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Monday, December 26, 2016

Music Week

Music: Current count 27512 [27465] rated (+47), 362 [383] unrated (-21).

This week's rated count when I first ran make was +24, but when I counted the rated records this week, I came up with 28, so clearly I had missed at least four. I made a deeper search of unrated records and found them plus a bunch more (+19), hence this week's inflated count. Actually, I lost a couple days this week to cooking, but I also made up ground by leaning rather hard on Napster and Bandcamp, as I checked out interesting records from various EOY lists. Most helpful this week was Tom Lane's list (emailed personally), as it yielded about a dozen albums I hadn't previously tracked, including two of this week's A- finds (Kelsey Waldon and Becky Warren).

NPR published the 11th Annual Jazz Critics Poll this year. Francis Davis organized the poll of 137 jazz critics, and wrote two essays:

Once again, I compiled all of the critics' ballots into presentable form here, and tabulated them all to provide complete results down to the most obscure single votes. My own ballot is here, which includes, I believe, four singular votes (Keita, Person, Lucas, Rempis -- plus Lucas and Sonic Liberation 8 in the special categories; Amado got one other vote, and Rudd two; Damana got two other votes for Debut). I voted for records which finished 1st (Threadgill), 13th (Allen), 14th (Murray), and tied for 30th (Coleman), but I also graded eight other top-31 finishers A- (DeJohnette, Haden, Lehman, Bloom, Ward, Holland, Rollins, and Hersch), and ten more B+(***) (Smith, Halvorson, Formanek, Wilson, Sorey, Cyrille, Davis, Ortiz, Guy, Brown), plus five B+(**) (Iyer, Argue, Lloyd, Finlayson, Dresser). I didn't manage to hear two (Harrell, Moran). So all in all I find this a very respectable consensus -- in fact, probably fewer records here I disfavor than ever before.

Since the Jazz Critics Poll went up, I've mostly been trying to bring my EOY Aggregate up to date. Thus far I've mostly tried to pick up the (mostly foreign) polls listed at Acclaimed Music Forums. I'm currently up to 166 lists (as compared to about 750 lists last year, a total I'm not even remotely hoping for this year). (By the way, the list-of-the-week is from Dan Weiss. And while I haven't read/counted it yet, here's one from Jason Gross).

The current top-10: David Bowie, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Radiohead, Solange, Nick Cave, Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, Bon Iver, and Chance the Rapper. Second 10: Angel Olsen, Anohni, Anderson .Paak, Car Seat Headrest, Leonard Cohen, Danny Brown, Kaytranada, Blood Orange, Rihanna, and Mitski. The recent infusion of non-Anglo lists has helped fuel bubbles for Nick Cave (up to 6 from 9 last week), Bon Iver (9 from 11), and Anohni (11 from 13). I suspect those three will settle down a bit as the list focus moves back to America. That should also help Beyoncé, but at this point it's pretty clear that Bowie will wind up in first place (current margin +83), and it's not inconceivable that Beyoncé will lose second place to Frank Ocean (her lead is currently 306-300, so very close). I still expect Beyoncé to win the Village Voice Critics Poll, but my own scheme doesn't allow enough weighting for high finishes to make such a lead reversible.


I was invited to vote in El Intruso's annual poll, so this is what I sent in. They asked for "no more than three choices in each category." Most of those are for musicians-by-instrument. I don't think it makes much sense to try to rank musicians, so please consider this just an exercise in name-dropping.

  • Musician of the year: Ivo Perelman, Allen Lowe
  • Newcomer Musician: Dag Magnus Narvesen
  • Group of the year: Made to Break, Black Bombaim
  • Newcomer group: Damana, Festen
  • Album of the year: Aly Keita, Kalo-Yele (Intakt); Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote), Henry Threadgill: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
  • Composer: Carla Bley, John Zorn
  • Drums: Gerald Cleaver, Paal Nilssen-Love, Gerry Hemingway
  • Acoustic Bass: William Parker, John Hebert
  • Electric Bass: Devin Hoff, Rafal Mazur
  • Guitar: Samo Salamon, Eric Hofbauer, Luis Lopes
  • Piano: Irene Schweizer, Kris Davis, Nik Bartsch
  • Keyboards/Synthesizer/Organ
  • Tenor Saxophone: David Murray, Ellery Eskelin, Ernest Dawkins
  • Alto Saxophone: Francois Carrier, Greg Ward, Brahja Waldman
  • Baritone Saxophone: Vinny Golia
  • Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom, Sam Newsome
  • Trumpet/Cornet: Taylor Ho Bynum
  • Clarinet/bass clarinet: Marty Ehrlich
  • Trombone: Steve Swell, Roswell Rudd, Joe Fiedler
  • Flute: Nicole Mitchell, Robert Dick
  • Violin/Viola: Jason Kao Hwang
  • Cello: Fred Lonberg-Holm, Erik Friedlander
  • Vibraphone: Jason Adasiewicz
  • Electronics: Jean-Marc Foussat
  • Other instruments: Aly Keita (balafon/kalimba)
  • Female Vocals: Sarah Stiles, Barbara Dane
  • Male Vocals: Freddy Cole
  • Best Live Band: Cortex
  • Record Label: Intakt, Clean Feed, Pi

I also voted in the Village Voice Music Critics Poll 2016 (formerly Pazz & Jop, originally -- i.e., 1971 -- named for a similar poll published by Jazz & Pop magazine). The poll asks critics to vote for their 10 favorite albums, dividing up 100 votes among them (5 minimum, 30 maximum), and also for 10 songs (with no point system).

  1. Aly Keďta/Jan Galega Brönnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalo-Yele (Intakt) 14
  2. Mekons: Existentialism (Bloodshot) 13
  3. Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote) 13
  4. Pet Shop Boys: Super (X2) 11
  5. Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town (Warner Brothers) 11
  6. Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi) 9
  7. Drive-By Truckers: American Band (ATO) 8
  8. Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motéma) 8
  9. Gary Lucas: Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform) 7
  10. Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers) 6

I haven't been tracking singles, so have no idea what to vote for there, and no time at the moment to figure out how to fake it. I only picked five records from my 2016 Jazz List and one (Lucas) was picked ahead of order because it's more pop/vocal, with five more from the 2016 Non-Jazz List. For a variety of reasons, my present integrated EOY list is rather heavily skewed toward jazz (for one thing, I have 71 A-list jazz records, vs. 51 A-list non-jazz). But the former hardly ever get any Pazz & Jop support, and I don't wish to be totally marginal there. For one thing, we've lost way too many elections already this year.

On the other hand, I'm not terribly excited by the records leading the EOY Aggregate count. Looking at my grades for the top 20 (and I still haven't heard Beyoncé), I come up with zero A records, 8 A- (Chance the Rapper [44], A Tribe Called Quest [27], Anderson .Paak [7], Leonard Cohen [30], Kaytranada [13], Rihanna [25], Danny Brown [12], Blood Orange [28]), 4 B+(***) (David Bowie, Kanye West, Angel Olsen, Car Seat Headrest), 2 B+(**) (Frank Ocean, Solange), 3 B+(*) (Bon Iver, Anohni, Mitski), 1 B (Radiohead), 1 B- (Nick Cave), nothing really worse than that. While I can't say as I understand the attraction of the bottom two, the average year has 3-4 times as many "deplorables," so it's hard to complain about this year's polls. In fact, it's never been clearer that the Trump demographic has never been more culturally impotent (or should I just say eclipsed?).


New records rated this week:

  • Harry Allen's All Star New York Saxophone Band: The Candy Men (2016, Arbors): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Beasley: Presents MONK'estra Vol. 1 (2016, Mack Avenue): [r]: B-
  • William Bell: This Is Where I Live (2016, Stax): [r]: B
  • Sarah Bernstein Quartet: Still/Free (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Peter Brötzmann/Steve Swell/Paal Nilssen-Love: Live in Copenhagen (2016, Not Two): [cd]: A-
  • J Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only (2016, Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniele D'Agaro/Giovanni Maier/Zlatko Kaucic: Disorder at the Border Plays Ornette (2015 [2016], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pierre Dřrge's New Jungle Orchestra: Ubi Zaa (2016, SteepleChase): [r]: B
  • DD Dumbo: Utopia Defeated (2016, 4AD): [r]: B
  • ELEW: And to the Republic (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jonny Fritz: Sweet Creep (2016, ATO): [r]: B+(*)
  • Future: EVOL (2016, Epic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kirk Knuffke: Little Cross (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(*)
  • Konx-Om-Pax: Caramel (2016, Planet Mu): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kornél Kovács: The Bells (2016, Studio Barnhus): [r]: B+(**)
  • The Pedrito Martinez Group: Habana Dreams (2016, Motéma): [r]: B+(*)
  • Rob Mazurek & Emmett Kelly: Alien Flower Sutra (2016, International Anthem): [r]: C
  • Parker Millsap: The Very Last Day (2016, Okrahoma): [r]: B+(*)
  • Modus Factor: The Picasso Zone (2015 [2016], Browntasaurus): [r]: B+(**)
  • Uwe Oberg & Silke Eberhard: Turns (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Roberto Occhipinti: Stabilimento (2016, Modica Music): [cd]: B
  • Phronesis: Parallax (2015 [2016], Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Populous: Night Safari (2014, Bad Panda): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Todd Snider: Eastside Bulldog (2016, Aimless): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gregory Tardy: Chasing After the Wind (2015 [2016], SteepleChase): [r]: B
  • Tell Tale: Film in Music (2014 [2016], Drip Audio): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Kelsey Waldon: I've Got a Way (2016, Monkey's Eyebrow): [r]: A-
  • Becky Warren: War Surplus (2016, self-released): [r]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Led Bib: Umbrella Weather (RareNoise): advance, January 20
  • Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) (Colloquy): March 3
  • Reflections in Cosmo (RareNoise): advance, January 20

Monday, December 19, 2016

Music Week

Music: Current count 27465 [27433] rated (+32), 383 [385] unrated (-2).

Spent most of last week building the website for the 11th Annual Jazz Critics Poll, which NPR will publish tomorrow, or maybe a bit later. I won't disclose anything here, other than that we received 139 ballots, down a bit from last year's record 147 (where's John Chacona? Steven Dollar? David Hajdu? Lyn Horton? Garrett Shelton?). When they do go up, my pages will look a lot like last year's. Francis Davis again deserves a big round of applause for making this happen.

Mostly picking things off lists opportunistically, as well as mopping up a few 2016 stragglers in my queue: down to 6 pending records. With all the JCP work, I've done very little on my own EOY Aggregate file: today belatedly adding only a few of the recent lists (Blare, Gigwise, Line of Best Fit, Pitchfork, Q, Tiny Mix Tapes). I'll add more when I get some time next week, although several things are going to slow me down. For one, I have dinners to cook on Tuesday and Saturday. For another, I have ballots due for the Village Voice (evidently not Pazz & Jop anymore) and El Intruso polls, though those at least I can safely wing.


New records rated this week:

  • Ab-Soul: Do What Thou Wilt (2016, Top Dawg): [r]: A-
  • Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: We Be All Africans (2016, Strut): [r]: B+(***)
  • Babyfather: BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow (2016, Hyperdub): [r]: B-
  • Black Art Jazz Collective: Presented by the Side Door Jazz Club (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jane Bunnett & Maqueque: Oddara (2016, Linus Entertainment): [r]: B
  • Jeff Collins: The Keys to Christmas (2016, Crossroads): [r]: C-
  • Alexis Cuadrado: Poetica (2016, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Deap Vally: Femejism (2016, Nevado): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Dining Rooms: Do Hipsters Love Sun (Ra?) (2015, Schema): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dog Leg Dilemma: Not This Time (2016 [2017], self-released): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Dave Douglas/Frank Woeste: Dada People (2015 [2016], Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Sedimental You (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Fire!: She Sleeps/She Sleeps (2015 [2016], Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddie Hendrix: Jersey Cat (2010 [2016], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dre Hocevar: Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Bobby Kapp/Matthew Shipp: Cactus (2016, Northern Spy): [r]: A-
  • Irene Kepl: SololoS (2016, Fou): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads (2012-14 [2016], Nonesuch): [r]: B+(**)
  • Moker: Ladder (2016, El Negocito): [r]: B+(*)
  • Donny Most: Swinging Down the Chimney Tonight (2016, Summit, EP): [cd]: B
  • Motif: My Head is Listening (2013-15 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Nao: For All We Know (2016, Little Tokyo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Nots: Cosmetic (2016, Goner): [r]: A-
  • Frank Ocean: Blonde (2016, Boys Don't Cry): [r]: B+(**)
  • Schoolboy Q: Blank Face LP (2016, Interscope/Top Dawg): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Swell/Gebhard Ullmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang: The Chicago Plan (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Mat Walerian-Matthew Shipp Duo: The Uppercut: Live at Okuden (2012 [2015], ESP-Disk): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/Hamid Drake: Jungle: Live at Okuden (2012 [2016], ESP-Disk, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Earth (2015 [2016], Reprise, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • Neil Young: Peace Trail (2016, Reprise): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Bob Dylan: The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert! (1966 [2016], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Dizzy Gillespie & Friends: Concert of the Century: A Tribute to Charlie Parker (1980 [2016], Justin Time): [r]: B+(*)
  • Evan Parker/Daunik Lazro/Joe McPhee: Seven Pieces: Live at Willisau 1995 (1995 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Howard Riley: Constant Change 1976-2016 (1976-2016 [2016], NoBusiness, 5CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Neil Young: Bluenote Café (1987-88 [2015], Reprise, 2CD): [r]: B+(*)

Old music rated this week:

  • Neil Young + Promise of the Real: The Monsanto Years (2015, Reprise): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jim Black/Óskar Gudjónsson/Elias Stemeseder/Chris Tordini: Mala Mute (Intakt): January
  • Ellery Eskelin/Christian Weber/Michael Griener: Sensations of Tone (Intakt): January
  • Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo: Peace (Libra): January 27
  • Cynthia Hilts: Lyric Fury (Blond Coyote): January 13
  • Gary Lucas' Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)
  • Tell Tale: Film in Music (Drip Audio)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Weekend Roundup

I have better things to do than to continue documented this entirely predictable trainwreck. Still, a few links and brief notes if you're still transfixed:


  • David Atkins: Democrats Should Hope the Economic Populists Are Right:

  • More than a month after the election, a war of words and ideas still rages on the left between the Sanders-leaning economic populists and the more establishment defenders of the Clinton campaign. Broadly speaking, the contours of the argument center around whether Clinton could have done more from a populist messaging standpoint to appeal to white working class Rust Belt voters and to disaffected voters who stayed home, or whether Clinton's overall approach was good, but that she was overwhelmed by the prejudices of white voters and stabbed in the back by Comey, Russia, and various parts of the progressive left.

    I suppose I quoted this because the last clause led me to react: well, the progressive leftists I know gave her a lot more support than she would have given us over the next four years had she won. And I say that even though I know a few Stein supporters (probably, even, a couple folks who voted for Johnson), and I know a lot of people who voted for Clinton but weren't happy with her. I voted for her, fully understanding that we'd wind up spending the next four years protesting and organizing against much of her platform, because I was also every bit as aware that putting the Republicans into power would be far worse for virtually all of us. That's what we call a rational decision, and that's something we on the left weigh carefully and practice more or less consistently. Clinton's problem in the 2016 election wasn't with rational people, ergo it wasn't with "progressive leftists." Her problem was with crazy people, or effectively the same thing, people who were willing to put aside reason and vote on some emotional whim, a belief backed with no more than a scintilla of evidence.

    There are, of course, two approaches to this problem: one is to make voters more conscious of real problems and to better articulate real solutions. The other is to do a better job of identifying the emotions that can be made to work for you, and to hit them in ways that move voters to your side. (The Republicans are quite good at the latter, and have the much easier job doing the opposite of the former: all they need to do is to convince voters that problems are beyond political remedy, and ignorance helps as much as mendacity there.) As much as we'd like to see reason win out, that's a long term project. For right now, suffice it to say that wasn't especially effective at picking her issues, and was vulnerable to precisely the sort of attacks Republicans specialize in.

  • Lauren Fox: Obama: 'Reagan Would Roll Over in His Grave' Over GOP Support for Russia: One of Obama's strangest quirks is his continuing affection for Ronald Reagan, even to the point of imagining he's some sort of kindly national father-figure far removed from his actual history and legacy. It's not as if Obama wasn't conscious during the Reagan administration -- he was 18 when it started -- but he didn't have the Vietnam War to inform his politics at that age (like I did), so maybe he's normalized his memory in some way those of us who can recall Reagan from his days as governor of California in the 1960s cannot. (Maybe he's conflated Reagan with his first experiences of getting high and getting laid?) In any case, his comment reflects a simpler misunderstanding. Reagan's wailing about the Soviet Union was purely ideological -- even when he framed it as some sort of Manichaean struggle between good and evil -- he never went off on nationalist rants against the Russians, nor did he grasp the neoconservative doctrine that seeks to punish any nation that isn't sufficiently obsequious to American power. Moreover, like all conservatives of his era (and for that matter today), he appreciated the efficient order that dictators abroad offered -- one might even say he preferred them to the risks of unruly democracy America itself posed. So why on earth would Reagan be disturbed by Trump's fondness for Putin? -- a fellow plutocrat who's willing to cut corners when it comes to democratic niceties to consolidate the power of his favored cronies? It's not like conservatives care any more about ordinary Russians than they do about ordinary Americans.

    Liberals (and leftists), at least, can offer a plausible claim to caring about iniquities around the world, because they care about them at home, and recognize that the rest of the world isn't that different. Still, nothing Obama (nor any of the Democrats who have lately been obsessed with Russian meddling in our election) has said indicates any concern for the Russian people. Rather, he has simply fallen for the post-Cold War neoconservative line that demonizes any nation outside of America's "security" umbrella -- especially any political leaders who think they have any interests beyond their own borders (as Russia does with Syria and Ukraine). The neocons motives are pretty transparent: they like to puff up Russia and China as rivals and enemies to justify America's expensive indulgence in world-threatening arms. On the other hand, it's just plain ignorant and lazy for Democrats like Obama (and the Clintons) to take up the neocon cudgel against Russia. It leads to greater militarization, less diplomacy, a world torn into hostile camps where America rules by brute intimidation, and has ceded any motivation except for self-interest.

    As for the "Russian hack" of the election, which is presumably the imagined (if not the real) inspiration for Obama's attempt at wit, see Sam Kriss: The Rise of the Alt-Center, or as the subhed put it, "Why did establishment liberals fall in love with a deranged Twitter thread?" Or as the link I followed read: "Establishment Liberals Have Lost Their Damn Minds." The tweet thread was by Eric Garland, and Kriss adds a full paragraph of liberal praise, including "if there were a Pulitzer for tweeting -- this thread would be the updisputed winner of 2016." Kriss continues:

    Clearly something horrifying has happened to America's great liberal intellects. One moment they were yapping along in the train of a historic political movement; now, ragged and destitute, they wander with lolling tongues in search of anything that might explain their new world to them. This is, after all, how cults get started. Cultists will venerate any messianic mediocrity and any set of half-baked spiritual dogmas; it's not the overt content that matters but the security of knowing. If Trump's devoted hype squad of pustulent, oleaginous neo-Nazis can now be euphemized as the "alt-right," the Eichenwalds and Jefferys of the world might have turned themselves into something similar: an alt-center, pushing its own failed political doctrine with all the same vehemence, idiocy, and spleen. So it's strange, but not surprising, that so many people would sing the praises of Garland's masterpiece, because it is absolutely the worst piece of political writing ever inflicted on any public in human history. [ . . . ]

    Whatever Russia did or didn't do, the idea that its interference is what cost Hillary Clinton the election is utterly ludicrous and absolutely false. What cost Hillary Clinton the election can be summed up by a single line from Sen. Chuck Schumer, soon to be the country's highest-ranking Democrat: "For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin." As it turned out, he was fatally wrong. It wasn't the Russians who told the Democratic Party to abandon the working-class people of all races who used to form its electoral base. It wasn't the Russians who decided to run a presidential campaign that offered people nothing but blackmail -- "vote for us or Dangerous Donald wins." The Russians didn't come up with awful tin-eared catchphrases like "I'm with her" or "America is already great." The Russians never ordered the DNC to run one of the most widely despised people in the country, simply because she thought it was her turn. The Democrats did that all by themselves.

  • Barack Obama's presidency will be defined by his failure to face down Assad: No, Obama's presidency has been defined by his failure to face down the real threat to the security and welfare of the American people: the Republicans. He's done this by not blaming them for their misdeeds. He's done this by not breaking with their failed policies -- above all the wars against Muslims, but also much of their domestic policy. And he's done this by not offering real alternatives, and by not supporting his party or its voters. As for Syria, sure, he screwed up, but not for backing away from the "red line" over chemical weapons -- pace, the author, he won the only meaningful resolution of that issue, and did it diplomatically (the only way that would stick). But in his early rejection of Assad, his congenital antipathy to Russia and Iran, his willingness to give supposed allies (like Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia) a free hand to pursue radically opposed goals), and his general belief in the effectiveness of military might (and his continued support for the most clandestine and irresponsible American warmakers), he made sure the US would be a much bigger part of the problem than of the solution.

And briefly noted:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Music Week

Music: Current count 27433 [27403] rated (+30), 385 [369] unrated (+16).

Two leftover thoughts from yesterday's Weekend Roundup:

  1. As I've been saying for much of last year, the surest way for Clinton to lose to Trump is to present herself as a reckless, foolhardy hawk, which she did with all that "who's fit to be Commander-in-Chief" talk, especially combined with her neocon attempts to shame Trump on Russia and Putin. I didn't cite any articles on it yesterday, but ever since the election mainstream Democrats have been harping on the alleged Russian hack of the elections, which makes themselves look pathetic, and gives Trump one issue where he comes off as relatively sane. It also detracts from them scoring real points, like how Clinton received 2.84 million more votes than Trump (a margin of more than 2.0%), or how she did that despite Republican voter suppression efforts. It also wastes time that could be spent exposing the actual things the Trump transition team are doing.

  2. Speaking of which, if there's any theme I've hit on even harder throughout the year it's that the problem with Trump isn't his deviant personality -- even much more than deplorable traits like his racism and misogyny -- but the fact that he's found common cause with extreme right-wingers who have come to dominate and define the Republican Party. Maybe if Republicans had nominated someone like Ted Cruz we could have had a straight referendum on the party's worldview, but Clinton chose to focus on Trump's quirks instead of the real threat, so now we have cretins like Paul Ryan plotting to destroy Social Security and Medicare, while Trump is stocking his cabinet with people who are just fine with that sort of double cross.

One problem with doing these rush posts is that real points, themes even, get lost in the nest of links. Just wanted to reiterate those two points. And I'll add a possible third one: in order for the Democratic Party to provide effective resistance against Trump's oligarchs, they have to actively, consistently, as a matter of principle, oppose war and support and promote equality. Quite frankly, if they don't step up to that challenge -- the real threat that Trump and the Republicans pose -- they're helpless and worthless.


Thirty newly rated albums below. Last time that happened was Oct. 10, eight weeks ago. I still don't have the newly rebuilt computer all hooked up -- still have a printing problem -- and I still haven't restored my unplayed (not to mention played) downloads, but I've been able to listen to Napster and Bandcamp. I've also been plowing through EOY lists, so my searching has been more inspired and better targeted than usual. One result is no less than eleven A- records. In particular, I finally got a chance to catch up with Robert Christgau's last two months of Expert Witness picks. Given how far behind I was, I'm a bit surprised that I didn't concur with more. As it is, I more/less agreed with five (Alicia Keys, Tanya Tagaq, A Tribe Called Quest, Pat Thomas, and Urgent Jumping), while six others didn't quite do it for me (Margaret Glaspy, Macy Gray, Pussy Riot, Regina Spektor, and Jinx Lennon twice).

I also added five A- records to my EOY Jazz List shortly after voting for the Jazz Critics Poll closed -- seems like it always works out that way. Four were late arrivals to my mailbox (Albert Cirera, Eve Risser, Steve Swell, and a vault treat from 1994 with Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart), and I picked up the fifth (Taylor Ho Bynum) on Napster. The eleventh was one by Tom Zé that I only found out about from Phil Overeem's list (also my source for Tyler Keith).

I've continued adding EOY lists to my . EOY Aggregate file. I currently have 97 lists compiled, which I assemble in two weight groups: one for longer lists which scores 5 points (1), 4 (2-5), 3 (6-10), 2 (11-20), and 1 (everything else); the other for shorter lists, scoring 3 (1), 2 (2-5), and 1 (everything else). Unranked lists are noted + (sometimes ++ or +++ if they are somehow tiered). I've also scored grades by Robert Christgau and myself (A/A+ 5, A- 4, B+/*** 3, ** 2, * 1), and will probably do that for Michael Tatum as well. These grades have a minor effect of biasing the results towards things I/we like, but then my point isn't to offer some kind of objective, impersonally scientific ranking. It's, as always, to help identify records worth searching out.

Speaking of which, I've tended to skip over lists dedicated to genres I have no real interest in, which mostly means metal. I'll also note that in addition to Overeem (who picked enough records this year to qualify as a major listmeister), I've picked up a couple lists from Facebook friends where I've noticed them (Thomas Walker and Joe Yanosik). I'll do more of that when I find them. I haven't picked up Chris Monsen's still-evolving favorites list, but at some arbitrary point will do so.

Current standings according to my way of counting (counts in opening brackets, my grades in closing):

  1. [208] David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia) [***]
  2. [182] Beyonce: Lemonade (Columbia/Parkwood) [?]
  3. [162] Frank Ocean: Blonde (Boys Don't Cry) [**]
  4. [144] Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool (XL) [B]
  5. [133] Solange: A Seat at the Table (Saint/Columbia) [**]
  6. [131] Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book (self-released) [A-]
  7. [120] Kanye West: The Life of Pablo (Def Jam/GOOD Music) [***]
  8. [110] A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic) [A-]
  9. [108] Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed) [B-]
  10. [104] Anderson Paak: Malibu (OBE/Steel Wool/ArtClub/Empire) [A-]
  11. [104] Bon Iver: 22 a Million (Jagjaguwar) [*]
  12. [101] Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar) [***]
  13. [92] Anohni: Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian) [*]
  14. [85] Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial (Matador) [***]
  15. [81] Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker (Columbia) [A-]
  16. [73] Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL) [A-]
  17. [71] Mitski: Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) [*]
  18. [68] Rihanna: Anti (Roc Nation) [A-]
  19. [61] Blood Orange: Freetown Sound (Domino) [A-]
  20. [60] Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition (Warp) [A-]
  21. [59] Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide to Earth (Atlantic) [***]
  22. [52] Kendrick Lamar: Untitled Unmastered (Top Dawg Entertainment) [***]
  23. [46] Margo Price: Midwest Farmer's Daughter (Third Man) [A-]
  24. [44] Drive-By Truckers: American Band (ATO) [A-]
  25. [40] PJ Harvey: The Hope Six Demolition Project (Vagrant) [**]
  26. [40] Parquet Courts: Human Performance (Rough Trade) [A-]
  27. [40] Skepta: Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know) [***]
  28. [38] The 1975: I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (Dirty Hit/Interscope) [*]
  29. [38] Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista) [*]
  30. [36] Young Thug: [No My Name Is] Jeffery (300 Entertainment/Atlantic) [A-]

Album of the Year's Aggregate has same top seven, but a closer race for the top spot (Bowie over Beyoncé 286-282), and Solange ahead of Radiohead (225-208), They actually have the same top-twenty records, with the big difference that they move Angel Olsen up from 12th (my list) to 8th. From 21-30 they add Jenny Hval (31-26), The Avalanches (33-28), and Savages (38-29), in place of Drive-By Truckers (24-31), Parquet Courts (26-36), and Young Thug (30-37) -- three records graded A- or better by both Christgau and myself, so there's my cheat for you. (I have Hval C+, Avalanches B, Savages ***.)

My next project will be tallying the Jazz Critics Poll ballots, which I finally have but haven't really cracked into yet.


New records rated this week:

  • Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman: Lice Two: Still Buggin' (2016, Stones Throw, EP): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Aziza Brahim: Abbar El Hamada (2016, Glitterbeat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Burial: Young Death/Nightmarket (2016, Hyperdub, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum: Enter the Plustet (2016, Firehouse 12): [r]: A-
  • Joăo Camőes/Jean-Marc Foussat: Ŕ La Face du Ciel (2014 [2016], Shhpuma): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Dikeman/Luis Vicente/Hugo Antunes/Gabriel Ferrandini: Salăo Brazil (2016, NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(*)
  • Paolo Fresu & Omar Sosa: Eros (2016, Otá): [r]: B+(*)
  • Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and Math (2016, ATO): [r]: B+(**)
  • Macy Gray: Stripped (2016, Chesky): [r]: B+(**)
  • Brian Kastan: Roll the Dice on Life (2016 [2017], Kastan, 2CD): [cd]: C+
  • Tyler Keith & the Apostles: Do It for Johnny (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Alicia Keys: Here (2016, RCA): [r]: A-
  • Lady Gaga: Joanne (2016, Streamline/Interscope): [r]: B
  • Jinx Lennon: Past Pupil Stay Home (2016, Septic Tiger): [r]: B+(***)
  • Jinx Lennon: Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift Grief Magnets (2016, Septic Tiger): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bruno Mars: 24K Magic (2016, Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Mark Pritchard: Under the Sun (2016, Warp): [r]: B+(*)
  • Pussy Riot: XXX (2016, Nice Life, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (2016, Clean Feed): [cd]: A-
  • The Rolling Stones: Blue & Lonesome (2016, Polydor): [r]: B+(***)
  • Daniel Romano: Mosey (2016, New West): [r]: B-
  • Ned Rothenberg/Mark Feldman/Sylvie Courvoisier: In Cahoots (2014 [2016], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Regina Spektor: Remember Us to Life (2016, Sire): [r]: B+(**)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (2015 [2016], RogueArt): [cdr]: A-
  • Tanya Tagaq: Retribution (2016, Six Shooter): [r]: A-
  • A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service (2016, Epic): [r]: A-
  • William Tyler: Modern Country (2016, Merge): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wilco: Schmilco (2016, dBpm): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tom Zé: Cançőes Eróticas de Ninar (2016, Circus): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart: The Crave (1994 [2016], NoBusiness): [cdr]: A-
  • Steve Lehman Camouflage Trio: Interface (2003, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joe McPhee & Raymond Boni: Live From the Magic City (Birmingham, Alabama) (1985 [2016], Trost): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Pat Thomas: Coming Home: Original Ghanaian Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1967-1981 (1967-81 [2016], Strut, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics (1972-82 [2016], Sterns Africa, 2CD): [r]: A-

Old music rated this week:

  • Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings: Other Stories (2003-05 [2005], 482 Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (2008, Hatology): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Peter Brötzmann/Steve Swell/Paal Nilssen-Love: Live in Copenhagen (Not Two)
  • Club D'Elf: Live at Club Helsinki (Face Pelt): January 10
  • Sandy Cressman: Entre Amigos (Cressman Music): February 3
  • Dog Leg Dilemma: Not This Time (self-released): January 6
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Sedimental You (Clean Feed)
  • Laura Dubin Trio: Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival (self-released, 2CD): January 6
  • Dre Hocevar: Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder (Clean Feed)
  • Donny Most: Swinging Down the Chimney Tonight (Summit, EP)
  • Motif: My Head is Listening (Clean Feed)
  • Michael Occhipinti: Stabilimento (Modica Music)
  • Evan Parker/Daunik Lazro/Joe McPhee: Seven Pieces: Live at Willisau 1995 (Clean Feed)
  • Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed)
  • Ned Rothenberg/Mark Feldman/Sylvie Courvoisier: In Cahoots (Clean Feed)
  • Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home (Eden River): January 27
  • Steve Swell: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Improviser (Swell)
  • Steve Swell Quintet: Soul Travelers (RogueArt): cdr
  • Steve Swell/Gebhard Ullmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang: The Chicago Plan (Clean Feed)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Weekend Roundup

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about how America, if little else, has become something of a consumer paradise over the last 30-40 years. I often wonder why it is that so many people are so uncritical of the established order, and that seems to be a big part of why. Sure, one can nitpick, and if you know much about how business, marketing in particular, works, you'll realize that the real gains still fall way short of what's possible or desirable. You may also may feel some qualms about what has actually been achieved by all this consumption. And, of course, like everything else the gains have not been equally distributed. But for those who can afford today's markets, life has never been better.

I count Trump's voters among them. Sure, many gripe about economic fears, some even about hardships, but somehow they overlook their own bosses and the businesses who take most of their money while perceiving others as threats. I'm aware of lots of reasons why they think that, but I can't say that any of them make real sense to me. What I am sure of is that the incoming Trump administration isn't going to solve any of their imaginary (let alone real) problems. Trump's cabinet is going to have more ultrarich (say, half-billionaires and up) than any other in history. In fact, this represents a new plateau in the history of American plutocracy: even as recently as the Shrub administration, titans of industry and finance were happy to stock the government with their lobbyists and retainers, but Trump is tapping "the doers, not the talkers" -- people who don't just take orders but who intimately know how to convert public influence into private gain. In the past, the most notoriously corrupt administrations (Grant, Harding, Reagan) combined indifferent leadership with underlings imbued in a culture of greed. Yet today, Trump not only hasn't divested himself of his business entanglements; he's actively continued to work his deals, nakedly using his newly acquired leverage. Unlike the others, he won't just turn a blind eye to corruption; he's ideally positioned to be the plunderer-in-chief.

One thing Trump's election has spared us was being plagued with four years of non-stop Clinton scandals -- sure, mostly likely as bogus and conflated as the ones she's endured for 24 years, but still catnip to the press. Instead, Trump promises to give us real scandals, huge scandals, the kind of scandals that expose the rotten core of American Greatness. One hardly knows where to begin, or when to stop, but this will necessarily be brief.


Some scattered links this week:

  • Peter Beinart: Trump Excuses the White Working Class From the Politics of Personal Responsibility: The author has been reading JB Vance's Hillbilly Elegy and detects some manner of irony:

    Under Reagan, Republicans demanded personal responsibility from African Americans and ignored the same cultural problems when displayed by whites. Under Trump, Republicans acknowledge that whites exhibit those same pathologies. Trump, for instance, spoke frequently during the campaign about drug addiction in white, rural states like New Hampshire. But instead of demanding personal responsibility, Trump's GOP promises state protection. Unlike Vance, who speaks about his poor white neighbors in the way Reagan-era conservatives spoke about poor blacks, Trump-era conservatives describe the white working class as the victims of political and economic forces beyond their control. Sounding a bit like Jesse Jackson defending the black underclass in the 1980s, Trump Republicans say that what the white underclass needs today is not moralistic sermonizing but government assistance and cultural respect.

    Of course, there is a simpler reason why Republicans would present different sets of standards and prescriptions for white and blacks: it's called racism. Such double standards are hardly novel. Nor was "separate but equal" merely ironic. But Beinart is also wrong when he thinks Trump intends to solve the problems of poor whites through state actions. Like all Republicans since Reagan, his solution is to reduce the political options of the state, reserving it for violence against any challenges to authority, while allowing the private sector to expand its power over workers, customers, and mere bystaders.

  • Rosa Brooks: Don't Freak Out About Trump's Cabinet Full of Generals: I doubt I'd take Brooks seriously without knowing that her mother is the brilliant left journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, as Brooks' own resume paints her as an insider in Washington's foreign policy establishment, a perch from which she's observed the creeping hegemonic encroachment of military brass (her recent book is How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon). So, yeah, she's uncommonly comfortable with generals and admirals running things, even respects and admires them. Still, she may be right that the problem with all Trump's generals isn't that they'll upset the intricate checks and balances the founding fathers devised, but she misses the real point: that Trump's generals consummates a steady drift that started back in WWII transforming the US military from a rarely-used last resort to an everyday implement of world-hegemonic imperial policy. And sure, all that (so far) happened before Trump, but in hiring those generals Trump is demonstrating that his own foreign policy thinking is nothing more than an echo of that long (and frankly disastrous) drift. Of course, that should come as no surprise to anyone who paid attention to him during the long campaign. They only thing that doesn't alarm me about the generals is the fact that I can think of even worse civilians to hand power over to. (Brooks herself contrasts State candidates Rudy Giuliani and David Petraeus, and she's got a point there, but I'm still drawing a blank on who Michael Flynn is saving us from.)

  • Martin Longman: Breitbart Does Not Like Trump's Labor Pick:

    So, if you go look at the Breitbart website right now, you'll see an anti-Trump headline that accuses him of nominating a Labor Secretary that prefers foreign labor to American workers. And if you actually go ahead and read the article, you'll see that it lashes out at Andy Puzder for standing "diametrically opposed to Trump's signature issues on trade and immigration."

    As an example, they cite his decision to "join forces with Michael Bloomberg, Bob Iger, and Rupert Murdoch's open borders lobbying firm, the Partnership for a New American Economy, to call for 'free-market solutions' to our immigration system." They also question Puzder's support for "amnesty" and overall view him as a poster-boy for what they oppose, which is bringing in low-wage immigrants that take jobs from white Americans and suppress their wages.

    The man Trump nominated to be Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is CEO of a chain of fast food restaurants (Hardee's, Carl's Jr.), so his labor expertise is in how to hire minimum wage, no benefit workers. (His business experience includes taking his firm through a private equity deal valued at more than $1 billion. The company generates $1.4 billion in revenues, operating in the US and 40 foreign countries.) I'm not sure whether Puzder counts as one of Trump's billionaires, but he comes pretty close.

    One thing that worried me about the prospect of Sanders becoming president was that the Democratic Party regulars -- the people he'd have to draw on for appointments and support -- weren't ready to back his "revolution." I never believed that Trump would veer significantly from Republican Party orthodoxy, but I can see how those who did think he offered something different -- notably the Breitbart crowd, and as many "white populists" as you can count -- are likely to belatedly discover the same problem. Much as Trump went with impeccably demented Mike Pence as his VP, he's stocking his cabinet from the same stock of utter reactionaries.

  • Daniel Politi: Trump Explains Why He Rejects Daily Intelligence Briefings: "I'm, Like, a Smart Person": I saw Michael Moore on Seth Myers the other night making a big stink about how Trump has sloughed off going to CIA briefings, and for once I thought, "good for Trump." As far as I know, the first president to receive daily briefings was Shrub, and the chemical reaction of misinformation-meets-ignorance there didn't do anyone any good. Supposedly Obama tried to fix this by laying down a rule -- "don't do stupid shit" -- but his own daily briefings allowed all sorts of loopholes to that rule, backed by presidential authority. The fact is that the "war on terror" isn't important enough to require daily input and direction from the so-called Commander-in-Chief. A sane president would simply, quietly wind it down, mostly by not encouraging "stupid shit" to happen. The fact that Trump isn't a reasonable person, that he pretty much campaigned on doing "stupid shit" all the time, makes it even more important to steer him away from meetings about killing people and embarrassing the country.

  • Nomi Prins: The Magnitude of Trump's Cronyism Is Off the Charts -- Even for Washington: "The President-elect's incomplete cabinet is already the richest one ever."

    There is, in fact, some historical precedent for a president surrounding himself with such a group of self-interested power-grabbers, but you'd have to return to Warren G. Harding's administration in the early 1920s to find it. The "Roaring Twenties" that ended explosively in a stock market collapse in 1929 began, ominously enough, with a presidency filled with similar figures, as well as policies remarkably similar to those now being promised under Trump, including major tax cuts and giveaways for corporations and the deregulation of Wall Street. . . .

    Harding's other main contributions to American history involved two choices he made. He offered businessman Herbert Hoover the job of secretary of commerce and so put him in play to become president in the years just preceding the Great Depression. And in a fashion that now looks Trumpian, he also appointed one of the richest men on Earth, billionaire Andrew Mellon, as his treasury secretary. Mellon, a Pittsburgh industrialist-financier, was head of the Mellon National Bank; he founded both the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), for which he'd be accused of unethical behavior while treasury secretary (as he still owned stock in the company and his brother was a close associate), and the Gulf Oil Company; and with Henry Clay Frick, he co-founded the Union Steel Company.

    He promptly set to work -- and this will sound familiar today -- cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations. At the same time, he essentially left Wall Street free to concoct the shadowy "trusts" that would use borrowed money to purchase collections of shares in companies and real estate, igniting the 1929 stock market crash. After Mellon, who had served three presidents, left Herbert Hoover's administration, he fell under investigation for unpaid federal taxes and tax-related conflicts of interest.

    Prins goes on to run down the wealth and interest conflicts of several Trump picks, including Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion, Commerce), Betsy DeVos ($5.1 billion, Education), and Steven Mnuchin (up to $1 billion, Treasury, from Goldman Sachs). If, as reported, Trump picks Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, he's not going to lower the average much.

  • Theda Skocpol/Alexander Hertel-Fernandez/Caroline Tervo: Behind "Make America Great," the Koch Agenda Returns With a Vengeance: The Koch network spent about $750 million on the 2016 elections, mostly on down-ballot races that saved and shaped the Republican Congress, and that is rapidly becoming the framework that shapes the Trump presidency, even on issues where Trump publicly differed from the Kochs and their cronies (like Scott Walker and Mario Rubio).

    Publicly available numbers suggest that AFP's grassroots organizing made a real difference -- and indirectly helped Trump, who had little campaign capacity of his own. In Wisconsin, for instance, AFP claims that it reached over 2.5 million voters in phone banking and canvassing efforts. In North Carolina, AFP claimed over 1.2 million calls and 120,000 door-to-door efforts, or nearly the entire reported margin of victory for Trump. And in Pennsylvania, AFP claims it made over 2.4 million phone calls and knocked on over 135,000 doors, more than twice Trump's margin of victory in that state. AFP's grassroots efforts were especially pronounced in Florida, where AFP boasts that its people knocked on a record-breaking one million doors throughout the state to help re-elect Senator Marco Rubio. Hillary Clinton lost the state by just over 100,000 votes. In all four of these states AFP helped to re-elect the incumbent Republican Senator and make important down ballot gains. Obviously, given what we know about the decline of split ticking voting, most of the same citizens AFP mobilized for state and Congressional contests also cast ballots for Donald Trump.

Briefly noted:

One last note: I just finishing reading Peter Frase's Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (Verso). He sets up a 2x2 matrix, one axis determined by plenty/scarcity, the other inequality/equality. Needless to say, only one quadrant reads like something we're already in the midst of: scarcity/inequality, the one he calls "exterminism" -- not a very euphonious term, but one which underscores how the rich, as they increasingly automate labor come to view the workers they discharge as expendable, and ultimately as threats. (Frase never uses the term "useless eaters" but you may recall how that terminology paved the way for the Nazi genocide.) Needless to say, aside from branding, "exterminism" sounds more than a little like the Trump agenda. More blatantly, there's increasing inequality while progressively stripping the poor and marginal of any semblance of rights.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Daily Log

Tried to troubleshoot a noisy treadmill today. I wrote the following note to Fitness Repair Parts, which seems to be connected to Hebb Industries (now Trimline):

We have a Hebb Industries 7200.1 treadmill, serial number 001027917. Pretty sure it was purchased here in Wichita Ks, probably 1999-2000. The motor has recently become annoyingly noisy, increasingly so at higher speeds (although we've never run it much over 2.5 mph). I've opened the unit up, cleaned everything. Drive belt is good, and no evident problem with the tread. Motor works, so may just be a bearing problem. No evident problem with the electronics. What would it cost to repair or replace?

Motor is a Leeson direct current permanent magnetic motor KK2248, model 04D34DB16A, cat no. 108909.00, 2.7 HP, 19 Amps 4000 RPM 120 Volts. We haven't tried removing the fan or the flywheel/drive assembly. We haven't removed the motor yet, but did loosen it to slip the belt off.

Form noted "support ticket request #210596 has been created."

When I looked for service agents at Fitness Repair Parts, they gave me two in Kansas: one in Olathe, the other in El Dorado: Meyer Fitness, 5405 NE 53rd, Phone 316-299-1744.

I also wrote to Leeson Motors:

We have a Hebb 7200.1 treadmill (probably bought in 1999), and the motor has become noisy (still works, the faster the louder, could be a bearing). The motor is one of yours: Leeson direct current permanent magnetic motor KK2248 Model 04D34DB16A Cat No. 108909.00 2.7 HP 19 amps 4000 rpm 120 volts. It's held to the treadmill base with four bolts, and has a plastic fan on one side and a flywheel/belt drive on the other. Do you have a replacement motor? Is it possible to disassemble and replace the bearings? Thanks.

Got a bullshit response from Fitness Repair Parts. I tried to respond but their ticket system won't open up the previous ticket, so I filed a new one. My new comment:

This is in reference to ticket 210596. I was unable to log into that ticket to reply, per your instructions.

Are you saying that you don't have the replacement part I (evidently) need? Or that you only serve some authorized repair network, so that I have to hire someone else to do work I could just as easily do myself?

From my previous ticket, I've edited down the details on the needed replacement part:

We have a Hebb Industries 7200.1 treadmill, serial number 001027917. Pretty sure it was purchased here in Wichita Ks, probably 1999-2000. The motor has recently become annoyingly noisy, increasingly so at higher speeds (although we've never run it much over 2.5 mph). Motor is a Leeson direct current permanent magnetic motor KK2248, model 04D34DB16A, cat no. 108909.00, 2.7 HP, 19 Amps 4000 RPM 120 Volts. Do you have this part? What would it cost to replace this motor (with or without the external fan and flywheel/drive assemblies)?

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Music Week

Music: Current count 27403 [27386] rated (+17), 369 [362] unrated (+7).

I lost track of how many days of listening I lost due to cooking last week. In fact, I lost track of almost everything else, only remembering that I needed to publish November's Streamnotes column when I saw the calendar had turned to December (fortunately, that was soon enough after the moment I was able to backdate the post). That pattern continues here as I'm trying to finish my usual Monday Music Week column well into Tuesday evening.

My Jazz Critics Poll ballot was due on Sunday. I gave up trying to find new things and/or fiddle with the order sometime Saturday, when I dashed off the following:

New releases:

  1. Aly Keita/Jan Galega Bronnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalo Yele (Intakt)
  2. Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (HighNote)
  3. Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up: Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
  4. Murray, Allen & Carrington Power Trio: Perfection (Motéma)
  5. George Coleman: A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions)
  6. Roswell Rudd/Jamie Saft/Trevor Dunn/Balasz Pandi: Strength & Power (Rare Noise)
  7. JD Allen: Americana (Savant)
  8. Gary Lucas' Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)
  9. Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Periheleon (Aerophonic, 2CD)
  10. Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio: Desire & Freedom (Not Two)

Reissues or Historical albums:

  1. Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra: All My Yesterdays (1966, Resonance, 2CD)
  2. Peter Kuhn: No Coming, No Going: The Music of Peter Kuhn, 1978-1979 (NoBusiness, 2CD)
  3. William Hooker: Light: The Early Years 1975-1989 (NoBusiness, 4CD)

Best Vocal album:

  • Gary Lucas' Fleischerei: Music From Max Fleischer Cartoons (Cuneiform)

Best Debut album:

  • Damana (Dag Magnus Narvesen Octet): Cornua Copiae (Clean Feed)

Best Latin Jazz album:

  • Sonic Liberation 8: Bombogenic (High Two)

This mostly follows my EOY Jazz List -- the main exception being that I skipped over a Coleman Hawkins compilation I had heard on Rhapsody in favor of three comps that publicists had sent me. On the other hand, I included no less than three records that I didn't get physical copies of in my new releases list (Murray, Coleman, Lucas). I don't recall ever doing that before.

My list strikes me as more mainstream, or more specifically less avant, than usual. No idea whether that represents a mellowing of my taste or just how the cookies crumbled this year. Thus far I haven't gotten any of the ballots back from Francis Davis for my website, and I've only seen two ballots posted on the net (Ken Franckling, Tim Niland). In previous years JJA published member lists that lined up (and in some cases expanded from) critics' lists, but I haven't yet found anything there.

I'm actually not all that curious about how the JCP turns out. OK, I do have a hunch that Henry Threadgill's Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi) will win, but not much faith -- but not much faith. It's more that I can't imagine what the competition can be. (Mary Halvorson? Dave Holland? Vijay Iyer? Steve Lehman? Sonny Rollins? Wadada Leo Smith? Those should all finish top-20, but I don't have more confidence than that.) I've started tallying EOY lists for my own EOY List Aggregate file, but at present I don't have enough jazz to predict anything. (I will go out on a limb and say that the current leader, Canadian crossed-over band BadBadNotGood, won't finish top-40 in JCP -- nor, I hope, will Snarky Puppy.)

On the other hand, the non-jazz lists are starting to take shape (understanding that the early lists skew Anglo and miss out on late-breaking hip-hop). Current top-ten: David Bowie, Radiohead, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Nick Cave, Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver, Anderson Paak, Car Seat Headrest. I figured Beyoncé to win, and she still might (and probably will dominate the Village Voice poll), but right now Bowie's lead is solid (92-61-58-53-52), and he's regularly finished top-5 in US as well as UK lists. Cohen has never polled especially well before, so I figure he and Bowie are riding a rarely-tested dead legend boost. Bowie, Radiohead, and Cave also benefit from the current UK skew, with Cave the most likely to slip on later lists.

Second ten (11-20): Chance the Rapper, Solange, Anohni, Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, Mitski, Blood Orange, Kaytranada, Sturgill Simpson, Danny Brown. Tribe is this year's late-breaker (released Nov. 11), rising lately but hard to project how much more. I expected Chance to do better, maybe Brown also. Some of the more promising names further down: Parquet Courts (24), PJ Harvey (27), Kendrick Lamar (29), Drive-By Truckers (34), Rihanna (38), Miranda Lambert (86, but released 11/18).

Speaking of Lambert, you'll noticed that I nudged her grade up a notch from my Streamnotes review. I was sitting on the fence anyway, and what pushed me over was a Greg Morton review, which I'd rather quote here than try to link you to Facebook:

Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings. I hope Bob [Christgau] does a long form on this since the songs aren't just consistently great, but consistently interesting as well. Worthy of thorough track-by-track analysis. I'll give you "Good Ol' Days" as filler and "Covered Wagon" as one road metaphor too many but other than that it sounds to me like a 90-minute song cycle about caring, from the perspective of a modern young women who turns out to be more articulate, successful, and worldly than her raising taught her she could be. Your mileage may vary dependent on how interested you are in that perspective, but my evidence is two days of the album on shuffle. Where no matter the sequence, an hour and a half later you're listening to a song that was as good (and as interesting) as the one that started it. At least an A.

Of course, before committing I did give the record(s) another spin. Seven cuts in I was reminded how long it took me to realize Exile on Main Street was the Stones' best. But fourteen cuts in I killed that line of thinking and settled for a solid A-.


New records rated this week:

  • BadBadNotGood: IV (2016, Innovative Leisure): [r]: B-
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: The Joy of Being (2015 [2016], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The DKV Thing Trio: Collider (2014 [2016], Not Two): [r]: B+(**)
  • Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings) (2011-15 [2016], Impulse): [r]: A-
  • I Am Three: Mingus Mingus Mingus (2015 [2016], Leo): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ich Bin Nintendo: Lykke (2016, Shhpuma): [r]: B+(**)
  • Martin Küchen/Mark Tokar/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (2016, NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Lambchop: FLOTUS (2016, Merge): [r]: B
  • Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings (2016, RCA Nashville, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Live the Spirit Residency: Presents the Young Masters 1: Coming of Age (2016, self-released): [cd]: A-
  • Donny McCaslin: Beyond Now (2016, Motema): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mekons: Existentialism (2015 [2016], Bloodshot): [r]: A
  • Myra Melford + Ben Goldberg: Dialogue (2014 [2016], BAG): [r]: B
  • The Monkees: Good Times! (2016, Rhino): [r]: B-
  • Van Morrison: Keep Me Singing (2016, Caroline): [r]: A-
  • The Nu Band: The Final Concert (2012 [2016], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Alexander von Schlippenbach: Jazz Now! (Live at Theater Gütersloh) (2015 [2016], Intuition): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:

  • Miles Davis Quintet: Freedom Jazz Dance [The Bootleg Series Vol. 5] (1966-68 [2016], Columbia/Legacy, 3CD): [r]: B+(*)
  • David S. Ware & Matthew Shipp Duo: Live in Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004 (2004 [2016], AUM Fidelity): [r]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart: The Crave (1994, NoBusiness): cdr
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur: The Joy of Being (NoBusiness)
  • Albert Cirera/Hernâni Faustino/Gabriel Ferrandini/Agustí Fernández: Before the Silence (NoBusiness)
  • John Dikeman/Luis Vicente/Hugo Antunes/Gabriel Ferrandini: Salăo Brazil (NoBusiness): cdr
  • The Fat Babies: Solid Gassuh (Delmark)
  • Noah Haidu: Infinite Distances (Cellar Live): February 15
  • Irene Kepl: Sololos (Fou)
  • Martin Küchen/Mark Tokar/Arkadijus Gotesmanas: Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness): cdr
  • Live the Spirit Residency: Presents the Young Masters 1: Coming of Age (self-released)
  • Modus Factor: The Picasso Zone (Browntasaurus)
  • The Nu Band: The Final Concert (NoBusiness): cdr
  • Howard Riley: Constant Change 1976-2016 (NoBusiness, 5CD)
  • Randy Weston: The African Nubian Suite (African Rhythms, 2CD): January 20

Also got a batch of Clean Feeds on Monday which I'll list next week.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Peace Dinner

I ran behind in writing this, so I'll have to postpone Music Week until tomorrow (Tuesday). Unfortunately, nobody I'm aware of thought to take any pictures of the event below, and the evidence is now far gone. Without such documentation, I reckon we're already entering the realm of myth. I figure the least I can do is to write this event up, to establish some sort of paper trail.

Friday night the Peace and Social Justice Center here in Wichita had its annual dinner and business meeting. My little part in that was to plan and direct the menu, preparing food for 62 guests. I spent much of last week hashing out the menu with Janice Bradley and Leah Dannar-Garcia. Leah and I went shopping on Wednesday. I spent about thirteen hours on Thursday at home prepping and in some cases finishing dishes, while Janice and Leah did their own home prep. On Friday about 1 PM we met at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, along with several other people (Pat Cameron, Gretchen Eick, Kathy Hull, Russ Pataki) where the dinner would be held, and started cooking. By 6 PM we had dinner ready to serve. We put small bowls of appetizers and bread on the tables so people could start noshing. And we set up a double-long table for people to serve themselves with the main dishes. The menu was mostly Mediterranean, with dishes from Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and the Arab countries, plus one salad from Iran:

The appetizer array:

The main dishes:

Dessert:

  • Mutabbaq: filo pastry sheets filled with ricotta and goat cheese.
  • Macedonia: mixed fruit: apples, pears, red and green grapes, strawberries, pineapple, macerated with sugar and citrus juices.
  • Vanilla Cream: vanilla-flavored whipped cream.

The recipes (follow the links) were typically scaled 2 times for the appetizers and desserts (more for the hummus and fruit), the salads 2-3 times, the main dishes 3-4 times (8 lbs fish, 16 lbs chicken). The main thing that limited the scaling was the size of cooking and serving dishes, although several dishes were limited by shopping -- I didn't buy nearly enough kalamata olives, so had a single one pound recipe of tapenade and had to buy extra for the salad. The salads ran out first -- possibly because they were first in the serving line, but we could have fixed another batch of the horiatiki and mast va khiar and served it in the same large bowls. The root vegetables fit neatly into two deep baking dishes, the fish into two shallow ones, and the chicken was optimally packed into my largest pot (16-inch diameter, 6-inches deep).

I made two trays of mutabbaq, and cut them into 60 2.25 x 2.5-inch pieces, so only a couple people missed out. We served them at the counter, on plates, and let people add fruit and/or cream. (I was surprised to see people dolloping the cream on top of the mutabbaq.) The cream, which I had borrowed from a "berries and cream" recipe, was exceptional -- we should have made a second batch. We had a couple cups of caponata and a couple pints of cacciatore left at the end, plus hummus and fruit -- Janice overscaled while I erred on the low side -- but I didn't hear complaints about not cooking enough.

I think it's safe to say that it all came out delicious -- one could even say fabulous. Also that the mix of dishes worked and the tastes complemented one another. (The desserts offered a mix of sweet, tart, and creamy, none of which were overly heavy.) We could have done a better job of pointing out which things were vegetarian (or vegan), which dishes had dairy or gluten or nuts or some other real or imagined hazard -- we published the menu, but that was hardly self-explanatory.

The last few years we had the dinner catered, using various Mexican and Middle Eastern sources, nothing especially memorable. Further back, we tried pot lucks, and I made large main dishes for a couple of those -- jambalaya and cacciatore are the ones I remember -- which often produced better food, but were also inconsistent and chancey. This year, when the board decided to try another pot luck, I suggested that a planned and assigned menu would work better, maybe something Mediterranean like the Ottolenghi menu we fixed for an Alice Powell memorial dinner, but a bit broader (and simpler). Leah, who runs a small organic farm east of town, suggested a seasonal fall menu, which I was fine with, but when I spelled out my proposal she embraced it, and provided invaluable support.

Also invaluable was the kitchen and equipment provided by the church. They had a 10-burner range (which we barely used), with two ovens (exactly what we needed), large baking dishes and bowls, lots of counter space, ample dishes and flatware, and a terrific dishwasher for cleaning up. We also had about the right mix of people helping out. If we were to do it again, the one change I would make would be to get together in that kitchen the night before and do the meze and prep together rather than dividing them up and working at home (especially as I had taken on most of that work myself -- by the end I was so exhausted that I wound up knicking myself a couple times cleaning up a knife). Friday had moments that seemed like chaos, but I managed to keep everything lined up and moving along properly, so it all came together at the appointed time (6 PM).

Also, other people (especially Leah and Russ) took over the clean up when I wore out. I got in line after the salads were gone, and wandered in and out of the actual meeting. The guest speaker was Maxine Phillips, a former executive editor of Dissent Magazine and a vice chair of Democratic Socialists of America, who blogs at religioussocialism.org. She spoke about "Forced Migrations and US Immigration Policy." I didn't catch enough of this to comment, but I will risk saying two things:

  1. Most migration today, especially from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, is the result of the US (and Europe) exporting neoliberal economic dogmas and the tools of war which are primarily used by complicit local elites against their own people. It's all good and well to sympathize with the victims of economic and military dislocation, but the root causes are embedded in our own political system, so much under the thumb of supra-national corporate interests. In particular, we need to guard against the tendency to militarize our response to every crisis, especially as that knee-jerk reaction primarily serves to avoid self-scrutiny.

  2. Nonetheless, the fact that refugees and emigrants still come here is a testimony to the fact that America (and Europe) still have functioning and (relatively) humane institutions such that most of our citizens are spared the most brutal effects of our economic and military dogmas. And it's worth noting that immigrants generally add to supporting those institutions, and to the economy as a whole, in part because they're more appreciative of them than so many of our embittered "natives" (who have mastered the knack of taking them for granted while doing little to support). Whatever else it may be, net immigration is a vote of confidence in our shared future, something we should appreciate rather than curse.

Unfortuantely, the 2016 election, especially of Donald Trump to the presidency, promises nothing constructive on this front. Indeed, if Trump does manages to reduce immigration it will probably be more due to making our own country less livable than to enforcing draconian laws, and even less to making the rest of the world any less treacherous.

I'm afraid I have rather mixed views on immigration. As someone whose most recent foreign-born ancestors came to America nearly 150 years ago, and whose family preserved not one shred of previous ethnic identity, I've never had any sentimental attachment to the notion that America as a melting pot of immigrants. Nor do I have a problem with the idea that a nation has a right to control its borders and limit immigration. I'll also note that the one period of history when Americans seemed to exhibit the greatest care for one another -- at least in the sense of moving furthest to the left -- was in the 1930-40s, when immigration was largely halted. One wonders whether loosening immigration restrictions in the 1970s didn't contribute somehow to the nation's rightward drift since 1980. (That nearly a third of last year's Republican presidential candidates had at least one foreign-born parent is troubling, to say the least.)

On the other hand, I've known dozens of immigrants, most real fine people, credits to our communities, and they've helped to broaden and deepen our lives. One way, of course, was to share with us the range of food we made for this Peace Dinner (plus a great many other dishes we couldn't include -- things we can explore further in future dinners). Admittedly, most of the immigrants I know are professionals, many citizens, pretty much all with their legal status in order. The only problem I see is with those lacking proper documentation, mostly because their lack of proper credentials leaves them open to exploitation, and that less because I'm sympathetic to their plight than because their vulnerability allows those in power to be more abusive -- and not just to undocumented immigrants.

But Trump's anti-immigrant tirades are not some isolated tick. They are wrapped up in all sorts of mutually reinforcing hatreds meant to appeal to the vanity of increasingly marginalized white voters -- at least those sucker enough to overlook the obvious architects of their demise: the barons of industry and finance, whose pillage of the economy has made everyone more vulnerable. But we need to recognize that what makes this tactic work is how effectively mass fears have been stoked through decades of war. The only way to break that cycle is to insist on peace, which is why organizations like out Peace Center are so important. Please consider a contribution.


Nov 2016 Jan 2017