Monday, October 15, 2018
Music: current count 30473  rated (+43), 286  unrated (+4).
Another week with much more old music than new. One chunk of old
music was an attempt to fill in a few holes after baritone sax great
Hamiet Bluiett's death. Other A- Bluiett records my database:
- Hamiet Bluiett: Live at Carlos 1: Last Night (1986 , Just a Memory)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Young Warrior, Old Warrior (1995, Mapleshade)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Makin' Whoopee: Tribute to the Nat King Cole Trio (1997, Mapleshade)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Selim Sevad: A Tribute to Miles Davis (1998, Justin Time)
- Hamiet Bluiett/D.D. Jackson/Kahil El'Zabar: The Calling (2001, Justin Time)
- World Saxophone Quartet: Political Blues (2006, Justin Time)
I didn't follow up with
Quartet albums I may have missed. I didn't care for their early work --
thought they needed something extra beyond the four-sax harmonics, as
the few records I wound up liking proved. Still, Napster filed a couple
under Bluiett's name, reminding me that I was missing some.
I was pointed to the rest of the "old music" by Will Friedland's
new book, The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums. I made a list
of the 57 albums reviewed at great depth there, found that I had only
heard a third of them (19/57), and vowed to improve myself. Usually
I went straight to the selected album, but sometimes I dug a little
deeper -- e.g., wound up playing all of Blossom Dearie's Verve albums,
a couple of extras from Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney, and a second
Matt Dennis album (that got compiled into a single CD with the pick).
On the other hand, I figured Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald would
have turned into vast time sinks (plus I already have
15 Cole and
albums graded; Ella at Zardi's was a vault music album from
last year, and too good to skip). I felt more need to check out
(4 records), but I've never been that much of a fan. As for Robert
Goulet, his is a name I remembered from my youth but hadn't heard
in as many years -- a mistake I'm not likely to repeat soon.
I'll try to knock off some more this week: Judy Garland, Eydie
Gormé, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Marilyn Maye, Carmen McRae, Anita
O'Day, Della Reese, a dozen more. Friedland's list is skewed pretty
strongly to the string-drenched pop of the first few years of the
LP era -- basically the pre-rock and anti-rock I grew up rebelling
against, so it's not very promising ground for me. Also not finding
everything, so I'll probably stop close to 80% (missing so far: Lena
Horne, Barb Jungr, Bobby Troup).
I did manage a milestone on one months-long project. I've spent
a couple years now collecting bits of text from my
on-line notebook. My first pass
picked up all the capsule reviews of jazz albums, which I sorted
into two book files: one on records from 2000 forward, the other
on records recorded earlier (20th century). Those volumes added
up to 765 pp (pre-2000) and 1650 pp (post-2000). I then went back
through the notebooks and started pulling out all of the political
notes (four volumes: 1590 pp 2001-08, 1768 pp for 2009-12, 1666 pp
for 2013-16, and 858 pp since 2017), plus another file for various
personal notes (memoir, health crises, dinners, deaths, plus some
movies and tv: another 780 pp).
When I finished those, I realized that there were still a couple
of major chunks of writing unarchived from the notebook: non-jazz
capsule reviews (1863 pp) and miscellaneous music writings (e.g.,
intros to my CG posts, year-end notes, obits: 1735 pp). I finished
my initial pass on Sunday, so the total for the nine volumes is
12,685 pages, which works out to about 5.4 million words.
While most of what I've written since 2001 is either in the
notebook or accessibly linked from it, I still need to look at
other files on the website and fold them in where appropriate.
Biggest chunk here is probably the longer music reviews, but I
also have fragments of book drafts and project plans, and other
things. Would be nice if I can recover my email files -- lost
in my early-summer server crash, but perhaps not hopelessly.
Other things I need to do:
- Make a pass comparing the misc. music notes to the political
files, eliminating redundancies (e.g., political paragraphs stuck
in the middle of Music Week posts).
- Make a pass comparing the non-jazz capsule reviews with the
jazz guides to eliminate redundancies.
- I need to bring the earlier book files up to date, picking up
more recent notebooks and Streamnotes posts.
- The non-jazz capsule reviews are currently organized by date
posted. They should be reorganized by genre and artist name.
- The books currently exist as LibreWriter files, with at least
some versions available on my website. I need to straighten that
out, decide what I want to make available, and write up some sort
of introduction to all that.
- I also need to look into alternate formats. PDF files are one
possibility, but they are much larger than the LW files. Perhaps
more useful would be some sort of Ebook format. I'm aware of some
free tools for conversion, but haven't used them yet.
Ultimately, I see these files as resources for constructing
various other books and/or websites. Laura has read through the
first of the political files (2001-08), but we haven't yet had
any substantial discussions on where she thinks it should go.
I have various scattershot ideas on these things, but won't try
to develop them here and now. I understand that essentially no
one will want to sit down and read any of these "books" straight
through, I find that a fair amount of the writing has held up
over time (some still useful, some even amusing). One good thing
for me about this process is that it's given me something tangible
(and relatively non-taxing) to do over the past two year. But now
it's starting to come to a point where I need to move on: pick a
project (or two or three) and focus on that. End of the year might
be a good deadline for wrapping this up and figuring that out.
A couple more notes:
Allen Lowe (on Facebook) recommended a 20-CD box from Sony (Canada)
called The Perfect Roots & Blues Collection. This looks
like a series of CDs Sony/Legacy issued in the early 1990s. If so,
I've heard (and own) nearly all of them, and I agree that they've
been a really superb series. Even at
Amazon's own price ($93.99) it's a bargain, but they have dealers
in the UK offering it for much less.
When I looked it up, I noticed another tempting 20-CD box,
Jazz From America on Disques Vogue -- jazz recorded by American
artists in Paris late 1940s/early 1950s. RCA released a series of
these in the early 1990s. I have a dozen or more, most quite good.
I've never bought any of Sony's massive boxes, so I can't speak
as to packaging and documentation, but I did write a bit about The
Perfect Jazz Collection back in
November 2011. For me, and
possibly for you, the problem's always been owning so many of the
packaged albums the big boxes, even when quite cheap, are still not
cost-effective. Still, one can imagine others these sets would be
perfect for. Sony also has massive collections of Miles Davis and
Johnny Cash, as you can well imagine.
I also want to point out two books that came out last week, that
my wife, Laura Tillem, edited:
Both authors live here in Wichita, and are good friends of ours.
New records rated this week:
- David Ake: Humanities (2017 , Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(***)
- Myra Melford's Snowy Egret: The Other Side of Air (2017 , Firehouse 12)
- Kjetil Møster/John Edwards/Dag Erik Knedal Andersen: Different Shapes/Immersion (2014 , Va Fongool): [r]: B+(*)
- Aaron Parks: Little Big (2018, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(***)
- Marc Ribot: Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 (2018, Epitaph): [bc]: B+(***)
- Anne Sajdera: New Year (2018, Bijuri): [cd]: B+(*)
- Jared Sims: The New York Sessions (2018, Ropeadope): [cd]: B+(**)
- Alister Spence/Satoko Fujii: Intelset (2017 , Alister Spence Music): [cd]: B+(**)
- Mike Steinel Quintet: Song and Dance (2017 , OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
- Patrick Zimmerli Quartet: Clockworks (2017 , Songlines): [r]: B+(**)
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Ella Fitzgerald: Ella at Zardi's (1956 , Verve): [r]: A-
Old music rated this week:
- Fred Astaire: The Astaire Story (1952 , Verve, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Fred Astaire: Steppin' Out: Astaire Sings (1952 , Verve): [r]: B+(***)
- Tony Bennett and Bill Evans: Together Again (1976 , Concord): [r]: B+(*)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Birthright: A Solo Blues Concert (1977, India Navigation): [r]: B+(**)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Resolution (1977 , Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
- Hamiet Bluiett: "Dangerously Suite" (1981, Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Ebu (1984, Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Hamiet Bluiett & Concept: Live at Carlos 1 (1986 , Just a Memory): [r]: A-
- Hamiet Bluiett: Sankofa/Rear Garde (1992 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Hamiet Bluiett: Live at the Village Vanguard: Ballads and Blues (1994 , Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
- Hamiet Bluiett: With Eyes Wide Open (2000, Justin Time): [r]: A-
- Rosemary Clooney/Duke Ellington: Blue Rose (1956 , Columbia/Legacy): [r]: B+(**)
- Rosemary Clooney: Rosie Solves the Swingin' Riddle! (1961 , RCA/Bluebird): [r]: A-
- Rosemary Clooney: Everything's Coming Up Rosie (1977, Concord): [r]: B+(***)
- Rosemary Clooney: Sings the Lyrics of Johnny Mercer (1987, Concord): [r]: B+(***)
- Nat 'King' Cole: St. Louis Blues (1958, Capitol): [r]: B+(*)
- Doris Day and Harry James: Young Man With a Horn (1950 , Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
- Doris Day: Day by Day (1956, Columbia): [r]: B
- Doris Day: Day by Night (1957, Columbia): [r]: B
- Doris Day: 16 Most Requested Songs (1945-58 , Columbia/Legacy): [r]: B+(*)
- Doris Day/Robert Goulet: Annie Get Your Gun (1963, Columbia Masterworks): [r]: B+(*)
- Blossom Dearie: Give Him the Ooh-La-La (1957 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Blossom Dearie: Once Upon a Summertime (1958, Verve): [r]: B+(***)
- Blossom Dearie: My Gentleman Friend (1959, Verve): [r]: A-
- Blossom Dearie: Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green (1959, Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Blossom Dearie: Soubrette: Blossom Dearie Sings Broadway Hit Songs (1960, Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Matt Dennis: Plays and Sings Matt Dennis (1954, Trend): [r]: B+(**)
- Matt Dennis: Dennis, Anyone? (1955, RCA Victor): [r]: B+(**)
- Matt Dennis: Plays and Sings Matt Dennis: Live in Hollywood (1954-55 , Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)
- Billy Eckstine: Billy's Best (1957-58 , Verve): [r]: B+(*)
- Ella Fitzgerald: Lullabies of Birdland (1947-54 , Decca): [r]: A-
- Benny Goodman/Rosemary Clooney: Date With the King (1956, Columbia, EP): [r]: B+(**)
- Robert Goulet: 16 Most Requested Songs (1960-69 , Columbia): [r]: C
- Beaver Harris 360 Degree Music Experience: Beautiful Africa (1979, Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
Grade (or other) changes:
- Blossom Dearie: Blossom Dearie (1956 , Verve): [r]: [was: B+]: B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Amu: Weave (Libra)
- Ethan Ardelli: The Island of Form (self-released): November 2
- Bobby Broom & the Organi-sation: Soul Fingers (MRi)
- Don Byron/Aruán Ortiz: Random Dances and (A)tonalities (Impakt)
- Richie Cole: Cannonball (RCP): October 26
- Randy Halberstadt: Open Heart (Origin): October 19
- Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. 10: Toronto (1977, Widow's Taste, 3CD): November 2
- Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet: That's a Computer (Outside In Music): October 19
- Kristen Strom: Moving Day: The Music of John Shifflett (OA2): October 19
Sunday, October 14, 2018
The big story of the week seems to be the evident murder of dissident
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He had moved from Saudi Arabia to
Virginia, but entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to "finalize some
paperwork for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée." He never
emerged from the consulate. The Turkish government has much evidence of
foul play, and there are reports that "US intelligence intercepted
communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to 'capture'
Khashoggi" -- something they made no attempt to warn Khashoggi about.
Some links (quotes above are from Hill, below):
Sarah Aziza: Jamal Khashoggi Wasn't the First -- Saudi Arabia Has Been
Going After Dissidents Abroad for Decades.
Peter Baker: In Trump's Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Wins Out.
Karen DeYoung/Kareem Fahim: After journalist vanishes, focus shifts to
young prince's 'dark' and bullying side.
Lee Fang: Saudi Media Casts Khashoggi Disappearance as a Conspiracy,
Claims Qatar Owns Washington Post.
Ben Freeman: The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut: Written shortly before
the Khashoggi story broke, but important background for understanding
how it's breaking.
Evan Hill: The New Arab Winter: "The US has helped nurture a new
generation of Mideast dictators, and Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance
is just the latest result."
Fred Kaplan: Trump's Saudi Delusions: "The president's defense of
arms sales to the kingdom isn't just immoral -- it's inaccurate."
Philip Rucker/Carol D Leonnig/Anne Gearan: Two Princes: Kushner now
faces a reckoning for Trump's bet on the heir to the Saudi throne.
Will Sommer: Trump Jr Boosts Smear Tying Missing Journalist Jamal Khashoggi
to Islamic Terrorism.
Jordan Tama: What is the Global Magnitsky Act, and why are US senators
invoking this on Saudi Arabia?
Ishaan Tharoor: Trump chooses Arab authoritarianism over Jamal Khashoggi.
Alexia Underwood: Saudi Arabia won't be able to sweep the Jamal Khashoggi
case under the rug.
Robin Wright: As America's Élite Abandons a Reckless Saudi Prince, Will
Trump Join Them?
Matthew Yglesias: America deserves to know how much money Trump is getting from the Saudi
government: "His corruption is a national security issue." Subhed
assumes a meaning to "national security issue" that I don't think is in
evidence. You might think that "national security" has something to do
with preventing war and other forms of hostility which cause problems
among nations, but US foreign policy doesn't work like that. Rather, it
reflects certain business and military interests, which have effectively
formed a "deep state" -- a consistent world posture largely unaffected
by popular elections. In this context, the only "national security issue"
is one which upsets this "deep state" -- e.g., one which exposes it to
unwelcome public scrutiny. Thus qualified, maybe Trump is upsetting the
"national security": for one thing, his personal corruption threatens
to expose the underlying "deep state" interests, especially where they
diverge; also, Trump's utter lack of concern for the veneer of democracy,
human rights, free speech, etc., recasts the whole project as no more
than self-interested hypocrisy.
The week started with Nikki Haley's resignation as US ambassador to
the UN, but a week later it's hard to find any mention of it. Then the
Florida panhandle got demolished by Hurricane Michael. Then there was
some sort of White House summit between Trump and Kanye West. Meanwhile,
elections are coming.
Some scattered links this week:
Matthew Yglesias: Superior ruthlessness isn't why Republicans control
the Supreme Court: "They had some good luck -- and, most importantly,
they had the votes." After their losses in 2016, all the Democrats could
do to derail the Kavanaugh nomination was to convince the public that he
was a really terrible pick, and opinion polls show that they did in fact
make that case. However, as we've seen many times before, Republicans are
fine with ignoring public opinion (at least as long as they keep their
base and donors happy), so they're eager to exploit any power leverage
they can grab, no matter how tenuous. Democrats (in fact, most people)
regard that as unscrupulous, which Republicans find oddly flattering --
backhanded proof that they hold convictions so firm they're willing to
fight (dirty) to advance them. Some Democrats have come to the conclusion
that they need to become just as determined to win as the Republicans --
e.g., David Faris's recent book: It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats
Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. Several problems
with this: one is that there are still Americans that believe in things
like fair play and due process, and those votes should be easy pickings
for Democrats given how Republicans have been playing the game; another
is that past efforts by Democrats to act more like Republicans haven't
fared well -- they're never enough to appease the right, while they sure
turn off the left. But what Democrats clearly do have to do is to show
us that they take these contests seriously. I didn't especially like
turning the Kavanaugh nomination into a #MeToo issue, but that did make
the issue personal and impactful in a way that no debate over Federalist
Society jurisprudence ever could.
Other Yglesias pieces:
Trump's 60 Minutes interview once again reveals gross ignorance and wild
People don't like "PC culture" -- not that many of them can tell
you what "PC culture" means (only that it consists of self-appointed
language police waiting to pounce on you for trivial offenses mostly
resident in their own minds). Refers to
Yascha Mounk: Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture, which doesn't
much help to define it either. To me, "PC culture" is exemplified by the
God-and-country, American exceptionalist pieties spouted by Democratic
politicians like Obama and the Clintons -- a compulsion to say perfectly
unobjectionable things because they know they'll be attacked viciously
by the right (or for that matter by center/leftists wanting to show off
for the right) for any hint of critical thought. On the other hand, on
some issues Republicans are policed as diligently -- racism is the one
they find most bothersome, mostly because catering to the insecurities
of white folk is such a big part of their trade. Of course, if we had
the ability to take seriously what people mean, we might be able to get
beyond the "gotcha" game over what they say.
Trump's dangerous game with the Fed, explained.
Trump's USA Today op-ed on health care is an absurd tissue of lies.
The case for a carbon tax: A carbon tax has always made sense to me,
mostly because it helps to counter a currently unregulated externality:
that of dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Two key ideas here:
one is to implement it by joint international agreement (Yglesias suggests
the US, Europe, and Japan, initially, but why wait for the US?), then grow
it by charging tariffs against non-members; the other is to start low (to
minimize short-term impact) and make the taxes escalate over time. Yglesias
contrasts a carbon tax to
David Roberts: It's time to think seriously about cutting off the supply
of fossil fuels. This reminds me that major oil players have every
now and then "advocated" a carbon tax, specifically when threatened with
proposals like Roberts'. Unfortunately, it looks like the only way to get
a carbon tax passed is to threaten the oil companies with something much
more drastic. No one has much faith in reason anymore.
Immigrants can make post-industrial America great.
Trump's successful neutering of the FBI's Kavanaugh investigation has
scary implications: Trump evidently got the rubber stamp, ruffle
no feathers investigation of Brett Kavanaugh he wanted, showing that
Comey replacement Christopher Wray can be trusted to protect his
The White House got away with stamping on an FBI investigation. Think of
it as a dry run for a coming shutdown of special counsel Robert Mueller's
It's easy to forget, but the existence of a Russia inquiry isn't a
natural fact of American life. Barack Obama was president when it began,
and then in the critical winter of 2016 to 2017, many Republicans,
particularly foreign policy hawks, were uneasy with Trump and saw an
investigation as a useful way to force him into policy orthodoxy. When
Comey was fired, enough of that unease was still in place that many
Republicans pushed for a special counsel to carry things forward.
Trump, however, has clearly signaled his desire to clean house and
fire Mueller after the midterms. And the Kavanaugh fight has shown us
(and, more importantly, shown Trump) that congressional Republicans
are coming around to the idea that independence of federal law enforcement
is overrated. His White House, meanwhile, though hardly a well-oiled
machine, has demonstrated its ability to work the levers of power and
get things done.
If the GOP is able to hold its majority or (as looks more likely,
given current polling) pick up a seat or two, a firm Trumpist majority
will be in place ready to govern with the principle that what's good
for Trump is good for the Republican Party, and subverting the rule of
law is definitely good for Trump.
Stavros Agorakis: 18 people are dead from Hurricane Michael. That number
will only rise. Category 4, making landfall with winds of 155 mph,
the third-most intense hurricane to hit the continental US since they
started keeping count (after an unnamed Labor Day storm in 1935 and
Camille in 1969) -- i.e., about as strong as the hurricane that the
Trump administration couldn't cope with in Puerto Rico.
Ryan Bort: The Georgia Voter Suppression Story Is Not Going Away.
Juan Cole: 15 Years after US Occupied Iraq, it is too Unsafe for Trump
Admin to Keep a Consulate There.
Joe Klein: Michael Lewis Wonders Who's Really Running the Government:
Book review of Lewis's The Fifth Risk, which looks at what Trump's
minions are doing to three government bureaucracies: the Departments of
Energy, Agriculture, and Commerce. Mostly they are shredding data, and
purging the departments of the workers with the expertise to collect and
analyze that data. Lewis explains why that matters -- a welcome relief
from those journalists who are satisfied with reporting the easy stories
about stupid Trump tweets and hi-jinks.
Paul Krugman: Goodbye, Political Spin, Hello Blatant Lies: I try
my best to avoid political ads, but got stuck watching a jaw dropper
for Wichita's Republican Congressman Ron Estes, who spent most of his
30 seconds talking about how hard he's been working to save Medicare.
Wasn't clear from what, since the only imminent threat is from his
fellow Republicans, and his key votes to repeal ACA and cut corporate
taxes and saddle us with massive deficits sure don't count. Estes
isn't what you'd call a political innovator -- the main theme of his
ads last time was that a vote for him would thwart Nancy Pelosi's
nefarious designs on the Republic -- so most likely his ads this time
are being repeated all across the nation. Also by Krugman:
The Paranoid Style in GOP Politics.
Dara Lind: The Trump administration reportedly wants to try family separation
Anna North: Why Melania's response to Trump's alleged affairs was so
In some ways, it's a relief that the first lady is rarely called upon
to perform the thankless task of trying to convince the country that
her husband respects women. But it's also a sign of something darker:
Plenty of Americans know the president doesn't respect women, and a
lot of them don't care. They may even like it.
Sandy Tolan: Gaza's Dying of Thirst, and Its Water Crisis Will Become
a Threat to Israel.
Been compiling my last two "books" from the notebook, and finally caught
up to the present moment. Miscellaneous Music Writings comes to 1735 pages
(718k words). Non-Jazz Capsule Reviews is 1863 pages (806k words). I need
to make a second pass through the book files, and weed out bits from the
music writings that really belong in either the political or personal books.
Also cut out any jazz reviews from the capsule book. (I was pretty sloppy
about that in the beginning, when the review posts were more scattershot).
That will probably knock a hundred pages off each. I also need to take
another look at the lists and such I dropped from the Misc. book, and be
more consistent about what I include and what I don't. That'll probably
add some material back.
Next step beyond that would be to go back to the non-notebook writings
that should be considered. I figure I'll add the pre-2000 stuff in the
Monday, October 08, 2018
Music: current count 30430  rated (+40), 282  unrated (+2).
Everything below is jazz. Most of it is new stuff I wasn't serviced
on (unless someone sent me a download link which I didn't open; i.e.,
it was streamed, either from Napster or Bandcamp). Only a couple of CDs
I did receive, mostly because I took so long making up my mind about
the Jonathan Finlayson record (A-, but just barely). Most of my tips
came from Phil Freeman's monthly
Ugly Beauty column at Stereogum. Biggest find there was the trove
of Japanese jazz from the 1970s (for once, the sampler is the place
to start). The only old music was a Penguin Guide 4-star I had
missed, by a saxophonist who showed up on at least three of this week's
new discs (to best effect with Matt Penman).
I've walked Freeman's columns back to March, which gets increasingly
into things I've already heard. One thing I didn't know was that Buell
Neidlinger died back on March 16. He was the bassist in Cecil Taylor's
1956-61 groups -- in at least one case the album was initially under
his name (New York City R&B). My database credits him with
four A- records from the 1980s: Swingrass '83, Across the
Tracks, Rear View Mirror, and Locomotive (all recorded
1979-87, but most got delayed releases -- Swingrass '83 was the
first I noticed, and fell in love with.
The great baritone saxophonist Haimet Bluiett also died last week.
I need to take some time and dive into his dicography -- I see, for
instance, that Napster has Birthright, a PG 4-star from
1977. Some A- records I have heard: Live at Carlos I: Last Night;
Young Warrior, Old Warrior; Makin' Whoopee: Tribute to the
Nat King Cole Trio; The Calling. Bluiett also batted clean
up in the World Saxophone Quartet, and he was particularly prominent
on their best-ever Political Blues.
I did a little work on my project of collecting the last bits from my
on-line notebook into book form. I'm up
to February 2015 with a volume of miscellaneous music notes (1343 pp)
and another of non-jazz capsule reviews (1515 pp). I doubt the former
(which largely consists of introductions like this one) will be
of any real interest, but think it would be handy to get it into searchable
form. It turns out that 2011-13 were big years for misc. notes, mostly
because that was when Robert Christgau's Expert Witness at MSN encouraged
comments, and that resulted in a lot of community commentary. I jotted
down pretty much everything I contributed -- often answering questions
on recommended CDs, or extemporaneously venting on subjects like Charlie
I always figured my non-jazz capsule reviews were too spotty for any
sort of reference book/website, but it turns out that there are enough
of them to provide a decent starting point if other people got interested
in adding to them.
I interrupted work on this to post another batch of Robert Christgau's
Xgau Sez questions
and answers. At some point I'd like to adapt that framework to offer a
similar service here. I've struggled for many years to crank out pieces
I think might be of public interest. It might be a relief to let other
people direct me for a while.
I noticed this week that Tom Smucker has finally published a whole
book on what's long been one of his favorite topics:
Why the Beach Boys
Matter. I have a copy on order. Ironically, my own original foray
into rock criticism came from arguing with Don Malcolm over the Beach
Boys. I'm surprised he never got around to writing his own book. Also
noticed and ordered a copy of a new edition of Vince Alletti's
The Disco Files 1973-78. I actually knew both Vince and Tom during
my few years in New York, so I consider them old friends.
Posting of this got delayed as I was trying to figure out when I was
Roundup. I had started intending to write something different
on Brett Kavanaugh, but never really got past the preface. I have
some sympathy for the argument that something that happened over
35 years ago shouldn't permanently tar a person. I think that many
interactions between the sexes are confusing, and best forgotten.
I think we should be more tolerant and forgiving of what are often
just human foibles. On the other hand, I'm not sure that of my
general sensitivities actually offer Kavanaugh much benefit. I
could see why a normal person might not recall details or motives
of the charges, but such a person would at least recognize the
horror and pain behind the charges, and sympathized with the
victim. Kavanaugh didn't do that. His blanket denial effectively
repeated the original attacks. And his insistence that the charges
were purely political, a "hit job" ordered by the Democrats, pure
"borking," effectively said that he thought he should be exempt
from his actions and consequences purely because of his politics.
As it turned out, Kavanaugh's final testimony was one of the most
disgusting performances I have ever seen -- something that should have
disqualified him all by itself. Before you can forgive sins, you first
must recognize them and make amends. Kavanaugh didn't come close to
doing that. Indeed, his entire career, and the broader agenda of the
political movement he furthers, offers little more than repeated
examples of the strong trampling the weak and the rich abusing the
New records rated this week:
- Joey Baron/Robyn Schulkowsky: Now You Hear Me (2016 , Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
- Jakob Bro: Bay of Rainbows (2017 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Mike Clark & Delbert Bump: Retro Report (2018, Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
- Drums & Tuba: Triumph! (2018, Ropeadope): [r]: B+(*)
- Espen Eriksen Trio With Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy (2018, Rune Grammofon): [r]: A-
- Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round (2018, Pi): [cd]: A-
- Nick Finzer's Hear & Now: Live in New York City (2018, Outside In): [r]: B+(**)
- The Vinny Golia Sextet: Trajectory (2017 , Orenda/Nine Winds, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
- Devin Gray: Dirigo Rataplan II (2016 , Rataplan): [cd]: B+(***)
- Hofbauer/Rosenthal Quartet: Human Resources (2017 , Creative Nation Music): [cd]: B+(***)
- José James: Lean on Me (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
- Mark Kavuma: Kavuma (2017 , Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(*)
- Shai Maestro: The Dream Thief (2018, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Dave McMurray: Music Is Life (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
- Ryan Meagher: Lost Days (2017 , Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
- Ryan Meagher: Evil Twin (2018, PJCE): [r]: B
- Allison Miller/Carmen Staaf: Science Fair (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(*)
- Joe Morris/Ben Hall/Andria Nicodemou: Raven (2016 , Glacial Erratic): [bc]: B+(*)
- Moskus: Mirakler (2016-17 , Hubro): [r]: B+(**)
- Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where the River Goes (2018, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Matt Penman: Good Question (2017 , Sunnyside): [r]: A-
- Madeleine Peyroux: Anthem (2018, Decca): [r]: B+(*)
- Mikkel Ploug/Mark Turner: Faroe (2018, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
- R+R=Now: Collagically Speaking (2018, Blue Note): [r]: B
- Cécile McLorin Salvant: The Window (2018, Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(*)
- Christian Sands: Reach Further EP (2017-18 , Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
- Christian Sands: Facing Dragons (2018, Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(**)
- JP Schlegelmilch/Jonathan Goldberger/Jim Black: Visitors (2018, Skirl): [r]: B+(*)
- Elliott Sharp Carbon: Transmigration at the Solar Max (2018, Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
- Chad Taylor: Myths and Morals (2018, Ears & Eyes): [r]: B+(*)
- Mark Turner/Ethan Iverson: Temporary Kings (2017 , ECM): [r]: B+(**)
- Steve Turre: The Very Thought of You (2018, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
- Jeff "Tain" Watts: Travel Band: Detained in Amsterdam (2017 , Dark Key): [r]: B+(***)
- Walt Weiskopf: European Quartet (2017 , Orenda): [r]: B+(**)
- Chip Wickham: Shamal Wind (2017 , Lovemonk): [r]: B
Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries rated this week:
- Tohru Aizawa Quartet: Tachibana Vol. 1 (1975 , BBE): [bc]: A-
- Takeo Moriyama: East Plants (1983 , BBE): [bc]: B+(***)
- Calm Waters Rolling Swells & Roiling Seas: A Whaling City Sampler (2004-17 , Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B
- J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-1984 (1969-84 , BBE): [r]: A-
- Ralph Thomas: Eastern Standard Time (1980 , BBE): [bc]: B+(***)
Old music rated this week:
- Mark Turner: In This World (1998, Warner Brothers): [r]: A-
Grade (or other) changes:
- The Internet: Hive Mind (2018, Columbia): [r]: [was: B+(**)] B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Claus Højensgård/Emanuele Mariscalco/Nelide Bendello: Høbama (Gotta Let It Out)
- Jacobson/Friis/Maniscalco + Karlis Auzixs: Split: Body/Solo (Getta Let It Out): advance
- Kyle Nasser: Persistent Fancy (Ropeadope)
- Nikita Rafaelov: Spirit of Gaia (Gotta Let It Out)
Sunday, October 07, 2018
Story of the week:
It's official: Brett Kavanaugh just became the least popular Supreme
Court justice in modern history. The Senate vote was 50-48, almost
a straight party vote. The Republican advantage in the Senate is 51-49
(counting Angus King and Bernie Sanders as Democrats). Trump's first
Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by 54-45, with all
Republicans and three Democrats (Manchin, Heitkamp, and Donnelly).
Opposition was clearly political: Republicans had made it so by their
refusal to even hold so much as a hearing on Merrick Garland, Obama's
moderate nominee for the seat, turning it into a spoil for the 2016
election winner. But other than being cut from the same political cloth,
Gorsuch had no personal baggage that made his nomination controversial.
Republicans have dreamed and schemed of reversing the Court's
"liberal bent" -- really just an honest belief that the Constitution
protects individual and minority civil rights -- ever since Nixon's
"southern strategy" nominated Clement Haynsworth and, failing that,
G. Harrold Carswell in 1969. The Republican campaign took an even
more extremist turn when Reagan nominated the blatantly ideological
Robert Bork in 1987 (after having slipped Antonin Scalia by in 1986).
But only with GW Bush did Republicans consistently apply a rigorous
ideological litmus test to their nominees. (Bush's nomination of
Harriet Myers was quashed by hard-liners who didn't trust her to
be conservative enough. They were still livid that his father's
appointment didn't turn out to be as reliably reactionary as Scalia
and Clarence Thomas.)
Kavanaugh turned out to be a very different story (from Gorsuch),
yet the result was nearly the same. Only one Democrat (Manchin) voted
for Kavanaugh, while one Republican opposed the nomination (Murkowski,
who wound up not voting in an offset deal with an absent Republican
senator). The first problem Kavanaugh faced was that he would replace
Anthony Kennedy, who's run up a dreadful record in recent years but
was still regarded as a moderate swing vote between the two polarized
four-member camps. Kavanaugh would tilt that balance 5-4, allowing
conservatives to rule almost arbitrarily for their political sponsors.
Second, he was a person whose entire career was spent as a political
operative: most notably as part of the Ken Starr prosecution of Bill
Clinton, and later in the Bush White House where he argued for ever
greater presidential power (at least for Republicans). A big part of
the early debate over his nomination concerned discover of the paper
trail of his partisan activities against Clinton and for Bush. His
supporters in the White House and Congress made sure that those
documents were never made available, and as such the extent of his
partisan corruption was never properly aired.
His record as a DC Circuit Court judge was also largely unexamined,
although his ruling, since overturned, against a detained immigrant
girl who wanted to obtain an abortion, is a pretty clear signal that
his views on abortion show no respect for "settled law." This case
also shows his contempt for immigrants and refugees, his willingness
to apply the law differently for different classes of people, and his
reticence to restrain abuses of government power (at least against
some people). I've long believed that the proper role for the Supreme
Court is to build on the best aspirations of the Constitution to make
government serve all the people, to protect the rights of minorities
and individuals from the all-too-common abuses of power. Through much
of my life, the Court at least leaned in that direction -- often not
as hard as I would like, but their rulings against segregation, to
defend a free press, to establish a nationwide right to abortion and
most recently to marriage, have been major accomplishments, consistent
with the understanding of America I grew up with, as a free, just, and
egalitarian nation (ideals we haven't always achieved, but that we
most often aspired to).
So, when I'm faced with the question of whether a given person should
be given the responsibility of serving on the Supreme Court, the only
question that matters to me is whether that person will understand and
shape the rule of law in ways that promote greater freedom, equality, and
justice, or not. After a fair investigation, I see nothing whatsoever
that suggests to me that Brett Kavanaugh is a person who should be
entrusted with that responsibility. In fact, what evidence I've seen
suggests that he would actually be worse than any of the four partisan
conservative judges currently on the court. To my mind, that should
have been enough to settle the matter -- although between the fact
that Republicans tend to vote as an arbitrary pack, and the tendency
of many "moderate" Democrats to defer to Republican leadership, that
wouldn't have been enough to defeat Kavanaugh.
However, Kavanaugh's confirmation didn't solely hinge on whether
he'd be a good or bad Justice. It wound up turning on whether he was
guilty of sexual assault, and whether he lied under oath about that
charge (and ultimately about many other things). With these charges,
Kavanaugh's confirmation wound up recapitulating that of Clarence
Thomas back in 1991. The charges are slightly different. Thomas was
accused of making grossly inappropriate office comments, which was
especially grievous given that he ran (or mis-managed) the Reagan
administration office responsible for regulating such matters. The
initial charge against Kavanaugh was that as a high school student
he had committed a drunken assault on a girl, which stopped barely
short of rape. (Others subsequently came forward to charge Kavanaugh
with other acts of drunken, sexually charged loutishness, but none
of those women were allowed to testify or further investigated.)
You can read or spin these charges in various ways. On the one
hand, sexual assault (Kavanaugh) is a graver charge than sexual
harassment (Thomas); on the other, Kavanaugh was younger at the
time and the event took place at a party when he was drunk, whereas
Thomas was at work, presumably sober, and effectively the boss of
the person he harassed. It is unclear whether this was an isolated
incident for Kavanaugh, or part of a longer-term pattern (which is
at least suggested by subsequent, uninvestigated charges, plus lots
of testimony as to his drinking). Still, the one thing that was
practically identical in both cases is that both nominees responded
with the same playbook: blanket denials, while their supporters
orchestrated a smear campaign against the women who reluctantly
aired the complaints, while trying to portay the nominees as the
real victims. Thomas called the charges against him a "lynching."
Kavanaugh's preferred term was "hit job." Neither conceded that as
Supreme Court nominees they should be held to a higher standard than
criminal defendants. In the end, in both cases, marginal Senators
wound up defending their vote as "reasonable doubt" against the
charges. There was, after all, nothing admirable about being charged
or defending themselves in such a disingenuous way. Both cases have
wound up only adding to the cynicism many of us view the Courts with.
I'll tack on a bunch of links at the end which will round up the
details as we know them, as well as other aspects of the process,
not least the political rationalizations and consequences. But one
thing that I think has been much less discussed than it should be
is that neither Thomas nor Kavanaugh promoted or defended themselves
on their own. I don't know who was the first Supreme Court nominee
to hire lawyers and publicists to coach in the confirmation process,
but the practice goes back before Thomas. I was reminded of this
when John Kyl was appointed to fill the late John McCain's Senate
seat. At the time Kyl was working for a DC law form representing
Kavanaugh for his confirmation, so Kyl instantly became Kavanaugh's
most secure vote. That nominees need help managing their egos and
loose tongues was certainly proved by Bork, who managed to alienate
and offend 58 Senators (almost all of whom had previously voted for
Scalia, not exactly known for his tact). Mostly this handling means
to make sure that the nominee doesn't say anything substantive about
the law that may raise the hackles of uncommitted Senators, so the
handlers only get noticed in the breech of an inadvertent gaffe.
However, when something does go wrong, the first decision is whether
to fight or flee -- since Nixon fought for Haynsworth (and lost),
over a dozen nominees have simply withdrawn, often when faced with
far less embarrassing charges than Thomas or Kavanaugh. As we saw
with Myers, a nominee with no natural Democratic support can be
brought down by a handful of vigilant Republicans, allowing the
fringe of the party to insist on a harder candidate.
With a 51-49 majority, it wouldn't have taken much more than two
Republicans to force Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh, but in the end
only Murkowski opposed, and she was offset by Manchin (not that
Pence wouldn't have been thrilled to cast a 50-50 tiebreaker). A
couple of Republicans waffled a bit, but Collins and Flake have a
long history of feigning decency then folding, and most simply
don't care how bad a candidate looks (e.g., they voted for Betsy
DeVos). They're quite happy to win with a bare minimum of votes,
even when the polls are against them (e.g., their corporate income
tax giveaway), figuring they can always con the voters again come
election day. The problem with replacing Kavanaugh with a less
embarrassing candidate came down to timing: restarting the process
would have pushed it past the election into lame-duck territory,
and possibly into the next Congress, which will likely have fewer
Republicans (although not necessarily in the Senate). Never let
it be said that the Republicans have missed an opportunity to
gain an advantage -- and there are few prize they covet more than
control of the Supreme Court.
Further links on the Cavanaugh Nomination:
Perry Bacon Jr: Republicans Rescued Kavanaugh's Nomination by Making It
About #MeToo: Interesting thesis, but the only chance it had of
working was within the confines of a 51-49 Republican majority in the
Senate. Within that framework, an issue that increases Republican
solidarity works, even if it also increases Democratic solidarity --
in fact, the two are complementary. Doesn't mean that they made the
Kavanaugh nomination more popular among the people, but that's not
the sort of thing Republicans worry about. Nate Silver also asked:
Is Kavanaugh Helping Republicans' Midterm Chances? His data isn't
very persuasive one way or the other. It has been widely reported that
the Republican base has been raised from its torpor by the Kavanaugh
fight -- blowback against the Democratic Party "hit job" that will
cost the Democrats in the end. That sounds like pure hype to me, but
Republicans found lots of gullible press to get the message out.
Jonathan Chait: Why Bret Kavanaugh's Hearings Convinced Me That He's
Jill Colvin: Trump Says His Decision to Mock Blasey Ford Was Turning
Point for Kavanaugh.
David Corn: The Real Reason the White House Told the FBI Not to Interview
Christine Blasey Ford? They were worried that if the FBI interviewed
Kavanaugh, he'd wind up being caught in a lie.
Garrett Epps: Requiem for the Supreme Court: "Through the 20th century,
the Court stood as an independent arbiter of the rule of law. It is a
unifying, national institution no longer." Some earlier Epps pieces:
A Judge Who Can't Be Vetted Shouldn't Be Confirmed;
Kavanaugh's Unsettling Use of "Settled Law".
Megan Garber: The Most Striking Thing About Trump's Mockery of Christine
Blasey Ford; also wrote:
The Pernicious Double Standards Around Brett Kavanaugh's Drinking.
Josh Gerstein: Kavanaugh's first vote could be in Trump executive power
Ryan Grim/Akela Lacy: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh Are Both in
the Bush Family Inner Circle. That Helps Explain Her Vote. Some other
Paul Krugman: The Angry White Male Caucus. It's certainly true that
Kavanaugh didn't do any favors for people who are prickly about their
status as white males, but I still think the high dudgeon he took at
being questioned and doubted is more rooted in class privilege than in
race or sex. Actually, Krugman sort of admits this: "during my own time
at Yale . . . I did encounter people like Kavanaugh -- hard-partying
sons of privilege who counted on their connections to insulate them
from any consequences from their actions." Being one, Krugman gets
that there are exceptions to every generalization. The difference
between born elites like Kavanaugh and Krugman isn't who they are or
where they came from but whether they managed to outgrow the limits
of their upbringing or simply surrendered to it.
Charles Ludington/Lynne Brookes/Elizabeth Swisher: We were Brett
Kavanaugh's drinking buddies. We don't think he should be confirmed.
Jane Mayer/Ronan Farrow: The FBI Probe Ignored Testimonies From Former
Classmates of Kavanaugh. Authors also wrote:
Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct,
From the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's College Years.
Dana Milbank: Susan Collins' Declaration of Cowardice. Title
refers back to Sen. Margaret Chase Smith's 1950 "Declaration of
Conscience" when she broke with and denounced Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Sen. Mitch McConnell made the connection, with Sen. Lindsey Graham
piling on, accusing the Democrats of "mob rule" and saying "this is
as close to McCarthyism as I hope we get in my lifetime." Ignorance
must be bliss. Not only was McCarthy a Republican, his assistant,
Roy Cohn, went on to mentor the young Donald Trump. Indeed, Trump's
favorite tactics, from decrying fake news to turning everything he's
charged with into a slur against the Democrats, is straight from
Cohn and McCarthy's playbook.
Nathan J Robinson: How We Know Kavanaugh Is Lying. Very long
and detailed, nails him coming and going. Robinson also wrote:
If the Rule of Law Means Anything, Kavanaugh Must Be Impeached,
asking "If a federal judge can get away with lying to Congress, why
do we even have sworn oaths?"
James Roche: I Was Brett Kavanaugh's College Roommate: "He lied
under oath about his drinking and the terms in his yearbook."
Jennifer Rubin: Is the Supreme Court salvageable? For one thing,
I don't for a minute buy the argument that we can depoliticize the
Supreme Court by restoring the 60-vote Senate filibuster, or even
that, having packed the Court from the right, we even can begin to
see it as anything but political. On the other hand, Rubin is right
They left no doubt what they think of women.
Elana Schor/Burgess Everett/Nancy Cook: A GOP 'disaster' averted: The
final harrowing hours of Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Adam Serwer: The Guardrails Have Failed: "The conflict over Trump's
Supreme Court nominee exposed the fast-eroding institutional barriers
to the president's authoritarian instincts."
Avi Selk: The junk science Republicans used to undermine Ford and help
Rebecca Solnit: Brett Kavanaugh's many lies should disqualify him from
holding any office.
Amy Davidson Sorkin: Brett Kavanaugh and the GOP's Bargain With Trump.
Kay Steiger/Andrew Prokop/Dara Lind/Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou/Tara Golshan/Zack
Beauchamp: 8 takeaways from the knock-down, drag-out fight over Brett
Kavanaugh's confirmation: Vox reporters. Also on Vox:
Laurence H Tribe: All the Ways a Justice Kavanaugh Would Have to Recuse
Himself: Assumes, of course, that Kavanaugh has a sense of decency
and legal propriety, which he has shown no evidence of thus far. Also,
most likely, if Kavanaugh has learned anything from Trump, it's never
Jessica Valenti: Kavanaugh is the Face of American Male Rage.
Benjamin Wittes: I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn't Confirm Him.
Richard Wolffe: Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation isn't democracy. It's a
Some scattered links this week:
David Barstow/Susanne Craig/Russ Buettner: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax
Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father: Long article on the
various schemes Trump's father used to funnel wealth to his children,
especially to Donald -- the article pegs the total there at $413 million,
often through tax-avoidance schemes of dubious legality. This should be
a big story, even if it does ultimately melt into numerous other stories
about Trump's business affairs. Some related pieces and commentary:
Christopher R Browning: The Suffocation of Democracy: Alt title
(from Paul Woodward): "How the Republican Party is gradually killing
American democracy." Browning's specialty is "the Holocaust, Nazi
Germany, and Europe in the era of the world wars." Trump has managed
to gain the attention of quite a few Nazi-era scholars lately.
Umair Irfan: A major new climate report slams the door on wishful
Fred Kaplan: Trump Calls Out Election Meddling -- by China: "This
looks like an attempt to shift the blame if the Republicans lose badly
Jane Mayer: How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump:
Based mostly on a new book by political scientist Kathleen Hall
Jamieson: Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect
a President -- What We Don't, Can't, and Do Know. The most
comprehensive piece I've seen on this subject.
David E Sanger: US General Considered Nuclear Response in Vietnam War,
Cables Show: Gen. William Westmoreland's initiative, overruled by
Lyndon Johnson. Still, the failure of politicians to take nuclear
weapons "off the table" is what allows general to think they may be
Adam Serwer: The Cruelty Is the Point: "President Trump and his
supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they
hate and fear." That's about as apt a one-line definition of Trump as
a political actor and movement as you can come up with. Sure, doesn't
cover everything: not the rampant corruption, the abuse of government
to increase private profit-taking, the efforts to undermine law and
justice both at home and abroad, but that's just boilerplate for the
Republicans these days. Trump's "added value" is his ardor for cruelty
and violence. When people talk about Trump's cult as Fascism, that's
exactly what they have in mind. By the way, if you want an alternative
term to Trump's Fascism, Matt Taibbi suggests Nihilism:
Why Aren't We Talking More About Trump's Nihilism?
Adam Serwer: Something Went Wrong in Chicago: "A white policeman was
convicted of murder in the killing of a black teen -- an outcome that
goes against the many forces aligned to prevent the officer from facing
David Sirota: America's new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free
zone: "Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the
ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded
some of the darkest moments of human history."
Jerry Useem: Power Causes Brain Damage: I'm not comfortable with the
notion that this is describing anything real in the way of neurological
or neurobiochemical research, but it's long been obvious that political
power changes people, often making them less able to intuit what other
people think or feel, to empathize, to sympathize, even to understand.
In a word, power tends to turn people into assholes. I've long thought
that the New Left's undoing as a political movement was our critique
and wariness of power, which made it difficult to consolidate and
Robin Wright: Did the Saudis Murder Jamal Khashoggi? Also:
David Hearst: Jamal Khashoggi: A different sort of Saudi;
James North: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, lionized by US
pundits and politicians, is a -- suspected murderer.
Matthew Yglesias: Family structure matters, but can we do anything about
it? This was kind of a weird thing to write about, especially touting
the presence of dads this week. I don't doubt that the research Yglesias
cites is valid. Indeed, for any given individual, to get ahead or just
make the best of a raw deal, I'd suggest embracing as many conservative
personal platitudes as possible. Still, that doesn't mean the conservative
preference for patting themselves on the back and shaming everyone else
is a policy perscription -- it's more like a dare to class revolution.
Yglesias also wrote:
Monday, October 01, 2018
Music: current count 30390  rated (+25), 280  unrated (+7).
Week got wiped out several different ways. Helped a friend fix a
huge Russian dinner on Friday. Shopped for that on Wednesday, having
to hit up nine (or was it eleven?) stores along the way, then spent
from Thursday afternoon to something like 4AM doing prep for another
6-7 hours of cooking on Friday. Wound up with way too much food, but
much of it was magnificent. Only the dessert disappointed, an attempt
at Prague cake which I now understand doesn't resemble the real thing
Then Saturday I developed a fever with no other symptoms, and I
basically shut down over the weekend -- so no Weekend Roundup, even
following one of the more outrageous weeks of the Trump era. (Not
like there won't be plenty more as bad or worse.) I started reading
Jill Lepore's massive (or schematic, depending on your point of view)
These Truths: A History of the United States. She starts by
quoting the preamble to the US Constitution, and I realized it to
offer not a practical description of the federal government but a
vision statement of what that government should aspire to. The same,
of course, could be said of the first lines of the Declaration of
Independence, which Lepore also mentions.
What I then realized is that the standard for all three "separate
and equal" branches of government should be their efforts to achieve
these founding aspirations. We were fortunate, at least for the first
half of my life, to have a Supreme Court that took those aspirations
seriously, especially in its assertion of civil rights even while the
other branches dragged their heels. Since Nixon, the right-wing has
made a determined effort to overturn those rulings and to strip us of
our rights, not least by stacking the courts with people who oppose
the aspirations the nation was founded on. With the hearings on the
Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, we got a good view of
just what kind of person would gladly do such things. Regardless of
whether Kavanaugh has committed sexual assault and/or perjury, he's
made it abundantly clear that he's unfit for the Supreme Court, or
for that matter for the judgeship he currently holds.
Maybe I'll write more on that later in the week. My most immediate
task is to get September's Streamnotes organized and posted. Thinking
about the dinner, then not thinking at all, I totally missed the end
of the month. I can backdate what I have, making it look like I did it
on time and before doing this. The latter, at least, is mostly true.
I'm not sure what comes next. I can always return to compiling my
last two books from the notebooks (non-review music notes, non-jazz
reviews; I'm currently stalled in May, 2013). I could take a look at
The 2000 Best Albums of the 1980s -- the music decade I paid the
least attention to at the time. Another possible source of unheard
records is Will Friedland's latest book, The Great Jazz and Pop
Vocal Albums. I picked up the book at the library, and while
there is zero chance that I'll read it through, the actual album
list isn't prohibitively long (probably 40-50 albums, half already
heard). On the other hand, the new jazz queue has grown a bit (26
albums at the moment), so I should pay some attention to that.
New records rated this week:
- Dmitry Baevsky/Jeb Patton: We Two (2018, Jazz & People): [r]: A-
- Tony Bennett & Diana Krall: Love Is Here to Stay (2018, Verve/Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
- Black Art Jazz Collective: Armor of Pride (2018, HighNote): [r]: B
- Geof Bradfield: Yes, and . . . Music for Nine Improvisers (2018, Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
- Jonathan Butler: Close to You (2018, Mack Avenue): [r]: C+
- Noname: Room 25 (2018, self-released): [bc]: A-
- Eddie Palmieri: Full Circle (2018, Ropeadope): [r]: B+(***)
- Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble: From Maxville to Vanport (2018, PJCE): [cd]: B+(**)
- Ned Rothenberg/Hamid Drake: Full Circle: Live in Lodz (2016 , Fundacja Sluchaj): [r]: B+(*)
- Steven Taetz: Drink You In (2018, Flatcar/Fontana North): [cd]: B
- The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note: The Jazz Heritage Series 2018 Radio Broadcasts (2018, self-released, 3CD): [cd]: C
- Fay Victor's SoundNoiseFUNK: Wet Robots (2017 , ESP-Disk): [r]: B+(**)
Old music rated this week:
- Gene Ammons: The Gene Ammons Story: Gentle Jug (1961-62 , Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
- Gene Ammons: Gentle Jug Volume 2 (1960-71 , Prestige): [r]: B+(***)
- Gene Ammons: The Boss Is Back! (1969 , Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
- Bud Powell: Jazz Giant (1949 , Verve): [r]: B+(***)
- Bud Powell: Piano Interpretations by Bud Powell (1955 , Verve): [r]: B+(**)
- Bud Powell: The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 4: Time Waits (1958 , Blue Note): [r]: A-
- Bud Powell: Strictly Confidential (1964 , Black Lion): [r]: B+(***)
- Bud Powell: Salt Peanuts (1964 , Black Lion): [r]: B
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
- Don Byron/Aruán Ortiz: Random Dances and (A)tonalities (Intakt)
- David Dominique: Mask (Orenda): November 9
- Michael Formanek Elusion Quartet: Time Like This (Intakt)
- Aaron Goldberg: At the Edge of the World (Sunnyside): November 16
- Aaron Parks: Little Big (Ropeadope): October 19
- Subtone: Moose Blues (Laika): October 26
- Harry Vetro: Northern Ranger (T.Sound): October 19