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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rhapsody Streamnotes: February 2013

Pick up text here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21073 [21041] rated (+32), 600 [598] unrated (+2).

Average Jazz Prospecting week. Biggest surprise is that the two top records are by drummers, but they would have been less surprising had they been credited to Steven Bernstein and Jon Irabagon.

I'll try to run Rhapsody Streamnotes tomorrow: the file says February, and there's not much more left to it, even if the file comes up slim -- which it certainly is. Somehow I've managed to lose track of what I still wanted to wrap up from 2012 but haven't gotten into the new year either. To help with the new, I finally broke down and reused my metacritic file tool, although I still swear I'm putting less effort into it this year: thus far I just look at AMG new releases lists, Metacritic listings, my own ratings, and a few affinity group sources (Christgau, Gubbels, Tatum).

Also slim is the March Recycled Goods file. Look for it sometime after March 1, probably next week. Among other things, I'm holding the Miles Davis bootleg set for it. I've spent a lot of time with it and I'm still a bit unsure -- one reason everything else seems to be coming up short. Another is life, which involves a lot of snow this week: last week Wichita got its heaviest snowfall since 1962, and we're getting another blizzard today, promising up to ten inches. Good news for the winter wheat, but not much else.


Barry Altschul: The 3Dom Factor (2012 [2013], TUM): Drummer, b. 1943, joined Paul Bley's trio in 1965; c. 1970 played with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Anthony Braxton in and out of Circle -- Holland's Conference of the Birds was the era's masterpiece; his discography thins out in the 1980s although he's popped up a few times recently: in the FAB Trio with Joe Fonda and Billy Bang; on Sam Rivers' Reunion with Holland; as "special guest" on Jon Irabagon's Foxy. I think this is his first headline album since 1986, but it's basically the flip side of Foxy, a sax trio with Irabagon and Fonda, with nine of his originals (plus one from Carla Bley). Not as fun as Foxy or as flamboyand as Irabagon is on Slippery Rock -- 2013's early best-of-year favorite -- but superb nonetheless, with plenty of reason to focus on the drummer. (Note to self: put "Natal Chart" on next year's mixtape.) A-

Augi: Citizens of the World (2012, Diapson West): Dwayne Augustine, from Los Angeles, prime instrument is probably electric bass but also plays upright, guitar, keyboards, congas, bongos, djembe, other percussion, programs his drum tracks, and sings. First album, mostly his own affair but he draws on another dozen musicians mostly for a bit of a track here or there -- some horns, electric piano solos, backing vocals, percussion. Eclectic world grooves and good vibes. B+(*)

Inbar Fridman: Time Quartet Project (2011 [2013], Origin): Israeli guitarist, first album, backed by what I understand to be a French piano trio: Camelia Ben Naceur (piano), Laurent Chavoit (bass), Stefano Lucchini (drums). Ben Naceur and Fridman wrote three originals each, providing an interesting balance between the two instruments. B+(*)

Maximilian Geller: Alpenglühen (2011 [2013], Ozella): Soprano/alto saxophonist, b. 1964 in Basel, Switzerland; based in Munich, Germany; has close to a dozen albums since 1993, some based on classical music (Mozart 06 Lacrimosa), some polka (Die Polka-Krise). Here the sax works off a folkie vibe coming from Herbert Pixner's diatonic accordion, with piano-bass-drums-percussion, added trumpet on three tracks, Lisa Wahlandt vocals on two. B+(*)

Brad Goode: Chicago Red (2012 [2013], Origin): Trumpet player, b. 1963, has worked in avant-garde and mainstream settings (his first album was called Shock of the New, not that it really was), has close to 10 albums since 1988. Here he picks up an electric rhythm section (with a bassist from Brazil and a drummer from Ghana), slips in some darbouka and sitar, and uses "St. Louis Blues" as the intro to his title song. B+(**)

Pamela Hines: 3.2.1 (2012 [2013], Spicerack): Pianist, has at least eight albums since 1998. This is a trio with David Clark on bass and Yoron Israel on drums. Leads off with two Bill Evans songs, but plays them upbeat, saving the soft landing for the final solo piece. B+(*)

Michel Lambert: Journal des Épisodes (2010-12 [2013], Jazz From Rant): Drummer, from Quebec, has played with François Carrier for well over a decade, also in a group called Maïkotron Unit. This is a piano trio, with Alexandre Grogg on piano and Guillaume Bouchard on bass. The 67:19 recording comprises 92 "episodes," some as short as seven seconds, the median most likely in the twenties, a couple venturing past three minutes, one clocking in at 5:54. Aside from some clash near the beginning, they flow neatly enough to be taken as a whole, as indeed most days do. B+(***)

Billy Martin's Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head (2012 [2013], Amulet): Drummer, best known as the middleman in Medeski, Martin & Wood; has released a large pile of specialist albums, but nothing like this before. Here he's lined up a small brass band -- Steven Bernstein (trumpet, slide trumpet), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Marcus Rojas (tuba) -- and gone back to New Orleans, at least for King Oliver's "Sugarfoot Stomp" although they jump off with a Frank London piece called "Chumba Zumba," and never settle into anything obvious or derivative. Bernstein does most of the arranging, and Rojas takes most of the leads. And lest you think that I think every vocal incursion is a waste, check out Shelley Hirsch's song about hobbling through an Occupy Wall Street march as one of the "99%." A

Verneri Pohjola & Black Motor: Rubidium (2010 [2013], TUM): Trumpeter, b. 1977 in Helsinki, Finland. Seems to have released quite a bit since 2007 but I haven't found a clear discography. This is a quartet, with Sami Sipola on tenor/soprano sax, plus bass and drums. The horns clash and squirm, the sax making a bit more of an impression, and the rhythm is dense and varied. B+(**)

Ilia Skibinsky: The Passage (2011 [2013], Mythology): Alto saxophonist (also soprano), originally from Russia, immigrated to Israel in 1993, moved to New York in 2007 to study at New School. First album, half with piano trio (Glen Zaleski, Edward Perez, Colin Stranahan), adding trumpet-tenor sax on three cuts, guitar (Mike Moreno) on three, strings on one. B+(**)

Milton Suggs: Lyrical: Volume 1 (2011 [2012], Skiptone Music): Singer, b. 1983; second album. Has a bit of the church in his voice; bio lists eight singers from Armstrong to Gaye as influences, but I don't hear any of them -- I might buy Jon Hendricks trying to do Luther Vandross (or vice versa). B-

Thiefs (2012 [2013], Melanine Harmonique): Guillermo E. Brown (drums, vocals), Christophe Panzani (sax), Keith Witty (bass), all co-credited with electronics, with extra keybs on three cuts and accordion on one. First album, following a 3-track EP on bandcamp. Instrumental pieces offer steady sax over jangling rhythm, interesting enough. Brown's vocals are weak and unsteady, breaking the flow. B+(*) [advance]

David Weiss & Point of Departure: Venture Inward (2008 [2013], Posi-Tone): Trumpet player, has a handful of albums since 2001, more with New Jazz Composers Octet. Postbop, although the only thing "post-" here is that his hard bop quintet uses guitar (Nir Felder) instead of piano. J.D. Allen plays tenor sax, Luques Curtis bass, Jamire Williams drums. Two songs each from Andrew Hill and Charles Moore; one each from Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. In a blindfold test I'd probably say Lee Morgan -- just not one of his better ones. B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Robb Cappelletto Group: !!! (self-released)
  • Caswell Sisters: Alive in the Singing Air (Turtle Ridge)
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements: Functional Arrhythmias (Pi)
  • Kris Davis: Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed)
  • Dave Douglas Quintet: Time Travel (Greenleaf Music): advance, April 9
  • Tommy Flanagan/Jaki Byard: The Magic of 2: Live at Keystone Korner (1982, Resonance)
  • Scott Hamilton: Remembering Billie (Blue Duchess)
  • Hungry Cowboy: Dance (Prom Night): advance
  • Joshua Kwassman: Songs of the Brother Spirit (Truth Revolution): March 12
  • María Márquez: Tonada (Adventure Music)
  • Giovanni Moltoni: Tomorrow's Past (C#2 Music Productions)
  • Jovino Santos Neto: Adventure Music Piano Masters Series Vol. 4 (Adventure Music)
  • Ches Smith & These Arches: Hammered (Clean Feed)
  • John Stein: Bing Bang Boom (Whaling City Sound)
  • Twins of El Dorado: Portend the End (Prom Night)
  • Mark Weinstein: Todo Corazon: The Tango Album (Jazzheads)
  • Eli Yamin/Evan Christopher: Louie's Dream: For Our Jazz Heroes (Yamin Music): April 9

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Roundup

Didn't pay much attention to the world last week -- too preoccupied digging out from the biggest snowstorm to hit Wichita since 1962 -- so I scrambled a bit today. Turns out there's plenty to get worked up about, and this barely scratches the surface:


  • Brad DeLong quotes Josh Barro: Why We Need Republicans:

    Democrats make their own errors in evaluating the economy . . . Republicans have an often-healthy skepticism of regulation . . . When they try, Republicans can make government more efficient . . . Republicans aren't all out to lunch . . . Republicans are succeeding in states where their national brand is severely damaged tends to be that their state-level policy agendas are markedly better than the party's national one.

    This sounds like wishful thinking going back to the 1970s or 1980s when Reagan's "11th Commandment" allowed some moderate, pragmatic Republicans to run "good government" campaigns, notably winning some mayoral campaigns in solidly Democratic cities (New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, etc.), governorships in Massachusetts and New York, etc. Even in Kansas, where Republicans didn't have to appeal to Democratic voters, a long string of moderate Republicans were reasonably competent stewards of government. (I loathed Bob Dole going all the way back to his House days, and never forgave him for his scurilous campaigns against Bill Avery and Bill Roy, but even he came to be seen as a Republican with enough sense of responsibility and reality to deal with real national problems.) But none of this stuff is remotely true today.

    Democrats do have weak spots in "evaluating the economy" -- they're much too fond of finance and high-tech as growth engines -- but the Republicans have thrown out the entirety of macroeconomics, pushing an austerity program that seems gleefully self-destructive. Their "often-healthy skepticism of regulation" is at best a minor merit, and is often expressed in absolute excess. (For instance, there is no evidence that environmental regulations in oil and gas are too strict -- Deepwater Horizon is just one counterexample.) Far more important is an effort to restore losses in equal opportunity, to reinforce the safety net that protects ordinary people from ravages of the (increasingly laissez faire) business cycle, and maintenance and expansion of public goods like infrastructure and science.

    While there is some evidence that Republicans become marginally saner in power, that's getting to be little comfort. When Republicans gained state power in 2010 from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, they did nothing to make government more efficient much less fair; they spent all their efforts attacking public employee unions and trying to rig voting in their favor. And Kansas, under Sam Brownback, has gone from being a boring Republican fiefdom to a dangerous experiment in how badly mismanaged government can become. (One example is that the Koch Brothers are now exempt from paying state income taxes because they're small businessmen.)

    Maybe if the Republicans actually had the sort of influence the idiocy of their policies deserved -- down around 10-15% of voters, which is still pretty generous considering how many fewer people would actually benefit from their policies -- it might make sense to try to cheer them up a bit. But now isn't the time. And given how frequently they vote in lockstep in Congress, the notion that there are other Republicans elsewhere who aren't so embarrassing isn't much comfort. For all practical purposes, the Republican mind these days ranges from Cantor to Ryan, a diversity that's harder to calculate than all those angels on pins.

    Also see this No More Mister Nice Blog piece on Kansas.


Also, a few links for further study:

  • Jelani Cobb: Lincoln Died for Our Sins: "The greatest impediment to achieving racial equality is the narcotic belief that we already have." Also see Thomas Frank: Team America for its jaundiced view of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Both of these touch on Steve Spielberg's film Lincoln, which I have yet to see. In the end, Frank taunts:

    If you really want to explore compromise, corruption, and the ideology of money-in-politics, don't stack the deck with aces of unquestionable goodness like the Thirteenth Amendment. Give us the real deal. Look the monster in the eyes. Make a movie about the Grant Administration, in which several of the same characters who figure in Lincoln played a role in the most corrupt era in American history. Or show us the people who pushed banking deregulation through in the compromise-worshipping Clinton years. And then, after ninety minutes of that, try to sell us on the merry japes of those lovable lobbyists -- that's a task for a real auteur.

  • Chuck Eddy: Mindy McCready: When the Angels Stopped Watching.

  • Mike Konczal: How Is Inequality Holding Back the Recovery: Follows up on Joseph E Stiglitz: Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery, with links to Paul Krugman and John Judis, and some twists.

  • Andrew Leonard: Conservatives Declare War on College: Notably, governors Scott Walker (WI), Rick Perry (TX), and Rick Scott (FL): cut funding, cut costs, purge humanities from the curriculum.

  • Mark Perry: Elliot Abrams' Plan to Divide the Palestinians: On the 2006 coup that Fatah attempted against Hamas in Gaza, which led to Hamas seizing power in Gaza and Israel, Egypt, and the US blockading Gaza and driving it to the brink of catastrophe. That was just one of many brainfarts from the ever fertile mind of one of the few people who actually got convicted for Reagan's illegal Iran-Contra scheme. He was later rehabilitated by G.W. Bush and given responsibility for the Middle East, and, well, you know how that turned out. Abrams has a new book out, promsing an inside look at the Bush era in the Middle East, and he should know, but he's never shown any awareness of how badly his ideas have worked out, nor much interest in expressing his motives. But no one has done more in the last 10-15 years to make peace impossible. He is a one-man axis of evil, or if you insist on three, remember that he was the inevitable go-between of G.W. Bush and Ariel Sharon.

  • Annie Robbins: Autopsy Reveals Arafat Jaradat Died of Extreme Torture in Israeli Custody: As I recall, some years ago Israel's Supreme Court ruled that Israel could not practice torture of prisoners, but this is more evidence (beyond the Zygier affair reported last week) that the cuffs are off. One commenter writes: "you do get the impression that Israel is deliberately trying to provoke another intifada, to provide cover for god knows what."

  • Alyssa Rosenberg: As George Tiller's Wichita Clinic Reopens, 'After Tiller' Reframes the Abortion Debate: After Dr. Tiller was murdered, Wichita lost its only women's health clinic that provided abortions of any kind. One of Tiller's former associates is working to open another clinic in Wichita, and may succeed despite an extraordinary amount of legal and extra-legal harrassment. (The KS legislature has even more anti-abortion bills on the way, including one to convict doctors of a felony if a woman decides to abort based on the sex of the child.) Piece also talks about a documentary, After Tiller, which goes into the late-term abortions that Tiller was one of the very few doctors in the country able (and willing) to perform. The new clinic in Wichita will not help on that front, but will fill a need and restore a right. It's a shame that it takes such heroic dedication to do something so basically just.

  • Matthew Yglesias: Steve Brill's Opus on Health Care: Brill's piece in Time is the further study, but Yglesias' summary should be quoted here and now (his italics):

    The analytic core of the article shows that when it comes to hospital prices, who pays determines how high the price is. When an individual patient comes through the door of a hospital for treatment, he or she is subjected to wild price gouging. Insane markups are posted on everything from acetaminophen, to advanced cancer drugs, to blankets, to routine procedures. Because these treatments are so profitable, internal systems within the hospital are geared toward prescribing lots of them. And even though most hospitals are organized as non-profits, most of them in fact turn large operating profits and their executives are well-paid.

    In addition to providing insurance services, a key service that a proper health insurance company provides is bargaining with hospitals so you get screwed less. No insurer worth anything would actually pay the crazy-high rates hospitals charge to individuals. But in most markets, the hospitals have more bargaining leverage than the insurance companies, so there's still ample gouging. The best bargainer of all is Medicare, which is huge and can force hospitals to accept something much closer to marginal cost pricing, although even this is undermined in key areas (prescription drugs, for example) by interest group lobbying.

    I can see two reasonable policy conclusions to draw from this, neither of which Brill embraces. One is that Medicare should cover everyone, just as Canadian Medicare does. Taxes would be higher, but overall health care spending would be much lower since universal Medicare could push the unit cost of services way down. The other would be to adopt all-payer rate setting rules -- aka price controls -- keeping the insurance market largely private, but simply pushing the prices down. Most European countries aren't single-payer, but do use price controls. Even Singapore, which is often touted by U.S. conservatives as a market-oriented forced-savings alternative to a universal health insurance system, relies heavily on price controls to keep costs down.

    Yglesias also affirms common sense that Raising the Minimum Wage Is Overwhelmingly Popular.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Expert Comments

Jason Gubbels:

Milo posted some kind thoughts about Pat Metheny just below, and I'll chip in 'cause why not: Metheny is a great example of how if you've got the chops you can do whatever you damn well please, even if people like me will roll their eyes at most of it. I thought last year's "Unity Band" was dreadful, but how can you get mad at Pat Metheny? He's found a way to do what he wants, which sometimes involves grappling with the heavy stuff and most of the time does not. I had an English teacher back in high school who swore by him, loved "Song X" even if he didn't know John Coltrane from Rick Astley. I imagine there are similar stories.

1980's "80/81" and 1983's "Rejoicing" (Ornette Coleman fans, please note the latter boasts Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins) remain the only albums of his I really swoon over, but yeah, he's a good guy.

Milo Miles:

Metheney's debut as a leader, Bright Size Life, is full of haunting beauty that doesn't drain away. A pair of very fresh eyes watching the sun come up. Then getting it down in music notes. Then some more human stuff happens that day. Quiet isn't empty. Mood endures.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Expert Comments

I wrote:

Just listening to the Miles Davis 1969 bootleg set, it strikes me as a tentative step not taken: that in breaking up the Hancock-Carter-Williams quintet, Davis' first instinct was to go more avant-garde (Corea and Holland were playing with Braxton at the time, and DeJohnette had his own avant credentials, although in the long run none of the three would be regarded as avant-gardists). As much as anything else, I hear this in Shorter, who has never sounded so gnarled -- as if he was trying to conjure up Ayler (or maybe Shepp) -- although Corea, despite his instrument, is not playing anything remotely fusion. I also can't say they were very good at it: to my ears, they keep waffling between irritating lines and brilliant ones, suggesting they were great musicians fighting with an alien music. Within a year Davis moved boldly into fusion, and he took Shorter and Corea (at least) with him, and the rest is history -- he spent the next five years making brilliant albums, and they spent the next ten making crappy ones -- but this strikes me as an odd footnote, of historical significance only if you think Davis was a complete genius and not just damn lucky.

By the way, I usually ignore concert hype, but if you're in the NYC area you should know about MOPDTK's new release celebration next Thursday, Feb. 28, at Cornelia Street Cafe. Everyone tells me they're a great band live. I can vouch that their new record, Slippery Rock, is at the top of my 2013 list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who's who in the conservative movement, at least according to a TPM slide show:

  1. Jim DeMint: former US Senator (R-SC), head of Heritage Foundation.
  2. Rush Limbaugh: talk radio big mouth.
  3. Michelle Malkin
  4. Roger Ailes: head honcho at Fox News.
  5. Sean Hannity: Fox News talking head.
  6. Grover Norquist: anti-tax fanatic, head of Americans for Tax Reform.
  7. Karl Rove: Bush strategist, ran American Crossroads super PAC, now Conservative Victory Project.
  8. Steven J. Law: Rove frontman at American Crossroads and the new Conservative Victory Project.
  9. Eric Erickson: editor of RedState.com.
  10. Mark Levin: talk radio host, bestselling author.
  11. Brent Bozell: president of Media Research Center.
  12. Chris Chocola: president of Club for Growth.
  13. Ann Coulter
  14. Sheldon Adelson: casino mogul, big spender.
  15. George Will: Washington Post columnist.
  16. Glenn Beck
  17. Laura Ingraham: another Fox talk show host.
  18. Hugh Hewitt: radio ranter.
  19. Terence Jeffrey: CNS News editor-in-chief.
  20. Dick Morris: Clinton strategist.
  21. David N. Bossie: president of Citizens United.
  22. Tony Perkins: president of Family Research Council.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21041 [21005] rated (+36), 598 [620] unrated (-22).

Don't know what came over me, or why, but I made a big Jazz Prospecting push this last week -- mostly 2012 releases I had been avoiding (no big surprises there, except maybe Iron Dog, which had some poll support and features someone I've liked before but didn't recognize). Also a few new ones. Doubt I will keep this pace up, as even the vocals queue box is unjammed at the moment.


Eric Alexander: Touching (2012 [2013], High Note): Tenor saxophonist, big mainstream guy, put out an album called Solid! in 1998 and an even better one called Dead Center in 2004, and only rarely misses the mark. All standards here, counting Coltrane. Tends to go soft and woozy this time, but Harold Mabern connects with soulful piano, and John Webber and Joe Farnsworth do their usual fine job. B+(**)

Bob Arthurs/Steve Lamattina: Jazz for Svetlana (2012, self-released): Trumpet/guitar duets: two Arthurs originals, standards, some Dizzy Gillespie. Both musicians have thin discographies, get by on teaching (Arthurs 1972-2005 at Music Conservatory of Westchester; Lamattina same joint since 1980). Arthurs sings "All of Me" and "I Thought About You" -- reminds me a bit of Jack Sheldon, winging it on charm. B+(**)

Hashem Assadullahi: Pieces (2012 [2013], OA2): Saxophonist -- credited with plural but photographed with tenor -- based in New York; second album, a sextet with Ron Miles on trumpet, both guitar and piano, plus bass and drums. Postbop, a bit on the slick side with no rough edges, goes down easy. B+(*)

Cecily Kate: Standards (2012, self-released): Singer, full name Cecily Kate Horner, from Wellington, NZ; studied at Indiana, moved to New York, has worked with the New York Grand Opera and both off and on Broadway. First album, backed by piano-bass-trumpet. Put some effort into a credible "My Funny Valentine," but her little girl voice undermines "Let's Do It"; you'd think "Stupid Cupid" and "Where the Boys Are" might be more age-appropriate, but then she turns on the opera. B-

Ori Dagan: Less Than Three (2012, Scat Cat): Canadian crooner, second album, some standards ("Sweet Georgia Brown," "Strangers in the Night"), some contenders ("Your Song," "Lucky Star"), a couple of originals ("Googleable": "Google anywhere/even in your underwear"), something in Hebrew. Voice is almost throwaway, and despite his fondness for scat, he can't make it fly. C+

Eric DiVito: Breaking the Ice (2011 [2012], Pioneer Jazz Collection): Guitarist, from Long Island, based in New York. First album, uses acoustic and electric bassists, layering the guitar on for groove pieces and ballads, occasionally roughed up by Jake Saslow's sax. B+(*)

Elina Duni Quartet: Matanë Malit (2012, ECM): Singer, b. 1981 in Albania, left when she was 10 but returns through this mostly trad. songbook. Second album, this one backed by Colin Vallon's piano trio, providing understated but more than competent support, without traditional instruments or oriental sonorities. This puts all the focus on Duni's voice, dark and torchy, sombre or smoldering. B+(***) [advance]

Fado Em Si Bemol: QB (2012, Vidisco): Portuguese group, third album since 2007, the fact that "Fado" is written so much larger and "qb" so illegibly has caused some confusion (e.g., over at AMG). Pedro Matos sings, two guitars (one listed as guitarra portuguesa), bass, and drums. B+(*)

Doug Ferony: You Will Be My Music (2011 [2012], self-released): Sinatra imitator (not that he really has the chops), sometime actor, b. 1958, has nine albums since 1996, this one with the usual big band arrangements. At best ("Fly Me to the Moon," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm") the songs are so magnificent I can't nitpick. B

Mimi Fox: Standards, Old & New (2012 [2013], Origin): Guitarist, b. 1956, eight (or so) records since 1987, third solo album including a previous Standards from 2001. Spare but inventive, something that hangs off the familiarity of the songs, which lean toward folk but include Wes Montgomery. B+(*)

José García: Songs for a Lifetime: Live (2012, self-released): Standards crooner, also plays guitar, from Mexico, cut this live at the New York Club, Palm Desert, CA, no date given. AMG credits him with two previous albums. Backed by Carlos Rodgarman's piano trio. Opens with two Cole Porters separated by "The Shadow of Your Smile." Not really a natural, but only overstrains when he tries to slip in something Latin ("Besame Mucho"). B

David Greenberger/Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound: They Like Me Around Here (2012 [2013], Pel Pel): Spoken word, the words collected from interviews with old folks in nursing homes -- at some point in all of Greenberger's albums I belatedly realize that his homogenized voice is channeling a much more varied group of people, usually when one of those people has to be female. A year and a few months ago Greenberger released four albums with different musicians. I found they all sort of flowed into each other, but the consensus pick -- Christgau and Tatum, anyway -- was the one with Paul Cebar (and Mark Greenberg). This time there's just one, with Cebar taking charge, his music varied, inventive, sometimes exotic -- tasteful horn charts, lots of percussion, field recordings. A-

Scott Healy Ensemble: Hudson City Suite (2012, Hudson City): Pianist, from Cleveland, based in Los Angeles, has (had?) a regular gig with Conan O'Brien. Looks like he has three 2012 releases, but I don't see anything earlier. This is nominally an 11-piece group although the personnel shifts from cut to cut, rich in horns with Tim Hagans' solo spots standing out, Kim Richmond and Doug Webb in the reeds, and bass trombone on every cut. B+(*)

Scott Healy-Glenn Alexander Quartet: Northern Light (1991 [2012], Hudson City): Old live 2-track tape, runs 38:34. Healy plays synths as well as piano, Alexander guitar (three albums 1987-96), with Kermit Driscoll on bass and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. The fusion impulses are forgettable, but the more conventional acoustic piano is more pleasant. B

Eric Hofbauer: American Grace (2012 [2013], Creative Nation Music): Guitarist, b. 1974 in Rochester, NY; plays in the Blueprint Project and has a half-dozen albums under his own name. This is solo, the third leg of a roots trilogy that started with American Vanity and American Fear. Offhand, seems like a Bill Frisell move, but Hofbauer's Americana is crude, rough, gnarly, nothing to get sentimental about. B+(*)

Iron Dog: Interactive Album Rock (2012, self-released): Sarah Bernstein writes poems/texts, recites them through some kind of electronic processor, same for her violin. Second album as Iron Dog with Stuart Popejoy on bass/synth and Andrew Drury on drums -- first was a 2011 release called Field Recordings Vol. 1 dating from 2005-06 -- plus one album under her own name (Unearthish, worth checking out). This has an industrial tone but is more/less improvised. B+(***)

Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra: Bloom (2011 [2013], 19/8): From Japan, moved to New York in 2005 and rounded up this crackling 18-piece big band, for which she is composer, arranger, conductor -- after guitar-bass-piano (acoustic and electric) the 18th "piece" is vocalist Sara Serpa. Fine textures and intriguing details, some strong reeds. Wonder whether this will attract the attention Maria Schneider enjoys, but I'm evidently unfit to tell. B+(***)

Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran: Hagar's Song (2012 [2013], ECM): Duo, the venerable saxophonist and one of the most accomplished young pianists of the last decade -- some of those feats coming in Lloyd's Quartet, so this isn't a stab at an odd pairing. No bass or drums lets Lloyd take his time, especially delighting in melodies like "Mood Indigo" and "God Only Knows." Some flute, but it fits right in. A-

Sandra Marlowe: True Blue (2011 [2012], LoveDog!): Standards singer, b. in North Dakota, based in San Francisco area 20 years. First album as far as I can tell, backed by Larry Dunlap on piano and John Shifflett on bass, with scattered but rarely notable horns. B-

Chris McNulty: The Song That Sings You Here (2012, Challenge): Standards singer/sometime songwriter (wrote 2 of 10 here), b. 1953 in Australia, based in New York since 1988, has a half dozen albums since 1990. Has a real presence on the slow ones, and a fine band including Paul Bollenback on guitar and Igor Butman on tenor and soprano sax -- underused on the second half after he takes a big solo early on. B+(**)

Sean Nowell: The Kung-Fu Masters (2012 [2013], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1973 in Birmingham, AL; studied at Berklee and Manhattan School of Music; fourth album since 2006. Takes a jazz-funk turn here, with trumpet, trombone, both keybs and organ, electric bass, and drums. B+(*)

Bennett Paster: Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful (2011 [2013], self-released): Pianist, b. 1970 in Washington, DC; grew up in New Mexico, moving to Boston in 1988; studied at Tufts and NEC. Has a handful of albums sine 2001, a couple Latin-themed as Grupo Yanqui. This is more typical postbop, with Alex Pope Norris on trumpet/flugelhorn and either Joel Frahm or Tim Armacost on tenor (or soprano) sax. B+(*)

Jeremy Pelt: Water and Earth (2012 [2013], High Note): Trumpet player, regarded as a rising star a few years ago and certainly qualifies as an established force now, with nearly a dozen albums since 2002. Still, this is a very unadventurous groove album, with loads of Fender Rhodes and Roxy Coss as the complementary saxophonist. Includes a vocal cut -- semi-obligatory for smooth jazz albums looking for a radio slot, here too, probably for the same reason. B

Dan Phillips BKK Trio: Bangkok Edge (2012, self-released): Guitarist, don't have much on him but evidently not his first album. Half trio with bass and drums; half adds tenor saxophonist Jakob Dinesen. Long, tight, metallic lines, warmed up a bit by the sax. B+(**)

Enrico Rava: On the Dance Floor (2011 [2013], ECM): Italian trumpet player, b. 1939, started on the avant side and wound up, well, here, doing a tribute of sorts to Michael Jackson, live at Auditorium Parco della Musica of Rome with an 11-piece (counting Rava makes 12) group called Parco della Musica Jazz Lab. All Jackson songs (except for "Thriller" and "Smile"), not that they're all that obvious. Lots of brass plus keyb and guitar, and a beat that's not beyond slipping some flamenco into the disco. B+(**) [advance]

Jussi Reijonen: Un (2011 [2013], self-released): Guitarist, b. in northern Finland, based in Boston, first album. Also plays fretless guitar and oud, dabbling in various world musics -- Arabic, Malian, something like tango. B+(*)

Ellen Robinson: Don't Wait Too Long (2011 [2012], EMR Music): Singer, San Francisco Bay Area (this was live at Freight & Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley); third album; wrote 3 (of 12) songs, covers tend to be later show tunes with "Our Day Will Come" -- the one song she projects most clearly -- her answer to Prop. 8. With Murray Low's piano trio spiced up with Kristen Strom's saxes. B

Barry Romberg's Random Access: Crab People (2012, Romhog, 2CD): Drummer, b. 1959 in Canada; has generally numbered his Random Access releases, which date back at least to 1999, with this one Part 12. Tends toward fusion -- electric guitar, bass, keybs -- but the horns won't settle for smooth and Ravi Naimpally's tabla and frame drum break fresh ground. B+(*)

Seung-Hee: Sketches on the Sky (2012, self-released): Vocalist, b. in South Korea, studied at Berklee, based in New York. Second album, mostly originals, lyrics added to Charlie Haden and Bill Evans, Sting and Stevie Wonder for standards, most of the vocals in Korean. Exceptional support from the rhythm section -- Frank LoCastro, Ike Sturm, and George Schuller -- and especially from tenor saxophonist Adam Kolker. B+(**)

Joey Stuckey: Mixture (2012, Senate): Guitarist, from Macon, GA. Has a couple previous albums. Blind usually spells blues, but he cites Jeff Beck and Wes Montgomery as influences, and Tom Rule's keybs/drum programming leans toward smooth jazz. B

Allen Vizzutti: Ritzville (2011 [2012], Village Place Music): Trumpet player, b. 1952 in Montana, passed through Los Angeles where he did quite a bit of soundtrack work, wrote books on trumpet technique, wound up in Seattle; has a handful of albums since 1982, co-credits with Chick Corea, who returns the favor here, as does Stanley Clarke. First cut flows strong, second backs off, a conflict never resolved, ending with one of those postbop vocals I never see the point of. B

Carrie Wicks: Barely There (2012, OA2): Singer-songwriter, originally from New Jersey, wound up in Seattle; second album; four covers (Townes Van Zandt, Pee Wee King, Johnny Mercer, Oscar Hammerstein II), nine originals co-credited to Ken Nottingham (not in the band). Band includes label regulars Bill Anschell and Jeff Johnson; one cut features accordion, and Hans Teuber consistently adds tasty clarinet and tenor sax. She has a sly voice which grows on you, and the closing standards drive home the intrinsic musicality. B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Antonio Adolfo: Finas Misturas (Adventure Music): April 2
  • Aguankó: Elemental (RKO)
  • Ehud Asherie with Harry Allen: Lower East Side (Posi-Tone)
  • Carlos Barbosa-Lima & the Havana String Quartet: Leo Brouwer: Beatlerianas (Zoho): April 9
  • Peter Evans: Zebulon (More Is More)
  • Miho Hazama: Journey to Journey (Sunnyside): March 26
  • Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran: Hagar's Song (ECM)
  • Anders Nilsson/Joe Fonda/Peter Nilsson: Powers (Konnex)
  • Dawn Oberg: Rye (Blossom Theory Music): April 16
  • Melvin Taylor: Taylor Made (Eleven East)

Expert Comments

Christgau:

Greg, I know it's no comfort, but there are no good answers to modern senescence, especially Alzheimer's and its close relatives. These things are almost as final and unresolvable as death itself. I've thought a lot about this because I went through it with my parents for nearly 10 years and am now starting to conceptualize my own future. But I don't want to go on about it, except to offer this story. We made the choice in 2003 to place our parents, then married 64 years, in a residence together. My mom had Alzheimer's, my dad couldn't take care of her and was awful about hiring help he could afford, so my sister found a good place closer to our own home (we live in the same apartment building downtown) and we made a power play. It was awful, but also the right thing to do, and at least we didn't separate them, right? My mom did as well as she could there and deteriorated until she died of Alzheimer's in 2007. But the environment -- in which there was a memory unit, but also plenty of more capable elders on other floors -- was terrible for my dad. He died a year earlier.

Response to Greg Morton, who posted that he, "put my Dad in the 'memory care' unit today. Which means my sister and I broke up a 66 year marriage."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Roundup

Haven't run one of these in more than a month (and I'm backdating this one -- had it collected but didn't finish it due to an achey back):


  • Paul Krugman: Hearsay Economics: Chart here shows that federal government total expenditures has basically remain flat since 2009 when the stimulus ran out, contrary to the opinions of Joe Scarborough (and many others):

    Well, I've gradually come to the realization that most of the commentariat doesn't do what, say Martin Wolf or I do -- grub around in published data, read reports, and all that. Instead, they rely on what they heard somebody say the facts are; hearsay economics. Of course, they don't listen to any old bum on the street; they listen to people of repute, people in their circle. But the repute in question has nothing to do with technical expertise; hey, Admiral Mullen is a serious person, so if he says something on any subject, such as economics, it must be solid.

    And where do the reputable people get their information? Why, it's what they heard somebody in their circle say. It's hearsay economics all the way down.

    You can see how this leads to the incestuous amplification I've written about. Everyone they know -- tous le monde, as Tom Wolfe used to say -- says that we have exploding spending and the deficit is a crucial problem. How could it not be true?

    Krugman has the same chart framed more explicitly here: as federal spending relative to potential GDP.

  • Yitzhak Laor: Israel needs to be threatened by international sanctions: From Haaretz, quoted by War in Context:

    The tendency to blame the Palestinians for failing to compromise is part of the colonialist hauteur. We imprison Palestinians, torture, steal, spread out on their land and ask them to compromise with us? In the name of what? In the name of fear of the extreme right?

    Now Avigdor Lieberman comes along and declares that a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible and everyone is silent. The Palestinians are actually offering a peace deal. The big obstacle and the one that grows from year to year is the settlement enterprise, which promises that no solution will be achieved until it sinks us all.

    In order to put pressure on the government, it is worthwhile learning from Beitar Jerusalem and its fans' racist war: The fear of international sanctions work. The time has come to encourage the international community to fight Israeli intransigence and pressure Israel to give up on the occupied territories and its residents, who lack a voice from the perspective of our democracy.

    I think one can make this argument more emphatically. Due to various political factors, Israeli politics is in a right-wing death spiral -- the Palestinians have been utterly marginalized as a possible influence on Israeli behavior, and no Israeli faction is able to resist the drive toward expanding the settlement or using brute force as the answer to to every problem. The only way to moderate Israeli policy is to hold up a standard of morality and impress that onto public consciousness, and one effective way to do that short of violence is sanctions.

  • Chase Madar: Government Persecution, From Aaron Swartz to Bradley Manning:

    "Prosecutors destroy a life." That could be a headline in every newspaper every day in a land where the answer to every problem (and many nonproblems) is police and prisons. When 26-year-old Internet prodigy and freedom of information activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide on January 11, the tragedy was the direct result of US attorneys deciding to throw criminal charges at him for violating a website's "terms of services" while accessing publicly subsidized academic research. [ . . . ]

    The Justice Department's legal assault on Swartz is of a vindictive piece with the prosecution of others who have carried important information into the public realm. Front and center is 25-year-old Bradley Manning, the Iraq War enlistee accused of being WikiLeaks's source in the military. The restricted foreign policy documents that Manning allegedly released don't amount to even 1 percent of the 92 million items the government classified last year, but the young private faces life in prison at his court-martial in June for the charge, among twenty-one others, of "aiding the enemy." Then there's Jeremy Hammond, age 28, who in his freshman year at the University of Illinois hacked the computer science department's home page, then told them how they could fix its problem. He got thrown out of school for that; now he's in a federal prison facing thirty-nine years to life, charged with various hacks and leaks (all apparently led by an FBI informant) including the 5 million internal e-mails of Stratfor, a private security firm hired by corporations to surveil private citizens, among other activities.

    I don't know enough about Swartz to write intelligently about him. There are aspects of "hacker culture" that I deeply disapprove of, but I have no doubt that the public would be better off if government and corporations had far less leeway to keep secret the information that is needed to check their excess powers. It would be better if this were done through a public policy that would limit possible excesses -- a system that would reliably redact info that should remain private -- but lacking any such policy I can't help but sympathasize with those who act in the public interest now. Swartz seems to have done that more often than not, putting him in a long and honorable tradition.

    That leads us to the prosecutor, who appears to have abused his power and misjudged this case, tragically. I suspect this is part of a deeper cultural problem -- everything in the system selects for hardline prosecutors, which is part of the reason America jails so many people for so long -- but it's rarely so glaring as in cases over the unauthorized leak of information the public needs (e.g., the Bradley Manning case).

    Another paragraph from Madar which is sort of tangential here but bears repeating:

    Circulation of knowledge is a social justice issue, too. Dean Baker estimates that reforming the patent law regime for pharmaceuticals -- currently a system that guarantees Big Pharma's monopolies -- would shrink annual spending on prescription drugs from $300 billion to $30 billion, a savings some five times the annual cost of Bush's tax cut for the richest 2 percent. Meanwhile, grotesquely prolonged copyrights for literary and artistic properties are fencing off the cultural commons, a boot on the throat of a generation's creative voice.

    Also see: Andrew Leonard: Aaron Swartz, Freedom Fighter.


Also, a few links for further study:

  • Paul Krugman: The Japan Story: Various points, including that Japanese output per age 15-64 worker hasn't been nearly as bad as they'd like you to think (1.2% growth per year), that this has happened despite persistence of a long-term liquidity trap, and that government macroeconomic policy has never been as willing to permit inflation as it should have been.

  • Jamie Malanowski: Richard Ben Cramer, 1950-2012: Recalls the late journalist's much bruited book on the 1988 presidential campaign, What It Takes, regarded by many as the best-ever campaign book, certainly much more ambitious than anything before or since. Doesn't mention Cramer's How Israel Lost: The Four Questions, which I have read and regard as the single best book on Israel's neverending conflict with its people and neighbors -- in large part because it locates the conflict not in every side's wrongs in the past but in the fear of a future without the reassuring identities of the present conflict.

  • Josh Marshall: Speaking for My Tribe: on guns, and the author's phobia of them -- one that I share, so I'm reluctant to describe the fear as irrational. Also: Not for Everyone: "I do not want to be in a bar, in a mall, at a school -- and I do not want my children in those places -- where lots of even well-meaning but absolutely ordinary people have fire arms."

  • Karen Narefsky: Why Does the US Postal Service Have to Be Profitable? Good question. Sub: "Losses have forced the USPS to cut back on its services, and we have only our fetish for privatization to blame." This would be a good place to drop a brilliant quote from Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island if I could find it quickly, but the gist is that there are things that government should do even if they aren't cost-effective -- indeed, given the profit imperative of business, only government can provide for goods and services that business can't. The USPS is actually a mixed case: some things it does are good business, and some aren't.

  • Joseph Stiglitz: Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth: Mostly talks about education, since education has long been touted as the path for lower/middle-class youths to advance and since higher education has become more and more expensive and inaccessible over the last few decades. Still, there's much more to the story: I think the superrich sense that there are fewer slots at the top, and have been closing ranks to keep what's left in the hands of their heirs. Conversely, the penalties for starting out poor are becoming more slippery and severe. Just because a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama can slip through the gauntlet doesn't offer much encouragement, as so few of us have their instinct or knack for sucking up to power.

  • Matt Taibbi: Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail: Focuses on HSBC, engaged in "drug-and-terrorism money-laundering" as well as the usual financial shenanigans.

  • Paul Woodward: The Zygier Affair: One of many posts at this site on Ben Zygier, an Australian who worked for Mossad, crossed them, was kidnapped by them, then died in an Israeli prison. Probably a real story there. While on the subject, some posts say all they need in the title: If it's time to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, it's also time to include Mossad.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Downloader's Diary (27): February 2013

Insert text from here.


This is the 27th installment, (almost) monthly since August 2010, totalling 674 albums. All columns are indexed and archived here. You can follow A Downloader's Diary on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21005 [20987] rated (+18), 620 [610] unrated (+10).

Eased over the 21,000 mark this week, mostly listening to those Marilyn Crispell records on Rhapsody. Still very little time to listen to much of anything. Some of the distractions are lessening, but some are increasing as well. I did manage to get two handrail projects done -- big shout out to Max Stewart there -- so the house is more cripple-friendly.

Didn't meet my quota for a minimal Jazz Prospecting column, but figured I came close enough I should lower my minimum to seven (or even six -- the Shipp Greatest Hits is recycled from last week's Recycled Goods). As "unpacking" shows, I'm falling behind (but right now only the vocals queue is overflowing).

One more thing to point out: the Spanish magazine El Intruso has posted results of their jazz critics poll. I voted in this along with 47 other critics -- about half American and half European, unlike the Downbeat and Jazz Times polls (and for that matter Francis Davis's) which are almost exclusively American. Generally interesting results: more, I must say, to my taste than the aforementioned polls. Individual ballots follow. There is also a poll of international musicians: just for favorite 2012 records there, and again the individual ballots follow. Of course, the artist roster gives you an idea of who the editor(s) consider important. Similar self-selection occurs in virtually every poll. This one is just more "right on" than most.


Jaiman Crunk: Encounters (2012, Origin): Guitarist, originally from San Francisco; moved to Europe, then to Seattle. First record, shuffles as many guests in as possible -- e.g., one bassist per tune, and no, Ron Carter didn't miss out -- but only one pianist (Bill Anschell, on 2 of 8 tunes). Three cuts have orchestral back up, and a fourth isolates the ickiness to the strings. One more cut has vocals -- Take 6, pretty awful. Aside from those faux pas, pretty pleasant. B-

Yelena Eckemoff Trio: Glass Song (2012 [2013], Yelena Music): Pianist, originally from Moscow, USSR; moved to US in 1991; started in classical but lately moved into jazz with a steady stream of tasteful, erudite albums. Partners this time are Arild Andersen on bass and Peter Erskine on drums, but they never challenge the primacy of the piano. B+(**)

Benny Green: Magic Beans (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, long list of records since 1990; all originals including titles like "Kenny Drew," "Jackie McLean," and "Harold Land." Superb mainstream rhythm section -- Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums -- keeps this flowing. B+(**)

Sean Moran Small Elephant Band: Tusk (2011 [2013], NCM East): Guitarist, prefers nylon strings, based in Brooklyn, first album mostly under his own name although he has several as the Four Bags, and has appeared with Michael McGinnis, who plays clarinet and bass clarinet here and occasionally takes charge. Otherwise, the soft guitar is accented with Chris Dingman's vibes, and the Reuben Radding-Haris Eisenstadt rhythm section is plenty shifty. B+(**)

Chris Potter: The Sirens (2012 [2013], ECM): The quintessential postbop tenor saxophonist for twenty-some years now, after which he's still only 42, he can blow you away, but rarely does. His "first ECM record" is a frothy little thing propped up with riches -- for example, he couldn't decide between pianists Craig Taborn and David Virelles so went with both. B+(***)

Matthew Shipp: Greatest Hits (2000-2012 [2013], Thirsty Ear): Before 2000 Shipp had established himself as one of the avant-garde's most rigorous pianists through a series of often startling duo and trio albums -- mostly duos. Most were on the usual obscure European labels, but a couple -- ranging from the tedious 2-Z with Roscoe Mitchell to the superb Zo with bassist William Parker -- came out on a postrock label in Connecticut. Thirsty Ear wound up hiring Shipp to curate "The Blue Series": think of them as postrock crossovers made by Shipp's avant chums plus a few secretly admiring DJs. Early on, the series tracked public interest in "jazztronica" -- but unlike the previous decade's "acid jazz" fad or the later dabblings of more-or-less mainstream figures ranging from Nicholas Payton to Dave Douglas -- Shipp's series never felt like a compromise. But later on, Shipp seemed to grow weary of the electronics and tried to reassert himself as an acoustic jazz pianist (especially on the solos One and 4D and the mixed solo-trio Art of the Improviser). Of course, nothing he did was a "hit" in the pop sense, but these dozen cuts from eleven albums both hit the high points and drive home the primacy of his piano. A-

Neil C. Young: El Camino (2011 [2012], Canadian American): Guitarist (trio adds bass and drums), b. 1973, has at least one previous album. No idea where he came from or how he got here. Sounds more like John Scofield than Neil Young. B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Mario Adnet: Amazonia: On the Forest Trail (Adventure Music)
  • Eric Alexander: Touching (High Note)
  • Samuel Blaser Quartet: As the Sea (Hatology): advance, March 5
  • Stan Bock & the New Tradition: Feelin' It (OA2)
  • Ian Carey Quintet + 1: Roads & Codes (Kabocha)
  • Giacomo Gates: Miles Tones: Sings the Music of Miles Davis (Savant)
  • Brad Goode: Chicago Red (Origin)
  • Molly Holm: Permission (Rinny Zin)
  • Jack Mouse Group: Range of Motion (Origin)
  • Stan Killian: Evoke (Sunnyside): March 12
  • Lisa Kirchner: Umbrellas in Mint (Verdant World): April 2
  • New York Voices: Live: With the WDR Big Band Cologne (Palmetto): March 5
  • Steve Owen: Stand Up Eight (OA2)
  • Dick Reynolds: Music & Friends (Origin)
  • The Dann Zinn 4: Grace's Song (self-released)

Purchases:

  • Public Enemy: Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp (2012, Enemy)
  • Public Enemy: The Evil Empire of Everything (2012, Enemy)

Friday, February 08, 2013

Recycled Goods (105): February 2013

New Recycled Goods: pick up text here. Total review count: 3583 (3147 + 436).

Monday, February 04, 2013

Music Week/No Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 20987 [20985] rated (+2), 610 [601] unrated (+9).

Only one Jazz Prospecting draft note, so nowhere near enough to post on that front. More generally, the only time the rated count has been lower was on travel weeks. A week ago I didn't expect to do much Jazz Prospecting this week but still figured I'd easily snag the fifteen it would take to hit 21,000. It's not that I haven't listened to anything. I've played Chris Potter's ECM debut a lot, but don't have anything to say about it. I like the Charles Lloyd-Jason Moran duo much more, and the Jeremy Pelt much less -- in fact, hit reject there, not wanting to write it up at the time, nor suffer through an unproductive session. Then there's the Miles Davis 1969 bootleg, which I don't have a clear concept of after at least three plays of each of 3-CD: a strong year for the Quintet, of course, but it has yet to pique my curiosity as to why we need more, perhaps because playing it doesn't guarantee that I'll listen all that carefully to it. I've been playing last year's finds more than usual, and enjoying them -- was pleased to see Ray Wylie Hubbard's Grifter's Hymnal appear as Christgau's first post-Dean's List 2012 A-lister.

Don't know when (or if) I'll get back in gear. One thing I will try to knock out this week is a Recycled Goods. There also should be a Downloader's Diary before much longer.


Unpacking: Found in the mail last two weeks:

  • Neil Alexander: Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1 (PDog): March 5
  • Barry Altschul: The 3Dom Factor (TUM)
  • Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (1969, Columbia/Legacy, 3CD)
  • The Dave Lalama Big Band: The Hofstra Project (Lalama Music)
  • Michel Lambert: Journal des Épisodes (Jazz From Rant)
  • Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran: Hagar's Song (ECM): advance, February 26
  • Hafez Modirzadeh: Post-Chromodal Out! (Pi)
  • Sean Nowell: The Kung-Fu Masters (Posi-Tone)
  • Bennett Paster: Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful (self-released)
  • Verneri Pohjola & Black Motor: Rubidium (TUM)
  • Monica Ramey: And the Beegie Adair Trio (Adair Music Group)
  • Troy Roberts: Nu-Jive S (XenDen)
  • Laila Salins/Anne Sexton: Elevator Into the Sky (self-released)
  • Antonio Sanchez: New Life (CAM Jazz): February 26
  • Markus Schwartz/Monvelyno Alexis: Vo-Duo Nou La (Lakou Brooklyn)
  • Ben Sidran: Don't Cry for No Hipster (Unlimited Media)
  • Thiefs (Melanine Harmonique): advance, February 26
  • John Vanore & Abstract Truth: Culture (Acoustical Concepts)
  • David Weiss & Point of Departure: Venture Inward (Posi-Tone)

Friday, February 01, 2013

Expert Comments

Christgau reviewed a mixtape by drummer Kassa Overall, whose jazz credentials mostly come from working in Geri Allen's Live group, but Christgau threw in a curve, describing him as "Seattle-raised, Harlem-based, Kool A.D.-linked rapper and drummer (jazz drummer -- Vijay Iyer mean anything to you?)." This confused me, so I wrote:

Could someone please explain the Vijay Iyer reference in the Kassa Overall review? Is Iyer on the album? Playing drums? Scratching around, I was able to find out that KO plays drums on a Geri Allen album, but I don't see any evidence of him having recorded with Iyer -- though he's done some gigs with Iyer and Mike Ladd (whose albums, In What Language? and Still Life With Commentator are worth checking out, and possibly related here). I also see that KO is working with Guillermo Brown, another drummer but with an interesting laptop hobby.

Christgau responded:

Tom: I mentioned Iyer because I thought he was the most familiar of KO's jazz associations. Found it in an interview as I recall, but really not sure. How much collab seems irrelevant to me. It's just an orientation marker. Nobody's saying he's Hamid Drake.

I found that interview too. I just didn't find that sufficient to merit the mention, at least in that way. Kevin Shea's a jazz drummer too -- his work in MOPDTK is impressive enough -- but I wouldn't mention that he also plays with Peter Evans for orientation in a review of his Talibam! band.


Jan 2013 Mar 2013