January 2013 Notebook
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rhapsody Streamnotes: January 2013

Pick up text here.

Expert Comments

Chris Monsen mentioned that Lawrence "Butch" Morris has died. I wrote:

Among the best examples of Butch Morris's conductioning are the two Billy Bang Vietnam albums: very rare to see text and improv interact so sharply. He also did a good album in 2006 with the Nublu Orchestra, but I never managed to get to most of the work under his own name, especially the 10-CD Testament box. I suspect he could wind up being viewed as relating to the avant-garde as Lennie Tristano to bebop: too cerebral, too much of a systematist, to be a widespread influence, but too talented to ignore, and with a cult that won't let go.

I was pretty bummed before this news, just trying to sort out the now-posted end-of-year Streamnotes column.

Scratchpad

Wondering how expensive it would be to rip out the bathtub upstairs and replace it with a shower. Looks like the new base pan would be $250-350 (e.g., American Standard 6032.Y1ST-R.020 Acrylux, 31x59-inches, white, fiberglass-reinforced ABS, right drain, is $288.86; Swanstone FR-3260R-010 Veritek 60x32-inch right drain, $276.12; Kohler K-9948-0 Groove Acrylic 60x32-inch, $385.57). Doors could be from that price beyond twice as much.


Order info for handrail system, from Home Depot (total $306.12 + $22.35 sales tax = $328.47):

  • EZ Handrail 24 ft. x 1.9 in. Aluminum Bronze Round ADA Handrail: $184.00
  • EZ Handrail 1.9 in. Aluminum Round ADA Handrail Bronze Wall Bracket: 6 * $16.92 = $101.52
  • EZ Handrail 1.9 in. Aluminum Round ADA Handrail Bronze Endcap: 2 * $10.30 = 20.60

Monday, January 28, 2013

Music Week/No Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 20985 [20976] rated (+9), 601 [593] unrated (+8).

So no Jazz Prospecting this week -- only have one review/note stashed away -- and probably not next week either. A week ago yesterday, my wife, Laura, broke her hip, and had to be rushed to the hospital. Actually, it was a bit scarier than that, as she had suffered hip pain for several weeks which was, it's now clear, misdiagnosed. She was operated on Wednesday, and transferred from the hospital to a rehab hospital on Friday. She will probably be there the rest of this week, followed by recuperation at home, for who knows how long. I haven't been well either, so our problems have compounded in various ways.

When I do find bits of time to diddle and dawdle on the computer, I've been putting the final touches on the 2012 metacritic file: the greatest and last, at least in its present form. Also, the few records that I have managed to process this week go into Rhapsody Streamnotes, which I will try to post while there's still January. There's more than enough material in the draft file there, but not many late-breaking 2012 A- records, and I haven't bothered at all to look into 2013 releases (aside, that is, from last week's Jazz Prospecting bonanza, q.v.).

Won't bother with unpacking this week either. Not much there, either.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shopping for Bannisters

Looks like it would be a good idea to add a firm bannister to the south (wall) side of the staircase. (Measure: ?)

Went shopping at Lowe's and all I saw was wood rails: the round poplar pretty warped, the oak looking more solid. The latter came in a 12-foot length for about $48.

Lowe's website has some metal rails, made by PROVA: 79-inch aluminum tube ($59), wall fitting ($31.42), end cap ($16.25). Elsewhere I find a PA99 - Aluminum Handrail Connector ($16.00).

King Architectural Metals has stainless steel tube, 2.0 inch O.D., .050-inch wall, 20-foot length, for $267.58. Brackets (bottom mount) are $25.08 each. End caps are $10.58 each. 1.5 inch tube would be $237.59.

Modular Handrail Designs has kits for wall-mount stainless steel handrails up to 12-feet long: 10-foot 1.9" kit runs $253.45.

Lowes has Wolf Handrail 2-in x 72-in White Aluminum Porch Rail for $49.99. Don't see any hardware.

Wolf has a 1.9-inch round handrail (ADA Edition) which can be wall-mounted: aluminum with a white or antique bronze finish. Hardware includes wall brackets, wall return pieces (for ends), end caps, internal splices. From Lowe's, but can't find pricing there.

Acrovyn has several handrails that are extra deep so you can lean on them (similar to the handrails on all of the walls at the Rehab Hospital, HRB-4CN, or a version with a rounder top, HRB-20N) Also available: HR-6CN, a single pipe (aluminum inside), with stainless steel wall brackets. 64 colors. No idea what it costs.

Pawling has similar handrails/crashrails.

Cheaper solution would be to get a wood rail and hardware like Lowes' Gatehouse Antique Brass Round Base Handrail Bracket ($3.94) or Gatehouse Satin Nickel Handrail Bracket ($4.97). Two or more rail sticks could be dowelled and glued together, stained and finished.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 20976 [20938] rated (+38), 593 [591] unrated (+2). Mostly from Rhapsody, hence the high rated count.

I think this rolls up two weeks of Jazz Prospecting and unpacking. I'm still in 2012 wrap up mode, but did manage to work a few 2013 releases into the following -- in part because they looked much more promising than what I had left over from last year. Indeed, the new year is off to a blazing start.


Thomas Borgmann/Wilber Morris/Reggie Nicholson: Nasty & Sweet (1998-99 [2013], NoBusiness, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist (credited with "reeds" here), b. 1955 in Germany; not much discography but he does have a 1999 CIMP album with this same trio (credited there as BMN Trio) and a 2003 bash with Brötzmann. This was released as limited (400 copy) vinyl only, and I'm working off CDRs. First disc lives up to the title, and the second starts with a piece from the same date. The 1998 session only slows down toward the end, for a long bass solo and a little sax dirge. A- [advance]

Louis Durra: Rocket Science (2012, Lot 50): Pianist, b. 1961, based in Los Angeles, at least five albums since 2003. Trio, with Ryan McGillicuddy or Larry Steen on bass, Jerry Kalaf on drums. One original, one trad, "One Love" (Bob Marley), one Wonder, three Beatles tunes, all done sensibly. B+(*)

Lua Hadar with Twist: Like a Bridge (2012, Bellalua): Singer, has two previous albums, this one recorded live in Berkeley, CA. She's credited with "multilingual vocals" and proves that with maudlin operatic vocals in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and Malagasy. The band gets a break with an instrumental "Isfahan." C-

Jon Hamar: Hymn (2011 [2012], Origin): Bassist, in Seattle, third album since 2003, a trio with Todd DelGiudice on alto sax and Geoffrey Keezer on piano. Mostly Hamar originals, plus one from DelGiudice; covers include "Isfahan," a "Giant Steps/It Could Happen to You" medley, and "Comes Love." No drummer, no rush. B+(*)

William Hooker Quintet: Channels of Consciousness (2010 [2012], NoBusiness): Drummer, b. 1946 in Connecticut, has at least 25 albums since 1982, avant-garde, at least way out on the margins. Chris DiMeglio does a nice job of adding trumpet scratch, Dave Ross (guitar) and Adam Lane (bass) churn things up, and the drummer claims most of the focus, supplemented by Sanga's percussion. B+(***)

Christian Howes: Southern Exposure (2012, Resonance): Violinist, from Columbus, OH; fifth album since 1997. Special guest here -- important enough that he gets big play on the cover and could just as well have been co-credited -- is French accordion player Richard Galliano, and they also mention Josh Nelson, Scott Colley, and Lewis Nash on the cover. Musical focus is tango, give or take a choro or a "Cubano Chant." B+(**)

Steve Lipman: Ridin' the Beat (2012, Locomotion): Sinatra-wannabe, based in Connecticut, bills himself as "the singing dentist," has at least one previous album. Seems to have lost some of his voice, and picked up some extra percussion. There must be a hundred better versions of "That Old Black Magic" -- the one I best remember is by Jerry Lewis -- but even this one works for me. B-

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Gamak (2012 [2013], ACT): Alto sax quartet, with electric guitar (David Fiuczynski), acoustic bass (François Moutin), and drums (Dan Weiss). This fits a trend of groups (often bass-less trios) where the guitar, rather than expanding the harmony, like piano has traditionally done -- both pushes the sax into a frenzy and can take a solo spot beside it, like a second horn. So not pathbreaking, but, of course, he does it better than almost anyone else. A-

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock! (2012 [2013], Hot Cup): Peter Evans (trumpets), Jon Irabagon (saxes, including sopranino and a bit of flute), Moppa Elliott (bass), Kevin Shea (drums). Fourth album on Elliott's Hot Cup label -- also a live double on Clean Feed -- breaking a string of two classic album cover spoofs with what looks like a teen boy group splash, and less history in the songlist (unless "President Polk" counts -- "Dexter, Wayne and Mobley" sure does, then blows them up and scampers away). Too bad my eyes can't hack Leonard Featherweight's liner notes, always a source of high-minded obfuscation. That leaves me to draw my own far-fetched analogies: this is slippery in the sense that it follows no discernible time signature, rock in the sense that it is loud and frantic, and that attitude prevails. All these years of waiting for jazz-rock fusion, and what do we get? Fission! A

Nicholl and Farquharson: Della by Moonlight (2012, Big Empty Loo): Bassist Michael Farquharson and keyb player Matthew Nicholl. First track sounds like they're aiming at easy groove elevator music. Then they get pretentious, start writing suites, and bring on the flute, the oboe, the bassoon, and the French horn. C-

Cristina Pato: Migrations (2011 [2023], Sunnyside): B. 1980 in Ourense, Galicia, Spain; plays piano, flute, sings a bit -- attractive, seductive voice -- but her main instrument is the gaita, or Gallician bagpipes -- smaller, more manageable, less irritating than the familiar Scottish variety. Band includes accordion, bass, and drums, and there is a parade of guests on harp (Edmar Castaneda), violin, tabla, bouzouki, cello, etc. B+(***)

Harvie S/Kenny Barron: Witchcraft (2012 [2013], Savant): Bass-piano duets, the bass claiming enough space to even out the piano's natural volume edge. Plus Barron, as you no doubt recall from his early work with Stan Getz, is an attentive as well as remarkable accompanist. B+(***)

Claudio Scolari: Synthesis (2012, Principal): Drummer, b. 1962, studied in Parma, is a "conservatory teacher and member of the most prestigious symphonic orchestra of Italy" -- a name I'm not expert enough to fill in. He has a handful of albums, two with this trio -- Daniele Cavalca (melodica, drums, percussion, piano, synths, vibraphone, bass; Scolari doubles on most of these, so the vibes are distinctive) and Simone Scolari (trumpet). Has a nice beat, a steady roll that the melodica/synths fatten up and the drums/vibes accent. B+(**)

Szilárd Mezei Tubass Quintet: Canons: 2nd Hosting (2011 [2012], NoBusiness): Four double basses, including the leader, backed by a tuba (Kornél Pápista), a limited sonic palette but don't discount the bass as a big, resonant drum. Recorded in Novi Sad, Serbia, presumably where the unfamiliar names come from. Limited edition LP (300 copies). B+(**) [advance]

Pamela York: Lay Down This World: Hymns and Spirituals (2012, Jazzful Heart): Pianist, from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC; studied at Berklee, moved to San Diego, then to Houston. Two previous albums, which I believe she sings on; this is piano trio, plus trombone on two cuts. Hymns, some familiar, some with titles I find spooky if not downright terrifying, arranged for piano jazz, that much I can take comfort in. B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks:

  • Arnaoudov/Szymanski/Stefens/Park/Xenakis/Minchev: Sonograms (1974-97, Labor)
  • Hashem Assadullahi: Pieces (OA2)
  • Lary Barilleau & the Latin Jazz Collective: Carmen's Mambo (OA2)
  • Kenny Blake featuring Maria Shaheen: Go Where the Road Leads (Summit)
  • Boyd Lee Dunlop: The Lake Reflections (Mr. B Sharp)
  • Lisa Forkish: Bridges (self-released)
  • Mimi Fox: Standards, Old & New (Origin)
  • Inbar Fridman: Time Quartet Project (Origin)
  • Maximilian Geller: Alpenglühen (Ozella)
  • Reinmar Henschke: On Air (Ozella)
  • Pamela Hines: 3.2.1 (Spicerack)
  • Keith Jarrett: Hymns/Spheres (1976, ECM)
  • Mark Kleinhaut/Neil Lamb: Jones Street (Invisible Music)
  • Billy Martin's Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head (Ambulet)
  • El Niño Machuca: Searching Your South/Buscando tu Sur (Ozella)
  • Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer/Helge Lien: Memnon (Ozella)
  • Michigan State University Professors of Jazz: Better Than Alright (self-released, 2CD)
  • Beata Pater: Red (B&B)
  • Bill Peterson Trio: Ruby Diamond (Summit)
  • Chris Potter: The Sirens (ECM)
  • Jussi Reijonen: Un (self-released)
  • Ilia Skibinsky: The Passage (Mythology): February 12
  • Tomasz Stanko NY Quartet: Wislawa (ECM, 2CD): advance, March
  • Al Thompson Jr.: City Mainstream (Alcalgar)

Purchases:

  • Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (Warp)
  • Jamey Johnson: Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (Mercury Nashville)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Expert Comments

Robert Christgau, following up on his speculation that Grimes might have the greatest concentration of female PnJ voters:

More PJ gender demographicas

We have a winner, I think: Bat for Lashes 19/8 [42.1%]

Second, probably: Sharon Van Etten 44/14 [31.8%]

Other data: Walker 22/0, Godspeed 22/0, Cohen 31/1, Young 22/1, Mountain Goats 23/2, Ocean 161/17 [10.6%], Cat Power 32/6 [18.8%], Julia Holter (whoa!) 19/1.

Because I kept finding her name I looked at Jennifer Vineyard's ballot. She voted solely for female artists if you count St. Vincent-Byrne.

Wonder what the M-F breakdown is overall. We did affirmative action work and I don't think we ever got the Fs to 15 pcercent. Bet it's lower now, but my work here is done.

Looks to me like about 10% of the voters (48/493) have unambiguous female names, and another 7% (35/493) have ambiguous names -- of course, there could also be contrary aliases, like George Elliot or Jane Dark (the latter did not vote, at least under that name).

I wrote this:

Looking at voter names, about 10% of the P&J voters are female, with another 7% ambiguous -- I don't feel very competent at this. My guess is that the latter would break 4-to-1 male, so you're looking at about 12% of the voters being female. (To top 15% they'd have to break 4-to-1 female.) Would be nice to have more info about voters, especially to feed into the Furia data analysis engine (which, by the way, has been rewritten, losing a bunch of features from the one Glenn McDonald was using several years ago). If, say, the system had age info, you could base "hipness" on something other than the presence or absence of a singles ballot (a quality that sometimes I'm organized enough to have, but this year not).

By the way, I did some research last year testing the hypothesis that Maura Johnston brought a lot of extra female voters in as a way of explaining why women artists did exceptionally well. Not able to find the research handy, but as I recall I couldn't find any such evidence.

Since we previously speculated about centricity, my figure dropped from .440 in the EW poll to .091 in P&J, with Chris Monsen and Jason Gubbels two of my three most similar voters (Bob was tied for 6th).

Greg Morton:

The strengths and weakness of Psychedelic Pill and Born to Sing: No Plan B are exactly the same to me. They are both Sound Only albums. Tom Hull had PsychPill as a long warm bath, and then requoted AllMusic Guide's "noise rock as comfort food". As for Van Morrison, he's played with great musicians and bands ever since "Baby, Please Don't Go", but to the ears of this long-time, probably too optimistic fan, this band may very well be the best. At the least, these arrangements are luscious. Trumpet overlaps with tenor; organ, bass and conga roll (not rock) together; piano and voice trade off. A gorgeous jazz/blues amalgam, sounds like it was recorded in a carpeted studio with curtains on the walls. "Educating Archie" is "Sitting On Top of The World." "Pagan Heart" is All John Lee Hooker All The Time. The title song is country changes with an easy New Orleans swing.

I'm not a musician and definitely not very much of a critic, so the best I can say is that both albums hit me emotionally, not intellectually. Somebody here (I looked back through a variety of threads and couldn't find the quote. My apologies for the non-attribution.) said PsychPill reminded him of the elderly uncle waking up from his nap and throwing out the first nonsensical thoughts that came to mind. That's about right. And Van is a bad combination of Hallmark verse, self help aphorisms (same thing, I know), Libertarian Op Ed quotes and pretty much more nonsense. The critics who praise him for lyrics addressing today's state-of-affairs have even lower standards than I do. Pretty weak content for two of our long-time preeminent songwriters. You really have to tune that out if you can.

As for the length of the PsychPill songs, haven't you always wanted to be on Neil's ranch long after the sun has gone down and said, "Just play, Neil. I don't care how long or what. Just play."

If I were a critic I'm sure this would cost me cred, but I had both tied for 4th this year with 11 points each. Plan B is playing right now. Van just sang some ridiculous lyric about "capitalism and materialism" that turns into "Taking coals to Newcastle/You're going to get burned," but then the words gave way to the piano that handed off to the trumpet which gave way to Van's own reedy, thin alto and then he sings with the tenor swelling up behind and it's warm brandy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Expert Comments

493 voters, down from 700 (2011), 712 (2010), 697 (2009), 579 (2008)

From sharpsm:

"We need more people writing about their against the grain picks. That's where the fun's at."

Agreed. So how about a group project? If you picked (or almost picked) an obscurity, or something everybody else inexplicably detests, let's hear about it, in a Consumer Guide-style paragraph (grade optional: if it's on or near your top ten we'll assume it's an A). Just going randomly through the ballots I'd love to hear a little something about the following:

The Isle of Marx -- Harry Marx
100 Proof -- Kellie Pickler
Cut the World -- Antony & the Johnsons
Unorthodox Jukebox -- Bruno Mars
Privateering -- Mark Knopfler
An Awesome Wave -- Alt-J
Mr. M -- Lambchop
(III) -- Crystal Castles (Will Hansen, we salute you)
The Carpenter -- The Avett Brothers
Pozniak Street -- The Pozniaks
Be Good -- Gregor Porter
Spirit in the Room -- Tom Jones
Stereo Worxxx - Capsule
Rebeldes - Alexander Anwandter
99 -- Epik High (Nick M, ditto)
Playin' Me -- Cooly G
Luxury Problems -- Andy Stott
Voyageur - Kathleen Edwards
One Day I'm Going to Soar -- Dexys

Etc., etc., etc. Maybe if we get a good response we can talk Joey into putting them up on his blog as an anti-Turkey Shoot!

I wrote:

Found this in ilxor's pazz 'n' jop thread:

RIP 2009

12. Dirty Projectors
26. Grizzly Bear
160. Animal Collective

2009, and specifically those poll-topping acts, was the year that made me wonder if I had grown too old and out of touch to keep up with pop music. This is the first year since then with them back in force, so I was curious how they would fare -- they do appear to have lost their "next big thing" lustre. (Tame Impala is the other 2009-2012 band -- a late breaker in 2009 and a leading contender in 2012 -- I was projecting them for 3rd but they came in 6th.)

On the other hand, the most significant P&J statistic is the number of voters: 493, down from 700 and 712 the last two years. As I recall, the ballot went out to the same number of voters, but between being sent out late and closing early and more software glitches and fewer people paying attention to them and the generally declining importance of the Village Voice . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Expert Comments

Christgau:

PJ reax:

  • I assume no one else has been able to click on an album and find out who voted for it either. Wondering who put Loudon in the top 40, a pleasant surprise.
  • Biggest surprise for me: Miguel.
  • Note that the scoring parameters have been reversed, I assume inadvertently. The way it's always been scored, Jack White would be ahead of Dirty Projectors with more mentions. This becomes major once you get below 100. And if you scroll down to the albums that got 30 points you'll begin to see major anomalies.
  • Just doing a quick scan I see votes for Baroness and Psychedelic Pill down below that should be included in their top 40 totals. PP unchanged in rank, Baroness leapfrogs to 23. I'm sure there are more. With an army of elves working on these inconsistencies we made some goofs back in the day. God knows what resources they gave McClain.

Milo Miles:

Checking out Steve Lehman Trio, Dialect Flourescent -- not a Top 10, but a shoo-in for the jazz of 2012 disc -- and notice they cover a number by an old fave, Duke Pearson. Pearson, who died young, is mostly remembered as a tunesmith, a producer and a pianist sideman at Blue Note, but I think several of his albums are under-the-radar treasures. The consensus apex is Wahoo!, and rightly so, but my dark horse candidate is The Phantom, a Latin- and Afro-percussion workout that sways and clicks more than its rep would suggest.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Music Week/No Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 20938 [20909] rated (+29), 591 [586] unrated (+5).

Only eight Jazz Prospecting notes in the scratch file, so I'll hold that back until next week. I do have my first 2013 A record, plus an A-. Neither will be big surprises, although both are steps up, and that's always a bit surprising. Also have my lowest-rated 2012 jazz album to date. I don't expect much else for next week, unless I break into the ECM advances. The incoming has been so uninspiring I'll hold it back for next week too.

Meanwhile, the following is a fragment that I wrote more than a week ago as I started to try to pull together a year-end comment, but didn't get very far. Part of that may be structural: do I keep going down my list? Or, do I try to pull something about of the metacritic data? I'll take another stab at it. Meanwhile, this:


A quick top-ten album list, good enough for the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop ballot (done December 27; numbers in bold are points awarded; numbers in brackets are counts from my metacritic file at that point):

  1. Loudon Wainwright III: Older Than My Old Man Now (2nd Story Sound) 15 [23]
  2. Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent (Pi) 15 [18]
  3. Van Morrison: Born to Sing: No Plan B (Blue Note) 10 [15]
  4. Todd Snider: Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables (Aimless/Thirty Tigers) 10 [25]
  5. Chris Knight: Little Victories (Drifter's Church) 10 [3]
  6. Chiddy Bang: Breakfast (Virgin) 8 [12]
  7. Sam Rivers/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul: Reunion: Live in New York (2007, Pi, 2CD) 8 [20]
  8. The Coup: Sorry to Bother You (Anti-) 8 [15]
  9. Iris DeMent: Sing the Delta (Flariella) 8 [28]
  10. Houston Person: Naturally (High Note) 8 [3]

After another week's listening, I'm tempted to say that Live, by The Group (1986, NoBusiness) has cracked my top ten, but I'll leave well enough alone: I don't really want to bump Person, who's nearing 80 and has fifty-some years of underappreciated major-level achievement, in favor of a December release from Lithuania of a 25-year-old session by a bunch of mostly dead guys (Ahmed Abdullah and Andrew Cyrille are the exceptions, and they could use the recognition).

The mean count in the metacritic file is 16.2, 3.0 of which is due to my own evaluation (1 point for B+ or better, 1 more for A-, 1 more for top ten, a formula I apply to about 50 prominent sources, so why not me?), so Knight and Person would have wound up at 0 otherwise -- this counting hundreds of year-end lists, some with 100 or more entries. [PS: Knight actually went on a run after this, so his current count is now 10.]

I've heard 80 of the top 100 records in the metacritic file. The 20 I haven't heard break down into two lists: those I looked for but didn't find (Flying Lotus, Chromatics, Actress, Andy Stott, Ty Segall, Field Music, Taylor Swift), and those I didn't get around to looking up, possibly for fear that I might find them (Father John Misty, DIIV, Ariel Pink, Converge, How to Dress Well, Passion Pit, Baroness, Scott Walker, Deftones, Poliça, Torche, Wild Nothing, Dinosaur Jr). [PS: Since I wrote this, I looked up three more: DIIV (**), How to Dress Well (B), and Walker (C-).]

The only A- records I find in my metacritic file top 100 are:

  1. Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Def Jam)
  2. Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, MAAD City (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
  3. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel . . . (Clean Slate/Epic)
  4. Killer Mike: RAP Music (Williams Street)
  5. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (Columbia)
  6. Bruce Springsteen: Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
  7. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill (Reprise)
  8. Neneh Cherry: The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)
  9. Patti Smith: Banga (Columbia)
  10. Vijay Iyer Trio: Accelerando (ACT)
  11. Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn't (Secretly Canadian)

That's probably about par over the last decade, or at least that part where, thanks to Rhapsody, I've been able to hear close to 80% of the top-100 critically-rated albums. (Before that I heard much fewer than 80% -- more like 20% -- because I suspected most of them weren't worth buying.) I don't eschew popularity in music, nor do I think that most critics are full of shit. In fact, I'd assert that both popular and critical taste correlate positively with good music -- not by a huge amount, but by enough to be significant. For example, of the 80 top-100 records I heard and rated, aside from the 10 A- records above, another 42 got some form of B+. A quick rundown:

B+(***) Cloud Nothings, El-P, John Talabot, Santigold, Daphni, Divine Fits, Sleigh Bells, Action Bronson, Burial [9]
B+(**) Japandroids, Jack White, Alabama Shakes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, DIIV, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, The Men, Lana Del Rey, Nas, Bobby Womack, Crystal Castles, Schoolboy Q, Andrew Bird, Bill Fay, Saint Etienne [16]
D+(*) Grimes, The XX, Cat Power, Alt-J, Purity Ring, Hot Chip, David Byrne/St. Vincent, Dan Deacon, Ty Segall Band, Chairlift, The Shins, Matthew Dear, Robert Glasper, Lambchop, Lower Dens, Peaking Lights, Sigur Ros, Toy [18]

I sampled all of those on Rhapsody, so assume the usual caveats: some might improve with more play, and others might slip -- I'm especially suspicious of the five records that made it into our Turkey Shoot.

The next hundred slots in the metacritic file are comparably scattered -- the curve shifted a bit down -- but with twice as many records that I've missed (46 vs. 20):

A Loudon Wainwright III, Todd Snider [2]
A- Iris DeMent, The Mountain Goats, Amadou & Mariam, Sam Rivers, Big KRIT (Live From the Underground) [5]
B+(***) Wadada Leo Smith (Ten Freedom Summers), Roc Marciano, Pink, Jamey Johnson, Off!, Carolina Chocolate Drops [6]
B+(**) Titus Andronicus, Future, Best Coast, Aesop Rock, Lotus Plaza, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Donald Fagen, JJ Doom, Regina Spektor, Elle Varner [10]
B+(*) Lower Dens, Peaking Lights, Sigur Ros, Tindersticks, The 2 Bears, TheeSatisfaction, Mala, Metric, Lee Ranaldo, Yeasayer, Anais Mitchell, Neil Young (Americana), School of Seven Bells, Dean Blunt/Inga Copeland, Justin Townes Earle, The Lumineers [16]
B Frankie Rose, Mount Eerie (Clear Moon), Ab-Soul, Spoek Mathambo, Fun, Calexico, Smashing Pumpkins, Amanda Palmer, Shearwater, Paul Weller, Traxman, Guided by Voices (Let's Go Eat the Factory), Beth Jeans Houghton [13]
B- Rufus Wainwright, Niki & the Dove [2]
U Dirty Three, High on Fire, Carter Tutti Void, Gojira, Shackleton, Richard Hawley, Ty Segall/White Fence, Thee Oh Sees, The Maccabees, Soundgarden, Allo Darlin', Dexys, Holy Other, Menomena, Redd Kross, Woods, Mac DeMarco (2), Neurosis, Beachwood Sparks, Cooly G, Damien Jurado, Melody's Echo Chamber, Muse, Dwight Yoakam, Avett Brothers, Beak>, Raime, Six Organs of Admittance, Deerhoof, Pig Destroyer, Rush, Screaming Females, Jake Bugg, Cody Chesnutt, The Congos/Sun Araw, Brian Eno, Here We Go Magic, Meshuggah, And You Will Know US by the Trail of Dead, Four Tet, The Fresh and Onlys, Cate LeBon, Of Monsters and Men, Earth, The Mars Volta, The Tallest Man on Earth [46]

Beyond that things continue to thin out -- although once you drop below 1000 you find more jazz, specifically jazz that I received, so the ratio of blue/green lines flips. From 201-300, I have another A (Steve Lehman) and 6 A- (Madonna, Homeboy Sandman, Air, Big KRIT [4Eva N a Day], Branford Marsalis, Nicki Minaj). From 301-400, no A but 7 A- (Carly Rae Jepsen, Disappears, Dave Douglas, Kid Koala, Serengeti, Cornershop, De La Soul). From 401-500, no A but 9 A- (Pet Shop Boys, Prinzhorn Dance School, Chiddy Bang, Janka Nabay, Jenny Scheinman, BBU, Ani DiFranco, Charles Gayle, Wadada Leo Smith [Ancestors]. From 901-1000, this thins out to just 2 A- (Fred Lonberg-Holm, TommyWomack), the main difference being that the number of rated records has dropped to 14. Still, I doubt that hearing the rest would make much difference: like I said, there is a small positive critical correlation, plus there is a small bias toward my own preferences (by counting my own grades, plus those of critics with similar tastes.

The metacritic file goes on for 5354 lines -- nearly half (2560) documenting a single reference, 895 with just two. At that level, we aren't sampling opinion; we're just gathering up loose ends.


As long as I'm farting around here, let me try one more table, this time taking the records on Robert Christgau's Dean's List (link below) and mapping them into my grades (* indicates based on something other than a physical copy):

A Loudon Wainwright III, Todd Snider, The Rough Guide to Highlife, The Original Sound of Cumbia [4]
A- *Dabke, *Himanshu (Nehru Jackets), The Mountain Goats, Bruce Springsteen, Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Karantamba, Homeboy Sandman (First of a Living Breed), Saigon, Omar Souleyman, *Plug, *Heems (Wild Water Kingdom), Leonard Cohen, Frank Ocean, Iris DeMent, Tommy Womack, Pet Shop Boys, Staff Benda Bilili, Carolyn Mark, *Thomas Anderson, Ani DiFranco, The Coup, *Big KRIT (4Eva N a Day), Low Cut Connie, *Kid Koala, Pete Seeger, *Burial, *Francis Bebey, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, *Dylan Hicks, *Ned Sublette, Janka Nabay, Amadou & Mariam, *Andre Williams, Joan Soriano, *Tha Grimm Teachaz [37]
B+(***) Pink, Greenberger Greenberg Cebar, *A Place to Bury Strangers (Worship), *Big Baby Gandhi, *S/S/S, *Cloud Nothings, Jamey Johnson, *P.S. Eliot, *Sleigh Bells, Balkan Beat Box, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, *Bhi Bhiman, *Homeboy Sandman (Subject: Matter), *The Magnetic Fields, *Dobie (Nothing to Fear), *A Place to Bury Strangers (Onwards to the Wall), *Clams Casino, *Divine Fits, *Dobie (But Fear Itself), *Big Baby Gandhi, *Linkoban [21]
B+(**) *Azealia Banks, *Elle Varner, *Standard Fare, *Japandroids, *Etta James, *Donald Fagen, *Best Coast, *Saint Etienne, *Corin Tucker Band, *Two Fingers, *Serengeti (The Kenny Dennis EP), *Jack White [12]
B+(*) *Neil Young (Americana), *Lee Ranaldo, *The XX, *Lukid [4]
B *Skrillex, Spoek Mathambo, *Beach House, *Death Grips (The Money Store), *Ab-Soul [5]
U Listen . . . Oka!, Orchestra Baobab, The Human Hearts, Taylor Swift, Wreckless Eric/Amy Rigby, The dBs, Death Grips (No Love Deep Web), The Rough Guide to Ethiopia, Songs for Desert Refugees, Public Enemy, The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco, Moreno and L'Orch First Moja-One, Allo Darlin', The Rolling Stones, Royal Band de Thiés, Khaira Arby [16]

So, I've listened to about 85% of the records in Christgau's list, and more/less agree on about half of those (41/86), with another fourth just marginally off the mark. Some of the others are records I really dislike (Americana, Death Grips, Beach House, Skrillex), and others I just didn't spend much time with (one spin of Ab-Soul and XX way before Christgau reviewed them; same for Mathambo -- I bought a copy later but have only managed one more play, and can't find it now. On the other hand, Jamey Johnson and Pink haven't gotten any better since I bought copies. Thus far the only 2012 release I've gone back to and graded up was Burial, which was helped by combining two EPs (Street Halo/Kindred).

Conversely, the following is a subset of my 2012 A-list after scratching out everything on the Dean's List plus most of the jazz (I kept Neneh Cherry as a critical crossover success and Byron because Christgau has reviewed him in the past; I also added in some compilations). The numbers just count the subset, which started with 115 albums plus 13 compilations. The 31 records here compare to 39 on the Dean's list (41 minus two 2011 releases), so one way to look at this is: Christgau finds about 56% of my non-jazz A-list.

  1. Van Morrison: Born to Sing: No Plan B (Blue Note)
  2. Chris Knight: Little Victories (Drifter's Church)
  3. Chiddy Bang: Breakfast (Virgin)
  4. Air: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) (Astralwerks)*
  5. K'Naan: Country, God or the Girl (A&M/Octone)
  6. De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present . . . First Serve (Duck Down)
  7. Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)*
  8. Disappears: Pre Language (Kranky)*
  9. BBU!: Bell Hooks (Mishka)*
  10. Todd Terje: It's the Arps (Smalltown Supersound, EP)*
  11. Ondatrópica (Soundway)*
  12. Patti Smith: Banga (Columbia)
  13. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill (Reprise, 2CD)
  14. Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn't (Secretly Canadian)*
  15. Rusko: Songs (Mad Decent/Downtown)*
  16. Danny!: Payback (Okayplayer)*
  17. Zani Diabaté & Les Héritiers: Tientalaw (Sterns Africa)
  18. Cornershop: Urban Turban: The Singhles Club (Ample Play)*
  19. Carly Rae Jepsen: Kiss (604/Interscope/Schoolboy)*
  20. Neneh Cherry & the Thing: The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)
  21. Mika: The Origin of Love (Casablanca)*
  22. Koo Nimo: Highlife Roots Revival (Riverboat)*
  23. Eric Bibb: Deeper in the Well (Stony Plain)*
  24. Don Byron New Gospel Quintet: Love, Peace, and Soul (Savoy Jazz)
  25. Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Grifter's Hymnal (Bordello)*
  26. Louisiana Red: When My Mama Was Living (1975, Labor)
  27. Occupy This Album (Razor & Tie, 4CD)*
  28. Can: The Lost Tapes (1968-77, Mute, 3CD)*
  29. Gypsyphonic Disko Nola-Phonic Vol. 2 (DJ Quickie Mart)*
  30. Prinzhorn Dance School: Clay Class (DFA)*
  31. Johnny Cash: Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth (1975-83, Columbia/Legacy, 2CD)*

Lots of interesting music there, and hard to really pigeonhole it all.


A (small) sampling of year-end lists I somehow remembered to keep links to:

Expert Comments

Me:

One observation: I've looked at several hundred EOY lists this year, and for that matter for each of the last few years, and something that's stood out this year has been the tendency to lump two or more records by a single artist into a single list slot. Most common has been Ty Segall (three albums), then Mount Eerie. Not many people listed Green Day but when they did they tended to gang them up. But I haven't seen a single instance of anyone trying to package the two Neil Young albums together. To most people they must seem as similar as the Segalls and Eeries, but to those who care they elicit sharply differing responses. I know I thoroughly enjoyed Psychedelic Pill and can't stand Americana -- polar opposite to Christgau and Tatum, critics I rarely disagree with, but for some reason the difference here cuts to the core of how we relate to music and art. (We disagree about Pink too, but at least it's clear we're listening to the same record, with mere differences of degree.)

By the way, the year-end lists favor Psychedelic Pill over Americana by a little more than 4 to 1.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Expert Comments

The Expert Witness year-end poll is out, with most of the results here. Someone speculated that I may have the lowest centricity score. I tried calculating it:

Looks like my centricity score is .440 (85/193): Wainwright (30), Lehman (8), Morrison (2), Snider (22), Knight (3), Chiddy Bang (2), Rivers (2), Coup (8), Dement (7), Person (1). That's most likely a relatively low score here, but I doubt if it's the lowest. Where it may be the lowest is in that only four were reviewed by Bob, but all but one found support elsewhere -- something I was very pleased to see.

The same ballot is likely to produce a centricity score of close to .100 in P&J (against my meta file the number is .109). My top meta ranks are: DeMent (92), Wainwright (125), Snider (141), Rivers (186), Lehman (214), Coup (249), Morrison (318), Chiddy Bang (399). I think the first three will do better than that in P&J, but doubt any of them will crack the top 30, and the jazz is certain to underperform.

Figured this out, but didn't mention it: 35 of top 75 finishers made my A-list. I gave lower grades to 32, and haven't heard 8.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rhapsody 2012 Jazz Critics Poll

Results for the 7th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, founded by Francis Davis back when we were writing for the Village Voice -- back when the Village Voice still had some interest in jazz -- are up today, sponsored by Rhapsody. There are four pieces to this posted on Rhapsody:

Complete results and all 119 critic ballots are hosted on my site, here, where I also snuck in my 2012 complete jazz list.

Also want to show off the playlist attached to my article, which I owe to Chris Drumm and Greg Morton.

I'll write more about this later, but wanted to get the links up while they're fresh.

Expert Comments

My announcement:

The Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll -- the 7th Annual, since Francis Davis inaugurated it at the Village Voice -- results and essays are up. Links are available on my blog. Francis and I have articles, and you can browse all 119 ballots. Looks like about half of the ranking records are available on Rhapsody -- I was especially disappointed to see that ECM had pulled all their records out (Sunnyside and High Note/Savant too, although I'm less certain that they were present before. Hopefully you'll find the link to the playlist that Chris Drumm and Greg Morton (with some other advisers) put together.


Rough draft for a possible Wichita Eagle letter:

If Boeing had not reneged on its promises to build the new tanker fleet in Wichita, with all its promises of 1,000 more jobs, the Air Force wouldn't even be examining other places to base the new planes: the obvious place to put them would be at McConnell, just as it has been with the KC-135 fleet.

Instead, Boeing pulled out of Wichita, taking 1,000 real jobs along with the promised ones, so when the new fleet phases in, the Air Force will have no reason to keep McConnell open -- costing the area what? another 1,000 jobs? Make no mistake about it: the more successful the Republicans are at "starving the beast" in Washington, the more military bases will be closed, and the new tankers make McConnell as obsolete as the KC-135s.

If Senators Roberts and Moran had any sense, they'd use whatever influence they have to save the Air Force $35 billion by scuttling the tanker deal and keep McConnell open. And they'd have more clout if they weren't wasting their time opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel, who will very likely call the shots about which bases get closed in the next few years.

New tankers never were a good idea. At most they make it easier and quicker to get into foreign wars, but even there the strategic bombers they were originally built to serve have long given way, most lately to drones that don't need them at all. But now even the Keynesian jobs argument has proven hollow. Makes one wonder whether the senators will ever decide to represent us rather than Boeing?

That's about 280 words. The Eagle's limit is 200.

Had Boeing not reneged on its promises to build the new tanker fleet in Wichita, the Air Force wouldn't be examining other places to base the new planes: the only pick would be McConnell, as it has been for the KC-135 fleet.

But with Boeing gone, the Air Force will have no reason to keep McConnell. Make no mistake about it: the more successful Republicans are at "starving the beast" in Washington, the more military bases will be closed, and the new tankers make McConnell obsolete.

If Senators Roberts and Moran had any sense, they'd use their influence to save the Air Force $35 billion by scuttling the tanker deal and keeping McConnell open. And they'd have more clout if they weren't wasting their time opposing Chuck Hagel, who will soon call the shots about which bases get closed.

New tankers never were a good idea. And for Kansas at least, there are no jobs to be gained, only jobs at risk. Maybe the senators should switch sides and represent us instead of Boeing?

El Intruso Poll

I was invited to vote in the El Intruso Poll, in Spain. Sent in the following. I can't swear that any of the answers represent in-depth analysis, especially where it comes to ranking players (even more so groups). Rather, what I answer tends to be what's on the top of my head -- certainly players worth a mention, not that it should go to their heads. They allow up to three choices in each category.

  • Musician of the Year: Ivo Perelman, Joe McPhee, Francois Carrier
  • Newcomer Musician: Josh Sinton, Michael McNeill
  • Group of the year: Sonic Liberation Front, Fast Citizens
  • Newcomer group: Living by Lanterns, Old Time Musketry
  • Album of the year: Steve Lehman, Dialect Fluorescent (Pi); Sam Rivers, Reunion: Live in New York (Pi); William Parker: Centering (NoBusiness)
  • Composer: Arthur Kell, Steve Lehman, Ben Allison
  • Drums: Gerry Hemingway, Gerald Cleaver, Mike Reed
  • Bass: William Parker, Ken Filiano, Eric Revis
  • Guitar: Raoul Bjorkenheim, Bill Frisell, Anders Nilsson
  • Piano: Marilyn Crispell, Satoko Fujii, Myra Melford
  • Keyboards/synthesizer/organ: Nik Bartsch, John Medeski
  • Saxophone: Houston Person, Steve Lehman, Martin Kuchen
  • Trumpet/Cornet: Wadada Leo Smith, Tyler Ho Bynum, Rob Mazurek
  • Clarinet: Ken Vandermark, Mort Weiss
  • Trombone: Roswell Rudd, Jacob Garchik
  • Violin/Viola: Jenny Scheinman, Jason Kao Hwang
  • Cello: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Peggy Lee
  • Vibraphone: Joe Locke, Jason Adasiewicz
  • Others instruments: Cooper-Moore (diddley bow)
  • Female vocals: Sheila Jordan, Diana Krall, Neneh Cherry
  • Male Vocals: Van Morrison
  • Best live band: don't know
  • Record Label: Clean Feed, High Note, NoBusiness
  • Wednesday, January 09, 2013

    Expert Comments

    The BBWAA voted for the Hall of Fame today, and decided on nothing. Craig Biggio (3060 hits) didn't get in because he only got 68.2% of the vote. Jack Morris (254 wins) came in 2nd in his 14th (next-to-last) year of eligibility. Roger Clemens (354 wins) and Barry Bonds (762 HR, 2935 hits, 2227 runs, 1996 RBI, 2558 walks) came in 8th and 9th to chastise them for their steroids scandals (and perhaps more generally because they're assholes, at least to the BBWAA). They trailed Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Curt Schilling.

    Long time ago Don Malcolm organized a dozen or so friends and friends of friends into a club he called Baseball Maniacs. I ran a project with them to re-elect the Hall of Fame, and we went through many rounds of trading ballots (this, by the way, was all pre-Internet; I still have the paperwork somewhere) as we built it up from 1920 forward. Most of the controversies were about what statistics meant in historical context -- e.g., was Bill Joyce an unrecognized superstar, or was he in fact any good at all? But one argument totally ignored the stats: we had one guy who mounted a fierce political campaign against Cap Anson, the case built on Anson's pivotal role in segregating major league baseball. I disagreed, but that struck me as a much deeper challenge than the gambling problems of Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, or the current steroid brouhaha. For one thing it wasn't just that Anson was a racist -- too many of them to go there or soon you'll have to deal with Tris Speaker and the KKK -- but that nothing had more direct, or damaging, effect on the game than segregation. Nor does it help much to point out that Anson didn't do it alone, or that even if he hadn't pulled his team off the field someone else would have. In the end, I figured that it's called a Hall of FAME, so trying to rid it of all the scoundrels would be not just hopeless but beside the point.

    Bigger problem today is the 75% rule, which keeps the Hall from expanding at a reasonable rate. Would have been much better had they took at least the top two vote getters every year (Biggio and Morris this year). As Bill James showed in his HOF book, the worst mistakes of the extra committees were made to compensate for the pathological stinginess of the BBWAA. (The Old-Timer's Committee was created after a three-year stretch when the only one the writers could agree on was Rogers Hornsby -- as James said, "mighty big of them"). Nobody else runs a Hall this ineptly.

    Monday, January 07, 2013

    Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

    Music: Current count 20909 [20874] rated (+35), 586 [586] unrated (0).

    Skipped two weeks, so first Jazz Prospecting since December 17. Not sure how regular this will be in the near future, but when I do managed to collect eight or more entries I'll wrap them up and post them. In the year since the Village Voice stopped carrying my Jazz Consumer Guide column, my incoming mail has dropped by about 20%. I made a bit of that up using Rhapsody, but the net result is that I heard about 100 fewer new jazz records in 2012 than I did in 2011. I've also made less money writing in 2012 than in any year since 2003 -- not that that's why I've been doing this, but it does seem to be the sainted market's way of clearing out dead wood. I'll be thinking about this more in weeks to come, but chances are I'll plod along while trying out some different things.

    One thing I have started is to collect last year's Jazz Prospecting pieces in a more permanent and accessible archive (the Jazz CG-era ones are already filed elsewhere). I also want to put some music ratings software together: a website where we can round up a few dozen critics and knowledgable consumers who can rate a thousand or more albums each.

    One thing that I have decided is that I'll never again attempt to do a metacritic file the way I've been doing it: as a single person editing a flat file. I've been doing that since 2007, and this year's file is by far the most complete and exacting. It's also the biggest time sink in my life, and it doesn't appear to be terribly useful for others, so something there has to change. It also occurs to me that it's just another data set for the music ratings project.

    Similarly, the backbone for a Christgau-like CG database is the same albums table that the ratings project requires. I've long wanted to hang my writings onto such a framework, so that's likely to be another application (or, indeed, built-in). (I've long been reluctant to reuse the Christgau framework due to some technical problems in the database schema, which I hack around for him but haven't resolved to my own satisfaction -- not that what I have on my own website isn't many times hackier.)

    Only one 2013 release below, but many more are in the pipeline. The two A- records were discovered within a day or two after my Jazz Critics Poll deadline. Had I looked at the lineups and/or paid more attention to my mail I would have jumped on them sooner, but instead found them in other critics' lists. The A record is classic year-end problems: how can US critics deal with December releases in Lithuania? I think I got my copy on Xmas Eve, so this is one year I can't complain about Santa.

    Francis Davis' Jazz Critics Poll should be coming out this week at Rhapsody. I'll have a year-end piece there, and I'll host the ballots as I've done the last few years. Will announce all that when it happens.


    Carter Calvert: Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio (2011 [2012], self-released): Standards singer, from Cincinnati but most likely based in New York, where she has some measure -- not that I know what it is -- of a Broadway career. First album. Cohen is a drummer, so I'm not sure how he managed to pull rank over pianist Jim West, but they provide suitable support. Not sure what I think about her voice: depends on the song, and they're all over the map. B+(*)

    Gustavo Casenave: Tango Casenave (2012, Watch Craft Music): Pianist, b. 1971 in Uruguay, studied at Berklee. AMG lists one previous album, but that strikes me as an underestimate. Composed everything here, tangos with all the classical bombast, even though the group is just piano-violin-bandoneon-bass. Eddie Gomez is cited as a "special guest" on the cover, but only plays on one track. B+(*)

    Ken Field: Sensorium: Music for Dance & Film (2012, Innova): I'm not even going to try to read the black-on-blue fine print here, a case of impatience leading to ignorance about who is involved here and what they're trying to do. I do know that Field is Boston-based, an alto saxophonist who also plays flute and other reeds, and has six albums under his own name since 1996, but is probably better known for his group memberships, including Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Revolutionary Snake Ensemble. Two commissioned series here: one (17:50) for a film by Karen Aqua, the other (37:04) for Bridgman/Packer Dance. Some interesting stretches, others I'm unsure of -- perhaps the normal side-effect of not seeing the big picture, or perhaps just perhaps. B+(**)

    David Gilmore: Numerology: Live at Jazz Standard (2010 [2012], Evolutionary Music): Guitarist, b. 1964 in Cambridge, MA; has a couple previous albums, quite a few side credits -- some rock (Bryan Ferry, Ringo Starr), most jazz (Steve Coleman, Don Byron, Wayne Shorter, Rudresh Mahanthappa). Basically a fusion player, with McLaughlin the obvious model. Picked up an all-star band here: Miguel Zenón (alto sax), Luis Perdomo (piano), Christian McBride (bass), Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums), Mino Cinelu (percussion), Claudia Acuña (voice). Her contribution is almost too subtle to notice, but the sax takes the roiling rhythm and goes off on a magnificent romp. B+(***)

    The Group: Live (1986 [2012], NoBusiness): The name, even with its definite article, doesn't do them justice. They came out of the New York loft scene, gigged around for a couple years, and left nothing but this newly discovered masterpiece. The booklet shows two quintet posters: their May 3 (1986?) "world premier" with Ahmed Abdullah (trumpet), Marion Brown (alto sax), Billy Bang (violin), Sirone (bass), and Andrew Cyrille; and another from Sept. 12-13, 1986, with Fred Hopkins on bass. This recording, from Sept. 13, uses both bassists. They play five pieces, with Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and Brown's "La Piacita" running 18 minutes each, and Miriam Makeba's "Amanpondo" at 25 minutes. Bang manages to swing in any or no time; the two horns mesh intuitively, completing each other's thoughts; the two bassists have different strong suits, and Cyrille has rarely had better days. A

    Tianna Hall & the Mexico City Jazz Trio: Two for the Road (2012, Mighty Pretty): Standards singer, third album, calls her regular backup the Houston Jazz Band, hence the name given to pianist Miguel Villicaña's trio. Nice voice, especially comfortable on the most well worn tunes, and the trio is first rate. David Caceres helped out, including a duet on "They Can't Take That Away From Me." B+(*)

    Chris Hopkins/Bernd Lhotzky: Partners in Crime (2012, Echoes of Swing): Piano duets. Lhotzky, b. 1970 in Bavaria. Hopkins, b. 1972 in Princeton, moved to Germany at age six. Both lean toward swing, with Lhotzky owning one of the Arbors Piano Series records. This is delightful, especially when they get into familiar territory, like "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'." B+(***)

    I Never Meta Guitar Too (2011 [2012], Clean Feed): Second volume of the label's Elliott Sharp-produced avant-guitar series, sixteen brief selections from as many artists, most (unlike last time) by people I've never heard of -- some that I am familiar with, like Joel Harrison and Steve Cardenas, not that far out. Also none stuck in any of the usual ruts. Thanks to rock and roll, there are a lot of guitarists out there, with more than ever turning to jazz, and thanks to electronics they're moving off into all sorts of directions. This series drives home that point, while still more often than not being something you can play at low volume for ambiance. B+(*)

    Jeff Johnson: Suitcase (2011 [2012], Origin): Seattle bassist, one of the label's mainstays, generally a mainstream player but here he not only moves into postbop, he gives us a practicum in how much of the avant-garde has been incorporated into the postbop paradigm. Hans Teuber plays bass clarinet, alto flute, and various saxes, with Steve Moore on piano and Eric Eagle on drums. B+(***)

    Jerry Leake: Cubist: Prominence (2012 [2013], Rhombus Publishing): Percussionist, specializes in African and Indian but I doubt there's any corner of the world he hasn't scoured for things to beat up on. He teaches, has written numerous books on the stuff, and has more than a handful of albums. Cubist was a 2010 title that he seems to be stuck on. Cubist Live (2011), co-credited to guitarist Randy Roos, turned his research into fun. This one, where eight vocalists run amok, is no fun. And while I pretty much agree with what I gather to be his political view on world peace, I don't want to be lectured about them, much less in opera. B-

    Living by Lanterns: New Myth/Old Science (2011 [2012], Cuneiform): Compositions and arrangements by Jason Adasiewicz (vibes) and Mike Reed (drums), "based on unpublished compositions and improvisations by Sun Ra," and performed by a star-laden band that is plenty capable of projecting intergalactic imagination: Greg Ward (alto sax), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Ingrid Laubrock (tenor sax), Tomeka Reid (cello), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Joshua Abrams (bass), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums), with Nick Butcher adding electronics on two tracks. A-

    Luce Trio: Pieces, Vol. 1 (2011 [2012], Museum Clausum): Saxophonist Jon De Lucia, in what he calls his "inspired baroque group," with Ryan Ferreira on electric guitar and Chris Tordini on acoustic bass. Half original compositions, half credits to J.S. Bach, G.F. Handel, and John Dowland. Slow and solemn, stately even. [Bandcamp] B+(*) [advance]

    José-Luis Montón: Solo Guitarra (2011 [2012], ECM): Guitarist, b. 1962 in Barcelona, Spain. Has at least two previous albums, the first explicitly flamenco. Solo guitar, perhaps chilled a bit under Manfred Eicher's production, very atmospheric, hard to fault. B+(**)

    Old Time Musketry: Different Times (2011 [2012], Steeplechase): Front cover also adds "LookOut" after "SteepleChase," suggesting a label variant I can find no other explanation of. Group is a quartet, based in New York: Adam Schneit (sax, clarinet), JP Schlegelmilch (piano, accordion, synth, glockenspiel), Phil Rowan (bass), Max Goldman (drums, melodica). Schneit and Schlegelmilch split the writing. They go for soft edges, letting the music just pick you up and sweep you away. A-

    Matthew Silberman: Questionable Creatures (2012, DeSoto Sound Factory): Tenor saxophonist, from Santa Monica, CA; wound up in Brooklyn. Debut album, with two guitarists (Ryan Ferreira and Greg Ruggiero), bass (Christopher Tordini), and drums (Tommy Crane). The guitar work is grooveful and sharp, the sax articulate. One spot blows me away, and none of it disappoints. B+(***)

    Sudo Quartet: Live at Banlieue Bleue (2011 [2012], NoBusiness): Avant improvisers, in cover order: Joëlle Léandre (bass), Carlos Zingaro (violin), Sebi Tramontana (trombone), Paul Lovens (drums). The bassist is central, the violin ranging out of her harmonics, the trombone reinforcing them, the drums reacting every which way. B+(**)

    Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington: Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Three (2011 [2012], OA2): Trumpet and baritone sax, respectively, the collective a sextet with Rhodes (Dan Murphy), guitar (Corey Christiansen), bass, and drums; third album together, recorded in "flyover" territory in Indiana. Smart postbop, nice attention to detail. B+(*)

    Tim Warfield's Jazzy Christmas (2012, Undaunted Music): Mainstream tenor saxophonist (also soprano, which he plays on the cover), had a couple excellent albums in the late 1990s -- A Cool Blue, Gentle Warrior -- but his career has gone nowhere since then. With Terrence Stafford on trumpet, Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Stefon Harris for tinkle and glitter. Joanna Pascal sings three ("Let It Snow," "Caroling Caroling," "Silent Night"), and Jamie Davis takes "Oh Christmas Tree." Here and there some actual jazz breaks out, but the melodies seep back in. If you must play Xmas music, some of this will amuse you, and little will offend. Ends with a bonus track, "The Dreidel Song," lest anyone feel left out. B


    Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

    • Benny Green: Magic Beans (Sunnyside): February 26
    • Eric Hofbauer: American Grace (Creative Nation Music)
    • Sean Moran Small Elephant Band: Tusk (NCM East): April 1
    • Daniel Lantz Trio: Plays Bond (Do Music)
    • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Gamak (ACT)
    • Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup): January 22
    • Jeremy Pelt: Water and Earth (High Note): January 29
    • Dylan Ryan/Sand: Sky Bleached (Cuneiform)
    • Harvie S/Kenny Barron: Witchcraft (Savant): January 29
    • Ches Smith & These Arches: Hammered (Clean Feed): advance, March 5
    • The Summarily Dismissed: To Each! (Laureniac Song)


    Miscellaneous notes:

    • Coleman Hawkins: The High and Mighty Hawk (1958, Felsted): This one I've heard before, on a 1988 London CD, and it looks like it's later been reissued with extra tracks; with Buck Clayton, Hank Jones, Ray Brown, and Mickey Sheen, starts with one of Hawkins' best upbeat blues, remains superb even on the slowest ballads. A- [rhapsody]

    Expert Comments

    Dan W. and Tom Walker posted links to my Jazz Critics' Poll ballots. I wrote:

    Rhapsody's Jazz Critics Poll isn't up yet -- should be sometime this week. I host the individual ballots, as I have for several years now. I put some preliminary stuff up for proofreading, and evidently didn't do a very good job of securing or obfuscating where it is. I have a few errors fixed locally but not publicly, since this isn't supposed to be public yet. On the other hand, Francis has already passed the link around to the voting critics, so I'm not the only possible leaker. So enjoy your scoop. (By the way, I didn't factor any inside info into my metacritic file, but if you look closely -- e.g., at the jazz subset -- it's all there too, plus a little extra noise favoring Neneh Cherry and Robert Glasper.)

    By the way, big thanks to Chris Drumm and Greg Morton for getting me out of that playlist jam. Haven't heard back yet, but I can't imagine they won't be blown away.

    Also, Jazz Prospecting up, including three A-list records I didn't get to before the deadline. Happens every year, almost instantaneously. Two of the records were flagged by other critics, and I was just slow to get to them. The other is a December-released import from Lithuania -- safe to say, nobody got that one in time.

    Tom Walker responded:

    Tom: I got the link to your results page via Twitter on January 3 from guess who, the winner, Vijay Iyer! (Vijay Iyer's Twitter: https://twitter.com/vijayiyer)

    What is kinda funny is that Iyer did not mention that he had won. He got the link from Philip Booth.

    Sunday, January 06, 2013

    Expert Comments

    Some controversy about whether Standard Fare's Out of Sight, Out of Town, was released in 2011 or 2012 (looks like both) and/or should be eligible for Joey's P&J poll. I wrote:

    A point of order: back in pre-EW days when CGs had long HM lists but didn't publish star ratings (they were, after all, in rank order) every month I had to ask Bob for the dividing lines, so I also asked him for release year dates -- then sometimes we would argue about them. In the EW era, I don't have to ask for star ratings, and there are many fewer records to track down, I've stopped asking him for years -- figuring most of the time I already know the right answer, or can easily look it up, and also that if I do get it wrong, someone will tell me. Every update notice that I send out includes a reminder to look everything over and let me know if I got anything wrong. So if Standard Fare's release date, or anything else, is wrong, please someone let me know.

    Re Standard Fare, one thing that I do know is that I heard the record on Rhapsody, where it is no longer available. Rhapsody has release dates -- admittedly, they're often wrong -- so that's one source I may have had. Anyhow, my 2012 metacritic file pegs the release date as 01-24, and that, at least, I got from somewhere (possibly wrong, of course).

    Also:

    A few days ago, I asked for help constructing a playlist to go along with my Rhapsody EOY jazz list. Greg Morton and Chris Drumm pitched in, and came up with this:

    1. Vijay Iyer Trio (Accelerando): Bode [2:20]
    2. Steve Lehman Trio (Dialect Fluorescent): Allocentric [4:10]
    3. Steve Lehman Trio (Dialect Fluorescent): Moment's Notice [3:48]
    4. Arthur Kell Quartet (Jester): Tiki Time Bomb [8:41]
    5. Arthur Kell Quartet (Jester): Ijinna [9:27]
    6. Jenny Scheinman (Mischief & Mayhem): Devil's Ink [7:41]
    7. Fred Lonberg-Holm (Gather): Lazy Day [9:42]
    8. Ted Nash (The Creep): Plastic Sax Rumble [6:38]
    9. Ted Nash (The Creep): Plastic Sax Lullaby [4:41]
    10. Branford Marsalis Quartet (Four MFs Playin' Tunes): Teo [8:28]
    11. Vijay Iyer Trio (Accelerando): Human Nature (Trio Extension) [9:39]
    12. Jenny Scheinman (Mischief & Mayhem): The Mite [6:37]
    13. Fred Lonberg-Holm (Gather): Later News [8:19]
    14. Ernest Dawkins (Afro Straight): God Bless the Child [4:58]
    15. Diana Krall (Glad Rag Doll): We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye [3:07]
    16. Diana Krall (Glad Rag Doll): I Used To Love You But It's All Over Now [2:50]
    17. Mort Weiss (I'll Be Seeing You): Confirmation [2:17]
    18. Juma's Sultan's Aboriginal Music Society (Whispers From the Archive): Sundance and the Hand Clapping (Version I) [1:33]
    19. Ehud Asherie: (Upper West Side): Passion Flower [5:39]
    20. Mary Halvorson/Weasel Walter/Peter Evans (Mechanical Manfunction): Klockwork [4:10]
    21. Neneh Cherry & the Thing (The Cherry Thing): Too Tough to Die [5:13]
    22. Juma's Sultan's Aboriginal Music Society (Whispers From the Archive): Ams [20:45]
    23. Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord (No New Tunes): The Other Third One [8:16]
    24. Charles Gayle (Streets): Streets [10:34]
    25. Ernest Dawkins (Afro Straight): Mr. PC [6:50]
    26. Frank Wright Quartet (Blues for Albert Ayler): Part VI [5:47]
    27. Bill Evans (Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate): Here's That Rainy Day [5:15]

    Records included from my top 10: Lehman, Scheinman, Lonberg-Holm, Kell; not included: Rivers, Person, Perelman, Riley, Bartsch, Garchik. Rivers is available, so not clear why he was omitted.

    Beyond that, included records: Asherie, Cherry, Dawkins, Gayle, Iyer, Jordan, Krall, Lundbom, Marsalis, Nash, Sultan, Weasel Walter, Weiss, Wright.

    Records not included but on Rhapsody: Byron, Fujiwara, MMW, Opsvik, Reed, Sharp, Terry, Whammies.

    Records not included and not on Rhapsody: Aaltonen, Angles 8, Bjorkenheim, Brenders, Carrier, Douglas, Hairy Bones, Holus-Bolus, Lamb, Lee, McNeill, Okazaki, Parker, Pepper, Perelman, Revis, Sclavis, Surman, Zak.

    Friday, January 04, 2013

    Recycled Goods (104): January 2013

    New Recycled Goods: pick up text here. Total review count: 3564 (3128 + 436).

    Expert Comments

    I asked for help assembling a playlist for Rhapsody. Chris Drumm and Greg Morton offered to help. Didn't bother to copy down either my or their comments. Got this from Jason Gubbels, which seems to be a response to a question from Morton:

    Regarding Tom Hull's 2012 Jazz playlist request -- Are there any tracks you want to especially recommend from the albums where you guys overlap? Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer, Neneh Cherry, Ted Nash, B. Marsalis, Ben Riley for example....

    Hey, Greg. My tentative recommendations for those albums in particular would go:

    Steve Lehman: "Moment's Notice"
    Vijay Iyer: "Human Nature"
    Neneh Cherry/The Thing: "Too Tough To Die"
    Ted Nash: "Plastic Sax Ramble"
    Branford Marsalis: "Teo"
    Ben Riley: "Friday The Thirteenth"

    Joe Yanosik:

    Charlie Parker fans (especially) should be aware that Tom Hull has a new Recycled Goods online now. A few comments: In a Soulful Mood (Music Club 1996) is a single-CD as far as I know. There may be a 2-CD import version out there but I'm pretty sure Xgau reviewed the single which contains mostly Dial material. Bird/The Savoy Recordings (Master Takes) was a 1976 Savoy double vinyl LP and was reissued on an import Savoy CD with a couple deletions so it could fit on a single CD. It's still my favorite Bird CD and there's not a whiff of completism on it in my opinion. And I absolutely love Now's the Time which SOUNDS better than any Parker I'd ever heard. That Rough Guide to Jazz Legends: Charlie Parker CD sounds interesting too. And it was great to see Dizzy Gillespie's Shaw Nuff (Musicraft CD) get an "A" after recently discovering that it essentially reissues the contents of 1975's Prestige double LP Dizzy Gillespie "In the Beginning" which Xgau described (in 1975) as "an essential jazz record".

    I responded:

    Thanks Joe. I looked further into the Charlie Parker "In a Soulful Mood" and discovered that there are three distinct releases: the one Bob reviewed was the 1996 US edition; there was an earlier 1995 UK edition with more tracks (26 vs. 18); there is also a 2-CD, 50-cut 2007 UK edition, which is the only one I've found for sale new (CDConnection, Oldies.com). When I found the latter, I mistakenly assumed it was the one Bob reviewed. I've added an update to my Recycled Goods column explaining all of that.

    I didn't check the track comparison between the 1976 LP and the 1988 CD of Parker's Savoy master takes. I didn't like either, finding his non-bop blues and ballads especially mundane. One could, of course, improve the album markedly by deleting a few things -- another way of stating my complaint about completism.

    One thing I didn't mention was a really excellent 1997 2-CD compilation on Charly, "The Birth of Bebop" -- provides a lot of the historical background of how bebop evolved, with "Koko" the 2nd from last song. The 2nd Rough Guide disc is a subset of the Charly anthology.


    Dec 2012 Feb 2013