for ignoring them.) Then there are a couple large boxes. I graded the Sinatra this week based on past grades (plus streaming the one I missed).

New records reviewed this week:

Kyle Aho: Rituals (2021 [2022], OA2): Pianist, some electric keyboards, teaches at Missouri State, second album as leader plus some side credits, most songs have words from various literary sources, Christin Bohrisch sings, Randy Hamm plays sax and flute, band also includes trumpet, cello, bass, and drums. B [cd] [08-19]

Quentin Baxter Quintet: Art Moves Jazz (2022, BME): Drummer, recorded this in South Carolina, has a couple albums plus a group called Ranky Tanky. Hard bop quintet with trumpet (Charlton Singleton), tenor sax (Mark Starbank, piano, and bass, plus a couple guest spots. Opens and closes with Monk, in between has an original suite, three Jimmy Heath pieces, one by Robert Watson. B+(*) [cd] [08-12]

Bobby Bradford & Friends: Jackie Robinson: Stealing Home (2018 [2022], Cryptogramophone): Cornet player, born 1934, moved to Los Angeles in 1953, got a commission to write a piece honoring Robinson's centennial. Friends include saxophonists Vinny Golia and Chuck Manning, William Roper (tuba/euphonium and spoken vocals), plus piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Raymond Byron: Bond Wire Cur (2021 [2022], ESP-Disk): Last name Raposa, died at 41 a month after this came out, born in Indiana, grew up in California, started in Castanets c. 2005, played on records with Sufjan Stevens and Chris Schlarb. Label calls this "weird rock," although I'd lean more toward "weird folk." Back cover lists 10 more names as "featuring," but this feels pretty solo. B+(***) [lp]

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri (2022, Free Dirt): Folksinger from the Ozarks, earned his credentials the new-fashioned way, with a BA in Writing and Performance Studies and a MFA in Poetry, plus two self-released albums before moving up to a named label. B+(***) [sp]

Cheekface: Too Much to Ask (2022, self=released): Indie g-b-d band from Los Angeles, third album, singer Greg Katz is clear enough you get all the jokes, and they are legion -- isn't it about time for a Dead Milkmen revival? Single is presumably "We Need a Bigger Dumpster." A- [sp]

Lindsay Clark: Carpe Noctem (2022, Audio Sport): Folkie singer-songwriter, based in Portland, fifth album since 2009, title translates as "seize the night." She doesn't. B [sp]

Avishai Cohen Trio: Shifting Sands (2021 [2022], Naïve): Israeli bassist, based in New York, close to 20 albums since 1998. Trio with Elchin Shirinov (piano) and Roni Kaspi (drums), playing originals plus one trad piece. B+(**) [sp]

King Princess: Hold On Baby (2022, Zelig/Columbia): Pop singer-songwriter Mikaela Mullaney Straus, identifies non-binary, second album. B+(**)

Lauv: All 4 Nothing (2022, Virgin): American pop singer-songwriter Ari Leff, debut a middling hit (16), second album. Catchy in a rather unassuming way. B+(*) [sp]

Lil Silva: Yesterday Is Heavy (2022, Nowhere): British dj/producer, first album after 12 years of singles and side credits. Mixes the pop up front, then goes on a long meander. B+(*) [sp]

Meridian Brothers: Meridian Brothers & El Grupo Renacimento (2022, Ansonia): Colombian group, led by Elbis Alvarez since 2006, not sure whether you'd label them salsa or cumbia, but the reference here is to 1970s salsa dura, aided by hypothetical collaborators from the era. B+(**) [sp]

Kyle Motl: Hydra Nightingale (2019-21 [2022], Infrequent Seams): Bassist, more than a dozen credits since 2015, takes this one solo, with one original piece, four more from composers I don't recognize, one of those augmented with spoken word snatches, mostly from Ronald Reagan not really explaining the economy. B+(***) [cd]

Tami Neilson: Kingmaker (2022, Outside Music): Country singer-songwriter, born in Canada but based in Auckland, New Zealand; fifth album, has done rockabilly and Patsy Cline, spreads this out a bit more, but still snags a duet with Willie Nelson. Ends strong. B+(***) [sp]

Ben Patterson: The Way of the Groove (2022, Origin): Trombone player, second album, background in USAF Airmen of Note, original pieces with guitar (Shawn Purcell), keyboards, bass, and drums, plus tenor sax (Luis Hernandez) on 4/10 tracks. B [cd] [08-19]

Pussy Riot: Matriarchy Now (2022, Neon Gold, EP): Per Wikipedia, "a Russian feminist protest and performance art group," with "a membership of approximately 11 women," although I suspect that is variable and erratic. The long article identifies various download releases, but doesn't attempt a discography. Discogs lists three albums and six singles/EPs (but not this one, a "mixtape" of 7 songs, 19:11). No trademark punk here. Starts light pop, ends up with something like a march, most arresting song goes "I want to hear 'fuck you'." Whatever they are, they're certainly not part of Putin's war machine. B+(*)

RedGreenBlue: The End and the Beginning (2018 [2022], Astral Spirits): Chicago trio -- Paul Giallorenzo (synthesizer, pump organ, electronics), Charlie Kirchen (bass), Ryan Packard (drums, electronics) -- plus Ben Lamar Gay (cornet, electronics) on the second side ("The End"). The cornet helps. B+(*) [bc]

Mark Rubin (Jew of Oklahoma): The Triumph of Assimilation (2021, Rubinchik): Mostly hillbilly banjo tunes framing loose translations of Yiddish poems. This can get a bit heavy (e.g., the closer "Spin the Dreidel"). Remarkable, but I'd appreciate a bit more humor, as in "Down South Kosher." B+(**) [bc]

Charlton Singleton: Crossroads (2022, BME): Trumpet player from South Carolina, second album a decade after his debut, plays in Ranky Tanky with most of Quentin Baxter's quintet, not only steps out front here but brought his own compositions. B+(**) [cd] [08-12]

Josh Sinton: Steve Lacy's Book of Practitioners, Vol. 1 "H" (2021-22 [2022], FIP): Solo baritone sax, working his way through six Lacy compositions. Sinton's quartet Ideal Bread released three albums of Lacy compositions (2008-14, the latter 2-CD). Obvious appeal limits due to tricky music and instrument, but this is serious stuff. B+(**) [cd] [08-12]

Trio Xolo: In Flower, in Song (2019 [2022], 577): Avant sax trio, no one I've ever heard of before: Zachary Swanson (bass, also the composer), Derrick Michaels (tenor sax), Dalius Naujo (drums). Seems like there are dozens of comparable records, but this one kept growing on me. A- [cd] [08-19]

Chris Walden: Missa Iubileum Aureum (Golden Jubilee Jazz Mass) (2022, Origin): Composer, big band arranger, has done a lot of soundtracks, German-born, based in Los Angeles. Played by LMR Jazz Orchestra, with St. Dominic's Schola Cantorum and featured vocalists Tierney Sutton & Kurt Elling. C- [cd] [08-19]

Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Noise & Flowers (2019 [2022], Reprise): Band formed by Willie Nelson's son Lucas in 2010, has recorded on its own through 2021, backed Young on two studio albums, a soundtrack, and a live album 2015-18, tagged along for this 2019 tour of Europe, playing Young's standard songbook. Rocks hard, sound so-so, nothing you haven't heard before. B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Albert Ayler Quintet: At Slugs' Salloon 1966 Revisited (1966 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Tenor saxophonist, quintet set with brother Donald Ayler (trumpet), Michael Samson (violin), Lewis Worrell (bass), and Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums). This set has been kicking around a long time. It's always struck me as strained but not quite to the breaking point. B+(*) [bc]

Old music:

Bad Brains: Bad Brains (1982, ROIR): DC hardcore punk band, first album, gimmick was that they were rastafaris and peppered their thrash metal with reggae nods, but nothing you can skank to. B+(**) [sp]

Bad Brains: Rock for Light (1983, PVC): Second album, a bit slicker I suppose, but is that a plus? B [sp]

Bob Brookmeyer: Back Again (1978 [1990], Gazell): Valve trombonist (1929-2011), has a reputation as an arranger, so his records tend to be overly thought out. But this quintet didn't need much direction to satisfy him: Thad Jones (flugelhorn/cornet), Jimmy Rowles (piano), George Mraz (bass), Mel Lewis (drums). A- [cd]

Desole: A Story to Tell (2006, Abacus): Indie band from Arizona, accents optional but not on cover. As best I recall, I got a promo at the time and never found time to play it. Doesn't look like they ever recorded anything else, so now it's just a checklist item. Not awful, but a bit fancy/artsy, aimed at arenas they never came close to. B

Julie Dexter/Khari Simmons: Moon Bossa (2006 [2007], Brash Music): British soul/jazz singer, moved to Atlanta in 1999, four albums 2002-11, Simmons is an Atlanta-based producer, credits lacking but figure him for the easy groove, which only occasionally reminds one of Brazil. [ex-CD] B+(*)

Disques Vogue: In Paris Highlights (1948-56 [1995], RCA): French jazz label, established 1947 by Léon Cabat and Charles Delaunay, appears to be unrelated to the American label Vogue Records, but a British offshoot was founded in 1951, initially named Vogue Records, later Vocalion. The labels were bought up by BMG, RCA Victor, and eventually Sony Music. RCA did a series of of ten CD reissues c. 1995, for which this is a sampler. The artists are famous Americans who passed through Paris, some live, others studio. This picks out 20 tracks, some nice ones, but the series is rather mixed. B+(**) [cd]

Peggy Duquesnel: Summertime Lullaby (2009 [2010], Joyspring Music): Standards singer, plays piano, Discogs lists three albums (including a 2-CD Xmas), website links to a new album, Piano for My Soul (filed under "New Age/Meditation"; Amazon product description says it's her 16th self-released album). Very serviceable, especially her piano. [ex-CD] B

Elmore James: The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956 (1951-56 [1994], Virgin, 3CD): Major blues figure, born in Mississippi, eventually made his way to Chicago, hit on his signature guitar riff on his first single ("Dust My Broom"), returned to it often, died at 45 in 1963, leaving 12 years of records, nearly all superb, although Rhino's Robert Palmer-selected 1993 compilation (The Sky Is Falling: The History of Elmore James) is possibly all you need. These early cuts are also available in less redundant 1-CD packages -- Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James (1991) and Blues Kingpins (2003) are two I own and recommend highly -- but when the trick is this good redundancy isn't much of a complaint. His later compilations, like Shake Your Money Maker: The Best of the Fire Sessions (2001) and King of the Slide Guitar (1992) are even better, and The Complete Fire and Enjoy Recordings (3-CD, from 1995) doesn't suffer either. A-

Rafael Karlen: The Sweetness of Things Half Remembered (2014, Pinnacles Music): Australian tenor saxophonist, first album, only a couple more since. Backed by piano (Steve Newcomb) and string quartet. It is gently paced and rather lovely, although the strings are still a bit arch for my taste. B+(***) [bc]

Kent Kessler: Bull Fiddle (2001 [2002], Okka Disk): Chicago bassist, probably best known in the Vandermark 5 (1997-2010), but he's played in number of more/less related groups, including several with Rodrigo Amado. This is his only album as sole leader, but he's joined by Michael Zerang (drums) on 4/12 tracks. B+(**) [cd]

Ken Peplowski/Howard Alden: Concord Duo Series: Volume Three (1992 [1993], Concord): Discogs decided the title was the Ken Peplowski & Howard Alden, but spine and elsewhere use the slash. My title is on the front over as a logo, but not on the spine. Back cover adds "Recorded Live at Maybeck Recital Hall." In the label's prime, Concord rounded up every notable mainstream pianist in the country to do a solo set there. Their 1992-96 Duo Series ran out at 10, mostly musicians whose careers were revived by the label. Peplowski plays clarinet and tenor sax, Alden guitar. Both lean toward swing era standards, but here they look back to Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke, and into the bop era with Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano. B+(***) [cd]

Maurice Peress: The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue: Paul Whiteman's Historic Aeolian Hall Concert of 1924 (1996, Musicmasters): His name seems like a joke on first acquaintance these days, but Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) was the biggest jazz band leader in 1920s, with sales of nearly two million for a 1920 release, and numerous other hits: he had much more to do with the 1920s being called "the jazz age" than Armstrong or Ellington. He employed some of the best-known white jazz musicians of the age (Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Jack Teagarden, Bunny Berrigan, many more), as well as singers like Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey (also, crossing the color line, he backed Paul Robeson on his classic "Ol' Man River"). One of his biggest coups was staging the 1924 debut of George Gershwin's jazz-influenced "Rhapsody in Blue." Peress (1930-2017), who started in New York under Leonard Bernstein and went on to conduct many orhestras, as well as to write Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots, reconstructed Whiteman's concert and conducted, featuring Ivan Davis and Dick Hyman on piano. I recall Gary Giddins praising this in his campaign to get more jazz played by classical repertory orchestras. B+(***) [cd]

Bobby Previte: Empty Suits (1990, Gramavision): Drummer, albums since 1986, also guitar, keyboard, percussion, electronics, and vocals here. Group is a quintet with trombone (Robin Eubanks), guitar, keyboards, and bass, plus a half dozen guests, most famously Elliott Sharp (guitar) and Marty Ehrlich (alto sax). Music has elements of fusion but is otherwise hard to pin down. B+(**) [cd]

Maddy Prior/June Tabor [Silly Sisters]: No More to the Dance (1988, Shanachie): English folk singers, not sisters, both born in 1947, Maddy the better known due to her fronting of Steeleye Span. June's first album was a 1976 duo with Maddy called Silly Sisters, reunited here, the cover with both credits. Both have many solo albums and collaborations since the late 1970s. Very trad, not my thing, but nice together. [ex-CD] B+(*) [sp]

Raise Your Window: A Cajun Music Anthology Vol. 2: The Historic Victor/Bluebird Sessions 1928-1941 (1928-41 [1993], Country Music Foundation): Previous volume was called Le Gran Mamou, and covers the same years, with many of the same artists, but this is the one I happened to stumble on. Classic stuff, expertly selected and annotated. I'd be surprised if Vol. 1 isn't every bit as good. A- [cd]

Mark Rubin (Jew of Oklahoma): Southern Discomfort (2015, Rubinchik): "Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans," spent some time in Austin where he founded the bands Killbilly and Bad Livers (better known, he played upright bass and tuba). First album under this moniker. A- [sp]

Frank Sinatra: Capitol Records Concept Albums (1953-61 [2004], Capitol, 14CD): Growing up, I didn't care much for him as a singer, but always thought he was a terrific actor, and occasional songs from the 1960s charmed me. So I hardly knew anything before his founding of Reprise in 1961 until well after the fact. His early work divides into three neat eras: as a big band singer, especially with Tommy Dorsey (1940-42); a declining period with Columbia (1946-52); and his revival with Capitol (1953-61). A decade before Elvis, he was the nation's biggest teen dream. After Elvis, he was the very definition of adult music. Straddling those periods, he was the first major LP artist: while his "concept albums" fell short of the term as I knew it in the 1970s, each formed a coherent whole, while most other LPs dissoled into hits + filler. His voice was unique, smooth and precise, simply masterful. His bands ranged from perfunctory to bombastic, or often sunk into a morass of strings. I had merely sampled him when I picked this slim box up in a going-out-of-business sale, figuring it would be nice to own them all, but more often than not I went to streaming sources to plug the holes. When I finally got to this, I had heard all but the final album (Point of No Return), with its perfect vocals adorning a maudlin string backup. Individual album grades follow. B+(***) [cd]

  • Swing Easy! (1954, EP): A
  • Songs for Young Lovers (1954, EP): B+(***)
  • In the Wee Small Hours (1954-55 [1955]): A-
  • Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1956): A+
  • Close to You (1956 [1957]): B+(*)
  • A Swingin' Affair! (1956): B+
  • Where Are You? (1957): B
  • Come Fly With Me (1957 [1958]): B+(**)
  • Sings for Only the Lonely (1958): B
  • Come Dance With Me! (1958 [1959]): B+(***)
  • No One Cares (1959): B-
  • Nice 'N' Easy (1960): B+(***)
  • Sinatra's Swingin' Session (1960 [1961]): A-
  • Come Swing With Me! (1961): A-
  • Point of No Return (1961 [1962]): B+(*)

Hank Snow: 16 Top Tracks (1961-65 [1988], RCA): Part of RCA's "Diamond Series": at least 25 single-artist comps with 16 tracks each, all released in 1988 with stock artwork proclaiming "Digitally remastered from original recordings." I only count 6 country artists (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, and Snow), mixed in with 1930s jazz (Benny Goodman, Fats Waller), early rock (Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy) and soul (Sam Cooke, Eartha Kitt), plus some outliers (Mario Lanza, Jose Feliciano). I loved Snow's 1985 duo with Willie Nelson (Brand on My Heart, so this is probably the first collection of his I bought. Turns out it was assembled from early 1960s albums, two of which were covers of other people's hits, so the only Snow smash here is "I've Been Everywhere." The next Snow comp I bought picked up his early (1949-56) hits: I'm Movin' On and Other Great Country Hits, which came out in 1990. Highly recommended, but 1997's The Essential Hank Snow sweeps the field, from 1950-73. Best discovery here is "The Last Ride," but he also does pretty credible takes on others like Don Gibson and Dave Dudley and Johnny Horton. B+(***) [cd]

Songs From Chippy (1994, Hollywood): Chippy was a musical theatrical play, written by Jo Harvey Allen and Terry Allen, set in West Texas in the 1930s. The Songs were recorded in Joe Ely's home studio, the various artists including the Allens, Ely, Butch Hancock, Robert Earl Keen, Wayne Hancock, and Jo Carol Pierce. These artists probably have a dozen A-list albums between them (more if you include Pierce's ex-husband, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who came out of the same Lubbock plain). Lots of prime songs here, especially Ely's trademark groove. A couple I even recognize from elsewhere (like Wayne Hancock's "Thunderstorms & Neon Signs" and Pierce's "I Blame God"). A- [cd]

Stompin' Western Swing: Roots of Rock 'n' Roll Vol. 2 (1936-41 [1996], President): British label, founded 1957, started in mainstream pop, had some success with disco imports in the 1970s. This Roots of Rock 'n' Roll series ran to 7 volumes, given a free hand by the EU's 50-year copyright limit to pick essential records. It started with Vol. 1: Big Band, Blues & Boogie, which just from reading the song list I'd be hard pressed to improve on (leads off with "Flyin' Home," "The Honeydripper," "Walk 'Em," "Minnie the Moocher," eventually hitting "Five Guys Named Moe," before ending with Big Bill Broonzy and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup). This one has a bit less to pick from, but hits everyone you'd expect, from Milton Brown, Hank Penny, Bob Wills, and Cliff Bruner through the Modern Mountaineers and the Blue Ridge Playboys. There are comparable western swing sets, but few that end this strong. A- [cd]

A Taste of Soca (1993-94 [1994], Ice): A contraction of "soul of calypso," first defined by Lord Shorty in 1975, seems like a parallel to the development of reggae to dancehall and ragga, the rhythm harder and the words cruder than with calypso. Eddy Grant founded the label to compile calypso classics, but went on to release a fair amount of contemporary soca, of which this is a sampler. I'm a sucker for the beats, but still prefer the wordsmiths, which here include Duke as well as Sparrow. B+(***) [cd]

Abdul Wadud/Leroy Jenkins: Straight Ahead/Free at Last (1979, RED): Cellist (1947-2022), born Ronald DeVaughn, father of r&b singer Raheem DeVaughn, played in Black Unity Trio (1971), several albums each with Julius Hemphill and Arthur Blythe. Duo here with the violinist, with two side-long pieces written by Jenkins. B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Mike Clark/Leon Lee Dorsey Featuring Mike LeDonne: Blues on Top (Jazz Avenue 1) [08-12]
  • Jeff Coffin: Between Dreaming and Joy (Ear Up) [08-15]
  • Billy Drummond and Freedom of Ideas: Valse Sinistre (Cellar) [08-05]
  • Gordon Grdina's Nomad Trio: Boiling Point (Astral Spirits)
  • Gordon Grdina/Mark Helias/Matthew Shipp: Pathways (Attaboygirl)
  • Michael Hackett/Tim Coffman Sextet: Western Skies (Summit)
  • Darren Litzie: My Horizon (Summit)
  • Brian Lynch and Spheres of Influence: Songbook Vol. 2: Dance the Way U Want To (Holistic MusicWorks) [08-15]
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Aymée Nuviola: Live in Marciac (5 Passion) [06-29]
  • Miguel Zenón: Música De Las Américas (Miel Music) [08-26]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Music Week

August archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38474 [38430] rated (+44), 77 [75] unrated (+2).

Still pretty down and out, but I forced myself to compile a Speaking of Which, rushed out without any editing Sunday evening (with a couple minor edits today, and a bit more on Taiwan, where my natural predeliction for sanity may have been too optimistic -- after all, I didn't think Putin would invade Ukraine in March, and couldn't imagine continuing the war this long, despite having a pretty good understanding of US provocations).

Nothing much to add to the music below. Pain and ennui may have contributed to the dearth of A-list albums. I had a tough time coming up with things to listen to, and didn't have a lot of patience with those I found. Toward the end of the week, I was desperate enough to start picking items off Chuck Eddy's 2008 list. Of the B+(***) albums, the one I came closest to picking was Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (much better than the 65/6 at AOTY). Another one that might benefit from extra time is Moten/López/Cleaver. The Expert Witness group seems to really like Amanda Shires, but I didn't hear it.

I'll review Trio Xolo next week, but with nothing else to show for this week, I'm putting the cover stage right. I played it three times before the cutoff without making up my mind, then three more times after. It doesn't drop until Aug. 19, so no need to rush it. Most of what's in the queue doesn't come out until later.

I'll try to catch up on some neglected correspondence later this week. Wish I could say I'm feeling better, but at least I'm coping better.

New records reviewed this week:

49 Winchester: Fortune Favors the Bold (2022, New West): Alt-country band from Virginia, fourth album since 2014. Got twang, will take it all the way to the county line. B [sp]

Omar Apollo: Ivory (2022, Warner): Singer-songwriter from Indiana, parents Mexican, actual name Omar Apolonio Velasco, first album after a couple EPs. Draws on r&b, voice can edge into falsetto, drops in the occasional song in Spanish. B+(**) [sp]

Lee Bains + the Glory Fires: Old-Time Folks (2022, Don Giovanni): Southern rock band, out of Birmingham, fourth album since 2012. Song titles include "Outlaws," "Gentleman," "Rednecks," "Caligula," and "God's A-Working, Man." B+(**) [sp]

Axel Boman: Luz (2022, Studio Barnhus): Swedish electronica producer, singles from 2008, two albums before this year's pair of releases (with Quest for Fire). A couple vocals, valid enough. B+(**) [sp]

Axel Boman: Quest for Fire (2022, Studio Barnhus): More, released same day, separate digital albums, but if you want vinyl, they come packaged as a 3-LP set. I'd give this one a slight edge, both on beats and reduced vocals. B+(***) [sp]

Breath of Air: Breath of Air (2019-20 [2922], Burning Ambulance): Trio of Brandon Ross (guitar), Charles Burnham (violin), and Warren Benbow (drums). Ross only has three albums as a leader, but a lot of side credits going back to Archie Shepp in 1975, including the group Harriet Tubman. B+(***) [bc]

Alan Broadbent Trio: Like Minds (2021 [2022], Savant): Pianist from New Zealand, many abums since 1978, Discogs credits 13 to his Trio, currently with Harvie S (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums). One original, a mix of standards and bop classics. [sp]

Kevin Cerovich: Aging Millennial (2022, CVJ): Trombonist, from Overland Park, Kansas, seems to be his first album (after a stretch in the Airmen of Note). Credits also include drums, vocals, keyboard, bass, guitar, percussion, and programming, as he seems to do it all. I rather like the trombone, but not much else. B [cd]

Dan Clucas/Kyle Motl/Nathan Hubbard: Daydream and Halting (2021 [2022], FMR): Clucas plays cornet, violin, and moxeño (a wind instrument from Bolivia, looks like a bamboo flute), and is backed by bass and drums. B+(***) [cd]

Caleb Wheeler Curtis: Heat Map (2021 [2022], Imani): Alto/tenor saxophonist, from Michigan, fifth album since 2018, group gets front-cover recognition: Orrin Evans (piano), Eric Revis (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums). Strong showing. B+(***) [cd]

Lucky Daye: Candydrip (2022, Keep Cool/RCA): R&B singer-songwriter David Brown, from New Orleans, second album. Nice vibe. B+(***) [sp]

Vladislav Delay: Isoviha (2022, Planet Mu): Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti, who's used several other names (Luomo is one I recognize) going back at least to 1999. This one tripped and fell into some kind of industrial meatgrinder. B [sp]

Duke Deuce: Crunkstar (2022, Quality Control/Motown): Memphis rapper Patavious Isom, third album, an early single called "Crunk Ain't Dead." B+(*)

DJ Black Low: Monate WA Piano EP (2022, Black Low Music, EP): Young South African Amapiano DJ Sam Austin Radebe, album Uwami was picked up last year by Awesome Tapes From Africa. Then this "EP" (6 songs, 33:43) showed up on streaming services with no press, no explanation. Feels sketchy, unrushed. No piano that I can discern. B+(**) [sp]

Doechii: She/Her/Black B*tch (2022, Top Dawg Entertainment/Capitol, EP): Rapper Jaylah Hickman, from Tampa, fourth EP (five tracks, 13:02). B+(**) [sp]

Domi & JD Beck: Not Tight (2022, Apeshit/Blue Note): Self-described as "the internet's most hyped jazz duo": "DOMi" is French "saxophone prodigy" Domitille Degalle, Beck is a "sheep investigator" from Texas. No credits, but I'm hearing keyboards and percussion, fey vocals (more his than hers), and guest spots from Herbie Hancock, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Anderson Paak, Thundercat, Mac DeMarco, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg. Jazz quotient is about as irreal as their professed interest in quantum physics. B- [sp]

Coco Em: Kilumi (2022, InFiné): Nairobi, Kenya DJ, mixes basic but catchy beats behind guest vocals. Short: 7 songs, 30:19. B+(*) [sp]

Gas: Der Lange Marsch (2021, Kompakt): German ambient techno producer Wolfgang Voigt, released four albums under this alias 1996-2000, three more since 2017. "The Long March" -- mostly uphill. B+(*) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: May Ur Melanin Shield U From Ragnarok (2020, self-released, EP): Philadelphia rapper, virtually no press available on him, but this seems to be the first of several releases. Short and fast (10 songs, 25:36). B+(**) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: There Will Be No Super-Slave (2022, self-released): First full-length album (15 songs, 44:23). Politics a bit more obscure here, but I'm more bothered by the artier turn in the music. B+(*) [sp]

Ghais Guevara: Black Bolshevik (2021, self-released, EP): Eight songs (22:39): "been a rough year, fuck everything else, just prep for the revolution." B+(**) [sp]

Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 (2022, Columbia): Scottish DJ Adam Richard Wiles, called his 2007 debut I Created Disco, released Vol. 1 of this in 2017 -- all of his albums seem to be big hits, so he's rolling in money. He spent some of that on big name guests here (Dua Lipa/Young Thug, Charlie Puth/Shenseea, Justin Timberlake/Halsey/Pharrell Williams, Jorja Smith/Lil Durk, etc.). My choice cut is "New to You," with Normani/Tinashe/Offset riding a cheesy recycled disco riff. B+(***) [sp]

Shawneci Icecold Quartet: Coldtrane (2021, Underground 45): Young pianist who does hip-hop on the side, fell in with some well-known avant-jazz folks: Daniel Carter (reeds), Michael Bisio (bass), and Whit Dickey (drums). Nobody's pushed too hard. Short (34:44). B+(**) [cd]

José Lencastre: Inner Voices (2020-21 [2022], Burning Ambulance): Portuguese saxophonist (alto/tenor), albums since 2017, some very good. This is solo, but mostly tracking two horns (or electronics?), so tends to sound like a small sax choir. B+(*) [bc]

Allison Miller/Carmen Staaf: Nearness (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Drums and piano duo, second album together. B+(**) [sp]

Moderat: More D4ta (2022, Monkeytown): German electronica supergroup, combining members from Modeselektor and Apparat. Fourth album, following II and III. B+(**) [sp]

John Moreland: Birds in the Ceiling (2022, Thirty Tigers): Country singer-songwriter, bounced around as a child but grew up in Tulsa. Albums since 2008. This one seems rather laid back. B+(*) [sp]

Fred Moten/Brandon Lopez/Gerald Cleaver: Moten/López/Cleaver (2020 [2022], Reading Group): Poet, cultural critic, author of books like In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003) and The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, speaks here backed by bass and drums. Seems to be his first album. B+(***) [bc]

Nancy Mounir: Nozhet El Nofous (2022, Simsara): Egyptian singer, plays violin and other instruments, first album, sounds rather antiquated. B [sp]

Nakama: New World (2021 [2022], Nakama): Norwegian collective/label, half-dozen albums as a group since 2015, more for individuals (especially bassist-composer Christian Meaas Svendsen) and other side projects. Quintet: two sax/clarinet players (Klaus Ellerhusen Holm and Andreas Røysum), piano (Ayumi Tanaka), bass (Svendsen), and drums (Andreas Wildhagen). B+(**) [bc]

Rico Nasty: Las Ruinas (2022, Sugar Trap/Atlantic): Rapper Maria-Cecilia Kelly, second album or eighth mixtape (sources differ). B+(**) [sp]

Maggie Rogers: Surrender (2022, Capitol): Singer-songwriter from Maryland, graduate of Harvard Divinity School, second album, 2019 debut charted 2, so this is getting a lot of attention. Starts off solid enough. B+(*)

The Sadies: Colder Streams (2022, Yep Roc): Canadian alt-country band, debut 1998, backed Neko Case and collaborated with Jon Langford, founder Dallas Good died in February (evidently after this was recorded). I don't hear much country in this one. B

Serengeti: Kaleidoscope III (2022, Audio Recon): Chicago rapper David Cohn, very prolific since 2003. I've found three versions of this: a 5-track EP on Spotify, and both 9- and 12-track versions on Bandcamp, with similar but different titles (the latter seems to be available on CD or vinyl, which appeals to my sense that physical objects are the real thing). Stories interesting enough, but flows so easily it seems a bit slight. B+(**) [bc]

Amanda Shires: Take It Like a Man (2022, ATO): Country singer-songwriter, fiddle player, seventh album since 2005. Some striking songs, some bogged down in strings. B+(**) [sp]

Sinkane: Cartoons of the Night Vol. 1: Live 2019 (2019 [2022], City Slang): Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab, born in London, parents from Sudan, moved to US when he was 5, tenth album since 2007. B- [bc]

Miró Henry Sobrer: Two of Swords (2022, Patois): Trombonist, first album, "a rhythmically harged homage to Catalonian artists," in two "acts," mostly narrated by Francesca Sobrer, with other vocals, but most appealing is the trombone. B+(**) [cd]

Whatever the Weather: Whatever the Weather (2022, Ghostly International): British electronica producer Loraine James, three albums under her own name, tries her hand at ambient here: never an exciting move. B [sp]

Jack White: Entering Heaven Alive (2022, Third Man): Former White Stripe, fifth solo album, second this year, no better than the previous. B- [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Kabaka International Guitar Band: Kabaka International Guitar Band (1977 [2022], Palenque): Nigerian Igbo highlife group, led by G. Kabaka Opara, Discogs lists 13 albums 1977-89. Text says this was recorded in the mid 80s, but the four songs all appear on a 1977 album. B+(***) [bc]

Old music:

The Chap: Mega Breakfast (2008, Lo/Ghostly International): British experimental pop band, 7 albums 2001-12, two since then (2015, 2019). Has a jerky insouciance that might prove interesting if you're into that sort of thing. B+(**) [sp]

New Bloods: The Secret Life (2008, Kill Rock Stars): Art-punk band from Portland, three women, violin-bass-drums, all sing some, none notably. Eleven songs count as an album, even if they only add up to 23:36. Comes close but slips a bit toward the end. B+(***) [bc]

Ashlee Simpson: Bittersweet World (2008, Geffen): Short-lived pop star, younger sister of Jessica Simpson, released three albums 2004-08, first two platinum, got dropped when this one fell short, has done some acting since, and a 2018 EP with husband Evan Ross (Ashlee + Evan). B+(**) [sp]

Joris Teepe Quintet: For Adults Only (1998 [2000], Postcards): Dutch bassist, debut 1995, recorded this in New York at Smalls Jazz Club, features two saxophonists he had been working with (Don Braden and Chris Potter), David Hazeltine (piano), and Bruce Cox (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Kyle Aho: Rituals (OA2) [08-19]
  • Dan Clucas/Kyle Motl/Nathan Hubbard: Daydream and Halting (FMR)
  • Roberto Magris: Duo & Trio: Featuring Mark Colby (JMood) [09-01]
  • Kyle Motl: Hydra Nightingale (Infrequent Seams)
  • Ben Patterson: The Way of the Groove (Origin) [08-19]
  • Ben Sidran: Swing State (Nardis) [09-16]
  • Chris Walden: Missa Iubileum Aureum (Golden Jubilee Jazz Mass) (Origin) [08-19]

Ask a question, or send a comment.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Music Week

August archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38430 [38383] rated (+47), 75 [77] unrated (-2).

Nothing much to say this week, except I'm still here, and functional at a fairly minimal level.

Recommended music links:

New records reviewed this week:

Beabadoobee: Beatopia (2022, Dirty Hit): British pop singer-songwriter, Beatrice Laus, originally from the Philippines, second album. B+(***) [sp]

Beyoncé: Renaissance (2022, Parkwood/Columbia): Last name Knowles, started out in the group Destiny's Child -- no need to note that any more. She is probably the biggest pop star in America, at least since her 2013 eponymous album, although she's less familiar to me than any contender I can think of (unless Mariah Carey or Katy Perry count?). I thought her first 3-4 albums were crap, and even when she got better, I doubt I've played any of them more than 3-4 times. I'm tempted to attribute the improvement to hiring better people. She employs a lot of them here, recycling riffs from disco and house, and burying herself deep in the mix. Much of it is remarkable, but elusive, and when I do recognize something, I remember it better. B+(***)

Jane Ira Bloom/Mark Helias: Some Kind of Tomorrow (2020 [2021], Radio Legs): Pandemic lockdown project, soprano sax and bass duets. B+(**) [sp]

Jane Ira Bloom: Picturing the Invisible: Focus 1 (2022, self-released): Soprano saxophonist, duets with Allison Miller (drums), Miya Misaoka (koto), and Mark Helias (bass), "inspired by the science photography of legendary NYC photographer Berenice Abbott," recorded by Ulrike Schwarz of Anderson Audio. Digital only, can't find any label claim. B+(***) [sp]

Steve Cardenas/Ben Allison/Ted Nash: Healing Power: The Music of Carla Bley (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Guitar, bass, reeds. Bley has been covered more extensively than any other composer of her generation, but I still can't pick her tunes out, and don't get what makes her stand out. Still, very nice pieces. B+(***) [sp]

Do'a: Higher Grounds (2022, Outside In Music, EP): Jazz singer, plays guitar and piano, grew up in Albania, of "German/Italian/Iranian" ancestry, recorded this eclectic short album (7 songs, 26:11) with a mostly Latin band working remotely. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" is a touchstone. B+(*) [cd]

Steven Feifke: The Role of the Rhythm Section (2022, La Reserve): Pianist, based in New York, has a previous big band album, this one an upbeat trio with Dan Chmielinski (bass) and Bryan Carter (drums). B+(*) [sp]

William Flynn: Seaside (2019 [2022], OA2): Guitarist, apparently his first album, is Director of Jazz Studies at Wichita State University (no, I don't know him, pathetic as that seems), wrote this during a month-long winter retreat in Seaside, Florida, and recorded it in Kansas City with piano-bass-drums, voice on two tracks. B+(**) [cd]

Ronnie Foster: Reboot (2022, Blue Note): Organ player, had a run of albums on Blue Note 1972-75, a couple more for Columbia (to 1979), side work with George Benson and Stevie Wonder, returns with his first album in 36 years. Covers include Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," and a vocal on "Hey Good Lookin' Woman." B+(*) [sp]

J-Hope: Jack in the Box (2022, HYBE): South Korean rapper Jung Ho-seok, first studio album after a 2018 mixtape, but much better known as a member of BTS. Part English, part Korean -- the latter means nothing to be, but the beats feel agreeably cartoonish. B+(*)

Sheila Jordan: Live at Mezzrow (2021 [2022], Cellar Live): She makes it sound like she started as a groupie chasing after Charlie Parker, but she was singing in Detroit before the move to New York, and she studied with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus before she married Duke Jordan. But aside from a song for George Russell and a 1962 album for Blue Note, she didn't start recording regularly until she was 36, with Roswell Rudd's Flexible Flyer. After that, she didn't slow down until her 80s, and did this live set at 92, intimately backed by piano (Alan Broadbent) and bass (Harvie S) -- both have long been devoted to her. Her voice no longer stops you in your tracks, and her timing is no longer perfect, but she still scats and ad-libs, so you hang on every word. B+(***) [sp]

Geoffrey Keezer & Friends: Playdate (2021-22 [2022], MarKeez): Pianist, albums since 1988, played in Art Blakey's final 1990 band (post-Marsalis, but with Brian Lynch, Steve Davis, Javon Jackson, and Essiet Essiet). Friends here include Ron Blake (tenor/soprano sax), Shedrick Mitchell (organ), Richie Goods (bass), and Kendrick Scott (drums), as well as guest spots, including too many strings. B+(*) [cd] [08-12]

Stan Killian: Brooklyn Calling (2021 [2022], Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, from Texas, based in New York, third album, quartet with Paul Bollenback (guitar), bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Gerard Lebik/John Edwards/Paul Lovens: Lepomis Gibbosus (2015 [2021], Fundacja Sluchaj): Tenor saxophonist, from Poland, Discogs lists 10 albums since 2010, in a trio with bass and drums. Impressive together, but slips into too many doldrums. B+(*) [bc]

Lizzo: Special (2022, Atlantic/Nice Life): R&B singer Melissa Jefferson, fourth album, breakthrough was her third, so this seems more like a second: starts strong, drags a bit. B+(**)

Mabel: About Last Night . . . (2022, Polydor): Last name McVey, middle name Alabama-Pearl, father is English music producer Cameron McVey, mother is Neneh Cherry, 2019 debut album was called High Expectations. Second album, cover photo sports blonde hair and lighter skin, but I suppose it could be her. Beats similar to her mother's best albums, none of the songs hook like "Buffalo Stance." B+(**) [sp]

Francisco Mela/Shinya Lin: Motions Vol. 1 (2021 [2022], 577): Cuban drummer, has been leaning toward free jazz in recent records, in a duo with the New York-based prepared pianist, who cites John Cage and Cecil Taylor as influences. B+(***) [bc]

Meridian Odyssey: Earthshine (2021 [2022], Origin): Seattle sextet, second album, recorded this in Alaska (where guitarist Martin Budde hails from). Drummer Xavier Lecouturier produced, most of the group contribute songs, including Santosh Sharma (tenor sax), Noah Halpern (trumpet), Dylan Hayes (piano), and Noah Feldman (bass). Natty postbop. B+(*) [cd]

Flo Milli: You Still Here, Ho? (2022, RCA): Rapper Tamia Monique Carter, from Mobile, first studio album after a 2020 mixtape (Ho, Why Is You Here?). B+(**)

Tobin Mueller: Prestidigitation (2022, self-released): Keyboard player, several albums since 2005, also plays rock but this doesn't sound like fusion. More like big band, but the credits don't bear that out. Paul Nelson plays guitar, and Woody Mankowski sings "America," which I found touching at first, then cloying. B- [cd]

Nina Nastasia: Riderless Horse (2022, Temporary Residence): Folkie singer-songwriter, from Los Angeles, seventh album since 2000, first since 2010. Just guitar and voice, but rings true enough. B+(*) [sp]

Sinéad O'Brien: Time Bend and Break the Bower (2022, Chess Club): Irish spoken word poet, music has a dark, atmospheric allure. B+(***) [sp]

Peaness: World Full of Worry (2022, Totally Snick): Three women, guitar-bass-drums indie pop band from Chester, England, second album (but billed as their debut). B+(**) [sp]

Phelimuncasi: Ama Gogela (2022, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Gqom trio from Durban, South Africa. Beats are hard and dense, and vocals blend in (not that I could understand them anyway, although I gather there is a political dimension). A- [sp]

Carol Sloane: Live at Birdland (2019 [2022], Club 44): Jazz singer, debut 1962, recorded regularly up to 2010, was 82 when she recorded this set of standards, backed by Mike Renzi (piano, d. 2021), Jay Leonhart (bass), and Scott Hamilton (tenor sax). B+(***) [sp]

Spinifex: Beats the Plague (2021, Trytone): Sextet based in the Netherlands, with saxophonists Tobias Klein and John Dikeman, trumpet (Bart Maris), guitar (Jasper Stadhouders), bass (Gonçalo Almeida), and drums (Philipp Moser), with albums as far back as 2005. They claim an interest in fusion, more punk than funk, but it mostly manifests as noise. More interesting is when they cut loose and play free. B+(**) [cd]

Jamie T: The Theory of Whatever (2022, Polydor): British singer-songwriter, last name Treays, fifth album since 2007, other albums have charted top-ten in UK and nowhere else. Has some talent, but nothing makes me want to figure out what or how. B [sp]

Xiomara Torres: La Voz Del Mar (2022, Patois): Colombian singer, working with Bay Area vibraphonist Dan Neville and others, mostly exploring Afro-Colombian tunes from the Cali region. Odd song out is "Let It Be." B+(*) [cd]

Chucho Valdés & Paquito D'Rivera Reunion Sextet: I Missed You Too! (2022, Sunnyside): Cuban jazz stars, piano and alto sax/clarinet, played together in Irakere up to 1980, when D'Rivera left for the U.S., while Valdés continued to lead the band until 2005, establishing an international reputation. This was recorded in Miami, with Cuban expats Diego Urcola (trumpet) and Dafnis Prieto (drums), plus bass and extra percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Luis Vicente/Seppe Gebruers/Onno Govaert: Room With No Name (2019 [2022], Fundacja Sluchaj): Portuguese trumpet player, backed by piano ("unprepared") and drums. B+(*) [bc]

Joshua Ray Walker: See You Next Time (2021, State Fair): Dallas-based country singer-songwriter, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Water Damage: Repeater (2022, 12XU): Austin group, two bassists, three drummers, bowed guitar and synthesizer, no vocals, three pieces that grind on (7:13) and on (12:03) and on (22:18). A- [sp]

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet: Diamonds and Other Jewels (2022, AMM): Big-toned tenor saxophonist, part of a generation of more/less mainstream players who emerged in the 1990s, has never sounded better than with this quartet, formed in 2016 with Carl Winther (piano) and Anders Mogensen (drums), adding Andreas Lang (bass) in 2019. A- [cd] [08-19]

Working Men's Club: Fear Fear (2022, Heavenly): Electropop band from Sheffield, UK, metallic sound reminds one of new wave bands like New Order, but they never quite take off. Second album, much like the first. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Phelimuncasi: 2013-2019 (2013-19 [2020], Nyege Nyege Tapes): Early gqom singles, variously produced by DJ Scoturn, DJ MP3, or Menzi, politically aligned left, not that I can tell you why. B+(***) [sp]

Clark Terry Big Bad Band: Live in Holland 1979 (1979 [2022], Storyville): Trumpet player, apprenticed in big bands (Count Basie, Duke Ellington), appeared on some classic bebop albums, his occasional vocals earned him the nickname Mumbles, lived to be 94. Conventional 17-piece group, but few names I recognize. B+(*) [sp]

Bo Van De Graaf: Eccentric Music for Audio Hunters (2002-16 [2021], Icdisc): Dutch saxophonist, plays in the big band I Compani, also responsible for Bo's Art Trio and Bo's Da Bomb. If I'm reading the notes correctly, this was collected from scattered live performances, with compositions for: 25 car horns; 25 wind instruments & piano; 2 hurdy-gurdies & accordion; violin & 15 female voices; "campfiresong"; "the freejazz karaoke." I rarely like odd concept pieces, and the car horns is no exception. But it does end on a nice note. B [cd]

Old music:

George Coleman/Tete Montoliu: Dynamic Duo (1977 [1992], Timeless): Tenor sax and piano duo. B+(*) [sp]

George Coleman: Amsterdam After Dark (1978 [1989], Timeless): Tenor sax quartet with piano (Hilton Ruiz), bass (Sam Jones), and drums (Billy Higgins). B+(**) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock: Who Is It? (1998, Candid): German saxophonist, first album, based in London at the time. Quintet with Kim Burton (keyboards/accordion), Ife Tolentino (guitar), bass, and percussion. Closes with a vocal on a Brazilian tune. B+(**) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock: Some Times (2001, Candid): Second album, plays soprano/alto/tenor sax and sings (a song), with Julian Siegel (alto/tenor sax and bass clarinet), trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(***) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock With Liam Noble & Tom Rainey: Sleepthief (2007 [2008], Intakt): Trio recorded in London -- sax, piano, drums -- a year before Laubrock moved to New York. B+(***) [sp]

Lizzo: Lizzobangers (2009-13 [2014], Virgin): First album, released 2013, then picked up and reshuffled for a major label. Started out as a rapper here, which adds some snap. B+(**)

Lizzo: Coconut Oil (2016, Nice Life/Atlantic, EP): Between albums 2 and 3, six songs, 19:28. B+(**)

Slickaphonics: Wow Bag (1982, Enja): Jazz-funk group, first of five 1982-88 albums, I filed them under Ray Anderson's name (trombone, lead vocals) but most of the songs were written by Allan Jaffe (guitar) and/or Mark Helias (bass). With Steve Elson (tenor sax) and Jim Payne (drums). Rhythm is trickier than other funk bands, but vocals are weaker. Anderson's later Alligatory Band returned to this concept, while his relationship with Helias became BassDrumBone. B+(**) [sp]

Slickaphonics: Modern Life (1984, Enja): Second album, writing credits pretty evenly spread out except for new saxophonist Daniel Wilensky. B+(*) [sp]

Bob Stewart: Then & Now (1995-96 [1996], Postcards): Tuba player, started with Arthur Blythe in 1977, chances are if you heard a tuba in a non-trad jazz album between then and about 2010, it was either Stewart or Howard Johnson. Wide range of material here, three originals, covers of Jelly Roll Morton and Ornette Coleman, a standard ("You Don't Know What Love Is"), two songs each by guests Carlos Ward (alto sax) and Taj Mahal (guitar and vocals). Some bits seem a bit off, but the tuba ties it all together. B+(***) [sp]

Limited Sampling: Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

  • Jane Ira Bloom/Mark Helias: See Our Way (2021-22 [2022], Radiolegs): [bc]: +

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • JD Allen: Americana Vol. 2 (Savant) [08-26]
  • Roxana Amed: Unanime (Sony Music Latin) [09-16]
  • Richard Baratta: Music in Film: The Sequel (Savant) [08-26]
  • Matthew Fries: Lost Time (Xcappa) [09-23]
  • Shawneci Icecold Quartet: Coldtrane (Underground 45) [2021-06-14]
  • Ethan Philion: Meditations on Mingus (Sunnyside) [08-26]
  • Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Joshua Abrams: Allium (Aerophonic) [10-04]

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