December 2013 Notebook


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Downloader's Diary (35): December 2013

Insert text from here.

This is the 35th installment, (almost) monthly since August 2010, totalling 846 albums. All columns are indexed and archived here. You can follow A Downloader's Diary on Facebook, and on Twitter. Comments are open (subject to moderation).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 22655 [22606] rated (+49), 572 [584] unrated (-12).

Again, paying more attention to catching up on Rhapsody with what I didn't get than minding my own incoming queue -- for 2013, anyhow, now down to 5 records (compared to 9 I still haven't reviewed from 2012, or 21 I never got around to from 2006). I feel like I've worked pretty hard this year. The year-end list, which I'll make a frozen copy of sometime in the next week or two, currently shows ratings for 1109 releases this year. That's up from 976 records by freeze time in 2012 -- the current 2012 file, which I'll stop adding to tomorrow, has 1181 grades, but 205 of them were added since last year's freeze, so are really part of this year's workload -- and is probably more than in any year since I've been keeping track. I've also done some substantial Recycled Goods columns (see the 2013 index), so the actual rated count since Dec. 31, 2012 has increased by 1783 records (22655 - 20874). That's probably too much, and there are certainly cases where I didn't spend enough time or wasn't paying sufficient attention -- even a few (but really, very rarely) when I didn't finish a record.

But this has also been the first year (since 2002) when my writing income has dropped to $0, as has my website income (not that I couldn't shake some money out of some people, but I haven't been serving them very well either). And this has also been a year when my progress on my various book-like projects has come to a complete standstill, and one where my software development efforts have all the more atrophied. I also find myself totally inundated in clutter (despite the fact that I'm getting a third less CDs than I was three years ago -- they've simply run out of places to go). And all this makes me cranky, and is probably damaging my health -- certainly isn't doing my sanity any good, which always used to be the saving grace of listening to music. Even my reading has suffered -- seems like the last two books have taken about three months to slog through, whereas over the last decade (even as a slow reader) I've averaged a book every other week.

So it's time to make some changes. Starting in 2014 (which is to say Wednesday) I'm suspending Jazz Prospecting. I need to write a letter to the various publicists and musicians who have been sending me material, and who will no doubt soon join the many others who no longer do. I may wind up posting a column or two in January -- I already have a cache of reviews of 2014 releases, and there are a few more in the queue I feel obliged to acknowledge. I say "suspend" because I still would consider resurrecting Jazz Consumer Guide if I had a paying venue of some repute, or if I had an equity stake in a music website that was primarily run by someone else. (One of the things I haven't found time to do was to write a prospectus for just such a website, so that stands a slightly better chance of happening by suspending Jazz Prospecting.)

I'm also suspending Recycled Goods. (I see that I currently have three reviews in the January 2014 draft file. Not sure what to do with them -- maybe nothing, or maybe that's the final column.) Again, I would reconsider if I had a reputable paying venue interested in such a column. Back when it was a going concern (2003-07, and you might also look at the Seattle Weekly spinoff) this was my favorite column, although I'm not sure that it would be easy to reconstitute (or even much fund) given recent trends in the music recycling business (cut-rate samplers and anniversary extravaganzas in the majors, ever quainter obscurities in the minors, and lots of copyright evasion in Europe).

The column I'm most likely to continue, albeit on a reduced scale, is Rhapsody Streamnotes. It is, after all, mostly note-taking, and I may decide just to jot a grade down without an explanation -- some of yesterday's posts are already pretty much nothing. I will also continue to construct my annual file -- 2014 is already started -- and I will file "Music Week" notices in my notebook (if not necessarily on the blog). I will continue to vote in critics polls as long as I'm invited and feel I have something to contribute. I may from time to time post a little something on what I like, but I won't feel any obligation to do so.

Also, no metacritic file next year. I know I said that last year too, but reversed when I found that I wasn't collecting enough information to know what's going on. I wound up creating a file that is significantly better than previous years: it has much more detailed data about reviews and lists (not all of which is visible in the presented file). It currently has 6939 new releases and 1014 compilations, reissues, and vault raids. It tracks 90 publications and independent reviewers, and I've added over 200 year-end lists. I'll keep playing with this for another week or so, but I'm basically done with 2013 -- the end of these things usually occurs when the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll appears and I tote up the 1500 or so records that finish with any votes.

The metacritic file is something that should be a community project: its usefulness is hard to understate, but the amount of work involved is impossible for a single person to do, and it could be made even more useful if more people would pick it up. (There are, of course, various commercial entities doing bits of this, but none are doing a very good job.) Something like this will probably be worked into the website proposal.

I'll continue publishing Michael Tatum's A Downloader's Diary, at least until we find a better home. I'll post his December column tomorrow (maybe even late tonight). Beyond that he's looking at January and February to catch up with 2013 releases, and beyond that 2014.

I'll send some email out within a week, and finally revise my dated "send me music" file (no link because it's totally misleading at the moment). I'd be happy to get feedback on this, either through comments (which have been about 90% spam to date) or email (see the "Contact" link). I will miss some of the music I won't be getting -- especially Clean Feed, NoBusiness, and Toondist, who've gone so far out of their way to support me, and the many fine independent publicists who stuck with me after the Voice didn't. May even have to buy some, not that I expect my income to change (and frankly, I'm looking to enjoy some of what I already have -- something that has been nearly impossible the last few years).

Meanwhile, I've got a mess to clean up, some computers to get working, some code to figure out, some wood to work, and some books to write.

Autumn in Augusta: Songs My Mama Would Like (2013, self-released, EP): Lucy Smith sings five old songs over piano-bass-drums, one a melody from someone named Beethoven, two others from lesser known artists who sign their work as "Traditional." Just runs 18:42 but feels heartfelt, substantial. B+(***)

David Bach: Otherworld (2013, Integrity Music): Keyboard player -- Rhodes, synths, organ, even a Steinway Grand -- fifth album since 1995, backed by a large but often shuffled group, creating a sort of grand pastorale, all evanescent effects aorund the leader's melody, or more rarely a synth beat. B

Alan Blackman: The Coastal Suite (2011 [2013], self-released): Pianist, based in Baltimore, has a couple previous albums since 2000. This extended piece was commissioned by Chamber Music America's 2011 New Jazz Works, but it's scaled down to a small jazz combo with Rogerio Boccato providing extra percussion and Donny McCaslin on tenor and soprano sax. Eloquent material, especially with McCaslin up front. B+(**)

Barry Danielian: Metaphorically Speaking (2013, Tariqah): "Our enemies are resourceful. They never stop thinking of new ways to harm the American people . . . and neither do we." Quoted here as spoken by George W. Bush, who did more damage, both here and abroad, than Osama bin Laden ever imagined, and as the quote suggests did it as much by accident as by intent. Glad to see someone hasn't forgotten that. Trumpet-led synth funk, not far removed from disco, which I don't consider a dis but does remind me that we've been there, done that. B+(*)

Jörg Fischer: Spring Spleen and Twelve Other Pieces (2012, Gligg): Drummer, from Germany, plays in Lurk Lab and has a couple other albums, including a duo with Peter Brötzmann. This one is solo percussion, the first couple pieces thoroughly enjoyable, varies less after that. B+(**)

Jörg Fischer/Matthias Schubert/Uli Böttcher: Lurk Lab (2012, Gligg): Avant sax trio, listed in front cover order: drums, tenor sax, live electronics. All joint credits, so figure improv. Böttcher seems more like a second drummer than a surrogate bassist, but that's probably an oversimplification -- he also throws in some whistles and whizzes, and at full fury the flurry can be pretty amazing. A-

Annette Genovese: Dream With Me (2013, self-released): Singer, wrote (or co-wrote) 3 of 8 songs; Discogs lists a 12-inch under her name from 1982; hype sheet says she "has performed and recorded in the New York Tri-State area for over 25 years and done 3 tours in the Middle East." She does a fine job here, with a strong opening version of "Seńor Blues," and she gets some nice guitar from Rob Reich. B+(*)

Lurk Lab: Live at Shelter Sounds (2012 [2013], JazzHausMusik): Matthias Schubert (tenor sax), Uli Böttcher (live electronics), Jörg Fischer (drums). Three live improv pieces, two topping 20 minutes. Similar to what they came up with in the lab, but the sound is a bit more distant, and the electronics can come unplugged. B+(***)

Earl McIntyre: Brass Carnival & Tribute (2010 [2013], self-released): Trombonist, often bass trombone, sometimes tuba: first album under his name but he's been around for ages, playing in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, George Gruntz Concert Band, Howard Johnson's Gravity, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. Lots of brass here, bottom-heavy with both Johnson and Bob Stewart on tuba, sometimes McIntyre too, but no reeds, and the rhythm section is just Vinnie Johnson on drums and Warren Smith on vibes and tambourine. Two Renée Manning vocals aren't high points, but I doubt they were aiming for high. B+(*)

William Parker Orchestra: Essence of Ellington: Live in Milano (2012, AUM Fidelity, 2CD): Big band, only two deep at trumpet and trombone but six saxes including Kidd Jordan, fęted as "special guest" although half the orchestra are more famous (or should be), especially the rhythm section: Dave Burrell, Parker, and Hamid Drake. This mixes Ellington standards with originals where Parker seeks what he calls "essences" -- a license to quote and maul and occasionally find some sort of synthesis. When the band eventually converges on a melody, Ernie Odoom sings familiar lyrics or, in "The Essence of Ellington," totally new ones. Messy, but also chock full of wonderful passages. Surely Duke would agree: beyond category. A-

Mary Ann Redmond/Paul Langosch/Jay Cooley: Compared to What (2013, self-released): Singer, from Virginia, based in DC area; fifth album since 1997, first with cover credits for producer-bassist Langosch and arranger-keyboardist Cooley, but the band is deeper, with Don Mattacks (drums), Dan Hovey (guitar), and Bruce Swaim (tenor sax). Two originals, ten standards counting rock-era singer-songwriters Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Lennon-McCartney. As usual, the songs make the singer, and songs like "I Got It Bad" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" are standards for good reason. B+(*)

The Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band: Game Changer (2013, Capri): Nineteen flute players counting the "guest soloists" (Holly Hofmann, Hubert Laws, and Nestor Torres), the only other names I recognize belong to Ryerson and Jamie Baum, backed by piano-bass-drums (Mark Levine, Rufus Reid, Akira Tana), running through ten famous jazz standards -- none of which I recognized while listening to this, and not because the interpretations were radical. If anything, so featureless I'm not sure I would have noticed they were playing flutes had I not been already aware. B-

Sarah Silverman: Sarah (2013, self-released): Cover just says Sarah (and in small print "featuring Bruce Barth"), downplaying her last name to avoid confusion/competition with the comedian. She plays piano on one song, otherwise deferring to Barth. She wrote two (on one adding lyrics to a Grieg melody), but mostly does standards, medleying "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "I Get Along Without You Very Well." B

Suzanna Smith: Halfway Between Heaven and Love (2012 [2013], Ink Pen): Singer, based in Oakland, first record, most songs originals co-written with pianist Michael Coleman and backed by a fairly deep band. B+(*)

Spinifex: Hipsters Gone Ballistic (2013, Trytone): Dutch group, named for some kind of beach grass; seems like fusion at first, built around Jasper Stadhouders' guitar, but the horn players -- Gijs Levelt on trumpet, Tobias Klein on alto sax -- have their own minds, and the rhythm section doesn't guarantee regular time, or any other. Doesn't work often enough, but good for some cheap thrills. B+(*)

Corrie Van Binsbergen: Self Portrait in Pale Blue (2013, Brokken): Dutch guitarist, b. 1957. I've only heard a couple of his records, and suspect this meditative solo effort is an outlier. The pieces are numbered, probably improv but cautiously picked out, the sort of thing new age might be without the sedatives. B+(**)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Matt Criscuolo: Blippity Blat (self-released): January 3
  • Steve Davis: For Real (Posi-Tone): January 7
  • Taylor Haskins: Fuzzy Logic (Sunnyside): February 18
  • Russ Ingram: Sky Lift (Sunnyside): February 18
  • Sarah Manning: Harmonious Creature (Posi-Tone): January 7
  • Pete Mills: Sweet Shadow (Cellar Live): January 14
  • Russ Nolan: Relentless (Rhinoceruss Music): January 21
  • Săo Paulo Underground: Beija Flors Velho E Sujo (Cuneiform)
  • S.O.S. [John Surman/Mike Osborne/Alan Skidmore]: Looking for the Next One (1974, Cuneiform, 2CD)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rhapsody Streamnotes (December 2013)

Pick up text here.

Daily Log

Cold day: high mid-20s, about 30 degrees down from yesterday. Took Laura to acupuncture. Ate at Abuellos, and can't say it was very good. Kept hacking at the Streamnotes file, and finally pushed it out the door.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Daily Log

Bradley Sroka posted this at EW:

URGENT: I have heard from our host's editor that Expert Witness will be coming down permanently on Dec. 30. I have preserved all of the comments here at Expert Witness in XML format and am finishing up the "replies" this weekend. Please sign up for future updates about Christgau and this community at Do not expect regular updates, but know that you will be notified of any major developments. It's been a pleasure my friends. I'm certain we'll all be in touch again soon :)

(If you have trouble emailing the above address when you copy and paste it, try retyping it--that tends to work better.)

I posted this at EW:

Responding to Bradley's post below but I didn't want this to get buried under the thread. Would be helpful if someone would go through and save off a set of avatar images (map to user name), and also a set of album covers (if Bob doesn't already have them).

I'm not clear that we ever came up with a really useful way of preserving the comment data -- last time I saw Bradley's data is was incomplete and the formatting still required a lot of work, although I'm also not up-to-date and have never been directly involved with MSN.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daily Log

Fixed dinner today for Kathy and Ram. Afterwards, wrote the following up in a letter to Jan:

Duck came out pretty good. (Laura said my whole dinner was above my usual norm.) Thawed out the duck, then cut out the backbone and wing-tips and cut the rest in half. Seasoned it with salt-pepper-herbes de provence, and sat the two halves on top of a bed of two onions, two ribs of celery, eight split garlic cloves, parsley, fresh thyme, and dried bay leaves. Warmed over up to 475F, roasted it 10 minutes, then dialed oven down to 275F, covered the dish in aluminum foil, and cooked it 3.5 hours. Let it cool down in oven 30 minutes, then picked the duck up and put it into another baking pan. Dabbed it with some of the drained fat, sprinkled more salt-pepper-herbes de provence. Turned on the broiler and used that to crisp up the skin.

Made an olive sauce to go with the duck: browned the backbone, neck, and wingtips; added and sauteed a sliced onion, added 2/3 of a can of tomatoes (recipe called for tomato paste, which I didn't have or couldn't find), 1/2 cup sherry, 1 cup chicken stock, 3 cups water; simmered that an hour, reducing liquid to one cup; added 1.5 cups of green olives (pitted and sliced in half).

Sweet potato recipe is awesome: cut 5 small sweet potatoes into thin, long wedges; dressed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baked 25 minutes at 475F; arranged them on a platter in a sort of sunburst pattern; pitted about 10 mejdol dates and sliced them into quarters, adding them to platter; took about 8 skinny scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths, and sauteed in olive oil with a couple dry chiles (discarded), and dumped that on top; mixed 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar and 1.5 tbs. sugar, brought it to a boil and reduced it a bit, then poured that over platter; scattered some goat cheese crumbles on top.

Roasted an eggplant and two red bell peppers 1 hour at 425F. Peeled and chopped, squeezed a little lemon juice on top, and mixed in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Put the mixture in one half of an oblong serving dish. Mixed Greek yogurt, a little sour cream, two mashed up roasted garlic cloves, and some salt, and put that in the other half of the dish. Sauteed a handful of pine nuts in butter and scattered over both sides.

Chick pea salad was OK but nothing to brag about. Boiled, marinated in spiced water, mixed with chopped red onion, oil-cured black olives, and parsley.

Had date pudding for dessert, leftover from a couple days ago. Made it "gluten free" -- replaced the flour with a mix of rice and potato flours and ground almonds. Net effect was to make it more pudding-like but a bit grainier.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Daily Log

Posted the following at EW:

Just got notice that Yusef Lateef has died, at 93. He was one of the first generation of jazz musicians trying to look back to Africa and the Middle East as a way forward. And he was one of the first sax players to pick up other instruments -- mostly flute and oboe -- looking for exotic sounds. Still, I can't say as his early works were all that worthwhile. On the other hand, in the 1990s he cut a series of two-tenor-sax matchups, with "Tenors of Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp" the real prize. And he's stayed active: last year's "Voice Prints" (with Roscoe Mitchell, Adam Rudolph, and Douglas Ewart, recorded in 2008) is a pretty good update of his initial globe-spanning impulse.

By the way, you can make a good case that the three main figures in jazz flute all died in 2013: Sam Most (1930-June 13, 2013) was the first to play bebop on flute (Herbie Mann is basically a footnote to Most, much as Hubert Laws is to Lateef), and Frank Wess (1922-October 30, 2013), a Basie man, brought it into a mainstream swing context. Lateef looked to the flute for exotic sounds. The instrument isn't going away, but pace Nicole Mitchell, it's never going to seem like a new frontier again.

Also, second post down at is an encyclopedic review of 135 music books ("published in the last year or so" -- went up last March). Above it is a long list of 2013 jazz (and "beyond") records Stokes more or less likes.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 22606 [22568] rated (+38), 584 [583] unrated (+1).

Again, I played a lot more jazz on Rhapsody this week than I played from my very slim 2013 input queue. Thus far I've found four more A- records there (out of nearly 40), while the list of records that I've looked for but were nowhere to be found has grown to several score. Both those numbers were fairly predictable. The bigger surprise is three of the four A- records this week. (William Parker's grade was all but assured when I sampled most of the box on Rhapsody last month; indeed, the only issue there is that it might pick up a notch once I get used to dipping into it.) Two of the three were sent to me by pianist Michael McNeill -- not really sure of the connection, but it seems to have something to do with Buffalo. The other one came in a package from Dutch distributor Toondist. None of those three were previously in my metacritic file, nor did they show up on any of the Jazz Critics' Poll ballots. Finding them makes me feel rather unique -- not that Paul Smoker and Albert Van Veenendaal haven't established reputations that should make you take notice. They are, at any rate, names that I've learned to pay attention to.

Pazz 'n' Jop 2013 ballots are due tomorrow. At this point it would take me weeks to refine my ballot, and right now I don't even know where to start. My basic problem is that I don't have time to live with even the best albums I find, so while, say, I have no doubt that the Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire and Knife and Lady Gaga albums are quite good, I've hardly played them since first review -- indeed, I don't even have a copy of the latter.

The obvious thing to do would be to scrape the top ten albums off my 2013 list, but I wound up futzing around with them, knocking out some jazz (Barbara Morrison, Roswell Rudd, that super-late 2012 release of early Billy Bang tapes), adding the William Parker box that arrived too late for the Jazz Critics' Poll. The open slots let me delve downlist, where I could have picked very good (and contending) albums by Vampire Weekend and Deerhunter, but I love the sound of Parquet Courts (and Wayne Hancock), and I wanted to slip in a couple underground hip-hop joints. (Yeezus, by the way, was never in the running, although Chance the Rapper and Pusha T were).

  1. MIA: Matangi (Interscope) 15
  2. Billy Martin's Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head (Amulet) 15
  3. The Uncluded: Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers Entertainment) 12
  4. Rachid Taha: Zoom (Wrasse) 10
  5. Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup) 10
  6. William Parker: Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012 (AUM Fidelity) 9
  7. Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold (What's Your Rupture?) 9
  8. The White Mandingos: The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me (Fat Beats) 7
  9. Deltron 3030: Event 2 (Bulk) 7
  10. Wayne Hancock: Ride (Bloodshot) 6

MIA, by the way, wound up number one mostly because I played it a lot, and the main reason I played it so much was because I had a lot of trouble writing anything up on it. So I kept playing it, eventually wrote one cryptic sentence, and filed it. By then it wound up graded higher in my database than Arular or Kala or Maya. I can't say whether it's a better album, but given my peculiar way of working, it's the one I've enjoyed the most.

The only single I voted for was "Apocalyptic Dance" from the Janelle Monáe album, The Electric Lady. I don't keep track of singles, scarcely even think of them, so I often don't bother with that part of the ballot. But I recall that one of Glenn McDonald's statistical probes of the P&J data has something to do with "hipness" -- the "unhip" are defined as those who don't vote for singles, so I thought I'd throw some noise into that data. Great song, by the way: sold me on the album, which is one thing a single is supposed to do.

I've started to cobble together a non-jazz year-end list file similar to my jazz one. At one point I thought I'd publish it along with the Pazz 'n' Jop ballot tomorrow but there's no way that's going to happen. Maybe sometime later in the week.

The Ambush Party: Circus (2011 [2013], De Platenbakkerij): Dutch avant-garde quartet: Natalia Sued (tenor sax, clarinet), Oscar Jan Hoagland (piano), Harald Austbř (cello), Marcus Baggiani (drums). Second album, as far as I can tell, recorded live at Moers Festival in Germany. The broken improv reaches a fine pitch in "The Tiger Is Loose" but only after a lot of ambling, with a bit of opera vocal to come. I don't know how many jazz albums refer to the circus, but a high percentage of them seem to be Dutch. B+(**)

Chris Biesterfeldt: Urban Mandolin (2013, self-released): Mandolin player, first album, a trio with bass and drums. Concept here is to retrace a broad swathe of jazz history, starting literally with "Bebop" and proceeding through Monk, Jimmy Smith, and fusion to "Some Skunk Funk," with side trips for Bach, the Beach Boys, and Frank Zappa, inserting mandolin everywhere, as if it belonged. B

Jane Ira Bloom: Sixteen Sunsets (2013 [2014], Outline): Soprano saxophonist, one of the few specialists, with more than a dozen albums since 1980. Quartet with piano (Dominic Fallacaro), bass (Cameron Brown), and drums (Matt Wilson). Intent seems to be picturesque, and in that succeeds admirably -- a little static but very pretty. [Hype sheet has this as a 2014 release, but other sources say December 15, or earlier for Blue-ray Audio.] B+(**)

Ayman Fanous/Jason Kao Hwang: Zilzal (2011 [2013], Innova): Fanous plays guitar (6 tracks) and bouzouki (3). He was born in Cairo, Egypt; grew up in the US, cut an album with cellist Tomas Ulrich. Hwang is one of the best known violinists in jazz, playing viola here on 4 (of 9) tracks -- either way the dominant instrument here. B+(***)

Peter Kerlin Octet: Salamander (2013, Innova): Bassist, first album, lists eleven musicians here, so presumably not all play not all of the time. Nor does Octet match up with any previous configuration: no horns here, but the compositions are scored for two vibraphones, two basses, organ, drums, percussion, and viola. (The excess on the musician list comes from three bass and three viola credits.) Dense pieces with a little sparkle, moving surely from the bottom. B+(***)

William Parker: Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012 (2006-12 [2013], AUM Fidelity, 8CD): I previously wrote up Rhapsody Streamnotes on four digital releases -- at least they showed up on Rhapsody -- comprising six CDs here, so in my current end-of-year rush I focused on the other two discs: a septet live at the Vision Festival in 2009 with Billy Bang, Bobby Bradford, and James Spaulding joining Parker's stellar Quartet (Lewis Barnes, Rob Brown, and Hamid Drake -- they've been together since the extraordinary O'Neal's Porch in 2000); and a big band (William Parker Creation Ensemble) live shot at AMR Jazz Festival in Geneva in 2011. Both discs zing, as does, really, the rest of the box. The two early live sets weren't as consistent as I'd like (cf. 2005's Sound Unity), but their top spots are rarely equalled, and the last two discs -- an expansion of the group that cut Raining on the Moon and a revival of In Order to Survive with an outstanding performance by Cooper-Moore on piano -- just raise the bar. Music at this level deserves to go on and on and on. A-

The Paul Smoker Notet: Landings (2012 [2013], Alvas): Quartet, actually: the leader on trumpet, Steve Salerno on guitar, Drew Gress on bass, and Phil Haynes on drums. Smoker, b. 1941 in Indiana, has a dozen albums (Wikipedia) or fifteen (AMG) or more (two recent ones are in neither list), although I had only heard one until recently. But the guitar sets the trumpet remarkably well, and Smoker is always up to something interesting. A-

Haynes & Smoker: It Might Be Spring (2013, Alvas): Phil Haynes (drums) and Paul Smoker (trumpet), just the two of them so this lacks the propulsion of their recent quartet (or Notet) record, but adds a shot of intimacy -- especially since, as the title suggests, they're mostly doing warm and fuzzy standards, including "My Funny Valentine," "My Melancholy Baby," and "Summertime." A-

Two Al's: And the Cowgirls Kept On Dancing (2013, Brokken): One Albert and one Alan, but I guess that works. Albert van Veenendaal has recorded a number of remarkable albums on prepared piano -- Predictable Point of Impact and Minimal Damage are two I particularly like. Alan Purves is credited with "percussion, squeaky toys, brim bram, little instruments" -- in other words, exogenous effects as unpredictable as the tricks wired into the piano. Works much more often than not. A-

Volcán: Volcán (2013, 5Pasion): Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba is the main talent hiding behind this eponymous group album -- wrote three (of eight songs), the others standards including "Salt Peanuts" from his mentor. The others are Jose Armando Gola (electric bass), Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez (drums), and Giovanni "Mańenguito" Hidalgo (congas, percussion), with Maridalia Hernandez singing one of two Joăo Bosco tunes. B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Brown: Quiet Time (Brown Boulevard): February 14
  • Jon Di Fiore: Yellow Petals (Third Freedom Music): March 4
  • Haynes & Smoker: It Might Be Spring (Alvas)
  • Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: Liverevil (Hot Cup, 2CD): January 28
  • Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her (Brownswood): January 28
  • Matt Renzi: Rise and Shine (Three P's): January 14
  • Rudy Royston: 303 (Greenleaf Music): February 4
  • Adam Smale: Out of the Blue (self-released): March 4
  • The Paul Smoker Notet: Landings (Alvas)
  • Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski: Gathering Call (Palmetto): January 21

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Roundup

I tried this past week to sign up for a new health care insurance policy starting January 1. I would like to think successfully, but the last information I got on the website told me that I have one more thing to do -- to pay for the first month's insurance -- then offered me no way to do that. They did leave me with a "customer service number" so we'll try calling that tomorrow and hoping that will seal the deal. The policy I wound up with costs more than I've been paying through COBRA, but the tax credit I've earned by not making any money blogging all these years helps out.

I didn't notice any terrible performance problems, other than that the site went down for maintenance three times when I was on it (late at night). But I did hit a couple of serious bugs. For one, they sent me a "message" notice in email, and when I followed the link and logged in I saw a notice that there was a message for me, but I never found a way to access that message. I then found myself arbitrarily blocked from going forward to look at plans: some pages noted an error (big red box), but nothing helped to explain the error. I used their "chat" and the only help that the other person could offer was that I should call their "help line." When I did call the "help line" I spent 30 minutes on hold waiting to speak to someone. By that time I found a form saying that I wasn't eligible for Medicaid then asking me whether I wanted to apply anyway. When I checked that "no" -- hey, I live in Kansas, remember -- the blockage cleared up and I could finally look at plans.

That turned out to be the real time consumer, and is, I think, the fundamental problem with "Obamacare": I had to sort through 26 plans (ignoring everything rated Bronze), but they only came from two companies (one of which is generally regarded as a sick joke in these parts). But those plans had all sorts of minor tradeoffs which no one can sort through intelligently, partly for lack of information but mostly because one cannot define future needs. I wound up spending several days here, including breaks to call the insurance company to verify various bits of information. And in the end I have no idea whether I did the right thing or not.

There was also a glitch concerning dental insurance, which I haven't had for most of my life and is something I can get by without having, so I tried skipping it.

So all in all, not a pleasant experience, but still seems likely to be a big improvement over the pre-"Obamacare" situation, which is one where a 63-year-old unemployed guy with a lot of medical issues would have found it virtually impossible to get health insurance of any value at any cost.

Some scattered links this week:

  • Ryan Cooper: Today's Top-Down Class Warfare, in Four Infuriating Examples:

    1. North Carolina has been viciously savaging its unemployed, and the results are exactly what liberals predict.
    2. Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy are shirking stupendous quantities of inheritance taxes through financial chicanery.
    3. Word is the new farm bill is going to cut $8 billion more from food stamps.
    4. This Georgia Republican says poor kids should sweep floors for their lunch.
  • Ed Kilgore: Put Away the Chamberlain Umbrellas:

    Bad historical analogies for current events are the stock and trade of lazy writers and ax-grinders, and all the more pestiferous in a media environment in which any historical knowledge before about 1980 is a bit of a pleasant surprise. We're now in the midst of an epidemic of really, really bad "Munich" analogies for the new "first step" agreement with Iran. At Reason's Hit & Run blog, Matt Welch compiles the authors of "Munich" comparisons nicely: Bret Stephens, Ben Schapiro, James Carafano, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Daniel Pipes, Tom Cotton -- in other words, a predictable bunch. [ . . . ]

    [T]he Munich analogy fails even if you think the Iranians are as evil or even more evil than the Nazis. It fails because of Iran's weakness and the relatively small concessions they are obtaining; giving them back control of some of their own frozen assets isn't remotely comparable to turning over Sudentenland, much less the whole of Czechoslovakia.

    I've long thought that Chamberlain got a raw deal over Munich: his real mistake wasn't backing away from a war he was unable to fight over a thin slice of land where Germany plausibly claimed that most of the inhabitants favored joining the Reich; it was his "peace in our time" comment, which proved to be sorely in error. But there in a greater error in the analogy: the idea that Nazi Germany would have been stopped had Chamberlain not lost courage and chose to appease Hitler.

  • Paul Krugman: Inequality as a Defining Challenge: Good to see Krugman coming around here -- I've been on this theme for more than a few years now, not just because increasing inequality is unfair but because it turns us into more disrespectful, more dishonest, and downright meaner human beings, and that whole combination nudges a political system that can already be dubbed an oligarchy ever further into dysfunctionality. Even if you can't imagine where that might go in the future, you can plot out the changes of the last ten-twenty-thirty years and that should leave you discomfitted enough. Krugman is still behind the curve here, but he's no longer denying that inequality contributes to the shortfall of aggregate demand.

    Finally, very much tying in with this, is the question of what progressive think tanks should research. Klein suggests that "how to fight unemployment" should be a more central topic than "how to reduce inequality." But here's the thing: we know how to fight unemployment -- not perfectly, but good old basic macroeconomics has worked very well since 2008. There's no mystery about the economics of our slow recovery -- that's what happens when you tighten fiscal policy in the face of private deleveraging and monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. The question is why our political system ignored everything macroeconomics has learned, and the answer to that question, as I've suggested, has a lot to do with inequality.

    The causes of soaring inequality, on the other hand, are more mysterious; so are the channels through which we might reverse this trend. We know some things, but there is much more room for new knowledge here than in business cycle macro.

    So inequality is definitely a defining challenge; whether it is "the" defining challenge can be argued, but it makes very good sense for progressives to focus much of their energy on the issue. And yes, it's also true that inequality is easier to explain to the public than demand-side macroeconomics -- but since these concerns are complements rather than substitutes, that's not something that should induce any feelings of guilt.

    Not sure why Krugman still considers the "source of inequality" to be so "mysterious" -- Joseph Stiglitz has a long list of reasons in his book, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, and way back when Marx had a working model of surplus value at least for the manufacturing sector. Add rents and divide by whatever the current factor is for redistribution and you have a basic model. From that it's easy to see what policies -- reducing rents and increasing redistribution -- reduce inequality, and also you can see where the political resistance to those policies is coming from: the oligarchy and its ideologists. Unsurprisingly, the resistance against textbook macro comes from the exact same sources, precisely because they understand that once you start using the government to shape the economy there's no reason why beleaguered voters in a democracy will be satisfied with more dead-end jobs and won't start demanding a more equitable share. The task for these "think tanks" is less to understand the problem than to dispell the myths that cloak the right-wing onslaught.

    Krugman has "further numerical thoughts" here.

Also, a few links for further study:

  • Allison Deger: At New America Foundation, Max Blumenthal warns Israeli policy is to 'finish 48': I'm still reading Blumenthal's Goliath, and it's proving to be the broadest survey of current Israeli political opinion I've yet seen in English -- the touchy spot being how much of that opinion is rotted with racism, fascism, and militarism (but not a lot on religion thus far, although his suggestion that the Kookists are the true heirs, as well as the last refuges, of labor Zionism is a very interesting insight). By "finish 48" Blumenthal means to complete the ethnic cleansing that started with the explusion of 700,000 Palestinians, but thus far the means have mostly to be to render the remaining native population legally and politically invisible. Thus the renewed emphasis on the Jewish State, something that had been downplayed after 1949 when Israel enjoyed an overwhelming Jewish majority.

  • Gershom Gorenberg: Bibi's Agreement Anxiety Disorder: Fairly basic explanation of Netanyahu's over-the-top reaction to the US-Iran agreement to freeze (and in some cases reverse) Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment program and reduce some sanctions subject to a longer-term agreement within six months.

    To explain Benjamin Netanyahu's frenzied reaction to the Geneva agreement on Iran's nuclear program, let me begin with the stack of brown cardboard boxes under my wife's desk.

    Each of the five cartons contains a gas mask and related paraphernalia for a member of my family to use in the event of a chemical-weapons attack. They were delivered last January, as part of the gradual government effort to prepare every household in Israel for a rain of Syrian missiles. I suppose that having "defense kits" in the house could be macabre, but what we usually notice is that they're a nuisance: another thing on which to bang your toe in an overstuffed city flat.

    It now looks like Israel is discontinuing its gas mask program because Syria's is disposing of its chemical weapons: something which happened, and only could have happened, due to an agreement (in Geneva, no less) between Syria, Russia, and the US -- an agreement that Netanyahu, of course, condemned.

  • Imminent Iran nuclear threat? A timeline of warnings since 1979: For example:

    • 1992: Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu tells his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon -- and that the threat had to be "uprooted by an international front headed by the US."
    • 2002: President George W. Bush labels Iran as part of the "axis of evil," along with Iraq and North Korea.
    • 2006: The drums of war beat faster after the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh quotes US sources saying that a strike on Iran is all but inevitable, and that there are plans to use tactical nuclear weapons against buried Iranian facilities.
    • 2007: A month later, an unclassified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran is released, which controversially judges with "high confidence" that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons effort in fall 2003.
    • January 2011: When Meir Dagan steps down as director of Israel's Mossad spy agency, he says that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon until 2015.
  • Alex Kane: Meet the American Hedge Fund Billionaire Who Could Start a 'Holy War' in the Middle East: On Henry Swieca, his funding of the Temple Institute, and its growing influence within Israel.

  • Michael B Katz: How America abandoned its "undeserving" poor: Excerpt from Katz's new book, The Undeserving Poor: America's Enduring Confrontation With Poverty. Picks up the story in the 1970s, shortly after William Ryan explained the same thing in his book, Blaming the Victim. (For some reason my mind filed that title with Frances Fox Piven. Her 1971 book with Richard Cloward was called Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare. Katz, by the way, I recall especially for his 1968 book, The Irony of Early School Reform, about how universal education was promoted in 1840s Massachusetts primarily to "socialize" the immigrant Irish (and resisted by the poor for just that reason). So there's not much new here, but whereas the 1970 books meant to sweep out the last vestiges of pre-War-on-Poverty thinking, the new ones are starting to pick up the struggle again.

  • Eric Laursen: Faux Progressivism: Review of George Packer's book, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, starting with some character assessment -- my first thought here was "assassination," but went with the more accurate term -- of an author who worked so hard to help Bush invade Iraq. I found Packer's book on Iraq worth reading, although one did have to slog through a lot of nonsense with Paul Berman and Kanan Makiya before you get to anything useful. Most likely The Unwinding has some useful reporting as well, although I also don't doubt that Laursen is right that Packer misses much of the story, not least a last chapter that sums up the problems even if he can't see a way out.

  • Alex Parene's annual Hack List:

    1. Mike Allen: "For Allen, a source is indistinguishable from a friend and both are indistinguishable from sponsors. The result is a daily exercise in favor-trading carried out by people using him as a conduit and people using him as an unpaid spokesman."
    2. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: "Didn't political reporters like us create an environment in which every single dumb thing anyone even tangentially connected to any campaign said became a four-day-long "gaffe" story, forcing everyone involved to make the entire presidential race even more of a series of rehearsed and scripted pseudo-events than it already had been?"
    3. Benny Johnson: "Benny works for a website called Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed refined a style of web writing that at this point is scarcely web 'writing.' It is a sort of one-page scrolling picture book with some bits that move. Buzzfeed uses this form primarily to create harmless diversions, but also sometimes to 'report' news!"
    4. David Brooks: "Ideas, for those who aren't clear on the concept, are simply attention-grabbing assertions. The Columnist is one of a group of people who create these assertions and sell them to rich people. His first book, I Confirmed All My Biases By Driving to a Strip Mall, is a big hit among people who like to feel superior while reading gentle mocking of people who like to feel superior. 'Some Americans enjoy NASCAR,' he writes. 'Others prefer arugula and are very proud of themselves for this fact.' He treats this observation as a bold Idea."
    5. Richard Cohen: "First of all, it hurts to be called a racist. It's deeply hurtful, and unfair. I myself have felt the ugly sting of being accused of racism on more occasions than I can count. And I know that if I weren't a reasonably well-off white man of a certain age with a prestigious job in journalism, I'd certainly never be victimized like this."
    6. Erick Erickson: "With his soft physique and his inexplicable belief that 'blogger' is an appropriate job for a man who has a family to feed and protect, Erickson represents the epitome of the modern beta male. Can you imagine an alpha male in the animal kingdom 'working from home'? Erickson is practically made of arugula."
    7. Henry Blodget: "A few months ago I was browsing the Internet, reading websites, when I clicked on a link to an article on a website called Business Insider. The article was about how a man named Henry Blodget flew on an airplane. He wrote, 'I got a free pillow.' And then, under that, he posted a picture of the pillow. Most of the post was pictures, like that."
    8. Peggy Noonan: "Peggy Noonan had a lot of things to say, about how the president is weak and uncertain, how Chris Christie is good at playing a game, and knows it's a game, and is a winner, and how amazing it is that Peggy Noonan can ride on an airplane and type thoughts about JFK on a computer machine. Peggy Noonan is on airplanes, and in airports, a lot, in real life and in her columns."
    9. Thomas Friedman: "Thomas Friedman is an app. People who read Thomas Friedman, like President Obama and other rich Americans, are like teens using apps on their iPhones. Only this app doesn't take a selfie, it takes a they-mie. See, Friedman's a mirror, and like a mirror, he reflects. I call the people he's reflecting 'Friedman World.' In Friedman World, America is always saving Muslims from themselves by bombing them and columnists never learn any lessons from their worst mistakes. In Friedman World, the destabilization of America's former middle class is actually an opportunity for formerly employed people to work on building their branded reputations. [ . . . ] Most of his columns are just nonsensical buzzwords he's been repeating for literally 10 years and his foreign policy analysis is usually either incredibly facile or actively offensive to Arabs and Muslims. It's actually terrifying how influential he is. Like it legitimately makes me despair of anything improving anywhere in the world for anyone but the super-rich."
    10. Malcolm Gladwell: "But it turns out that the very skills necessary to write compelling profiles and thoughtful explorations of interesting topics can also be used to connect a bunch of anecdotes to some unrelated social sciences work and claim it all proves a conclusion that is basically a truism described as an unexpected insight. And once you can do that, you can do anything -- even get your book hawked to Glenn Beck's credulous audience."
  • Slavoj Zizek: If Nelson Mandela really had won, he wouldn't be seen as a universal hero: True enough, but the memory of Apartheid-era South Africa is so embarrassing to past supporters -- at least in the US; not so sure about Israel -- that it's really convenient that Mandela can be seen as a "universal hero."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daily Log

Baltimore City Paper top ten list:

  1. Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap (self-released)
  2. Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park (Mercury)
  3. Jason Isbell: Southeastern (Southeastern)
  4. Kanye West: Yeezus (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
  5. Elvis Costello and the Roots: Wise Up Ghost and Other Songs (Blue Note)
  6. J. Roddy Walston and the Business: Essential Tremors (ATO)
  7. Carcass: Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
  8. Ka: The Night's Gambit (Iron Works)
  9. My Bloody Valentine: MBV (Pickpocket)
  10. Kurt Vile: Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Daily Log

Going through the B&K email, the following are records they promoted that I never received (any grades are based on Rhapsody):

  • Esa Helasvuo: Stella Nova (TUM)
  • Fred Hersch/Julian Lage: Free Flying (Palmetto)
  • Jon Lundbom: Liverevil (Hot Cup) [A-]
  • Chris McNulty: The Song That Sings You Here (Challenge)
  • Rob Mosher: Polebridge (self-released)
  • New York Voices: Let It Snow (Five Cent)
  • Noah Preminger: Haymaker (Palmetto)
  • Wadada Leo Smith & TUMO: Occupy the World (TUM)

Dan Weber at Expert Witness:

Enjoying digging into the NPR Jazz Poll. Great job Francis. Thanks for the links and commentary Tom. Question: I see that both of you have New York Art Quartet's Call it Art as your reissue top pick. Is it really - gulp - $340 plus shipping?!! Is there any way around that? At that price point, I won't be able to get my ears anywhere near it - and I'd like to.

I replied:

I agree that the price point is prohibitive (and by the way the "plus shipping" involves moving about 10 lbs. around) and the music isn't all that monumental. Part of the reason I voted for it was to say thanks for thinking of me -- I guess payola can work even when we think we're immune to it -- and part because no one else in the reissues racket sends me anything: not Mosaic, not Concord with their OJC remasters, not Uptown, not Nessa, not Legacy (at least not their completist boxes), not Verve or ECM, not ESP-Disk, not Fresh Sound or any of the European labels going crazy now that the 1950s are public domain, not Corbett vs. Dempsey (whose Joe McPhee "Nation Time" box probably is worth the $50), so I didn't have much to compare it to. (My second pick was something I heard on Rhapsody; number three was the Miles Davis bootleg.) So I didn't have much to compare it to. Still, would make a nice 2CD set, and likely will on one of those European labels in a couple years. But Triple Point thinks it's worth more to a handful of vinyl fanatics than it would be produced cheaply for the masses, and that's the capitalist's prerogative.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jazz Critics Poll

I want to write some more about this later, but for now I want to just get the links up. Francis Davis started running a Jazz Critics Poll back at the Village Voice in 2006, and he's managed to keep it running even after the Voice lost interest. This year's poll is sponsored by NPR and is up on their website today. The links:

The first two of those links are to pieces by Francis Davis: the first with top-50 standings and a rundown of the top ten; the second with Davis's own ballot and year-end summary. The third is a link to my web server, where I've formatted the 137 individual ballots and tabulated them up so you can see the results down to the very last pick. I've been doing this since 2009, when Rob Harvilla at the Voice decided it would be less hassle (for him, anyway) to pay me to do it than to run it through the Voice's web bureaucracy. For most of the years I've also been asked to submit a sidebar piece -- basically a dressed up version of my own ballot. That didn't happen this year, but I've already shot my wad on that subject here.


Added Slant's top-25 to metacritic file. This may set some sort of record for most top-25 records that previously received grades of less than 4 stars (80): Kanye West (3), Knife (3.5), National (3), Pet Shop Boys (3.5), Local Natives (3.5), Charli XCX (2.5), Chvrches (2.5), Little Boots (3.5) -- that comes to 32%. No previous grade: Disclosure, Typhoon, Lightning Dust.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Music Week/Not Much Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 22568 [22520] rated (+48), 583 [580] unrated (+3).

Rated count reflects late adds to a Recycled Goods file that surprised me in topping fifty titles. I've also been listening to quite a bit of new jazz on Rhapsody, trying to catch some of the things I missed (or more precisely, that missed me), but they won't show up until I post December's Rhapsody Streamnotes. Also, most of what looks interesting in my incoming queue comes with a 2014 release date, so I've either been putting them off or holding back the reviews. That leaves, well, not much. The 2013 "pending" queue is down to 25 records, including this week's package of five December releases from tiny labels in the Netherlands.

The Jazz Critics Poll, which Francis Davis started at the Village Voice back when the paper still had something to say about jazz, and which he's kept alive despite the Voice's somnambulance, will appear on Wednesday -- a couple days delayed from the initial schedule. This one includes top-tens from 137 critics (well, 136), as well as marginal votes for reissues, vocals, debuts, and Latin jazz. I'm more interested in the bottom of the lists -- more often things that very few people heard than records that everyone got and nobody much liked -- so I'll note that the extended results list 491 records of new music and 96 reissues, with a few more creeping into the niches. I'll write more about this poll later. One thing I'm curious about is how much of the lists I've missed out on (first wild ass guess: about 30% of the new records, and 90% of the reissues).

Daniel Carter/Daniel Levin/Satoshi Takeishi/Devin Brahja Waldman: Say Hello to Anyone I Know (2013, Fast Speaking Music): Waldman plays alto sax, as does Carter but the elder player avoids harsh conflicts by also playing tenor, soprano, flute, clarinet, and trumpet. Levin plays cello, lifting him in the mix as compared to a bassist, and Takeishi percussion, not that he gives the band a beat to work with. B+(**)

Mark Lettieri: Future Fun (2013, Markus Justinius Music): Guitarist, plays in a "fusion-influenced jam band" called Snarky Puppy, second album under his own name. Can't read the credits, but I only hear bass and drums under the guitar, which nods toward Hendrix with occasional John Scofield licks. Can't read the times either, but strikes me as short, like under 30 minutes. B+(*)

Mike Longo and the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble: Live From New York (2013, CAP): Pianist, b. 1939, played with Dizzy Gillespie 1966-73, has twenty-some albums since 1972, this one leading a full big band with Ira Hawkins singing several songs in the middle of the set. He's a throwback to old crooners and isn't helped by songs like "I'm Old Fashioned" and "Muddy Water." The band, however, is sharp and detailed, especially the trombones. B+(**)

Sonya Robinson: Whistle (2013, FLV): Violinist, has a couple previous albums. Can't find or read the credits, but the violin makes for a reassuring lead instrument, the horns adding some lustre. Conspicuous cover: "The World Is a Ghetto." B+(*)

Soar Trio: Emergency Management Heist (2013, Edgetone): Sax-piano-bass trio, the best known member pianist Thollem McDonas, with 23 albums in the past 6 years (one of which I've heard and, I might add, liked). The others are Skeeter C.R. Shelton on alto sax and Joel Peterson on bass. Testy, free-ranging music, doesn't seem to be excessively slowed down by the lack of a drummer. B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Ambush Party: Circus (De Platenbakkerij)
  • The Blue Project: The Sound of Asbury Park (DPS): February 4
  • Joshua Breakstone: With the Wind and the Rain (Capri): January 21
  • George Cables: Icons & Influences (HighNote): January 21
  • Barbara Levy Daniels: Love Lost and Found (Bidproductions): March 4
  • Nir Felder: Golden Age (Okeh): advance, January 21
  • Tord Gustavsen: Extended Circle (ECM): advance, February 4
  • Romero Lubambo: Só: Brazilian Essence (Sunnyside): February 4
  • Jeremy Pelt: Face Forward, Jeremy (High Note): January 21
  • Danilo Perez: Panama 500 (Mack Avenue): advance, February 4
  • Lenny Sendersky/Tony Romano: Desert Flower (LeTo): February 4
  • Spinifex: Hipsters Gone Ballistic (Trytone)
  • Two Al's: And the Cowgirls Kept On Dancing (Brokken)
  • Fernando Ulibarri: Transform (self-released): March 4
  • Corrie Van Binsbergen: Self Portrait in Pale Blue (Brokken)
  • Frank Wess: Magic 201 (IPO): February 11

Went through the Jazz Critics Poll standings and built up lists of what I've heard and not. My 30% unheard estimate for new records was way low: try 46% (225/491). The unheard list is as follows (in poll rank order):

  1. Wadada Leo Smith & Tumo, Occupy the World (TUM) 70 (13) [dl]
  2. Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-uba, 30 Years: A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America (self-released) 58.5 (8) -
  3. John Hollenbeck, Songs I Like a Lot (Sunnyside) 56 (8) -
  4. Pat Metheny, Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 (Nonesuch/Tzadik) 49 (9) -
  5. Fred Hersch & Julian Lage, Free Flying (Palmetto) 43 (7) -
  6. 3 Cohens, Tightrope (Anzic) 37 (5) -
  7. Taylor Ho Bynum, Navigation (Firehouse 12) 31 (6) +
  8. Christine Jensen, Habitat (Justin Time) 23 (4) -
  9. Aaron Parks, Arborescence (ECM) 21 (4) -
  10. Aki Takase, My Ellington (Intakt) 20 (3) **
  11. Irčne Schweizer & Pierre Favre, Live in Zürich (Intakt) 19 (2) -
  12. Ralph Alessi, Baida (ECM) 18 (5) -
  13. Quest, Circular Dreaming (Enja) 18 (4) **
  14. Nicholas Payton, Sketches of Spain (BFM) 17 (3) -
  15. Duke Pearson, Baltimore 1969 (Uptown) 17 (2) -
  16. Dawn Upshaw & Maria Schneider, Winter Morning Walks (ArtistShare) 17 (2) -
  17. Bill Frisell, Silent Comedy (Tzadik) 16 (2) -
  18. Rocket Science, Live at the Vortex (More Is More) 16 (2) -
  19. Marc Cary, Four Directions (Motéma) 15.5 (4)
  20. Kjetil Mřster, Edvard Lygre Mřster (Hubro) 15.5 (2)
  21. René Marie, I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt (Motéma) 15 (2) **
  22. Odean Pope, Odean's Three (In+Out) 15 (2) **
  23. Various, Just Not Cricket! Three Days of British Improvised Music in Berlin (N! Vu N! Connu) 15 (2)
  24. Orrin Evans, ". . . It Was Beauty" (Criss Cross) 14.5 (2) -
  25. Alexis Cuadrado, A Lorca Soundscape (Sunnyside) 14 (3) -
  26. Travis Sullivan's Björkestra, I Go Humble (Zoho) 14 (3)
  27. Monika Roscher, Failure in Wonderland (Enja) 13 (2)
  28. Lester Young, Boston 1950 (Uptown) 13 (2) -
  29. Joshua Abrams, Unknown Known (RogueArt) 12 (3)
  30. Champian Fulton, Sings and Swings (Sharp Nine) 12 (2) -
  31. Nate Wooley, Seven Storey Mountain III and IV (Pleasure of the Text) 12 (2) -
  32. Peter Brötzmann, Long Story Short (Trost) 11 (3) +
  33. Arve Henriksen, Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon) 11 (3) +
  34. Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda, O Que Será (ECM) 11 (2) -
  35. John Butcher-Thomas Lehn-John Tilbury, Exta (Fataka) 11 (2) -
  36. Fredrik Ljungkvist & Yun Kan, Ten (Hoob) 11 (2)
  37. Paul Dunmall & Tony Bianco, Tribute to Coltrane (Slam) 10 (2) -
  38. Pascal Le Boeuf, Pascal's Triangle (Nineteen-Eight) 10 (2)
  39. Harold Mabern, Live at Smalls (Smalls Live) 10 (2) -
  40. Tarbaby, The Ballad of Sam Langford (Hipnotic) 10 (2) **
  41. Ken Vandermark, Impressions of Po Music (Okka) 10 (2)
  42. Butcher Brown, A-Sides/B-Sides (self-released) 10 (1)
  43. Ted Brown & Kirk Knuffke, Pound Cake (SteepleChase) 10 (1)
  44. Tommy Cecil & Bill Mays, Our Time: Sondheim Duos Vol. 2 (Tommy Cecil) 10 (1)
  45. John Clayton, Parlor Series (ArtistShare) 10 (1)
  46. Bela Fleck, The Imposter (Decca) 10 (1)
  47. Igor Gehenot, Road Story (Sowarex) 10 (1)
  48. Barry Guy, Mad Dogs (Not Two) 10 (1)
  49. Andrew Hill, Solos - The Jazz Sessions (Original Spin) 10 (1)
  50. Allyn Johnson, The Truth (self-released) 10 (1)
  51. Geoffrey Keezer, Heart of the Piano (Motéma) 10 (1)
  52. Modern Jazz Quartet, Germany 1956-58: The Lost Tapes (Jazzhaus) 10 (1)
  53. Aaron Parks, Alive in Japan (Bandcamp; free download) 10 (1)
  54. Odean Pope w/ Marshall Allen, In This Moment (CIMP) 10 (1)
  55. François Tusques, L'Étang Change (Improvising Beings) 10 (1)
  56. Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkest, Amsterdam Meets New Tango (Zoho) 10 (1)
  57. Oscar Brown Jr. & Maggie Brown, We're Live (ESP-Disk) 9 (2)
  58. Billy Lester, Storytime (Jujikaan) 9 (2)
  59. Mario Adnet, Um Olhar Sobre Villa Lobos (Boranda) 9 (1)
  60. Buika, La Noche Mas Larga (Warner Music Latina) 9 (1)
  61. Petr Cancura, Down Home (Roots to Boot) 9 (1)
  62. Kit Downes & Tom Challenger, Wedding Music (Loop) 9 (1)
  63. Bryan Ferry, The Great Gatsby Jazz Recordings: A Selection of Yellow Cocktail Music (Water Tower) 9 (1)
  64. Paolo Fresu, Desertico (Bonsaď/Otá) 9 (1) **
  65. Gilad Hekselman, This Just In (Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi) 9 (1) **
  66. Adam Lane, Oh Freedom (CIMP) 9 (1)
  67. Yusef Lateef-Roscoe Mitchell-Adam Rudolph-Douglas R. Ewart, Voice Prints (Meta) 9 (1) **
  68. Peter Madsen & Alfred Vogel, Soul of the Underground (Playscape) 9 (1)
  69. Art Pepper & Warne Marsh, Art Pepper & Warne Marsh (Widow's Taste (download)) 9 (1)
  70. Shatner's Bassoon, Aquatic Ape Privilege (Wasp Millionaire) 9 (1)
  71. Jonathan Suazo, Extracts of a Desire (self-released) 9 (1)
  72. Emilio Teubal, Música Para un Dragon Dormido (Brooklyn Jazz Underground) 9 (1)
  73. Laia Genc Liason Tonique, Talisman (Wismart) 9 (1)
  74. John Zorn, Dreamachines (Tzadik) 9 (1)
  75. Taylor Ho Bynum-John Hébert-Gerald Cleaver, Book of Three: Continuum (2012) (Relative Pitch) 8 (2)
  76. David Chesky, Jazz in the New Harmonic (Chesky) 8 (2)
  77. Mario Pavone, Arc Trio (Playscape) 8 (2) **
  78. Greg Abate, Time for Dave (Downeast) 8 (1)
  79. Anthony Braxton, Ensemble Montaigne (Bau 4) 2013 (Leo) 8 (1)
  80. Arun Ghosh, A South Asian Suite (Camoci) 8 (1)
  81. Thad Jones, The Danish Radio Big Band & Eclipse (Storyville) 8 (1)
  82. Edgar Knecht, Dance on Deep Waters (Ozilla) 8 (1)
  83. Nilson Matta, Black Orpheus (Motéma) 8 (1)
  84. Darryl Reeves, The Herbie Sessions (self-released) 8 (1)
  85. Stephen Riley, Lover (SteepleChase) 8 (1)
  86. Yeahwon, Shin Lua Ya (ECM) 8 (1)
  87. Stan Tracey, UK Live: With Ben Webster & Ronnie Scott 1967 Vol. 1 (Jazzhaus) 8 (1)
  88. Robert Glasper, Black Radio 2 (Blue Note) 7 (2) **
  89. Noah Preminger, Haymaker (Palmetto) 7 (2)
  90. Bengt Berger, Beches Brew Big (Country & Eastern) 7 (1)
  91. Scott Fields, Kintsugi (betweenthelines) 7 (1)
  92. Flex Bent Braam, Lucebert (BBB) 7 (1)
  93. Roberto Fonseca, Yo (Concord) 7 (1)
  94. Jon Lundbom, Liverevil (Hot Cup) 7 (1) **
  95. Now vs. Now, Earth Analog (Now vs Now Productions) 7 (1)
  96. Mike Reed, Second Cities: Volume 1 (482 Music) 7 (1) -
  97. Claudio Scolari, Synthesis (Principal) 7 (1)
  98. Dave Stryker, Blue to the Bone IV (SteepleChase) 7 (1)
  99. Trifolia, Le Refuge (Productions Marianne Trudel) 7 (1)
  100. Vadim Neselovskyi, Music for September (Sunnyside) 6 (2)
  101. Bobby Avey, Be Not So Long to Speak (Minsi Ridge) 6 (1) **
  102. George Benson, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole (Concord) 6 (1)
  103. Claire Daly, Baritone Monk (NCB Jazz) 6 (1)
  104. Michel Edelin, Resurgence (RogueArt) 6 (1)
  105. Mats Eilertsen, Sails Set (Hubro) 6 (1)
  106. Lorraine Feather, Attachments (Jazzed Media) 6 (1)
  107. Illinois Jacquet & Leo Parker, Toronto 1947 (Uptown) 6 (1)
  108. Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson, Afar (ScienSonic) 6 (1)
  109. Joachim Kühn, Voodoo Sense (ACT) 6 (1)
  110. Nicole Mitchell, Engraved in the Wind (RogueArt) 6 (1)
  111. Roscoe Mitchell-Tony Marsh-John Edwards, Improvisations (Oto Roku) 6 (1) **
  112. Nicolas Moreaux, Fall Somewhere (Fresh Sound New Talent) 6 (1)
  113. Vadim Neselovskyi & Arkady Shilkloper, Last Snow (Art Beat) 6 (1)
  114. O'Farrill Brothers, Sensing Flight (Zoho) 6 (1)
  115. Tony Oxley, A Birthday Tribute--75 Years (Incus) 6 (1)
  116. Oscar Pettiford, Lost Tapes: Germany 1958/1959 (Jazz Haus) 6 (1)
  117. Marcus Printup, Desire (SteepleChase) 6 (1)
  118. Carmen Souza, Kachupada (Galileo) 6 (1)
  119. Ralph Towner-Wolfgang Muthspiel-Slava Grigoryan, Travel Guide (ECM) 6 (1)
  120. J.D. Walter, One Step Away (JWal) 6 (1)
  121. Alaturka, Yalniz (Tzigane) 5.5 (1)
  122. Jeremiah Cymerman, Sky Burial (5049) 5.5 (1)
  123. DKV Trio + Gustafsson/Pupillo/Nilssen-Love, Schl8hof (Trost) 5.5 (1)
  124. Roberta Donnay, A Little Sugar (Motéma) 5.5 (1)
  125. Daryl Harper, The Edenfred Files (Hipnotic) 5.5 (1)
  126. Lisa Hilton, Getaway (Lisa Hilton Music/Ruby Slippers Productions) 5.5 (1)
  127. Rachel Musson-Mark Sanders-Liam Noble, Tatterdemalion (Babel) 5.5 (1)
  128. Nerve4tet, Even Worms Have Nerves (Not Two) 5.5 (1)
  129. Kendrick Scott, Conviction (Concord Jazz) 5 (2)
  130. John Abercrombie, 39 Steps (ECM) 5 (1)
  131. Trevor Anderies, Shades of Truth (Nine Winds) 5 (1)
  132. Ab Baars-Meinard Kneer-Bill Elgart, Give No Quarter (Evil Rabbit) 5 (1)
  133. Jon Batiste & Stay Human, Social Music (Razor & Tie) 5 (1)
  134. Samuel Blaser, A Mirror to Machaut (Songlines) 5 (1) **
  135. Fire!, (Without Noticing) (Rune Grammofon) 5 (1)
  136. Alexander Hawkins, Song Singular (Babel) 5 (1)
  137. Cliff Hines, Wanderlust (self-released) 5 (1)
  138. Meschiya Lake, Fooler's Gold (CD Baby) 5 (1)
  139. Andrew Lamb, Honeymoon on Saturn (CIMP) 5 (1)
  140. Jesper Lundgaard-Bob Rockwell-Doug Raney-Henrik Gunde-Aage Tangaard, Love&Peace: The Music of Horace Parlan (Storyville) 5 (1)
  141. Harry Miller, Different Times, Different Places (Ogun) 5 (1)
  142. Radio String Quartet Vienna, Celebrating Weather Report--Live (ACT) 5 (1)
  143. Reut Regev's R*Time, Exploring the Vibe (Enja) 5 (1) **
  144. Joana Sá & Luís José Martins, Almost a Song (Shhpuma) 5 (1)
  145. Kenny Wessel, Weights and Measures (CD Baby) 5 (1)
  146. Gregg August, Four by Six (Inacuessa -12) 4 (1)
  147. Johnny Butler, Carousel (self-released) 4 (1)
  148. Benoît Delbecq/Fred Hersch, Fun House (Songlines) 4 (1)
  149. Dave Douglas, Pathways (Greenleaf) 4 (1)
  150. Endangered Blood, Work Your Magic (Skirl) 4 (1)
  151. Maria Faust, Jazz Catastrophe (Barefoot) 4 (1)
  152. Tubby Hayes, Seven Steps to Heaven: Live at the Hopbine 1972 (Gearbox) 4 (1)
  153. Jutta Hipp, The German Recordings 1952-1955 (Jazz Haus) 4 (1)
  154. Stan Kenton, Road Shows (Tantara) 4 (1)
  155. Laubrock/Rainey/Davis/Alessi, LARK (Skril) 4 (1)
  156. Panorama Jazz Band, Dance of the Hot Earth (self-released) 4 (1)
  157. Evan Parker & Matthew Shipp, Rex, Wrecks & XXX (RogueArt) 4 (1)
  158. Reijseger/Fraanje/Sylla, Down Deep (Winter & Winter) 4 (1)
  159. Howie Smith & Mike Nock, Opal Dream (Open Blue) 4 (1)
  160. Dr. Lonnie Smith, In the Beginning, Vols. 1 & 2 (Pilgrimage) 4 (1)
  161. Simon Spang-Hanssen, Luna Moon (Alisio) 4 (1)
  162. Tingvall Trio, In Concert (Skip) 4 (1)
  163. Worldservice Project, Fire in a Pet Shop (Megasound) 4 (1)
  164. John Zorn, A Vision of Blakelight (Tzadik) 4 (1)
  165. Atomic, There's a Hole in the Mountain (Jazzland) 3 (1)
  166. Stefano Battaglia, Songways (ECM) 3 (1)
  167. Ensemble Real Book Argentina, Contemplación (Club del Disco) 3 (1)
  168. Kevin Eubanks, The Messenger (Mack Avenue) 3 (1)
  169. Kevin Finseth & Peggy Lee, The Wounded Quartet (High Life) 3 (1)
  170. Llyn Foulkes, Sounds From Bldg 22 (Brewery) 3 (1)
  171. Lafayette Gilchrist, The View from Here (self-released) 3 (1)
  172. Kirk Knuffke, Chorale (SteepleChase) 3 (1)
  173. Phil Nimmons & David Braid, Nimmons 'n' Braid (Independent) 3 (1)
  174. Hod O'Brien, I Hear a Rhapsody (Spice of Life) 3 (1)
  175. Eddie Palmieri, Doin' It in the Park (CD Baby) 3 (1)
  176. Saffron, Dawning (Tames/Palmetto) 3 (1)
  177. Gunter Baby Sommer, Dedications (Intakt) 3 (1)
  178. Stahls Trio, Jag Skulle Bara Ga Ut (Moserobie) 3 (1)
  179. Kenny Wheeler & Norma Winstone, Mirrors (Edition) 3 (1)
  180. Various, Turkish Free Music (Sagittarius A-Star) 3 (1)
  181. Ben Allison, The Stars Look Very Different Today (Sonic Camera) 2 (2)
  182. Jakob Bro, December Song (Loveland) 2 (1)
  183. Confusion Bleue, East Side Banquet (Ictus) 2 (1)
  184. Sylvie Courvoisier & Mark Feldman, Live at Theatre Vidy-Lausanne (Intakt) 2 (1)
  185. DePaul Jazz Ensemble & Jeff Hamilton, Salutes Woody Herman (Jazzed Media) 2 (1)
  186. Dr. Kay & His Interstellar Tone Scientists, The Search for True Happiness (Bangles and Brass) 2 (1) --
  187. David Haney, Avenue of the Americas (CIMP) 2 (1)
  188. Francois Houle & Havard Wiik, Aves (Songlines) 2 (1)
  189. In the Country, Sunset, Sunrise (ACT) 2 (1)
  190. Hans Koch-Martin Schütz-Fredy Studer & Shelly Hirsch, Walking and Stumbling Through Your Sleep (Intakt) 2 (1)
  191. Marty Krystall, Moments Magical (K2B2) 2 (1)
  192. Mariano Loiacono, Hot House (Rivo) 2 (1)
  193. Tom McDermott, Bamboula (Minky) 2 (1)
  194. Denman Maroney & Hans Tammen, Arson (OutNow) 2 (1)
  195. Luis Muńoz, Luz (self-released) 2 (1)
  196. Arturo O'Farrill, Final Night at Birdland (Zoho) 2 (1)
  197. Paris Washboard, Swinging Castle (Kur und Kongress) 2 (1)
  198. Sam Sadigursky & Laurent Coq, Words Projects 3 (New Amsterdam) 2 (1)
  199. George Shearing, At Home (Jazzknight) 2 (1)
  200. Too Noisy Fish, Fight Eat Sleep (Rat) 2 (1)
  201. John Zorn, The Mysteries (Tzadik) 2 (1)
  202. Monty Alexander, Uplift 2 Higher (Jazz Legacy) 1 (1)
  203. Killer Ray Appleton, Naptown Legacy (Holistic Musicworks) 1 (1)
  204. Lol Coxhill & Michel Doneda, Sitting on Your Stairs (Emanem) 1 (1)
  205. Kruglov/Sooäär/Lapin/Yudanov, Military Space (Leo) 1 (1)
  206. Oliver Lake, Wheels (Passin' Thru) 1 (1)
  207. Ralph Lalama, Bop Juice (Smalls Live -12) 1 (1)
  208. Mike LeDonne, Speak (Cellar Live) 1 (1)
  209. Liberty Ship, Approaching (Eclipse) 1 (1)
  210. Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistry in Rhythm (Jazzheads) 1 (1)
  211. John Medeski, A Different Time (Okeh) 1 (1)
  212. Lubomyr Melnyk, Three Solo Pieces (Unseen Worlds) 1 (1)
  213. Mathieu Metzger, Self-Cooking (Ayler) 1 (1)
  214. Youn Sun Nah, Lento (ACT) 1 (1)
  215. Harold O'Neal, Man on the Street (DD172) 1 (1)
  216. Gretchen Parlato, Live in NYC (Obliqsound) 1 (1)
  217. Ronnie Scott Quintet Featuring Alan Skidmore, BBC Jazz Club (Gearbox) 1 (1)
  218. Silk Road Ensemble & Yo-Yo Ma, A Playlist Without Borders (Masterworks) 1 (1)
  219. Omar Sosa, Eggun (Ota) 1 (1)
  220. 10-32K, That Which Is Planted: Live in Buffalo and Rochester (Passin' Thru) 1 (1)
  221. Tower of Power, Hipper than Hip: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: Live On the Air 1974 (Real Gone) 1 (1)
  222. Marcos Valle & Stacey Kent, Ao Vivo (Sony) 1 (1)
  223. Ken Vandermark/Made to Break, Lacerba (Clean Feed) 1 (1)
  224. Various, Taiwan Jazz & World (Buda Musique) 1 (1)

I'll nibble away at that over time, but probably won't ever get it down to my initial 30% estimate. As for reissues, my 90% unheard estimate was a bit high -- with 16 out of 96 records heard, 83% unheard would have been right. Although actually, that's not quite right either: I've heard another 9 records in some previous release, so the real unheard number drops to 74%, leaving the following:

  1. Woody Shaw, The Complete Muse Sessions (Mosaic) 40 (21)
  2. Jack DeJohnette, Special Edition (ECM) 38 (19)
  3. Clifford Jordan, The Complete Strata-East Sessions (Mosaic) 38 (18)
  4. Miles Davis, Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy) 34 (15)
  5. Paul Motian, Paul Motian (ECM) 27 (13)
  6. John Coltrane, Sun Ship: The Complete Session (Impulse/Mosaic) 27 (12)
  7. Herbie Hancock, The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Legacy) 25 (11)
  8. Earl Hines, The Classic Earl Hines Sessions: 1928-1945 (Mosaic) 21 (9)
  9. Chick Webb & Ella Fitzgerald, Complete Decca Sessions 1934-1941 (Mosaic) 17 (7)
  10. Joe McPhee, Nation Time: The Complete Recordings (1969-70) (Corbett vs. Dempsey) 15 (8)
  11. Ran Blake, Plays Solo Piano (ESP-Disk) 11 (6)
  12. Various, The Rise & Fall of Paramount, Volume One, 1917-1927 (Third Man/Revenant) 9 (3)
  13. John Carter & Bobby Bradford, Flight for Four (International Phonograph) 8 (4)
  14. Instant Composers Pool, The Complete Catalogue (Buzz) 8 (3)
  15. Charles Lloyd, Quartets (ECM) 7 (4)
  16. Tito Puente, Quatro: The Definitive Collection (Sony Music Latin) 7 (4)
  17. Chris McGregor Brotherhood of Breath, Procession Live at Toulouse (Ogun) 7 (3)
  18. Jeremy Steig, Flute Fever (International Phonograph) 7 (3)
  19. Neil Ardley, A Symphony of Amaranths (Dusk Fire) 5 (2)
  20. John Stevens-Paul Rutherford-Evan Parker-Barry Guy, One Four and Two Twos (Emanem) 5 (2)
  21. Duke Ellington, The Ellington Suites (OJC/Pablo) 4 (3)
  22. James Booker, Classified: Remixed and Expanded (Rounder) 4 (2)
  23. Clifford Brown & Max Roach, The EmArcy Albums (Mosaic) 4 (2)
  24. Stark Reality, Acting Thinking Feeling (Now Again) 4 (2)
  25. Byron Allen, Trio (ESP-Disk) 3 (2)
  26. Albert Ayler, Live on the Riviera (ESP-Disk) 3 (2)
  27. Sarah Vaughan, Sophisticated Lady: The Duke Ellington Songbook Collection (Pablo ) 3 (2)
  28. Tom McDermott, Bamboula (Minky) 3 (1)
  29. Ran Blake & Jeanne Lee, Free Standards: Stockholm 1966 (Fresh Sound) 3 (1)
  30. Caldera, Caldera/Sky Islands (SoulMusic) 3 (1)
  31. Ted Curson, Ode to Booker Ervin (Rocket) 3 (1)
  32. Detroit Jazz Composers Ltd, Hastings St. Jazz Experience (Soul Jazz) 3 (1)
  33. Tommy Flanagan, Giant Steps (Enja Jazz Classics) 3 (1)
  34. Clifford Jordan, Seven Classic Albums (Real Gone) 3 (1)
  35. Pyramids, They Play to Make Music Fire! 1973-1976 (Disko B) 3 (1)
  36. Various, French New Wave (Jazz on Film) 3 (1)
  37. Various, Spiritual Jazz, Volume 4 (Jazzman) 3 (1)
  38. Giuseppi Logan, More (ESP-Disk) 2 (2)
  39. Lester Young, Boston 1950 (Uptown) 2 (1)
  40. Muhal Richard Abrams The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note, CAM Jazz () 2 (1)
  41. Bunny Berigan, Swingin' & Jumpin' (Hep) 2 (1)
  42. Bing Crosby, Bing Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook (Bing Crosby Enterprises) 2 (1)
  43. Miles Davis, So What: The Complete 1960 Amsterdam Concerts (Dutch Jazz Archives) 2 (1)
  44. Jim Hall, Live Vol. 2-4 (ArtistShare) 2 (1)
  45. Bob James, Rhodes Scholar: Jazz-Funk Classics 1974-1982 (Tappan Zee/Decision Records) 2 (1)
  46. Philly Joe Jones, Six Classic Albums (Real Gone Jazz) 2 (1)
  47. Volker Kriegel, Lost Tapes (Jazz Haus) 2 (1)
  48. Wynton Marsalis, The Spiritual Side Of (Columbia) 2 (1)
  49. Ohio Penitentiary, 511 Ensemble Hard Luck Soul (Jazzman) 2 (1)
  50. Theo Parrish, Black Jazz Signature (Snow Dog) 2 (1)
  51. Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Revisited ( ) 2 (1)
  52. Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue (Bethelem) 2 (1)
  53. Martial Solal, Le Cinema De Martial Solal (Universal Japan) 2 (1)
  54. Walter Bishop, Jr., Keeper of My Soul (Black Jazz/Snow Dog) 1 (1)
  55. Duke Ellington, Big Bands Live (Jazz Haus) 1 (1)
  56. Duke Ellington, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums 1951-58 (Columbia/Legacy) 1 (1)
  57. Bill Evans, How My Heart Sings (Concord) 1 (1)
  58. Iskra 1903, South on the Northern (Emanem) 1 (1)
  59. Harry James, The Harry James Sessions 1976 & 1979 (Sheffield Labs) 1 (1)
  60. Volker Kriegel, With A Little Help From My Friends (Mig Music/Liberty) 1 (1)
  61. Albert Mangelsdorff, Live (SWR) 1 (1)
  62. Charlie Parker, Integrale (Fremeaux & Associates) 1 (1)
  63. Oscar Pettiford, Lost Tapes: Germany 1958/1959 (SWR Music) 1 (1)
  64. Archie Shepp, Live in Antibes (Charly) 1 (1)
  65. Eddie Shu, I Only Have Eyes For Shu (Bethlehem) 1 (1)
  66. Jeri Southern, The Warm Singing Style of Jeri Southern (The Complete Decca Years: 1951-1957) (Fresh Sound) 1 (1)
  67. Sun Ra, Continuation (Corbett vs. Dempsey) 1 (1)
  68. Sarah Vaughan, Divine: The Jazz Albums 1954-1958 (Verve Select) 1 (1)
  69. Patty Waters, College Tour (ESP-Disk) 1 (1)
  70. Various, Liberation Music: Spiritual Jazz and the Art of Protest on Flying Dutchman Records, 1969-1974 (BGP) 1 (1)
  71. Various, Selected Signs III - VIII (ECM) 1 (1)

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Louis Armstrong & Friends: What a Wonderful Christmas (1950-66 [1997], Hip-O): B+(***) [rhapsody]
  • The Prestige Legacy, Vol. 1: The High Priests (1951-58 [2000], Prestige): B+(*) [rhapsody]
  • The Prestige Legacy, Vol. 2: Battle of the Saxes (1949-64 [2000], Prestige): A- [R]

  • Cecil Taylor-Buell Neidlinger: New York City R&B (1961, Candid): B+(***) [rhapsody]
  • Cecil Taylor: Cell Walk for Celeste (1961 [1988], Candid): B+(**) [rhapsody]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recycled Goods (115): December, 2013

New Recycled Goods: pick up text here. Total review count: 4088 (3637 + 451.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Notable Today

A few recent items I thought notable:

  • Liz Cheney Wrote College Op-Ed Opposing South Africa Divestment: There's an old joke that roughly goes: if you're not a communist when you're 20 you have no feelings; if you're still a communist when you're 40 you have no brains. Conservative children, however, are inured from birth against both feelings and brains, and this is just one more pathetic example of how the instinct to defend privilege knows no bounds of decency. If you go back through history, you will always find conservatives clinging to exclusivist -- not just racist, but whatever distinguishes the top dogs -- up until the bitter end.

  • Santorum: Fight Against Obamacare Like Fight Against Apartheid: Aprčs le deluge, of course, few conservatives stick to their guns -- most are content merely to find a new status quo to defend against further change. Few conservatives continued to defend slavery after the Civil War, even though virtually all of them had done so in the 1850s. Conservatives spun even quicker when their great white hope against communism in the 1930s destroyed his country in 1945. And while they never lifted a finger to help the civil rights struggle in the US or the worldwide campaign against Apartheid, most adjusted afterwards, some even pretending to have switched sides -- more likely they were just relieved to have gotten past such embarrassing stands. Still, few conservatives are as sloppily opportunistic as Santorum is here, but then few have embraced ignorance and stupidity with so much enthusiasm and righteousness.

  • McCain on Obama-Castro Handshake: 'Chamberlain Shook Hands With Hitler': Godwin's Law should have the effect of making one think twice before invoking Hitler, but that assumes thinking is involved, and that's not something warmongers like McCain have the patience for. Invoking Hitler works for conservatives because everyone despises Hitler (the left as a monster, the right as a failure, and everyone in between). Chamberlain just adds a note of ignorant disgust. Still, why shouldn't they extend one another the basic courtesy of shaking hands? McCain explains (if asking a rhetorical question counts as an explanation): "Why should you shake hands with somebody who's keeping Americans in prison?" Huh? I wasn't aware Cuba had any American prisoners, but the number has got to be infinitesimal compared to the number of Americans in US prisons (or the number of non-Americans Obama holds in that US prison in Cuba). Morever, US sanctions and blockades have effectively held all of Cuba prisoner since 1959, so if anyone has reason not to shake hands, it's Castro. However, had Castro refused, he'd have to explain the rest of the news cycle explaining why he wasn't just being an asshole; having shaken hands, he could proceed to talking about something constructive. It should be the same with Obama, but McCain thinks the US president should be an asshole -- indeed, that if he isn't, the world will forget what assholes we really are. No wonder the only time I thank God Obama was elected is when McCain makes the news.

  • Conservatives Complain That Obama Paid Tribute to Mandela, But Snubbed Thatcher: Isn't this the perfect example of the sort of trivial nonsense the 24/7 right-wing propaganda machine comes up with when it has nothing substantial to complain about? It wasn't that Thatcher wasn't as momentous a leader as Mandela. The problem with Thatcher is that everything she did was aimed at reducing welfare and freedom in favor of an increasingly predatory elite -- that is, after all, why the right so adores her, but hardly convinces anyone else that she's anything more than a bad memory. Someday her legacy will be reversed. Mandela's great achievement, on the other hand, will last. One way to tell is to imagine what would happen without each leader. Even if South Africa's apartheid regime had hung on for decades, it would still be opposed by the majority all around the world, and struggle against it would continue as long as it took.

  • Matthew Taylor: Obama's Mandela eulogy -- moving, and hypocritical: When South Africa's white ruling class cut their grand bargain with Mandela, the struggle against apartheid moved . . . to another former British colony, then known as Palestine, or as its current ruling class prefers, Israel. There are some differences[*], but both are systems aimed at allowing one self-identified group to exclude others from political and economic power, and as such both are deeply offensive to our modern ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. As an American, I had little trouble at all connecting the dots between the "Jim Crow" segregation in America to Apartheid in South Africa to its analog in Israel, but Obama doesn't seem to be able to do the final mental equation, which leaves him praising the end of segregation in the US and South Africa while ignoring it in Israel/Palestine: hence the charge of hypocrisy. Of course, Obama is not alone in this disconnect: it is endemic to the US political classes, drawing on reasons as varied and dangerous as corruption, militarism, religious fanaticism, and a false sense of solidarity and/or identity.

Had I dug deeper, I could probably find links pointing out that the revolution that Nelson Mandela led in South Africa has not produced the full equality we hoped for. Part of the grand bargain that freed him from jail and advanced him to the presidency was to keep the economic system that had favored the white minority, as it continues to do to this day. Similarly, the extension of the franchise to blacks in the US has done little to redress the great imbalances in wealth we suffer here in the US -- that inequality, indeed, has only increased in the decades after the triumph of the civil rights movement. Still, both breakthroughs were (and are) real and irreversible. Those gains came to pass primarily because the injustices of the old systems became too visible not to ignore. That needs to happen with class as well.

[*] The main difference between Israel's and South Africa's versions of Apartheid: whites were never more than a small minority in South Africa (close to 10% when Apartheid fell), whereas the Jewish/Zionist population share in pre-occupation Israel was more than 80%, and is still more than 50% including the Occupied Territories (although it could drop to less than 50% if the Palestinian refugees were able to return). Control is largely a numbers game, which is a big part of the reason Israelis have been so preoccupied with promoting Jewish immigration and with ridding themselves of as many Palestinians as possible. Israel is also much more intensively militarized, so the controllers have more power and resources. And the Zionist labor movement developed the doctrine of "Hebrew labor" so systematically sought to free themselves from depending on low-cost Palestinian labor, whereas the South African economy was built on native labor, so the Afrikaners never had the option, much less the ability, to consolidate their political power by "ethnic cleansing."

Monday, December 09, 2013

Music Week/Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 22520 [22482] rated (+38), 580 [574] unrated (+6).

Published my Best Jazz Albums of 2013 last Wednesday, so I'm on the hook for that. Was pleased that it was picked up in Largehearted Boy's 2013 Year-End Online Music Lists. I've spent a lot of time the last few days looking at end-of-year lists and factoring them into my metacritic file. I've made some adjustments to my methodology, so I doubt that I'll wind up counting as many lists as in previous years, but at least it will be easier to figure out who picked what. Biggest surprise for me has been the rise of an Arctic Monkeys album I regard as damn near unlistenable: it's topped the lists as NME and Quietus, come in second at TimeOut London, fourth at Mojo, ninth at Uncut and (showing the interest isn't exclusively UK) Rolling Stone. Another surprise is that Vampire Underground isn't running away from the pack: it's currently tied with My Bloody Valentine for second (MBV was the leader before I started adding EOY lists), having been passed by Kanye West (7th before the EOYs). Also notable: that Yo La Tengo album so many people adored back in January, still third before the EOYs, has faded into obscurity, much as the title promised -- slipped into 16th at the moment.

I'll keep adding EOY lists as they come out, most likely until the end of the month. Main thing I know about the Jazz Poll is that we had a record number of critics voting this year: 136. Results are scheduled to go up at NPR next Monday, December 16. Haven't seen them yet myself, but I'll have a lot of work to do when I do, as I'll be hosting the individual critic ballots as I've done the last few years. The metacritic file jazz list is hard to read: I'm mostly tracking rock magazines, so albums that crossover toward post-rock often do much better than even mainstream jazz, as witness the standings of Colin Stetson, Ceramic Dog, and Melt Yourself Down.

Two A-list records this week: one (New York Art Quartet) found before I posted my Best Jazz Albums of 2013 list, the other (Anna Kaluza) after. Took about three days, which seems to be par when one closes a year-end list in December. Actually, the whole Clean Feed batch came close, with Pascal Niggenkemper enjoying peak moments. You'll also find a few Christmas records below. I have probably close to two dozen in the queue, some carried over from Christmases past. At one point I was thinking that the week after Thanksgiving I'd knock them all off as some sort of special, but didn't manage that, and don't know when (or if) I ever will. You read right-wingers writing about some "war on Christmas," but when you go out this time of year it seems more like Christmas is waging war on you.

Jason Paul Curtis: Love Holiday (2012, self-released): Singer, first album, calls his piano trio (Ray Mabalot is the pianist) Swinglab (10 cuts), and his big band Swing Machine (2 cuts). Wrote 5 (of 12) songs here, the holiday themes discreet enough I didn't realize what I was getting into until Santa Claus popped up. Also co-opts two Cole Porter songs, winter (if not holiday) fare: "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" and "In the Still of the Night." B+(*)

Kris Davis: Massive Threads (2012 [2013], Thirsty Ear): One of the most impressive pianists to emerge in the last decade, even if the more obvious reason why her Quartet albums were so successful was saxophonist Tony Malaby. Second solo album, a mix of loud and quiet exercises, each impressive in its own way. B+(***) [advance]

Kaja Draksler: The Lives of Many Others (2013, Clean Feed): Pianist, b. 1987 in Slovenia, shortly before the breakup of Yugoslavia, currently based in Amsterdam. Plays in European Movement Jazz Orchestra, leads Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quintet. This is solo, has some dramatic passages but mostly sneaks up on you. B+(**)

Nnenna Freelon/John Brown Big Band: Christmas (2012 [2013], Brown Boulevard): Singer, has more than a dozen albums since 1992 including tributes to Stevie Wonder and Billie Holiday. Brown plays bass, leads a swing-oriented big band, and joins in on one vocal. Many of the obvious Xmas tunes get wrapped up in two quick medleys, leaving room for "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Nothing wrong with this if you want something a little more, uh, contemporary than Ella Fitzgerald, but it still leaves me cold inside. B

John Hébert Trio: Floodstage (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Bassist-led piano trio, Hébert composing all but two pieces: one by pianist Benoît Delbecq and the trad gospel "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." Gerald Cleaver is the drummer. Delbecq opens on "analog synth and tronics" throwing the sound off a bit; otherwise a fine piano trio album. B+(***)

Marquis Hill: The Poet (2013, Skiptone Music): Trumpet player, age 26 (can we assume 1987?), based in Chicago, second album, backed by alto sax, vibes, piano, bass, drums, percussion, featuring spoken word (i.e., raps) by Mary E. Lawson and Keith Winford, poetry by Kevin Sparks. The vibes gives this a certain bubbliness, and the closing rap works for me. B+(**)

Brad Hoyt: Far Away From Everyday (2013, Harp Guitar Music): This seems to be a showcase for harp guitar, which is a guitar with an extra set of strings to one side spread out like a harp, although there seem to be a wide range of design. Hoyt's previously recorded as part of the Harp Guitar Collective, and he has various of his cohort here, as well as a lot of strings, flutes, etc. Does make for fairly lush instrumentals, of a new agey sort. B

Anna Kaluza/Artur Majewski/Rafal Mazur/Kuba Suchar: Tone Hunting (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): Alto sax, trumpet/cornet, acoustic bass guitar, drums/kalimba. Kaluza is German, from Köln, has a couple previous albums. The others are probably Polish -- I've run across Mazur and Majewski before. Group improvs, no titles (unless you count "Track 1," etc.), no clash, just even-tempered exploration. The kalimba is a nice touch. A-

Wouter Kellerman: Mzansi (2013, self-released): South African flute player, b. 1961; Wikipedia article says more about his philanthropy than his music, although it doesn't omit opening for Johnny Clegg's 2009 tour, so maybe there isn't that much to write about. Does look like he has a couple previous albums. This one is MOR South African pop, pretty pleasant unless you're hung up about flutes. B

New York Art Quartet: Call It Art (1964-65 [2013], Triple Point, 5LP): Extravagant packaging, with the 5 LPs each in its own jacket, packed alongside a 156-page clothbound book, both enclosed in a very handsome plywood box. The group, with Roswell Rudd on trombone and John Tchicai on alto sax, was more at home in Copenhagen than in New York. They cut the one album they're known for on ESP-Disk, another for Fontana in England, but other recordings have leaked out over the years -- notably Old Stuff, released by Cuneiform in 2010, and now this stack of "previously uncirculated" vinyl. Hard for me to evaluate -- among other things I'm just not accustomed to evaluating things in 15-20 minute chunks anymore -- but everything I play has its fascinating points. Retails at $340 (plus shipping), which I regard as insane. But it is quite a piece of product, and presumably the market knows best. A-

Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7: Lucky Prime (2012 [2013], Clean Feed): German bassist, based in New York, I first noticed him in HNH (with Joe Hertenstein and Thomas Heberer), but he has a couple of trio records with Robin Verheyen (sax) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums), and now this expansive septet. Emilie Lesbros wrote lyrics to most pieces, sings, and directs traffic, which can get chaotic -- Frank Gratkowski (bass clarinet, alto sax), Eve Risser (piano), Frantz Loriot (viola), Els Vandeweyer (vibes, marimba), and Christian Lillinger (drums): combinations that are inherently risky but succeed more often than not. B+(***)

Ted Rosenthal Trio: Wonderland (2013, Playscape): Pianist, fourteenth album since 1989, one of the 40-50 mainstream masters with a Maybeck Recital Hall Series album. I was aware of the name but hadn't listened to him until Out of This World turned out to be my favorite piano trio album of 2011. This is his Xmas music album, and he quotes the overly familiar refrains often enough to remind you of the fact, it's also a prime example of how to jazz up such material. B+(*)

Angelica Sanchez/Wadada Leo Smith: Twine Forest (2013, Clean Feed): Piano-trumpet duets, the songs composed by the pianist, who makes a strong impression when leading then falls to the side when the trumpet takes over. He's impressive too, and when the pair connect they can blow you away. Then they back off leaving you to wonder what's going on, before they attack again. B+(***)

Elliot Sharp Aggregat: Quintet (2013, Clean Feed): I think of him as a guitarist but I'm barely familiar with the many dozens of albums he's released since 1979. But he played tenor and soprano sax as well as guitar on his 2012 trio album Aggregat, and here he ditches the guitar in favor of clarinet, while adding two more horns -- Nate Wooley on trumpet and Terry L. Green on trombone -- to get to a quintet. B+(**)

Lizzie Thomas: Easy to Love (2013, self-released): Standards singer, based in New York, second album, with Xavier Davis arranging and playing piano, and Ron Affif on guitar (7 of 10 cuts); uses trumpet (Antoine Drye), sometimes clarinet and/or trombone (Frank Lacy) but no sax. Nails nearly every song, even the obligatory Jobim ("One Note Samba"). B+(**)

Cory Wright Outfit: Apples + Oranges (2012 [2013], Singlespeed Music): Tenor saxophonist, studied at Oberlin and USC, based in Bay Area; second album, plus side credits with Vinny Golia, Anthony Braxton, Yusef Lateef/Adam Rudolph, Industrial Jazz Group. Quintet, with Evan Francis on alto sax, Rob Ewing on trombone, Lisa Mezzacappa on bass, and Jordan Glenn on drums -- the trombone a nice touch. B+(**)

Xiu Xiu: Nina (2013, Graveface): Jamie Stewart, who has done business as Xiu Xiu to the tune of more than a dozen post-rock albums since 2002, offers his "tribute" to Nina Simone. Good news here is the band, who offer all the jazz cred you'd ever want: Tony Malaby (tenor sax), Tim Berne (alto/baritone sax), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Andrea Parkins (accordion, electronics, piano, hang), and Ches Smith (drums). On the other hand, there's the guy with the creepy "vox" -- only reminds you of Simone at her most overwrought, although this coming is more farce than tragedy. B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • T.K. Blue: A Warm Embrace (Blujazz): January 7
  • Daniel Carter/Daniel Levin/Satoshi Takeishi/Devin Brahja Waldman: Say Hello to Anyone I Know (Fast Speaking Music)
  • Rob Drake & the NY Jazz Quartet: Blue Divide (Zoho): January 14
  • Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz: A View From Below (self-released): March 25
  • Jörg Fischer: Spring Spleen and Twelve Other Pieces (Gligg)
  • Jörg Fischer/Matthias Schubert/Uli Böttcher: Lurk Lab (Gligg)
  • Ben Flocks: Battle Mountain (self-released): February 11
  • David Helbock's Random Control: Think of Two (Traumton): January 31
  • Lurk Lab: Live at Shelter Sounds (JazzHausMusik)
  • Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her (Brownswood): January 28
  • Moutin Factory Quintet: Lucky People (Blujazz/Plus Loin Music): January 7
  • M13: 1 Human, Too Human (Blujazz): January 7
  • William Parker Orchestra: Essence of Ellington: Live in Milano (AUM Fidelity, 2CD)
  • William Parker: Wood Flute Songs: Anthology/Live 2006-2012 (AUM Fidelity, 8CD)
  • Robert Prester: Dogtown (Commonwealth Ave. Productions): February 4
  • Adam Unsworth/Byron Olson/John Vanore: Balance (Acoustical Concepts): January 28
  • Nils Wogram Root 70 With Strings: Riomar (NWOG): January 28

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Blind Lemon Jefferson: The Rough Guide to Blues Legends: Blind Lemon Jefferson (1926-29 [2013], World Music Network): A- [rhapsody]
  • Fela Kuti: The Best of the Black President 2 (1971-92 [2013], Knitting Factory, 2CD): A- [rhapsody]

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Daily Log

This from DC Eugene at Expert Witness:

After Lou Reed died, I started going through his post-VU recordings, listening closely to his pre-Blue Mask music, a period I wasn't very familiar with. After getting frustrated by the extraordinary amount of crap on his seventies releases, I decided to take a different approach and try to find one song to represent each recording. Normally I don't think approaching an artist chronologically makes a lot of sense because I don't believe people develop their art in a straight timeline. It can be much more rewarding to structure a compilation around a songwriter's thematic obsessions, for example, which ebb and flow during a long career.

Turns out Lou Reed is an exception. Putting his songs in chronological order reveals a drunken junkie prick maturing into a clean and sober a$$hole with lots of help from two wives and many therapists. I did cheat. The production values of Berlin, for instance, are so bad that I used a live version of "The Kids" to represent that release, and did the same for "Kill Your Sons." I don't think the studio version of "Walk It Talk It" is as good as the one with The Tots found on the live in Hempstead broadcast, sometimes called "American Poet." And I know some people can't stand "Little Sister," but I think everyone would agree Reed owed her that song after his cruel description of her in "Kill Your Sons." Still couldn't find anything I ever wanted to hear again from The Bells and Mistrial, so they're MIA.

Half way through, it's a jolt to suddenly hear him clean and sober and serious, in stark contrast to the entertaining junkie business he puts across on the first half. And yeah, I had to honor our host by putting on an excerpt of "Walk on the Wild Side" from Take No Prisoners because it shows Reed at what must have the most obnoxious point in his career: coked out of his mind and speeding toward an early grave, which he narrowly avoided. RIP

Lou Reed: A Solo Career Considered As A Twelve-Step Program

  1. Walk It Talk It [live in Hempstead, NY, 12-26-72; song from Lou Reed, 1972]
  2. Perfect Day [Transformer, 1972]
  3. The Kids [live at Royal Festival Hall, London, 7-3-97; song from Berlin, 1973]
  4. Kill Your Sons [live in Italy, 9-7-83; song from Sally Can't Dance, 1974]
  5. Coney Island Baby [Coney Island Baby, 1975]
  6. Metal Machine Music [90 second excerpt, Metal Machine Music, 1975]
  7. A Sheltered Life [Rock And Roll Heart, 1976]
  8. I Wanna Be Black [remixed version, Street Hassle, 1978]
  9. Walk On The Wild Side [excerpt, Lou Reed Live: Take No Prisoners, 1978]
  10. The Power Of Positive Drinking [Growing Up In Public, 1980]
  11. Underneath The Bottle [The Blue Mask, 1982]
  12. Home Of The Brave [Legendary Hearts, 1983]
  13. Little Sister [Get Crazy soundtrack, 1983]
  14. New Sensations [New Sensations, 1984]
  15. September Song [Lost In The Stars: The Music Of Kurt Weill, 1985]
  16. Beginning Of A Great Adventure [New York, 1989]
  17. Work [with John Cale, Songs For Drella, 1990]
  18. Trade In [Set The Twilight Reeling, 1996]
  19. Big Sky [Ecstasy, 2000]

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Best Jazz Albums of 2013

Pick up text here, minus ACN.

Greg Morton wrote at EW:

Best Jazz Albums of 2013 on Tom Hull's site right now. Lengthy and more than just the list, copied (looks like anyway) his previous comments on each one. A whole year of excellence in one spot.

I replied:

I started with the old Jazz Prospecting notes, but wound up doing a lot of editing. Also did a lot of reordering as I replayed things or just reshuffled from memory. I think there's only one new record there, and it's not one you're going to want to rush out and buy. There is a link there to the entire rated list (610 records), and a first draft of a list of things I wish I could have heard. I'll expand the latter over the next few weeks.

Daily Log

Chris Drumm reported (via facebook, ugh!) that when he searches for "The+Vibrators" in the Christgau website CG Search widget, he gets a 403 (unauthorized error). I did some tests and the problem appears to be rather limited (not to mention peculiar). I responded:

Regarding CG Search: actually, "vibrator" works, and gives you the Vibrators' page you want; "vibrators" fails, giving you the 403 error. "dildos" also fails, but "dildo" works (not that there are any artist entries for "dildo"). Don't know what else triggers this. More plebian obscenities don't seem to be a problem (although "ass" gives you a surprising list, showing you how the fallback search algorithm works). The problem does not occur on my local copy of the website, so it has something to do with the web server configuration as opposed to the website itself -- probably the Apache's url rewrite rules. Not sure how to debug them, or even how much access I have. Unless more cases show up, I'm not going to treat this as a high priority, although I will keep it in mind.

I also sent this to Expert Witness comments:

Chris Drumm reported a problem with the Christgau website: when he does a CG Search for "The Vibrators" he gets a 403 (unauthorized) page. This problem does not occur on my private copy of the website, indicating that it is a problem with the web server configuration and not the website code itself. Search for "vibrators" yields the same problem, but "vibrator" gets through. I've found one other test case that fails: "dildos" (but "dildo" is ok). Of course, I've only tested about a dozen cases, out of 7000 valid names and trillions of unrecognized strings. Unless the problem is more common than it currently appears, I'm not going to treat it as a high priority.

Laura suggested googling for similar cases, and I found one. I wrote to facebook:

Did some further research. Found one report of a similar problem, and it turns out the forbidden search term list also includes "buttplugs". Nonetheless, you still can search for "butthole surfers". Also "steely dan" still works.

Suggested fix was to uninstall "SEO" -- presumably search engine optimization. Don't know whether we have any of that.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Music Week/No Jazz Prospecting

Music: Current count 22482 [22445] rated (+37), 574 [565] unrated (+9).

No Jazz Prospecting this week. Only have two reviews in the scratch file -- at least of records that are out in 2013. Dropped 100 reviews in Saturday's Rhapsody Streamnotes, and since then I've been thinking more about Recycled Goods, which is customarily due about now and at the moment doesn't amount to much. Also, the Jazz Critics Poll, with my ballot due tomorrow. I came up with the idea of substituting that ballot for today's Jazz Prospecting, but didn't get that done either. Hopefully, I'll get my year-end (in jazz, anyway) review posted late tomorrow.

Meantime, note the latest batch of Clean Feeds in the unpacking. Given that they are 2013 releases, I'll move them up toward the head of the queue -- not that I expect any will bum rush my top ten. On the other hand, the average ellapsed time from when I send my ballot in until I find another A- record is about 2 days, and until I find something that cracks the top ten happens more years than not within 30 days. I've worried a lot about that in the past, but figure it's inevitable now, no matter how well prepared I am.

A demain.

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Kaja Draksler: The Lives of Many Others (Clean Feed)
  • Ayman Fanous/Jason Kao Hwang: Zilzal (Innova)
  • John Hébert Trio: Floodstage (Clean Feed)
  • Anna Kaluza/Artur Majewski/Rafal Mazur/Kuba Suchar: Tone Hunting (Clean Feed)
  • Peter Kerlin Octet: Salamander (Innova)
  • Cava Menzies/Nick Phillips: Moment to Moment (self-released): January 21
  • Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7: Lucky Prime (Clean Feed)
  • Angelica Sanchez/Wadada Leo Smith: Twine Forest (Clean Feed)
  • Elliot Sharp Aggregat: Quintet (Clean Feed)
  • Cory Wright Outfit: Apples + Oranges (Singlespeed Music): December 3

Sunday, December 01, 2013


No Weekend Update this week. I want to focus instead on a single article, which appeared on the front page of the Wichita Eagle this morning: Connie Cass: In God we trust, maybe, but not each other. The article cites polls that show that Americans are less inclined to trust one another than they were in the past:

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

"I'm leery of everybody," said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. "Caution is always a factor."

One cannot overstate the importance of trust. It quickly becomes impossible to do anything to do anything in a crowded society without assuming that others will act and react in sensible ways according to commonly understood rules. Those essential rules are moral, and many are codified in law, and enforced more or less coercively by agents assigned that task. One trusts, for instance, that one can go outside, for a walk or for a drive, without the constant risk that there are people out to harm you. One trusts that one can exchange work for money that will in turn can be exchanged for goods, that in turn will be much as one expects -- e.g., food that will nourish and not sicken.

We may be aware of exceptional cases where trust is not warranted, and to some extent we compensate for this by being alert to warning signs. For instance, we are advised to "drive defensively" -- to look out for cars behaving erratically, to consider the possibility that the car in front of you might suddenly stop, or that someone approaching an intersection might fail to yield, but even so you probably trust that other drivers are not suicidal. It's really hard to live in a world under constant threat of malevolence.

So when we read that Americans are losing their ability to trust in one another, what does this mean? It doesn't mean that we've hit rock bottom yet, although trust is so important that even small reductions in it can cause a lot of discomfort, and that can in turn cost us a lot of time and effort. The more dangerous you regard your neighbors, the more guarded your interactions with them, the more defensive they become. The more you rely on the force of law to limit behavior as opposed to expecting that people will act according to common morality, the more difficult it is to ensure moral behavior. Once some number of people move from doing what's right to simply avoiding getting caught, your ability to trust in the law starts to slip. And the situation deteriorates rapidly if law enforcers themselves become corrupt.

Cass' article attributes the lost of trust to various things, like "bowling alone" where individuals give up many of their social networks for solitary pursuits, like watching television. But Cass misses the most obvious problem, which is that we have an economic system that is increasingly based on predatory business practices. We have a lot of experience with the basic capitalist idea, which is one of everyone pursuing their own self-interest, seeking solely to maximize their own gains. And as such we've seen many of the ways such pursuits can cause great harm: the various waves of "progressive" political movements strived to limit the potential for businesses to abuse their powers, in large part attempting to ensure that they produce and sell goods and services according to standards that we can trust. Older still than progressivism were basic moral constraints against abuses such as usury.

But since WWII, and especially since the late 1970s, businesses have made considerable inroads undermining the moral character and social fabric of the nation. This started in the cold war exaltation of capital, with its immediate goal of fragmenting and disempowering labor. By the 1980s the right was destroying the nation's binding sense of equality and was trumpeting a new ethos of greed. Nowhere was this clearer than in the business schools, which trained the nation's future CEOs to grab every possible source of profits: if "greed is good," rent-seeking must be glorious.

The final coup here is the destruction of the idea of commonwealth, indeed of any common interest. Business propagandists used to like the idea, expressed as irony by Adam Smith, that the pursuit of self-interest could result in greater wealth for all. They scarcely bother any more, because they've convinced us that there is no society, no social values, just aggregates of individuals. And indeed, they seem to believe that assertions of common interests -- even things like clean water or air, or a stable climate -- are nothing but encumbrances on individuals. And that individuals should be as "economically free" as possible, even when all that means is free to deceive and defraud everyone else.

This lost measure of trust is a consequence of denying the value of social relationships. After all, to a large extent the economic liberation of individuals has taken place at the expense of society as a whole. You can argue whether this has happened because technology -- suburbs as much as television -- has split individuals apart, or vice versa. But the costs do mount up, and you see them in myriad ways: the explosive growth of prison population, increasing litigiousness, the influx of money into politics seeking special favors, and so forth.

And as the article points out, once you lose trust it's all that much harder to win back.

Curiously, the other big front page article today was titled "Shelter operator's tough question: Can charity hurt?" That's a serious question that I don't have time to go into, but it's also been a harping point on the political right going back to Daniel Moynahan and Martin Feldstein -- to pick on two big names who built their careers arguing against safety nets on the grounds that they are a crutch that corrupts. The fact is that they usually exist only to provide such immediately necessary relief that withdrawing them would be far worse. But sure, charity can hurt -- mostly through the patronizing and demeaning attitudes of the people administering the programs.

Nov 2013