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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Daily Log

Watched Les Misérables on TV, the movie of the musical based on the 1862 Victor Hugo novel. We missed it in theatrical release, largely because some of Laura's friends convinced her that she wouldn't like it. Indeed, she didn't, asking me after ten minutes whether I really wanted to sit through two-and-a-half hours where nearly every word is sung. I answered that I probably could, and did, although it was trying. I'm not much of a fan of musicals, and didn't much care for the music, but was touched by various aspects of the story -- not least the reunion of so many dead people, not necessarily in heaven but at least on the revolutionary barricades.

Spent much of the day writing my Syria post. Got way too late before I could finish, so will have to pick it up tomorrow.

Music today (JP): The Road to Jajouka, Tom Goehring; (RG): Oluyemi Thomas.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Downloader's Diary (32): August 2013

Insert text from here.


This is the 32nd installment, (almost) monthly since August 2010, totalling 782 albums. All columns are indexed and archived here. You can follow A Downloader's Diary on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Daily Log

Temperature hit 100F for the first day in August this year, then went on to 102F. Forecast was to match yesterday's 99F, with tomorrow a couple degrees hotter. Haven't had a drop of rain in at least ten days, so looks like we'll end August a mere 11 inches above normal. If we get no more rain the rest of the year we'll still wind up above normal by 3-4 inches, but it makes for a damn abnormal year. Still, there are worse possible outcomes, like two years ago when we wound up with sixty-some 100F-or-higher days (not sure if today's our 2nd or 3rd).

Fought with Express Scripts today. Managed to keep my cholesterol medications, despite the fact that they've faxed both doctors to get them to switch to a generic. Re-ordered two more prescriptions they've neglected to fill. One requires "prior authorization" so talked to the doctor's nurse about that. Hopefully insurance won't kill me this year, but I'm not sure they wouldn't like to.

Music today (JP): Manuel Valera, Tom Kennedy, Erik Friedlander; (RG): Matthew Shipp/Sabir Mateen, Steve Swell.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daily Log

Worked a bit on the backsplash. Sanded down yesterday's bit of plaster and it looks OK. Looked for a notched trowel to spread the adhesive, and didn't find one anywhere here. Tools are totally scattered, with shit in the garage, the basement, in at least three tool cabinets and a couple toolboxes and various containers and I've even found a few things upstairs where I used them last. Getting them under control is almost as daunting as managing the CDs and the books. Laura had a Peace Center event, so I dropped her off then went to the hardware store. After much searching, bought a small, cheap notched trowel, an even cheaper notched plastic thing, a sponge, and a couple plastic doodads that are supposed to be useful for spreading and cleaning up grout.

Watched the last three-fourths of Roadmap to Apartheid, a documentary which contrasts Israel's treatment of Palestinians (both "citizens" and "residents" or whatever they're called in the Occupied Territories these days) with South Africa's defunct Apartheid regime. The similarities are considerable, although as a system of control Israel is if anything more pervasive and effective, nor has it run into many of the obvious factors that undermined the South African regime. (Of course, they also note Israel's longstanding support for Apartheid South Africa, including arms sales, but they neglect to mention Israeli aid to South Africa in developing nuclear weapons.) The juxtaposition of South African and Israeli scenes, with their attendant time jumps, may have confused a few people -- although I rarely had any doubts about what I was watching. The interviews with Ali Abuninah and Jeff Halper were very authoritative on Israel. The South African interviews were more evocative and, I suppose, inspirational.

Came home and watched Dexter. Three more episodes to go.

Music today (JP): Miami Saxophone Quartet, Jessica Jones, Tom Dempsey; (RS): Betty Who, Pete Robbins; (RG): Herb Robertson.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rhapsody Streamnotes (August, 2013)

Pick up text here.

Daily Log

The plaster I did yesterday for the backsplash looked OK after I sanded it down, but I found another soft spot, so opened it up a bit and put some more plaster there. Wait another day for it to dry. Meanwhile, put up a hook for the hedge trimmer. Didn't exactly work out the way I hoped, but I guess it will be OK.

Ordered a telephone system: Vtech DS-6670-6C. Laura has been aggravated that my previous attempts to get some Caller ID-compatible phones haven't worked out well. I bought one set of Panasonic cordless phones, but tried to use them in addition to our legacy phones. Only one actually worked more than a week, and it's under my desk, where she can't see it. Then I bought a new AT&T wall phone for the kitchen, but the LCD display crapped out after a few months, making it illegible. The Vtech bundle includes the base set with a cordless handset, four remote cordless sets, and a bluetooth headset. The phones have "talking caller ID" and lots of other features, including some that integrate with two cell phones. How useful these will be remain to be seen. Evidently there is a market for home phone systems that aren't plugged into landlines: they basically let you use the cell phones through the home system.

Music today (JP): RJ Miller, Miami Saxophone Quartet; (RS): AlunaGeorge, Sam Phillips, Robbie Fulks, Julia Holter, Goodie Mob, Disappears, Big Sean.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daily Log

Music today (JP): Ken Peplowski; (RS): Warren Wolf, Earl Sweatshirt, Barrence Whitfield.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21937 [21899] rated (+38), 585 [589] unrated (-4).

Busy day today, so late post. Had a potluck dinner-discussion of my Thinking Around the Israeli-American Impasse paper. I'll write more about that in the next day or two, but for now will note that instead of preparing for defending my paper, I focused on the potluck part of the equation and spent the day preparing a legendary Tunisian dish, Mohamed's Bisteeya. Used Ruth Reichl's recipe from Tender at the Bone, substituting chicken for the traditional squab. Played music all day, but didn't have time to write about any of it.

Three A- records this week is rare, but only brings the month to five. The total review count for this month is 53, down quite a bit from the last two months (85 and 78) but about average for the year. Still holding back records until their release week. Looks like things will pick up September 10 -- I have four records already reviewed for that week, vs. just one for next week. Should do a Rhapsody Streamnotes later this week, hopefully by the end of the month. Draft file isn't real thick, but for some reason it's almost all jazz. Hope to have a Downloader's Diary too.


Agachiko: Yes! (2013, Accurate): Singer Gabrielle Agachiko, b. 1958 in Kenya, father Kenyan, mother Afro-American, moved to England at 12, New York at 17, based in Boston now. First album, wrote or co-wrote 8 of 11 songs -- covers are "Angel Eyes," "Since I Fell for You," and one from Nina Simone. Backed by guitar, bass, drums, and some horns -- Ken Field, Scott Getchell, and Russ Gershon. B+(*)

Albare: The Road Ahead (2013, Enja): Alias for Albert Dadon, b. 1957 in Morocco, moved to Israel at age 5, France five years later, then to Australia in 1984, where he married the daughter of a billionaire, is executive chairman of "a diversified funds management and property development company," founded and chaired the Australian Israel Cultural Exchange, chaired the Melbourne Jazz Festival, and eventually recorded at least three albums. With piano, bass, drums, and Allan Harris crooning on one song, a pleasant mild groove album. B+(*)

Bryan Anthony/Gary Norian Trio: A Night Like This (2011, Mercator Media): Standards singer, has worked in the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey ghost bands, and has a couple previous albums. This one is backed by pianist Norian's trio, and Norian provides four songs. Anthony has a classic crooner pose, a soft and pliable voice, and he sneaks up on you. Francis Davis wrote the liner notes. B+(**)

Will Bernard: Just Like Downtown (2013, Posi-Tone): Guitarist, half-dozen albums since 1998, goes for a soul jazz album this time, but everyone except drummer Rudy Royston is a bit eccentric: Brian Charette on organ, John Ellis on tenor sax and bass clarinet, and the leader himself. B+(**) [August 27]

The Candy Shop Boys: Sugar Foot Stomp (2013, self-released): Throwback side project for saxophonist Matt Parker, who has a recent postbop album I like a lot (Worlds Put Together). With Scott Tixier (violin), Jesse Elder (piano), bass and drums, and Sophia Urista singing 7 of 12 songs -- Cab Calloway ("Kicking the Gong Around"), Harlem Hamfats ("The Candy Man"), "St. James Infirmary," but "Light My Fire" seems a misstep, and "I Want to Be Evil" is less convincing than "When I Get Low I Get High." Instrumentals like "Sugarfot Stomp" and "Black & Tan Fantasy" and "Bernie's Tune" are more than filler. B+(***)

Jonathan Elias: Path to Zero: Prayer Cycle (2011, Downtown): Pianist, b. 1956, studied at Eastman School of Music and Bennington College, classical stuff, worked on movie soundtracks, produced rock groups like Duran Duran and Yes; in 1989 composed a piece called Requiem for the Americas; in 1999 released a choral symphony called The Prayer Cycle. This is presumably more of that, "a powerful poetic response to man's inhumanity to man in the nuclear age, told in seven movements" and tied into some sort of political program -- probably well-intentioned, but none of the music here (spoken word, chorales, classical schmaltz played with synths) makes me want to find out. Sometimes when I sit on an album a couple years I'm pleasantly surprised. Sometimes it's even worse than I imagined. D+

Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel (2012 [2013], Libra): Solo piano, not sure how many of those she's recorded in a very prolific career -- AMG lists 44 records since 1995 -- but it's not zero and not many. This has none of the thrash I'm so fond of, so it's all the more surprising that this succeeds on its own complex melodic terms. A-

Albert Heath/Ethan Iverson/Ben Street: Tootie's Tempo (2013, Sunnyside): Heath, b. 1935, nicknamed "Tootie," was one of the three Heath Brothers, along with saxophonist Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath. Only two or three albums under his name, but he's played on at least a hundred starting in 1957 with Red Garland and John Coltrane, and this is the second album he's appeared on named Tootie's Tempo -- the other by Tete Montoliu Trio in 1979. Iverson, who's recently eschewed credit in the Billy Hart Quartet, plays piano, and Street bass. Starts out jaunty with "The Charleston," part of a songbook that sometiems predates the drummer, and ends with the title song, mostly drum solo. Nice tribute. (By the way, the only album Percy Heath put his name on came out in 2004, a year before his death. It was called A Love Song, and was even more charming than this one.) B+(***) [August 27]

Lynn Jolicoeur and the Pulse: World Behind Your Eyes (2012 [2013], self-released): Boston singer/band, the writer there is pianist Steven Travis, who has a hand in 5 (of 12) songs, one co-credited with Jolicoeur. Website promises "timeless jazz and pop hits with contemporary flair and romantic soul" -- hard to imagine how that might work without falling through the contradictory cracks. Nothing bad here, but having a sax doesn't make it jazz, covering Sting and writing new songs doesn't make it timeless. Contemporary flair, sure. B

Kaze: Tornado (2012 [2013], Libra): Quartet with two trumpets (Natsuki Tamura and Christian Pruvost), piano (Satoko Fujii), and drums (Peter Orins). The trumpets burst out of the gate, and the pianist almost makes the drummer an afterthought. And when the fury breaks, they keep it interesting in subtler ways. A-

Mark Masters Ensemble: Everything You Did (2012 [2013], Capri): Subtitled "The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen," aka Steely Dan, a 1970s rock group with an uncommon affinity for jazz. The Ensemble has some star power -- Billy Harper and Tim Hagans, most obviously, plus guests like Oliver Lake, Sonny Simmons, and Gary Foster wander in for a cut each -- but mostly the big band takes all the whimsy out of the tunes, which become difficult to discern and distinguish unless Anna Mjoll sings one. B

Stephanie Nakasian: Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World (2011 [2012], Capri): Standards singer, b. 1954, ten albums since 1988, mostly on VSOP, her latest Dedicated to Lee Wiley. Backed here by a basic piano trio led by Harris Simon, leaving the focus on the singer, a subtle interpreter with fine tone who can also sling some scat, but is best when she find a song with some bite to it, like "The End of a Love Affair." B+(**)

Linda Oh: Sun Pictures (2012 [2013], Greenleaf Music): Bassist, third album, quartet with Ben Wendel (credited with trumpet but sounds like tenor sax, his usual instrument), James Muller (guitar), and Ted Poor (drums). Pieces have an inside-out feel to them, nothing showy, fast or loud -- the guitar and sax just build up on the bass waves and carry you along. A- [August 27]

Planet Z: Planet Z Featuring Susan Aquila/Music by Rob Tomaro (2011, Blue Chair): Fusion group, only album, Aquila was trained as a classical violinist but plays a Viper 6-string electric here. Tomaro wrote the pieces, has a Ph.D. in composition from NYU, and plays guitar, with the band adding keyboards, bass, and drums. B

Abigail Riccards: Every Little Star (2013, self-released): Standards singer, has a couple previous albums, this one produced by Jane Monheit (who's featured on Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game," an outlier here). Band includes Michael Kanan (piano) and Peter Bernstein (guitar), framing surefire songs nicely -- "Singin' in the Rain," "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," "Smile," "Bye Bye Blackbird." B+(*)

Imer Santiago: Hidden Journey (2013, Jazz Music City): Trumpet player, originally from Lorain, Ohio; studied at Ohio State under Pharez Whitted, then University of New Orleans; currently based in Nashville, teaching at Tennessee State, also band director at Moses McKissack Middle School and "worship pastor" of The Church at Antioch. First album, quintet plus guests, saxophonist Rahsaan Barber co-wrote three songs. Has a serene tone, does a nice job of pacing this. Two songs are dedicated to Miles Davis and Tito Puente. Stephanie Adlington sings "The Very Thought of You." B+(***) [August 27]

Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat (2012 [2013], Libra): Solo trumpet, makes a nice matched set with Satoko Fujii's solo Gen Himmel. But solo trumpet is much harder to pull off, as evidenced by the fact that there are maybe a dozen such albums compared to many hundreds or possibly more than a thousand solo piano sets. B+(*)

Waclaw Zimpel Quartet: Stone Fog (2012 [2013], Fortune): Clarinet player, from Poland, leading a quartet with Krzysztof Dys on piano, Christian Ramond on bass, and Klaus Kugel on drums. Zimpel has a handful of previous albums, including two as Undivided (with pianist Bobby Few), plus he has been involved in a couple of Ken Vandermark projects (ones I haven't heard). He is very striking here, the album held back only by a few long atmospheric stretches, fog perhaps. B+(***) [August 27]


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Jamie Baum Septet: In This Life (Sunnyside): October 8
  • Marco Cappelli Acoustic Trio: Le Stagioni del Commissario Ricciardi (Tzadik): advance, October 22
  • Claudia Quintet: September (Cuneiform)
  • Joey DeFrancesco: One for Rudy (High Note): September 24
  • John Funkhouser: Still (Jazsyzygy): September 12
  • Griffith Hiltz Trio: This Is What You Get . . . (self-released): September 19
  • Brian Haas/Matt Chamberlain: Frames (Royal Potato): October 15
  • Mary LaRose: Reincarnation (Little(i) Music): October 8
  • Jeff Lederer: Jeff Lederer's Swing n' Dix (Little(i) Music): Octrober 8
  • Dana Lyn: Aqualude (Ropeadope): advance, October 15
  • M1, Brian Jackson & the New Midnight Band: Evolutionary Minded (Motema): September 10
  • Bill O'Connell: The Latin Jazz All-Stars (Savant): September 24
  • Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble: Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (self-released)
  • Michael Pedicin: Why Stop Now/Ubuntu (Groundblue): September 24
  • Sachal Studios Orchestra: Jazz and All That: In Memory of Dave Brubeck (Imagine Music): September 10

Daily Log

Didn't get up until 2PM today. Had planned on fixing bisteeya for the potluck tonight, so had to hustle to get it going. Turned out to be about the right amount of time.

Watched Longmire and Under the Dome.

Music today (JP): Ken Peplowski (didn't write up); (RG): Mike Pride.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Citizen Moron

The Wichita Eagle published a piece by Dion Leffer on Sen. Jerry Moran's pep talk to the Wichita Independent Business Association. In it he admitted that he had thought about retiring, but then he realized that he hadn't done enough damage in Washington yet, so he feels obliged to keep banging at it.

I dashed off a letter to the editor, which was published Wednesday. (The link also gets you a letter by Amos Leitner on Israel's congenital inability to understand the concept and value of borders, a subject that is worth a post of its own.) Anyhow, here's my draft (I haven't checked it closely for edits):

Sen. Moran says that he wants to "make one last run at corralling the federal deficit," because he believes this will "make certain that my kids have the opportunities that I've had in life." Unless his kids grow up to be bankers, he's making a foolish mistake. The real problem with the deficit is that it's shrinking so fast it's dragging down the economy. The federal government should be spending more, not less, especially on infrastructure and education. Such spending would help make up for the failure of businesses and the inability of customers to spend, and could easily be paid for by rolling back the Bush and Reagan tax cuts -- which we now know only led to asset bubbles and financial crises.

Moran's backup plan is even more foolhardy: he wants grow the economy by getting rid of regulations that protect customers from the most predatory acts of financial and health care businesses. But those industries have done very little to grow the economy: they've used their political clout to exact rents and jack up profits from elsewhere, enriching themselves at everyone else's expense.

Wichita Eagle letters are pretty rigidly limited to 200 words, so I tried to pack as many points as possible into that can. As such, I make a lot of assertions that seem pretty self-evident to me but which may not be so obvious to the reader. So I'd like to unpack this a bit here, and possibly bring up some more related points.

The first point everyone should understand is that the Federal deficit in no way resembles personal debts you or your household may have. There are several reasons for this, but the simplest is that the government doesn't grow old and unproductive, like individuals do. The government only needs to cover the interest on its debt, whereas creditors insist that we, because we age and become less productive, also pay down the principal. The amount it takes to service interest on the debt is very small compared to the total debt, especially when the economy is depressed -- something which leads to especially low interest rates.

The same thing could be said about corporations, and indeed much of the time they only pay interest, paying off debts as they mature by issuing new debt -- but they occasionally go bankrupt when their prospects sink and their creditors balk. Same thing can happen with state and local governments, although it is much rarer, if only because they can always, in principle at least, raise whatever income they need through taxes. The US government can raise taxes too -- and can do so much more efficiently than state and local governments can -- but they also have a couple more important tricks up their sleeve. For one thing, the federal debt is owed in dollars, which the federal government can simply print as needed. For another, the Federal Reserve effectively controls the interest rate the government has to pay on its debt, so it can intentionally reduce the cost of servicing that debt. (Actually, these two points are joined together.)

This isn't to say that the federal debt never matters. There are circumstances when increasing the federal debt, at least as in ratio to GDP, can cause inflation and/or cause a drag on the economy by pushing up the cost of finance for the private sector. But those times aren't now, and I have reason to doubt that the second factor will ever be true again.

As for inflation, one can even argue that would be a good thing. Inflation is tough on people on fixed incomes, such as pensions, but that can be mitigated as Social Security does with cost-of-living escalators -- something, by the way, Greenspan successfully attacked in the 1990s, and which Obama has foolishly offered to sacrifice as part of his "grand bargain" scheme. But if you assume that everyone has equal wage-price flexibility, inflation reduces to a simple trade between creditors and debtors. Inflation lets debtors pay off their creditors with cheaper dollars, so you can see why bankers hate hate hate inflation. But we're in a recession now because businesses and consumers aren't spending, and the main reason they're not spending is debt overhang. The economy is only slowly picking up as those debts are paid off (or written off), and the faster that happens the better. Inflation, assuming it can be done fairly, is one way to make that happen.

Of course, that's a big assumption, because nearly everything in the current economy is structured to be unfair, and nowhere more so than in matters of finance. The current recession is the direct result of a vast and unscrupulous expansion of consumer and business credit and its inevitable collapse -- a path that was paved by lobbyists and politicians as they systematically ended regulations that limited usury, combinations and conflicts of interest, even outright fraud, while allowing bankers to pocket obscene profits and even protecting "too big to fail" bank owners against their own misjudgments.

If not for the latter, the big banks that caused this crisis would have gone bankrupt and been reorganized -- this is in fact what happened during the S&L crisis in the late 1980s, early proof how deregulation of banking leads to catastrophe -- and a lot of their loans would have been written down or off. Such a writedown would have been a quicker and more efficient way to get out from under the debt overhang that had dragged the economy down. Several such plans were floated, but nothing was accomplished, mostly because writedowns would have looked bad on the banks' books, but also because the Tea Party blew a gasket over the idea that the government might help reprobates who had gone over their heads in debt.

The Tea Party instinct here almost instantly became the Republican Party consensus: they decided that they would rather have a deep and long recession than to allow the government to intervene and do some good for the vast majority of people who weren't bankers, who didn't cause the financial collapse, who didn't benefit from the extraordinary largesse handed out by the Fed and the Treasury to save a banking system that had completely failed. To be fair, the Tea Partiers by and large didn't support the bank bailouts either -- their eagerness to punish the whole world for its sins seems boundless -- but the banking system found grifters enough in both parties to secure their salvation.

While reducing the debt overhang either by inflation or writedowns would help get the economy going again, there was a simpler approach, one that had been proven in the past, and which could work much faster given the political will. This was to increase government spending to make up for the private sector shortfall. To some extent this happened, and that is the main reason the recession didn't go any deeper than it did. The government's first line of defense against recessions is a set of "automatic stabilizers" that kick in, well, automatically, to soften any economic downturn: unemployment insurance, various welfare programs like food stamps. These would have worked better had we had more of them, but decades of conservative efforts to weaken the safety net and drive down the costs of labor have ravaged those programs. The second thing that happened was that Obama, over unified Republican opposition, pushed an emergency stimulus bill through Congress. This turned out to cover only about half of the expected shortfall, and much of the total was in the form of relatively inefficient tax cuts, and spending cuts at the state and local level undid much of the gain, but had the Republicans prevailed the recession would have gone deeper. As it is, they had to settle for longer.

The economic collapse led immediately to a huge drop in tax revenues, at the same time automatic stabilizers, the bank bailouts, and stimulus spending added to government expense, so the deficit -- already high due to the combination of the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars -- skyrocketed. That gave the Republicans their great mystical story line: they paint the deficit as the great peril facing the nation today and as far into the future as it takes until they win back the presidency and the next Dick Cheney admits that "deficits don't matter" anymore. Moreover, they argue that the only way deficits can be brought under control is by cutting spending, especially on things that actually help people, even though doing so slows the economy down, reduces tax revenue, and leads to a death spiral of further spending cuts.

In the past, the problem with countercycical spending has usually been one of political will. Because it is needed during recessions, it creates large deficits which bring out the scolds in droves. Even in the 1930s when the need was clearest, Franklin Roosevelt was dogged both as much by his own deeply held belief in balanced budgets as by opponents (whom he could hold in fabulous contempt, a knack that Obama and Clinton evidently lack). Only with the bipartisan commitment to WWII was he able to throw caution to the winds and use government spending to push the economy all the way to full employment: this resulted in the longest, broadest economic growth in the nation's history, even as postwar government spending returned to "normal" levels. Of course, we don't need anything remotely close to WWII spending now, but the example gives you a sense of the advantages a full-employment economy offers, like major investments in public infrastructure and education.

Full employment means that everyone who wants a job can find one, and it means more: it means that many people can find better jobs than they have now, and that most people can see their pay reflect better the value they produce (as opposed to now, when the weakness of the labor market -- the legitimate fear you have of losing your job -- takes a chunk out of your pay). Under full employment, people are worth more, their time is worth more, and they (and the public) invest more in education, so you wind up with a more productive and efficient workforce, and ultimately a much richer country.

Full employment is supposed to be the Fed's policy directive, but it's taken a back seat to fighting inflation ever since Paul Volcker became chairman in 1979. Although inflation is supposed to be based on consumer prices -- which are strongly influenced by patents and monopoly rents, and in the 1970s were largely driven by oil shocks caused by cartels -- economists came up with a theory called NAIRU to blame inflation on labor and, especially, on full employment. Under Reagan, and aided by the 12% unemployment Volcker created by raising interest rates to unprecedented levels, businesses cranked up their war on unions and further squeezed unprotected workers, and through their political cronies worked to weaken the safety net, making workers all the more fearful of losing their jobs.

A weak labor market has the opposite effect of full employment: most workers have fewer prospects of improving their lot; many find themselves unable to find jobs at their skill level, so have to settle for relatively unproductive and unrewarding jobs. Education is less likely to pay off -- even as public education resources are being reduced, so costs are shifted to individuals, often resulting in unprecedented levels of debt -- so workers get less of it, or train more narrowly for skill niches, or fall back on desperate measures like joining the military. (Thanks to the Bush wars, the latter is as likely to train you to be psychotic as to hold down a quality job.)

Moran is right to worry that his "kids" will face -- indeed, already do face -- a world with less opportunity than the one he grew up in. And that's even more true for the vast majority of Americans who didn't grow up with the advantages that Moran started with, let alone his eagerness to serve as a "useful idiot" for those who have sponsored his political career -- a list that (no big surprise here) started with the Koch brothers. But the reason for worrying isn't the federal deficit phantom -- a problem that could easily be handled by sensible politicians, and that in any case is far removed from the present. The real reason is how the political ascent of the right since the 1970s has crippled economic opportunities for the vast majority of Americans while at the same time allowing a tiny privileged elite to live ever more rarefied lives.

Depending on how you slice it, that "tiny privileged elite" may be 1% of the population, or even smaller. Since the current recession officially ended in mid-2009 -- the point where overall GDP stopped shrinking and started growing -- virtually all of the growth in the economy has gone to the top 1%, but that merely continues a trend that started in the early 1980s. The numbers that document growing inequality trends are well known but surprisingly sterile. (There are several good books on this, like Timothy Noah: The Great Divergence: America's Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It and Joseph E. Stiglitz: The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future run through the relevant numbers.) One thing that still needs to be done is to go through the broad range of everyday life experiences and show how inequality distorts life at all ends of the scale.

Perhaps the most obvious case is higher education. Following WWII college became accessible and affordable for most men, thanks to the GI Bill, and over the next few decades heavy public spending plus scholarships plus a relatively minor loan program made it seem possible that anyone who could hack the grades could get a college education and wind up with a rewarding and relatively lucrative career. None of my ancestors had made it through college, and I didn't either, but I (foolishly, no doubt) fell just a couple credits short of a BA from a prestigious private university. I wound up owing $2,000 in loans, and despite the lack of a degree I had little trouble getting good jobs and making a much better than average living. Since then, the anti-government parties -- taking as gospel a Ronald Reagan joke -- have cut way back on public support for higher education, while the schools themselves colluded to raise prices way above the inflation rate (the Ivy League school were sued by the Clinton administration for fixing prices, but antitrust enforcement was halted under Bush and has yet to be reinstated under Obama), and the banking industry got ever more into the act. So, for instance, I have a niece who got her law degree with close to $100,000 in debt, but has struggled to find an appropriate job.

School debt has become such a huge obstacle that young people -- probably even Moran's "kids" -- are caught in a bind: on the one hand if they don't pay up they'll never get a chance at jobs that will allow them to, if not become rich at least live comfortably, although frankly the odds of that level of success are increasingly slim; on the other hand, if they don't pay and avoid that debt they will probably be stuck in bottom end jobs with no security and no benefits. It's hard for people to judge these intergenerational shifts: most people start out with low pay jobs, then over time build up their expertise and seniority until they reach a peak, hopefully close to retirement, so when older people look at the problems young people run into, they tend to recall themselves and figure nothing much has changed. But much has changed: more and more middle-aged people are finding their careers chopped down well before they expected to retire, and few of them ever regain their footing. And more and more young people never really get on track, especially if they lack parents who can help out well past college. (Even for my generation that made a difference.)

There are many more aspects to this. Back in 2009, when Obama wanted to roll back the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $250,000, I recall someone in Chicago publishing a household budget which purported to show that his family was only barely getting by on its $250,000/year income as it was, without having to cover more taxes. The budget was unintentionally revelatory: aside from having spent a bit more than average on cars and a house, all of the listed household expenses were for privatized versions of things that were provided to everyone in modern European social democracies: they were paying off school loans, paying for health insurance, sending their children to private schools, saving for their children's college, and socking away quite a bit of money for future retirement. Otherwise, they were living the lifestyle of someone who makes less than half their income in Europe (and has a smaller house, but probably a better car).

My point here isn't just that a bit of socialism is the best thing possible for the middle class. (Again, let me recommend a book, Thomas Geoghegan: Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life.) The finer point is that all those extra expenses are a desperate attempt to bridge the chasm that's opened up between rich and poor and all but swallowed the middle class. And more importantly, that chasm didn't just open up on its own: it's been hollowed out by the right's war on any possibility of the government aiding the welfare of the majority of the population. Aspiring parents need private schools because the public ones are rotting out, from underfunding and all sorts of disinterest and stupidity. They have to pay much more for school and health insurance because we've turned those services into arenas for profiteering. And you have to save so much more money while you can work because you know that in the future your country will no longer have the will let alone the ability to take care of you. So not only does Jerry Moran's future offer less opportunity for the "kids," it offers less security for Moran and his cohort -- probably why he's decided to keep sucking up to the Kochs so he can milk out another term in the Senate.


Some other quick points:

  • While Obama's first year deficits were remarkably high -- loss of revenues from the recession, automatic stabilizers, the banking bailouts, the stimulus, the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, continuation of the Bush tax cuts all contributed -- they've dropped markedly since then. The economy's growing slowly, but that adds to revenues, as does the minor rate increase on the richest. Spending has also been cut, notably the sequester, but this is more of a problem in that less government spending slows the economy down, and there are even bigger problems at state and local levels -- especially given how much leverage the Republicans gained there in the 2010 elections. The US hasn't suffered as much from austerity politics as the UK has, but if the Republicans hold the House and gain control of the Senate in 2014 the future is likely to be much more austere.

  • It's also noteworthy that long-term budget projections have improved notably because of the Affordable Care Act. There is much more improvement possible there if it ever becomes politically feasible.

  • For the last couple years businesses have been sitting on large stockpiles of cash, little of which has been or is likely to be invested. As such, schemes that transfer more cash to business, including all manner of tax breaks, will never translate into more jobs -- indeed, about the only thing business is spending on is automation to reduce labor costs. As bad a deal as "supply side economics" was in the 1980s, it is much worse now. A big part of the argument for inflation is that it would motivate businesses to put cash to work rather than just watching it lose value doing nothing. A better idea still would be to tax this cash surplus and spend it on public goods.

  • It is very clear that everything that has gone wrong in the financial sector over the last decade can be traced back to looser regulation, both statutory and enforcement. Given this, it is really appalling that the Republicans have opposed every effort to tighten up regulation of finance. Moreover, it's unprecedented: even though the Republicans had much to do with causing the S&L crisis in the 1980s and the fraudulent accounting that led to collapse of Enron and other companies circa 2000, efforts to clean up those disasters and to prevent them from repeating enjoyed bipartisan support. However, during the Bush administration, and especially while Tom DeLay was in power in the House, the Republicans have shifted to a posture where they're eager to put everything up for sale. Most of the examples of "regulatory excess" that Moran and his chums come up with are things that plainly should be regulated -- if anything more aggressively than to date.

Obviously, much more could be written about all of this. Stiglitz, for instance, is very good on rents.

Daily Log

Music today (JP): Waclaw Zimpel.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Daily Log

Went to a potluck dinner party at Alice Powell's apartment, where we watched Catherine Russo's documentary, A Moment in Her Story: Stories from the Boston Women's Movement. Laura had been interviewed for the film, and wound up appearing in two spots, and there were a few others I recognized at various points.

Alice made bratwurst. I brought a Russian potato salad with smoked salmon-capers-olives and an Iranian cucumber-yogurt salad.

Music today (JP): Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura; (RG): Michael Marcus, Sabir Mateen/Frode Gjerstad, Szilárd Mezei.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Daily Log

Cleaned up the living room and put the furniture -- two cheap plastic five-drawer cases and a typewriter return -- back in front of the window. No extra clutter at this point, so it looks nice. Took Laura to acupuncture. Picked up our backsplash tile and grout afterwards, then went to Red Lobster for dinner. Made the mistake of ordering my trout broiled rather than grilled, so they dumped a bunch of paprika and other spices on it -- had to ask the waiter whether he put in an order for blackened. Laura ordered the potato soup then realized it's mostly flour paste. Should have asked the waiter for a flyswatter. Food wasn't bad, but the overall experience was rather poor.

Music today (JP): Mark Masters, Kaze; (RS): Frode Gjerstad, Janek Kochan (MusiConspiracy), Joëlle Léandre.


Stef Gijssels through a bit of a hissy fit over this year's Downbeat Readers Poll. I sent in the following comment.

I've written posts nitpicking Downbeat's polls most years in the last decade, and there are lots of ways you can slice them up. For instance, in my piece on this year's Readers Poll I complained about the omission of Scott Hamilton under tenor sax -- turns out they're even less likely to list retro-swing or trad jazz musicians than they are avant-garde. The shortage of European (and for that matter Canadian) musicians has been a constant problem, but aside from the usual chauvinism I think a bit part of it -- at least in the Critics Poll, which I've voted in for three years now -- is how much presence and support labels provide. To cite what I thought was a bellweather case, back when Blue Note released an album by Gianluca Petrella, he polled very well, much better than trombonists with more substantial careers, like Wierbos or the Bauers. So to a large (and probably embarrassing) extent the Critics Poll reflects publicity budgets and coverage, and small European labels have trouble denting Downbeat's nearly all-American critics base. (Similar things happen with the Readers' Poll, a couple extra steps removed.) I manage to hear (and review) about 600 jazz albums a year -- maybe 25% of those are by European artists and/or on European labels, and that's probably more than most US-based critics can say. Still, I doubt I get 25% of the records reviewed in the Free Jazz blog. Everyone gets a pretty limited view of the big picture, so we always miss things.

Could have written much more, but the commenting interface is pretty hideous. Since I've been voting in the Downbeat Critics' Poll I have observed that the suggested ballots are getting better, often picking up people I wrote in the year before. The Readers' ballot lags a bit, and I've gotten to where I don't write in candidates there, so there's less of a self-correction feature there.

Also thought about mentioning the Francis Davis poll. Stef should respond to the inviation and vote there, but thus far he never has. The link did rough counts of how many non-Americans show up on the suggested ballot (damn few), and adds a long list of non-American musicians, including a few I've never heard of (less than 10%, but still).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Daily Log

Cleaned up a bit but still have lots to do. Blinds look better in the daylight, and room looks less like a dungeon, although my office half is still a disaster area. Went out late afternoon for a pretty frustrating round of shopping. Went to AAA Restaurant Supply to finally spend the gift certificate my brother had given me for Christmas. Bought a 14-inch sautee pan with cover, an 8-cup stainless steel "silverware dispenser" (thinking I could use it to hold spatulas and the like), and a 22-inch long stainless steel trough (same idea). Not sure that any of these are great ideas, although I had long planned on building something like the trough, and it was incredibly cheap for what it is. On the other hand, not sure it will look good where it would be most convenient. Also occurs to me after the fact that I should have bought a stainless steel stockpot instead of the sautee pan, but I couldn't recall which ones I currently have. Sometime ago I had a clear need for an intermediate size between my small one (about 6 qt, if I recall correctly) and my huge one (20 qt, maybe even larger), but I think I've picked up one or more pots in that range -- just couldn't recall which.

Was also looking for hooks to hang up the front hedge trimmers. Had a pretty good idea what I wanted, but went to three megastores and didn't find it. Finally came home with a couple options that may or may not work, but was pretty unhappy over the whole thing -- especially at Menard's, a good deal larger than Home Depot or Lowe's but filled with junk, or what they call bargains. Ate dinner at Thai Cafe: not much of a menu, but pretty decent pad thai. Went grocery shopping, and had to hit a second store to make two simple dishes for tomorrow night.

Watched The Bridge and Broadchurch, two stretched out murder mysteries -- the latter going too slow, the former if anything too fast. It's easily the best thing on TV at the moment. By the way, saw a "Writer's Room" interview with the creators of Dexter and was offended to hear them describe their "hero" as a "vigilante" -- my reaction was that he's a criminal who gets away with what he does because he preys on other criminals, something that became fashionable in American culture several decades ago. The writers also described him as a "30s-style superhero" having "special powers" which would be worse if it wasn't such a private fantasy.

Music today (JP): Candy Shop Boys, Mark Masters; (RG) Ganelin Trio.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daily Log

Laura and I went to eye doctor today. Her idea. I complain about my failing eyesight sometimes, but haven't gotten much good out of the checkups I've had over the last 5-6 years. Very unpleasant process. Caught me on a day when my eyes felt sort from allergies, then doped them up to dilate them. Optometry tests didn't show much change, but none of them looked especially sharp either. But I was diagnosed with "early stage" cataracts, reportedly 0.5 on a scale to 4, so that may explain the occasional bluriness I get, especially early morning and late night. Went to Bella Luna for lunch/dinner. Got the carbonara and was pretty disappointed with it -- like they dumped their leftover mushroom soup on the fussili.

Put a second coat of paint on window frame before going to doctor. Came back and finally read mounting instructions for the blinds, and decided it would work best if I built out the frames so I could screw the brackets into the inside sides as well as the top. Cut a couple 2x2.5-inch pieces of 1x3, screwed them in place, dabbed them with primer and a coat of paint. Dried fast enough that after midnight I screwed in the brackets and mounted the blinds. Used spax screws: 4 2-inch into the side, 2 1-inch into the top.

Went to see The Great Gatsby at the Palace -- tomorrow is last chance. Disappointing in most regards, including visually -- presumably Baz Lurhmann's value-added, with its fake snow and airplane dives into street life and that pile of Dickensian ash somewhere in Queens. And Luhrmann's choreography of Gatsby's parties was overly busy and disorienting. Tobey Maguire may have been the worst possible choice for Nick Carraway: hard to buy him as a social climber, harder still as a depressed alcoholic. I understand the conceptual foundation for the admiration he holds for Gatsby, but don't believe it for a minute. And Carey Mulligan is almost as miscast as Daisy Buchanan. The story is a gilded age fable, so seemed particularly ripe for a scathing retelling today but Luhrmann gets so lost in the mismatches and baubles he winds up trying to shoehorn Fitzgerald's best lines into the aether at the end, as if to make up for his deficits. But sweet Daisy and cruel Tom hardly deserve Fitzgerald. If you want a contemporary fable about what the Buchanan's have evolved into, try the Graysons on Revenge. At least there you get the promise of an appropriate comeuppance.

Music today (JP): FivePlay; (RG): Ganelin Trio, Marian McPartland.


At EW, Zac Harmon asked for help on texts to teach for something on popular culture. After a few replies, Jeff Melnick wrote: "Gilbert Seldes is a great idea. Warshow, not so much. Neil Postman is a hack." I responded:

I haven't read much more by Neil Postman but I would never dismiss him as a hack. He co-wrote a book with Charles Weingartner called Teaching as a Subversive Activity which had a huge impact on me when I read it in my late teens: not only established my thinking about what education should be, but to a large extend laid out how I would live the rest of my life.

Of course, maybe it's Weingartner who had the brilliant ideas, but Postman was the one who wrote a stack of books later on. The key idea in the book is the importance of developing a "bullshit detector": what education should be doing is to encourage and develop the student's critical faculties, and the first step there is to be able to figure out when an argument smells funny. This isn't done in any real world because the people who set up and run education programs are primarily interested in brainwashing the next generation. Critical thinking is subversive of their interests, although I think one could argue that it is part of the skillset future leaders need to be able to maintain and extend the technical complexity we've come to depend on, and also that it is essential to making democracy work.

I've only thumbed through Postman's later books. I stopped reading critical theory after I left college c. 1974, not least because I was finding it too easy and automatic to apply it to virtually everything in the culture, so that put an end to me reading any sort of social science or criticism. Postman went on to write books like Amusing Ourselves to Death and How to Watch TV News, which struck me as possibly worthwhile books. I don't for a minute doubt that television has had a profound and mostly unhealthy impact on what people know and how certain they are that they know it, but it also is responsible for a huge expansion of knowledge even while it's so careless about what we do with it. So someone could have written brilliant books on those subjects. Whether that someone was Postman is an open question. His later books sound more dubious: Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology and Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future. Even in that regard, he reminds me of someone like Bill McKibben, who has a backward orientation on technology and has a habit of making really bad analogies but is nonetheless pretty useful. Or Wendell Berry is another one.

Marian McPartland died. I wrote this:

I see that Marian McPartland has passed away, at the ripe old age of 95. She's had a remarkable career, ditching her classical training for vaudeville, hooking up with a dixieland-playing GI and following him home to Chicago, breaking up with him and establishing herself as one of the more interesting interpreters of the songbook tradition -- a postmodern move even before bebop played out. In My Life is one of her best albums -- at least among the ones that were really hers. Two I like even more are A Sentimental Journey where she lifts her ex-husband, and Plays the Benny Carter Songbook, which is lifted by Carter's presence. Her "Piano Jazz" programs aren't worth CD prices, but are often worth hearing: she was a fan as well as an expert, and got mileage out of both.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Daily Log

Sanded a bit on window frame. Looks OK for my purposes. Went out last night for latex primer, but found an old gallon upstairs today. Only had about 10% of its original contents, and was a bit thick, but was usable with a little water added. Had second thoughts about the white paint I had found: it was flat and the previous match paint -- a rich creamy color -- was semi-gloss, so I went out and had them match another quart. Painted a coat. Took the new top piece and glued it down in place, then drove in a few short screws for good measure. Probably won't get the blinds up until tomorrow.

Watched Copper and Major Crimes. Also Talking Bad, although I can only barely find the will to suffer through the show itself much less an extra 30 minutes of mutual backslapping about how brilliant they all are.

Music today (JP): Linda Oh, Albare, Agachiko; (RG): Ganelin Trio.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21899 [21869] rated (+30), 589 [574] unrated (+15).

Rated count took a hit last week -- had a couple days I didn't write anything, sometimes listening to things I reshelved for later, sometimes old stuff. Still reached 30, which is my benchmark for a good week, by hitting up a lot of Rhapsody jazz. I've been on a Not Two kick since I got email from JazzLoft announcing a sale. Not actually a big discount, nor does the sale cover many records. Nothing I wound up buying: the first record I checked out -- Miniatures, by Theo Jörgensmann and the Oles Brothers -- made the A- grade, but nothing else did. (Half a dozen albums weren't on Rhapsody. I had previously graded Satoko Fujii: Zephyros A-, and David Murray: Circles was a [***] HM. Two more Rhapsody albums rated that high: Cosmosamatics: Reeds & Birds, and Daniel Carter: Chinatown. Details in a future Recycled Goods, with some newer records -- 2010 or later -- in Rhapsody Streamnotes.)

Another thing slowing Jazz Prospecting down is that quite a few albums I've been listening to aren't coming out until September. I did do a lot of unpacking this week, so my half-empty pair of baskets are closer to two-thirds full. Again, most of the incoming isn't slated for release until September.

No A- records this week, so I'm rerunning the cover scans from the last two weeks.


Jay Clayton: Harry Who?: A Tribute to Harry Warren (2013, Sunnyside): Singer, b. 1941 in Youngston, Ohio, with 14 albums since 1980, this one a tour through ten of the 800-plus songs Harry Warren (1893-1981, b. Salvatore Antonio Guaragna) wrote. Clayton is very matter-of-fact here, no vocal tics or scat, her accompaniment just pianist John Di Martino with occasional help by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, pretty matter-of-fact himself. B+(**)

Avishai Cohen With Nitai Hershkovits: Duende (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Bassist, from Israel, thirteen records since 1998, wrote six (of ten) pieces here, with covers from Coltrane, Monk, Cole Porter, and Nachum Hayman (the front half of a medley). Hershkovits is a pianist, also from Israel, first record here, just duets with the bassist. Nice touch, subtle flow. B+(***)

The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Feelin' Good (2012 [2013], Origin): Drummer-led piano trio -- Johannes Bjerregaard on piano, Chris Luard on bass -- with DeMerle singing some and his wife Bonnie Eisele, listed as "featuring" on the cover, singing more. Live set starts with a couple instrumentals, then DeMerle sings "East of the Sun," "A Lotta Livin' to Do," and "Star Eyes" before introducing the more formidable Eisele, whose high points include "Cheek to Cheek" and "Fever," with the drummer getting some on "Sing, Sing, Sing." Some records back I had them pegged as in the Louis Prima-Keely Smith vein, but DeMerle's backed away from his comedy. Still a very genial leader of an enjoyable group. B+(**)

Fred Fried and Core: Core Bacharach (2013, Ballet Tree): Guitarist, plays an 8-string model, b. 1948, has at least ten albums since 1988, has used "Core" as his group name the last few. It's a trio with Michael Lavoie on bass and Miki Matsuki on drums. The songs this time come from Burt Bacharach, melodies so catchy they can handle the light and airy, tiptoe-on-the-strings approach. B+(*)

Nick Hempton: Odd Man Out (2012 [2013], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from Australia, based in New York, third album, quintet with Michael Dease on trombone, Art Hirahara on piano, plus bass and drums. Hempton also plays some tenor. Two covers: Ellington and Randy Newman. B+(**)

Ray Mantilla: The Connection (2013, Savant): Percussionist, photos show him with congas and an early album was called Hands of Fire; b. 1934 in the Bronx, cut a few records for avant labels Inner City (1978) and RED (1984-2000); this is his third on Savant, vibrant if conventional Latin jazz, fine soprano and tenor sax by Willie Williams, lots of flute by Enrique Fernandez, a splash of trumpet from Guido Gonzalez. B+(**) [August 20]

Ricardo Silveira & Roberto Taufic: Atlânticos (2012 [2013], Adventure Music): Two Brazilian guitarists. I've run into Silveira many times and am always impressed by his understated eloquence. Don't know Taufic, but he has a couple previous albums. Inside cover has photos of each with acoustic guitars, and indeed they seem to be going for something subtle and intricate -- perhaps too much so. B+(*) [August 20]

Steve Turre: The Bones of Art (2013, High Note): Trombone player, poll winner most years, treats his colleagues with a set of songs each featuring three trombones -- usually Frank Lacy and Steve Davis, but Robin Eubanks takes the slot on two cuts, one from each. Also with Xavier Davis (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Willie Jones III (drums), plus bongos and congas on the memorable closer. B+(***) [August 20]

Vinx: Love Never Comes Too Late (2012 [2013], Dreamsicle Arts): Singer-songwriter Vincent De Jean Parrette, or as he puts it on his website, Vinx De'jon Parrette, has a handful of albums going back to a debut on Sting's Pangaea label in 1991. Describes this as "a nod to the magic of the original crooners," and cites Arthur Prysock first on his list -- soft as butter, silky smooth. B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Geri Allen: Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations (Motéma Music): September 10
  • Thomas Anderson: On Becoming Human: Four-Track Love Songs (Out There)
  • Brasslands [A Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Evergreene)
  • Cacaw: Stellar Power (Skirl): September 17
  • Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Burstin' Out! (Origin)
  • Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts: Hang Time (Capri)
  • Brussels Jazz Orchestra/Joe Lovano: Wild Beauty (Half Note): September 10
  • Anne Drummond: Revolving (Origin)
  • Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State (Songlines): October 8
  • FivePlay Jazz Quintet: Five & More (Auraline): September 17
  • Erik Friedlander: Claws and Wings (Skipstone): October 1
  • Dave King Trucking Company: Adopted Highway (Sunnyside): September 24
  • Mike McGinnis: Ängsudden Song Cycle (482 Music): October
  • Mike McGinnis + 9: Road Trip (RKM): October
  • RJ Miller: Ronald's Rhythm (Loyal Label): October 1
  • Jonathan Moritz Trio: Secret Tempo (Hot Cup): September 10
  • Tsuyoshi Niwa: At the End of the Day (self-released): September 24
  • Ken Peplowski: Maybe September (Capri)
  • Bryn Roberts: Fables (Nineteen-Eight): September 17
  • The Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band: Game Changer (Capri)
  • Salsa de la Bahia: A Collection of SF Bay Area Salsa and Latin Jazz (Patois, 2CD)
  • Clark Sommers: Clark Sommers' Ba(SH) (Origin)
  • Gavin Templeton: In Series (Nine Winds): October 8
  • Diego Urcola: Mates (Sunnyside): October 8
  • Zansa: Djansa (self-released): September 10

Daily Log

Posted Jazz Prospecting. Started to work on installing the new blinds for the living room front window. Tore down the old drapes. Discovered several spots of peeling paint, plus the window frame has pulled away from the wall, leaving a gap up to one half inch. Took the old hardware off. Ripped some old caulk out. Looked around for some matching paint. One likely quart was dried out. Another nearly full looks OK, but may be a bit light. Looks like I'll repaint the whole frame. Cut a board to clip over the top: a piece of trim with a thin edge and a right-angle in the back that mostly slips into the gap -- had to chisel some wood off the back edge. Found a lot of oil-based primer but no latex, so went out to Lowe's to get some, and some plaster patch. Worked a bit more tonight, filling in gaps in the frame with spackle and in the surrounding wall with the plaster. Will sand that down and see how much more prep is needed tomorrow.

Watched Under the Dome and Longmire.

Music today (JP): Cheryl Bentyne/Mark Winkler, Abigail Riccards, Lynn Jolicoeur, Stephanie Nakasian, Bryan Anthony, Planet Z, Jonathan Elias.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Roundup

Some scattered links this week:


  • Brad DeLong: Obama: Please be nice to me as I fail to deal with this awful mess I created!:

    "Surreal." "Kafkaesque." The best you can say is "pathetic." The kicker is that without a single finger lifted on the part of congress Obama could have implemented four years ago procedures for his administration that match those that he now wants congress to undertake. He could have:

    • had the government's presentations to FISA include arguments from an advocatus diaboli
    • created a task force
    • established internal executive-branch safeguards against abuse of §215
    • released his own administration's justifications
    • required the NSA to explain what it was doing.

    He did none of those things, which he now says that he dearly wants to do.

    Obama concedes that Snowden's leaks triggered a passionate and welcome debate. But he claims that Snowden is no patriot because "we would have gotten to the same place" eventually.

    When?

    This does not pass the bullshit test.

  • Brad DeLong: Why we need a bigger Social Security system with higher, not lower benefits:

    Edward Filene's idea from the 1920s of having companies run employer-sponsored defined-benefit plans has, by and large, come a-crashing down. Companies turn out not to be long-lived enough to run pensions with a high enough probability. And when they are there is always the possibility of a Mitt Romney coming in and making his fortune by figuring out how to expropriate the pension via legal and financial process. Since pension recipients are stakeholders without either legal control rights or economic holdup powers, their stake will always be prey to the princes of Wall Street.

    That suggests that what we really need is a bigger Social Security system -- unless, of course, we can provide incentives and vehicles for people to do their retirement saving on their own. But 401(k)s have turned out to be as big a long-run disaster as employer-sponsored defined-benefit pensions when one assesses their efficiency as pension vehicles.

    At any given dollar amount, Social Security is bound to be vastly more efficient than any possible private pension scheme: it's "pay as you go," so it's relatively inflation-proof, and while demographic changes -- people living longer so the ratio of recipients to payees increases -- seem like they may undermine the deal, their real effect is fairly minor. One way to cover that shift would be to fund Social Security with more aggressive estate taxes as well as FICA. The main reason we have private savings schemes, especially 401k and its ilk, is that it makes it easier to tolerate inequal systems, and I needn't have to remind you who likes that idea. The other approach would be to work systematically to reduce the cost-of-living for the elderly (and/or disabled). Health care and maintenance support are the big things there, and it's easy to find possible savings at least in the former.

  • Mike Konczal: Conservatives don't get that some problems are public, and it's hurting them: Talks about William F. Buckley's red-baiting of Paul Samuelson, at bottom an attack on the notion that the public has a valid interest in economic policy. Conservatives love Hayek because he warns against any sort of public policy, and they loathe Keynes for his interest in such policy.

    Conservatives spend a lot of time discussing how inequality isn't as big as we think, or how the poor have a much better life because certain durable goods are cheaper, or how austerity and liquidation are better for the overall economy than stimulus. But what they really think is that these don't belong in the realm of the public, and that's the realm of policy.

    Of course, the real root of evil in public policy is that it might be the result of democracy. If you let everyone vote they might do something in their own interests.

  • Chase Madar: The Trials of Bradley Manning: Not just on Manning, since you need some context; e.g.:

    There was no security to speak of at the SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) at FOB Hammer, where the "infosec" (information security) protocols were casually flouted with the full knowledge of supervisors. This was not an anomaly: 1.4 million Americans have top-secret security clearances -- 480,000 of them private contractors. Security clearance vetting is cursory, like so much else about the sloshy and erratic US infosec: intact military hard drives can turn up for sale in the bazaars of Kabul, and top-secret documents have been accessed by all sorts of people through the file-sharing technology installed on government laptops by the children and grandchildren of national security officials, as Dana Priest and William Arkin documented in Top Secret America, their book on our ballooning security state. [ . . . ]

    The panicky response to WikiLeaks from some liberals has had its opera buffa highlights. WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer and New Yorker liberal hawk George Packer clucked like wet hens in horror at WikiLeaks' release of a (ludicrously) classified list of world locations of strategic interest to the United States. Can we ever be safe now that the terrorists know there are vast mineral reserves in Central Africa, and that the Strait of Gibraltar is a vital shipping lane? Ambrose Bierce said that war is God's way of teaching geography to Americans, but have we become so infantilized that grade-school factoids must be guarded as state secrets? [ . . . ]

    The individual is erased in mass media smears. We have not heard much about the Bradley Manning who shocked his classmates and teachers by announcing his atheism in grade school; who took care of his alcoholic mother as soon as he was old enough to add up the bills and write the checks; who came out as gay to his best friends at 13. The boy who was designing websites at age 10, who won his school's science fair three years running. The teen who, when he graduated from high school, didn't find sufficient financial support from home or the state to attend college, where he badly wanted to study physics or engineering. The post-adolescent youth sleeping in his truck in the parking lot of O'Hare airport, getting by on minimum-wage jobs, a Joad without the family. The young man trying to find stability and a way to get a college education, who joined the Army even though he is queer, fiercely independent of mind and will, and stands 5 feet, 2 inches tall. The soldier who could not join in the celebration of his comrades in Iraq when a convoy of US soldiers narrowly missed an IED that blew up a truck full of Iraqi civilians instead. The intelligence analyst who found out that a group of civilians had been arrested by Iraqi police for handing out a leaflet alleging financial corruption and ran horrified to his commanding officer, since he was well aware that the Iraqi police had a habit of torturing prisoners. The young soldier reported his CO telling him to shut up and get back to work.

    And now he's facing life in a military brig for the crime of making public information that should have been public in the first place.

  • Julian Rayfield: Santorum: Term "middle class" is "Marxism talk": Not just another way of saying "Obama is a socialist":

    "Who does Barack talk about all the time?" Santorum asked a group of Republicans recently in Lyon County, Iowa. "The middle class. Since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas, or defined places called a class? That's Marxism talk. When Republicans get up and talk about middle class we're buying into their rhetoric of dividing America. Stop it."

    This reminds me when I discovered that we lived in a country with politically significant class divisions: back in the 1960s, I drew up a map of Wichita with precinct-by-precinct voting returns, only to see that they correlated almost perfectly with housing prices. (I also saw I lived in a pretty solid Democratic neighborhood.) Of course, I didn't get a real sense of class until I got into an elite private college where nearly everyone had backgrounds and experiences that were totally alien to me. I learned to negotiate some of that, and failed miserably at other parts. So one thing you cannot tell me and retain any shred of credibility is that America is a classless society.

    I doubt that even Santorum is that dumb, but one thing that he has made clear through all his religious hoo-hah and such is that he's one of those prudes who clings to the notion that "unmentionables" should never be mentioned -- and that applies not just to matters of the flesh but to anything that irritates and unsettles his worldview. Knowledge, for instance; science and reasoning. He's about the only politician I've seen argue that people shouldn't go to school, because when they do so they tend to learn things that undermine their faith in Rick Santorum's pathetic dark ages worldview.


Also, a few links for further study:

Daily Log

Looked at the scratch file for "weekend update" and was surprised to find it not empty. Was thinking I might work on "Citizen Moron" instead, but maybe I should brush up the expected post instead.

Music today (JP): Charles Evans, Jay Clayton, Vijay Iyer.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Daily Log

Got up too early, then spent most of the day fighting the temptation to fall asleep, eventually going upstairs for a nap. Ordered bad Chinese from Great Wall, which at least deliver, although I offered to pick up something decent. Actually, not much choice here. There is fast Chinese like Great Wall and a dozen or more buffets but less than a handful of actual restaurants, and only Yen Ching is reliably decent, and since they closed down for afternoons we've rarely found them open. (Laura likes P.F. Chang, which has decent food for the most part but I find rather obnoxious, and I refuse to eat at their Pei Wei spinoff. Peking Bistro is merely OK. There's also a pan-Asian bistro I can't think the name of -- on Rock north of 29th -- that is also OK, perhaps less reliably. And various Thai, Korean, and Malaysian restaurants have Chinese on the menu, but what's the point of that?)

Watched Hell on Wheels.

Music today (JP): Stephan Crump; (RG): Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann, Daniel Carter, Joe McPhee, Whit Dickey; (RS): Scott Fields.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Daily Log

Finally added the webmaster forwarder on the Christgau site. Got a complaint that a page wasn't working. Couldn't reproduce it on my Linux machine, but did when I switched to Safari/Windows Vista. I was checking to see if the server hostname was "www.robertchristgau.com" and sometimes it would show up as something else, probably "robertchristgau.com," and that threw my test off. Easy fix, although there should be a better way to code it.

Watched Dexter.

Music today (JP): Imer Santiago, Vinx; (RG): Comosamatics (3), Michael Bisio. Continuing to go through the Not Two roster.


Christgau's picks today were Ornette Coleman: Friends and Neighbors: Ornette Live at Prince Street (1970, BGP/Flying Dutchman), and an old Davis-Rollins-Monk-Coltrane compilation called The Prestige Legacy, Vol. 1: The High Priests (1951-58 [2000], Prestige).

Couple things here. First: someone should do a survey of Ornette Coleman's relationships with record labels. The problem isn't his "many-labeled catalogue" -- it's the vast gaps in his output because he couldn't stand doing business with anyone in the business. During the decade after he escaped from Atlantic, he hardly recorded anything in the studio -- a French soundtrack, a session Blue Note split into two LPs -- so his also-rare live albums help fill in the blanks. (He even seems to have problems dealing with his own label: he's only released one album in 16 years, and while he's old enough he's entitled to take it easy, it's not like he hasn't been touring.)

I played "Friends and Neighbors" after Bob mentioned his interest in it, and enjoyed it plenty: it has a party vibe to it that wasn't evident on the 1968 Blue Notes nor the 1971 "Science Fiction," but that sort of thing was pretty common in avant circles c. 1970 -- cf. Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, or perhaps best of all, Joe McPhee's "Nation Time." I suggested Bob also check out "At the Golden Circle," figuring it would pair up nice, and for good measure rechecked Vol. 1 myself. It sounded as monumental as ever, like no chamber music I've ever heard.

Another quibble: if Blue Note is a "more reputable" label than Flying Dutchman, it's because EMI has put a lot of money into its brand (and milked its catalog) while Sony has let Flying Dutchman wither in the vaults -- at least since the half-hearted flurry in 2003 that yielded the fine "Flying Groove" anthology and a reprint of Gato Barbieri's "Bolivia." Also, of course, Flying Dutchman's 1969-75 era was tough on anyone trying to make money off jazz, as you can just as well show by looking at Blue Note's catalog from those years -- Bob Thiele ran Impulse from 1961-68, which stands up pretty well head-to-head with Blue Note before Alfred Lion retired in 1967. What may be shadier is that Coleman never recorded anything else for Flying Dutchman, so that seems to have been a one-shot spare tape deal, if Thiele even dealt with Coleman at all. (Coleman recorded a pair of albums for Impulse in 1969, but I haven't seen them reissued since the mid-70s -- unlike virtually everything else in the Impulse catalog.)

One more Coleman gem from the 1960s: "New and Old Gospel" (1967), released under Jackie McLean's name. All Coleman tunes, with McLean playing alto sax faster and surer than Coleman ever did, and Coleman on trumpet -- reminds you that he was never as skilled at his second horn as Benny Carter or Joe McPhee, and why it doesn't much matter.

I also sent this:

I just set up the forwarder so that mail send to webmaster at robertchristgau.com will actually be delivered to me. My bad that I didn't do this before I asked you all to send me complaints about anything that isn't working right on the website. If you did send me mail, I didn't get it. If you send it again, I will.

I see that we can also set up multiple mail lists, probably using GNU Mailman, which lets everyone manage their own subscription info, and bounces people off the list when their email stops working. (Previously we could only do one list, and it was super-primitive.) I'm thinking we'll probably have one list for blasting out notices (which only Bob and I can write to), and one for discussing website development (like the previous webinfo, except I'd like to see more active participation), but I'm open to other suggestions. Also, if anyone really knows their way around Mailman, I'd appreciate some advice on settings, such as whether subdividing lists by topics is worthwhile.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Citizen Moron [Draft]

The Wichita Eagle published a piece by Dion Leffer on Sen. Jerry Moran's pep talk to the Wichita Independent Business Association. In it he admitted that he had thought about retiring, but then he realized that he hadn't done enough damage in Washington yet, so he feels obliged to keep banging at it.

Sen. Moran says that he wants to "make one last run at corralling the federal deficit," because he believes this will "make certain that my kids have the opportunities that I've had in life." Unless his kids grow up to be bankers, he's making a foolish mistake. The real problem with the deficit is that it's shrinking so fast it's dragging down the economy. The federal government should be spending more, not less, especially on infrastructure and education. Such spending would help make up for the failure of businesses and the inability of customers to spend, and could easily be paid for by rolling back the Bush and Reagan tax cuts -- which we now know only led to asset bubbles and financial crises.

Moran's backup plan is even more foolhardy: he wants grow the economy by getting rid of regulations that protect customers from the most predatory acts of financial and health care businesses. But those industries have done very little to grow the economy: they've used their political clout to exact rents and jack up profits from elsewhere, enriching themselves at everyone else's expense.

Daily Log

Saw the movie Fruitvale Station today -- movie was flagged as "Ends Thursday" in the local listings, so that finally got us motivated. About a 22-year-old black guy who was detained, shot and killed by the BART police in Oakland. The film retraces his last day, the shooting, and the wait at the hospital until he was pronounced dead. The policeman who shot him claimed he reached for his Taser and unknowingly pulled out and fired his service revolver. He was charged with murder and convicted of involuntary manslaughter, for which he served 11 months in prison. Movie drags a bit in the middle, in part because you know what will eventually happen and can't figure any way to get from here to there. In the end, a fight occurs in the packed train car when a white guy who had previously taunted Grant in prison -- Grant had done some time for drugs, and his father was in jail for murder -- recognized him and started the fight. The BART police only rounded up Grant and several of his friends, and handled them roughly while passengers on the train took video of the incident. You don't get any insight into the police other than what's immediately visible, which isn't much, nor how this all plays out, but the rollback does give you a sense of the senseless loss, who felt it, and more roughly both how random and systematic it was.

When we got out there were dark clouds to the north, with distant lightning. Decided to come straight home, which meant driving a couple miles north into the darkening clouds, then curving west and skirting them. By the time we approach I-135 the wind picked up, and we turned south, wind at our back. Drove to Murdock, then west again two miles through the park. By the time we got home the clouds were darkening there too. The worst part of the storm must have sliced through east Wichita, near the movie theatre. We started getting rain about fifteen minutes later, but it never got severe here. Pretty ominous-looking storm clouds.

Tried watching Dexter, but the cable feed was patchy. Watched another episode of Orange Is the New Black.

Music today (JP): Oliver Jones; (RG) Theo Jörgensmann, Dominic Duval, Joe Giardullo, 3D; (RS) Albert Van Veenendaal, Fonda/Stevens, Rafal Mazur. Got email from JazzLoft about a Not Two closeout sale -- only 30% off, and doesn't look like they actually have much, but Rhapsody has some (far from all) of their releases, so I thought I'd check out what I could find. The RG/RS split depended on age..

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Daily Log

Christgau updated the nameserver pointers for his domain whois record, which should have repointed DNS to the new server. Seemed to work for a while, then not -- OLM figured that was normal propagation delay. I patched my /etc/hosts file to bypass DNS and did some testing. New website looks pretty healthy. My impression was that it's running faster. Milo commented to that same effect. I made a couple cosmetic edits to remove some obsolete functions, but generally had very little to do. Looks like the new server is more permissive than my development machine regarding PHP errors, so nothing showed up there. I was worried it might be more strict.

Made dinner tonight. Pat and Ron Baird came over, also Kathy. Made chicken cacciatore, apulian potatoes, tomato-mozzarella salad, a bit of stir-fried spinach and garlic. For desert, had a custard pie, some fruit (raspberries and blueberries), a yogurt-cream sauce. Showed the Bairds around the house -- Pat had helped us buy it, but hadn't been here since shortly after, when she came for dinner and I made Chinese. She's my cousin; my father's oldest brother's eldest. When her brother, George Edward, died I got reacquainted with that facet of the family.

Music today: mostly played some things without any chance of reviewing them, such as: James Zollar, Dave Holland.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Daily Log

Not much music today. Bob Christgau called and told me he would order the server upgrade today, and when that happened I jumped right on top of the project. Played the record I had on more than I needed, and spent a lot of the day in silence. Turns out there were a number of obstacles in replanting the website. One was that two things that were promised in the intro letter didn't work until the ISV (OLM) did some service magic: ssh login and website preview. On the other hand, the cPanel login worked, and I started trying to learn it -- sure, I have had cPanel on my own server for a couple years now, but I usually worked around it rather than actually using it to update any websites. (I should take what I learned and share it with the people who want to work on the Liz Fink website.) So I was able to upload the website tarball and expand it where I wanted -- didn't know I could do that. I also created a MySQL database and user, then imported the dump file from the previous database -- something else I had always used shell commands to do.

But when I saw the preview, virtually nothing was working right. The obvious problem there is that the preview is rooted in a user directory instead of the webserver's document root, so every link that I tried to make from root (and that's about 80-90% of them) would be mistranslated. Probably better there to punt and go ahead and change the DNS pointers, breaking the old site but fixing most of the problems with the new ones. Around 5PM I sent OLM mail asking them to do that, then I went out to do some shopping. When I came back they hadn't, and near 1AM they still hadn't. By then I realized that Christgau has the domain registered elsewhere, so he's going to have to switch the name servers (from one OLM machine to another, as it turns out). I may still have a problem getting from OLM's new name server to the new web server, but I doubt if we figure that out until tomorrow.

Music today (JP): Nick Hempton, Will Bernard.


Posted the following notice on Expert Witness:

FYI, I'm doing some work today on moving robertchristgau.com to a new server. I expect the site will be broken for a short period, and when it comes back up there may be some things not working properly. More later.

Got some comments back, exceptionally friendly ones. Maybe I should save them for some rainy day.

Bradley Sroka:

Thanks for the heads up!

Cam Patterson:

Thanks for tending the shop too Tom, you're the best!

Paul Albone (Melbourne Paul):

Good luck, Tom. We did testing on our server over the weekend. Needless to say it is finally working again today! And I share Cam's sentiments.

Jason Gubbels:

Every once in a while, all of us here should give you some props for all that you do and have done, Tom. Boy, the day I discovered robertchristgau.com -- I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Zac Harmon:

Yeah. Thanks so much for all of your hard work on the site, Tom. As you might imagine, many of us younger fans first encountered Xgau's writings through that site. I doubt very much that I would've had any kind of meaningful encounter with the Dean's work were it not for the site.

Michael Tatum:

If it weren't for Christgau's writing, I wouldn't be here. But if it weren't for Tom Hull, I *really* wouldn't be here. A mensch among men.

Milo Miles:

It's a labor of love from a lover of labor and I don't mind saying I'm more grateful to meet Tom Hull for his political commentary and links, more needed than ever.

Joe Yanosik:

Thanks, Tom, for your amazing work on xgau dot com as well as your own numerous venues!

Ioannis Sotirchos:

Tom is a genuine hero to me.

Greg Morton (GMort):

I'll second Milo on the political links and commentaries. Thorough, focused, consistently on point. Very, very useful. And with the jazz and other music reviews, a one of a kind site. Love The White Mandingos. Thanks.

Tom Walker:

I do not want to guess how many times a week I visit Tom Hull's site or the Christgau site.

Many thanks, Tom.

Graham Ashmore née gdash:

Invaluable work you're doing, Tom, on top of your own invaluabe site.

Later I posted a couple status updates. First:

Status update on robertchristgau.com: I've asked the server company to change the domain name servers to point to the new server, so we'll be able to see the new one when (a) they get around to fulfilling the request, and (b) after any propagation delays. As of now there are major breakages in the website on the new server, but they will be much easier to fix once the proper access is established.

Second:

Status update on robertchristgau.com: I've set up the database and copied all the files to the new server. I believe we've done all the right things in setting up DNS to point to the new server, but DNS information is cached by many servers and it takes a while (nominally 8-24 hours) for the old data to be flushed and replaced with new data -- this is called the propagation delay. For instance, earlier today I was accessing the new server, checking things out, then at some point started getting the old server again, so you may have similar experiences today. The new server IP address is 69.94.102.79. You can use hostname resolution -- on Linux, the host(1) command -- to verify the IP address used for any domain name: anything ending in .29 is the old server, .79 the new one. A simpler way to tell is that the home page on the new server has a new message explaining what happened. But for now both old and new servers should be working fine. I've gone through 30-40 pages on the new server without seeing any problems. There are many more, but I've hit what I suspected are the weak spots.

I've temporarily removed "Text Search," which has been broken for some months now. I'll work on restoring that later. Also removed the "Last CG" link, which is now redundant to "Expert Witness." The content is the same as the old server: I haven't done any updates since June, when we decided to do this.

Anything you see wrong, please send mail to webmaster at robertchristgau.com, and we'll take care of it. Thanks for your patience, support, and kind words.

Milo responded to the latter: "Yowie -- site seems really speedy now. Fine job."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21869 [21822] rated (+47), 574 [579] unrated (-5).

Big ratings count this week: goes up when I listen to Rhapsody a lot. I have 22 records in the draft file for August's Rhapsody Streamnotes, and 20 of them are jazz records I didn't otherwise get. Only one A- in that batch, and only a couple others in the high HM category, but it makes up a bit for the recent decline in incoming mail. (On the other hand, today's haul was the largest in several months, so at least part of that decline is seasonal.) Also have 19 records in September's Recycled Goods file, and 7 in October's file -- only putting 1960s releases in September, so everything else I run across goes into October. So a very productive few weeks here.

Some of the Rhapsody jazz is tied at the hip to reviews here. For instance, Alex Sapiagin has three new records out, but I only got the one below. A second, on Criss Cross, is in the RS file, but I haven't come across the third, on Smalls Live, yet. I often think of Gary Burton and Chick Corea together -- last year they did sort of a 40th anniversary reunion album together, Hot House, pretty awful I thought -- and they both released new albums last weeks: Burton is below, and Corea (on Concord) is in the RS file. And it turns out both are pleasant surprises, all the more so given that they work the same fusion grooves that have wrecked so many of their joint and separate albums. Also, while I'm not excited by the Joe McPhee album below, I finally got around to listening to his 1970 album Nation Time and was blown away -- probably the best record I've heard all year. So you never know until you know.

By the way, the Jimmy Amadie record is one of the ones I've been holding back until release day (tomorrow, actually). I often despair of being so perpetually lukewarm on piano jazz -- solos even more so than trios -- but records like this one remind me that I know a good one when I hear it.


Jimmy Amadie Trio: Live! At the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011 [2013], TP): Pianist, based in Philadelphia, has eight albums since 1997. No idea how old he is, although he claims to have played with Charley Ventura, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, and Mel Tormé (and he does have a Tormé tribute album). AMG describes him as "a hot jazz pianist in the 1950s" but doesn't list any credits before 1997. This is a trio, with Tony Marino on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums. All standards, most you've heard a million times -- "Summertime," "My Funny Valentine," "Just in Time," "All the Things You Are" -- and he takes a mainstream tack, and he really makes them sparkle. A- [August 13]

Offiong Bassey (2013, Moonlit Media Group): Singer-songwriter, "first generation Nigerian-American," first album, tends toward gospel or torch effects, doesn't stint on the percussion but doesn't let it run things, has concerns about the world but I didn't find her dis on "experts" in "Weatherman" all that smart. B+(*)

The New Gary Burton Quartet: Guided Tour (2013, Mack Avenue): Vibraphonist, has tons of records going back to 1961 ranging from some of the worst fusion records in history through an intermittent but lengthy affair with Chick Corea and on to admirable but often disappointing obsessions with Carla Bley and Astor Piazzolla. The "new" quartet draws fresh blood from Scott Colley, Antonio Sanchez, and, especially, guitarist Julian Lage, who draws on a sensible fusion core and stretches it out like Wes Montgomery did bop and blues, setting a pace that everyone else chases. B+(**)

Dave Damiani: Watch What Happens (2013, Hard Knocks): Singer, based in Los Angeles, has a previous album. Wrote one song here, the rest songbook standards althogh he's picked up a couple rock-era pop tunes and fit them in -- "Happy Together," "Raspberry Beret." Mostly backed by No Vacancy Orchestra, a conventional big band, with 5 (of 13) cuts backed by the smaller Jazzadelics -- roughly the same rhythm section plus Ricky Woodard on tenor sax. So he comes off as a slightly updated '50s crooner, nothing drippy or weepy or overly melodramatic, and I'm always a sucker for songs like "On the Street Where You Live" and "Old Devil Moon." B+(***)

Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood (2013, Resonant Music): Trio: Michael Evans and David Grollman play "snare drum & objects," the former adding electronics, the latter balloons. Evans' website has a long list of records he's contributed to, with Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1984) most likely the best, and Fulminate Trio the only recent one I've heard. Didn't find a website for Grollman, but did find two albums, both duos, one self-described as "creepy and atmospheric free improvisation." Haas I know from Canadian new wave band Marhta & the Muffins, after which he moved on to God Is My Co-Pilot. He has a handful of albums more or less under his own name, and provides the sweetening here, but not much of it. This is basically a noise record, improvised noise, chaotic noise, harsh and uncomfortable noise -- something I don't disapprove of in theory, but don't enjoy much in practice. B-

Rebecca Harrold: The River of Life (2013, Imaginary Road Studios): Pianist, 13 years with the Boston Ballet, also has a background as a singer but not here -- Penni Lane is credited with vocals, mostly background shadings. First album, produced by new age guitarist Will Ackerman, who plays on one cut. All originals. Piano has a new age feel but the record is a little lush, with violin and viola much more prominent than bass and percussion, and the horn credits limited to English horn, soprano sax, and lyricon. B-

Shan Kenner: The Behavior of Vibration (2013, Guitar Lotus): Guitarist, based in Brooklyn after spells in Los Angeles and San Francisco; second album, backed by bass-drums and sometimes piano, has a sort of flamenco thing going. Ten originals, covers of Cole Porter and Bill Evans. B

Joe McPhee: Sonic Elements: For Pocket Trumpet and Alto Saxophone (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): One of only a handful of jazz musicians to have put together a significant career playing both trumpet and a reed instrument -- Benny Carter is probably the most famous, although he gave up trumpet long before his death (probably well before McPhee's age of 73). McPhee's usual reed instrument is tenor sax, but these solo pieces are arranged as dedications to Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman, so he goes with their preferred instruments, pocket trumpet and alto sax. (One might note that Coleman played some trumpet along the way -- a good deal less than McPhee.) The solo pieces are thoughtful but scratchy, which is to say more McPhee than Cherry-Coleman. B+(*)

Terje Rypdal: Melodic Warrior (2003-09 [2013], ECM): Guitarist from Norway, one of the George Russell generation, with dozens of albums since 1967, on ECM since 1971. Being a guitarist, he's worked through several fusion stages, but being an ECM artist I suppose it was inevitable that he'd wind up working with classical orchestras and the Hilliard Ensemble, much like Jan Garbarek. Two long, multipart pieces, one recorded in 2003 with Bruckner Orchester Linz and the Hilliards, their choral voices catnip for people, like my wife, in love with the baroque era. The later piece, with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, is darker, denser, more dramatic -- with less guitar, or jazz interest. B [advance]

Sasha's Bloc: Melancholy (2013, self-released): Group led by bass guitarist Alex Gershman, originally from Moscow, moved to Los Angeles in 1988, has a day job as Chief of Laparoscopic Urologic Surgery at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, also serving as president of the American-Russian Medical Association. First album, sort of a cabaret vocal affair. Lots of musicians, but the only ones listed on the website are pianist Sergei Chipenko and singer Carina Cooper (also Russian, by the way). B+(*)

Alex Sipiagin: From Reality and Back (2013, 5 Pasion): Russian-born trumpet player, moved to US in 1991 and has 14 or so records since 1998. Bright and splashy postbop group, all stars: Seamus Blake (tenor sax), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums). I should be more impressed, but only Rubalcaba holds any surprises. B+(*)

Tunk Trio: Summer Baby (2013, Tunk Music): Chris Tunkel, percussionist, has a previous album under his own name, wrote five songs, arranged (with keyboardist Curt Sydnor) two others from Charles Mingus and Jimmy Heath; also sings, a bit like Robert Wyatt without the falsetto. Third member of the trio is guitarist Anders Nilsson, whod does some nice work here but not as dramatic as elsewhere -- this is all a rather laid-back affair. B+(*)

Christian Wallumrřd Ensemble: Outstairs (2012 [2013], ECM): Pianist, from Norway, eleventh album since 1995 (counting those as Close Erase), seven on ECM. Group is a sextet but unconventional with two horns (trumpet and tenor sax) and two strings (hardanger fiddle/violin/viola and cello, but no bass), Per Oddvar Johansen on drums and vibes. All originals. Inspiration comes and goes. B+(*) [advance]

Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton: Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Wooley and Evans play trumpet, Black and Lytton drums, with Wooley and Black also dabbling in electronics. The two pieces suggest that the whole thing is improv, the trumpets cutting inside rather than blasting away, so it winds up being more the drummers' record. B+(**)

Nate Wooley Sextet: (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Trumpet player, records quite a lot (AMG lists 13 albums since 2009), comes up with an impressive and rather rather interesting lineup here: Josh Sinton (bass clarinet, baritone sax), Matt Moran (vibes), Dan Peck (tuba), Eivind Opsvik (double bass), Harris Eisenstadt (drums). Sinton's bottom reeds enhance the trumpet contrast, as does the tuba while fattening the bass. When they get it all in sync it's quite a thing, but that doesn't happen often enough. B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Candy Shop Boys: Sugar Foot Stomp (self-released)
  • Satoko Fujii: Gen Himmel (Libra): August 20
  • Jessica Jones/Connie Crothers: Live at the Freight (New Artists): September 17
  • Kaze: Tornado (Libra): August 20
  • Linda Oh: Sun Pictures (Greenleaf Music): August 27
  • Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Balazs Pandi: One (Rare Noise): advance, October 1
  • Nicky Schrire: Space and Time (self-released): September 10
  • Natsuki Tamura: Dragon Nat (Libra): August 20
  • Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express: Expectativas (Mavo)
  • Waclaw Zimpel Quartet: Stone Fog (Fortune): August 27

Purchases:

  • Guy Clark: My Favorite Picture of You (Dualtone)
  • Gogol Bordello: Pura Vida Conspiracy (ATO)
  • Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)

Daily Log

Took the tile sample back to Star Lumber. We decided that what would look better for the backsplash would be the small grid of stainless steel-covered tiles, 5/8-inch squares. Suffered some sticker shock at $45/square foot, with six plus pearl gray grout costing a bit more than $300. Should be the last project of the 2008 kitchen remodel, at least until we replace the refrigerator: I built a box and tried to make it big enough to accommodate any stand-along refrigerator on the market, but somehow I got the outer wall out of plumb -- it's actually pretty square in the back, so only the front looks cockeyed -- and that may result in some problems when we try to slide a 36-inch-wide unit in. But we always planned on tiling the backsplash area, painting it as only a temporary measure, and the plaster is breaking up a bit above the sink. Sure would have been cheaper to cover it up with a piece of painted masonite. Also, I've done so little tile in the past that I'm worried I may muck it up.

Fixed Cantonese roast pork tonight, along with fried rice and stir-fried zucchini. Burnt the latter severely, but didn't have any leftovers there. The pork was a loin I bought a few days ago, then marinated overnight from yesterday. Have plans to cook dinner Wednesday night, for my cousin Pat Baird, so figured out my menu tonight, and will shop tomorrow.

Jazz Prospecting up today. Got a big pile of promo music in the mail today.

Watched Longmire and Under the Dome. Finished the jigsaw puzzle: a Monet vase painting, 1000 very irregular pieces.

Music today (JP): Fred Fried, Dave Damiani, Avishai Cohen, Les DeMerle; (RS): Alex Cline.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekend Roundup

A couple some scattered links this week (got a slow start and didn't find much, other than that Kathleen Geier should be Washington Monthly's weekend blogger every week):


  • Kathleen Geier: An important new paper shows us what's driving economic inequality -- and how we can stop it: Starts by quoting her own earlier post today -- guess it's one of those lines worth repeating -- that Larry Summers "agreeing to investigate the causes of stagnating wages is something akin to O.J.'s vow to 'find the real killers.'" (The Summers post originally appeared New York Times piece about "the walking conflict of interest that is Larry Summers.") Geier then moves on to the Josh Bivens/Larry Mishel paper, The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rents in Top 1 Percent Incomes."

    The authors make a strong case that the engine driving the rise in income in the top 1 percent has been the financial sector. Among other things, the financial sector has had both increased opportunities and increased incentives for rent-seeking. Rent-seeking in finance has had spillover effects to other sectors of the economy and driven up wages in the top 1 percent of those other occupations as well. Crucially, the authors argue that the rise in rent-driven incomes among the top 1 percent has been "the primary impediment to having growth in living standards for low- and moderate-income households approach the growth rate of economy-wide productivity." I'm summarizing here, but it's well worth reading the entire article and working through the details of the full argument.

    Also see Geier on No, Walmart doesn't create jobs, and What's different about today's conservatives?

  • Sean McElwee: Republicans have no clue how businesses work: Makes a few points and could make many more, but the central point is that the Republicans help the very rich become relatively richer, often at the expense of the rest of the economy. The Democrats do a somewhat better job by recognizing that more people matter than just the top 1% (not that they don't pay plenty of attention to the superrich). There is a chart here with the number of jobs created under every president from Obama.

    The totals are even worse: Democrats created 45 million jobs, while Republicans created only 23 million, and Republicans actually had more time in the White House. But what's truly interesting about this data is that even if you take the highest numbers under Bush (in January 2008, before the recession) he still created only 3.9 million jobs. And remember, he did that after coming into office with great economic indicators and a balanced budget. So much for supply-side economics. On the other hand, Obama, who was dealt far more strife, has focused more, although not entirely, on the middle class -- and so far, this nonsense about the "Obama economy" isn't even close to true. If job growth keeps improving like it has over the past year (at about 2 percent), then by July of 2016, Obama would create more than 12 million jobs over his eight years. Larry Bartels finds in his book, Unequal Democracy, that income growth is not only higher when a Democrat is in office, it's also more equally distributed.

    Reminds me of a Harry Truman quote that goes something like: "If you want to live like a Republican, you have to vote Democrat." But even with all those new jobs, it's unlikely that income, let alone wealth, will be more equitable in 2016 than when Obama was elected in 2008. Growing inequality is the central political problem of our time, and Obama has hardly even talked about it -- just offered an occasional nudge, hoping no one will notice. Indeed, no one has.


Also, a few links for further study:

  • Tessie Swope Castillo: Everything you know about drugs is wrong: Interview with Carl Hart, author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (2013, Harper).

  • Michael Klare: The Third Carbon Age: Or, as Tom Engelhardt put it in his preface, "How to Fry a Planet": Klare surveys the latest gains in fracking, accepting the industry's claims of vast new reservoirs of gas -- more than we'll need for decades, which is kind of like forever, at least to a corporate accountant.

Daily Log

Did a little yard work. Main thing was that I finally checked the French drain basin box and it was dammed up solid with dirt. That basically means it hasn't been working at all the last week or more -- no way to know just when it stopped up. So I dug all the dirt out of it. The drain pipe beyond an inch or so was open, and there was no indication of dirt caked up there, so it may be open now. Also hacked up a couple small trees near the the garage.

Weekend Update was pretty lame this week, especially the piece on how the Democrats are better for business. True, more so than they even realize, but lame nonetheless.

Watched several old episodes of Breaking Bad, plus the first of the new "last episodes." I figure it's such a bellweather I might as well, although I find virtually every facet of the show (except the chemistry) and all the characters (especially the DEA) disgusting.

Music today (JP): Tunk Trio, Craig Hartley; (RG): Alan Broadbent; (RS): George Duke, Vince Gill, Portico Quartet.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Daily Log

Went shopping for backsplash tile at Star Lumber. Brought home a sample of small white/blue/gray rectangles, packed together for groutless install. Also saw some stainless steel, various mixes of black/glass squares, etc. I'm not sure that any of the options are all that great. Went to pet store, then to dinner at Molino's -- Laura had been there and thought it was a very good Mexican place. I didn't much care for it.

Watched Hell on Wheels 2-hour debut as they tried to reboot after last year's season-ending disaster. Before that, we started to watch the movie District 9, but neither of us could get into it. Reading the plot summary at Wikipedia suggests it would have gotten better, but the style and pacing would have remained awkward.

Music today (JP): Gary Burton, Offiong Bassey; (RG): Revolutionary Ensemble, Anthony Braxton; (RS): Revolutionary Ensemble.

Friday, August 09, 2013

After some nagging, voted in the Downbeat Readers Poll. (You should too: link here. Deadline August 16.) Spent very little time thinking about this, and to the extent possible tried to wear my fan cap rather than thinking too much like a critic (or an industry moocher). Anyhow, this is my ballot (plus a few extra names). Note that unlike Downbeat's Critics Poll there is no "rising star" category: this is for top dogs only.

  • Hall of Fame: Lee Konitz; lots of credible options here, but the short list: Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Tommy Flanagan, Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Misha Mengelberg, Sam Rivers, George Russell, Bud Shank. Blues choices, if you take that aspect of Downbeat's universe seriously, are Muddy Waters and Professor Longhair. Only Latin jazz guy on the ballot is Tito Puente, which is a good place to start but barely scratches the surface. (I think my top pick would be Pérez Prado.)
  • Jazz Artist: Wadada Leo Smith; Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Jason Moran, William Parker, Ken Vandermark; I generally ignore musicians who haven't recorded in the last year, even Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins.
  • Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing.
  • Big Band: Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra.
  • Jazz Album: Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock (Hot Cup). Total nominated: 127 albums; my grade breakdown: A: 1, A-: 19, B+(***): 25, B+(**): 18, B+(*): 17, B: 4, B-: 4, nothing lower; unheard/ungraded: 39 (31%). The six-month offset makes it hard to know exactly, but 20 A-list is probably only about 30% of what I rated that high.
  • Historical Album: Coleman Hawkins: Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic); big caveat here is that I don't have the big Mosaic box, although I do have a much cheaper Affinity box with most of the same cuts, plus quite a bit of later material -- the Affinity box ends in 1941. I'd be surprised if Mosaic screwed this up, or if any other box came close. They nominated 34 records. I've heard/graded 8 of them, so 24%. Four of those eight I have at A-, so I might have picked one -- Louis Armstrong: Satchmo at Symphony Hall; Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969; Bill Evans: Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate; Louisiana Red: When My Mama Was Living -- but they're all pretty marginal, whereas Hawkins' classics are essential (The Gramophone Guide called them "the fount of all worthwhile saxophone playing").
  • Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith; Ralph Alessi, Steven Bernstein, Dave Douglas, Dennis González, Randy Sandke, Tomasz Stanko.
  • Trombone: Roswell Rudd; Ray Anderson, Joe Fiedler, Phil Ranelin, Steve Swell, Steve Turre.
  • Soprano Sax: Evan Parker; Brent Jensen, Bob Wilber.
  • Alto Sax: Oliver Lake; Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, François Carrier, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Ted Nash, Dave Rempis, Henry Threadgill, Miguel Zenon, John Zorn.
  • Tenor Sax: David Murray; Harry Allen, James Carter, Jan Garbarek, Charles Gayle, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Joe McPhee, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Chris Potter, Ken Vandermark, David S. Ware. No Scott Hamilton? No Roscoe Mitchell? And who is Anatoly Vapirov? Magnus Lindgren?
  • Baritone Sax: Vinny Golia; Hamiet Bluiett, Mats Gustafsson, Fred Ho.
  • Clarinet: Michael Moore; Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg, Perry Robinson, Louis Sckavis, Ken Vandermark.
  • Flute: Juhani Aaltonen.
  • Piano: Satoko Fujii; Kenny Barron, Uri Caine, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Keith Jarrett, Myra Melford, Misha Mengelberg, Jason Moran, Matthew Shipp, Alexander von Schlippenbach. No Irčne Schweizer? No Marilyn Crispell?
  • Electronic Keyboard: Matthew Shipp; I know, I know.
  • Organ: John Medeski.
  • Guitar: Mary Halvorson; Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Joe Morris, Bucky Pizzarelli, Marc Ribot; most unsatisfactory ballot, with most of the better younger players omitted (aside from Halvorson, which is a sore point, given that I don't get her better-regarded albums).
  • Bass: William Parker; Ben Allison, Harrison Bankhead, Stephan Crump, Mark Dresser, Michael Formanek, Barry Guy, Charlie Haden, John Hébert, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.
  • Electric Bass: Stomu Takeishi.
  • Violin: Jenny Scheinman; Charles Burnham, Jason Kao Hwang, Carlos Zingaro.
  • Drums: Han Bennink; Joey Baron, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Billy Hart, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, Billy Martin, Lewis Nash, Paal Nilssen-Love, Tyshawn Sorey, Matt Wilson.
  • Vibes: Warren Smith; Joe Locke.
  • Percussion: Kahil El'Zabar.
  • Miscellaneous Instrument: Howard Johnson (tuba).
  • Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole.
  • Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan; Dee Alexander, Diana Krall, Fay Victor; no Lisa Sokolov?.
  • Composer: Ben Allison.
  • Arranger: Steve Bernstein.
  • Record Label: Clean Feed.
  • Blues Artist or Group: Eric Bibb.
  • Blues Album: ZZ Top: La Futura (Universal Republic), actually a high B+. They nominated 33 albums; I've heard 11, so 33.3%. I do, by the way, have an A- blues album this year (not on their ballot): Lurrie Bell: Blues in My Soul (Delmark). Had one last year, too: Eric Bibb: Deeper in the Well (Stony Plain). Or two, if you count Kid Koala's 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune).
  • Beyond Artist or Group: Neil Young & Crazy Horse; Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Frank Ocean, The Roots, Raphael Saadiq, Tom Waits.
  • Beyond Album: Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams Street). They nominated 39 albums; I've heard 31, 79.5%, actually higher than the 69.3% I've heard of the nominated jazz albums. I have 6 rated at A-, so the pick among them was somewhat arbitrary. That, of course, is a tiny slice of my A-listed non-jazz.

Always surprises me how long it takes to wade through a poll like this, even when they give you plenty of prompts. (It's possible to write names in, but I didn't bother, figuring it's impossible for write-ins to get anywhere near the listing level. I do some write-ins for their Critics Poll, partly on the theory that they may affect how they construct future ballots -- some reason to think that they do.) Of course, a big chunk of that time is logging my own answers, but some sort of worksheet is helpful.

One thing I didn't do is compare my votes here against my Critics Poll votes. (Although now that I am glancing back, I see that I came up with the same answers in the four albums categories, despite the three-month shift in eligibility. (They're not perfect in that regard. When I went through the exercise of checking my grades against their ballot listings, I found a couple 2011 releases on their ballot, and I'd bet there are more early 2012 releases than that.)

I won't bore you with the album lists, but they are (or will be) in the notebook. Right now they're giving me inspiration to check out some stuff on Rhapsody -- José James as I write this.


Some notes:

Here's the entire album ballot (June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, to make it more timely and more confusing), with my grades in brackets, B+ reduced to 1-3 stars:

  • Rez Abbasi Trio, Continuous Beat (Enja -12) [***]
  • John Abercrombie Quartet, Within a Song (ECM -13) [***]
  • Harry Allen & Scott Hamilton, 'Round Midnight (Challenge -12) [***]
  • JD Allen Trio, The Matador And The Bull (Savant -12) [*]
  • Arild Andersen & Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Celebration (ECM -12) [B]
  • Darcy James Argue, Brooklyn Babylon (New Amsterdam -13) [**]
  • The Bad Plus, Made Possible (EOne -12) [**]
  • Josh Berman & His Gang, There Now (Delmark -13) [***]
  • Michael Bisio/Matthew Shipp Duo, Floating Ice (Relative Pitch) []
  • Terence Blanchard, Magnetic (Blue Note -13) [*]
  • Theo Bleckmann, Hello Earth! (The Music of Kate Bush) (Winter & Winter -12) [**]
  • George Breinschmid, Fire (Preiser -12) [*]
  • Jakob Bro, Time (Loveland -11) []
  • Jaimeo Brown, Transcendence (Motéma -13) [*]
  • Bobby Broom, Upper West Side Story (Origin) []
  • Peter Brötzmann, Solo + Trio Roma (Victo) []
  • George Cables, My Muse (HighNote -12) [***]
  • Marc Cary, For the Love of Abbey (Motéma -13) [*]
  • Terri Lyne Carrington, Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue (Concord) []
  • Neneh Cherry/The Thing, The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound -12) [A-]
  • Gerald Clayton, Life Forum (Concord) []
  • Anat Cohen, Claroscuro (Anzic -12) [***]
  • Avishai Cohen, Triveni II (Anzic -12) [**]
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Functional Arrhythmias (Pi -13) [A-]
  • George Colligan, Living for the City (Steeplechase) []
  • Ravi Coltrane, Spirit Fiction (Blue Note) [**]
  • The Cookers, Believer (Motéma -12) [**]
  • Chick Corea/Gary Burton, Hot House (Concord -12) [B-]
  • Aaron Diehl, The Bespoke Man's Narrative (Mack Avenue -13) [*]
  • Dave Douglas Quintet, Be Still (Greenleaf -12) [A-]
  • Dave Douglas Quintet, Time Travel (Greenleaf -13) [A-]
  • Eliane Elias, I Thought About You (A Tribute to Chet Baker) (Concord -13) [**]
  • Wayne Escoffery, The Only Son of One (Sunnyside -12) [***]
  • Orrin Evans, Flip the Script (Posi-Tone -12) [*]
  • Ingebright Hĺker Flaten New York Quartet, Now Is (Clean Feed -12) [***]
  • Floratone, Floratone II (Savoy -12) [***]
  • Michael Formanek, Small Places (ECM -12) [**]
  • Paolo Fresu/Omar Sosa, Alma (Otá) []
  • Bill Frisell, Big Sur (Sony Masterworks -13) [**]
  • Curtis Fuller, Down Home (Capri -12) [*]
  • Tia Fuller, Angelic Warrior (Mack Avenue) []
  • Hal Galper Trio, Trip the Light Fantastic (Origin -11) [*]
  • Jacob Garchik, The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album (Yestereve -12) [A-]
  • Melody Gardot, The Absence (Verve) []
  • Kenny Garrett, Seeds From the Underground (Mack Avenue -12) [**]
  • Gato Libre, Forever (Libra -12) [*]
  • Jon Gold, Bossa of Possibility (Blujazz) []
  • Ben Goldberg, Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (Bag Productions -13) [***]
  • Ben Goldberg, Unfold Ordinary Mind (Bag Productions -13) [**]
  • Brad Goode, Chicago Red (Origin -13) [**]
  • Tord Gustavsen Quartet, The Well (ECM -12) [***]
  • Mary Halvorson Quintet, Bending Bridges (Firehouse) []
  • Winard Harper and Jeli Posse, Coexist (Jazz Legacy Productions) []
  • Fred Hersch Trio, Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto -12) [**]
  • Hiromi, Move (Telarc) []
  • Fred Ho, The Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute (Mutable/Big Red Media) []
  • John Hollenbeck, Songs I Like a Lot (Sunnyside) []
  • Bobby Hutcherson, Somewhere in the Night (Kind of Blue) []
  • Jon Irabagon/Mike Pride/Mick Barr, I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalacian Haze (Irabbagast) []
  • Jon Irabagon's Outright!, Unhinged (Irabbagast -12) [B-]
  • Javon Jackson, Lucky 13 (Solid Jackson) []
  • Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Somewhere (ECM -13) [A-]
  • Darius Jones Quartet, Book of Mae'bul (AUM Fidelity) []
  • Sheila Jordan/Harvey S, Yesterdays (High Note -12) [A-]
  • Frank Kimbrough Trio, Live at Kitano (Palmetto -12) [***]
  • Dave King, I've Been Ringing You (Sunnyside -12) [*]
  • Guillermo Klein/Los Gauchos, Carrera (Sunnyside -12) [*]
  • Lee Konitz/Bill Frisell/Gary Peacock/Joey Baron, Enfants Terribles (Half Note -12) [***]
  • Fredrik Kronkvist, New York Elements (Connective) []
  • Bill Laswell, Means of Deliverance (Innerhythmic -12) [**]
  • Living By Lanterns, New Myth/Old Science (Cuneiform -12) [A-]
  • Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran, Hagar's Song (ECM -13) [A-]
  • Joe Lovano Us Five, Cross Culture (Blue Note -13) [A-]
  • Lage Lund Four, Live at Smalls (smallsLIVE) []
  • Jessica Lurie Ensemble, Megaphone Heart (Zipa! -12) [*]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa, Gamak (ACT -13) [A-]
  • Branford Marsalis Quartet, Four MFs Playin' Tunes (Marsalis -12) [A-]
  • Virginia Mayhew Quartet, Mary Lou Williams -- The Next 100 Years (Renma -12) [***]
  • Christian McBride, People Music (Mack Avenue -13) [**]
  • Donny McCaslin, Casting for Gravity (Greenleaf -12) [***]
  • Bobby McFerrin, spirityouall (Sony Masterworks) []
  • Kate McGarry, Girl Talk (Palmetto) []
  • John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, Now Here This (Abstract Logix) []
  • Brad Mehldau Trio, Where Do You Start (Nonesuch) []
  • Pat Metheny, The Orchestrion Project (DVD) (Eagle Eye) []
  • Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch -12) [B-]
  • Pat Metheny, Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 () []
  • Ron Miles, Quiver (Enja/Yellowbird -12) [***]
  • Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom, No Morphine, No Lilies (Royal Potato Family -13) [A-]
  • Bob Mintzer Big Band, For the Moment (MCG Jazz -12) [B]
  • Nicole Mitchell & an_ARCHE NewMusic Ensemble, Arc of O (Rogueart) []
  • Joe Morris/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver, Altitude (Aum Fidelity) []
  • Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Slippery Rock (Hot Cup -13) [A]
  • Nicholas Payton, #BAM Live at Bohemian Caverns (BMF -13) [***]
  • Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver, Family Ties (Leo -12) [A-]
  • Eric Person, Thoughts on God (Distinction -12) [B]
  • Houston Person, Naturally (HighNote -12) [A-]
  • Ralph Peterson, The Duality Perspective (Onyx) []
  • Madeleine Peyroux, The Blue Room (Decca -13) [**]
  • Chris Potter, The Sirens (ECM -13) [***]
  • Joshua Redman, Walking Shadows (Nonesuch -13) [B-]
  • Return to Forever, The Mothership Returns (Eagle Rock) []
  • Sam Rivers/Dave Holland/Barry Altschul, Reunion: Live in New York (Pi -12) [A-]
  • Marcus Roberts Nonet, Deep in the Shed: A Blues Suite (J-Master) []
  • Wallace Roney, Home (HighNote -12) [*]
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel, Star of Jupiter (Wommusic) []
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba, XXI Century (5Passion -12) [***]
  • Bobby Sanabria Big Band, Multiverse (Jazzheads) [***]
  • Jenny Scheinman, Mischief & Mayhem (self-released -12) [A-]
  • Louis Sclavis Atlas Trio, Sources (ECM -12) [A-]
  • Christian Scott, Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord -12) [*]
  • Kendrick Scott Oracle, Conviction (Concord) []
  • Wayne Shorter Quartet, Without a Net (Blue Note -13) [**]
  • Wadada Leo Smith, Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform -12) [***]
  • Wadada Leo Smith & Mbira, Dark Lady of the Sonnets (TUM -11) [A-]
  • Cécile McLorin Salvant, Womanchild (Mack Avenue -13) [*]
  • Antonio Sanchez, New Life (CamJazz -13) [B]
  • Melissa Stylianou, Silent Movie (Anzic) []
  • Esbjörn Svensson Trio, 301 (ACT) []
  • Craig Taborn Trio, Chants (ECM -13) [***]
  • Henry Threadgill Zooid, Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp (Pi -12) [***]
  • Ryan Truesdell, Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (ArtistShare -12) [***]
  • Matt Ulery, By a Little Light (Greenleaf -12) [*]
  • David Virelles, Continuum (Pi -12) [**]
  • David S. Ware Planetary Unknown, Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011 (AUM Fidelity) []
  • Miguel Zenón/Laurent Coq, Rayuela (Sunnyside -12) [***]
  • John Zorn, The Concealed (Tzadik) []

Here's the historical album ballot (June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, same deal (except I've hardly heard any of these):

  • Duane Allman, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (Rounder) []
  • Louis Armstrong and The All Stars, Satchmo at Symphony Hall (Hip-O Select -12) [A-]
  • Michael Brecker, The Very Best of Michael Brecker (Verve Reissues) []
  • Clifford Brown, The EmArcy Master Takes, Vol. 2 (Hip-O Select) []
  • Clifford Brown & Max Roach, The Clifford Brown & Max Roach EmArcy Albums (Mosaic) []
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Columbia Studio Albums Collection: 1955-1966 (Columbia/Legacy) []
  • John Cage: Journeys in Sound (DVD) (Accentus) []
  • Miles Davis, Live At Montreux 1991 (DVD) (Eagle Rock) []
  • Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy -13) [A-]
  • Bill Evans, Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate (Resonance -12) [A-]
  • Jan Garbarek, Dansere (ECM) []
  • Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, Legends Live: Liederhalle Stuttgart, Nov. 27, 1961; Kongresshalle Frankfurt, Nov. 29, 1961 (Jazzhaus) []
  • Dexter Gordon, Night Ballads: Montreal 1977 (Uptown -12) [*]
  • Woody Guthrie, Woody Guthrie at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection (Smithsonian Folkways) []
  • Coleman Hawkins, Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic) []
  • Jimi Hendrix, People, Hell and Angels (Legacy) []
  • Keith Jarrett, Sleeper (ECM -12) [***]
  • Albert King, I'll Play the Blues for You (Stax) []
  • Louisiana Red, When My Mama Was Living (Labor -12) [A-]
  • Taj Mahal, The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal (Columbia/Legacy) []
  • Albert Mangelsdorff, Live at Audimax Freiburg, June 22, 1964 (Jazzhaus) []
  • Charles Mingus, The Complete Columbia & RCA Album Collection (Columbia/Legacy) []
  • Charles Mingus, The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-1965 (Mosaic) []
  • Gerry Mulligan Sextet, Legends Live: Liederhalle Stuttgart, Nov. 22, 1977 (Jazzhaus) []
  • Pauline Oliveros, Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important) []
  • Charlie Parker, The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall (Original Jazz Classics -12) [*]
  • Flip Phillips, Flip Wails: The Best of the Verve Years (Verve Reissues) []
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 50th Anniversary Collection (Legacy -12) [***]
  • Tito Puente, Quatro: The Definitive Collection (Sony Music Latin) []
  • Terje Rypdal, In the Studio & in Concert (ECM) []
  • Zoot Sims, Live at Baden-Baden, June 23, 1958 (Jazzhaus) []
  • From Straight to Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheeart, Alice Cooper and L.A.'s Lunatic Fringe (DVD) (Sexy Intellectual) []
  • Muddy Waters, You Shook Me: The Chess Masters, Vol. 3, 1958 to 1963 (Hip-O Select) []
  • Muddy Waters/Rolling Stones, Checkerboard Lounge Live in Chicago 1981 (DVD) (Eagle Rock) []

Here's the blues album ballot (June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013), same deal (again, I've hardly heard any of these):

  • Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy (Electro-Fi) []
  • Joe Bonamassa, Driving Towards the Daylight (J&R Adventures) []
  • Michael "Iron Man" Burks, Show of Strength (Alligator) []
  • Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu (Warner Bros.) [B-]
  • Jon Cleary, Occapella (FHQ) []
  • Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3 (Telarc) []
  • Robert Cray, Nothin' but Love (Mascot) []
  • Debbie Davies, After the Fall (M.C.) []
  • Dr. John, Locked Down (Nonesuch -12) [**]
  • Buddy Guy, Live at Legends (RCA) []
  • Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up! (Stax) []
  • David Hidalgo/Mato Nanji/Luther Dickinson, 3 Skulls and the Truth (Blues Bureau Int'l) []
  • Rick Holmstrom, Cruel Sunshine (M. C.) []
  • Etta James, Etta James Live at Montreux 1993 (DVD) (Eagle Eye) []
  • Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Close to the Bone: Unplugged (Delta Groove) []
  • Ben Marshall, The House of Mercy (House Of Mercy) []
  • Anders Osborne, Black Eye Galaxy (Alligator) []
  • The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Between The Ditches (Side One Dummy) []
  • Kelly Joe Phelps, Brother Sinner and the Whale (Black Hen) []
  • Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream (Redwing) [**]
  • Royal Southern Brotherhood, Royal Southern Brotherhood (Ruf) []
  • Curtis Salgado, Soul Shot (Alligator) []
  • Boz Scaggs, Memphis (429) [**]
  • Slide Brothers, Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers (Concord -13) [B]
  • Otis Taylor, My World Is Gone (Telarc) []
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band, Live: Everybody's Talkin' (Sony Masterworks -12) [*]
  • Hans Theesink & Terry Evans, Delta Time (Blue Groove) []
  • Walter Trout, Blues for the Modern Daze (Mascot) []
  • Mahsa Vahdat & Mighty Sam McClain, A Deeper Tone of Longing (Valley) []
  • Various Artists, First Came Memphis Minnie (Stony Plain) [***]
  • Walking Papers, Walking Papers (Sunyata) []
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia -12) [**]
  • ZZ Top, La Futura (Universal Republic -12) [***]

Here's the "beyond album" ballot (June 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013), same deal:

  • Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls (Ato -12) [**]
  • alt-J, An Awesome Wave (Atlantic -12) [*]
  • Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel . . . (Epic -12) [A-]
  • Beach House, Bloom (Sub Pop -12) [B]
  • Big Boi, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors (Def Jam -12) [*]
  • David Bowie, The Next Day (Columbia -13) [*]
  • Billy Bragg/Wilco, Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions (Nonesuch) []
  • David Byrne & St. Vincent, Love This Giant (4AD -12) [*]
  • Fatoumata Diawara, Fatou (World Circuit/Nonesuch) []
  • Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan (Domino) [C+]
  • Bob Dylan, Tempest (Columbia -12) [**]
  • Donald Fagen, Sunken Condos (Reprise -12) [**]
  • Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II (Atlantic -12) [**]
  • Flying Lotus, Until the Quiet Comes (Warp -12) [**]
  • Melody Gardot, The Absence (Verve) []
  • Grizzly Bear, Shields (Warp -12) [B-]
  • Kelly Hogan, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Anti- -12) [**]
  • José James, No Beginning No End (Blue Note) []
  • Japandroids, Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl -12) [**]
  • Norah Jones, Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note -12) [B]
  • Killer Mike, R.A.P Music (Williams Street -12) [A-]
  • Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (Interscope -12) [A-]
  • The Lumineers, The Lumineers (Dualtone -12) [*]
  • Johnny Marr, The Messenger (Sire/Ada) []
  • Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream (RCA -12) [B]
  • Mumford & Sons, Babel (Glassnote/Sony RED -12) [B-]
  • Frank Ocean, Channel Orange (Def Jam -12) [A-]
  • Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is an Animal (Universal Republic) []
  • Old Crow Medicine Show, Carry Me Back (Ato) []
  • Patti Smith, Banga (Columbia -12) [A-]
  • Swans, The Seer (Young God -12) [B-]
  • Tame Impala, Lonerism (Modular -12) [B]
  • Sidi Touré, Koďma (Thrill Jockey) []
  • Jack White, Blunderbuss (Third Man -12) [**]
  • Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL -12) [**]
  • The xx, Coexist (Young Turks -12) [*]
  • Dwight Yoakam, 3 Pears (Warner Bros. -12) [*]
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Americana (Reprise -12) [*]
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill (Reprise -12) [A-]

Daily Log

Got more rain early this morning: no idea how much. There was a storm line from Dodge City to Ponca City to Tulsa about 2AM, and it seemed to be slowly spreading north, but there was no indication that it was severe (unlike the previous night) so I didn't wait up for it. When I did get up shortly after noon it was sprinkling and the paper was a bit wet.

Another home day. Made another meatloaf, and the results this time are worth formalizing in a recipe. Compared to last time, I bumped the ground beef up to 1.5 lbs., and used 80% ground beef, so it had about twice as much fat. Also added about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and used six cloves of roasted garlic, mashed up. Molded the loaf in the middle of a 9x12 baking dish, leaving about 1.5 inches all around, which I filled in with 6-8 small white potatoes (skinned, chopped into inch-sized chunks), 2 parsnips, and 1 carrot). Baked at 375F for one hour. I doubt that anyone would have actually identified the cheese, but it probably helped.

Wrote up the Downbeat ballot. Haven't done much posting this week, so it's something.

Looks like the rain is over until Sunday evening (20%) or more likely Monday (40%).

Music today (JP): Alex Sipiagin, Rebecca Harrold; (RG): Joe McPhee; (RS): Aaron Diehl, Kermit Ruffins, Nicholas Payton, José James, Andrew Cyrille, Gerald Clayton, Chick Corea.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Daily Log

Went to dentist for a cleaning. No new problems. Stopped at library for first time in a couple months, and picked up two books:

  • Mark Blyth: Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea
  • Rosemary Gibson/Janardan Prasad Singh: Medicare Meltdown: How Wall Street and Washington Are Ruining Medicare and How to Fix It

Been having trouble getting library books read, and went through a patch when I wasn't finding much, so gave it a rest. Not sure if I'll get to these, especially since I no longer have the discipline of collecting quotes in the book section.

Picked up a sandwich at Quiznos. Watched two episodes of Orange Is the New Black.

Music today (JP): Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Joe McPhee; (RS): Derrick Hodge, Alex Sipiagin, Dawn of Midi.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Daily Log

Home. Talked to Rhonda Pyeatt today. Found out that Elsie Lee Pyeatt (her mother, my cousin) suddenly moved to Fayetteville, now living in a house with Brenda Metcalf (another daughter) and her two sons. Sounds like I should think about driving down there, if only to satisfy my curiosity about what is happening. Elsie Lee is closing in on 80, and having trouble managing on her own. She moved from her long-time farm into a duplex in Mountain Home about a year ago.

Went grocery shopping. Came back and watched The Bridge and the first episode of Broadchurch, a BBC mystery series.

Got a letter from Aaron Lebos, a guitarist from this week's Jazz Prospecting:

Well if you understood that labeling your music "fusion" turned the majority of people off for better or worse, then you'd understand why I didn't say that. Also why even mention it? Why not say something about the music actually? Especially if you give it a B-! lol . . . . Your a poor excuse for a music critic or whatever it is you think you do.

Well, he's a pretty poor excuse for a fusion guitarist too, so there's a fair amount of symmetry between the displeasure I got listening to the record and the displeasure he got reading my review. I reckon I shouldn't be irritated by "your" instead of "you're" -- after all, I'm the writer here, and lots of people who aren't make that mistake. On other other hand, when I do get letters like this they're often full of misspellings and grammar errors. Maybe just the heat of the moment? A lot of times when I'm reviewing a record I don't like I can't think of much to say, and cut things short because it's not worth the time to figure out a better explanation. But looking back at this review, I think I nailed it pretty succinctly. (Sure, the grade may be a bit on the high side, but it was low enough for my purposes.) And by the way, "fusion" isn't an all-purpose insult in these parts. I'm aware of a lot of fine, even great, fusion -- this just isn't that.

Music today (JP): Ricardo Silveira; (RG): John Butcher; (RS): Lean Left, Michel Sajrawy.


Posted this at Expert Witness:

The week's top new releases in metacritic rank: (15): The Civil Wars; (12): Moderat; (9): The Icarus Line; (8): Blondes, Rudimental; (7): KT Tunstall; (6): Dead in the Dirt, Medicine, Pond, Raffertie, Swim Deep; (5): Norma Jean; (4) The Polyphonic Spree; (3): Eric Copeland, Christian McBride Trio, Samaris.

New unranked jazz includes: Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Derrick Hodge, Terje Rypdal, Christian Wallumrod. Don't see anything else of obvious interest. Hugh Laurie got 9 reviews, but none of them were high enough to count.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Daily Log

Home today, doing the usual shit. Laura went out to a Peace Center memorial event on the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Five or six people showed up. Christgau wrote me and said he's working on a B&N review of a couple books on hedge funds, specifically the Galleon Fund insider trading scandal. Asked me if I had any more suggestions. I mentioned Jeff Madrick's The Age of Greed for overall perspective, and started looking into what else is available. Not a huge amount, at least directly. Rained again tonight, with a severe thunderstorm warning although I don't think we got hit that hard. Was hot and muggy today, and as long as that stays in place we're likely to get storms every night.

Music today (JP): Christian Wallumrřd, Shan Kenner; (RG): Ornette Coleman; (RS): Wycliffe Gordon.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Music Week/No Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 21822 [21779] rated (+43), 579 [580] unrated (-1).

Much of the rated count went into Recycled Goods, both last week's post and a Beach Boys binge for September's planned 1960s special. Jazz Prospecting is lagging a bit: I decided last week to hold back reviews until release week, with August slow and September coming up I may have picked a time when I have an exceptional number of advance copies. Still, it's rather nice to know that I have a jump on future posts.

Most disturbing realization for the week: I just stumbled across a website called jazzystence. The blog's current page lists 20 jazz records (1 from 2012, the rest from 2013), and I've only received one of those (Daniel Rosenboom's Book of Omens). Under previous entries: 4 of the next 20 (Convergence Quartet, Hashem Assadullahi, Zs, Gary Peacock/Marilyn Crispell). Average seems to be closer to that, but not higher -- I did find one batch of 20 I had 8 of, but it was followed by a 2. Noticed a couple albums I could find on Rhapsody, so I'll make up part of the deficit there, but obvious a lot of new jazz slips past me, and most likely everyone else.


Patrick Cornelius: Infinite Blue (2013, Whirlwind): Alto saxophonist, fourth album since 2006. Mostly quartet, with Frank Kimbrough on piano, Michael Janisch on bass, Jeff Ballard on drums, plus trumpet (Michael Rodriguez) on three tracks, trombone (Nick Vayenas) on those and two more. Bright postbop, moves along briskly, would be more impressive but seems like there's a lot of that going around these days. B+(**)

Mark Dresser Quintet: Nourishments (2013, Clean Feed): Bassist, b. 1952, a major one although I've often had trouble getting the hand of what he's up to, especially on his own albums. Quintet includes Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Denman Maroney (hyperpiano), and either Tom Rainey or Michael Sarin on drums -- more options than he normally employs as he develops a complex mystery, with occasional touches of tango. B+(***)

Paquito D'Rivera and Trio Corrente: Song for Maura (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Clarinet player, b. 1948 in Cuba, played in groups like Irakere there, then defected to US in 1981. Close to 50 albums, including a major interest in Brazilian as well as Cuban jazz. Also plays some alto sax here, backed by a piano trio -- Fabio Torres, Paulo Paulelli, and Edu Ribeiro. B+(**)

Aaron Lebos: Reality (2013, self-released): Guitarist, based in Miami, third album, calls his group "The Aaron Lebos Reality" -- Eric England (bass, probably electric), Jim Gaslor (keyboards), Rodolfo Zuniga (drums). Fusion, or as the website puts it: "encompasses styles of Jazz, Funk, Rock, R&B, Latin and World Music." I'm inclined to read "air quotes" into those caps -- that's just the way those eclectic, unmediated influences come off, or you could just say "fusion" -- the rut everything else wrecks into. B-

Christian McBride Trio: Out Here (2013, Mack Avenue): Bassist, fifteen albums since 1994, leads a piano trio here with Christian Sands -- two previous albums -- on piano and Ulysses Owens, Jr. on drums -- one previous album, Unanimous on Criss Cross, a quintet with Sands, McBride, and a couple horns. So, young guys with similar tastes and ambitions to the leader two decades ago. Two originals (one shared with Sands), seven covers: standards, piano jazz fare (Billy Taylor, Oscar Peterson), a dab of funk to close ("Who's Making Love"), the centerpiece a long meditation on "My Favorite Things." Leader earns his bass solos. B+(***)

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet: Live at "A Space" 1975 (1975 [2013], Sackville/Delmark): The Art Ensemble of Chicago's saxophonist's arsenal includes alto, tenor, and B-flat soprano sax, the latter featured in the centerpiece here, contrasted with George Lewis' trombone. Also present are pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, who seems peripheral, and guitarist Spencer Barefield, but the main thing is the showcase for Lewis. Reissue adds 19:36 to the 1975 LP. B+(**)

Scott Neumann Neu3 Trio: Blessed (2011 [2013], Origin): Drummer, from Bartlesville, OK, based in New York. second album, a couple dozen side credits since 1996, all over the map -- including saxophonist Michael Blake's post-Loung Lizards debut in 1997. Blake is back here, along with bassist Mark Helias, playing eight Neumann originals, one from Helias, and one from Roswell Rudd ("Keep Your Heart Right"). All three are terrific, with Blake in an expansive R&B honking mode, the rhythm section pushing him on and running interference. A-

Susana Santos Silva/Torbjörn Zetterberg: Almost Tomorrow (2012-13 [2013], Clean Feed): Trumpet-bass duo; the trumpet player, from Porto in Portugal, studied there and in Rotterdam, has previously recorded in the group Lama. The bassist is from Sweden, has ten records according to AMG. Free jazz, has moments of clarity, also a lot that sounds like flatulence -- not sure if that's the bass or trumpet, possibly both. B

Deborah Shulman & the Ted Howe Trio: Get Your Kicks: The Music & Lyrics of Bobby Troup (2013, Summit): Singer, fourth album since 2004, backed by pianist Howe and his trio, on eleven songs by Troup -- "Girl Talk" is one of the better ones. B

Thisbe Vos: Under Your Spell (2012 [2013], Prime Productions): Singer, Dutch-born, UK-based, wrote 7 of 12 songs on this her debut album, the others well known standards ("I Thought About You," "Round Midnight," "He's a Tramp," "Always," "Ain't Misbehavin'"). Pianist Gary Matsumoto is music director. The pieces with his trio plus occasional horns are snappy, but he throws some to the Pasadena String Ensemble, which smothers them like a wet blanket. In English, but "Rue de la Huchette" stands out among the originals. B+(**)

Denny Zeitlin: Both/And: Solo Electro-Acoustic Adventures (2003-12 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, has an M.D. in psychiatry but also studied with George Russell and has thirty-some albums since 1964 -- mostly solo or trio, especially since 1978. From 1968-78 he experimented with synthesizers and sound-altering devices for acoustic instruments, culminating in the soundtrack for a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This album marks a return to his electro-acoustic shtick, and while he's credited as solo (instruments not listed) this sounds nothing like a solo recording. The sound pallette is rich, orchestral even, which leads to the only problem I see: occasional dramatic use of neoclassical motifs -- nothing that triggers my gag reflex, but a relatively ordinary use for otherwise daring sound. B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jim Beard: Show of Hands (Sunnyside): September 10
  • Will Bernard: Just Like Downtown (Posi-Tone): August 27
  • The New Gary Burton Quartet: Guided Tour (Mack Avenue)
  • Marnix Busstra: Sync Dreams (Buzz Music): August 17
  • Stephan Crump's Rosetta Trio: Thwirl (Sunnyside): September 10
  • Charles Evans: Subliminal Leaps (More Is More): September 10
  • Fred Fried and Core: Core Bacharach (Ballet Tree): August 27
  • Tom Goehring: A Reflected Journey (Mengli Music): August 27
  • Nick Hempton: Odd Man Out (Posi-Tone): August 13
  • Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd: Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project (Pi): September 10
  • Anya Malkiel: From the Heart (self-released): August 27
  • Matt Mitchell: Fiction (Pi): September 24
  • Resonance: Introductions (Mandala)
  • The Road to Jajouka: A Benefit Album (Howe)
  • Imer Santiago: Hidden Journey (Jazz Music City): August 27
  • James Zollar: It's All Good People (JZAZ): August 13

Purchases:

  • Pet Shop Boys: Electric (X2)


Further notes from jazzystence, raw counts of records I received for each page (of 20 each), searching back:

  • [1]: Daniel Rosenboom
  • [4]: Convergence Quartet, Hashem Assadullahi, Zs, Gary Peacock
  • [8]: John O'Gallagher, Jonathan Finlayson, Jack Mouse Group, Ron Boustead, Graham Dechter, Whammies, Harris Eisenstadt, David Liebman
  • [3]: Wallace Roney, Lama, Drew Gress
  • [6]: Jim Snidero, Frank Rosaly, Lucian Ban, Evan Parker, Giacomo Gates, Edward Simon
  • [2]: Arthur Kell, Ron Oswanski
  • [2]: David Weiss, Lary Barileau
  • [5]: Ivan Lins, Kahil El'Zabar, Sean Moran, Matt Garrison, Roni Ben-Hur
  • [11]: Ron Oswanski, Les Paul Trio, Scott Hamilton, Benny Green, Dylan Ryan, Peter Evans, Kris Davis, Dave Douglas, Christian Howes, Anthony Branker, Stan Killian
  • [5]: Giovanni Guidi, Antonio Sanchez, Yelena Eckemoff, Ivo Perelman, Chad McCullough
  • [2]: Charles Lloyd, Jackie Ryan
  • [1]: Paul Lytton
  • [5]: Bennett Paster, Donny McCaslin, Lynne Arriale, Duduka Da Fonseca, Roger Davidson

Daily Log

Posted Jazz Prospecting, and did a notice on Facebook (but not EW). Greg Morton posted a link to Scott Neumann videos.

Watched Longmire and Under the Dome.

Music today (JP): Denny Zeitlin, Sasha's Bloc, Terje Rypdal, Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood; (RS): Harry Allen, David Binney, Creole Choir of Cuba, Paolo Fresu, Gilad Atzmon.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Weekend Roundup

Some scattered links this week:


  • Paul Krugman: Chaos Looms: My bold, but it's also the line that Julian Rayfield highlighted over at Salon.

    In the short run the point is that Republican leaders are about to reap the whirlwind, because they haven't had the courage to tell the base that Obamacare is here to stay, that the sequester is in fact intolerable, and that in general they have at least for now lost the war over the shape of American society. As a result, we're looking at many drama-filled months, with a high probability of government shutdowns and even debt defaults.

    Over the longer run the point is that one of America's two major political parties has basically gone off the deep end; policy content aside, a sane party doesn't hold dozens of votes declaring its intention to repeal a law that everyone knows will stay on the books regardless. And since that party continues to hold substantial blocking power, we are looking at a country that's increasingly ungovernable.

    The trouble is that it's hard to give this issue anything like the amount of coverage it deserves on substantive grounds without repeating oneself. So I do try to mix it up. But neither you nor I should forget that the madness of the GOP is the central issue of our time.

  • Paul Krugman: Delusions of Populism: One of several smackdowns I've read recently attempting to address the oxymoron "libertarian populism." Supposedly this is the next big wave in the neverending effort to sell oligarchy to the masses. Krugman makes good points, including debunking the notion that "Mitt Romney fell short last year largely because of 'missing white voters' -- millions of 'downscale, rural, Northern whites' who failed to show up at the polls." He adds:

    Moreover, if you look at what the modern Republican Party actually stands for in practice, it's clearly inimical to the interests of those downscale whites the party can supposedly win back. Neither a flat tax nor a return to the gold standard are actually on the table; but cuts in unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid are. (To the extent that there was any substance to the Ryan plan, it mainly involved savage cuts in aid to the poor.) And while many nonwhite Americans depend on these safety-net programs, so do many less-well-off whites -- the very voters libertarian populism is supposed to reach.

    Specifically, more than 60 percent of those benefiting from unemployment insurance are white. Slightly less than half of food stamp beneficiaries are white, but in swing states the proportion is much higher. For example, in Ohio, 65 percent of households receiving food stamps are white. Nationally, 42 percent of Medicaid recipients are non-Hispanic whites, but, in Ohio, the number is 61 percent.

    So when Republicans engineer sharp cuts in unemployment benefits, block the expansion of Medicaid and seek deep cuts in food stamp funding -- all of which they have, in fact, done -- they may be disproportionately hurting Those People; but they are also inflicting a lot of harm on the struggling Northern white families they are supposedly going to mobilize.

    Of course, it's not those downscale whites the Republicans want to get out to vote. Their entire concept of populism is limited to prejudice-baiting and demagoguery, and if they aren't already pushing those buttons, anyone else low class is unlikely to respond to their messages. Moreover, libertarianism is peculiarly anti-populist: its big appeal is to John Galt types imposing their will on a craven world, not something Americans used to getting the short end of the stick can much relate to. Any thoughts otherwise is just further evidence of the party's madness.

  • Andrew O'Hehir: Give Manning and Snowden the Nobel Peace Prize: This isn't the first time I've linked to such a proposal, but it bears repeating, especially given that one of the week's big news stories is Bradley Manning's conviction on numerous "espionage" charges.

    Can you even imagine how outraged, how red-faced and apoplectic, John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein and the talking heads on the Sunday news shows would be? It would partly make up for the profound shame of having given the prize to Henry Kissinger, one of the 20th century's great war criminals, in 1973. And then there was what Svallfors calls the "hasty and ill-considered decision" to award it to Barack Obama in 2009. That seemed mysterious at the time -- his great accomplishment was that he was a brand new American president who wasn't George W. Bush -- and it looks considerably worse now. [ . . . ]

    Manning and Snowden peeled back the curtain of empire and showed us its inner workings. Understandably, we didn't much like what we saw, but the real question is what we're going to do about it. More specifically, they gave Americans a brief glimpse of our country as the rest of the world sees it, a boorish and blundering military-intelligence superpower so convinced of its moral superiority that it respects no universal human rights, no law and no authority except its own. [ . . . ]

    Here's a handy guide to American politics: Anytime John McCain, Chuck Schumer and Jeffrey Toobin all try to convince you of something, you can be 100 percent sure you're being bamboozled. Toobin, the New Yorker writer who presents as a moderate, mainstream legal scholar, has led the ideological charge in support of Manning's conviction. He assures us that the right people are in charge of keeping secrets and that he, with his prep school-Harvard-Harvard Law pedigree, trusts those people a whole heck of a lot more than he trusts some kid from Oklahoma with a high school education. No, the nerd has to be locked away forever for the grievous crime of telling us the truth[.]

    Also see: Patrick L Smith: Snowden, Manning: The Face of Patriotism. And John Cassidy: In Defense of Leakers: Snowden and Manning:

    Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the Snowden case has been the official effort, going all the way up to Secretary of State John Kerry, to depict him as a traitor. Actually, Snowden appears to be an idealistic young man who had no ill intentions toward his country but who gradually became disillusioned with some of its actions. He enlisted in the Army during the Iraq War because, he told the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, "I believed in the goodness of what were were doing," only to be discharged several months later. Even now, he told Greenwald, he believes that "America is a fundamentally a good country; we have good people with good values who want to do the right thing, but the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."


Also, a few links for further study:

  • Ben Birnbaum: Here's What John Kerry's Peace Settlement Will Look Like (Probably): Israeli writer at what I've long assumed to be one of the major Zionist mouthpieces in the US, sketches out a set of compromises that Netanyahu supposedly might live with, although I've never seen any evidence that he would allow any such thing. Even more fancifully, there's this: David Makovsky: Benjamin Netanyahu Hopes to Sell Peace. Here's Now: The Israeli prime minister's new path. And Birnbaum, again: Seven Reasons There's Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. I would, of course, be delighted to see any form of deal. In fact, my recent thinking calls for solutions that offer Palestinians less territory, little if any of Jerusalem, and no prayer for any sort of return, in exchange for complete independence, a promise of equal rights for those Palestinians who wind up in Israel, a lot of cash, and maybe a couple players to be named later. And my thinking behind it is that Israel has no need to negotiate nor any desire for peace, so you need both to appease it and to move the rest of the world powers, including the US, into a position which allows Israel no other option. Given the way Nethanyahu has kicked Obama around for five years now the US isn't ready for that, and since the US isn't ready, neither is Netanyahu. And there's one more non-trivial problem: nowhere in these three articles is Hamas mentioned. How exactly can you make a "final status" deal with Abbas only when the Palestinians are so split? That may not matter to Birnbaum and Makovsky, nor to Netanyahu and Kerry, but it's got to be a concern deep in the mind of Abbas. Bringing in the Arab League may provide some measure of proxy support for Hamas, but you can't close the deal without Hamas support, and continuing the hostilities against Hamas is a sure way for Kerry et al. to telegraph that they're not really serious.

  • John Cassidy: Obama's Corporate-Tax-Cut Proposal Is Clever, but Is It Wise?: I haven't tried to unpack Obama's proposal, mostly because it's clear to me that anything progressive has to surmount impossible obstacles in Washington (starting with Obama himself), but also because the top-line message -- let's cut taxes on corporate profits -- winds up so much louder than the bits about closing loopholes, because the "revenue-neutral" promise doesn't drive the additional spending that we need, and especially because what we really need is more equitable income distribution, and you're never going to get there by helping rich people avoid taxes. And let's add one more reason: Obama's great fondness for "nudges" has never worked: on the one hand it makes him look shifty and devious, on the other inept and ineffective. We'll never know, for instance, whether he could have sold the people on a better health care system than the one he got his name stuck on. We do know that he can be an eloquent spokesman if only he had some principles to speak up for.

  • G William Domhoff: Wealth, Income, and Power: All the basic numbers, charts, and information you need on the growing maldistribution of income and wealth in America is here. Domhoff wrote a book back in 1967 called Who Rules America? that showed that the egalitarian society Paul Krugman recently celebrated as "the great compression" wasn't all that equitable -- I read it at the time along Ferdinand Lundberg's The Rich and the Super-Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today, an update of his 1937 book America's Sixty Families -- and I'm pleased to see that Domhoff has kept his book, now in its 7th edition, up to date (although it seems to be dreadfully expensive).

  • Kevin Drum: Supreme Court's Gutting of Voting Rights Act Unleashes GOP Feeding Frenzy: Drum's prime example is North Carolina, which is at the moment in thrall to exceptionally rabid Republicans, and is a state where the partisan balance is so tight that it wouldn't take a lot of disenfranchisement to keep the Republicans in power. Most of the commentary to date on the Roberts Court's decision has been to look at voting rights in the context of the 1960s struggle, but what really matters is the struggle now. Republicans have clearly understood that the main difference between victory (as in 2010) and defeat (as in 2008 and 2012) is voter turnout, so anything they can do to suppress voter turnout helps their odds, and they have absolutely no scruples about manipulating the electoral system for their advantage -- even using their edge in the Supreme Court, as they did in Bush v. Gore. Consequently, this is the worst possible time since the 1970s to gut the voting rights act, because this is the time when the "white man's party" is most prepared to press its every advantage.

  • Alex Henderson: 10 Worst Examples of Christian or Far-Right Terrorism: One can quibble about the order and omissions, and also note that only one predates 1994 (the murder of Alan Berg in 1984), but the list is a sober reminder that not only do conservatives "vote to kill" but some even practice what they preach.

Daily Log

Rained again, more or less solid from before midnight to after noon, with lightning and thunder early on. Can see the "little" river from my dining room chair, so it's pretty high up the embankment. Flood warnings for here and points north and east. North drains through here, and they seem to have gotten the heaviest rain. We went out for a walk over the Sims and Central bridges with a little detour down toward the "big" river, was which backed up over the low dam. Saw some birds, including a yellow-crested night heron, but they didn't seem to want much to do with the river.

Watched Copper and the season finale of The Killing. Both were tough to take. Will have to pick up that thought sometime later.

Music today (JP): Trumpets and Drums, Nate Wooley; (RS): Ulysses Owens Jr.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Recycled Goods (111): August, 2013

New Recycled Goods: pick up text here. Total review count: 3787 (3343 + 444).

Daily Log

Rained again this morning. In the last week or so we've gone from about 2.5 inches below average to about 5 inches above (average is 32 inches per year, we're at 25.79 inches so far), and forecast is for more rain pretty much each of the next five days. The rivers near out house are slightly over their inside banks, still 4-6 feet below the outer embankments (which are the ones that really matter to us). Wichita used to flood regularly, but hasn't since a bypass ditch was built in the 1950s -- closest we came was the 1967 floods that breached a dam near Lamar, Colorado, and flooded every Arkansas River town between there and here. My dad's Uncle Jim lived in Ford then and was flooded out, as was Aunt Freda in Kinsley.

Music today (JP): Ray Mantilla, Aaron Lebos; (RG): Bill Dixon, The Association, The Beach Boys (9 albums); (RS): Susana Santos Silva.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Daily Log

Got several pieces of email indicating that Freda Bureman, at 98 my last surviving aunt, is in declining health and has entered a hospice program. Lou Jean sent a letter out suggesting that we all prepare for the outcome, such as making efforts to see Freda a last time, or to write and say goodbye. No way for me to guess how much time she has left. She doesn't have a progressive disease like a cancer, but her dementia is so severe that she has little practical skill to continue living, and she has become very weak -- when I saw her a couple months ago she didn't seem to have enough motor control to adjust her feet when they were uncomfortably positioned, let alone to adjust her sitting angle after she had been picked up and plopped into her easy chair or wheelchair. The state of her medical care is unknown to me. She had been taking blood thinners as much as ten years ago, which required regular checks, and she had a breast tumor that responded to hormone treatments. I think she still has a regular regimen of pills, but doubt that they have done much more active diagnosis or treatment. She's had spells in the last couple years that could be attributed to small strokes, and that is an increased risk if the blood thinners are dropped or not monitored properly. She's gone through various stages as the dementia progressed. A couple years ago she became embittered as she lost control, but more recently she seems to have acquiesced and adopted a more pleasant demeanor. Ken and Lou Jean get much more out of their time with Freda than I do: there's more of it, they're better known and more proactive, and their own outlooks are more optimistic than mine.

I collected the letters I got and sent them out to some people. Will make some phone calls in the next few days, and maybe learn more. Jan indicated she would come visit in a couple weeks. Ken mentioned that Lou Jean would visit. I had been thinking about driving to Seattle later this month, but will probably push that off until I see what happens.

We went and saw the movie Mud at the Palace ("the cheap seats"). Lots of good things about the movie, including the feats of engineering to get that boat out of the trees. The climax gun play was a bit excessive even by Arkansas standards.

Watched Dexter on TV, then the first season two episode of Newsroom. Laura so disliked the latter she vowed to not watch any more. It's as bad a relationship show as Smash, and what it tries to pass off as daring news coverage is awfully wobbly -- main example tonight was the section on drones. Part of the problem is the conceit of having a "rational Republican" as the lead newscaster and therefore the governor on how far left the show can go. But they don't even illustrate that -- instead, they create two crises where they overstepped the imaginary bounds of proper journalism and therefore have their existence threatened. One, from last year, was Will's characterization of the Tea Party as "America's Taliban" -- pretty stupid given that the Tea Party is fairly distinct from the fundamentalist Christian block in the Republican Party. The other is a big story about some sort of drone operation where their whistleblower info turned out to be easily refuted by the government, leaving them with a big unpatriotic boo boo. Sorkin explained after the show that this event was modeled on an erroneous report that the US had been using chemical weapons in Laos circa 1971. It looks like that "scandal" will take up much of the year with its lesson that we shouldn't take whistleblowers seriously or question the dedication of America's spooks and goons to keeping us safe -- from relatively harmless foreign enemies, as opposed to, say, the big banks. The only promising note was the introduction of a thread on Occupy Wall Street with the newsroom's chief nerd and a very articulate organizer.

Music today (JP): Mark Dresser; (RG): Bill Dixon, Joe McPhee.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Expert Comments

Various comments in response to the question: what was the first album you bought on Christgau's recommendation? Lots of interesting stories there. For instance, John Smallwood talks about Paul Gambaccini's 1978 book, Rock Critics' Choice (doesn't actually mention the title), which had lists by Christgau and many others: a pretty straightforward source for comparison-shopping among critics.

Doubt I'll post this, but got me thinking:

No way to tell what my first Christgau-inspired purchase was -- probably something from the book Any Old Way You Choose It, maybe something like Joy of Cooking since that's about the only album there I can't attribute to some other friend or critic. Or maybe it was Africa Dances: I was catching up fast in the mid-1970s, and it's hard to sort out the order things came in.

I actually subscribed to The Village Voice in 1969, when Christgau started writing there, but I bought virtually no music that year, and may not have bothered reading him -- I was into politics at the time, and theater (read a lot by John Lahr). Later on, I found those pieces in my folks' attic, which is why they're currently online.

I got interested in music after I moved to St. Louis in 1972, and was mostly influenced by friends, including George Lipsitz, Don Malcolm, and (especially) Harold Karabell, and I built on that by reading critics. After I published my first broadside of reviews, Christgau invited me to write for the Voice. After a couple years of phone edits, I visited New York, liked what I saw, and a few months later moved there. So while it is hard to pick out early recommendations, I have a few other angles on the question.

For instance, the first time I heard Marquee Moon was the first time Christgau heard it. I was in his apartment, it came in the mail, he immediately put it on. I had never heard Television before, but he had already written much about them. So I didn't know what I was hearing, and was less impressed by it than by witnessing his instantly ecstatic reaction. There were many other records I first heard when he played them for me. Ornette Coleman's Dancing in Your Head was especially memorable. Then there was Heavy on the Highlife!, which I picked out of his unplayed queue on the floor, so it wasn't even a pick hit then. And there was a time when we met at his sister's place in the Catskills and his new music box included This Is the Beautiful South, Let Them Eat Bingo, and Submarine Bells -- by 1990 my sources for tips were considerably more limited than in the 1970s.

I should also note a couple instances where he sent me music for possible review: the first two John Hiatt albums, and the two Hirth Martinez albums. He never gave any of those records grades higher than B+, but they became personal favorites. So, at least as long as he edited the section and controlled some patronage, Christgau had a knack not just for finding unusual albums but for matching them up with appropriate critics.

Christgau wrote, in response to our Greek friend's suggestion of "his APPARENT bias concerning whatsoever forms of class stratification may tickle his fancy" and "his somewhat condescending attitud towards certain working-class elements within white/anglo-urapean (mostly) cultures."

Just as a point of information, I grew up decided lower-middle-class -- my father was a fireman who won a college scholarship at 34 and became, shazam, a shop teacher. Does that mean I liked the rough kids on my block? No, I was a Christian goody-goody who was obviously twice as smart as they were and took some [shit] for it. And it was the '50s, when everythying as different. But just because I won a scholarship to Dartmouth don't assume I come from privilege or, for that matter, got rich writing for the Village Effing Voice and supporting an unpublished novelist who deserves every penny. Class is complicated, and nowhere more than in America.

My parents were farmers who came to the city during the depression. My father worked in a factory all of his adult life, except for a year or so totally wasted in the army. My mother gave up her "Rosie the riveter" job to stay home and drive her children crazy. We lived in a $7000 tract home in a lately developed urban patch, nowhere near the suburbs. The 1950s were a time when everyone was encouraged to think of themselves as middle class, with the depression and the war as shared experiences. The first indication I had that class was more complicated came in a 5th grade straw poll when I was surprised to find Kennedy handily beat Nixon in solid Republican Kansas. A few years later I saw a precinct voting map, where it was obvious that the richer parts of the city voted Republican and the poorer parts Democratic, and we lived in one of those poorer parts. By then I was reading my father's union paper: I never found a union job, but my brother did, and eventually got fired for being a shop steward. I dropped out of high school, became a self-educated bum, got a GED, spent a year at Wichita State, parlayed that into a scholarship at Washington University, an elite private college in St. Louis. Did enough coursework to graduate but didn't, satisfied to have gotten a typesetting job. I learned all about class in St. Louis, from all the rich kids in college to typsetting the Ladue HS newspaper.

It's hard to know how much of what holds you back is class but much is and for smart young fellows like Bob and I it's as much self-inflicted as external. Bob didn't get the Ph.D. that he could easily have handled because he thought being a journalist would be a more noble life than being an academic, but he wound up spending much of his life in fringe teaching roles with much of the work and none of the perks of professorship. I was a much more fragile person, and more self-destructive, and made an even bigger hash of the meritocracy's offer to co-opt me. Before I went to college I had only known one person who had ever taught there, and him not well, so when I ran into problems I had no one to pick me up and push me back into the fray. My career didn't turn out so bad, and I even had later opportunities to advance in business -- but again I backed out, failing to make the grade more because I identified with those below me than with those above me. When I heard John Bolton described as "a kick-down, suck-up" climber, I knew, and detested, the type. Merit may open some doors for you, but class decides which side of the door you start out on, and those inside continually look for confirmation of their own supremacy.

And this situation has only gotten worse from the 1950s to today, corresponding almost exactly to the increase in inequality that has come about through the right's determined assault on political power. I doubt that young people today, especially from our backgrounds, have anywhere near the opportunity that Bob and I had, and to the extent that they do the cost to their political principles will be much more severe. It certainly wasn't clear in the 1950s that we were living in as close as this country ever came to a class-free society -- that's only become evident in extreme hindsight.

Daily Log

Wrote the above, which went nowhere.

Music today (JP): Patrick Cornelius, Susana Santos Silva; (RG): George Russell, Bill Dixon.


Jul 2013 Sep 2013