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Monday, July 06, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, July archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33567 [33526] rated (+41), 212 [211] unrated (+1).

I've been ambivalent about adding mid-year lists to the metacritic file. Last couple years I actually started with those lists, but this year I've been collecting ratings pretty extensively, so the current file should provide you with a fairly accurate account of critical consensus on records so far. More importantly, the method should continue to work week in, week out through the end of the year. Right now, the ratings (with points in braces, and, where available, my grades in brackets):

  1. Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG) {58} [A-]
  2. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic) {54} [A-]
  3. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud (Merge) {46} [A-]
  4. Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (Columbia) {40} [A-]
  5. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (Dead Oceans) {38} [**]
  6. Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (Warner) {34} [A-]
  7. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20) {34} [A-]
  8. Haim: Women in Music Pt III (Columbia) {33} [**]
  9. Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (Matador) {31} [*]
  10. Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) {30} [**]
  11. Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope) {28} [*]
  12. Drive-By Truckers: The Unraveling (ATO) {27} [A-]
  13. Thundercat: It Is What It Is (Brainfeeder) {27} [B]
  14. Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (Interscope) {26} [***]
  15. Shabaka and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here by History (Impulse!) {25} [A-]
  16. Soccer Mommy: Color Theory (Loma Vista) {25} [***]
  17. Yves Tumor: Heaven to a Tortured Mind(Warp) {25} [**]
  18. Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (Asylum) {25} [***]
  19. Moses Sumney: Grae (Jagjaguwar) {23} [B]
  20. Gil Scott-Heron: We're New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven (XL) {22} [**]
  21. Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (4AD) {22} [***]
  22. Lady Gaga: Chromatica (Interscope) {21} [***]
  23. Pearl Jam: Gigaton (Monkeywrench/Republic) {20} []
  24. Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (Caroline) {19} [*]
  25. Cornershop: England Is a Garden (Ample Play) {19} [A-]
  26. Destroyer: Have We Met (Merge) {19} [*]
  27. Halsey: Manic (Capitol) {19} [***]
  28. Laura Marling: Song for Our Daughter (Chrysalis/Partisan) {19} [**]
  29. Mac Miller: Circles (Warner) {19} [A-]
  30. Rina Sawayama: Sawayama (Dirty Hit) {19} [B-]
  31. US Girls: Heavy Light (4AD) {19} [B-]
  32. Hayley Williams: Petals of Armor (Atlantic) {19} [*]

Well, it's skewed somewhat. Some of the lists I monitor are from friendly sources, and that moves the consensus a bit toward things that are more likely to interest me. Also, I don't skip sources that focus exclusively on metal or classical, though I occasionally pick up samples of each from elsewhere. The idea is less to sample public opinion than it is to sift through it to find things that might be interesting to review. And while this top-32 (despite the numbers, everything from 24-32 are tied). But I also feel entitled to add in some points myself (matching the points for Robert Christgau's grades; all other sources are treated as one point each mention as noted in the legend).

I skewed the results further by adding in mid-year lists scraped from the Expert Witness Facebook group, comments to a July 2 post. I picked up lists from: Steve Alter, Kevin Bozelka, Jeffrey D. Callahan, Joey Daniewicz, Chris Gray, Paul Hayden, Eric Johnson, Tom Lane, Brad Luen, Eric Marcus, Greg Morton, Stan Piccirilli, Harden Smith, John Speranza, Thomas Walker, plus a few bits from others I had already been following (especially Chris Monsen). In compiling these lists, I've omitted records that didn't qualify by my relaxed 2020 standards (which include all December 2019 releases and any other 2019 releases that didn't appear in my 2019 EOY aggregate). Also note that the lists almost always identify records by artist name only, so I had to guess here and there. (Old releases I didn't tally were: Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko, Kefaya + Elaha Soroor, Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage, Post Malone, Red Velvet, Matana Roberts, Kalie Shorr.)

All this skewing probably contributed to me grading 10 (of 32) records A-, 6 more B+(***). If you subtract my points, Christgau's, the Expert Witness lists, Monsen, Phil Overeem, and Tim Niland, the list would run: Phoebe Bridgers {33}, Run the Jewels {32}, Fiona Apple/Haim {31}, Perfume Genius/Waxahatchie {30}, Caribou {28}, Bob Dylan/Tame Impala {27}, Thundercat {25}, Dua Lipa {24}, Yves Tumor/Charli XCX {22}, Moses Sumney {21}, Pearl Jam/Soccer Mommy {20}, US Girls/Jessie Ware {19}.

The new records below mostly came from the Expert Witness lists -- expecially from Monsen (6). The other big block is a bunch of records by the late Freddy Cole. I've long recommended two later records -- The Dreamer in Me (2009) and Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B (2010) -- so I was especially surprised to find my favorite among the rest was his 1964 debut. Milt Hinton and Osie Johnson are names I know well, but this also made me want to explore saxophonist Sam "The Man" Taylor. He recorded quite a bit, but only has one compilation on Napster, and I passed on it due to lack of discography.

Ennio Morricone (91) has died. He was possibly the most famous soundtrack composer of the last 50-60 years. I've always harbored an active dislike for soundtrack albums, which is probably why I've never delved into his, despite much enjoying his music in the context of the movies. I can recommend his 1987 compilation on Virgin, Film Music, Volume 1.

Another recent death was English bassist Simon H. Fell (61), another musician I've heard very little from. I dutifully listed 12 of his titles, all highly touted by Penguin Guide, in my shopping list/database, but never found a one of them, so I've only heard one more recent album -- SFE (2011, Clean Feed) [B+(***)]. That's not likely to change much. I see that selections from most of his albums are available on Bandcamp, but none complete enough for me to review.

I am toying with the idea of taking notes on fractional albums, since that would seem to offer a way to glimpse much of the work that I find currently inaccessible. I currently use U to designate records that I possess a copy of but haven't graded yet. I'm tempted to add a new U+ for records I've only heard part of but would like to hear more, and U- for records I've heard enough of to doubt any further interest. One reason I haven't done this is that I'm not sure how the programs would deal with the introduction of a new grade. I wouldn't want to count U+ or U- albums as graded, or as ungraded (a number I've been trying to whittle down, without much success lately).

One question in the queue, which I'll probably get to this week. By all means, please ask more.

New records reviewed this week:

  • 6lack: 6pc Hot EP (2020, Interscope, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (2019 [2020], Moserobie): [cd]: A-
  • Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: Faces of Souls (2015-19 [2020], Leo): [r]: B+(*)
  • Aksak Maboul: Figures (2020, Crammed Discs): [r]: B+(**)
  • James Carney Sextet: Pure Heart (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Drakeo the Ruler: Thank You for Using GTL (2020, Stinc Team): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hegge: Feeling (2020, Particular): [r]: B+(***)
  • Derrick Hodge: Color of Noize (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B
  • John Pål Inderberg Trio: Radio Inderberg (2019 [2020], AMP Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Edward "Kidd" Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder: Live at Vision Festival XXIV (2019 [2020], Mahakala Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Machine Girl: U-Void Synthesizer (2020, 1818199 DK2): [r]: B-
  • Nicole Mitchell/Lisa E. Harris: Earthseed (2017 [2020], FPE): [r]: C-
  • Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (2020, self-released): [cd]: B
  • Hedvig Mollestad: Ekhidna (2020, Rune Grammofon): [r]: A-
  • Willie Nelson: First Rose of Spring (2020, Legacy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pere Ubu: By Order of Mayor Pawlicki: Live in Jarocin (2017 [2020], Cherry Red): [r]: B+(**)
  • Francis Quinlan: Likewise (2020, Saddle Creek): [r]: B+(*)
  • Jorge Roeder: El Suelo Mio (2020, T-Town): [r]: B+(*)
  • Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen: Hold My Beer, Vol. 2 (2020, Lil' Buddy Toons): [r]: B+(*)
  • Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch (2020, Already Dead): [r]: B
  • Sault: Untitled (Black Is) (2020, Forever Living Originals): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Øyvind Skarbø/Fredrik Ljungkvist/Kris Davis/Ole Morten Vågan: Inland Empire (2016 [2020], Clean Feed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (2020, Jazzmax): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Grant Stewart Quartet: Rise and Shine (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jessie Ware: What's Your Pleasure? (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • Bobby Watson: Keepin' It Real (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B
  • Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God II (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hailey Whitters: The Dream (2020, Pigasus): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971 [2020], Americas Musicworks, 2CD): [cd]: B+(***) [07-17]

Old music:

  • Freddy Cole: "Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues": Freddy Cole Plays & Sings Some Lonely Ballads (1964, Dot): [r]: A-
  • Freddy Cole: The Cole Nobody Knows (1973, First Shot): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: One More Love Song (1978, Poker): [r]: B
  • Freddy Cole: I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me (1990 [2004], High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: This Is the Life (1993 [2003], Savoy Jazz): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: To the Ends of the Earth (1997, Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: Love Makes the Changes (1998, Fantasy): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: Le Grand Freddy: Freddy Cole Sings the Music of Michel Legrand (1994-99 [1999], Fantasy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Freddy Cole: This Love of Mine (2005, High Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddy Cole: He Was the King (2016, High Note): [r]: B+(*)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Gregory Dudzienski Quartet: Beautiful Moments (OA2) [07-17]
  • Bartosz Hadala Group: Three Short Stories (Zecernia)
  • Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra: The Planets: Reimagined (OA2) [07-17]
  • Quinsin Nachoff: Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind) [08-07]
  • Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy: The Coalescence (ESP-Disk)
  • Soft Machine: Live at the Baked Potato (Moonjune)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

The Wichita Eagle doesn't publish a paper edition on Saturdays any more, so I had to scrounge around for something to read with breakfast. Picked up the 4 June 2020 London Review of Books, and started reading Eliot Weinberg's lead article, "The American Virus":

As confirmed American coronavirus deaths pass 67,000, the president declares, in an interview with Fox News held inside the Lincoln Memorial, where events are traditionally banned: "They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse." A Twitter wit writes that, for the massive marble sculpture looming above, "It was the second worst thing Lincoln ever watched."

Internal White House documents predict three thousand American deaths a day by the end off May. The president weeets: "Getting great reviews, finally, for how well we are handling the pandemic." He retweets that the Trump Turnberry golf course has been named by Golf World magazine as the best golf course in the UK and Ireland for 2020. . . .

Republicans continue the fight against voting by mail. (The president has said that if this were universally allowed, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again," though he himself mails in his ballot.) In Wisconsin in April, the Republican-majority Supreme Court had demanded that voters appear in person, leading to a spike in infections. In Texas, which permits voting by mail for the ill, the attorney general rules that fear of Covid-19 is an "emotional reaction . . . and does not, by itself, amount to a 'sickness.'"

Signs at the many protests at state capitols against the lockdown, where crowds wave Confederate and "Don't Tread on Me" flags and (legally) carry assault riffles:


In the ten days after the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, reopens gyms, spas, hair salons, tattoo parlours and other essential services, confirmed coronavirus cases in the state rise by 42 per cent.

Of course, this is one news, but not very old. The death count has nearly doubled since this was written (132,000 on Saturday; the 67,000 figure dates to April 25). The anti-lockdown demonstrations receded as all states followed Georgia in re-opening non-essential businesses, mostly with the same increase in infections. One thing that hasn't changed is Trump's fetish for large statues, once again selecting a large stone Lincoln for his July 4 spectacle. (See: Jordan Muller: Trump seeks to claim the mantle of history in fiery Mount Rushmore address.)

But the Fourth of July celebrations were a side show. The big article this week is Derek Hawkins/Marisa Iati/Jacqueline Dupree: Seven-day average case total in the US sets record for 27th straight day.

Some scattered links this week:

  • Kate Aronoff:

  • David Atkins:

    • Universal basic income continues to gain mainstream support due to COVID-19. By the way, I just finished Rutger Bregman's Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World, which starts with UBI, which pointed out that the idea was widely considered in the early 1970s: he cites Nixon's interest, but my recollection is more McGovern. I recall reading several books on it back then, especially by Robert Theobald (1929-99), best known for Free Men and Free Markets (1963). For a new piece on UBI: Luke Savage: Want to fight poverty? Give poor people money.

    • Why a movement like Trumpism doesn't have a future. The takeaway from the Mt. Rushmore speech:

      It is no accident that the same president who delivered this revanchist, defensive Fourth of July message also could not articulate a single second-term policy priority in front of a friendly interviewer. The gauzy haze of nostalgia that it activates in the conservative mind can be good at whipping up certain kinds of votes, but it cannot serve as the basis for a coherent policy platform. It can encode certain sentiments -- that America should be primarily for white evangelical Christians and run primarily by older white men -- but those sentiments are not only deeply unpopular, they run contrary to the actual words of most of the country's founding documents and the majority of the last century's constitutional jurisprudence.

      Trump has failed on policy at every level because his vision is difficult to translate into legislation, and when articulated almost impossible to enact democratically. As a substitute for literally Making America White Again, building a big wall, enacting travel bans on certain countries or putting migrant children into cages is not only unpopular and villainous, it's also difficult to do legislatively and simply ineffectual in accomplishing the task. That's why these sorts of right-wing populist jabs have historically been culture war red meat designed to keep the bigots distracted while the rich people in charge made off the loot in the form of subsidies and tax cuts. So has it been also with Trump: his base gets to feel like they owned the "libs," but in actuality the only structurally significant outcomes have been tax cuts and giveaways for rich corporate executives and a raft of corporate-friendly judges. Meanwhile, everyone else gets the shaft economically -- including his own downwardly-mobile supporters. . . .

      Trump's vision has no future at all and cannot be negotiated or compromised with. Even if it weren't morally repulsive, it would still be a dead-end for what politics is supposed to be all about: solving problems. During more frivolous times that might not be seem like such a big deal: after all, in 2016 many people voted for Trump out of a sense of "let's see what happens" bored amusement. Many thought that the country essentially ran itself, so why not put a showman in charge? Well, we've now seen what happens.

    • The Trump administration is giving up on fighting the pandemic: The term narrowly considered, meaning the political operatives in and near the White House: the conscious, political direction. But the term is more often used to refer to the whole executive branch, which still harbors countless anonymous bureaucrats who are merely doing their jobs, or trying to (despite political obstacles).

  • Mike Baker/Jennifer Valentino-DeVries/Manny Fernandez/Michael LaForgia: Three words. 70 cases. The tragic history of 'I can't breathe.'

  • Dan Balz: Trump turned July Fourth into a partisan event. The damage could be long-lasting.

  • William J Barber/Phyllis Bennis: The police and the pentagon are bringing our wars home.

  • Medea Benjamin/Nicolas JS Davies: Trump's record on foreign policy: Lost wars, new conflicts, and broken promises.

  • Matt Bruenig: The racial wealth gap is about the upper classes.

  • James Bruno: Netanyahu wants to annex the West Bank. Will Joe Biden stop him? Argues: "The Democratic nominee needs to be clear: the move would come with real consequences if he's elected." I doubt that: annexation will be baked into "the facts on the ground" by the time Biden can take office, and he has never shown any evidence of standing up to (or even questioning) Israel. Moreover, while the US has given lip service to a "two-state solution" for a long time, the US has never really done anything to make it happen. The problem Netanyahu faces most immediately is losing European support to BDS -- that would be a "real consequence." Longer term, Israel risks losing its bedrock Democratic Party base -- not Biden directly, but people Biden will ultimately depend on, and who will eventually follow him. Netanyahu may think annexation will be the great finale of his career, but it will leave his successors in an impossible situation, as a pariah nation with an unassimilable and rebellious underclass. On some level, he must realize that every Black Lives Matter placcard that's appeared all around the world the last few months can easily be repurposed to point a finger at him.

  • Jonathan Chait: Trump blames losing campaign on listening to 'woke Jared': "Trump decides to ignore his son-in-law and focus on voters who fear he isn't racist enough."

  • Jane Coaston: Social conservatives feel betrayed by the Supreme Court -- and the GOP that appointed it.

  • EJ Dionne Jr: A vicious culture war is all Trump has left. Also: Zeeshan Aleem: Trump is going all in on divisive culture wars. That might not work this time.

    In his speeches this weekend, Trump positioned himself as a guardian of American identity, depicting protests against police brutality and racism -- which have slowed significantly in recent weeks, and have been largely peaceful -- in paranoid and cartoonish terms as a "fascist" threat to the republic.

    It should be noted that Trump's claims of the existence of "far-left fascism" are fundamentally incoherent: fascism is a right-wing form of ultranationalism calling for a rebirth of a nation or race, and that has nothing to do with liberal and left-wing calls for an end to police brutality and racism. But that didn't stop Trump from making it the central message of his speeches, which aimed to sensationalize the issue of protests and statue-toppling.

    Speaking at Mount Rushmore, amid peaceful protests led by members of the Sioux Nation meant to underscore the fact the monument was built on stolen and sacred land, Trump promised that the South Dakota monument "will never be desecrated." And he went on to describe the ongoing re-evaluation of public symbols of racism in American life as a threat to civilization.

  • W Ralph Eubanks: The Confederate flag finally falls in Mississippi.

  • M Steven Fish/Neil A Abrams/Laila M Aghaie: Make liberalism great again: "Liberals around the world have let right-wing authoritarians claim patriotism as their own, with disastrous consequences. It's time to take it back." This is a long article, only given a cursory glance, partly because while I'm not unsympathetic to those who would like to present a progressive agenda in the context of America's oft-stated, rarely-realized ideals -- cf. Jill Lepore's This America: The Case for the Nation, backed by her longer These Truths: A History of the United States, or (much better) Ganesh Sitaraman's The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution -- I don't find it very satisfactory to go to all that trouble only to end up with another paean to old-fashioned, left-hating liberalism. But also, deep down, I just don't care much for the idea of patriotism, which has been left to the right to debase as knee-jerk militarist idolatry precisely because both liberals and the left (who are really just liberals who emphasize that universal rights means everyone, not just individuals) feel any real need to limit their horizons to a single nation. Consequently, much of the framing pushed here sounds like bullshit, more or less on the same level as the right-wing's patriotic claims.

  • Nima Gerami: To defeat systemic racism, America must end endless war. Well, America's systemic racism predates "endless war," even the sporadic imperial wars against Mexico (1848) and Cuba/Philippines (1898), which it colored and conditioned -- one can trace it back to the Indian wars of the 17th century. Still, every new war gins up yet another wave of racism, as we've seen clearly in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East (despite the efforts of Bush et seq. to exempt "our allies" in and around Saudi Arabia). By the way, "endless war" perpetuates much more than racism. Most obviously, there's gun violence. Also see:

  • Amy Goldstein: Voters in deep-red Oklahoma approve Medicaid expansion. I have no doubt this would pass in Kansas if the voters are given the chance. Almost passed in the legislature this year, spoiled only by Senate majority leader Susan Wagle refusing to schedule a vote.

  • Graig Graziosi: Trump ally Herman Cain who attended Tulsa rally hospitalized with coronavirus. Of course, he didn't necessary get the virus there. He also traveled to "a lot of places" that week, including hotspot Arizona. Related?

  • Miranda Green: It will take years to undo the damage from Trump's environmental rollback: "Even if Democrats win back the White House and the Senate, it will be a long struggle to restore the regulations the Republican-controlled EPA has erased."

  • Glenn Greenwald: House Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, restrict Trump's planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Germany. Jason Crow (D-CO) co-sponsored the amendment with Cheney. This particular amendment was approved 45-11, opposed by 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

  • Ryan Grim: National Review is trying to rewrite its own racist history. One thing I've long been struck by is how virulently racist 1950s conservatives were, especially William F Buckley. (Nancy McLean's Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America has many examples.) Barry Goldwater denied that he was a racist when opposing civil rights laws -- something I could never square with his supposedly principled positions on individual freedom, but which made sense given how inextricably the 1950s conservative project was bound up with the support of segregation and white supremacy.

  • Gabrielle Gurley: This time, it's the Democrats' infrastructure week: "House Democrats steered an ambitious transportation and infrastructure plan through the chamber. Structured more like a wish list, it's dead on arrival in the Senate."

  • Bob Harris/Jon Schwarz: Carl Reiner's life should remind us: If you like laughing, thank FDR and the New Deal. The comedian died at 94 last week. He got his start in a WPA class for would-be actors. The New Deal had a number of programs to support the arts in the 1930s. A similar effort would be a great idea today, but doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda. It is currently impossible for most musicians to make their usual living performing, but they could be paid to record music and make it freely available over the Internet.

  • Jeet Heer: Trolling Trump, the Lincoln Project also peddles militarism: "The Never Trump super PAC makes entertaining ads that get under the president's skin -- but progressives should take a closer look at their agenda." When asked about the maxim that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," Richard Stallman noted that was, at best, an heuristic. I doubt it's even that useful. It's easy to get seduced by people who hate Trump for totally wrong reasons, like for making conservatives look bad, or for failing to be a monomaniacal hawk like John Bolton.

    Writing in The Atlantic, conservative writer Andrew Ferguson, no fan of the president, criticized the Lincoln Project for fighting Trump with Trumpian means. He described the ads as "personally abusive, overwrought, pointlessly salacious, and trip-wired with non sequiturs."

    This ethical critique has merit, but the real problem with the Lincoln Project is political. To the extent that the ads articulate any political vision, it is a desire to return to the hard-line military aggression of the George W. Bush era.

    On Tuesday, the Lincoln Project released an ad addressing accusations that Trump hasn't protected American troops in Afghanistan from a bounty on their lives supposedly placed by the Russian government. The ad, titled "Betrayed," features Dr. Dan Barkhuff, a physician and former Navy SEAL. "Months ago, Donald Trump learned the Russians were paying a bounty for dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and chose to do nothing about it," Barkhuff said. "Any commander in chief with a spine would be stomping the living shit out of some Russians right now -- diplomatically, economically, or, if necessary, with the sort of asymmetric warfare they're using to send our kids home in body bags." He added, "Mr. Trump, you're either a coward who can't stand up to an ex-KGB goon, or you're complicit. Which is it?"

    The article cites a bunch of liberals who applauded this ad. On some level, I don't care why people decide to oppose Trump, but I do worry about people who encourage Biden to be even more hawkish than Trump, both because it's the wrong stance to take and because I'm convinced that Hillary Clinton's commander-in-chief posturing and long history of applauding belligerence cost her the 2016 election. Biden's record is little better, which is all the more reason to downplay his past mistakes. For some better advise, see: John Nichols: Anti-war groups push Biden and the Democrats to rethink foreign policy.

  • Sean Illing: How Black Lives Matter fits into the long history of American radicalism: Interview with Michael Kazin.

  • Umair Irfan: The "Godzilla" Saharan dust cloud over the US, explained: "The giant dust cloud is part of a system that feeds the ocean, fertilizes the rainforest, and suppresses hurricanes."

  • Mugambi Jouet: The Trump cult is loyal to an ideology, not the man: "A rise in extreme polarization culminated in Trump -- and likely won't be vanquished by Biden." This is an idea that's going around, but it doesn't make much sense to me. Although some of Trump's followers -- someone like Steve Bannon -- could conjure up something that looks like an ideology, Trump couldn't begin to articulate it. He's just a rich guy who likes being in front of the camera, spouting the received prejudices and irritable mental gestures he's picked up watching Fox. His fans share those prejudices, and appreciate that he's able to say what they can't -- they may even think that he's fighting for them, but he's really just stroking his own ego. Once he's gone, others will try to pick up the mantle, but I don't see how anyone else can keep his movement together. On the other hand, I doubt Trump will fade away like GW Bush did. He's going to rule right-wing media until he dies or is incapacitated, so, sure, his cult will be with us for a while. But it won't be an ideology.

  • Jen Kirby:

  • Ezra Klein:

  • Natasha Korecki/Marc Caputo: A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump's reelection: "Rising Covid-19 caseloads in Florida, Arizona and Texas raise fresh doubts about the president's reelection prospects." Favorite line here: "Trump's campaign accuses Democrats of exploiting tragedy."

  • Josh Kovensky: Trump admin scales back mandate that health insurers cover Covid tests.

  • Michael Kranish: New York court sides with publisher of explosive book by President Trump's niece. Kranish previously wrote about the book: Mary Trump once stood up to her uncle Donald. Now her book describes a 'nightmare' of family dysfunction.

  • Martin Longman: What if Trump decides not to seek a second term? "It's not as crazy of an idea as it sounds" -- but, really it is. Trump filed for reëlection the day after his inauguration. Running for a second term is the only thing he's actually wanted to do as president. He lets his underlings run everything else, at least until they become too embarrassing, in which case he makes them find more pliable and less competent replacements. So what if he's going to lose? He stayed true to his blindest and dumbest followers, and he certainly knows how to monetize whatever treachery undid him. As for the Republicans, it's too late for them to find a credible replacement. Sure, they could go with Mitt Romney, and piss off his base. Or they could elevate Mike Pence, and bore them to death. In any case, they're stuck with Trump's record, which is arguably worse than the man himself (not that such distinctions matter to most of us). Longman also wrote: What happens when Trump stops believing he can win reelection? Problem there is that the "chaos and malevolence" is coming anyway. Trump can't help himself (not that he would if he could). Related:

    • Robert Kuttner: Trump to Trump: You're fired!. Also not going to happen. Although I did imagine that he might resign after getting reëlected, to get a jump on cashing in. Or maybe after getting trounced, to give Pence a presidential legacy, although he'd really just be running out the clock, like a third-string quarterback.

  • German Lopez: Just 2 states meet these basic criteria to reopen and stay safe: New York and Rhode Island meet 4 (of 5) criteria; 21 states and DC meet 2 or 3; 27 states 0 or 1. Only 2 states and DC have "a sustained two-week drop in coronavirus cases": Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

  • Eric Margolis: The coming ecosystem collapse is already here for coral.

  • Alan MacLeod: In 'Russia bounty' story, evidence-free claims from nameless spies became fact overnight. A story claiming "Russia secret offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops" was planted in the New York Times and picked up everywhere, including among liberals who figured they could spin it into their favored story lines: that Trump is a Putin puppet, or (more plausibly) incompetent and indifferent. My initial reaction was that the story was a crock, meant purely to sabotage the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and/or to ratchet up cold war tensions with Russia, and nothing since then -- an investigation that found one soldier who might have been affected, or a "confirmation" from the Taliban -- has changed my mind. There are lots of good reasons for being critical of Russia, but this one makes no sense. For more:

  • Louis Menand: This fourth of July, consider Trump's lobster fib.

    It's not hard to understand Trump. It is hard to understand the people in his Administration who enable the blather and the misinformation, who spin-cycle it to bleach out the most offensive or dangerous implications, and who parrot it dutifully. For the first two years of Trump's Presidency, some of these people were known as "the adults in the room." To an admittedly remote observer, those people looked indistinguishable from opportunists willing to suppress their opinions in the hopes of becoming Presidential puppet masters. They were dreaming. All of them have departed with their reputations scarred.

  • Stephen Miles: It's bad politics for Democrats to be hawkish on foreign policy. Cites Elliot Engel ("one of only two dozen House Democrats out of 1888 who ultimately voted against the Iran deal"), defeated in last week's primary, as a cautionary example, but the point should be made much more generally. Hawkish Democrats are especially suspect, not least because they usually frame their interventionist appeals as acts of humanitarianism, and such crises are numerous and inevitable. Besides, there's nothing many Americans hate more than "helping" unappreciative others. Republicans may be more supportive of funding America's imperial overreach, but they usually withhold actual war until they can gin up a popular desire for spite and revenge -- something Americans do believe in.

  • Ian Millhiser:

  • Jeanne Morefield: 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American Exceptionalism.

    Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

    Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

    Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

  • Anna North: Roe v. Wade isn't safe: "The Supreme Court just struck down an anti-abortion law. Here's why access is still at risk."

  • JC Pan: Democrats can't quit their addiction to big-money donors: "The urgency of beating Trump in November has once again set campaign finance reform on the back burner." After 2008 would have been an ideal time for Democrats to clamp down on money in campaigning, but Obama had raised significantly more money than McCain, and was looking forward to repeating his dominance in 2012, and members of Congress in both parties were united in their ability to raise more funds than their opponents. Further complication comes from a Supreme Court firmly committed to protecting corruption in at least two ways: equating money with free speech, and making it virtually impossible to convict anyone of taking bribes.

  • Daniel Politi: Washington NFL team launches review of racist nickname: You mean the Redskins? I remember that name being questioned fifty years ago. On the other hand, the proposed replacements, starting with Warriors, are often worse.

  • John Quiggin: Trumpism after Trump. More notes and conjecture than an argument. Quiggin has also signed up to write a book on The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. If, as he assumes, Biden will be the next president, with a workable majority in Congress, the real question has less to do with rump Trumpism than his third assumption: whether "mainstream Democrats recognize the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done." Quiggin's book will presumably argue for "radical change" under those conditions.

  • David Roberts: House Democrats just put out the most detailed climate plan in US political history: "A new select committee report is perfectly in tune with the growing climate policy alignment on the left around standards, investments, and justice."

  • Paul Rosenberg: The secret of his success: Donald Trump's six weird tricks for authoritarian rule: Interview with Jennifer Mercieca, author of: Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.

  • Daid Rothkopf: 'The most ignorant and unfit': What made America's worst ever leader? Starts with a convenient quote from Michelle Obama: "Being president doesn't change who you are, it reveals who you are." Rothkopf sifts through various historian surveys of the worst presidents ever -- poor lists, if you ask me, prejudiced against the mediocrities of the 19th century while omitting Nixon and the Bushes, whose only saving graces were to be followed by even worse Republicans -- but ultimately settles on a past leader more temperamentally (and cognitively) suited for comparing Trump to: George III.

  • Theodore Schleifer: America has almost 800 billionaires, a record high. Well, 788, up 12% from a year before, or 27% (from 620) in 2016. That's 0.0002409% of the US population (328.2 million). Maybe it would be fairer to divide by US households (128.58 million): 0.00061284%, or 1 in every 163,174 households. That's an unimaginably tiny fraction of the total -- about 2 people in Wichita (who happen to be Charles Koch and Phil Ruffin, something you may know even if you're not from here). But those 788 billionaires control $3.4 trillion in assets, up 14% since the end of 2018.

  • Andrea K Scott: The removal of a Theodore Roosevelt statue is a good first step in rethinking America's monuments.

  • Melody Schreiber: The climate crisis will be just as shockingly abrupt.

  • Dylan Scott:

    • How Trump gave insurance companies free rein to sell bad health plans. "Obamacare wasn't repealed. Trump's deregulation is eroding it anyway." I an think of few things that are more injurious than insurance plans that don't actually protect you from unexpected health care expenses. One thing Obamacare did so was establish minimum standards of coverage -- although they also allowed huge deductibles and co-payments, so a great many people wound up paying more out of pocket, but at least they had some coverage for major expenses. Trump is just a co-conspirator to fraud.

    • Why a Covid-19 drug costs $3,100. This piece doesn't provide a very good explanation -- it mostly muddies the water with insurance variations like deductibles -- and the section "is this a fair price for remdesivir as a Covid-19 therapy?" is mostly nonsense. (For instance, Gilead figures that if their drug reduces hospital stays 3-4 days, their "value proposition" should reap a significant percentage of the saved hospital costs.) Bottom line is that Big Pharma is built on patents and extortion pricing. This is an example, not an exception.

      • David Dayen: Time to seize drug patents.

        The entire pharmaceutical sector has been raising prices during the pandemic: 245 drugs hiked up between January and June according to Patients for Affordable Drugs, including 61 being used for COVID-19 treatment and another 30 in use in clinical trials. . . . Hilariously, Gilead's stock fell in Monday trading because investors thought they should charge more.

        If remdesivir were sold at the cost of production, it would cost $10, not $3,120. The "value" of the drug comes with the reduction in admission length, and the savings to hospitals and patients. But even that value, based on the known science, shouldn't go too far past $400, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. You could say that Gilead needs to recoup its research and development costs, but of course the U.S. government financed much of that research.

      • Donald Shaw: Biden sides with Big Pharma against affordable coronavirus vaccine plan [Marh 19].

      • David Sirota: The US public paid to develop this COVID-19 drug. It will cost $3,000 a dose. Title seems to have the price wrong ($3,100 for a 5-day course of treatment, not per dose).

        Similarly, bipartisan legislation passed in 1980 created so-called march-in rights that empower the government to authorize another company -- or the government itself -- to produce a lower-priced generic version of a high-priced medicine.

        The problem, of course, is that the government's health care apparatus is controlled by former pharmaceutical industry executive Alex Azar.

  • Robert J Shapiro: Trump's bungled pandemic response is crushing American incomes: "New data shows the costs of the administration's failure to stem the coronavirus outbreak."

    The only force staving off desperate conditions for many households was the one-time checks the government sent most Americans and the temporary expansion of jobless benefits.

    Now with the resurgence of COVID-19 infections, Congress has little choice but to approve another round of checks and extend the generous unemployment benefits. If Congress does approve a lot more help, millions of American households will still face financial peril -- and if Congress fails to step up again, tens of millions of Americans could confront financial ruin.

    As a dose of reality, the new income data show that our current conditions are roughly three times as severe as the Great Recession. All personal income fell 4.2 percent in May and 3.0 percent over the three months from March through May. It took nine months for personal income to fall that much during the Great Recession. Wage and salary income actually increased by 3.3 percent in May, as the payroll grants under the CARES program kicked in and businesses began to reopen. Even so, wage and salary income fell 7.9 percent from March through May, again more than during the entire Great Recession.

    The reason that total personal income fell "only" 3.0 percent over the three months -- the steepest drop on record -- while total wage and salary income fell an astounding 7.9 percent in three months was due almost entirely to those government checks and jobless benefits. After setting aside government transfers, the BEA reports that total personal income fell 7.5 percent in three months.

  • Apa Sherpa (as told to Emily Atkin): I've climbed Everest 21 times. It's not the mountain it used to be.

  • Matt Shuham: "Nothing is normal here": Trump campaign claims its NDA applies to Omarosa's WH work.

  • Jeffrey Toobin: John Roberts distances himself from the Trump-McConnell legal project: But (see Millhiser above) he still strikes me as a team player, casting the deciding vote to uphold Republican voting restrictions. Occasional votes that seem independent could just as well be calculated to retain a shred of integrity for a Court that will increasingly curtail democracy, especially if people don't panic and stop the flow of Federalist Society judges.

  • Nahal Toosi: Human rights groups turn their sights on Trump's America.

  • Sina Toosi: How John Bolton and Mike Pompeo thwarted Trump's plan to get a deal with Iran. More Bolton (not that you need any):

  • Alex Ward: Donald Trump is vulnerable on China. So is Joe Biden. They're both wrong, too, although that's not what they perceive as each other's faults.

  • Liz Essley Whyte: Trump's favorite weapon in the coronavirus fight: Deregulation: Well, his favorite weapon in every fight, regardless of aptness. "Instead of addressing this crisis head-on, the Trump administration appears to be exploiting the chaos of the pandemic by rolling back critics civil rights regulatory protections and environmental safeguards." Appears?

  • Colin Woodard: Woodrow Wilson was even worse than you think.

  • Robin Wright: To the world, we're now America the racist and pitiful.

  • Matthew Yglesias:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (finished).

Music: Current count 33526 [33485] rated (+41), 211 [216] unrated (-5).

Last Monday of the month, so spent most of the day doing bookkeeping for the monthly roll-up (link above). Five weeks this month, so the total is up -- 193 records, or 194 if you count the Hal Singer regrade, which I slipped into "old music" instead of "grade changes" for context. About half old music, with dives into records I had missed when a new one (or a death or a reader question) tempted me to look further or some other reference).

Speaking of questions, I field ones about David Murray and James Carter, and duck one on jazz books, in my latest batch. Use the form to ask me more.

Recommended music links: No systematic search, but these are a few things I had open:

Songwriter Johnny Mandel (94) also died this week.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou (2020, Clermont Music): [r]: A-
  • Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (2020, Caroline): [r]: B+(*)
  • Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet: In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock: Live at De Witte (2019 [2020], O.A.P.): [r]: B+(***)
  • Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (2020, Dead Oceans): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (2019 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(***)
  • Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (2020, ESP-Disk): [cdr]: B+(**)
  • Whit Dickey Trio: Expanding Light (2019 [2020], Tao Forms): [r]: A-
  • Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (2020, Saccat): [cd]: B [07-24]
  • Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020, Columbia): [r]: A-
  • John Finbury: Quatro (2020, Green Flash Music): [cd]: B
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (2020, Fou, 2CD): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Wendy Gondeln/Mats Gustafsson/Wolfang Voigt: The Shithole Country & Boogie Band (2016-18 [2020], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(***)
  • CeeLo Green: CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway (2020, Easy Eye Sound): [r]: B
  • Haim: Women in Music Pt. III (2020, Columbia): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hinds: The Prettiest Curse (2020, Mom + Pop): [r]: A-
  • Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (2019 [2020], True Sound): [cd]: A- [07-01]
  • Jumpstarted Plowhards: Round One (2019, Recess, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Corb Lund: Agricultural Tragic (2020, New West): [r]: B+(**)
  • Benjamin Moussay: Promontoire (2019 [2020], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Bobby Previte/Jamie Saft/Nels Cline: Music From the Early 21st Century (2019 [2020], RareNoise): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 2) (2019 [2020], RareNoise): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (2019 [2020], Alister Spence Music, 2CD): [cd]: B+(*) [07-24]
  • Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (2018-19 [2020], Belle Avenue): [cd]: B [07-17]
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 001 (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 002: Roy Ayers (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Willem Breuker/Han Bennink: New Acoustic Swing Duo (1967-68 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2CD): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Grayson Capps: South Front Street: A Retrospective 1997-2019 (1997-2019 [2020], The Royal Potato Family): [r]: B+(*)
  • Neil Young: Homegrown (1974-75 [2020], Reprise): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Al Bilali Soudan: Al Bilali Souadn (2012, Clermont Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden Quintet: The Time Is Now (1991, Criss Cross): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden: Organic (1994 [1995], Epicure): [r]: B+(**)
  • Don Braden: Brighter Days (2001, High Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Milt Buckner & Hal Singer: Milt & Hal [The Defnitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1966 [2004], Black & Blue): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hyphy Hitz (2004-07 [2007], TVT): [dl]: B+(***)
  • Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (1969 [1973], Strata-East): [yt]: B+(***)
  • Hal Singer: Rent Party (1948-56 [1994], Savoy Jazz): [r]: A-
  • Hal Singer: Blues and News (1971, Futura): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hal Singer/Jef Gilson: Soul of Africa (1974, Le Chant Du Monde): [r]: A-
  • Hal Singer: Senior Blues (1991, Carrere): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hal Singer & Massimo Faraò Trio: We're Still Buddies (2001 [2005], Azzurra Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Hal Singer: Challenge (2010, Marge): [r]: A-

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Hal Singer With Charlie Shavers: Blue Stompin' (1959 [1994], Prestige/OJC): [r]: [was: B+] B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Ricardo Grilli: 1962 (Tone Rogue) [07-10]

Daily Log

TomDispatch tweeted a link to the Robert Reich article I cited yesterday. I replied:

"Coddling dictators" isn't a strategy to get re-elected, but not escalating conflicts by shaming other countries is a good idea; Trump's willingness to deal with anyone could have been his saving grace in foreign relations; too bad it's no good at it.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Late-breaking tweet from @realDonaldTrump: "Nobody wants a Low IQ person in charge of our Country," trying to deflect from the obvious by adding that "Sleepy Joe is definitely a Low IQ person!" Sure, he's never struck me as especially bright, but it's rather clever that the Democrats are nominating someone Trump cannot attack without the slanders reflecting back on him.

Trump's approval rate at 538 is down to 40.6%, with 56.1% disapprove. That's the biggest split I can recall.

Onion headline: Officials warn defunding police could lead to spike in crime from ex-officers with no outlet for violence. When I mentioned this to my wife, she already had examples to cite. Article cites "L.A. police chief Michel Moore" as saying:

The truth is that there are violent people in our society, and we need a police department so they have somewhere to go during the day to channel their rage. If these cuts are allowed to continue, we could be looking at a very real future where someone with a history of domestic abuse is able to terrorize their spouse with impunity instead of being occupied testing out new tactical military equipment or pepper-spraying some random teens. The fact that these dangerous attackers and killers are being gainfully employed by the LAPD is the only thing standing between us and complete chaos.

By the way, there is a new batch of questions and answers, not all on music. Ask more, here.

Some scattered links this week:

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Daily Log

Trying to figure out a sloppy joe recipe. Sources:

  1. The Wholesome Dish
  2. Five Heart Home
  3. The Chunky Chef
  4. Beef Is What's for Dinner
  5. All Recipes
  6. Taste of Home
  7. Culintary Hill
  • ground beef: 1 lb
  • butter: C(1 tbs)
  • onion: A(1/2 c), C(1/2 large), D(1 c), E(1/4 c), G(1)
  • green bell pepper: A(1/2 c), C(1/3), D(1 c), E(1/4 c)
  • garlic: B(2 cloves), C(3)
  • tomato sauce: ABG(8 oz), D(14.5 oz)
  • tomato paste: C(1 tbs)
  • ketchup: BG(1/2 c), C(2/3 c), D(1/4 c), E(3/4 c), F(1 c)
  • water: F(1/4 c)
  • barbecue sauce: D(1/4 c)
  • brown sugar: A(1/2 c), B(1-2 tbs), D(2 tsp), E(3 tsp), F(2 tbs), G(1 tbs)
  • worcestershire sauce: B(2 tbs), C(1/2 tsp), DG(1 tbs), F(2 tsp)
  • red wine vinegar: A(1 tbs)
  • white vinegar: G(1 tbs)
  • prepared (yellow) mustard: B(1 tsp), C(1 tsp), E(1 tsp), F(2 tsp)
  • dry mustard: D(1 tsp), G(1 tsp)
  • chili powder: C(3/4 tsp)
  • garlic powder: B(1/2 tsp), E(1/2 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
  • onion powder: B(1/4 tsp), F(1/2 tsp)
  • salt: A(1 tsp), FC(1/2 tsp), EG(to taste)
  • ground black pepper: AC(1/4 tsp), BEG(to taste)

Came up with this one.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33485 [33449] rated (+36), 216 [215] unrated (+1).

Don't feel like writing much here. Started the week thinking I'd track down some records by the late Keith Tippett, but quickly got sidetracked by Stan Tracey, an older British pianist who did some duet records with Tippett c. 1977. I then picked up some old World Saxophone Quartet records, adding them to my David Murray Guide. I probably should have done this anyway, but someone on Facebook commented on my missing Revue, which he teased was some kind of consensus pick as the greatest jazz album of the decade. The old Gary Bartz records came after reviewing his new one. I should note that Harlem Bush Music, which combines the two albums before Juju Street Songs, was previously A-.

Didn't do much on new records this week. Started most days with golden oldies, then when I sat down at the computer, switched over to old jazz rather than going through my new queue. Best reviewed new records this week were by Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers -- who got more favorable reviews than Dylan this week (32 to 22 in my metacritic file.) I'll check out both soon, but was more curious about Black Eyed Peas (AOTY critic score 50/1, user score 83/30). Not great, but much better than that, with a choice cut called News Today.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz and Maisha: Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions (2019 [2020], Night Dreamer): [r]: B+(***)
  • Black Eyed Peas: Translation (2020, Epic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Chromeo: Quarantine Casanova (2020, Chromeo, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between (2020, Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(**)
  • Fra Fra: Funeral Songs (2020, Glitterbeat): [r]: B
  • Mike: Weight of the World (2020, 10k): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Aaron Parks: Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man (2019 [2020], Ropeadope): [r]: B+(**)
  • Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (2020, Matador): [r]: B+(*)
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Misha Mengelberg/Peter Brötzmann/Evan Parker/Peter Bennink/Paul Rutherford/Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: Groupcomposing (1970 [2018], Corbett vs. Dempsey): [bc]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: Juju Street Songs (1972-73 [1997], Prestige): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: I've Known Rivers and Other Bodies (1973, Prestige): [r]: B+(***)
  • Gary Bartz: Shadows (1991 [1992], Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
  • Gary Bartz: ?The Red and Orange Poems (1994, Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Swings High (1967 [2003], Cadillac): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Dudu Pukwana & Bob Stuckey: Night Time Is the Right Time: 60s Soho Sounds (1967-68 [2010], Cadillac): [r]: B
  • Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra: Live at Le Mans (1998 [2009], Edition, 2CD): [r]: B
  • Stan Tracey: Showcase (1958, Vogue): [r]: B+(*)
  • The Stan Tracey Quartet: Jazz Suite: Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1965, Columbia): [r]: A
  • Stan Tracey/Keith Tippett: Supernova (1977 [2008], Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
  • The New Stan Tracey Quartet: For Heaven's Sake (1995 [1996], Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey: Solo : Trio (1997 [1998], Cadillac): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey & Danny Moss: Just You, Just Me (2003 [2004], Avid): [r]: B+(***)
  • Stan Tracey Quartet: Senior Moment (2008 [2009], Resteamed): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stan Tracey Quintet: The Flying Pig (2013 [2014], Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 2 (1964 [2012], Resteamed): [r]: A-
  • Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 1 (1968 [2008], Resteamed): [r]: B+(***)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Steppin' With the World Saxophone Quartet (1978 [1979], Black Saint): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: W.S.Q. (1980 [1981], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Revue (1980 [1982], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Live in Zürich (1981 [1984], Black Saint): [r]: B+(*)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music (1985 [1986], Black Saint): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Four Now (1995 [1996], Justin Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Takin' It 2 the Next Level (1996, Justin Time): [r]: B
  • World Saxophone Quartet: 25th Anniversary: The New Chapter (2000 [2001], Justin Time): [r]: B

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Jeff Cosgrove/John Medeski/Jeff Lederer: History Gets Ahead of the Story (Grizzley Music) [07-17]
  • Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (Belle Avenue) [07-17]

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Blog link.

All in all, not a very good week for Donald Trump. It started off with Supreme Court rulings that the 1965 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people, and that Trump's revocation of the DACA program was invalid because the Trump administration failed to explain why. The marches continued, as did the police outrages provoking more demonstrations, but also a few reform stories, and even some indictments and/or dismissals that show that, despite the fury of Trump and the right, protest is getting somewhere. Trump spent much of the week threatening and/or suing his former national security director and his niece for writing books showing some of the many ways he is incompetent and/or vile. And just as we're still processing his recent purge of federal inspectors for trying to do their jobs, he goes off and fires a US attorney who had opened investigations of some of his cronies. He's finding Covid-19 infection rates still on the rise in nearly half of the states, including virtually all of the "red" ones in the South. He expected to finish the week on a high after resuming his campaign rallies in one of those states, only to find the Tulsa arena half-empty (and considerably less than half-masked). It's hard to see how that turns into a win.

Even before the rally, most polls show Trump losing badly to Joe Biden. See Nate Silver: Our new polling averages show Biden leads Trump by 9 points nationally, which shows a bunch of 2016 Trump states flipping: Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, but not quite Iowa (where Biden is -0.6) or Texas (-0.7). Trump's approval rating is 41.4% (vs. 55.2% disapprove). The generic congressional ballot is at 48.4% Democrats, 40.4% Republicans. Of course, too early to count your chickens. The one thing I'm most certain of is that the rest of the 2020 campaign season is going to be the nastiest in American history.

Quite a few sublists below, usually starting with the first piece I found on a subject, so you'll have to scour around to find ones of personal interest. In fact, quite a lot of everything.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33449 [33418] rated (+31), 215 [214] unrated (+1).

British avant-pianist Keith Tippett died last week, at 72. He was a major figure, although having never sorted out his scattered discography, I can't say how major. I can say that on occasion he rivaled Cecil Taylor for explosive invention. One issue is that while he recorded several albums with Mujician as a title, he also led a group (with Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, and Tony Levin) by that name through seven 1990-2006 albums. Another is that he dabbled in a wide range of music, especially along the prog rock fringe. He married pop singer/actress Julie Driscoll in 1970, and she changed her name to Julie Tippetts (meanwhile, her husband dropped the 's'), continuing a long career that veered far from the pop charts. She survives him. Also on Tippett:

I'll look into Tippett a bit more next week, but as I'm writing this I've headed off on a Stan Tracey (1926-2013) detour.

One other death last week I should note somewhere is Carl Brewer, a former two-term mayor of Wichita. He was a moderate black Democrat, always seemed to be in tune with local business leaders but always seemed like a decent guy, never had a whiff of scandal, and never embarrassed us. (I'd like to say never did anything blatantly stupid, but I have to question his support for Lyndy Wells in the latest mayoral election.) People I know who knew him liked him a lot. None of those traits were common among the recent run of Wichita mayors.

Robert Christgau published his Consumer Guide: June, 2020, with an A+ for Run the Jewels RTJ4 (an A- here last week); an A for the Wussy album below; A- for Princess Nokia's Everything Is Beautiful, Serengeti's Ajai, and a Fats Domino live album I previously gave good but somewhat lower grades to; an A- for a Malian record I haven't found; a B+ for the Hamell on Trial album below; and a few more things -- I tried Westside Gunn, and even went back two previous releases, but nothing really stuck with me. I'm not conceding that I screwed up, but I've often had trouble catching rap lyrics (especially given limited plays), and that may be at work here.

Christgau asked me for some info on David Murray (occasioned by an Xgau Sez question), so I pasted a chunk of my Jazz Guides into an email. It occurred to me that I could add that to my Village Voice David Murray Guide (2006). The file turned out to be a mess, so I cleaned it up from "unpublished draft" and notes to incorporating the published edits. But rather than appending the more extensive reviews, I created a separate file. I also used the occasion to pick up a few records I had missed, as well as Kahil El'Zabar's new one, just out. Started a list of "other records" as a self-check, but haven't gotten very far with it.

After all my pleading, I only have one question answered this week. More, please.

I did get one more piece of mail via the form: Piotr wrote in to inform me that he's created a Wikipedia page for Tom Hull (critic). It's a very substantial page, with a lot of biographical detail, all properly footnoted (most based on my interview). I've written him with a few corrections and clarifications, so no need to itemize them here. Besides, most make for slightly better myth than reality.

Two of the three new jazz A-list records this week were reviewed the old-fashioned way, from CDs. Probably helped get them the attention they deserve. I missed the A- Murray album because it was a mere Penguin Guide ***, but turns out it features El'Zabar as the magic beans. Found the old Joe Harriott records after noting the new vault release. Been wanting to hear them for a long time, but none match Free Form (1960).

By the way, I've been keeping the metacritic file reasonably up to date. Run the Jewels' RTJ4 made a strong run for the top spot, but is still one point behind Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters. At AOTY and Metacritic, the latter has slightly higher scores, but fewer reviews. Waxahatchie's Saint Cloud is third, then there's a substantial point gap before you get to Caribou, Dua Lipa, Perfume Genius, Tame Impala, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Lucinda Williams, Charlie XCX, Shabaka and the Ancestors, and Soccer Mommy.

New records reviewed this week:

  • AuB: AuB (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: B+(*)
  • César Cardoso: Dice of Tenors (2020, self-released): [r]: B+(*)
  • Elysia Crampton: Orcorara 2010 (2020, Pan): [r]: B-
  • Whit Dickey: Morph (2019 [2020], ESP-Disk, 2CD): [cd]: A-
  • Dion: Blues With Friends (2020, Keeping the Blues Alive): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kahil El'Zabar: Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove (2019 [2020], Spiritmuse): [r]: A-
  • Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs (2020, self-released): [bc]: A-
  • Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (2019 [2020], Cellar Live): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Norah Jones: Pick Me Up Off the Floor (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene (2020, Jazzhaus): [r]: B+(***)
  • Madre Vaca: Winterreise (2020, Madre Vaca): [cd]: B
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (2020, Whirlwind): [cd]: A-
  • Stephen Riley: Friday the 13th (2018 [2020], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dua Saleh: Rosetta (2020, Against Giants, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • John Scofield: Swallow Tales (2019 [2020], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sara Serpa: Recognition (2019 [2020], Biophilia): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Micah Thomas/Linda May Han Oh/Nate Smith: In Common 2 (2019 [2020], Whirlwind): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Hitler Wears Hermes VII (2019, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)
  • Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris (2020, Griselda): [r]: B+(*)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Jazz for Moderns (1962 [2020], Gearbox, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Wussy: Ghosts (2006-19 [2020], self-released): [bc]: B+(***)

Old music:

  • The Channels Featuring Earl Lewis: Golden Oldies (1956-59 [2013], Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(*)
  • Joe Harriott & Co. Feat John Dankworth & Tubby Hayes: Helter Skelter: Live, Rare and Previously Unreleased Recordings 1955-1963 (1955-63 [2017], Acrobat): [r]: B+(**)
  • Joe Harriott Quintet: Abstract (1961-62 [2015], J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali): [r]: B+(***)
  • The Joe Harriott Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Suite (1966, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Ranee Lee: Seasons of Love (1997, Justin Time): [r]: B+(*)
  • David Murray: Let the Music Take You (1978, Marge): [r]: B+(***)
  • David Murray: Interboogieology (1978, Black Saint): [r]: B+(**)
  • David Murray: The London Concert (1978 [1999], Cadillac, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • David Murray Quartet: A Sanctuary Within (1991 [1992], Black Saint): [r]: A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Juhani Aaltonen/Jonas Kullhammar/Christian Meaas Svendsen/Ilmari Heikinheimo: The Father, the Sons & the Junnu (Moserobie)
  • Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (Saccat) [07-24]
  • Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (True Sound) [07-01]
  • Noshir Mody: An Idealist's Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (self-released) [07-03]
  • Corey Smythe: Accelerate Every Voice (Pyroclastic)
  • Stephane Spira/Giovanni Mirabassi: Improkofiev (Jazzmax) [06-19]
  • Lou Volpe: Before & After (Jazz Guitar)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blog link.

No intro this week.

Tweet of the week, from paulo. (@itskingapollo):

If the police did their jobs, everyone would trust them. Ain't no song called "Fuck the Fire Department."

Also, from Rhys Blakely (@rhysblakely):

A 70-year-old man in Seattle survived the coronavirus, got applauded by staff when he left the hospital after 62 days -- and then got a $1.1 million, 181-page hospital bill.

Some scattered links this week:

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33418 [33378] rated (+40), 214 [209] unrated (+5).

Cutoff was Monday evening, after I wrapped up Weekend Roundup, so that has a bit to do with the above-average count. Shifted back to new music last week, starting with some Phil Overeem recommendations, and ended with rummaging through my tracking file (jazz subset), with a few asides along the way. (One of Cliff Ocheltree's Facebook posts mentioned If Deejay Was Your Trade and Hyphy Hitz. Couldn't find the latter, but the Blood & Fire compilation was so good I wanted to hear more from Big Joe.) Still, didn't bother with my promo queue at all. It had been near-empty, but has recovered to the extent I need to pay it some attention.

I reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' Girl in Her 29s last week, noting that I couldn't find anything via Google on the CD. I'm told that this website will help. I also received a hand-written letter from Ben Barnes, which reads in part (or I think it does, as my eyes and his handlettering don't always mesh; I also spared you the all-caps, and added a link I'm almost 100% sure of and italics for the album title):

As for the mysterious online presence I vowed long ago to only spend time and money on the things I love and never try to profit from them. Whenever someone asks about buying a disc I ask them to contribute to Mikey's Chance Canine Rescue and then I happily mail them Girl in Her 29s.

Looking back at last week's "review," I realize I didn't finish it -- by, like, saying something about the record. Meant to, but ran out of time and decided to run what I had anyway, and still haven't gotten back to it, so sorry. I will re-run the album cover.

On June 3, Robert Christgau tweeted:

I try to be shrewd about this stuff, not show my hand before I publish my review, but it would be just wrong to deny that it's been A LONG TIME since I felt like a new album was just what I'd been needing the way the new Run the Jewels does.

I had the same reaction to RTJ4, although I didn't explain it very coherently below -- written after two plays before I saw the tweet -- no doubt because I always have trouble following rap lyrics. But even I caught enough to realize that this was the time. (Link above is to the whole feed. Even now the tweet in question is well down, but it won't hurt you to scroll for it.)

The Ogún Meji Duo album was reviewed by Karl Ackermann as a new release at All About Jazz. Ackerman wrote: "The album makes a powerful statement that could have been a response to Emmett Till in 1955 or George Floyd in 2020." True enough, but it actually dates from the Michael Brown era. I might have graded it higher, but tired of the lecture, and got annoyed by the Soundcloud-like website streaming. But drummer Mark Lomax and saxophonist Edwin Bayard are awesome as usual. I should note that Lomax's 400 Years Suite is currently number one on my 2020 list, and his 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic was number three on the 2019 list.

In non-musical matters, Crocodile Chuck suggested a Weekend Roudup link: Jack Rasmus: Confronting Institutional Racism. Rasmus is an economist in California, subtitles his blog "Predicting the Global Eonomic Crisis," has a bunch of books on economics (keyword: neoliberalism), as well as some stage plays and DVDs. I noticed one of his books in 2010 -- Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression -- but missed six since then. Most evocative title was Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few (paperback, 2012, Pluto Press). First book was a big one: The War at Home: The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan to George W Bush (2006, Kyklos)./p>

I got one question following last week's Questions and Answers post. I'll take a stab at answering it later this week. Meanwhile, ask me more.

New records reviewed this week:

  • 79rs Gang: Expect the Unexpected (2020, Sinking City): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sebastien Ammann: Resilience (2018 [2020], Skirl): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Lucian Ban/John Surman/Mat Maneri: Transylvanian Folk Songs (2020, Sunnyside): [r]: B+(**)
  • Will Bernard: Freelance Subversives (2020, Ropeadope): [r]: B
  • Body Count: Carnivore (2020, Century Media): [r]: B+(**)
  • Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman: Whoadie (2018-19 [2020], 577): [r]: C+
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Benny Golson & Albert "Tootie" Heath: Masters Legacy Series Volume 3 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring George Coleman: Masters Legacy Series Volume 4 (2019, self-released): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dinosaur: To the Earth (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: B+(**)
  • Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity (2019 [2020], Greenleaf Music): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lajos Dudas: The Lake and the Music (2019 [2020], JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
  • Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist: Alfredo (2020, ESGN/ALC/Empire): [r]: B+(*)
  • GoGo Penguin: GoGo Penguin (2020, Blue Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Human Feel: The Tower Tapes #5 (2019 [2020], Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly (2020, Bjurecords): [bc]: A-
  • KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl (2020, Keiya): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lady Gaga: Chromatica (2020, Interscope): [r]: B+(***)
  • John Law's Congregation: Configuration (2018 [2020], Ubuntu Music): [r]: B+(***)
  • Little Simz: Drop 6 (2020, Age 101, EP): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sabir Mateen/Patrick Holmes/Federico Ughi: Survival Situation (2018 [2020], 577): [r]: B+(**)
  • Medhane: Full Circle (2020, TBHG, EP): [bc]: B
  • Medhane: Cold Water (2020, TBHG): [bc]: B+(*)
  • Mike and the Moonpies: Touch of You: The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart (2020, Prairie Rose): [r]: B+(**)
  • Eva Novoa: Satellite Quartet (2017 [2020], Fresh Sound New Talent): [r]: B+(*)
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio: Angels Around (2020, Heartcore): [r]: B+(**)
  • Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (2020, Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG): [r]: A-
  • Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (2020, Tao Forms): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah? (2020, Trouble in Mind): [r]: B
  • Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (2019 [2020], Cuneiform): [dl]: A-

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Bobby Shew/Bill Mays: Telepathy (1978 [2019], Fresh Sound): [r]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Big Joe: Keep Rocking and Swinging (1977, Live and Love): [r]: B+(***)
  • Dave Burrell: Black Spring (1977, Marge): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Jimmy Cobb: Masters Legacy Series Volume 1 (2017, Cellar Live): [r]: B+(***)
  • Emmet Cohen Featuring Ron Carter: Masters Legacy Series Volume 2 (2017 [2018], Cellar Live): [r]: B+(**)
  • Emmet Cohen: Dirty in Detroit (2017 [2018], self-released): [r]: B+(**)
  • Lajos Dudas: Radio Days: Birthday Edition 75 (2016, JazzSick): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lajos Dudas: Some Great Songs Vol. 2 (2017, JazzSick): [r]: B+(**)
  • If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby's 1974-1977 (1974-77 [1994], Blood & Fire): [r]: A-
  • Mister Charlie's Blues (1926-1938) (1926-38 [1970], Yazoo): [dl]: B+(**)
  • Ogún Meji Duo: #BlackLivesMatter (2014, CFG Multimedia): [os]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (ESP-Disk) [06-26]
  • Whit Dickey: Morph (ESP-Disk, 2CD)
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: Café Oto 2020 (Fou)
  • The Mark Harvey Group: A Rite for All Souls (1971, Americas Musicworks, 2CD) [07-17]
  • Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (Alister Spence Music, 2CD) [07-24]

Monday, June 08, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

While this week was unfolding, I've been reading a book by Sarah Kendzior: Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. She is a journalist based in St. Louis, with a Ph.D. in anthropology and a specialty in post-Soviet Central Asia and its descent into mafia capitalism and oligarchy. She sees Trump as part of a vast criminal enterprise, anchored in Russia, which she insists on describing as "hostile to America." I think she has that analysis ass-backwards. Capitalism's driving force everywhere is greed, which constantly pushes the limits of custom and law. The only thing that separates capitalists from criminals is a democratic state that regulates business and enforces limits on destructive greed. The former Soviet Union failed to do that, but the United States has a checkered history as well, with the major entrepreneurs of the 19th century known as Robber Barons, and a sustained conservative assault on the regulatory state at least since 1980. Trump may be closer to the Russian oligarchs than most American capitalists because of his constant need to raise capital abroad, but he is hardly Putin's stooge. Rather, they share a common desire to suppress democratic regulation of capital everywhere, as well as an itch for suppressing dissent. Arguing that the latter is anti-American (treason even) ignores the fact that that's a big part of the program of the reigning political party in the US.

Kendzior's arguments in this regard annoy me so much I could go on, explaining why the supposed US-Russia rivalry is based on false assumptions, and why Democrats are hurting themselves by obsessing on the Trump/Russia connection. I was, after all, tempted at several points to give up on the book. But I stuck with it: it's short, and anyone who despises Trump that much is bound to have some points. Also, I lived in St. Louis a few years myself, so was curious what she had to say about her battleground state. My interest paid off with her discussion of the 2014 protests against police brutality in Ferguson, a majority-black suburb just north of St. Louis with a predominantly white police force that was largely self-funded by arrests and fines. This is history, but it's also today in microcosm (pp. 164-166):

Understanding Ferguson is not only a product of principle but of proximity. The narrative changes depending on where you live, what media you consume, who you talk to, and who you believe. In St. Louis, we still live in the Ferguson aftermath. There is no real beginning, because [Michael] Brown's death is part of a continuum of criminal impunity by the police toward St. Louis black residents. There is no real end, because there are always new victims to mourn. In St. Louis, there is no justice, only sequels.

Outside of St. Louis, Ferguson is shorthand for violence and dysfunction. When I go to foreign countries that do not know what St. Louis is, I sometimes joke, darkly, that I'm from a "suburb of Ferguson." People respond like they are meting a witness of a war zone, because that is what they saw on TV and on the internet. What they missed is that Ferguson was the longest sustained civil rights protest since the 1960s. The protest was fought on principle because in St. Louis County, law had long ago divorced itself from justice, and when lawmakers abandon justice, principle is all that remains. The criminal impunity many Americans are only discovering now -- through the Trump administration -- had always structured the system for black residents of St. Louis County, who had learned to expect a rigged and brutal system but refused to accept it.

In the beginning, there was hope that police would restrain themselves because of the volume of witnesses. But there was no incentive for them to do so: no punishment locally, and no repercussions nationally. Militarized police aggression happened nearly every night, transforming an already traumatic situation into a showcase of abuse. The police routinely used tear gas and rubber bullets. They arrested local officials, clergy, and journalists for things like stepping off the sidewalk. They did not care who witnessed their behavior, even though they knew the world was watching. Livestream videographers filmed the chaos minute by minute for an audience of millions. #Ferguson, the hashtag, was born, and the Twitter followings of those covering the chaos rose into the tens of thousands. But the documentation did not stop the brutality. Instead, clips were used by opponents of the protesters to try to create an impression of constant "riots" that in reality did not occur. The vandalism and arson shown on cable news in an endless loop were limited to a few nights and took place on only a few streets.

National media had pounced on St. Louis, parachuting in when a camera-ready crisis was rumored to be impending, leaving when the protests were peaceful and tame. Some TV crews did not bother to hide their glee at the prospect of what I heard one deem a real-life Hunger Games, among other flippant and cruel comments. The original protests, which were focused on the particularities of the abusive St. Louis system, became buried by out-of-town journalists who found out-of-town activists and portrayed them as local leaders. The intent was not necessarily malicious, but the lack of familiarity with the region led to disorienting and insulting coverage. Tabloid hype began to overshadow the tragedy. Spectators arrived from so many points of origins that the St. Louis Arch felt like a magnet pulling in fringe groups from around the country: Anonymous and the Oath Keepers and the Nation of Islam and the Ku Klux Klan and the Revolutionary Communist Party and celebrities who claimed they were out of deep concern and not to get on television. Almost none of the celebrities ever returned.

In fall 2014, the world saw chaos and violence, but St. Louis saw grief. Ask a stranger in those days how they were doing and their eyes, already red from late nights glued to the TV or internet, would well up with tears. Some grieved stability, others grieved community, others simply grieved the loss of a teenage boy, unique and complex as any other, to a system that designated him a menace on sight. But it was hard to find someone who was not grieving something, even if it was a peace born of ignorance. It was a loss that was hard to convey to people living outside of the region. I covered the Ferguson protests as a journalist, but I lived it as a St. Louisan. Those are two different things. It is one thing to watch a region implode on TV. It is another to live within the slow-motion implosion. When I would share what I witnessed, people kept urging me to call my representative, and I would explain: "But they gassed my representative too."

By the way, here are the latest section heads (as of 7:37 PM CDT Sunday) in The New York Times' Live Updates on George Floyd Protests:

  • Majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledges to dismantle the Police Department
  • Trump sends National Guard troops home
  • New York's mayor pledges to cut police funding and spend more on social services
  • Democratic lawmakers push for accountability, but shy away from calls to defund the police
  • Barr says he sees no systemic racism in law enforcement
  • Romney joins protesters in Washington.
  • Protesters march through Manhattan, calling for an end to police violence.
  • Thousands turn out in Spokane, Wa., to protest "a virus that's been going on for 400 years."
  • Biden will meet with the family of George Floyd in Houston.
  • The view from above: aerial images of protests across the country. [link]
  • A Confederate status is pulled down during a protest in Virginia
  • Global protests against racism gain momentum.
  • An officer shot an anti-bias expert who was trying to end a clash at a protest in San Jose, Calif.

A couple items there look like major breaks with the past. While the "progressive" mayors of Minneapolis and New York seems to have spent much of the last week being intimidated by the police forces that supposedly work for them, the balance of political forces in both cities may have shifted to viewing the police as the problem, not the solution. I started off being pretty skeptical of the protests, and indeed haven't been tempted to join them. But it does appear that they're making remarkable progress. And while I abhor any violence associated with the protests, one should never allow such noise to distract from the core issue of the protests. Indeed, given that so much of the violence the media likes to dwell on is directly caused by the police and the government's other paramilitary forces, it's hard not to see that the only way this ever gets resolved is by restoring trust and justice -- which is to say, by radically reforming how policing is done in America.

I expected such sprawl at the start of the week that I decided not to bother organizing sublists. Still, some fell out during the process, but I haven't gone back and organized as many as might make sense. In particular, there are several scattered pieces on the "jobs report": the one by Robert J Shapiro is the most important, but I got to it after several others.

This wound up running a day late. Only a couple links below came out on Monday, and I tried to only pick ones that added to stories I already had (e.g., I added Yglesias' piece on economic reporting, but didn't pick up the one on Biden's polling).

Here's a piece of artwork from Ram Lama Hull occasioned by the recent demonstrations. I pulled this particular one (out of many) from his Facebook page. Some are also on Imgur.

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that has come up a lot recently, as it makes it very difficult to hold police officers liable for their acts, even the use of excessive or deadly force. For example:

Parting tweet (from Angela Belcamino):

Who else but Trump could bring back the 1918 pandemic, the 1929 Great Depression, and the 1968 race riots all in one year?

Some scattered links this week:

Friday, June 05, 2020

Questions and Answers

Expanded blog post.

I asked Michael Tatum to take a look at my first batch of Questions and Answers. He helped flag some necessary edits before I posted them early this week. He also suggested that instead of just linking to them (as I did again above), I should have included them directly in the blog. I don't plan on doing that as a matter of course, but this time I reckon they could use a little more exposure. For one thing I got zero new questions (here's the form) since they went up.

I imagine there are hundreds (if not thousands) of similar offers scattered around the web. I've felt a need for some kind of feedback for a long time, but found that comment systems were more work to maintain than they're worth. Two features are direct antecedents to mine: Greil Marcus's Ask Greil), and Robert Christgau's Xgau Sez. Joe Levy suggested the latter as a way of generating some public interest in Christgau's then-new Duke University Press essay collections, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 and Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading.

Joe suggested "Ask Greil" as a model, but when I looked at the implementation, I had some second thoughts. I adapted the news roll code to display the Q&A in 15-unit chunks, most recent first, stringing earlier pages together. ("Ask Greil" is in flat files, one per year.) I added tags to the data file, thinking that someday I could support more search options. (I'd like to eventually put them into the database, but didn't want to have to update it more often than I do.) I also added a captcha to cut down on spam questions. I recently adapted the Christgau code for my own site, adding a few more tags (but still not making good use of them).

My main change was to add a "keywords" field. I expected (or hoped) to get a broader range of questions than the music queries that predominate for Christgau and Marcus, and thought it would be a good idea to be able to easily sort my answers into topics. Still, four of the first five questions were on music, including one of those potentially tedious requests to elaborate on grades. A sixth question, which I didn't answer here, was really more of a tip (Whitney Rose) -- more properly answered in last week's Music Week. While my email is elsewhere on the site (and still works best if you want a direct answer), feel free to use the form for tips, comments, or occasional kind words.

I rather hope to see wide-ranging questions, one that provoke me to think, maybe even do a little research, although I'd be happy enough with ones where I can just rattle off experiences and opinions. I like to keep an open mind about where this is going. And I'd like some feedback to prod me along. Thanks, in advance.

Pick up questions and answers here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, June archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33378 [33333] rated (+45), 209 [209] unrated (+0).

Post delayed a day because, well, a lot of things kept me from working on it on Monday. Frozen Sunday night, aside from adding Monday's unpacking.

A few weeks ago, I set up a form for asking questions. I finally decided I had enough to do the extra work of setting up an answer page, so Q&A is now a going concern. I've added a couple fields beyond what I did for Robert Christgau, but I'm not really using them yet. At some point, it should be possible to get selective lists based on keywords, or possibly other search methods.

One question I didn't answer was actually a tip, Jeopardy-style phrased as a question. Mongo asked if I had heard Whitney Rose's We Still Go to Rodeos ("the best country album I've heard so far this year"). No, I hadn't, but the obvious response was to listen to it, so it's in this week's list. I disagree, but my initial reaction was pretty similar to my initial underrating of Kalie Shorr's Open Book in 2019. Still, have major doubts it will ever catch up with the Lucinda Williams and Brandy Clark records (or Chicago Farmer, if he qualifies). I went on and sampled a few more recent alt-country albums, but didn't find anything really better.

Until those, most of what I listened to last week were old jazz albums. The first few were unheard items from the JazzTimes ballots I mentioned recently, at least until I got carried away with Paul Motian. Then I got into Max Roach, partly in response to one of the questions.

Got a rare rock record in the mail recently, with a hand-printed note explaining that Robert Christgau reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' debut album, Spinning Out of Orbit, in my one shot 2013 Black Friday Special, and hoping I might like the new one. I do. The CD is actually very nicely packaged, but has no presence on the web, and the note didn't even include an email address, so I have no idea how you'd go about buying a copy. (The old CD, which I haven't heard, is listed on Amazon, at $30.08, 1 copy left, with other vendor offers from $29.09.) Without an album cover available, I thought I'd try my old scanner -- an "all-in-one" Epson Stylus Photo RX580 -- only to find it doesn't work. (I replaced the 6 ink cartridges a while back, and now it's stuck in a mode where it insists on me first installing new ink cartridges before it does anything else. Two Ubuntu scanner programs fail to recognize it.) What I wound up doing was taking a picture with my cell phone, then running it through a bunch of rotate/shear/crop commands in Gimp. Very little margin on top to work with, but I managed to keep it even though I chopped off the other three edges. I'm real surprised it looks as good as it does.

I should mention that Joe Yanosik has written up Sonic Youth: A Consumer Guide to their live albums. They've released a bunch of them on Bandcamp. I had seen mention of a couple of them recently, but didn't realize there were this many, and after last year's release of Battery Park NYC, July 4th 2008 -- which Joe also includes, as an A+ -- I wasn't in a big hurry to go there. Nice that Joe has illuminated the way.

Alto saxophonist Lennie Niehaus (90) died last week. He's probably best known as the director of many Clint Eastwood soundtracks, but he was an important "West Coast cool jazz" musician, played for Stan Kenton 1952-59 (minus a stretch in the Army), and recorded a number of well-regarded (albeit a bit fancy for my taste) albums, especially in the 1950s, before focusing on soundtracks. I've heard a couple of his albums, and need to check out more.

English tenor saxophonist Don Weller (79) also died. I can't say that I know his work. I also heard that Sun Ra bassist Bill Davis died, but haven't found an obituary yet. Other recent musician deaths: Majek Fashek (57, Nigerian reggae singer), John Nzenze (80, Kenyan guitarist), Evaldo Gouveia (91, MPB singer-songwriter).

Horrors enough on Monday and Tuesday to get me to open Weekend Roundup as soon as I post this.

New records reviewed this week:

  • Caitlin Cannon: The TrashCannon Album (2020, Caitlin Cannon): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Reunions (2020, Southeastern): [r]: B+(*)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated Side B (2020, School Boy): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (2019 [2020], Edgetone): [cd]: B+(***)
  • Whitney Rose: We Still Go to Rodeos (2020, MCG): [r]: B+(**)
  • Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (2020, Sounds Deevine): [r]: A-
  • Pam Tillis: Looking for a Feeling (2020, Stellar Cat): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (2020, Planet Arts/43 Street): [cd]: B
  • Jaime Wyatt: Neon Cross (2020, New West): [r]: B+(*)

Old music:

  • Paul Bley/Paul Motian: Notes (1987 [1988], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley: Reality Check (1994 [1996], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Bley: Notes on Ornette (1996 [1997], SteepleChase): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley/Evan Parker/Barre Phillips: Sankt Gerold (1996 [2000], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Bley: Play Blue: Oslo Concert (2008 [2014], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Clifford Brown/Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (1956 [2002], Verve): [r]: A-
  • Miles Davis: Big Fun (1969-72 [2000], Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): [r]: B+(***)
  • Booker Little: Booker Little 4 & Max Roach (1958 [1959], United Artists): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (1972 [1973], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Tribute (1974 [1975], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian Trio: Le Voyage (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Psalm (1981 [1982], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian: It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love: At the Village Vanguard (1995 [1997], Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
  • Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band: Flight of the Blue Jay (1996 [1997], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian: Trio 2000 + One (1997 [1998], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Europe (2000 [2001], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(*)
  • Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Holiday for Strings (2001 [2002], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(**)
  • Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard Volume III (2006 [2010], Winter & Winter): [r]: B+(***)
  • Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: On Broadway Volume 5 (2008 [2009], Winter & Winter): [r]: A-
  • The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir: The Saxophone Shop (1985 [1986], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Buddy Rich/Max Roach: Rich Versus Roach (1959 [1990], Mercury): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach/Clifford Brown: The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert (1954 [1956], GNP): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Max Roach + 4 (1956-57 [1990], Emarcy): [r]: A-
  • Max Roach: Jazz in 3/4 Time (1956-57 [1957], Emarcy): [r]: B+(*)
  • Max Roach: The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker (1957-58 [1995], Verve): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Award-Winning Drummer (1958 [1960], Time): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: It's Time (1962, Impulse!): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach Quartet: Speak, Brother, Speak! (1962 [1963], Fantasy): [r]: A-
  • Max Roach: The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan (1964 [1965], Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Drums Unlimited (1965-66 [1966], Atlantic): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: Members, Don't Git Weary (1968, Atlantic): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach Quartet: Pictures in a Frame (1979, Soul Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Max Roach: M'Boom (1979 [1980], Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Max Roach: Live in Berlin (1984 [2009], Jazzwerkstatt): [r]: B+(***)

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • John Finbury: Quatro (Green Flash Music)
  • Madre Vaca: Winterreise (Madre Vaca) [06-04]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (Whirlwind) [06-19]

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Lot of articles below on the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the demonstrations that have ensued, and reports of violence (especially in Minneapolis). I have no idea how extensive the violence is, let alone who's responsible for what, but I'm skeptical of reports that the nation is being torn apart, let alone that urban America is being reduced to rubble. I remember the riots of the late 1960s, Kerner Commission Report, and the backlash Nixon so profited from. I doubt this is anything like that, but should also note that the degree of anger over this particular killing -- as you well know there have been dozens that have risen to cause célèbre status, and hundreds that remain obscure. There was, for instance, a completely peaceful demonstration here in Wichita that drew some 2,000 people -- much more than I would have imagined. (No link, as The Wichita Eagle won't let me get past the headline, even with a subscription -- making it pointess to pass the link along.) What does make the current situation worse than in the 1960s is malignant lout in the White House, his toxic party, and their deluded followers. We used to jeer LBJ with "how many kids did you kill today?" but there's no point taunting Trump like that: not only doesn't he care, he's likely to take it as a challenge.

Speaking of the dead, the coronavirus death count in the United States topped 100,000 this week. It topped 10,000 on April 17, and 50,000 18 days later, on April 25. It took 32 days from there to double. The lockdown in Kansas has pretty much ended, although that makes me even more wary of going out. I do, however, have a doctor appointment on Monday, and have been assured they got their protocols together. May make a grocery run as well, as we're low on pretty much everything.

When I got up this morning, I played Down in the Basement (a "treasure trove of vintage 78s 1926-1937") and Maria Muldaur's Garden of Joy. From the former, I was especially struck by the continuing relevance of Bessie Brown's "Song from a Cotton Field." The latter ends with a 2009 remake of the Depression-era "The Panic Is On," with a new line for Obama. Couldn't find a YouTube link, but here's Spotify, if that helps. Here's the 1931 original, by Hezekiah & Dorothy Jenkins; I'm more familiar with a later version which drops the complaint about Prohibition and adds an optimistic like about FDR -- on a compilation somewhere, can't find the link now. I did find more recent ones: by Loudon Wainwright III (2010); Daddy Stovepipe (2013); and by Matt Rivers (2013).

Some scattered links this week:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I was asked a question about Questlove's 100 albums list.

  1. Terence Trent d'Arby: Neither fish nor flesh [B+]
  2. Tower of Power: Live and In Living Color -[]
  3. James Brown: In the Jungle Groove [A+]
  4. Jeru the Damaja: The Sun Rises In The East []
  5. Jazzy Jeff & Will Smith: And In This Corner [B+]
  6. Gary Wilson: You Think You Really Know Me -[]
  7. J Dilla: Donuts [B]
  8. Wynton Marsalis: Live At Blues Alley []
  9. Young Black Teenagers: With The Young Black Teenagers -[]
  10. Syreeta: Stevie wonder presents Syreeta -[]
  11. London music works: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Score -[]
  12. Jackson 5: Get It Together -[]
  13. Wu Tang: Enter the 36 Chambers [A-]
  14. Larry Young: Unity [A]
  15. Gil Scott-Heron: Reflections -[]
  16. Kali Uchis: Isolation [A-]
  17. Son of Bazerk: Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk []
  18. Diana Ross: Diana []
  19. Funkadelic: Let's Take It To The Stage [A-]
  20. Minnie Riperton: Come to my garden -[]
  21. Nina Simone: Nina Simone & Piano -[]
  22. The Meters: Look-Ka Py Py []
  23. Al Jarreau: Look to The Rainbow [C+]
  24. Tony Toni Tone: Sons of Soul []
  25. Jungle Brothers: Straight out the jungle [A-]
  26. Jill Scott: Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 [**]
  27. The Isley Brothers: The Heat Is On [B+]
  28. Rick James: Street Songs [*]
  29. Los Lobos: Kiko [B+]
  30. Louis Jordan: Let the Good Times Roll [A-]
  31. The Beatnuts: Street Level []
  32. Sting: Nothing Like The Sun []
  33. Curtis Mayfield: Curtis/Live! -[]
  34. Brand Nubian: One for all [A-]
  35. Radiohead: Kid A [B]
  36. Cody Chesnutt: The Headphone Masterpiece [B+]
  37. Prince: The Truth -[]
  38. Stereolab: Dots & Loops [B]
  39. Common: Like Water for Chocolate [A-]
  40. Richard Pryor: That Nigger's crazy -[]
  41. The Avalanches: Since I left you [B+]
  42. Peter Rock & C.L. Smooth: Mecca & The soul brother []
  43. Sade: Stronger than pride -[]
  44. Ahmad Jamal Trio: The Awakening []
  45. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part one [***]
  46. The Beatles: Revolver [A]
  47. Tears for Fears: The seeds of love [B-]
  48. Herbie Hancock: Thrust [**]
  49. Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet []
  50. The Police: Reggatta De Blanc [B+]
  51. Ultramagnetic MCs: Critical Beatdown []
  52. Fiona Apple: Tidal []
  53. Fela Kuti: Beasts of No Nation [B]
  54. The Pharcyde: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde [B-]
  55. Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of the Summer Laws [B-]
  56. Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury [A-]
  57. Marvin Gaye: Here, My Dear [A-]
  58. Graham Central Station: Release Yourself -[]
  59. Amy Winehouse: Back To Black [**]
  60. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth: Pleasure -[]
  61. Earth, Wind & Fire: All 'N All [B+]
  62. John Coltrane: Coltrane Plays the Blues [B+]
  63. Eugene McDaniels: Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse -[]
  64. Talking Heads: Remain in Light [A+]
  65. Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill [A-]
  66. Led Zepplin: Physical Graffiti [B+]
  67. The Time: What Time is it? [B+]
  68. Slum Village: Fantastic Vol 2 []
  69. Sly & the Family Stone: Fresh [A-]
  70. Max Roach: Drums Unlimited []
  71. Fishbone: Fishbone -[]
  72. Stevie Wonder: Talking Book [A]
  73. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland [A]
  74. James Brown: Revolution of the mind: Live at the Apollo Vol3 -[]
  75. The Beatles: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band [A]
  76. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life [A-]
  77. Miles Davis: On the Corner [***]
  78. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme [A+]
  79. Stevie Wonder: Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants [C+]
  80. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds [A+]
  81. Janet Jackson: Control [*]
  82. Ice Cube: Amerikkka's Most Wanted -[]
  83. Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique [B+]
  84. The Police: Synchronicity [A-]
  85. Miles Davis: Nefertiti [A-]
  86. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On [A-]
  87. Bill Withers: + 'Justements -[]
  88. Prince: Parade: Music from the motion picture Under the Cherry Moon [A-]
  89. Sly & The Family Stone: There's a Riot Going On [A]
  90. Michael Jackson: Thriller [A]
  91. Stevie Wonder: Music Of My Mind [B+]
  92. A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders [A-]
  93. Prince: 1999 [A-]
  94. D'Angelo: Voodoo [A-]
  95. De La Soul: De La Soul Is Dead [C+]
  96. Rufus: Ask Rufus -[]
  97. Michael Jackson: Off The Wall [A]
  98. Slum Village: Fan-Tas-Tic Vol 1 -[]
  99. Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back [A+]
  100. Average White Band: Person To Person -[]

Monday, May 25, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (finished).

Music: Current count 33333 [33277] rated (+56), 209 [214] unrated (-5).

Played a lot of old jazz last week. I mostly started with albums that were nominated by JazzTimes in reader polls to select the best albums of the 1970s and 1980s, but once I got into an artist's oeuvre I let myself wander. A couple of these albums were singled out by Chris Monsen as among the ten best of the 1980s, and they fared considerably better than average. I was particularly on the lookout for ECM releases, as they've only recently become available on Napster. Dozens more records on the list, so I may stick with this for a while.

I'm not giving up on new records -- more like pacing myself. I am still maintaining my tracking and metacritic files. They're just not inspiring me to check out a lot of albums at the moment.

Rated count includes a few records I missed counting in previous weeks, but mostly reflects that I rarely gave records a second play (especially old jazz). More exposure could lift a few of them -- especially among the Sonny Rollins releases, given that I have The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1962-64, 6CD) at A-, and Gary Giddins' expert selection from the Milestones (1972-2000), with one song per album, Silver City, at A+.

This is the last Monday of May, so Streamnotes (May, 2020) is wrapped up. I noticed that I had missed doing the indexing for April, so fixed that. I still haven't done the indexing for the last two Book Roundups, so need to work on that. I also have enough Questions to start trying to write up some answers. Should have some of them by the end of the week.

PS: Thought I had got through a week with no major jazz or pop deaths to report, but found out about Jimmy Cobb (91) just after I posted. Also missed Mory Kanté (70).

New records reviewed this week:

  • The Dream Syndicate: The Universe Inside (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(*)
  • Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia (2020, New West): [r]: B+(***)
  • Joel Harrison + 18: America at War (2019 [2020], Sunnyside): [r]: B+(***)
  • Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (2018 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B+(*)
  • Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (2019 [2020], Origin): [cd]: B+(**)
  • Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (2010-17 [2020], OA2): [cd]: B

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Apala: Apala Groups in Nigeria 1967-70 (1967-70 [2020], Soul Jazz): [r]: B+(*)
  • Eddie Russ: Fresh Out (1974 [2019], Soul Jazz): [r]: B

Old music:

  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Young at Heart/Wise in Time (1969 [1996], Delmark): [r]: B+(**)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One (1994 [1995], Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Song for All (1995 [1997], Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • George Adams: Sound Suggestions (1979, ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at Montmartre (1985 [1986], Timeless): [r]: B+(**)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (1972 [1973], Atlantic): [r]: B
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978 [1979], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: <Full Force (1980, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Third Decade (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Tim Berne Sextet: The Ancestors (1983, Soul Note): [r]: B+(*)
  • Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (1983 [1984], Soul Note): [r]: B+(***)
  • Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (1981, Columbia): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: I Only Have Eyes for You (1985, ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Avant Pop (1986, ECM): [r]: A-
  • Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (1982 [1983], Enja): [r]: B+(**)
  • Charlie Haden/Paul Motian Feat. Geri Allen: Etudes (1987 [1988], Soul Note): [yt]: A-
  • Jimmy Lyons: Other Afternoons (1969 [1979], Affinity): [r]: B+(**)
  • Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Wee Sneezawee (1983 [1984], Black Saint): [r]: A-
  • Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Give It Up (1985, Black Saint): [r]: B+(***)
  • Oregon: Oregon (1983, ECM): [r]: B
  • Oregon: Crossing (1984 [1985], ECM): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: With the Modern Jazz Quartet (1951-53 [1982], Prestige/OJC): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins [Volume 1] (1956 [1957], Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Volume 2 (1957, Blue Note): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Plays (1956-57 [2010], Essential Music Group): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins Featuring Jim Hall: The Quartets (1962 [1986]. RCA Bluebird): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins/Don Cherry Quartet: The Complete 1963 Copenhagen Concert (1963 [2014], Doxy, 2CD): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins & Don Cherry: Live at the Olympia '63 (1963 [2010], Master Classics): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: Live in Tokyo, Japan '63 (1963 [2010], Master Classics): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins and Co. 1964 (1964 [1995], RCA Bluebird): [r]: A-
  • Sonny Rollins: Horn Culture (1973, Milestone): [r]: A-
  • Sonny Rollins: The Cutting Edge (1974, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (1977, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (1978, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Don't Ask (1979, Milestone): [r]: B
  • Sonny Rollins: Love at First Sight (1980, Milestone): [r]: B+(***)
  • Sonny Rollins: No Problem (1981, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Reel Life (1982, Milestone): [r]: B+(*)
  • Sonny Rollins: The Solo Album (1985, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (1993, Milestone): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Gnu High (1975 [1976], ECM): [r]: B+(***)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Around 6 (1979 [1980], ECM): [r]: B+(**)
  • Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (1983 [1984], ECM): [r]: A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sara Serpa: Recognition (Biophilia) [06-05]

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link.

Robert Christgau wrote an impassioned piece last week on why it matters for people to vote for Biden and the Democrats against Trump and the Republicans in November. You can find it here and here -- scroll down to the last question and answer. I agree substantively, but have a few quibbles.

First, I gagged on the phrase "criminally stupid." Stupid, maybe, but that isn't (and shouldn't be) a crime. Gauging the importance of any election requires both a lot of information and a good sense of political dynamics over time. How difficult it is should be clear from our different estimates and prognoses of what a Trump victory would mean. (Which, just to be clear, don't diminish our agreement that this election is "crucial" and that if it goes the wrong way a lot of very bad things will happen.)

For instance: "Abortion will end, feminism atrophy, gay rights shrivel." If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, states will be free to outlaw abortion (and for that matter birth control), but only a few states will. Same with LGBTQ rights. The effect will be to undermine rights that currently all Americans share, but unless this can be followed up with new federal legislation the effect will be to make red and blue states diverge further. Granted, if Republicans win by landslides (augmented or enabled by gerrymandering and voter suppression, which is the only way that seems possible) they might be able to rewrite federal law to force their views on blue states. They might even amend the constitution to get rid of parts they don't like (although most likely they'll be happy enough to have their packed courts read the constitution their way).

None of this woud cause feminism to "atrophy": if anything, it will make it sharper and more necessary. Indeed, while we prefer not to speak of it, one thing that invariably happens is that when power tilts one direction, resistance grows. A lot of bad things have happened since 2016, but resistance has grown, both in numbers and in clarity and resolve. The lines about what Hillary would have done differently aren't very convincing -- especially the one about billionaires, because while she was chummy with different ones than Trump was, she was always very deferential to them (as were Democrats like Obama and Biden). At least with Trump as president, we don't have to go through this election defending her. I'm not a person who believes that things have to get worse before they can get better, but I do recognize that people often learn things only the hard way. I voted for Hillary even though I thought she was fucking awful, because I understood how much worse Trump was, but also because I thought we'd be better off starting from her as a baseline than we'd be with Trump.

Obviously, I think that with Biden vs. Trump, as well. I voted for Bernie Sanders, and Biden was one of my least favorite candidates, so I'm not happy he's the nominee, but I'm also not very unhappy with the way the race has shaped up. Aside from the necessity of beating Trump and the Republican ticket -- which in terms of policy (if not personality) if anything worse than Trump -- the second most important thing for me is to advance the ideas of the left. While Sanders and others have made remarkable progress, it was clear that they have not swayed the powers in the party, and that the latter would stop at nothing (including self-defeat) to keep control of the Democratic Party. With Biden we have a seat at the table to argue for policies on their merits, and we shouldn't have to spend much of our energy fighting off internecine attacks from the right. Nothing is certain, but as I keep insisting, the answers to our major problems are on the left. Biden needs answers as much as we do.

The Democratic Primary in Hawaii went for Joe Biden (63.23%), over Bernie Sanders (36.77%). You can draw either conclusion from this. On the one hand, Biden has drawn consistent majorities everywhere since shortly after Super Tuesday, and there's no real chance he's going to weaken. On the other hand, there's still a sizable bloc of Democrats who think we can do better, and that too -- despite the campaign blackout and Bernie's own endorsement of Biden -- shows no sign of weakening.

Some scattered links this week:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Book Roundup

Blog link.

Aside from last week's Trump Books, this is my first Book Roundup since October 31, 2019, so lots of ground to cover. As usual, 40 books in the main section (well, 45), some with lists of extras tacked on. Then a bunch of "briefly noted" -- most just noted. Not inconceivable I could return and write more about some of them later. I've even been known to read the occasional book that first appeared there. But at least this includes them in the big file for future reference.

This time I have a third section, which includes leftovers from the Trump Books roundup. I didn't sort them out as I did before. Again, this section includes some forthcoming books -- some surprisingly close to the election, like they're deliberately planning on being irrelevant. [PS: On further reflection, I think I should move these new books back into the old post, but will hold off on doing that until later, so those reading in real time won't have to go back.]

My usual methodology here is to start with Amazon's tracking of my tastes and interests, and see where their recommendations lead me -- especially given that their book pages contain blurbs and user reviews, often even a partial "look inside," usually sufficient information to base my notes on. However, Amazon has become much more frustrating and much less useful lately. Their "my recommendations" page is now about 80% non-book clutter, and their book subject lists have generally been slashed from 50 to 15 books (I've seen them with as few as 4), so not much to explore from there. Their book pages used to have long lists of related books (usually books that others have bought or looked at), but the only thing they offer regularly now is "books you may like" -- pretty much the same list on every page. Their subject browsing has never been useful (it's even hard to find it). Even searches are pot shots. For the Trump books, I scoured through 50-60 screens of titles before posting last week. Most of the books below showed up in the next 20-30 screens.

I wound up going to Barnes and Noble for Trump books. Their subject browsing has been slightly better in the past, although it, too, seems worse than before. (Filters now seem to cancel each other out rather than further refine, and order by date is flat out broken.) Plus they don't have nearly as much aggregate information, so when I do find a book there, I wind up having to search it out on Amazon. I also looked at Indie Bound, but found no help at all. Looks like you can order there, but can't really shop. [PS: Finally, looked at Good Reads, which turns out to be more useful.]

In the future, it looks like I'm going to have to return to doing things like thumbing through the New York Review of Books looking for advertisements. (In the past, I went to libraries and bookstores to jot down lists of titles. From age 16 on I prowled around bookstores several times a week, regarding it as essential to my mental health, but that practice declined and ended when Borders went bankrupt.) I even tried doing a Google search for "new political books," which referred me to BookAuthority's 63 Best New Politics Books to Read in 2020. Some real crap, but at least 25% of the books there didn't show up in my Amazon searches. (Thanks to that list, I added Lawrence Lessig's book to the list, and after looking up Lessig I wrote the two Ganesh Sitaraman entries, increasing the main list to 42 books.)

Two of the longer sublists deserve special mention. I often list previous works by authors, but that went a little long with Joseph J Ellis. I look at the aforementioned "big file" often to see what other books someone has written, so it's always tempting to broaden that list -- currently, it's just everything mentioned in previous Book Roundups, but I can imagine stuffing it into a database. On the other hand, I didn't do that for the next author down, Eric Foner. That's partly because I've followed Foner more closely in the past, and indeed have read several of his books that predate the file (actually starting with Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970; paperback, 1995, Oxford University Press).

Also did a long list under Nathan J Robinson, but the other list I wanted to mention was the one under Laurie Garrett. You hear people arguing that no one could have anticipated the pandemic, but as the list shows, there's actually a pretty substantial literature on the subject, with Garrett's big 1994 book as a cornerstone. Admittedly, I padded the list with historical books on the 1918 influenza. That is the most similar historical event to the present one, so seems of special interest today. I wasn't finding much on older plagues, but given how much else I had I decided not to look harder. But I did think of a Robert Desowitz book I had read 20+ years ago, and thought it worth mentioning. Also stumbled across a new article by Garrett, which would have been good in a Weekend Roundup.

Hard to predict when the next Book Roundup will appear, given what a mess my scratch file is currently in, plus the recent search troubles. I currently have 49 books left over, but most of them are mere stubs (some of those I might as well add as such below). On the other hand, at least a dozen are ready to go, and even as I write this I'm finding more books I want to comment on.

Books (from the main section) I've read so far: Erwin Chemerinsky: We the People; Ani DiFranco: No Walls and the Recurring Dream; Matt Farwell/Michael Ames: American Cipher; Eric Foner: The Second Founding; Ezra Klein: Why We're Polarized; John McPhee: Draft No. 4; Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land; Cailin O'Connor/James Owen Weatherall: The Misinformation Age; Charles Postel: Equality; Emmanuel Saez/Gabriel Zucman: The Triumph of Injustice; Joan C Williams: White Working Class. Most of these I picked up rather haphazardly from the library. I've also read all (or nearly) of Robert Christgau: Book Reports and Paul Krugman: Arguing With Zombies as pre-book essays. Wrote two of those up at the end, only after seeing them in my book feed.

Posting this without yet doing the indexing. The "big file," see above for link, currently has 4,505 books (paragraphs, approximately the same thing), so it is already pretty unwieldy (although I can still load its 1.8 MB into an emacs buffer and search it almost instantly, so it still works for me).

David A Ansell: The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills (paperback, 2019, University of Chicago Press): Doctor, has spent 40 years working in some of the poorest hospitals in Chicago, wrote a book about his experiences: County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital (2011, Academy Chicago Publishers). Problem here is not just that America's health care system fails poor Americans, inequality has stacked the deck against them even before illness or injury strikes. Related:

  • Heather Boushey: Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It (2019, Harvard University Press).
  • Michael Marmot: The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our health and Longevity (paperback, 2005, Owl Books).
  • Michael Marmot: The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World (2015; paperback, 2016, Bloomsbury).
  • Jonathan Rothwell: A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society (2019, Princeton University Press).
  • Nelson D Schwartz: The Velvet Rope Economy: How Inequality Became Big Business (2020, Doubleday).
  • Veronica Squires/Breanna Lathrop: How Neighborhoods Make Us Sick: Restoring Health and Wellness to Our Communities (2019, paperback, IVP Books).

Andrew Bacevich: The Age of Illusions (2020, Metropolitan Books): Ex-soldier, professed conservative, Bacevich has written a long series of books about the revival of militarism in America after Vietnam and how that renascent military was wasted and ruined in a series of wars in the Middle East. He looks to be retracing his steps here, focusing especially on the decision to maintain "sole superpower" status after the Cold War's sudden end, a decision that encouraged new enemies to replace the old. While that has been profitable for an arms industry and a bureaucracy always in need of enemies, the forever wars have only left America poorer and shabbier than before.

Christopher Caldwell: The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties (2020, Simon & Schuster): This is regarded as a rare conservative attempt at serious cultural history, but as always the word "entitlement" gives the mythmaking impulse away. Caldwell takes "readers on a roller-coaster ride through Playboy magazine, affirmative action, CB radio, leveraged buyouts, iPhones, Oxyconti, Black Lives Matter, and internet cookies" to illustrate his case that "the reforms of the 1960s, reforms intended to make the nation more just and humane, instead let many Americans feeling alienated, despised, misled."

Erwin Chemerinsky: We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century (paperback, 2018, Picador): Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, previously wrote The Conservative Assault on the Constitution (2011), and The Case Against the Supreme Court (2014). His "progressive reading" emphasizes the preamble, which among other things permits the government to "promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" -- about as progressive a directive as one can imagine. Also see:

  • Erwin Chemerinsky: The Case Against the Supreme Court (2014; paperback, 2015, Penguin Books).
  • Danielle S Allen: Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (paperback, 2015, Liveright).
  • Stephen M Feldman: The New Roberts Court, Donald Trump, and Our Failing Constitution (2017, Palgrave MacMilan).
  • Eric J Segall: Originalism as Faith (paperback, 2018, Cambridge University Press).
  • Ilan Wurman: A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism (paperback, 2017, Cambridge University Press).

Robert Christgau: Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading (paperback, 2019, Duke University Press): Second collection of essays, following up Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017 (paperback, 2018, Duke University Press) with a selection of book reviews -- some on music history and criticism, some on fiction, some loosely grouped as "Bohemia Meets Hegemony" and "Culture Meets Capital."

Adam Cohen: Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America (2020, Penguin Press): From 1936 to 1969 we were fortunate to have a Supreme Court that leaned left, for the only real period in American history when the Court worked to broaden and deepen the rights of all citizens, often in opposition to repressive and reactionary state and even federal laws. In 1969, Nixon started a campaign to pack the court with right-wingers (although his first two nominees were rejected by the Senate, his choice of William Rehnquist started to change the tide). Also see (plus the Robin Pogrebin/Kate Kelly book below, and the Erwin Chemerinsky book/list above):

  • Mollie Hemingway/Carrie Severino: Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court (2019, Regnery).
  • Carl Hulse: Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington's War Over the Supreme Court, From Scalia's Death to Justice Kavanaugh (2019, Harper).
  • David A Kaplan: The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court in the Age of Trump (paperback, 2019, Broadway Books).
  • Ruth Marcus: Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover (2019, Simon & Schuster).
  • James D Zirin: Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court (2016, Rowman & Littlefield).

John Corbett: Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music (2019, University of Chicago Press): Music writer and impressario (owns his own reissue label), reminiscences about 4-11 records from each year of the 1970s -- a pretty hip selection, many (even obscurities) I would have picked, probably more jazz than I knew at the time. Starts with the Kinks' "Lola," ends 1979 with the Raincoats' cover of same (plus one 1980 album, Grace Jones' Warm Leatherette).

William Dalrymple: The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire (2019, Bloomsbury): Major historian of British India, focuses here on the early period when English power was entrusted to private enterprise, the notorious East India Company -- a case example of what's likely to happen when the powers of state are directed exclusively for the profit of foreign shareholders. The progression is spelled out in chapter titles: "1599," "Sweeping With the Broom of Plunder," "Bloodshed and Confusion," "Racked by Famine," and "The Corpse of India." After the revolt of 1859, the British government had to step in and take over. They, too, did a lousy job.

Ani DiFranco: No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir (2019, Viking; paperback, 2020, Penguin Press): DIY folksinger from Buffalo, released her own records and made a business out of that, which she still regards as a pretty weird thing to do. I have a cousin who moved to Buffalo and knows her -- my cousin's family shows up here and there in the book, and I figure I probably caught a glance of Ani as a girl, long before I started hearing about how amazing she was, which was long before you did, so I've always felt a bit of a personal connection. Also I figure it's good for me to read the occasional memoir, especially of people growing up political, as I may write one myself some day. I found the early family/city parts fascinating, the music/industry less so. I suspect she does too.

EJ Dionne Jr: Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country (2020, St Martin's Press): The Washington Post columnist's second Trump book, perhaps a little more desperate than the first (One Nation Under Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported), but doubling down on his centrist pitch, that progressives have to give in and accept nothing for their votes, so the centrists can cut their own deals furthering oligopoly.

Barbara Ehrenreich: Had I Known: Collected Essays (2020, Twelve): Starts with the Harper's piece that grew into her bestseller, Nickel-and-Dimed, with more on inequality, health, men, women, science, joy, God, and "bourgeois blunders" -- a rather vast category. A good selection, but after two dozen books, not remotely close to collected.

Joseph J Ellis: American Dialogue: The Founders and Us (2018, Knopf): Historian, has written a number of books on the founding of the United States (partial list below). Notes the persistence of "what would the Founding Fathers think?" questions on current topics, tries to juxtapose several contemporary questions with thinking from those founders: Thomas Jefferson (racism), John Adams (inequality), George Washington (imperialism), and James Madison (the doctrine of original intent). I wouldn't put much stock in the answers (at least from the first two), but shows us again how the study of history is always (for better or worse) an interaction with the present. More Ellis books, and other recent period titles:

  • Joseph J Ellis: After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture (1979; paperback, 2002, WW Norton).
  • Joseph J Ellis: Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993; paperback, 2001, WW Norton).
  • Joseph J Ellis: American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson (1996; paperback, 1998, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000; paperback, 2002, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: His Excellency: George Washington (2004; paperback, 2005, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic (2007; paperback, 2008, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: First Family: Abigail and John Adams (2010; paperback, 2011, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence (2013; paperback, 2014, Vintage Books).
  • Joseph J Ellis: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 (2015; paperback, 2016, Vintage): Singles out George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.

Matt Farwell/Michael Ames: American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan (2019, Penguin Press): Bergdahl was a troubled teenager in Idaho, signed up and got thrown out of the US Coast Guard, joined the US Army as a private and got sent to Afghanistan. There, he wandered off his base, was captured by the Taliban and held for five years before being repatriated in a prisoner exchange. He was then reviled by the right-wing press, and as a result was court-martialed for desertion, convicted, and dishonorably discharged, without further incarceration. His story parallels America's futile and foolish war effort.

Eric Foner: The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution (2019, WW Norton): America's foremost historian of the period, his main book Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988; updated edition, paperback, 2014, Harper). This focuses most specifically on the three constitutional amendments of the period, including the one about "birthright citizenship" that Trump has most explicitly attacked. This details how and why they were passed, and how they've been reinterpreted by the courts ever since (e.g., how the 14th Amendment has been taken as carte blanche for corporate power).

Laurie Garrett: The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance (1994; paperback, 1995, Farrar Straus & Giroux): This is an old book, massive (768 pp), nothing remotely specific on this year's pandemic, but a solid rejoinder to anyone's insinuation that "no one could have anticipated this." Garrett, by the way, is still around, most recently writing Trump Has Sabotaged America's Coronavirus Response. Here are some more books on pandemics and plagues, broadening the net both going back and forward.

  • Laurie Garrett: Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (paperback, 2001, Hachette Books).
  • Laurie Garrett: I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks (paperback, 2012, CreateSpace).
  • Warren A Andiman: Animal Viruses and Humans: A Narrow Divide: How Lethal Zoonotic Viruses Spill Over and Threaten Us (paperback, 2018, Paul Dry Books).
  • Katherine Arnold: Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts From the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History (paperback, 2020, St Martin's Griffin).
  • John M Barry: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (2004; paperback, 2005, Penguin Books).
  • Thomas J Bollyky: Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World Is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways (paperback, 2019, MIT Press).
  • Nancy K Bristow: American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic (2012; paperback, 2017, Oxford University Press).
  • Jeremy Brown: Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History (paperback, 2019, Atria Books).
  • Alfred W Crosby: America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 (2nd edition, paperback, 2003, Cambridge University Press).
  • Molly Caldwell Crosby: The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History (2006; paperback, 2007, Berkley).
  • Mike Davis: The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (2005, New Press; paperback, 2006, Holt).
  • Robert S Desowitz: Who Gave Pinta to the Santa Maria? Tracking the Devastating Spread of Lethal Tropical Diseases Into America (1997; paperback, 1998, Harcourt Brace).
  • Michael Greger: Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching (2006, Lantern Books).
  • Oscar Harway: Spanish Flu 1918: Data and Reflections on the Consequences of the Deadliest Plague, What History Teaches, How Not to Repeat the Same Mistakes (paperback, 2020, independent).
  • Mark Honigsbaum: The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris (2019, WW Norton).
  • Ali S Khan: The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind's Gravest Dangers (2016, PublicAffairs).
  • Christian W McMillen: Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction (paperback, 2016, Oxford University Press).
  • Michael BA Oldstone: Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present and Future (paperback, 2009, Oxford University Press).
  • Michael T Osterholm/Mark Olshaker: Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (paperback, 2020, Little Brown).
  • David Quammen: Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012; paperback, 2013, WW Norton).
  • David Quammen: Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus (paperback, 2014, WW Norton).
  • David Quammen: The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged From an African Forest (paperback, 2015, WW Norton).
  • Pardis Sabeti/Lara Salahi: Outbreak Culture: The Ebola Crisis and the Next Pandemic (2018, Harvard University Press).
  • Soia Shah: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond (2016, Sarah Crichton Books; paperback, 2017, Picador).
  • Alan Sipress: The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic (paperback, 2010, Penguin Books).
  • Laura Spinney: Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World (2017, PublicAffairs).
  • David Waltner-Toews: On Pandemics: Deadly Diseases From Bubonic Plague to Coronavirus (paperback, 2020, Greystone Books). [May 28]
  • Nathan Wolfe: The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age (2011, Times Books; paperback, 2012, Griffin).
  • Slavoj Zizek: Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World (paperback, 2020, Polity).

Kim Ghattas: Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unravaled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020, Henry Holt). There's a natural dynamic to revolution to try to expand -- one thinks of the French wars against European monarchies, and Russia's appeal to proletarian revolution elsewhere. When Iran threw off the Shah, one of the first things the new Islamic Republic did was to mount a challenge for leadership of the Muslim World -- something Saudi Arabia had assumed since occupying the "holy cities" of Mecca and Medina. Hence the "forty-year rivalry" documented here. While revolutionary fervor in Iran has ebbed, isolation orchestrated by the Saudis, Israel, and the United States (as always, the sorest of sore losers) has kept a desperate edge on the conflict.

Dan Kaufman: The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics (2018, WW Norton): The Kochs put a lot of money and organization into flipping Wisconsin, and had their most remarkable success these, with Scott Walker winning two terms as governor, Ron Johnson twice defeating Russell Feingold for the Senate, and a state legislature so gerrymandered Republicans still have a massive edge despite losing the popular vote -- Democrats did manage to rebound some in 2018. Moreover, Republicans won not by sugar-coating their ideology, but by taking advantage of their wins to implement some of the most radically right-wing policies in the nation.

Marc Hetherington/Jonathan Weiler: Prius or Pickup? How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide (2018, Houghton Mifflin): Sure, badly. On the other hand, if you tell someone what your politics are, then ask them to answer the questions for you, the answers will probably correlate, at least in that people with different politics will probably put you into the authors pigeonholes. All that proves is that you can lie with statistics, as opposed to the usual process of just spouting nonsense. Authors also wrote:

  • Marc J Heherington/Jonathan D Weiler: Authoritarian and Polarization in American Politics (paperback, 2009, Cambridge University Press).

AG Hopkins: American Empire: A Global History (2018, Princeton University Press). I thought I'd slip this in under Daniel Underwahr's How to Hide an Empire, but at 960 pp this is by far the more sweeping book, basically a recasting of the whole history of America as viewed through its imperialistic proclivities. Author is British, which no doubt helped set up the global imperial framework.

Ezra Klein: Why We're Polarized (2020, Simon & Schuster): Polarization per se doesn't bother me. Indeed, given that Republicans have moved significantly to the right, it's good that Democrats have moved somewhat left, and would I'd be happier if they moved even further. Sure, this does cause problems, like when one party (almost always the Republican) tries to obstruct the other from doing it would do itself if under different circumstances (like pass stimulus bills). Klein cites a lot of political science research on how people identify themselves in groups, but he refuses to credit any kind of "identity politics" strawman (unlike, say, Mark Lilla, in The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics). He sees identity as inevitable but also flexible and multi-layered, which strikes me as right.

Paul Krugman: Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future (2020, WW Norton): New York Times columnist and sometime economist recycles his columns, organized into thematic sections, like how Obamacare was supposed to work, why the Euro didn't, why tax cuts aren't always good, why deficits aren't always bad, and how politics affects (and infects) everything.

Michael Lind: The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Managerial Elite (2020, Portfolio): Started out as a thinker with conservative impulses, gradually turned on the right without abandoning those instincts. Seems to be intent on defending working class Trump voters here from the charge of bigotry, arguing that they're caught in the grip of a class war against them, and for a "class compromise that provides the working class with real power."

Andrew Marantz: Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation (2019, Viking). You know, there's a lot of incoherent shit on the internet. If you look for it, you'll find it, and if you take it seriously, you'll start to worry about, oh say, the future of civilization. As near as I can tell, that's what Marantz is doing here, plus a little legwork to meet up with some of the people who play assholes in virtual space. I'm not sure any of it matters, but he does spend enough time chatting up the alt-right to draw out their general maleficence, so that's something. Just not sure it's worth the trouble.

Branko Marcetic: Yesterday's Man: The Case Against Joe Biden (paperback, 2020, Verso): Intended as "a deep dive into Joe Biden's history and the origins of his political values," argues that "far from being a liberal stalwart, Biden often outdid even Reagan, Gingrich, and Bush, assisting the right-wing war against the working class, and ultimately paving the way for Trump." Even though Biden's been the Democratic frontrunner, we haven't seen many books reviewing his life and record. But I'm reminded here that the publisher has a history of dredging up dirt on Democratic candidates -- back in 2000, I read one of their more brutal hatchet jobs, Al Gore: A User's Manual (by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair). Biden is a much easier target -- Gore at least seemed to have the gravitas and smarts to make his frequent maneuvers to the right seem merely opportunistic, whereas Biden simply does whatever seems easiest. On the other hand, Biden's running less on his own record than on someone else's, and few have seen fit to call him on that. More on Biden:

  • Mike McCormick: Joe Biden Unauthorized: And the 2020 Crackup of the Democratic Party (paperback, 2020, 15 Years a Deplorable).

Michael J Mazarr: Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America's Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy (2019, PublicAffairs): A RAND Corporation senior analyst, the sort of person who would have rubber-stamped the Bush administration's plot to invade Iraq, claims to have figured out how it all went so horribly wrong. He blames the decision on "a strain of missionary zeal that lives on" -- clearly, John Bolton is a particularly odious example. But while it's pretty easy these days to find politicians who admit that Iraq was a mistake, it's much harder to find ones who question the assumptions that went into that miscalculation. As such, even with books like this on the shelf, we have little reason to expect future war planners to have learned from past disasters.

John McPhee: Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process (2017; paperback, 2018, Farrar Straus and Giroux): My favorite nonfiction writer constructs a memoir of his writing, stories of who and when and why, mixed with occasional grammar tips. I was hooked at the latter, although his thoughts on structure will challenge me more. Still, I'm reluctantly coming to suspect that at 89 his major works are behind him: The Founding Fish was 2002, Uncommon Carriers 2006, and since then just collections, most recently The Patch (2018), which I passed up at the library: essays on fishing, football, golf, lacrosse, bears, and something called "An Album Quilt."

Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto (2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): Born in India, grew up in New York, wrote journalism all around the world, giving him the feel and perspective to write his major book, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004). "Mehta juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of laborers, nannies, and others . . . also stresses the destructive legacies of colonialism and global inequality on large swaths of the world: When today's immigrants are asked, 'Why are you here?' they can justly respond, "We are here because you were there.'"

Cailin O'Connor/James Owen Weatherall: The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread (2018; paperback, 2020, Yale University Press): Useful anecdotal history of many cases where blatant falsehoods were propagated far and wide, both recent and fairly deep into the past (e.g., the "health benefits" of bleeding). Also a series of approximate mathematical models of how such ideas are transmitted, ranging from gossip to propaganda.

Kevin C O'Leary: Madison's Sorrow: Today's War on the Founders and America's Liberal Ideal (2020, Pegasus Books): A research fellow at the Center of the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine, previously wrote Saving Democracy: A Plan for Real Representation in America (paperback, 2006, Stanford University Press). Argues that Madisonian democracy was essentially liberal, and that the Republican Party has "unleashed an illiberal crusade against the ideals of the Founding Fathers." Both liberals and conservatives have tried to claim the Founders and their Constitution as their own. I've long thought that Scalia's "originalism" is a crock. On the other hand, the liberal case has mostly been aspirational, as they recall best sentiments and overlook how often those ideals have been failed. Still, I recall that my own politics started with a naive embrace of our noble past, leading me to turn against modern politicians of both parties for their many failures to live up to those ideals. But since then, one party has stood out in its desire to wreck the very foundations of democracy and equality: the Republicans, as O'Leary makes clear here.

Thomas Philippon: The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up on Free Markets (2019, Belknap Press): By which he means: stopped worrying about monopoly power and shied away from antitrust enforcement. Economist, teaches finance at Stern School of Business. That's a reasonable position: capitalists wax eloquent about the efficiencies of the free market, but the first thing they learn to do in business school is to undermine and thwart competition. But I've seen this book picked apart by none other than James K Galbraith -- to some extent in defending his father (who was tolerant of well-regulated monopoly), but also for lionizing Wright Patman (D-TX), who had a reputation as a populist in the 1930s but didn't impress me much when he was chairing the House Banking Committee in the 1960s.

Thomas Piketty: Capital and Ideology (2020, Belknap Press): Massive successor to the French economist's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, runs 1104 pages. Krugman panned this for wandering too far afield, but one suspects that a good part of the complaint has to do with Piketty's more radical political leanings. Goes deep in time, and all around the world, seeking to understand the roots of inequality and its extension today.

Robin Pogrebin/Kate Kelly: The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation (2019, Portfolio): The authors dug up some of the background exposés that crowded out discussion of judicial philosophy -- reason enough to keep him far away from the Supreme Court. Book includes several revelations that resurfaced questions as to whether Kavanaugh lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings, and whether he should be impeached for it. Clearly, as a Supreme Court Justice, he's well positioned to do immense damage to our rights under the Constitution.

Charles Postel: Equality: An American Dilemma 1866-1896 (2019, Farrar Straus and Giroux): A history of several political movements following the Civil War that took the notion of equality, given renewed emphasis following the end of slavery and the constitutional promise of equal rights, and tried to expand it to various groups -- farmers, women, labor. It's worth noting that several of those movements made alliances with the restoration of white power in the South, and as such compromised the equality they sought on the fractured ground of racism. Postel wrote a previous book, The Populist Vision.

Jedediah Purdy: This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth (2019, Princeton University Press): Philosopher, I guess, although he makes his living teaching law. Hailing from West Virginia, he's haunted by the relationship between environmental destruction and poverty. A blurb touts this as a "Thoreauvian call to wake up," but surely he realizes that lifting a title from Woody Guthrie suggests a more straightforward revolution.

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen: The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History (2019, Oxford University Press): Intellectual history, "from the Puritans to Postmodernism, and everything in between." That's a tall, probably impossible order, especially given how much actual thinking in American history simply cancels one another out. To come up with something more usually requires an agenda. This one isn't clear, not least because what we might have recognized as a liberal/progressive consensus a generation or two ago has been widely trashed of late, mostly (but not only) by the right. Author previously wrote American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (2011; paperback, 2012, University of Chicago Press).

Nathan J Robinson: Why You Should Be a Socialist (2019, All Points Press): Editor of Current Affairs, has a pile of books since 2013, including ones focused on Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, but more intent on explaining how much better life could be with democratic socialism. Other books by Robinson and other books on democratic socialism:

  • Nathan J Robinson/Oren Nimni: Blueprints for a Sparkling Tomorrow: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (paperback, 2015, Demilune Press).
  • Nathan J Robinson: Superpredator: Bill Clinton's Use and Abuse of Black America (paperback, 2016, Demilune Press).
  • Nathan J Robinson: The Current Affairs Mindset: Essays on People, Politics, and Culture (paperback, 2017, Demilune Press).
  • Nathan J Robinson: Trump: Anatomy of a Monster (paperback, 2017, Demilune Press).
  • Nathan J Robinson: Interesting Times: Arguments & Observations (paperback, 2018, Demilune Press).
  • Nathan J Robinson: The Current Affairs Rules for Life (paperback, 2018, Demilune Press).
  • Paul S Adler: The 99 Percent Economy: How Democratic Socialism Can Overcome the Crises of Capitalism (2019, Oxford University Press).
  • Kate Aronoff/Peter Dreier/Michael Kazin, eds: We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism -- American Style (paperback, 2020, New Press):
  • Micah Uetricht: Bigger Than Bernie: How We Can Go From the Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism (2020, Verso).
  • Richard D Wolff: Understanding Socialism (paperback, 2019, Democracy at Work).

David Rohde: In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth About America's "Deep State" (2020, WW Norton). All bureaucracies have their own special interests, and those that act in secrecy are especially likely to hide their own agendas. The FBI, especially but not exclusively under J Edgar Hoover, often put its own agenda first, which led to numerous abuses, especially directed at what they dubbed "subversive" groups, like civil rights activists and labor unions. The CIA has been even more secretive, and their remit to run clandestine operations has been even more widespread. Moreover, they've enjoyed direct private access to the president -- at least since 9/11 on a daily basis, so their ability to shape US foreign policy, whatever their motives may be, is nonpareil but also obscure. Indeed, it's not uncommon for presidents-elect to reverse course following their first briefing, which only adds to the aura of mysterious power. So much as been obvious to everyone on the left since Harry Truman, but the last few years it's been Trump et al. who've been up in arms over the "deep state" -- an epithet they tend to apply indiscriminately to the whole civil service. This book provides some background, but mostly to help sort out the charges that the FBI and CIA, with their Obama-era leadership, were out to get Trump. I don't doubt there's something to those charges, but Trump's demands are such an overreach not just of decent policy but of law that it's hard to side with him, even against adversaries this bad.

Heather Cox Richardson: How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America (2020, Oxford University Press): Historian, argues not just that the defeated Confederacy was able to restore its old system of white supremacy for a century after the Civil War, but that a the American West provided a key vector for Southern political influence, notably through the "movement conservatives" like Barry Goldwater. Thus we see that their efforts to maintain supremacy did not end with the civil rights movement, but continue to influence the Republican Party today. Richardson previously wrote:

  • Heather Cox Richardson: West From Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War (2007, Yale University Press).
  • Heather Cox Richardson: To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party (2014, Basic Books).

Emmanuel Saez/Gabriel Zucman: The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (2019, WW Norton): Saez is the world's foremost statistician of inequality, so expect a fair amount of number crunching here. Zucman, who I associate with French economist Thomas Piketty, has a previous book more specific to this concern: The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (2015; paperback, 2016, University of Chicago Press). Makes a strong case for cracking down on tax havens, showing that the failure of the US and other countries to do so is a deliberate choice in favor of oligarchy. Also makes a case for a wealth tax.

Gabriel Sherman: The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News -- and Divided a Country (2014; paperback, 2017, Random House). This is the basis for Showtime's TV series, with Russell Crowe playing Ailes. I had missed the book, which sounds like it's meant to blow smoke up Ailes' ass, and couldn't stand watching the show -- mostly because I didn't find Ailes' bloviating speeches credible (not so much that I couldn't believe he gave them but I couldn't stomach the notion that anyone bought them). Still, probably the single most important political story of the last quarter-century, so someone had to tell it.

Ganesh Sitaraman/Anne L Alstott: The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality (2019, Harvard University Press): The most often hear "public option" these days as Joe Biden's preferred way of patching up Obamacare's failure to assure competitive private health insurance. As such, it's seen as an alternative to Medicare for All, but the latter is a much better example of what the authors mean by "public option": a case where the government provides a public service, not bound by the private sector's need to maximize profit. The section on history offers examples like public libraries and Social Security, and admits "mixed results in education and housing." Part Three plots out where this could go, and probably shortchanges "And More" with just 12 pages.

Ganesh Sitaraman: The Great Democracy: How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America (2019, Basic Books): Author of The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic (2017, Knopf), which offered a pretty convincing account of the founding of the nation as an egalitarian ideal struggling to become real. Here he focuses on more recent history: the rise of the right from Reagan on (which he roots in and doesn't distinguish from neoliberalism, a term he uses a lot but I'd prefer to limit). Prescriptions follow. [PS: In his "Acknowledgments" I was surprised to find generous mention of Pete Buttigieg.]

Gene Sperling: Economic Dignity (2020, Penguin Press): Cover adds: "Chief White House Economic Adviser to President Obama and President Clinton." Sperling advertised himself as The Pro-Growth Progressive in 2005, with his "economic strategy for shared prosperity." At that time, he was cooling his heels, working at the Brookings Institution, waiting to become Hillary Clinton's chief economic adviser for her ill-fated 2008 campaign (2008 was, however, very good to Sperling, as he received $2.2 million "from a variety of consulting jobs, board seats, speaking fees and fellowships" (that's prosperity, but not what I'd call shared). He easily made the transition from Clinton to Obama, and was a prominent player in Ron Suskind's 2011 book Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President. The new book leads off with a blurb from Hillary Clinton, who says "it should be our North Star for the recovery and beyond." There are people with worse resumes in Washington (e.g., those currently working for Trump), but few "progressives" have aimed so low and still failed to deliver. Even now, he's trying to buy us off with "dignity" (which, by the way, he defines as "you know it when you see it"). Good luck with that.

Matt Stoller: Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy (2019, Simon & Schuster): Big book on the dangers of concentration of economic power as companies connive to prevent or limit competition: something antitrust law was meant to prevent, but has been hobbled by loose definitions and lax enforcement, not unrelated to the ever-greater role that lobbying and campaign "contributions" play in American politics.

Joan C Williams: White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America (paperback, 2019, Harvard Business Review Press): Sympathetic enough to her subjects, emphasizing how the desire for stability and belief in self-sufficiency offer the white working class a conservative ethos, a point which could be extended to the non-white working class if they only had a party option that wasn't as offensive as the Republicans. Contrasts this to the urban professionals who may be more liberal socially but also lack the grounding in community and its identities, and may wind up more alienated as a result. In passing, she mentions "class migrants," who typically come from the working class but are able to function in the professional world, appreciating bits of both.

Other recent books noted with little or no comment:

Alberto Alesina/Carlo O Favero/Francesco Glavazzi: Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn't (2019, Princeton University Press).

Charlotte Alter: The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America (2020, Viking). Profiles of young politicians, the eldest Pete Buttigieg (b. 1982), the only other one I recognize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (b. 1989).

Andrew J Bacevich, ed: American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition: A Century of Writings From Henry Adams to the Present (2020, Library of America).

Molly Ball: Pelosi (2020, Henry Holt).

Frida Berrigan: It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing Into Rebellious Motherhood (paperback, 2015, OR Books).

Rutget Bregman: Humankind: A Hopeful History (2020, Little Brown): "A more politically radical Malcolm Gladwell."

Vincent Brown: Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (2020, Belknap Press).

Oren Cass: The Once and Future Worker: A Vision for the Renewal of Work in America (2018, Encounter Books): Former "domestic policy director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign."

Panashe Chigumadzi: These Bones Will Rise Again (2020, The Indigo Press): On Zimbabwe and overthrowing Robert Mugabe.

Michael D'Antonio: The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton (2020, Thomas Dunne Books).

Alan Dershowitz: Guilt by Accusation: The Challenge of Proving Innocence in the Age of #MeToo (2019, Hot Books).

Joan Marans Dim/Antonio Masi: Lady Liberty: An Illustrated History of America's Most Storied Woman (2019, Fordham University Press).

Mike Duncan: The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic (2017; paperback, 2018, PublicAffairs).

Anna Fifield: The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jung Un (2019, PublicAffairs).

Marc Fleurbaey, et al: A Manifesto for Social Progress: Ideas for a Better Society (paperback, 2018, Cambridge University Press).

Kristen Ghodsee: The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (paperback, 2015, Duke University Press).

Ted Gioia: Music: A Subversive History (2019, Basic Books).

Malcolm Gladwell: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know (2019, Little Brown).

Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment (paperback, 2019, Berrett-Koehler).

Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America (paperback, 2019, Berrett-Koehler).

Thom Hartmann: The Hidden History of the War on Voting: Who Stole Your Vote -- and How to Get It Back (paperback, 2020, Berrett-Koehler).

Nolan Higdon/Mickey Huff: United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About it) (paperback, 2019, City Lights).

Jonathan Horn: Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle (2020, Scribner).

Susan Jacoby: The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies (paperback, 2018, Vintage Books): Revised edition of her 2008 The Age of American Unreason, itself a return to Richard Hofstadter's famous Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

Sean Kay: Rockin' the Free World! How the Rock & Roll Revolution Changed America and the World (2016, Rowman & Littlefield; paperback, 2018, RL).

Stephen Kinzer: Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control (2019, Henry Holt).

Michael T Klare: All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change (2019, Metropolitan Books).

Michael J Klarman: The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (2016, Oxford University Press).

Mikael Klintman: Knowledge Resistance: How We Avoid Insight From Others (2019, Manchester University Press).

Nicholas D Kristof/Sheryl WuDunn: Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope (2020, Knopf).

Peter La Chapelle: I'd Fight the World: A Political History of Old-Time, Hillbilly, and Country Music (paperback, 2019, University of Chicago Press).

Rob Larson: Capitalism vs. Freedom: The Toll Road to Serfdom (paperback, 2018, Zero Books).

Erika Lee: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States (2019, Basic Books).

Lawrence Lessig: They Don't Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy (2019, Dey Street Books).

Steven Levingston: Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership (2019, Hachette Books).

Matthew Lockwood: To Begin the World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (2019, Harvard University Press).

Agusto Lopez-Claros/Bahiyyih Nakhjavani: Equality for Women = Prosperity for All: The Disastrous Global Crisis of Gender Inequality (2019, St Martin's Press).

Allen Lowe: God Didn't Like It: Electric Hillbillies, Singing Preachers, and the Beginning of Rock and Roll, 1950-1970 (paperback, 2013, Constant Sorrow Press).

Annie Lowrey: Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World (2018, Crown).

George Monbiot: Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (2017; paperback, 2018, Verso).

Jenny Odell: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (2019, Melville House).

Michael O'Sullivan: The Levelling: What's Next After Globalization (2019, PublicAffairs).

Robert B Reich: The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It (2020, Knopf).

Ruth Reichl: Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir (2019; paperback, 2020, Random House).

Thomas E Sheridan/Randall H McGuire, eds: The Border and Its Bodies (2019, University of Arizona Press).

Frank Smyth: The NRA: The Unauthorized History (2020, Flatiron Books).

Rebecca Solnit: Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (2020, Viking).

Joseph E Stiglitz: Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump (paperback, 2017, WW Norton).

Cal Thomas: America's Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers . . . and the Futrure of the United States (2020, Zondervan).

Jia Tolentino: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion (2019, Random House).

Rick Van Noy: Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South (2019, University of Georgia Press).

Michael Walzer: A Foreign Policy for the Left (2018, Yale University Press).

Jesse Wegman: Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College (2020, St Martin's Press).

Tara Westover: Educated: A Memoir (2018, Random House).

Kevin D Williamson: The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics (2019, Gateway).

Even after trying hard to round up all but the flimsiest and most ridiculous books on Trump, his administration, and the 2020 election, I find I still missed a few:

Seth Abramson: Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019, St Martin's Press): Previously wrote Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018, Simon & Schuster), and has a third volume in the works, each over 400 pp range (this one 592).

Seth Abramson: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020, St Martin's Press): A third volume, after Proof of Collusion (2018) and Proof of Conspiracy (2019). This seems to me like far and away the fattest subject, even before the author tacked on something about the pandemic, probably making it one of the first books to broach the subject. Still, seems too early to tell much. [September 8]

Jeffrey F Addicott: Trump Judges: Protecting America's Establishment Pillars to "Make America Great Again" (paperback, 2020, Imprimatur Press).

Dan Alexander: White House, Inc: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency Into a Business (2020, Portfolio). Senior Editor at Forbes, so it's unclear whether this is muckraking or just their usual run of business puff pieces. But possibly useful to the extent he shows how it's done. [August 11].

Martin Amis: The Rub of Time: Bellow, Nabakov, Hitchens, Travolta, Trump: Essays and Reportage, 1986-2016 (2017, Joathan Cape).

Sara Azari: Unprecedented: A Simple Guide to the Crimes of the Trump Campaign and Presidency (2020, Potomac Books): Author is "a practicing lawyer who specializes in white-collar crime," and at least starts with cases that led to prosecutions -- first chapter is on George Papadopoulos). Doesn't read "simple," but at 176 pp is short.

Kobby Barda: The Key to Understanding Donald J Trump (2019, Simple Story).

Edwin L Battistella: Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, From Washington to Trump (2020, Oxford University Press).

Joy Behar: The Great Gasbag: An A-Z Study Guide to Surviving Trump World (2017; paperback, 2018, Harper).

Pablo J Boczkowski/Zizi Paracharissi, eds: Trump and the Media (paperback, 2018, MIT Press).

Dan Bongino: Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J Trump (2018, Post Hill Press).

Ben Bradlee Jr: The Forgotten: How the People of One Pennsylvania County Elected Donald Trump and Changed America (2018, Little Brown).

Donna Brazile: Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House (2017, Hachette Books).

Laura Briggs: How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump (2017, University of California Press).

Martha Brockenbrough: Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump (2018, Feiwel Friends).

FH Buckley: The Republican Workers Party: How the Trump Victory Drove Everyone Crazy, and Why It Was Just What We Needed (2018, Encounter Books).

Leonard Cruz/Steven Buser, eds: A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump (paperback, 2016, Chiron Publications).

Brian Francis Culkin: The Meaning of Trump (paperback, 2018, Zero Books).

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: The Donald J Trump Presidential Twitter Library (2018, Spiegel & Grau).

Kim Darroch: Collateral Damage: Britain, America, and Europe in the Age of Trump (2020, PublicAffairs): Former British Ambassador to the US, resigned under fire "after a series of cables containing unflattering descriptions of President Trump." [September 15]

Alan Dershowitz: Defending the Constitution: Alan Dershowitz's Senate Argument Against Impeachment (paperback, 2020, Hot Books).

Ian Doescher/Jacopo della Quercia: MacTrump: A Shakespearean Tragicomedy of the Trump Administration, Part I (paperback, 2019, Quirk Books): An adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, or possibly Barbara Garson's Macbird (1967)?

Lou Dobbs: The Trump Century (2020, Broadside Books): The Thousand Year Reich in an age of diminished expectations. [September 1]

Jesse Duquette: The Daily Don: All the News That Fits Into Tiny, Tiny Hands (paperback, 2019, Arcade).

David A Farenthold: Uncovering Trump: The Truth Behind Donald Trump's Charitable Giving (paperback, 2017, Diversion Books).

John Bellamy Foster: Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce (paperback, 2017, Monthly Review Press): Marxist sociologist, editor of Monthly Review, has a number of books on ecological and financial crises. This is a short (144 pp), early take on Trump's election, by a guy who knows a "neo-fascist" when he sees (or smells) one.

John Gartner/Steven Buser, eds: Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump (paperback, 2018, Chiron Publications): Some chapters: "If Trump Were a Policeman I Would Have to Take Away His Gun"; "Trump's Sick Psyche and Nuclear Weapons: A Deadly Mixture"; "Facing the Truth: The Power of a Predatory Narcissist"; "Trump's No Madman, He's Following the Strongman Playbook"; "Visions of Apocalypse and Salvation."

John Glaser/Christopher A Preble/A Trevor Thrall: Fuel to the Fire: How Trump Made America's Broken Foreign Policy Even Worse (and How We Can Recover) (2019, Cato Institute).

Mardy Grothe: Deconstructing Trump: The Trump Phenomenon Through the Lens of Quotation History (2019, Quoterie Press).

Pete Hegseth: American Crusade: Our Fight to Stay Free (2020, Center Street): Flag-waving "old school patriot" with military background and tattoos, sees Trump as a "sign of a national rebirth," while decrying "Leftists who demand socialism, globalism, secularism, and politically-correct elitism." Parlayed his conceits into a job as co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend.

Donald Heinz: After Trump: Achieving a New Social Gospel (paperback, 2020, Cascade Books).

Rosanna Hildyard: Ubu Trump (paperback, 2017, Eyewear Publishing): Alfred Jarry's 1888 play Ubu Roi, "translated and entirely updated" by Hildyard. When I first saw MacTrump, I flashed on this as the more apt production . . . and here it is!

Gene Ho: Trumpography: How Biblical Principles Paved the Way to the American Presidency (paperback, 2018, iUniverse).

Adam Hodges: When Words Trump Politics: Resisting a Hostile Regime of Language (paperback, 2019, Stanford University Press): Analysis of Trump's words (you know, "the best words"), especially via Twitter.

Carl Hoffman: Liar's Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey Into the Upside-Down World of Trump's MAGA Rallies (2020, Custom House). Katy Tur's Unbelievable (2017) provides a sense of what Trump's rallies are like, or at least were during the 2016 campaign, but this promises to be both more in-depth and more up-to-date. While the fans and the appeal are likely to be the same, I can't help but wonder if Trump being president doesn't intensify the sense of power. [September 22]

Charles Hurt: Trump Saves America: Our Last Hope to Be Great Again (2019, Center Street).

Aaron James: Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump (2016, Doubleday).

Brittany Kaiser: Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower's Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again (2019, Harper).

David King: Why Trump Deserves Trust, Respect, and Admiration (paperback, 2016, CreateSpace): Blank pages -- not the first such Trump book I've seen.

Edward Klein: All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump (2017, Regnery).

Howard Kurtz: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth (2018, Regnery).

Gary Lachman: Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump (paperback, 2018, TarcherPerigee).

Martin E Latz: The Real Trump Deal: An Eye-Opening Look at How He Really Negotiates (2018, Brisance Books).

David Limbaugh: Guilty by Reason of Insanity: Why the Democrats Must Not Win (2019, Regnery).

Trevor Loudon: White House Reds: Communists, Socialists & Security Risks Running for US President, 2020 (paperback, 2020, independent): Quotes Trump saying the 2020 election would be about "Communism versus Freedom," then proceeds to red-bait "ten high profile contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination." Previously wrote Barack Obama and the Enemies Within (2011, 688 pp), and The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the US Congress (2013, 702 pp).

Michael Maccoby, ed: Psychoanalytic and Historical Perspectives on the Leadership of Donald Trump (paperback, 2020, Routledge).

Derek Mailhiot: Trump: America's First Zionist President (paperback, 2019, independent): Author means this as a compliment, but where exactly does that leave America First? Even if you see Trump's "deep relationship" is really with Christian Zionism, what does that mean but a yearning for Armageddon? And that's a longing Israeli Zionists want to encourage?

Stephen Mansfield: Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him (2017, Baker Books).

Gerardo Marti: American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency (paperback, 2020, Rowman & Littlefield).

Mike McCormick: Fifteen Years a Deplorable: A White House Memoir (paperback, 2019, 15 Years a Deplorable).

Rachel Montgomery: All I Ever Wanted to Know About Donald Trump I Learned From His Tweets: A Psychological Exploration of the President Via Twitter (paperback, 2017, Skyhorse).

Samhita Mukhopadhyay/Kate Harding, eds: Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America (paperback, 2017, Picador).

Stephanie Muravchik/Jon A Shields: Trump's Democrats (2020, Brookings Institution Press). [August 25]

Jack Murphy: Democrat to Deplorable: Why Nine Million Obama Voters Ditched the Democrats and Embraced Donald Trump (paperback, 2018, independent).

Caitríona Perry: In America: Tales From Trump Country (2018, Gill Books).

Carol Pogash, ed: Quotations From Chairman Trump (2015, RosettaBooks). I'm surprise this hasn't been revised and reissued, given how much additional verbiage Trump has spewed in the meantime. Maybe the editor thinks it was already perfect? By the way, this wasn't the first attempt to parody Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book": I had a copy of Quotations From Chairman LBJ back in the day; and it was followed by a little blue book of Richard Nixon quotes, Poor Richard's Almanack.

Joel Pollak/Larry Schweikart: How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution (paperback, 2017, Regnery).

Kevin Powell: My Mother. Barack Obama. Donald Trump. And the Last Stand of the Angry White Man (2018, Atria Books).

Jack Rasmus: The Sourge of Neoliberalism: US Economic Policy From Reagan to Trump (paperback, 2020, Clarity Press).

Ted Rall: Trump: A Graphic Biography (paperback, 2016, Seven Stories Press).

Ian Reifowitz: The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (paperback, 2019, Ig Publishing).

Sheldon Roth: Psychologically Sound: The Mind of Donald J Trump (Bombardier Books). Against every other psychologist and psychiatrist who's weighed in on the subject, argues that Trump is "remarkably complicated, often brilliant, comfortingly human, and most importantly, of completely sound mind."

David Rubin: Trump and the Jews (2018, Shiloh Israel Press): Note that Amazon's "frequently bought together" adds David Rubin: God, Israel, and Shiloh: Returning to the Land (paperback, 2011, Shiloh Israel Press), and Mark Blitz: Decoding the Antichrist and the End Times: What the Bible Says and What the Future Holds (paperback, 2019, Charisma House).

John Bernard Ruane: The Real News! The Never-Before-Told Stories of Donald Trump & Fake News (paperback, 2018, Post Hill Press).

Michael Savage: Stop Mass Hysteria: America's Insanity From the Salem Witch Trials to the Trump Witch Hunt (2018, Center Street).

Steven E Schier/Todd E Eberly: The Trump Presidency: Outsider in the Oval Office (paperback, 2017, Rowman & Littlefield).

Ben Shapiro: The Establishment Is Dead: The Rise and Election of Donald Trump (2017, Creators Publishing).

Marsha Shearer: America in Crisis: Essays on the Failed Presidency of Donald Trump (paperback, 2019, GoMyStory).

James B Stewart: Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law (2019, Penguin Books).

David A Stockman: Trumped! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin . . . And How to Bring It Back (2016, Laissez Faire Books): Ronald Reagan's Budget Director, turned libertarian iconoclast, fantasizes a bit about Trump making "ten great deals" -- which, of course, he never came close to considering, and not just because he doesn't really consider anything.

Gene Stone: The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen (2017, Dey Street Books).

Roger Stone: The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution (2017, Skyhorse). I missed this, but did list Stone's later book, The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Really Won (paperback, 2019, Skyhorse).

Stephen E Strang: God, Trump, and Covid-19: How the Pandemic Is Affecting Christians, the World, and America's 2020 Election (paperback, 2020, Frontline): Short (128 pp) follow up to the author's God, Trump, and the 2020 Election: Why He Must Win and What's at Stake for Christians if He Loses (2020, Frontline), and for that matter his 2017 book, God and Donald Trump.

Joe Walsh: F*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic Authoritarian Con Man He Is (2020, Broadside Books): Author is a "rock-ribbed conservative," a former Republican congressman from Illinois who briefly challenged Trump in the 2020 Republican presidential primary.

Jonathan Weisman: (((Semitism))) Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump (2018, St Martin's Press).

Shannon Wheeler: Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J Trump (2017, Top Shelf Productions).

John K Wilson: President Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire (paperback, 2017, OR Books).

Byron York: Obsession: Inside the Democrats' War on Trump (2020, Regnery). Chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner, and Fox News hack. Previously wrote: The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President -- and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next Time (2005, Crown Forum). [September 8]

Also: books that I've written about (or noted) before, that I missed when looking for old Trump books:

Tucker Carlson: Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution (2018, Free Press).

Andrew C McCarthy: Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency (2019, Encounter Books).

Monday, May 18, 2020

Music Week

Expanded blog post, May archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 33277 [33244] rated (+33), 214 [212] unrated (+2).

First a reminder that you can use this form to ask me a question, or just make a comment. I'll start answering when they've piled up to a presently undetermined critical mass. The form is similar to the one I created for Robert Christgau. Both use a free software captcha package to cut down on spam. I've heard it cuts down on legit submissions as well, although Christgau has received close to 1,000, so it seems to work well enough.

I hadn't noticed any prominent musician deaths in the past week. Well, Phil May, 75, singer for The Pretty Things, a Brit Invasion group that had a cult following among my Terminal Zone comrades.

I did find out about a couple of older deaths last week, when I received a PDF booklet with biographical sketches of a few dozen people who participated in antiwar protests at Washington University in St. Louis in 1970. I moved to St. Louis a couple years later, so wasn't directly involved at that stage, but wound up knowing close to a third of the people in the booklet, as well as others unlisted. Two had died a few years back: Larry Kogan, who I knew as the owner of Left Bank Books but had been one of the main figures prosecuted for burning down the ROTC building in 1970; and Fred Faust, who had edited the student newspaper and been the main technical guy for every radical publication of the period. Fred started a typesetting business called Just Your Type, and one day he came up to me in Larry's book shop and offered me a job. That was the first job I ever had, and it changed my life: taught me I could make a living and survive on my own. Incidentally, when I left academia, I got into reading rock crit, and started my own checkered career as a record reviewer.

I noticed that JazzTimes is running a readers' poll to pick the 10 best jazz albums of the 1980s. I've jotted down their ballot for future reference (162 albums). First thing I'm struck by is that I missed a majority of the albums (100, 61.7%). I bought some jazz in the late 1970s, and lots from 1995 on (increasingly shifting to promos and streaming), so what I know of jazz in the 1980s has mostly been backfill, and almost all from purchases, so I've been pretty selective. Still, I can't complain that the ballot has a lot of obviously mediocre pop jazz (some: one Kenny G, one Bob James, two George Benson, one Yellowjackets, two Bobby McFerrin). Still, a lot of stuff on that list I would like to hear sooner or later (including 12 from ECM, 6 from Soul Note/Black Saint, 3 from Enja). Still, I've only graded 17 records on the list A- or above (4 by Don Pullen, 3 by Ornette Coleman), so a lot of fairly typical B+ material.

I'm not prepared to offer a list, but here's one that Chris Monsen posted on Facebook (with my grades in brackets -- checked out the last three while writing this):

  • David Murray Octet, Ming [A-]
  • Air, 80° Below '82 [A-]
  • John Carter Octet, Dauwhe [**]
  • Tim Berne, Mutant Variations [***]
  • Detail, Okhela [] -- reissued as Day Two [**]
  • Jimmy Lyons Quintet, Sneezawee [A-]
  • Bill Dixon, Thoughts [B-]
  • Ganelin Trio, Poco-A-Poco [***]
  • Geri Allen, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Etudes [A-]
  • Henry Threadgill Sextett, Rag, Bush and All [+]

I looked for their 1970s poll, but the page has been taken down. I did manage to scrounge up a results page from Google's cache, so added it to my notebook. The results page only listed 82 albums. With a shorter list of more famous records, the share I've listened to rose to 63.4% (up from 38.3% for the 1980s). The number of A- or better albums remained close to constant (16 vs. 17, 30.7% of graded albums vs. 27.4% for the 1980s). More really low grades, too (8 B- or lower in the 1970s vs. 3 in the 1980s).

Several points on this week's haul:

  • I made a much procrastinated effort to catch up with whatever promo vinyl I've received (never much, but Astral Spirits sent three LPs recently and I had a couple more leftover from 2017). I also found an ungraded Pamelo Mounk'a album in the pile (which led me to look at streaming archives). I almost never play LPs, and I'm not equipped very well to do so. My ancient Bang & Olufsen turntables (I've had two, one from the 1970s and one from around 1980) died long ago, so I'm using Laura's 1980s Technics -- seems to run my old LPs OK, but the new platters were all warped and slipped (I wound up using downloads for reference). I got rid of most of my vinyl when we moved to Wichita in 1999, so there's never been much need to make it accessible. I should search for more ungraded records, just to clean up dangling bits in the database. But the whole setup is pretty inconvenient right now. I certainly don't see any need to invest in a new turntable, no more than I enjoy this one.

  • Robert Christgau mailed out his May 2020 Consumer Guide last week. He recommended two full A records: one by Lucinda Williams (which I gave a solid A- to last week), and the one by Fiona Apple everyone seems to love (I hedged it down to B+(***) a couple weeks ago, then nudged it up a bit on revisiting it this week, but I'm still not a huge fan). I checked out some of his other picks, and a few Phil Overeem likes.

  • Tim Niland pointed me to one of Jazz Club Ferrara's releases, which led me to their Bandcamp page, where I found sixteen volumes of "unpublished live recordings selected from [their] archives." This is one of possibly many digital releases meant to provide relief from the pandemic quarantine.

After no unpacking last week, this week bounced back to something more normal, maybe even a bit above normal.

New records reviewed this week:

  • The Bad Plus: The Tower Tapes #4 (2019 [2020], Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Danny Barnes: Man on Fire (2020, ATO): [r]: B+(***)
  • Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet (2018 [2020], ACT Music): [r]: B+(*)
  • Josh Berman/Paul Lytton/Jason Roebke: Trio Discrepancies (2018 [2019], Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(**)
  • Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Tower Tapes #1 (2017 [2020], Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(**)
  • Broken Shadows: The Tower Tapes #2 (2020, Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: A-
  • Wayne Escoffery: The Humble Warrior (2019 [2020], Smoke Sessions): [r]: B+(*)
  • Bob Gluck: Early Morning Star (2019 [2020], FMR): [cd]: B+(*) [06-15]
  • The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express (2020, Fat Possum): [r]: B+(**)
  • Sam Hunt: Southside (2020, MCA Nashville): [r]: B+(*)
  • KVL: Volume 1 (2019, Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(*)
  • Rob Luft: Life Is the Dancer (2019 [2020], Edition): [r]: B
  • Chad Matheny: United Earth League of Quarantine Aerobics (2020, Dreams of Field, EP): [bc]: A-
  • Mdou Moctar: Mixtape Vol. 1 (2020, self-released): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia (2020, Anti-): [r]: B+(**)
  • Charles Rumback: June Holiday (2018 [2020], Astral Spirits): [lp]: B+(**)
  • Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamond Dreams (2020, Sub Pop): [r]: B+(**)
  • Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (2020, Fontana North, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Craig Taborn/Dave King: The Tower Tapes #3 (2019 [2020], Jazz Club Ferrara): [bc]: B+(***)
  • Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence Part 1 (2020, IOT, EP): [r]: B+(**)
  • Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love (2020, Alamo): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hayley Williams: Petals for Armor (2020, Atlantic): [r]: B+(*)
  • Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (2020, Asylum): [r]: B+(***)

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

  • Derek Bailey & Greg Goodman: Extracting Fish-Bones From the Back of the Despoiler (1992 [2017], The Beak Doctor): [lp]: B+(**)
  • Emperor X: Nineteen Live Recordings (2005-13 [2020], Dreams of Field): [bc]: B+(*)
  • The Good Life: The Animals Took Over (2009 [2020], self-released): [bc]: A-
  • John Gruntfest & Greg Goodman: In This Land All the Birds Wore Hats and Spurs (1984-2008 [2017], The Beak Doctor): [lp]: A-
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80: Perambulator (1983 [2020], Knitting Factory): [r]: B+(***)
  • Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings (1982 [2020], Verve): [r]: B+(**)
  • Stone Crush: Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987 (1977-87 [2020], Light in the Attic): [bc]: B+(**)

Old music:

  • Luís Lopes: Noise Solo at ZBD Lisbon (2011-12 [2013], LPZ): [lp]: B+(*)
  • Pamelo Mounk'a: No. 1 Africain: Ça Ne Se Prete Pas (1982, Star Musique): [lp]: B+(*)
  • Pamelo Mounk'a: Propulsion! (1983, Disques Sonics): [r]: A-
  • Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Essentiel (1981-84 [1993], Syllart): [r]: A-
  • Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Indispensable (1982-85 [1993], Syllart): [r]: B+(***)
  • Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Incontournable (1982-85 [1993], Syllart): [r]: B+(***)
  • William Elliott Whitmore: Kilonova (2018, Bloodshot): [r]: B+(**)
  • Hal Willner: Whoops, I'm an Indian (1998, Pussyfoot): [bc]: B+(***)

Grade (or other) changes:

  • Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020, Epic): [r]: [was: B+(***) A-

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Dave Glasser: Hypocrisy Democracy (Here Tiz)
  • Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (Cellar Live)
  • Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (Origin)
  • Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (Origin)
  • Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (Edgetone)
  • Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (OA2)
  • Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (self-released)
  • Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (Planet Arts/43 Street)

Daily Log

Ballot from the JazzTimes poll above, with my grades (! indicates grade added after first pass):

  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Earthbeams (Timeless, 1980) [A-]
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (ECM, 1980) [***] !
  • George Benson: Give Me the Night (Warner Bros., 1980) []
  • Carla Bley: Social Studies (ECM, 1980) [*]
  • Herb Ellis: Trio (Concord, 1980) []
  • Joe Henderson: Mirror Mirror (MPS, 1980) [+]
  • Irakere: Irakere II (Columbia, 1980) []
  • Steve Kuhn: Playground (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • Pat Metheny: 80/81 (ECM, 1980) []
  • Mingus Dynasty: Chair in the Sky (Elektra, 1980) []
  • David Murray: Ming (Black Saint, 1980) [A]
  • Old and New Dreams: Playing (ECM, 1980) [***]
  • McCoy Tyner: Quartets 4 X 4 (Milestone, 1980) []
  • James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad to Be in America? (Rough Trade, 1980) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Winelight (Elektra, 1980) [B]
  • Art Blakey: Album of the Year (Timeless, 1981) [B]
  • Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (Columbia, 1981) [***]
  • Lester Bowie: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1981) [+]
  • Chick Corea: Three Quartets (Stretch, 1981) []
  • Chick Corea Trio: Music (ECM, 1981) []
  • Al Jarreau: Breakin' Away (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin: Belo Horizonte (Warner Music Group, 1981) []
  • John McLaughlin/Al Di Meola/Paco DeLucia: Friday Night in San Francisco (Philips, 1981) [+]
  • Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth (Warner Bros., 1981) []
  • Oscar Peterson: Nigerian Marketplace (Pablo, 1981) []
  • Pharoah Sanders: Rejoice (Theresa, 1981) []
  • John Scofield: Shinola (Enja, 1981) []
  • Phil Woods: Birds of a Feather (Antilles, 1981) []
  • Monty Alexander: Triple Threat (Concord, 1982) []
  • The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Urban Bushmen (ECM, 1982) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (Antilles, 1982) [A]
  • Miles Davis: We Want Miles (CBS, 1982) []
  • Chico Freeman: Tradition in Transition (Elektra, 1982) [*]
  • Paquito D'Rivera: Mariel (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Herbie Hancock: Quartet (Columbia, 1982) []
  • Ronald Shannon Jackson: Mandance (Antilles, 1982) [+]
  • Paul Motian: Psalm (ECM, 1982) [***] !
  • Dewey Redman: The Struggle Continues (ECM, 1982) [*]
  • Woody Shaw: Master of the Art (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Sphere: Four in One (Elektra, 1982) []
  • Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (Soul Note, 1983) [***] !
  • Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (Enja, 1983) [**] !
  • Herbie Hancock: Future Shock (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Freddie Hubbard: Sweet Return (Atlantic, 1983) []
  • Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya (Ekapa RPM, 1983) [A]
  • Keith Jarrett: Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM, 1983) [+]
  • Steve Lacy: The Door (RCA Novus, 1983) [U]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Think of One (Columbia, 1983) []
  • Oregon: Oregon (ECM, 1983) [B] !
  • Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Show Stopper (Gramavision, 1983) [+]
  • Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (ECM, 1983) [A-] !
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: Rejoicing With the Light (Black Saint, 1984) []
  • Geri Allen: The Printmakers (Minor Music, 1984) [***]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Album Album (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • The Heath Brothers: Brothers & Others (Antilles, 1984) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Jumpin' In (ECM, 1984) [B]
  • Wynton Marsalis: Hot House Flowers (Columbia, 1984) [B-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: The Voice (Elektra/Musician, 1984) []
  • Pat Metheny Group: First Circle (ECM, 1984) []
  • Tito Puente: El Rey (Concord Picante, 1984) []
  • James Williams: Alter Ego (Sunnyside, 1984) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2 (Soul Note, 1985) [A-] [+]
  • Ray Anderson: Old Bottles, New Wine (Enja, 1985) [A-]
  • Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: The Great Pretender (ECM, 1985) [***] ! -- probably I Only Have Eyes for You; The Great Pretender was a 1981 album, also on ECM
  • Larry Coryell and Emily Remler: Together (Concord, 1985) []
  • James Newton: The African Flower (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • Bill Frisell: Rambler (ECM, 1985) []
  • Dave Holland Quintet: Seeds (ECM, 1985) []
  • Sheila Jordan: The Crossing (Black Hawk, 1985) [+]
  • The Mel Lewis Orchestra: 20 Years at the Village Vanguard (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Carmen Lundy: Good Morning Kiss (Black Hawk, 1985) []
  • Manhattan Transfer: Vocalese (Atlantic, 1985) []
  • Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (From the Underground) (Columbia, 1985) [+]
  • Frank Morgan: Easy Living (OJC, 1985) [***] !
  • Odean Pope: The Saxophone Shop (Soul Note, 1985) [***] !
  • Wayne Shorter: Atlantis (Columbia, 1985) []
  • Cedar Walton: The Trio, Vols. 1-3 (Soul Note, 1985) []
  • Tony Williams: Foreign Intrigue (Blue Note, 1985) []
  • George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Breakthrough (Blue Note, 1986) [A+]
  • Kenny Barron: What If? (Enja, 1986) []
  • Tim Berne: Fulton Street Maul (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Joanne Brackeen: Fifi Goes to Heaven (Concord, 1986) [B]
  • Chick Corea: Elektric Band (GRP, 1986) []
  • Hank Crawford: Soul Survivors (Milestone, 1986) []
  • Miles Davis: Tutu (Warner Bros., 1986) [B]
  • Kenny G: Duotones (Arista, 1986) []
  • Joe Henderson: State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note, 1986) [A-]
  • Bob James and David Sanborn: Double Vision (Warner Bros., 1986) []
  • Marc Johnson: Bass Desires (ECM, 1986) []
  • The Leaders: Mudfoot (Black Hawk, 1986) [A-]
  • Bobby McFerrin: Spontaneous Inventions (Elektra/Musician, 1986) []
  • Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (Geffen, 1986) [A]
  • Mulgrew Miller: Work (Landmark, 1986) []
  • Michel Petrucciani: Pianism (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Michel Petrucciani: Power of Three (Blue Note, 1986) [+]
  • Max Roach: Bright Moments (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Poncho Sanchez: Papa Gato (Concord, 1986) []
  • John Scofield: Blue Matter (Gramavision, 1986) [*]
  • Wayne Shorter: Phantom Navigator (Columbia, 1986) []
  • Jimmy Smith: Go for Whatcha Know (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • Cecil Taylor: For Olim (Soul Note, 1986) [B]
  • Tony Williams: Civilization (Blue Note, 1986) []
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Plays Duke Ellington (Elektra, 1986) [C+]
  • Michael Brecker: Michael Brecker (MCA/Impulse!, 1987) [B]
  • Bill Bruford's Earthworks: Earthworks (EG, 1987) [+]
  • Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987) [A]
  • Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition: Irresistible Forces (MCA, 1987) [U]
  • Charlie Haden: Quartet West (Verve, 1987) [**]
  • Charlie Haden/Geri Allen/Paul Motian: Etudes (Soul Note, 1987) [A-] !
  • Dave Holland: Razor's Edge (ECM, 1987) []
  • Dave Liebman: Homage to John Coltrane (Owl, 1987) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Random Abstract (Columbia, 1987) []
  • Carmen McRae and Betty Carter: Duets (Great American Music Hall, 1987) [**]
  • Pat Metheny Group: Still Life (Talking) (Geffen, 1987) []
  • Greg Osby: Sound Theater (JMT, 1987) []
  • Oscar Peterson: With Harry Edison and Eddie Vinson (Pablo, 1987) []
  • Courtney Pine: Journey to the Urge Within (Verve, 1987) [B]
  • Power Tools: Strange Meeting (Antilles, 1987) []
  • Sonny Rollins: G-Man (Milestone, 1987) [A+]
  • Marvin "Smitty" Smith: Keeper of the Drums (Concord, 1987) []
  • David Torn: Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1987) []
  • McCoy Tyner: Blues for Coltrane (Impulse!, 1987) []
  • Joe Williams: Every Night (Verve, 1987) []
  • John Blake: New Beginnings (Gramavision, 1988) []
  • Michael Brecker: Don't Try This at Home (Impulse!, 1988) []
  • Betty Carter: Look What I Got (Bet-Car/Verve, 1988) []
  • Don Cherry: Art Deco (A&M, 1988) [A-]
  • Stanley Clarke: If This Bass Could Talk (Portrait, 1988) []
  • Jerry Gonzalez: Rumba Para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988) [+]
  • Julius Hemphill: Big Band (Elektra/Musician, 1988) [**]
  • Joe Lovano: Village Rhythm (Soul Note, 1988) []
  • Jackie McLean: Dynasty (Triloka, 1988) [A-]
  • Carmen McRae: Carmen Sings Monk (RCA, 1988) [A-]
  • David Murray: Ming's Samba (Portrait, 1988) [+]
  • Music Revelation Ensemble: Music Revelation Ensemble (DIW, 1988) []
  • Don Pullen: New Beginnings (Blue Note, 1988) [A]
  • Wayne Shorter: Joy Ryder (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Take 6: Take 6 (Reprise, 1988) []
  • Toots Thielemans: Only Trust Your Heart (Concord, 1988) []
  • McCoy Tyner Revelations (Blue Note, 1988) [+]
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Then and Now (Columbia, 1988) []
  • Bobby Watson: No Question About It (Blue Note, 1988) []
  • Cassandra Wilson: Blue Skies (JMT, 1988) [**]
  • World Saxophone Quartet: Rhythm and Blues (Elektra, 1988) [B-]
  • George Adams: America (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Geri Allen: In the Year of the Dragon (JMT, 1989) []
  • George Benson: Tenderly (Warner Bros., 1989) []
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: Grooves Up (Capri, 1989) []
  • Harry Connick, Jr.: When Harry Met Sally . . . (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Chick Corea: Akoustic Band (GRP, 1989) []
  • Miles Davis: Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989) [+]
  • Gene Harris: Listen Here! (Concord, 1989) []
  • Andrew Hill: Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989) [A-]
  • Christopher Hollyday: Christopher Hollyday (RCA, 1989) []
  • Shirley Horn: Close Enough for Love (Verve, 1989) []
  • Branford Marsalis: Trio Jeepy (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Storytelling (Columbia, 1989) []
  • Sun Ra & His Intergalaxtic Arkestra: Second Star to the Right (Salute to Walt Disney) (Leo, 1989) [***]
  • Marcus Roberts: The Truth Is Spoken Here (RCA/Novus, 1989) []
  • Gary Thomas: By Any Means Necessary (JMT, 1989) []
  • Tony Williams: Native Heart (Blue Note, 1989) []
  • Yellowjackets: The Spin (MCA, 1989) []

Their 1970s poll ballot has vanished, but I managed to scrape the results from Google's cache (ordered by votes, my grades in brackets):

  1. Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) [A-]
  2. Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  3. Chick Corea: Return to Forever (ECM, 1972) [A-]
  4. Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) [A-]
  5. Weather Report: Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) [B-]
  6. Pat Metheny: Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976) []
  7. Freddie Hubbard: Red Clay (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  8. Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976) [+]
  9. Miles Davis: A Tribute to Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971) [A+]
  10. Weather Report: Weather Report (Columbia, 1971) [B]
  11. George Benson: Breezin' (Warner Bros., 1976) [B]
  12. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971) [A]
  13. Dave Holland: Conference of the Birds (ECM, 1973) [A]
  14. Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse!, 1970) [+]
  15. The Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds of Fire (Columbia, 1973) [+]
  16. Return to Forever: Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1973) [B]
  17. Wayne Shorter: Native Dancer (Columbia, 1975) [B-]
  18. Miles Davis: On the Corner (Columbia, 1972) [***]
  19. Weather Report: Black Market (Columbia, 1976) []
  20. Grover Washington Jr.: Mister Magic (Kudu, 1975) [B]
  21. Bill Evans: The Bill Evans Album (Columbia, 1971) []
  22. Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974) [B]
  23. Joe Pass: Virtuoso (Pablo, 1973) [+]
  24. Charles Mingus: Changes One & Two (Atlantic, 1974) [A] [A-]
  25. Dexter Gordon: Homecoming (Columbia, 1976) [A-]
  26. Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971) [A-] -- expanded reissue
  27. Return to Forever: Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976) [C+]
  28. Bill Evans/Tony Bennett: The Bill Evans/Tony Bennett Album (Fantasy, 1975) [+]
  29. Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (Columbia, 1972) [C+]
  30. Stanley Turrentine: Sugar (CTI, 1970) [A-]
  31. Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi (Columbia, 1971) [B] -- expanded reissue
  32. Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar (Pablo, 1975) [*]
  33. Keith Jarrett: Belonging (ECM, 1974) [A]
  34. Keith Jarrett: My Song (ECM, 1978) [A-]
  35. Oscar Peterson/Joe Pass/Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen: The Trio (Pablo, 1974) []
  36. V.S.O.P.: The Quintet (Columbia, 1977) []
  37. Stan Getz: Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972) []
  38. Old and New Dreams: Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979) [**]
  39. Al Jarreau: Look to the Rainbow (Warner Bros., 1977) [C+]
  40. Woody Shaw: Rosewood (Columbia, 1978) [**]
  41. John McLaughlin & Carlos Santana: Love Devotion Surrender (Columbia, 1973) []
  42. Stanley Clarke: School Days (Nemperor, 1976) [C+]
  43. Carla Bley: Escalator Over the Hill (JCOA, 1971) [B]
  44. Jack DeJohnette: New Directions (ECM, 1978) [*]
  45. Grover Washington Jr.: Inner City Blues (Kudu, 1972) [*]
  46. Freddie Hubbard: Straight Life (CTI, 1971) [***]
  47. Paul Desmond: Pure Desmond (CTI, 1974) [B]
  48. Julius Hemphill: Dogon A.D. (Mbari, 1972) [A-]
  49. McCoy Tyner: Trident (Milestone, 1975) []
  50. Sarah Vaughan: The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vols. 1 & 2 (Pablo, 1979) [***] [**]
  51. George Benson: Beyond the Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971) [*]
  52. John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond (Douglas, 1971) []
  53. Shakti: Shakti With John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976) [***]
  54. Betty Carter: The Audience with Betty Carter (Bet-Car, 1979) [B-]
  55. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (ECM, 1978) [***] !
  56. Bill Evans: Alone Again (Fantasy, 1975) []
  57. Weather Report: 8:30 (Columbia, 1979) []
  58. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie (Nessa, 1970) []
  59. McCoy Tyner: Echoes of a Friend (Milestone, 1972) []
  60. Cecil Taylor: Silent Tongues (Arista, 1974) [A-]
  61. Sarah Vaughan: Send in the Clowns (Mainstream, 1974) []
  62. Art Pepper: The Trip (Contemporary, 1976) [+]
  63. Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers (Epic, 1977) []
  64. Joe Henderson: In Pursuit of Blackness (Milestone, 1971) []
  65. Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Fitzgerald & Pass . . . Again (Pablo, 1976) []
  66. McCoy Tyner: Supertrios (Milestone, 1977) []
  67. Stanley Clarke: Journey to Love (Nemperor, 1975) []
  68. Air: Air Lore (Arista Novus, 1979) [A]
  69. Sonny Rollins: Next Album (Milestone, 1972) [+]
  70. Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (Milestone, 1978) []
  71. Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock Trio (CBS, 1977) []
  72. Dexter Gordon: Bouncin' with Dex (SteepleChase, 1975) []
  73. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors (Atlantic, 1973) [B-]
  74. Ornette Coleman/Charlie Haden: Soapsuds, Soapsuds (Horizon, 1977) [+]
  75. George Benson: Good King Bad (CTI, 1976) []
  76. Charlie Haden: Closeness (Horizon, 1976) [+]
  77. Tony Williams: The Joy of Flying (Columbia, 1979) []
  78. Ron Carter: Piccolo (Milestone, 1977) []
  79. Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (Milestone, 1977) []
  80. The Heath Brothers: Passin' Through (Columbia, 1978) []
  81. Bill Evans with the George Russell Orchestra: Living Time (Columbia, 1972) []
  82. Ron Carter: Peg Leg (Milestone, 1978) []

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Weekend Roundup

Blog link

No introduction. No time, and none needed.

I should note that you can ask questions (or comment) on this or pretty much anything else by using this here form.

Some scattered links this week:

   Mar 2001