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Monday, August 12, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, August archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31902 [31860] rated (+42), 259 [259] unrated (+0).

Running late again, mostly because I've been fiddling with the 2019 Metacritic file, adding extra points for high grades (not just midyear list picks) for most of the publications tracked by Album of the Year. The specific lists are noted here: in most cases one point for grades scored 80+, although for some relatively generous publications I've used 90+ (e.g., for AllMusic Guide, I'm counting 4.5 star records, but not 4.0 star ones). My latest project there has been to add points for All About Jazz grades of 4.5+ stars (4 stars is probably their median grade; at any rate it's very common). I've worked my way back to March 26, and the work has slowed down as I've had to check more release dates to separate 2019 releases out from the earlier ones (mostly late 2018's, but sometimes they review older releases). AOTY doesn't track AAJ (or any other jazz sources), so this has started to generate some jazz coverage. I should probably do Downbeat next.

Many of this week's picks are things I stumbled onto from various lists, and they're a pretty patchy group. I've finally started adding the final/latest Christgau EW reviews to his database, so a couple records (like the Diana Gordon EP) were suggested there -- which, by the way, led me to find Taana Gardner's disco classic (one of very few Christgau-rated A records I missed). Phil Overeem's latest list (link last week) led me to several things, including the George Jones United Artists Rarities, which sent me on a minor dive with a side of Little Jimmy Dickens.

The bigger dive this week was into the works of Jon Lundbom and Bryan Murray. This started with Balto Beats and swept up pretty much everything I had missed. (I had heard their often excellent records on Moppa Elliott's Hot Cup label, but missed almost everything else.)

The other smaller dive was into country singer-songwriter Tyler Childers. I initially graded his new one B+(***), but wondered if I shouldn't revisit 2017's Purgatory -- graded B+(**) by me at the time, but later a Christgau A-. Both of my initial reviews admitted that more spins may be called for, and it didn't take many. Also found two relatively crude earlier releases, which really brought his songwriting into focus. A couple more spins of the live EPs will raise could that grade as well, but the best songs are repeats from the debut -- probably still the best place to hear them.

One minor note: I've taken the time lock off the August Streamnotes draft file, which is where the monthly archive winds up. I won't do any indexing of the file until the end of the month, nor am I likely to be citing the URL in my weekly posts (although it's appeared in the notebook since I went weekly). But the naming convention is likely to be consistent moving forward, and you might spy something for the next Music Week there (e.g., the records I'm listening to as I'm writing this).


New records reviewed this week:

  • Leila Bordreuil/Michael Foster: The Caustic Ballads (2016, Relative Pitch): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Tyler Childers: Country Squire (2019, Hickman Holler/RCA): [r]: A-
  • The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mark De Clive-Lowe: Heritage (2018 [2019], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mark De Clive-Lowe: Heritage II (2018 [2019], Ropeadope): [r]: B
  • Elephant9: Psychedelic Backfire I (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(*)
  • Elephant9 With Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B+(**)
  • Diana Gordon: Pure (2018, self-released, EP): [yt]: B+(*)
  • Harbinger: Extended (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Mike Holober/The Gotham Jazz Orchestra: Hiding Out (2017 [2019], Zoho, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Anne Mette Iversen's Ternion Quartet: Invincible Nimbus (2018 [2019], BJU): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mark Kavuma: The Banger Factory (2019, Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • LSD: Labrinth/Sia/Diplo Present . . . LSD (2019, Columbia): [r]: B-
  • Lage Lund: Terrible Animals (2018 [2019], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jon Lundbom/Bryan Murray: Beats by Balto! Vol. 1 (2018 [2019], Chant): [r]: A-
  • Moutin Factory Quintet: Mythical River (2019, Laborie Jazz): [cd]: B-
  • Simon Nabatov Quintet: Last Minute Theory (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Ola Onabulé: Point Less (2019, Rugged Ram): [cd]: B
  • Mario Pavone Dialect Trio: Philosophy (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Alberto Pibiri & the Al Peppers: The Nacho Blues (2019, Alberto Pibiri Music): [cd]: B+(*)
  • The John Pizzarelli Trio: For Centennial Reasons: 100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole (2019, Ghostlight): [r]: B+(**)
  • Noah Preminger: After Life (2018 [2019], Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jenny Scheinman/Allison Miller: Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller's Parlour Game (2019, Royal Potato Family): [r]: B+(***)
  • Fabrizio Sciacca Quartet: Gettin' It There (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Paul Silbergleit: January (2018 [2019], Blujazz): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Paul Zauner's Blue Brass feat. David Murray: Roots n' Wings (2019, PAO/Blujazz): [cd]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Tyler Childers: Live on Red Barn Radio I & II (2013-14 [2018], Hickman Holler, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • George Jones: United Artists Rarities (1962-64 [2019], EMI Nashville): [r]: B+(***)
  • Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April Is the Cruellest Month (1975 [2019], Black Forms Editions): [r]: B-

Old music:

  • Balto Exclamationpoint/Plaidworthy: If the Big Hurt (2015, self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Balto!: Balto! (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Balto!: Two Cans of Soup (2017, self-released, EP): [bc]: B-
  • Balto!: Taco Cat Poops (2018, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Baltbom!: ¡!Baltbom!¡ (2015, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Baltsticks!!: Play You, Play Me (2016, self-released): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Bryan and the Haggards/Eugene Chadbourne: Merles Just Want to Have Fun (2012 [2013], Northern Spy): [bc]: A-
  • Tyler Childers: Bottles and Bibles (2011, Hickman Holler): [r]: A-
  • Little Jimmy Dickens: 16 Biggest Hits (1949-65 [2006], Columbia/Legacy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Taana Gardner: Heartbeat (1981, West End, EP): [r]: A-
  • George Jones: George Jones Sings the Hits of His Country Cousins (1962, United Artists): [r]: B+(***)
  • George Jones: My Favorites of Hank Williams (1962, United Artists): [r]: B+(*)
  • George Jones: George Jones Sings Like the Dickens! (1964, United Artists): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jon Lundbom: Big Five Chord (2003 [2004], self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord: All the Pretty Ponies (A Live Recording) (2004 [2005], self-released): [r]: B
  • Bryan Murray: What You Don't Forget (2007, Jazz Excursion): [bc]: B+(***)
  • John Pizzarelli: P.S. Mr. Cole (1996-97 [1999], RCA): [r]: B+(***)

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Tyler Childers: Purgatory (2017, Hickman Holler): [r]: [was B+(**)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Steve Lehman Trio/Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi): August 30
  • Dave Miller Trio: Just Imagine (Summit): October 4
  • Bill O'Connell and the Afro Caribbean Ensemble: Wind Off the Hudson (Savant)
  • Mike Pachelli: High Standards (Fullblast): September 1
  • Houston Person: I'm Just a Lucky So and So (HighNote)
  • Lyn Stanley: London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's (A.T. Music)
  • Tucker Brothers: Two Parts (self-released): October 3

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Again, spent a little over two days collecting what seems to be a bottomless series of links that show various aspects of the same basic fact: that Donald Trump is like all other conservatives in the sense that he believes some people (like himself) are innately superior to other people, and that the political system should be rigged to favor superior people over inferior ones, but even among conservatives, as an individual he is exceptionally ignorant, abusive, vain, and corrupt. Most weeks I take pains to remind you that what's wrong with him is just a reflection of his political beliefs, and we need to focus on the broader right-wing and not just on him. Still, this week he was such a flaming asshole that it's hard to get beyond the horror and disgust he reeks of.


Some scattered links this week:


Not news, but let me note in passing a few more historical links on intellectuals who had some influence on me:

Monday, August 05, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31860 [31831] rated (+29), 259 [257] unrated (+2).

I continue to be surprised at the pro-gun memes showing up in my Facebook feed. Consider this screed (from kin in Arkansas, if that matters):

"When I was in high school we had gun racks in trucks, and they had guns in them, and they were loaded. We even had fist fights! But never once did someone get pissed and go get a gun to shoot someone. We don't have a gun problem people, we have a people problem, a sin problem, a lack of heart and soul problem, a lack of respect for human life problem ,or even a mental health problem. . . . but we DO NOT have a gun problem! I think it's easier for some people to blame an inanimate object instead of taking responsibility."

This starts off with an anecdote which may have been true in the author's personal experience but is far from the general rule. Then it offers up a list of suspect people, blaming them and exculpating the guns they use to commit crimes. We watch a lot of crime stories on TV, and they invariably come down to motive and opportunity. Lots of people have motives that some people have killed for, but they don't do so because they never had the opportunity (or they had some scruples that inhibited them from striking out). Guns may do nothing on their own (there's a Steve Earle song called "The Devil's Right Hand" that argues otherwise), but when someone picks one up, they offer the opportunity of killing someone else, even at a distance. The basic idea behind gun control is to keep guns out of the hands of people who might use them criminally. One might argue that the government isn't smart or fair enough to make those decisions, but reasonable people could surely agree in minimal lists of guns that no one should have and people who should not have guns.

The problem there is finding reasonable people, especially among those on the right who have been propagating these stupid gun memes. Admittedly, there are people who would like to outlaw all guns, but they aren't numerous, and aren't in any position to reject reasonable compromises. My own position is that I dislike guns, and don't see any good reason for the vast majority of Americans (including myself) to own any, but I'm pretty resistant to the idea of outlawing things just because lots of people dislike them -- alcohol, drugs, and sex are cases we should have learned better than. On the other hand, I can occasionally see a case for prohibiting or strictly regulating some things that are especially dangerous, and I could understand wanting to include guns in that category.

Of course, there are some things that government is even more inept at dealing with than guns, and oddly enough they show up on the list of things pro-gun people like to blame gun violence on. Foremost is mental illness, which heads up Trump's list of scapegoats (along with ubiquitous things like violent video games). The fact is we don't do a very good job of treating (or even identifying) mental illness in this country, partly because we don't try (and conservatives are even more lax in this regard), but also because nobody's really very good at it. A rigorous system that tried to quarantine crazy people to keep them away from guns would be orders of magnitude more expensive and more hurtful than one that prohibited guns from all but the certifiably sane. Yeterday's meme blaming gun violence on drugs diagnosis without a solution.

I didn't mean to go down this rathole, but it just opened up -- as is so often the case. What I did want to do is quote a Barbara Ehrenreich tweet:

The mental illness we really have to fear is narcissism. It makes dumb, loathsome people feel virtuous and smart. Gun ownership is another form of narcissism. It makes little men feel big.

I'll also add this one from Adam Serwer, on Trump's Monday morning backpedal:

Trump sounds like a robot when condemning white supremacy and like himself when he's attacking religious and ethnic minorities because one is him pretending and one is him being himself.


Moving on, we have a week's worth of new music for you below. I added some grade data to my mid-year list aggregate, checking sites that hadn't produced lists and (usually) according one point for each record rated 80+ (based on AOTY lists. This had the surprise effect of boosting Sharon Van Etten's Remind Me Tomorrow to first place, 48-47 over Billie Eilish (gain from last week was 10-4). The only other notable shift was Weyes Blood, up from 15 to 10. Biggest drop was probably James Blake, 10-14.

Much of what I listened to last week came from looking at these lists. My other major source was Phil Overeem's July honor roll -- most impressively the MexStep record that came out mid-December, with no one noticing it in 2018 lists.

New batch of q&a from Robert Christgau up tonight: XgauSez.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Iggy Azalea: In My Defense (2019, Bad Dreams/Empire): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Bacon/Michael McNeill/Danny Ziemann: Refractions (2017 [2019], Jazz Dimensions): [cd]: B+(***)
  • J. Balvin & Bad Bunny: Oasis (2019, Universal Music Latino): [r]: B+(**)
  • B.J. the Chicago Kid: 1123 (2019, Motown): [r]: B+(*)
  • Chance the Rapper: The Big Day (2019, self-released): [r]: A-
  • Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid (2019, Shake It): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Chick Corea/The Spanish Heart Band: Antidote (2019, Concord): [r]: B-
  • Default Genders: Main Pop Girl 2019 (2019, self-released): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Pablo Embon: Reminiscent Mood (2018-19 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B-
  • Empath: Active Listening: Night on Earth (2019, Get Better): [r]: B+(*)
  • Filthy Friends: Emerald Valley (2019, Kill Rock Stars): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fred Frith: All Is Always Now: Live at the Stone (2007-16 [2019], Intakt, 3CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • From Wolves to Whales: Strandwal (2017 [2019], Aerophonic, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Rhiannon Giddens: There Is No Other (2019, Nonesuch): [r]: B+(***)
  • Charles Wesley Godwin: Seneca (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks (2019, Big Persona/RCA): [r]: B+(**)
  • MexStep: Resistir (2018, Third Root): [r]: A-
  • The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (2019, Bar/None): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pink: Hurts 2B Human (2019, RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Apsis (2018 [2019], Aerophonic): [cd]: A-
  • Herlin Riley: Perpetual Optimism (2017 [2019], Mack Avenue): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sasami: Sasami (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(*)
  • Betty Who: Betty (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband: Tor & Vale (2018 [2019], Moonjune): [cd]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Tubby Hayes Quartet: Grits, Beans and Greens: The Lost Fontana Studio Session 1969 (1969 [2019], Decca): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Bob Moses: When Elephants Dream of Music (1982 [1983], Gramavision): [r]: B
  • Pink: Funhouse (2008, LaFace): [r]: B+(**)
  • Pink: Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!! (2000-10 [2010], LaFace/Jive): [r]: A-
  • Olaf Polziehn Trio Featuring Harry Allen: American Songbook Vol. 2 (2003, Satin Doll): [r]: B+(**)
  • Olaf Polziehn/Ingmar Heller/Troy Davis/Harry Allen: American Songbook Vol. 3 (2006, Satin Doll): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Corey Christiansen: La Proxima (Origin): August 12
  • Harbinger: Extended (OA2): August 12
  • New York Voices: Reminiscing in Tempo (Origin)
  • Alberto Pibiri & the AI Peppers: The Nacho Blues (Alberto Pibiri Music)
  • Paul Silbergleit: January (Blujazz)
  • Paul Zauner's Blue Brass feat. David Murray: Roots n' Wings (PAO/Blujazz)
  • Miguel Zenón: Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miel Music); August 30

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Starting this early (Friday), hoping to avoid the last-minute crunch. Not really news, but CNN's Democratic presidential debates got a lot of attention from the punditocracy this week. As usual, I didn't watch in real time (although my wife did, so I overheard some), but caught the "highlights" later (among the comics, Colbert was most informative). Let's group the links here, rather than clutter up the main section:


Lots of non-campaign news this week, but Donald Trump's flagrant racism caught the most attention, climaxing with two mass shootings which, despite pro forma denials, appear as the proof in the pudding.

Checked my Facebook feed shortly before filing this, and was rather surprised to find as many/maybe more pro-gun memes than anti, not that the former make any sense. One, for instance, links to a piece titled "Every Mass Shooting Shares 1 Thing in Common, NOT Guns": I didn't follow, but the picture shows a pile of pills. I doubt that, but even if lots of mass shooters popped pills, by definition every single one used a gun. All of those were forwarded by acknowledged friends. (Of course, I do also have anti-gun friends. They may even be in the majority, but lose out in this comparison because they tend to post their own thoughts instead of just propagating someone else's propaganda.)

Some links on this and other stories:

Monday, July 29, 2019

Expanded blog post, July archive (complete).

Music: current count 31831 [31798] rated (+33), 257 [259] unrated (-2).

Got a good start last week, even while I delayed posting Music Week, then lost most of three days with company and cooking, before partially recovering while I wrote up Weekend Roundup. The reason for last week's delayed posting was that I was tied up in one of my favorite wastes of time: compiling several dozens of mid-year ("so far") best-of lists. I've scoured through 66 lists, where each mention counts as one point regardless of rank (most lists are unranked, and many are are short compared to EOY lists, so this scheme is just easier to build the EOY list aggregate on top of. I've also included letter grades for Robert Christgau and myself (although only so far for records mentioned on other lists), using { A = 5, A- = 4, B+/*** = 3, ** = 2, * = 1 }. This introduces a slight skew, but it's diminished as I've added more lists. And since I'm actually more interested in using this as a tool to guide my own listening than as some sort of value-free social science research, I've included a few lists from friends and allies, including at least one I scraped off the unlinkable Facebook. (I suppose it might be possible to link to it, but common decency suggests otherwise.)

One thing I found odd is that I literally didn't find a single jazz list. Maybe I'll write one up later this week. The other thing I'm tempted to do is to add in points for AOTY 80+ ratings. For a few years I actually collected those ratings, but gave it up 2-3 years ago as too much work. On the other hand, some record of those ratings would round out the picture.

Without further ado, here are the top 30 records (so far), with point counts in braces and my grades in brackets:

  1. Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? (Darkroom/Interscope) {43} [A-]
  2. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (Nice Life/Atlantic) {40} [A-]
  3. Tyler the Creator: Igor (Columbia) {38} [**]
  4. Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride (Columbia) {38} [**]
  5. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar) {38} [*]
  6. Solange: When I Get Home (Saint/Columbia) {37} [*]
  7. Ariana Grande: Thank U Next (Republic) {33} [**]
  8. Big Thief: UFOF (4AD) {32} [A-]
  9. Little Simz: Grey Area (Age 101) {32} [A-]
  10. James Blake: Assume Form (Polydor) {25} [B-]
  11. Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (604/School Boy/Interscope) {25} [***]
  12. Jenny Lewis: On the Line (Warner Bros) {24} [*]
  13. Charly Bliss: Young Enough (Barsuk) {23} [A-]
  14. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar) {23} [A-]
  15. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian) {22} [***]
  16. Slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain (Method) {22} [***]
  17. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) {22} [B-]
  18. Dave: Psychodrama (Neighbourhood) {20} [A-]
  19. Flying Lotus: Flamagra (Warp) {20} [**]
  20. Fontaines DC: Dogrel (Partisan) {19} [***]
  21. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever (300 Entertainment) {19} [***]
  22. Anderson .Paak: Ventura (Aftermath/12 Tone Music) {19} [***]
  23. Better Oblivion Community Center (Dead Oceans) {18} [*]
  24. Denzel Curry: Zuu (Loma Vista) {18} [**]
  25. The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) {18} [**]
  26. Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (Capitol) {17} [**]
  27. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places (Blackwoodz Studioz) {17} [***]
  28. Nilufer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) {17} [A-]
  29. Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (Sugar Trap) {16} [**]
  30. Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (Question Everything/RCA) {14} [**]
  31. Julia Jacklin: Crushing (Polyvinyl) {14} [B]

Cutoff just above {13}: PUP, Quelle Chris, Toro Y Moi; {12}: Malibu Ken, Khalid, Bassekou Kouyate; {11}: 2 Chainz, Chemical Brothers, The Comet Is Coming, Aldous Harding, Priests, Todd Snider. Highest ranked records I haven't heard: {10}: Holly Herndon: Proto, Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs; {8}: Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?; {6}: Baroness, Gary Clark Jr., Flume, Foals, Cate Le Bon, Mark Ronson, Yola. I didn't bother with metal lists, so only noted 35 records as such, 0 heard by me. The overall list collected 745 titles (only 64 jazz, 50 heard by me).

I can't draw many conclusions from this data. The point scheme tends to keep any record from breaking out, with the top nine records (down to Little Simz but not James Blake) on most of the same lists. My guess is that if I had consistent ranking information Tyler, Vampire Weekend, and/or Solange would advanced a bit (also Weyes Blood, which topped two lists). Indeed, without the RC/TH grade points, Tyler would have come in first, with 36 points, vs. Eilish (34), Vampire Weekend/Van Etten (33), Lizzo (32), Grande (28), Blake (25), Big Thief/Little Simz (24).

I will probably add a few more lists as I find them. For instance, I have two specialized lists at Noisey open in tabs now (33 Essential Albums You Probably Missed So Far in 2009 and The 37 Best Ambient Albums of 2019 So Far) but held them back in case I found a more general list there. I may also, as noted, come up with a way to factor some grading data into the list.

Most of the non-jazz albums I've listened to in the last two weeks were suggested by these lists. They haven't been especially reliable, but have generated a couple surprise finds (e.g., Christina Barbieri and Queen Key last week). But two of this week's top records came on CDs from a friendly publicist. I dragged my feet on the Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery label best-ofs, thinking I'd prefer to hear the original albums they were selected from. Finally broke down and graded them last week, then found some of the missing records (badly misfiled by Napster). We're still missing the latest releases -- Evans in England and Montgomery's Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings. Turns out that the compilations do a good job of picking hilights from the series, and help round out a view of the artists beyond their masterworks (still Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Incredible Jazz Guitar).


I wanted to write a few words about DownBeat's Critics Poll results, but don't have the time (or possibly the stomach) for that right now. I missed the official deadline to vote, but was able to submit a ballot, which evidently was counted (my name is in the voter list, and they sent me a T-shirt). On the other hand, the disconnect between my votes and the charts is almost complete. Their HOF picks were especially paltry: I can sort of understand Nina Simone, who could be a great singer on occasion, but released a lot of bad-to-worse albums; but the Veterans Committee picks of Scott LaFaro and Joe Williams are hard to imagine. I might be OK with Williams if Jimmy Rushing was in, but even then he wouldn't be an obvious pick. LaFaro died at 25, having played with Bill Evans for two years, and with Ornette Coleman for considerably less. I've been touched by some of his work, but I have no idea how to compare his tiny discography against that of many other bassists not in the DBHOF. (On the other hand, the similarly short-lived Jimmy Blanton is in, as are such obvious contemporaries as Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers, Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, and his predecessor with Coleman, Charlie Haden.)


Forthcoming week relatively open. Hope to get some work done on the Christgau website.


New records reviewed this week:

  • James Blake: Assume Form (2019, Polydor): [r]: B-
  • Julia Jacklin: Crushing (2019, Polyvinyl): [r]: B
  • Judy and the Jerks: Music for Donuts EP (2019, Thrilling Living, EP): [r]: C+
  • Aubrey Logan: Your Mom's Favorite Songs (2019, Resonance, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charlie Marie: Charlie Marie (2019, self-released, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • The Mauskovic Dance Band: The Mauskovic Dance Band (2019, Soundway): [r]: B+(**)
  • MC Frontalot: Net Split, or the Fathomless Heartbreak of Online Itself (2019, Level Up): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nots: 3 (2019, Goner): [r]: B+(**)
  • Nubiyan Twist: Jungle Run (2019, Strut): [r]: B-
  • Karen O & Danger Mouse: Lux Prima (2019, BMG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Old Man Saxon: Goldman Sax (2019, Saxon Kincy, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • William Parker/In Order to Survive: Live/Shapeshifter (2017 [2019], AUM Fidelity, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Joel Ross: KingMaker (2019, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Mavis Staples: Live in London (2018 [2019], Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wreckless Eric: Transience (2019, Southern Domestic): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bill Evans: Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance (1968-69 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: A-
  • Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best of Piano Jazz on Resonance (1968-2011 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Wes Montgomery: Wes's Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance (1956-66 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: A-
  • Sing a Song of Jazz: The Best of Vocal Jazz on Resonance (1956-2018 [2019], Resonance): [cd]: B
  • Neil Young + Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa (1973 [2019], Reprise): [r]: B-

Old music:

  • The Legendary Bill Evans Trio: The 1960 Birdland Sessions (1960 [2005], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bill Evans: Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (1968 [2016], Resonance, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bill Evans: Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (1968 [2017], Resonance): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco, Josky, Matalanza Du T.P. OK Jazz: A Paris 1983 Missile (1983 [1996], Sonodisc): [dl]: A

  • Wes Montgomery: In the Beginning (1949-58 [2016], Resonance, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin' (1957-58 [1996], Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wes Montgomery: Far Wes (1958-59 [1990], Pacific Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wes Montgomery: One Night in Indy (1959 [2016], Resonance): [r]: A-
  • Wes Montgomery: Smokin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966 [2017], Resonance): B+(***)
  • Kristi Stassinopoulou/Stathis Kalyviotis: NYN (2016, Riverboat): [r]: B+(**)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Moy Eng/Wayne Wallace: The Blue Hour (Patois)
  • Pearring Sound: Nothing but Time (self-released): October 4
  • Fabrizio Sciacca Quartet: Gettin' It There (self-released): September 1

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Lots of links below -- probably more than usual, although as always I feel like I'm leaving a lot of stuff untouched. Some topics I only decided late in the game to break out (Boris Johnson under Mackey, impeachment under Reich, Iran under Simon/Stevenson) could have picked up more links had I acted earlier and more consciously. I meant to write more on Mueller under Alksne when I first found the piece, but by the time I got to it I had scattered Mueller links all over the page.


Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31798 [31749] rated (+49), 259 [262] unrated (-3).

I had a lot of stuff I wanted to write about this week, but never found the time, and it doesn't look like that'll change over the next several days. Therefore, let's just dump this out, and try again next week.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 100 Gecs: 1000 Gecs (2019, Dog Show): [r]: B
  • Jay Anderson: Deepscape (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Caterina Barbieri: Ecstatic Computation (2019, Editions Mego): [r]: A-
  • Michael Bisio/Kirk Knuffke/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Requiem for a New York Slice (2018 [2019], Iluso): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Black Midi: Schlagenheim (2019, Rough Trade): [r]: B+(**)
  • Blood Orange: Angel's Pulse (2019, Domino): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Tobias Wilner/Djibril Toure/Federico Ughi: New York United (2016 [2019], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • Cheekface: Therapy Island (2019, New Professor Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stef Chura: Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Flying Lotus: Flamagra (2019, Warp): [r]: B+(***)
  • Future: Future Hndrxx Presents: The Wizrd (2019, Epic/Freebandz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hilliard Greene: Spirituals (2019, Unseen Rain): [r]: B+(*)
  • Augie Haas: Dream a Little Dream (2019, Playtime Music): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (2018 [2019], Pine Eagle): [cd]: A-
  • Aldous Harding: Designer (2019, 4AD): [r]: B
  • Randy Houser: Magnolia (2019, Stoney Creek): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jelena Jovovic: Heartbeat (2018 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B-
  • Juice Wrld: Death Race for Love (2019, Interscope): [r]: B-
  • Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI (2019, 3Qtr): [r]: B+(*)
  • Lady Lykez: Muhammad Ali EP (2019, Hyperdub, EP): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Alex Lahey: The Best of Luck Club (2019, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lil Nas X: 7 (2019, Columbia, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Maluma: 11:11 (2019, Sony Music Latin): [r]: B+(**)
  • Mannequin Pussy: Patience (2019, Epitaph): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (2019, Sugar Trap, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jai Paul: Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) (2013 [2019], XL): [r]: B+(**)
  • PUP: Morbid Stuff (2019, Rise/BMG): [r]: B
  • Queen Key: Eat My Pussy (Again) (2019, Machine Entertainment Group): [r]: A-
  • Resavoir: Resavoir (2015-19 [2019], International Anthem): [bc]: B
  • Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (2019, Capitol): [r]: B+(**)
  • ShitKid: [Detention] (2019, PNKSLM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Skepta: Ignorance Is Bliss (2019, Boy Better Know): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sote: Parallel Persia (2019, Diagonal): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Emily A. Sprague: Water Memory (2017, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Emily A. Sprague: Mount Vision (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Supa Bwe: Just Say Thank You (2019, Freddy Got Magic/Empire, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (2019, Republic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Yves Theiler Trio: We (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • Turning Jewels Into Water: Which Way Is Home? (2018, FPE, EP): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Turning Jewels Into Water: Map of Absences (2019, FPE): [r]: B+(***)
  • Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club (2019, Secretly Canadian): [r]: B
  • The Yawpers: Human Question (2019, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down: Live 1973 (1973 [2019], Omnivore): [r]: B+(**)


Grade (or other) changes:

  • Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (2014 [2019], Astral Spirits): [cd]: [was B+(**)] A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ezra Weiss Big Band: We Limit Not the Truth of God (OA2): August 16
  • Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband: Tor & Vale (Moonjune)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Weekend Roundup

We spent much of the past week arguing not about whether Donald Trump is a racist -- some might prefer not to discuss it, but hardly anyone doubts or denies such an abundantly settled fact. A week ago we faced what struck me as an artificially inflated schism between Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and the more determined reformers in "the squad," but that division vanished instantly thanks to their common enemy -- Trump, for starters, and the racism he and his party so naturally indulge in. Pelosi may be jealous of the squad's popularity with the Democratic base, and she may be overly concerned with her reputation as a Washington power broker. But the fact is that since the 2018 election, the right-wing media has been most obsessed with raising alarms over the squad. Given that context, Trump's tweets strike me less as recurring racist bluster (to which he's certainly prone) than as confirmation that the Republicans' campaign strategy for 2020 will be to try to turn every local election into a referendum on Ilhan Omar. Pelosi knows that better than anyone, because Republicans have tried for years to make her the public face of Democratic-Socialist-Liberal dread.

Most important piece below is Matthew Yglesias's Trump's racism is part of his larger con. I didn't quote from it, but could have quoted the entire piece. Just read it.


Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31749 [31726] rated (+23), 262 [262] unrated (+0).

Slow getting this out, with Monday wiped out by a house emergency (water heater broke down). Had a nagging sore throat much of the week, but right now mostly feel exhausted. Relatively mild summer so far, but looks like triple digits coming soon and probably persisting. Next couple weeks will probably be worse.

Rated count cut off Sunday evening, but I've added unpacking since then, so the numbers are a little out of whack.

Second straight week with an unusually low rated count (24 last week). Again, spent some time on the Resonance anthologies without writing any reviews, and also found a higher-than-usual split of A- records, plus high B+ that merited extra plays. Most of the finds this week come from Chris Monsen's Jazz favorites list, plus a few more from Phil Overeem's Halfway to Listville. The easiest one was John McPhee's Nation Time: I skipped over it when I was catching up with Corbett vs. Dempsey's Bandcamp a few weeks back, as I had already given Corbett's 2000 reissue a full A, and hadn't noticed the extra cuts. No reason to repurchase if you have the Atavistic release, but the bonuses are just that.

Had a minor role in helping Joe Yanosik publish his magnum opus A Consumer Guide to FRANCO. I have a Guests section on my website, which I've used a few times but never really tried to promote. I've long thought that a better solution would be to set up guest areas on my Hullworks website, perhaps as sub-domains, which could be spun off should the guests decide to pony up for a domain name. I'm in a position where I can host those as well. I also considered hanging Joe's piece at Terminal Zone -- long my pet idea for a music-themed website (named for the zine Don Malcolm and I published back in 1977). In the end, I went with the path that involved the least thought and work.

When Joe first mentioned his Franco project to me, I glanced at Napster's Franco offerings, and spent a week digging around. My own (much more limited) set of Franco grades are here. You can also look up what Robert Christgau has written.

I might as well mention two projects that I've started but haven't gotten very far on. I've started to add recent reviews to the two large book manuscript files I have on jazz. Rather slow work, but I've added 99 pages up to January, 2019, pushing the 20th century jazz guide over 800, and the 21st over 1700. Files are backed up online, in ODT format.

I've also started collecting mid-year lists, as I did last year. This uses the EOY list aggregate format, and most likely will eventually evolve into a full EOY list aggregate later this year. Only have four lists compiled so far (about a third of those collected on AOTY). I'm surprised there aren't more, but haven't really looked yet. The current aggregate is way too sparse to draw any real conclusions from. One issue here is that I'm only awarding 1 point for each list mention. (Two reasons: one is that so far many of the lists are unranked; the other is that it makes it easier to clean up with I replace the midway lists with EOY lists.) The other point I should note here is that I'm factoring in my graces (A: 5, A-: 4, ***: 3, **: 2, *: 1), which currently results in quite a bit of skew. E.g., 6 of the top 8 records now are ones I've graded A- (Billy Eilish, Lizzo, Charly Bliss, Big Thief, Little Simz, Jamila Woods), and the other two (Carly Rae Jepsen and Vampire Weekend) were *** and ** respectively. Expect my picks to slip as I add further lists, while records I like less will make inroads (Solange is the surest shot; maybe also Tyler the Creator, Sharon Van Etten, Jenny Lewis). Record that I haven't heard with the most list mentions so far: Flying Lotus' Flamagra.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Maria Faust/Tim Dahl/Weasel Walter: Farm Fresh (2018 [2019], Gotta Let It Out): [r]: B+(***)
  • Fire! Orchestra: Arrival (2019, Rune Grammofon): [r]: B
  • Alex Fournier: Triio (2018 [2019], Furniture Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter (2016 [2019], self-released): [cd]: B+(***)
  • GoldLink: Diaspora (2019, Squaaash Club/RCA): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bjørn Marius Hegge: Ideas (2019, Particular): [r]: A-
  • Megan Thee Stallion: Fever (2019, 300 Entertainment): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nature Work: Nature Work (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): [r]: A-
  • Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys a Record (2019, Odin): [r]: A-
  • Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye (2019, Cherry Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Santana: Africa Speaks (2019, Concord): [r]: B
  • Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen on Broadway (2018, Columbia, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (2019, Columbia): [r]: B-
  • Zhenya Strigalev/Federico Dannemann: The Change (2018 [2019], Rainy Days): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Gebhard Ullmann Basement Research: Impromptus and Other Short Works (2018 [2019], WhyPlayJazz): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Dexter Gordon: At the Subway Club 1973 (1965-73 [2019], Elemental Music, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Clifford Jordan Quartet: Glass Bead Games (1973 [1974], Strata East; [2019], Pure Pleasure): [r]: A-
  • Eero Koivistoinen: The Front Is Breaking (1976, Love; [2017], Svart): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joe McPhee: Nation Time (1970 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A
  • Harry Mosco: Peace & Harmony (1979 [2019], Isle of Jura): [r]: B+(*)
  • Woody Shaw Quintet: Basel 1980 (1980-81 [2019], Elemental Music, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Sonic Youth: Battery Park, NYC, July 4th 2008 (2008 [2019], Matador): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bruce Springsteen: The Live Series: Songs of the Road (1977-2013 [2018], Columbia): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Bacon/Michael McNeill/Danny Ziemann: Refractions (Jazz Dimensions): August 1
  • Mike Holober/The Gotham Jazz Orchestra: Hiding Out (Zoho): August 9
  • From Wolves to Whales: Strandwal (Aerophonic): August 26
  • Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker: Apsis (Aerophonic): August 26

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Fairly large (7.3) earthquake in Halmahera, Indonesia today. It's in a fairly isolated corner of the nation, an island with about 450,000 people, north of Ceram and midway between the outstretched peninsulas of New Guinea and Sulawesi. Probably not much news on this, unlike last week's similar-sized earthquakes near Ridgecrest, California.

On the other hand, quite a bit of news attention to Hurricane Barry, slowly moving today through north Louisiana and into Arkansas, dumping a lot of rain over already flooded terrain. Two things worth noting here. One is that this is still very early in the season (nominally June 1 to November 30). For a record fifth year in a row, the first named storm (Andrea) appeared before the season officially started. June was quiet, but it's still very rare to have hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in July. Odder still, where most hurricanes start as low pressure zones over West Africa, then pick up strength crossing the width of the subtropical Atlantic Ocean, this one started in Tennessee, then curved in a clockwise motion through Georgia and Florida before intensifying over the Gulf. I've never seen a storm follow that trajectory, or for that matter one that spent so little time over water developing to hurricane level. Granted, it only briefly achieved level 1 strength, but that doesn't bode well for later storms that traverse much more of the still warming Gulf (currently 86°F). [PS: The Wikipedia page suggests several similar hurricanes, but the only one that comes close is 1940 Louisiana hurricane, which formed in early August off the coast of Georgia, crossed Florida and covered a much longer stretch of the Gulf before making landfall in southwest Louisiana. It is regarded as "the wettest tropical cyclone in state history," with a peak rainfall of 37.5 inches. Barry is forecast to produce up to 25 inches of rain. Actual rain so far appears to be much less -- see Barry downgraded to a depression but still brings risk of flooding from Louisiana to Arkansas. This article also notes that the average date for first hurricane of season is August 10, and that this is the first July hurricane in continental US since Arthur in 2014, and only the 4th in Louisiana history according to records going back to 1851.]


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31726 [31702] rated (+24), 262 [260] unrated (+2).

Rated count down this week. Maybe I didn't focus well while Laura was in Boston, but it's also likely that coming up with a relative bounty of A- records had an effect: they always take more time. Also, I didn't take any dives into old music (the VSOP Quintet shows up in Napster's featured new jazz list, but with digital reissues I usually just cite the original release label/date -- and it wasn't good enough to inspire me to check out their other albums).

This is my first Music Week since Robert Christgau posted his final Noisey Expert Witness column, so it's fitting that I looked a little harder than usual for recent non-jazz. In this I was helped by Phil Overeem's halfway through 2019 list (Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Peter Perrett, Billy Woods & Kenny Segal, Abdullah Ibrahim), and by Facebook comments from Dan Weiss (DaBaby, Open Mike Eagle, Gibbs again -- he's also big on Denzel Curry's Zuu, which I previously had at B+(**)). Most of the others were picked up by scrounging for new music on Napster.

The most controversial of these is probably Madonna's Madame X. Metacritic average is 70. Rob Sheffield wrote a 3-star pan at Rolling Stone, although it reads better than the rating. Spencer Kornhaber takes offense in The paradox of Madonna's gun-control music video. Took me a lot of plays before I recognized that the number of songs I was pleased to recognize exceeded the number of fingers I had available for counting. I have more doubts about the Peter Perrett album, but I gave How the West Was Won an A-, and this one hit the same pleasure spots. Makes me wonder if I underrated Special View (the 1979 Only Ones album), where I remembered his voice from.

I'll also note that I've given Wes's Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance 3-4 plays with increasing pleasure. I'd like to review the albums it was selected from before doing the compilation, but the release schedule hasn't made that possible. Haven't played the Bill Evans compilation yet, but same considerations apply there. I've been wanting to hear those records ever since they came out, but probably wouldn't have bothered with the compilations had they not appeared in the mail. Also got a note in email today asking whether I've downloaded recent AUM Fidelity releases. I've looked for them on Napster, but didn't notice the email invites. I'll eventually dig them out, but if you want my attention, best way is still to send a CD.

There will be a new XgauSez out by Tuesday morning. I'm hope to get this post wrapped up before I take a good look at it, and I've been hobbled by Weekend Roundup running into overtime. Also in my input queue is a lengthy and quite extraordinary "Consumer Guide to Franco" that Joe Yanosik compiled and asked if I would publish. Expect that later this week.


New records reviewed this week:

  • 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (2019, Thin Wrist): [r]: B+(***)
  • JD Allen: Barracoon (2019, Savant): [r]: A-
  • Gretje Angell: In Any Key (2018 [2019], Grevlinto): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Blind Lemon Jazz: After Hours: New Pages in the American Songbook (2019, Ofeh): [cd]: B+(*)
  • DaBaby: Blank Blank (2018, South Coast Music Group, EP): [r]: B+(***)
  • DaBaby: Baby on Baby (2019, South Coast Music Group): [r]: B+(**)
  • Open Mike Eagle: The New Negroes: Season 1 Soundtrack (2019, Comedy Central, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (2019, Keep Cool/RCA): [r]: A-
  • Jesca Hoop: Stonechild (2019, Memphis Industries): [r]: B+(*)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance (2019, Gearbox): [r]: B+(***)
  • Mike LeDonne: Partners in Time (2019, Savant): [r]: B+(**)
  • Madonna: Madame X (2019, Interscope): [r]: A-
  • Buddy & Julie Miller: Breakdown on 20th Ave. South (2019, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real: Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) (2019, Fantasy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Willie Nelson: Ride Me Back Home (2019, Legacy): [r]: A-
  • Peter Perrett: Humanworld (2019, Domino): [r]: A-
  • Mette Rasmussen/Julien Desprez: The Hatch (2016 [2019], Dark Tree): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Rebekah Victoria: Songs of the Decades (2018 [2019], Patois): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places (2019, Blackwoodz Studioz): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate: The Stan Getz Quartet Live at the Village Gate Nov. 26 1961 (1961 [2019], Verve, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Sourakata Koité: En Hollande (1984 [2019], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Asnakech Worku: Asnakech (1975 [2018], Awesome Tapes From Africa): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • The V.S.O.P. Quintet: Five Stars (1979, CBS/Sony): [r]: B


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (Astral Spirits)
  • Peter Eldridge/Kenny Werner: Somewhere (Rosebud Music)
  • Augie Haas: Dream a Little Dream (Playtime Music): August 30
  • Rich Halley: Terra Incognita (Pine Eagle): August 9
  • Jelena Jovovic: Heartbeat (self-released)

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Donald Trump's big July 4 "celebration" was the week's big non-event, so naturally garnered plenty of press attention. We'll collect the links here, to try to keep the silliness of the event from infecting everything else:


Some scattered links this week:

Monday, July 01, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31702 [31671] rated (+31), 260 [264] unrated (-4).

Noisey has evidently decided to drop Robert Christgau's Expert Witness column, the last one running on Friday. Christgau tweeted:

I do this for money as well as love. So just in case this is the last Expert Witness not just at Noisey, which I'm sad to announce it is, but anywhere, it sticks to albums I'm way late on and albums I wanted to be sure to weigh in on. Enjoy. Consume, even.

Obviously, I should make it a priority to round up these latest Consumer Guide reviews and stuff them into the database. Christgau's first Consumer Guide column was published July 10, 1969, so he's ten days short of fifty years. The whole list is here.

Twice before, Michael Tatum responded to lapses in Christgau's review schedule, first by debuting then relaunching his A Downloader's Diary column. As it happens, he had a new column, his 50th, ready to roll last week when he read Christgau's news, and revised his introduction. (Christgau started the parenthetical numbering scheme, but gave it up after reaching 52 in 1975. I also used it for my Recycled Goods columns.)

I managed to check out a few of Tatum's picks this week, but had previously given A- grades to Big Thief, Coathangers, Control Top, Dave, Billie Eilish, Little Simz, and Jamila Woods -- also a B+(***) to Stella Donnelly, B+(**) to Vampire Weekend. I haven't, however, checked any of his Trash picks.

Streamnotes appeared last week, so this starts a new month.

Don't have anything more to add -- at least anything fit to print. Bad day for me.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Ilia Belorukov/Gabriel Ferrandini: Disquiet (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (2019, Capitol): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charly Bliss: Young Enough (2019, Barsuk): [r]: A-
  • Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman: Time Gone Out (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(*)
  • Caroline Davis: Alula (2017 [2019], New Amsterdam): [r]: B+(*)
  • Whit Dickey/Kirk Knuffke: Drone Dream (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Sharman Duran: Questioning Reality (2019, self-released): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music (2019, Spiritmuse): [r]: B+(***)
  • Damon Locks/Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds (2019, International Anthem): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Jan Maksimovic/Dimitrij Golovanov: Thousand Seconds of Our Life (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Jenna McLean: Brighter Day (2018 [2019], Moddl): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Gabriele Mitelli/Rob Mazurek: Star Splitter (2019, Clean Feed): [r]: B+(*)
  • Monopiece/Jaap Blonk: Monopiece + Jaap Blonk (2019, Shhpuma): [r]: B
  • Angelika Niescier/Christopher Tordini/Gerald Cleaver: New York Trio Feat. Jonathan Finlayson (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(***)
  • Evan Parker/Paul G. Smyth: Calenture and Light Leaks (2015 [2019], Weekertoft): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Evan Parker & Kinetics: Chiasm (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: A-
  • Caroline Spence: Mint Condition (2019, Rounder): [r]: A-
  • Aki Takase: Hokusai: Piano Solo (2018 [2019], Intakt): [r]: B+(**)
  • AJ Tracey: AJ Tracey (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia: La Misteriosa Musica Della Regina Loana (2019, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • G. Calvin Weston/The Phoenix Orchestra: Dust and Ash (2019, 577): [r]: B+(*)
  • Wschód: Wschód (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Chance the Rapper: 10 Day (2011 [2019], self-released): [r]: A-
  • Detail: Day Two (1982 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Kang Tae Hwan/Midori Takada: An Eternal Moment (1995 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Sunny Murray/Bob Dickie/Robert Andreano: Homework (1994 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA: Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (1998 [2019], Dark Tree): [cd]: A-
  • David Wertman Sun Ensemble: Earthly Delights (1978 [2019], BBE)

Old music:

  • Peter Kowald/Kent Kessler/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Flats Fixed (1998 [2014], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ola Onabulé: Point Less (Rugged Ram): August 30
  • Mette Rasmussen/Julien Desprez: The Hatch (Dark Tree)
  • Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA: Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (Dark Tree)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Weekend Roundup

I paid rather little attention to the Democratic Party presidential debates this week: Laura watched them, I overheard some bits, saw some more (not so fairly selected) on Colbert and Myers, and read a few odd things. Some links here, including a few non-debate ones that highlight various candidates, but no attempt at comprehensive:

  • Kate Aronoff: Jay Inslee just dropped the most ambitious climate plan from a presidential candidate. Here's who it targets.

  • Zack Beauchamp: 4 winners and 2 losers from the two nights of Democratic debates: For instance, he counts "Bernie Sanders' ideas" as a winner, but Sanders himself as a loser.

  • Robert L Borosage: The second Democratic debate proved that Bernie really has transformed the party.

  • Ryan Bort and others: A report card for every candidate from the first Democratic debates.

  • Laura Bronner and others at FiveThirtyEight: The first Democratic debate in five charts.

  • David Brooks: Dems, please don't drive me away. My gut reaction is that there's nothing I feel less interest in than mollifying the vain egos of "Never Trump" conservatives. I'd take his polling reports with a grain of salt ("35 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, 35 percent call themselves moderate and 26 percent call themselves liberal"), and also doubt his self-characterization as "moderate," but I'll quote his stab at articulating the "moderate" viewpoint:

    Finally, Democrats aren't making the most compelling moral case against Donald Trump. They are good at pointing to Trump's cruelties, especially toward immigrants. They are good at describing the ways he is homophobic and racist. But the rest of the moral case against Trump means hitting him from the right as well as the left.

    A decent society rests on a bed of manners, habits, traditions and institutions. Trump is a disrupter. He rips to shreds the codes of politeness, decency, honesty and fidelity, and so renders society a savage world of dog eat dog. Democrats spend very little time making this case because defending tradition, manners and civility sometimes cuts against the modern progressive temper.

    Actually, the further left you go the more sharply moralistic the critique of Trump becomes, but despite his "savage world of dog eat dog" line Brooks can't hear this because he only recognizes morality as the imposition of conservative order, where inequality is a given. Brooks' "moderates" are closet conservatives. While there are many Democrats (not just moderate- but also liberal-identified) who agree with most of Brooks' verities ("politeness, decency, honesty and fidelity"), Brooks' knee-jerk anti-left instincts prevent him from joining any democratic movement he can't dictate to. In particular, he cannot conceive of the need to lean a bit harder to the left than he'd like in order to get back to the center he so adores. [PS: Just found this, but not yet interested enough to read: Benjamin Wallace-Wells: David Brooks's conversion story.

  • Alexander Burns/Jonathan Martin: Liberal Democrats ruled the debates. Will moderates regain their voices? Pieces like this are annoying, and are only likely to become more so, and more strident, as the election approaches. A better question is: will "moderates" find anything constructive to say? Their most succinct declaration so far is Biden's assurance that "nothing would change" under a Biden presidency. I suppose that's more honest than the "hope and change" Obama campaigned on in 2008, let alone Bill ("Man from Hope" Clinton's populist spiel 1992, but at least Clinton and Obama waited until after the election to hand their administrations over to crony capitalists and sell out their partisan base. Left/liberals dominate the debates because: the voters recognize that most Americans face real and immediate problems; the left/liberals have put a lot of thought into how to deal with those problems, and the only credible solutions are coming from the left; having been burned before, the party base is looking not just for hope/change but for commitment. It's going to be hard for "moderates" to convince people to follow without promising to lead them somewhere better.

  • John Cassidy: Joe Biden's faltering debate performance raises big doubts about his campaign.

  • Alvin Chang: Kamala Harris got a huge number of people curious about Joe Biden's busing record.

  • Zak Cheney-Rice: Kamala Harris ends the era of coddling Joe Biden on race.

  • Maureen Dowd: Kamala shotguns Joe Sixpack. Favorite line here, and you can guess the context: "In my experience, candidates with advisers who belittle them on background do not win elections." I rarely read Dowd, finding her longer on snark than analysis, but you may enjoy (as I did) her Blowhard on the brink. Again, you can guess the context.

  • David Frum: The second debate gives Democrats three reasons to worry: The view of a Trump hater who hasn't really changed any other of his right-wing views: "the weakness of former Vice President Joe Biden"; "the weakness of the next tier of normal Democratic candidates -- especially Harris -- in the face of left-wing pressure"; "the unwillingness and inability of any of the candidates -- except, quietly, Biden -- to defend their party's most important domestic reform since the Lyndon Johnson administration: Obamacare."

  • Abby Goodnough/Thomas Kaplan: Democrat vs. Democrat: How health care is dividing the party: "An issue that united the party in 2018 has potential to fracture it in 2020." What united the party was the universally felt need to defend ACA against Republican attempts to degrade and destruct it. Looking forward, I think there are very few Democrats who don't see the main goal as comprehensive health care coverage, as a universal right. The differences arise over how to get there from where we are now. One way to do that would be to expand Medicaid and private insurance subsidies under the ACA, and one thing that would help with the latter would be to offer a non-profit "public option" to ensure that insurance markets are competitive. One way to provide that public option would be to let people buy into America's already-established public health insurance option: Medicare. Many candidates have proposals to allow some people to do that. I expect that a Democratic Congress and President to move quickly on implementing some of those proposals to shore up ACA. It's not the case that proponents of a true government-run single-payer system will cripple ACA to force us to take their preferred route (e.g., Bernie Sanders voted for ACA). But there is one major problem with ACA: the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot force everyone to participate in a scheme that requires some people to buy private insurance. That's a bad ruling, but fixing the Supreme Court is likely to be a harder sell than Medicare-for-All -- especially given that the latter promises better coverage for less cost than any private/public mix of competing insurance plans. You may wonder why some Democrats are against Medicare-for-All. The main reason is they believe the insurance companies are too powerful to fight, but one thing you'll notice is that the people saying that (e.g., Ezekiel Emmanuel) are mostly beneficiaries of insurance industry payola. That preference for ACA over Medicare-for-All is seen as a sign of "moderation" only shows that "moderates" don't have the guts, the stamina, or even the imagination to fight for better solutions. Put Democrats who stand up for their principles and their people in the White House and Congress, and the "moderates" will start compromising in the direction of progress. Until then, why should we listen to anything they say? [PS: For some diagramming, see: Dylan Scott: The 2 big disagreements between 2020 Democratic candidates on Medicare-for-all.]

  • Jeet Heer: Elizabeth Warren's ideas dominated the debate more than her stage presence.

  • Umair Irfan: Climate change got just 15 minutes out of 4 hours of Democratic debates.

  • Caitlin Johnston: Kamala Harris is everything the establishment wants in a politician. Proof of point is no matter how hard the author tries to attack Harris, she only winds up making her look more formidable (which is something we desperately crave, isn't it?).

  • Sarah Jones: Elizabeth Warren thinks we need more diplomats.

  • Jen Kirby: Foreign policy was a loser in the Democratic debates.

  • Michael Kruse: The 2008 class that explains Elizabeth Warren's style.

  • Dylan Matthews and other Vox writers: 4 winners and 3 losers from the second night of the Democratic debates.

  • Anna North: Kirsten Gillibrand gave her opponents a history lesson on abortion politics at the debate.

  • Ilana Novick: Why are Democrats afraid to end private health insurance?

  • Andrew Prokop: This wasn't the way Joe Biden wanted the first debate to go.

  • Gabriel Resto-Montero: Democrats rally behind Kamala Harris following Donald Trump Jr.'s "birther-style" tweet.

  • Frank Rich: Kamala Harris's debate performance should scare Trump.

    There may be no word that Trump fears more than "prosecutor," and no professional expertise that the Democratic base is more eager to see inflicted on him. At a juncture when Trump defends himself against a charge of rape by sliming women who are not his "type," Harris's emergence could not be better timed. She is not his "type," heaven knows, and, not unlike her fellow San Franciscan Nancy Pelosi, she is not a "type" he knows how to deal with at any level, whether on Twitter or a debate stage.

  • David Rothkopf: Hey Dems, take it from this ex-centrist: We blew it. Author is one of the guy who made the Clinton Administration a money-making machine for Wall Street, so that's where he's come from.

    As the first round of debates among Democratic candidates for president clearly showed, the intellectual vitality of the Democratic Party right now is coming from progressives. On issue after issue, the vast majority of the candidates embraced views that have been seen as progressive priorities for years -- whether that may have been a pledge to provide healthcare for all or vows to repeal tax cuts benefiting the rich, whether it was prioritizing combating our climate crisis or seeking to combat economic, gender, and racial inequality in America.

    Indeed, as the uneven or faltering performance of its champions showed, it appears that the center is withering, offering only the formulations of the past that many see as having produced much of the inequality and many of the divisions and challenges of today.

    During the debates and indeed in recent years, it has been hard to identify one new "centrist" idea, one new proposal from the center that better deals with economic insecurity, climate, growth, equity, education, health, or inclusion. You won't find them in part because the ideas of the center are so based on compromise, and for most of the past decade it has been clear, there is no longer a functioning, constructive right of center group with which to compromise.

  • Aaron Rupar: The Democratic debates helped demonstrate the dubiousness of online polls: "Gabbard and Yang were the big winners -- on Drudge, at least."

  • Dylan Scott: Kamala Harris's raised hand reveals the fraught politics of Medicare-for-all. This refers to one of the more weaselly moments in the two debates, where the moderators asked for a show of hands of those who would "abolish private health insurance." The only candidates who raised their hands were Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. The framing was designed to split the ranks of Democrats who believe health care should be a universal right, but have different ideas about how to get that from where we are now: creating a public option under Obamacare would help, and/or allowing individuals or various groups to buy into Medicare, are approaches that have broad support. Moreover, nearly everyone who supports those schemes (and for that matter who opposes them) believes that a public insurance program would ultimately drive for-profit private insurance companies out of the arena, even if they were never explicitly prohibited. But the other thing that's confusing about the question is that many (if not most) of the current users of Medicare have private supplemental insurance policies, which pick up most of the co-payments and shortages that current Medicare sticks you with. Sanders' plan would fill in those holes, truly eliminating the need for supplemental insurance, but to most people the words "Medicare for all" leaves open a role for some kind of private supplemental insurance.

  • Danny Sjursen:

    • The Tulsi effect: forcing war onto the Democratic agenda. Misleading to say "she is the only candidate who has made ending the wars a centerpiece of her campaign," as several others are leaning more or less strongly in that direction, but her scrap with Tim Ryan is worth recounting. I don't give her military background anything like the special weight she claims. I'd rather people not have to learn lessons the hard way, but it says something when they do.

    • The Democratic Party can't escape its own militarism: Mostly on Beto O'Rourke, who seems to be hitting this theme hard. Sjursen, like Andrew Bacevich, is an ex-military anti-war conservative, which gives him some peculiar opinions (like favoring bringing back the draft) and no sympathy whatsoever for liberal Democrats. I think at least part of the reason so many of the latter feel so warm and cozy with veterans is that they're desperately trying to bring back a social ethic of public service and common good, and they think that the most undeniable example of that is the people who join the military. I doubt that's a general rule, but there are people who fit that bill, and Democrats have been eager to run them for office.

  • David Smith: No country for old white men: Kamala Harris heralds changing of the guard. Cute title, but unfair to group Biden and Sanders in the photo. Harris attacked the former, but held her hand up with Sanders on the public health care insurance question. I rarely get bent out of shape when people generalize about "old white men" (or "straight male Caucasian") but here it ignores the fact that Biden and Sanders have virtually nothing else in common, and that Sanders has had to work very hard and overcome a lot of adversity to earn a spot on that stage (wasn't Biden first inept run for president in 1988?). Even today he's more likely to be attacked for who he is than anyone else in the candidate roster (not that anyone makes a point of his being Jewish). The only reason he didn't make Smith's "standouts" list -- other than prejudice -- is that he's been outstanding for so long that reporters are starting to take him for granted.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

  • Li Zhou: 14 political experts on why the first Democratic debates were history-making.

You might also find these links useful:

One of my right-wing Facebook friends posted a meme from Fox News with a picture of Bill de Blasio and a quote: "There's plenty of money in this world. There's plenty of money in this country, it's just in the wrong hands. We Democrats have to fix that." Only thing my friend ever posted that I agreed with, and this time completely. The comments validated my suspicion that the poster expected readers to react with horror. I was tempted to comment, or to just give it a big love emoji, but lost the opportunity.


Beyond the candidates and debates, some scattered links this week:

Finally, some book reviews/notes:


Miscellaneous Notes

One of my right-wing Facebook friends posted an image from Fox News with a picture of Bill de Blasio and a quote: "There's plenty of money in this world. There's plenty of money in this country, it's just in the wrong hands. We Democrats have to fix that." Nothing more, as if that's self-evidently absurd or insane. But I agree with de Blasio, completely.

Greg Magarian, on Facebook, along with this link:

Alabama (1) imposes excessive criminal liability on (2) an African-American woman for (3) the death of her fetus from (4) shooting by a "law-abiding gun owner" whom the state isn't charging due to (5) its stand-your-ground law. Congratulations, Alabama -- you've hit right-wing lunatic bingo.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive.

Music: current count 31677 [31641] rated (+36), 264 [256] unrated (+8).

Spent most of the week exploring the Corbett vs. Dempsey catalogue, newly available on Bandcamp. I've been wanting to do that for a while now -- even wrote them an unanswered letter after Amarcord Nino Rota and others placed strong in last year's Jazz Critics Poll. I even bought a couple of John Corbett's recent books (although not yet Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music, which looks like it parallels my own 1970s experience -- except that he covers a lot of jazz I only got to 20-30 years later). Corbett previously compiled the Unheard Music Series that Atavistic ran in the early 2000s, which brought 50-60 avant-jazz albums out from deep obscurity. Atavistic started in the 1990s as an avant-rock label (big names there were Swans and Lydia Lunch) before they picked up the Vandermark 5, which pulled them more into jazz. Not sure what happened to them, but most of their records are on Napster, so I complemented my CvD dive with a few Unheard titles (Tom Prehn, with one title on each and nothing else anywhere, got me going that way).

The result is a week which is very slanted toward avant-jazz, and mostly old music at that. I went with the CD release dates to decide which CvD records qualified as recent (2018 or later releases, with 2008 the dividing line between new and old music). I went ahead and included records I got to on Monday after my initial freeze Sunday night, figuring it's a short (4-week) month, and it would be nice to keep all this avant-jazz together. That added one more A- record, by Rodrigo Amado. I noted that Amado has another new record out, a duo on Astral Spirits. Their records are on Bandcamp, and I've reviewed a fair number of them there, but recently they've cut them back to 2 cuts each, so I usually don't bother with them, as they're not really reviewable as such. I made an exception here, hedging a bit based on 2/5 cuts. I decided to mark records like that "**?" in my annual list. When/if I get the chance to listen further, I'll revise.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Rodrigo Amado/Gonçalo Almeida/Onno Govaert [The Attic]: Summer Bummer (2018 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall (2014 [2019], Astral Spirits): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Albert Beger Quartet: The Gate (2017 [2019], NoBusiness): [cdr]: B+(***)
  • Hamid Drake/Joe McPhee: Keep Going (2018, Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Rosana Eckert: Sailing Home (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B
  • Mats Gustafsson/Jason Adasiewicz: Timeless (2017 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Dom Minasi/Juampy Juarez: Freeland (2018, Cirko): [r]: B+(*)
  • Thurston Moore/Frank Rosaly: Marshmallow Moon Decorum (2012 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Matt Olson: 789 Miles (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Marlene Rosenberg: MLK Convergence (2016 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Ken Vandermark/Mats Gustafsson: Verses (2013 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Amarcord Nino Rota (1981 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Steve Lacy: Stamps (1977-78 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Joe McPhee/Mats Gustafsson: Brace for Impact (2007 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • Fred Anderson Quartet: Dark Day + Live in Verona (1979 [2001], Atavistic Unheard Music Series, 2CD): [r]: A-
  • Fred Anderson Quartet: The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1 (1980 [2000], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(***)
  • Steve Beresford/Tristan Honsinger/David Toop/Toshinori Kondo: Double Indemnity/Imitation of Life (1980-81 [2001], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Peter Brötzmann Trio: For Adolphe Sax (1967 [2002], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Peter Brötzmann Sextet & Quartet: Nipples (1969 [2000], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Peter Brötzmann Sextet/Quartet: More Nipples (1969 [2003], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(***)
  • Günter Christmann/Torsten Müller/LaDonna Smith/Davey Williams: White Earth Streak (1983 [2002], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B
  • Guillermo Gregorio: Otra Musica: Tape Music, Fluxus & Free Improvisation in Buenos Aires 1963-70 (1963-70 [2000], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B
  • Mats Gustafsson: Torturing the Saxophone (2008-13 [2014], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Staffan Harde: Staffan Harde (1968-71 [2015], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Steve Lacy/Steve Potts Featuring the Voice of Irène Aebi: Tips (1979 [2015], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B-
  • Jimmy Lyons: Push Pull (1978 [2016], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Joe McPhee Quintet/Ernie Bostic Quartet: Live at Vassar 1970 (1970 [2011], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Joe McPhee: The Willisau Concert (1975 [2017], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Joe McPhee: Variations on a Blue Line/'Round Midnight (1977 [2012], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Joe McPhee: Glasses (1977 [2012], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Joe McPhee: Alone Together: The Solo Ensemble Recordings 1974 & 1979 (1974-79 [2015], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Joe McPhee & André Jaume: Nuclear Family (1979 [2016], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Louis Moholo/Larry Stabbins/Keith Tippett: Tern (1982 [2003], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: A-
  • Pipeline: Pipeline (2000 [2013], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Tom Prehn Quartet: Axiom (1963-66 [2015], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: A-
  • Tom Prehn Quartet: Prehn Kvartet (1967 [2001], Atavistic Unheard Music Series): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phillip Wilson: Esoteric (1977-78 [2016], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Gretje Angell: In Any Key (Grevlinto): July 25
  • Blind Lemon Jazz: After Hours: New Pages in the American Songbook (Ofeh): July 1
  • Mark Doyle: Watching the Detectives: Guitar Noir III (Free Will)
  • Pablo Embon: Reminiscent Moods (self-released): July 8
  • Bill Evans: Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance (Resonance)
  • Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter (self-released): July 19
  • Jazz Piano Panorama: The Best of Piano Jazz on Resonance ([2019], Resonance)
  • Wes Montgomery: Wes's Best: The Best of Wes Montgomery on Resonance (Resonance)
  • Sing a Song of Jazz: The Best of Vocal Jazz on Resonance (Resonance)
  • Zhenya Strigalev/Federico Dannemann: The Change (Rainy Days)
  • Rebekah Victoria: Songs of the Decades (Patois)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Weekend Roundup

The week's biggest, and most ominous, story was the Trump administration's decision to launch a "limited" missile attack on Iran, then the reversal of those orders minutes before execution. Here are some links:


Some scattered links this week:


Felt like making a rare political tweet today (tortured into fitting their character count limit, depending heavily on the reader's "cultural literacy"):

Another way Trump isn't Hitler: you can't imagine the latter announcing then postponing Kristallnacht two weeks. Real fascists made the trains run on time. Poseurs and wannabes flirt with evil, then make nice, like "good people on both sides." Vile, at least.

Other tweets I felt like saving:

  • @nycsouthpaw I wonder at Trump's dismal career. Assault after assault. Fraud piled upon fraud. An endless succession of victims churned up behind him like a ship's wake. Somehow cutting the web of consequence that ensnares and stops most bad men in time like a hull through so much blue water.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31641 [31614] rated (+27), 256 [251] unrated (+5).

Didn't expect to get to much music this week, but the planned project fell through. Responded to that by feeling listless and depressed, so not much of a recovery. Spent a lot of the time I did use on the Moserobie package, the extra plays merely confirming my first pass impressions. Finally started in on Weekend Roundup early Friday afternoon, and finally felt like I was getting something done -- wouldn't call it mindless, but the task posed enough structure to keep me going through the motions. The result was the most personally satisfying Weekend Roundup all year, plus I ticked off enough records to get close to my 30-per-week target.

The Jamila Woods album was recommended by Michael Tatum, who should have a new Downloader's Diary out this week. I gave it a spin when I first heard about it, and probably would have filed it as a mid-B+, but decided to hold off a while. Returned to it mid-week, and 3-4 plays got better and better. Followed up on some Downbeat jazz reviews -- nothing very good there -- and landed on a couple of Bandcamps that looked promising: Fundacja Sluchaj (François Carrier has been very good at sending me records, so I held off on his record there, but eventually couldn't wait), Unseen Rain (Dom Minasi sent me mail about his record there, and I found more), and Corbett vs. Dempsey (Jon Corbett's obscure reissue label, one I've long wanted to be able to cover). All typically offer the chance to listen to full albums, which makes them reviewable. (Many other Bandcamps have dropped down to a sample cut or two, which makes them unusable for reviews -- that's the main reason I miss more Ken Vandermark albums than I hear these days.) More on the CvD next week, and probably for several weeks to come.

Spoke too soon about NoBusiness dropping me, as I got a big package early last week. The Sam Rivers set was the one I had heard about, so I jumped on it first. Would have been a high B+ had I used their Bandcamp, but having the CD and booklet encouraged me to play it a few extra times.

I also looked up what I've been missing from Intakt -- two monthly packages so far, so four releases -- but nothing looked critical right now (with Fred Frith's 3-CD live set the most imposing). They have a Bandcamp as well, but recent releases only have a couple of cuts available. I think the full records are on Napster -- at least the old ones are -- so I'll catch up there, but no rush.

The Team Dresch reissues were all I got from looking at Pitchfork's Best New Music page -- something I rarely check, but Woods and Denzel Curry are also listed there, along with a Don Cherry reissue of an album (Brown Rice) I gave a B+ to long, long ago, and Slowthai's Nothing Great About Britain (a high B+ last week).

New batch of Robert Christgau's XgauSez questions and answers up tonight. Still hope to launch something like that myself.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Fabian Almazan Trio: This Land Abounds With Life (2018 [2019], Biophilia): [r]: B+(*)
  • Brad Barrett/Joe Morris/Tyshawn Sorey: Cowboy Transfiguration (2018 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(***)
  • François Carrier/Alexander Hawkins/John Edwards/Michel Lambert: Nirguna (2017 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Trish Clowes: Ninety Degrees Gravity (2019, Basho): [r]: B+(**)
  • Anat Cohen Tentet: Triple Helix (2019, Anzic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Denzel Curry: Zuu (2019, Loma Vista): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fennesz: Agora (2019, Touch): [r]: B
  • Mark Guiliana: Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! (2019, Motéma): [r]: B
  • Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (2018 [2019], Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • Angelique Kidjo: Celia (2019, Verve): [r]: B+(*)
  • La La Lars: La La Lars II (2019, Headspin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Matt Lavelle Quartet: Hope (2019, Unseen Rain): [r]: B+(**)
  • Xavier Lecouturier: Carrier (2018 [2019], Origin): [cd]: B
  • Greta Matassa: Portrait (2019, Origin): [cd]: B
  • Dom Minasi: Remembering Cecil (2019, Unseen Rain): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Nobject [Martin Küchen/Rafal Mazur/Vasco Trilla]: X-Rayed (2018 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: B+(**)
  • RPM: Just Like Falling (2019, Unseen Rain): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Erik Skov: Liminality (2018 [2019], OA2): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Ståhls Trio: Källtorp Sessions: Volume One (2017-18 [2019], Moserobie): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Mary Stallings: Songs Were Made to Sing (2019, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (2019, Jagjaguwar): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Agustí Fernández With William Parker & Susie Ibarra: One Night at the Joan Miró Foundation: July 16th 1998 (1998 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): [bc]: A-
  • Beaver Harris-Don Pullen 360° Experience: A Well Kept Secret (1984 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Sam Rivers Trio: Emanation (1971 [2019], NoBusiness): [cd]: A-
  • Team Dresch: Personal Best (1994 [2019], Jealous Butcher, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Team Dresch: Choices, Chances, Changes: Singles & Comptracks 1994-2000 (1994-2000 [2019], Jealous Butcher): [r]: B+(*)


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • The Attic: Summer Bummer (NoBusiness)
  • Albert Beger Quartet: The Gate (NoBusiness)
  • Whit Dickey/Kirk Knuffke: Drone Dream (NoBusiness): cdr
  • Kang Tae Hwan/Midori Takada: An Eternal Moment (1995, NoBusiness)
  • Jan Maksimovic/Dimitrij Golovanov: Thousand Seconds of Our Life (NoBusiness)
  • Jenna McLean: Brighter Day (Moddl)
  • Sunny Murray/Bob Dickie/Robert Andreano: Homework (1994, NoBusiness)
  • Sam Rivers Trio: Emanation (1971, NoBusiness)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekend Roundup

Quite a bit below. After a very depressing/blasé week, I got an early start on Friday, and started feeling better -- not for the nation or the world, but pleased to be occupied with some straightforward, tangible work. One thing I can enjoy some optimism about is the Democratic presidential campaign. I expected it to be swallowed whole with the sort of vacant, pious clichés that Obama and the Clintons have been campaigning on for decades now, but what we're actually seeing is a lot of serious concern for policy. The clear leader in that regard is Elizabeth Warren, and of course Bernie Sanders has a complete matching set with if anything a little more courage and conviction, but I've run across distinct and refreshing ideas from another half-dozen candidates. I haven't noticed Biden rising to that challenge yet. He remains the main beneficiary of as fairly widespread faction that would be quite satisfied with their lives if only the Republican threat would subside in favor of the quiet competency Obama brought to government. Personally, I wouldn't mind that either, but I recognize that has a lot to do with my age. Young people inhabit a very different world, one with less opportunity and much graver risks, so platitudes from America's liberal past don't do them much good, or offer much hope. They face real and growing problems, and not just from Republicans (although those are perhaps the hoariest). Talking about policy actually offers them some prospect that faith alone can never fill. And sooner or later, even Biden's going to have to talk about policy, because that's where the campaign is heading.

This could hardly offer a starker contrast to the 2016 Republican presidential primary, where there was virtually no difference regarding policy -- just minor tweaks to each candidate's plan to steer more of the nation's wealth to the already rich, along with a slight range of hues on how hawkish one can be on the forever wars and how racist one can be when dealing with immigrants and the underclass. The real price of entry wasn't ideas or commitment. It was just the necessity to line up one or more billionaire sponsors -- turf that credibly favored Trump as his billionaire/candidate were one. The fact that Cruz and Kasich folded when they still had primaries they could plausibly have won is all the proof you need that the financiers pulled the strings, and as soon as they understood that Trump would win the nomination, they understood that he was as good for their purposes as anyone else, so they got on board.

Democrats may have a harder time finding unity in 2020, because their candidates are actually divided on issues that matter. On the other hand, they are learning to discuss those issues rationally, especially the candidates who are pushing the Overton Window left. Even if they wind up nominating some kind of centrist, that person is going to be more open to solutions from the left, and that's a good thing because that's where the real solutions are. Franklin Roosevelt wasn't any kind of leftist when he was elected in 1932, and his famous 100 days were all over the map, but he was open to trying things, and quickly found out that left solutions worked better than conservative ones. We're not quite as mired in crisis as America was in 1932, but it's pretty clear that catastrophe is coming if Trump and the Republicans stay in power. The option for 2020 is whether to face our problems calmly and rationally with deliberate policy choices or to continue to thrash reflexively and chaotically. There's no need to imagine how bad the latter may be, because Trump's illustrating it perfectly day by day.


Some scattered links this week:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Daily Log

My tweet on Trump's boast to the president of Poland that "much of the media unfortunately in this country is corrupt":

So Trump tells president of Poland that the media in this country is corrupt. Would have been smarter to add "that's why we don't have to censor them." Or that he's built his career by exploiting that corruption. But he's so vain he'd like to censor anyway.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: current count 31614 [31587] rated (+27), 251 [248] unrated (+3).

Ran the numbers late Sunday evening, but added Monday's unpacking, so the numbers have a slight skew from reality. I'm especially pleased to get a copy of Orakel, the Swedish label Moserobie. It's currently ranked number two on Chris Monsen's Favorites list, and follows a Moserobie release that topped my own 2018 list. It's gotten very expensive to mail CDs from Europe to the US recently, and several of the last few labels I've been getting service from seem to have dropped out (the ones I've felt the worst about are Intakt and NoBusiness, plus Clean Feed a couple years back). With labels like that, I try to find streaming sources, but it's not always easy.

Joe Yanosik wrote to tell me he's working up a Franco discography, and asked whether I've considered doing a deep dive, especially into his numerous Sonodisc recordings. I had, in fact, picked up a couple of them in my shopping days, and have generally enjoyed everything I picked up. Napster has a few of them I hadn't heard, so before long I started working my way through them -- limiting myself to ones I could figure out dates for. The grades below split 3 A-, 4 B+(***), but there wasn't all that much to separate best from worst.

Notable music links this week:

  • Hank Shteamer: Anthony Braxton's Big Ideas.

  • New York City Jazz Record: I've never managed to see this before, although it seems like most of the Jazz Critics Poll voters write for it. I was first struck by Kurt Gottschalk's label spotlight on Fundacja Sluchaj -- a Polish label I follow fairly closely because they put whole records up on Bandcamp.


New records reviewed this week:

  • Akiko Hamilton Dechter: Equal Time (2018 [2019], Capri): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Angles 9: Beyond Us (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Big Thief: U.F.O.F. (2019, 4AD): [r]: A-
  • Alan Broadbent Trio: New York Notes (2019, Savant): [r]: A-
  • Avishai Cohen: Arvoles (2019, Razdaz/Sunnyside): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Satoko Fujii/Ramon Lopez: Confluence (2018 [2019], Libra): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve (2019, Senaca Village): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kedr Livanskiy: Your Need (2019, 2MR): [r]: B
  • Rosie Lowe: Yu (2019, Wolf Tone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kelsey Lu: Blood (2019, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • Martha: Love Keeps Kicking (2019, Dirtnap): [r]: B+(**)
  • Orville Peck: Pony (2019, Sub Pop): [r]: B-
  • Red Kite: Red Kite (2019, RareNoise): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Chanda Rule: Sapphire Dreams (2016 [2019], PAO): [cd]: B
  • The Jamie Saft Quartet: Hidden Corners (2019, RareNoise): [r]: [cdr]: B+(**)
  • The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (2019, Rock Action): [r]: B
  • Federico Ughi: Transoceanico (2016 [2019], 577): [r]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: When Will the Blues Leave (1999 [2019], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Alex Chilton: Songs From Robin Hood Lane (1991-94 [2019], Bar/None): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Franco Et TP OK Jazz: 1966/1968 (1966-68 [1992], Sonodisc): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco Et TP OK Jazz: 1967/1968 (1967-68 [1992], Sonodisc): [r]: A-
  • Franco & Le TP OK Jazz: 1971/1972: Likambo Ya Ngana (1971-72 [1994], Sonodisc): [r]: A-
  • Franco, Vicky Et L'OK Jazz: Marceline Oh! Oh! (1972 [1998], Sonodisc): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco Et Le T.P. OK Jazz: 79/80/81 Live: Kinshasa Makambo (1979-81 [1994], Sonodisc): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco Et Le TP OK Jazz: Makambo Ezali Bourreau: 1982/1984/1985 (1982-85 [1994], Sonodisc): [r]: B+(***)
  • Franco/Simaro/Jolie Detta Et Le T.P. O.K. Jazz: 1986-1987-1988 (1986-88 [1994], Sonodisc): [r]: A-


Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sharman Duran: Questioning Reality (self-released)
  • Rosana Eckert: Sailing Home (OA2): June 21
  • Per 'Texas' Johansson/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Konrad Agnas: Orakel (Moserobie)
  • La La Lars: La La Lars II (Headspin)
  • Xavier Lecouturier: Carrier (Origin): June 21
  • Greta Matassa: Portrait (Origin): June 21
  • Moutin Factory Quintet: Mythical River (Laborie Jazz)
  • Matt Olson: 789 Miles (OA2): June 21
  • Marlene Rosenberg: MLK Convergence (Origin): June 21
  • Chanda Rule: Sapphire Dreams (PAO)
  • Erik Skov: Liminality (OA2): June 21
  • Ståhls Trio: Källtorp Sessions: Volume One (Moserobie)


   Mar 2001