May 2019 Notebook
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Monday, May 20, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31518 [31498] rated (+20), 252 [249] unrated (+3).

Rated count well down this week. Wednesday through Friday got totally wiped out, starting with a dental appointment, then shopping for dinner on Friday, then marathon cooking. Zhanna Pataki and I made a blini feast. I found a Russian grocery store in Tulsa the previous week, and picked up a pound of salmon caviar ("Alaskan rubies") and three whole schmaltz herring. The latter went, one each, into sour cream sauce, mustard sauce, and Estonian potato salad (with golden beets, apple, and ham (actually, Canadian bacon). Other side salads: poached cod with horseradish sauce, cucumbers in sour cream, green bean and walnut, carrot and garlic. I got a couple of salmon filets and salted them. I made two loaves of rye bread (only disappointment: came out dense and dry, probably because the dough was, or maybe I just don't know how to properly knead bread; anyway, the expensive Breville food processor wasn't up to the task). For dessert, I made a light sponge cake, and topped it with strawberries and whipped cream (recipe called for smetana, but I didn't allow myself enough time to make my own -- probably should have bought some in Tulsa, when I had the chance). I just now realized that I had brought a jar of eggplant caviar back from Tulsa but failed to serve it. Dinner was spectacular, and exhausting.

A couple weeks ago I learned that Ani DiFranco has written a memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. She grew up in Buffalo, and was close to my cousin's family there, so I have some kind of personal interest in her story, and I've been aware of her musical career from near the beginning. Then last week I noticed her No Walls: Mixtape on Napster, so delved a bit deeper. I read what I could from Google's excerpt, while listening to Mixtape -- unplugged remakes of 25+ years of remarkable songs -- and a couple other items I had missed that I found on her Bandcamp. Stopped short of the bootlegs, although one of my favorites (and one of the best places to start with her) is the live Living in Clip. I was especially pleased that after panning most of her recent albums with Todd Sickafoose I enjoyed Red Letter Year so much. I wrote about her in [The New] Rolling Stone Album Guide. A current grade list is here.

Robert Christgau reviewed Epic Beard Men this week, along with two records by Quelle Chris that I had already reviewed. I gave Guns another spin, enjoyed it, but left my grade at B+(***). For whatever it's worth, I've graded A- all four of Strut's Nigeria 70 compilations. I couldn't begin to rank them, other than to note that I have the CDs to the first, and played one out of my travel case while cooking last week. I doubt any are as good as the best King Sunny Adé albums, or the second edition of The Rough Guide to Highlife, but the new one hits the exact same pleasure centers, and that was good enough for me.

The Ray Charles comp was the one I skipped when reviewing his Atlantics last week. It's the one you'd most likely buy if you're reluctant to get the entire 3-CD box (The Birth of Soul). Not sure why I didn't grade it as high as the box or two of the source albums, other than that I didn't give it a lot of time. I'm still bothered that we don't have the ABC albums available for streaming. And I will note that one problem with virtually every "greatest hit" collection from that period is the mandatory inclusion of two hideous Beatles covers. Compilers don't always pick the best songs, so that may be what's slightly off about the Rhino Atlantic Best Of.

Best jazz album of the week was the first 2019 Clean Feed release I've found on Napster. They've sometimes been hard to search out, but until this year all of their releases have been available for streaming, which lately has saved me the hassle of downloading. Not everything that's come out is available yet, but I'm glad to get what I can. I'll try to catch up in coming weeks. (There are a couple more on this week's list, as well as one where the musician sent me the CD -- thanks for that favor.)


New records reviewed this week:

  • Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018, Run for Cover): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (2019, Righteous Babe): [r]: A-
  • Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (2018, Strange Famous): [r]: B+(**)
  • Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (2019, Strange Famous): [r]: A-
  • The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • John Hart: Crop Circles (2017 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (2019, Palmetto): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Jørgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: A-
  • The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (2018 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B
  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (2019, Ocean Blue Tear Music): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (2019, Sister Polygon): [r]: B+(***)
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: «As We See It . . . » (2019, Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Selva: Canicula Rosa (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Senyawa: Sujud (2018, Sublime Frequencies): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (2017 [2019], MSO): [cd]:B+(*)
  • Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (2017 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87 [2019], Strut): [bc]: A-

Old music:

  • Ray Charles: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (1951-59 [1994], Rhino): [r]: A-
  • Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year (2008, Righteous Babe): [bc]: A-
  • Ani DiFranco: Binary (2017, Righteous Babe): [r]: B+(*)
  • Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (2015, Tzadik): [bc]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Luke Gillespie: Moving Mists (Patois)
  • Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf Music): June 28
  • Doug MacDonald: Califournia Quartet (self-released)
  • Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)
  • Samo Salamon & Freequestra: Free Sessions, Vol. 2: Freequestra (Sazas/Klopotec)
  • Samo Salamon/Szilárd Mezei/Jaka Berger: Swirling Blind Unstilled (Klopotec)
  • The Dave Wilson Quartet: One Night at Chris' (self-released): May 27

Weekend Roundup

Ran a day late on this one, partly because I went long on the intro, but also because I found so many links in my early trawl through the usual sources I wasn't able to finish my rounds, then found even more when I tried to wrap up. I'm sure it's always the case that an extra day or two to let the words settle and go back and restructure would be useful, but I've rarely felt that more than this week.


Abortion became a much hotter political issue last week, with the passage and signing of a law in Alabama which criminalizes abortion in all cases except when it is necessary to save the life of the woman, with doctors risking prison terms of up to 99 years if their call on life-saving is disputed. Much focus on this particular law centers on the lack of any exclusion for rape and incest, which most people agree would be reasonable grounds for abortion. (As Phil Freeman tweeted: "Your first mistake was assuming old white men in Alabama were against rape and incest.") But the Alabama law is just one of many state laws Republicans have been pushing lately, all aimed at relitigating Roe v. Wade in the Trump-packed Supreme Court. (E.g., The "heartbeat" bills that could ban almost all abortions, passed in four states including Ohio and Georgia, and coming soon in Missouri; still more draconian bills are in the works, such as A Texas bill would allow the death penalty for patients who get abortions.)

I'll start this off by quoting from a Facebook post by a relative of mine in Arkansas, Marianne Cowan Pyeatt, offering an unvarnished glimpse of what anti-abortion Republicans are telling themselves:

All of a sudden we are supposed to believe that millions and millions of aborted babies are the result of rape and not just a lack of responsibility to use birth control or face the consequences if you can't even be adult enough to take precautions. We all know that the reason they can't make exceptions for rape is because every women would lie and claim to be raped to get an abortion. There are morning after pills for real rape victims or they can give the child away. No one says they have to keep them. And the fact that this is even being debated is because all the people who did very little for decades when they could forget what was going on in those clinics are suddenly facing a world where full-term babies can be murdered at birth. YOU stupid liberals have taken it SO FAR that no decent person can ignore it any longer. And we aren't so stupid as to believe that only abortion of a baby could "save the mother's life" in medical emergencies . . . we know delivery is many, many times faster. At that point, if it dies, at least you tried and the mother is "saved" from her life-threatening condition with no murder involved. I find it hilarious that in insisting on that last frontier of killing babies right up to birth has finally given people the resolve to take a stand and right a wrong.

One thing this shows is that the fight over abortion rights is being fought at the margins, with both sides seeking maximalist positions, although there is nothing symmetrical about the conflict. There is only one fanatical side to this issue: those who, like Marianne here, want to ban all abortions. No one on the opposite side -- and I am about as opposite as anyone gets -- wants to terminate all pregnancies. Rather, we understand that pregnancy is a complicated issue that affects women in many different ways, and that there are some circumstances where some women feel they would be better off with an abortion. We believe that this should be a free and responsible choice, and to make this a real choice for all women requires that we isolate it from the encumbrances of government regulation and economic pressure.

I've long thought that conservatives and libertarians should be strong supporters of abortion rights. Libertarians cherish freedom, and freedom is the ability to make free choices -- among which one of the most important is whether to bear and raise children. Not everyone who wants children is able to have them, but safe abortion at least makes it possible to choose not to have children. As for conservatives, they always stress the responsibilities parenthood infers. It would be perverse if they did not allow those who felt themselves unable to assume the responsibility of raising children the option of not having them. Indeed, in the past have sometimes wanted to impose limits on the fertility of those they deemed unfit to raise children (e.g., the forced sterilization of the eugenics movement). Consequently, the hard turn of Republicans against free access to abortion and birth control has always struck me as bad faith: a political ploy, initially to capture votes of Catholics and Southern Baptists, who had traditionally voted Democratic. I first noticed this in Bob Dole's 1972 Senate campaign, and I never forgave him for politicizing the issue. (He was being challenged by William Roy, a ob/gyn who had occasionally performed abortions, which were legal in Kansas well before Roe v. Wade. Until that time Kansas Democrats were more likely to be anti-abortion than Republicans. Using abortion as a partisan tactic may have started with Nixon's 1972 "silent majority"/"southern strategy." It was especially successful in Missouri. See How abortion became a partisan issue in America.)

Abortion rights are desirable if there are any circumstances where abortion is a reasonable choice. Most people recognize rape and incest as valid reasons, as well as the health of the woman and/or the fetus. Beyond that there arise lots of possible economic and psychological concerns, which can only really be answered by the woman (with the advice of anyone she chooses to consult). We generally, if not always consistently, recognize that our freedom is rooted in a right to privacy. Since a decision to terminate has no broader repercussions, there is no good reason for the government to get involved. (One might argue that a decision not to terminate might concern the state, in that it would wind up paying for the child's education and health care, but no one who supports abortion rights is seeking that sort of oversight. China's "one child" policy is an example, but no one here is arguing for the state to enforce such a thing.)

Regardless of how cynical Republican leaders were when they jumped on the anti-abortion bandwagon, they learned to love it because it dovetailed with the prejudices and fears they exploited (Jason Stanley has a handy list, in his recent book, How Fascism Works), while doing little to detract from their main objective: making the rich richer, and building a political machine to keep the riches coming. (Thomas Frank, in his 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas?, tried to expose their two-faced cynicism, but he wound up only agitating the anti-abortion mobsters into demanding more results for their votes.) Marianne's post is full of such prejudices, even while she tries to paper over others. But while the first line refers to the Alabama law, she'd rather turn the tables by accusing "stupid liberals" of wanting to kill babies the instant before birth. That would be a symmetrically opposite point of view, but even if legal it's not a real something anyone would do.

Some links on the Alabama law and the assault on abortion rights:


Some scattered links this week:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Daily Log

Disconnected red speaker posts at 4:06 PM, then turned amplifier back on.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31498 [31469] rated (+29), 249 [248] unrated (+1).

Weird how these weekly totals keep landing on 29 (6th time so far this year). Should have been less, given that I drove to the Tulsa area on Wednesday, returning Friday evening. Took my travel cases for the car, nothing remotely new in them. Packed the Chromebook, but inadvertently left it at home. Supposedly I can check email and web on phone, plus a million apps including Napster, but I've never got the hang of that. My second cousin down there swears she does everything with Siri, and I could see how that might be better than trying to type on a clumsy and error-prone touch screen. As a confirmed Apple-phobe, that isn't even an option I'd consider, but I gather Samsung has something along those lines (bixby?). I suppose I should look into that. Meanwhile, I seem to be the only person I know who can go 3-4 days between charges, so I take comfort in that.

I wanted to visit my cousin Duan, second son of my mother's oldest sister, Lola. I hadn't been down there since his older brother, Harold, passed several years ago, and he's up to 92 now. He's lived in/around Bristow as long as I can remember -- we went to visit Aunt Lola every couple months when I was young, and by then Harold and Duan had their families, my second cousins just a couple years younger than I was, so we were fairly close. Harold and Duan were drafted into WWII, and Duan got called back for the Korean War. That seems to have qualified him for living in the Veterans Center in Claremore, where he moved a few months ago. Probably a good place for him at this stage, but not one I'd ever look forward to (not a prospect with my 4F). Can't say as we had good talks, but was good to see him.

I saw live music twice in Oklahoma, although nothing I can recommend. The first was a free concert at the Veterans Center, with a c&w singer who called himself Cowboy, and who toured with a dwarf pony in tow -- something the vets seemed to appreciate. He mostly played Merle Haggard songs (and nothing as obvious as "Okie From Muskogee"; more like "Silver Wings"). One bizarre moment: he had a little girl bring him up a disguise designed to make him look like Elvis Presley, then launched into a medley of three r&b songs ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "See See Rider," don't recall the third), suggesting not only that even today black music was only acceptable if dressed up as white. He then played a fourth Elvis song, something late and not black, and didn't bother with the disguise for that. Blackface has gone out of fashion, but whiteface still works in Oklahoma. (There were a few black residents at the Center, but they were a tiny minority, and I don't recall any at the show.)

Second live music experience was attending a recital at the Coweta High School of their various band ensembles, starting with 6th grade. All three of my second-cousin's granddaughters played there, among at least a hundred others. No strings, but lots of flutes and clarinets -- I counted 12 and 18 in the high school band -- a few saxophones, the odd oboe or bassoon, a fair amount of brass, and a pretty substantial investment in percussion (including a featured percussion ensemble). Best was a pair of Cuban tunes. More typical were the Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys. Lasted over two hours, which was exhausting for all (huge crowd, by the way). They made passing reference to also having a jazz ensemble, but nothing I heard fit that bill.

Given that hole in my week, the only way I got to 29 was by streaming oldies. I started by looking for Betty Carter's album with Ray Charles. Napster didn't have it, or for that matter much of anything else after Charles left Atlantic for ABC. I mostly know his Atlantics through the 1991 Rhino 3-CD box, The Birth of Soul (my grade: A), but since the individual albums were available, I worked through them, yielding most of this week's pick hits. That also got me Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman, and I followed that up with a few more of Newman's records (especially his early HighNotes). I didn't go very deep there, as I've never found him to be especially remarkable.

After I got back from Oklahoma, I played the new Greg Abate record, so I took a look at his back catalog. He's a mainstream saxophonist, more rooted in bebop than swing, and I especially liked his 2014 album Motif, so I was more hopeful there. I skipped a few things like his samba album, but got a fairly good sense of where he's come from. Several very nice albums, the best being one with Alan Barnes. The next logical step would be to see what else I can find by Barnes. My database lists six of his albums, all Penguin Guide ***(*)-rated, but I haven't heard any of them yet. Surprised I've missed him, although I have rated records he shared but I've filed under other names: Tony Coe, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché.

Revisited the latest Coathangers album this week, after Robert Christgau gave it an A-. As I recall, Michael Tatum also likes the album. I gave it a B+(***) on one or two plays back in March, and found that my review didn't need much tweaking. I played his other pick, Priests' The Seduction of Kansas, after the break, so next week for it and Camp Cope's How to Socialise & Make Friends -- both good, high B+ records.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (2019, Whaling City Sound): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (2018 [2019], Summit): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (2018 [2019], ILK): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (2019, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Gwilym Simcock: Near and Now (2018 [2019], ACT): [r]: B
  • Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (2018 [2019], BMC): [r]: B+(***)
  • The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (2019, self-released, 4CD): [cd]: C-
  • Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (2019, Patois): [cd]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Greg Abate Quartet: Bop City: Live at Birdland (1991, Candid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Greg Abate: Straight Ahead (1992 [1993], Candid): [r]: B+(**)
  • Greg Abate Quintet: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1995, Candid): [r]: B+(*)
  • Greg Abate Quintet: Bop Lives! (1996, Blue Chip JAzz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Greg Abate: Evolution (2002, 1201 Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Greg Abate/Alan Barnes: Birds of a Feather (2007 [2008], Woodville): [r]: A-
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles (1953-56 [1957], Atlantic): [r]: A
  • Ray Charles: The Great Ray Charles (1956 [1957], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: The Genius After Hours (1956-57 [1961], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! (1952-58 [1958], Atlantic): [r]: A-
  • Ray Charles: What'd I Say (1952-59 [1959], Atlantic): [r]: A
  • Ray Charles: The Genius of Ray Charles (1959, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles in Person (1959 [1960], Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live (1958-59 [1987], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ray Charles: The Genius Sings the Blues (1952-60 [1961], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (1958 [1960], Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Newman: Fire! At the Village Vanguard (1988 [1989], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Chillin' (1998 [1999], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Keep the Spirits Singing (2000 [2001], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: The Gift (2002 [2003], HighNote): [r]: B+(*)
  • David "Fathead" Newman: Song for the New Man (2004, HighNote): [r]: B+(***)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (2019, Suicide Squeeze): [r]: [was B+(***)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (OA2): May 17
  • Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (Palmetto): June 7
  • The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (Summit): June 7
  • Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: As We See It . . . (Clean Feed)
  • Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (MSO): June 7
  • Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin): May 17

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I spent much of the week in Oklahoma, visiting my 92-year-old cousin, his two daughters, and various other family. I packed my Chromebook, then forgot it, so went a few days without my usual news sources -- not that anything much changed while I was away. Trying to catch up here, including a few links that seem possibly useful for future reference.

Looks pretty obvious from my "recent reading" sidebar that I'm in a gloomy mood about the viability of democracy in this nation. The odd book out is subtitled "On the Writing Process" -- thought that might inspire me to write about it, and it has made me a bit more self-conscious in my writing. The one I recommend most is Jason Stanley's How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them. I lumped it into a list in my recent Book Reports, but it's well thought out and clear, with a fair smattering of historical examples but more focused on here and now: things you will recognize. I rather wish there was a more generic word than "fascism": one with less specific historical baggage, one that can be used in general discourse without tripping off unnecessary alarms. On the other hand, as a leftist, I've always had a keen nose for generic fascism, so the word suits my purposes just fine. I have, in fact, been using it since the 1970s, which is one reason the modern American conservative movement always seems to coherent and predictable.


Some scattered links this week:


I don't have much to say about Game of Thrones, but I was struck by this ratiocination by Zack Beauchamp: "But it's one thing for Daenerys to act like Bush, and another for her to act like Hitler." He's talking about the indiscriminate fire-bombing of cities full of innocent civilians, but while Bush criminally started wars, lied about his reasoning, rounded up and tortured supposed enemies, disrupted the lives of millions doing irreparable harm, just to show the world that it's more important to fear his "shock and awe" than to respect his self-proclaimed beneficence, and while Hitler did those same things on an even more epic scale, the most comparable historical example of a leader laying waste to entire cities was Harry Truman -- who we generally recall as an exceptionally decent and modest president.

You can say that war does that, even to otherwise decent people. You can say that Hitler and Bush were worse than Truman because they started wars whereas Truman was simply trying to end one he had inherited. (This is not the place to get into how he escalated the Cold War and the Korean War, which in many ways I find more troubling than his "final solution" to WWII.) You can say that Hitler was worse than Bush because his desire for war was more deeply rooted in the uncritical imperialism and racism of the era, which made him even more vindictive and bloodthirsty. But I'd also note that Truman was not above the prejudices of Hitler's era, and that Bush (while less racist than Truman let alone Hitler) was, like all conservatives ever, fully committed to traditional hierarchies of wealth and power, which made it easy for him to run roughshod over all the others.

I have no idea where Daenerys fits among this trio, as she is a fictional character in an imaginary world. Even if she reflects the world of her creators, she does so haphazardly and inconsistently.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31469 [31440] rated (+29), 248 [255] unrated (-7).

Had a low energy period after posting April Streamnotes last Monday, so I'm not surprised that the rated count dropped. If anything, I'm surprised it's as high as it is, but that was mostly from streaming back catalog of artists recently reviewed.

I speculated last week that Walt Weiskopf's Worldwide is his best yet, but I had missed most of his 1990s albums, so I had to hedge. There are still a couple things I haven't heard, but nothing old came close to the new one -- best of the albums below is probably Siren (1999). When I gave Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops an A- a few weeks back, I noted lots of holes in my database. Scratching my head for something to listen to, I remembered that, and plugged a few of them (while being unable to find others). The new Teodross Avery album also sent me back. No great finds from any of those excursions.

I also tried looking up the album Carter and Ray Charles did together in 1961, but couldn't find it. I noticed then I had an unrated Charles record, and wondered whether I could build a playlist to duplicate it (as opposed to having to dig up my physical copy). Turns out there's damn few of Charles' ABC records on Napster, but I still got 17/20 songs from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, while the other three were easy to find on YouTube. Not quite an equivalent listening experience, but close enough, I figured (especially given that I recalled hearing nearly everything). I'll do a few more Ray Charles albums next week, starting with the early Atlantics.

On the other hand, this week's two new A- records are ones I hadn't read a thing about before they showed up. After months of second guessing other folks' picks, I feel like I've done my job.

I'll be posting a new XgauSez overnight (link always points to the latest Q&A).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Teodross Avery: After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane (2019, Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(***)
  • The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (2019, OverPop Music): [cd]: A-
  • Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Satoko Fujii: Solo Piano: Stone (2018 [2019], Libra): [cd]: B+(**)
  • The Invisible Party: Shumankind (2017 [2018], Chant): [cd]: A-
  • Jon Lipscomb Quartet: Fodder (2016 [2018], self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (2018 [2019], Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
  • The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (2019, RichHeart Music): [cd]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (1968-70 [2019], Tompkins Square): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • The Teodross Avery Quartet: In Other Words (1994, GRP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Teodross Avery & the 5th Power: New Day, New Groove (1998 [2001], 5th Power): [r]: B+(*)
  • Teodross Avery: Bridging the Gap: Hop-Hop Jazz (2008, BTG Music): [r]: B-
  • Betty Carter/Ray Bryant: Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (1955-56 [1996], Columbia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: The Modern Sound of Betty Carter (1960, ABC): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: Inside Betty Carter (1964-65 [1993], Capitol Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: Finally, Betty Carter (1969 [1975], Roulette): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Carter: At the Village Vanguard (1970 [1993], Verve): [r]: B+(**)
  • Betty Carter: The Betty Carter Album (1976 [1988], Verve): [r]: B
  • Ray Charles: Greatest Country and Western Hits (1962-66 [1988], DCC): [r]: A-
  • Jon Lipscomb: Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1 (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Night Lights (1995, Double Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Song for My Mother (1995 [1996], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Sleepless Nights (1996 [1998], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Anytown (1998, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Siren (1999, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Man of Many Colors (2001 [2002], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Open Road (2014 [2015], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Walt Weiskopf: Fountain of Youth (2016 [2017], Posi-Tone): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (Ocean Blue Tear Music)

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Weekend Roundup

No time to work on this, as I spent Sunday trying to break in a new Mexican cookbook. Much of Saturday too, and more of Friday -- not that I had even started then. The one story that dominated the interest of the liberal media was Attorney General William Barr's Senate testimony and his failure to appear before the House. I was tempted to tweet when I looked at Talking Points Memo and they had devoted their entire front page to Barr (aside from one bit on the implosion of Stephen Moore's Fed nomination).

Actually, this should have been a banner week for the media to pick apart Trump's increasingly manic and deranged foreign policy. The US hasn't been taken such a nakedly imperial stance toward Latin America since FDR traded in his cousin's penchant for Gunboat Diplomacy for the sunny promise of a Good Neighbor Policy. I didn't link to anything below on Trump's phone call to Putin, mostly because no one seems to know enough about it to write intelligently. But there were also fairly major stories that could have been reported about Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, and Israel/Palestine (where Netanyahu celebrated his election victory by launching the heaviest assault on Gaza since 2014).


Some scattered links this week:


For the record, tonight's Cinco de Mayo menu, nearly all from The Best Mexican Recipes (America's Test Kitchen):

  • Chicken adobo
  • Braised short ribs with peppers and onion
  • Cheese enchiladas
  • Classic Mexican rice
  • Skillet street corn
  • Restaurant-style black beans
  • Shrimp and lime ceviche
  • Mango, jicama, and orange salad
  • Cherry tomato and avocado salad
  • Key lime pie
  • Duce de leche cheesecake

I generally cut the hot peppers back by 50%. I made the beef and the desserts the night before. Started around noon, aiming at 6pm dinner, but it wound up closer to 7pm, putting a couple guests to work. Used a gluten-free shell for the key lime pie, but made cheesecake crust from scratch, using a box of caramel and sea salt cookies plus some graham crackers. Used store-bought yellow corn tortillas, which were the weak link in the enchiladas (otherwise pretty great). Ten people, so the table was pretty crowded. Kitchen was a colossal mess, but got it straightened out by bedtime.

I've never been a big fan of Mexican food, but figured I should give it a try, especially given access to specialty grocers here. But when I bought my first Mexican cookbook, I found it impenetrable. This one is intentionally simplified, which helped get me started. This cookbook didn't have any desserts, so I scrounged around the web, not finding much that interested me. (I've made flan and rice pudding many times before, but didn't want to do them here. And while I'm partial to cake, tres leches isn't a favorite.) On the other hand, lime figures large in the meal, and I had the pie shell on the shelf. The cheesecake was a second thought, and turned out to be a nice complement.


Apr 2019