Streamnotes: November 25, 2019

Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on October 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (13808 records).

Recent Releases

Areni Agbabian: Bloom (2016 [2019], ECM): Vocalist, pianist, from California, Armenian descent -- mixes trad Armenian hymns and folk songs in with originals, some credited to producer Manfred Eicher. Very minimal, only other musician is percussionist Nicolas Stocker. B

Lolly Allen: Coming Home (2016 [2019], OA2): Vibraphone player, based in Los Angeles, first album, opens with Horace Silver's "The Hippest Cat in Hollywood," closes with "Bebop," wrote two songs and her trumpet player Carl Saunders added one called "Lolly's Folly." B+(*) [cd]

Ben Allison/Steve Cardenas/Ted Nash: Quiet Revolution (2015 [2018], Sonic Camera): Bass/guitar/tenor sax, also some clarinet. Same trio as Nash's later Somewhere Else, but artists listed here as above, the mix favoring the bass, and indeed this one is on his label. One song from each, covers from Jim Hall (6) and Jimmy Giuffre (2), closing with "Love Theme From Spartacus." [CD reissue; first appeared vinyl-only 2016 on Newvelle.] B+(***)

Byron Asher: Byron Asher's Skrontch Music (2018 [2019], Sinking City): From New Orleans, plays clarinet and tenor sax, first album, organized a ten-piece ensemble to play around excerpts from oral history recordings, giving it a trad jazz reference even when the music is aggressively postmodern. B+(**)

The Bad Plus: Activate Infinity (2019, Edition): Piano trio, founded in 2000 by Reid Anderson (bass), Dave King (drums), and Ethan Iverson (piano) -- replaced in 2017 by Orrin Evans, a star in his own right. B+(**)

Kenny Barron & Mulgrew Miller: The Art of Piano Duo: Live (2005-11 [2019], Sunnyside, 3CD): Two pianists, three encounters, the first in Marciac in 2005, the others in Zurich in 2011, two years before Miller (the junior partner by 15 years) died. Barron is famous as an educator, and playing along with students is part of his shtick, but few are as gifted as Miller. The pair merge together so seamlessly it's rarely clear who's playing what -- indeed, the occasional solo can be hard to detect. Endlessly entertaining. Dare I say flawless? A-

Jon Batiste: Anatomy of Angels: Live at the Village Vanguard (2018 [2019], Verve): New Orleans pianist, calls his band Stay Human, culled six nights of sets down to this slab of vinyl. Three originals, an arrangement of "Round Midnight," and a short bit of "The Very Thought of You," sung by Rachael Price -- a standout moment, along with Tiven Pennicott's tenor sax blast. B+(*)

Jon Batiste: Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard (2018 [2019], Verve): A second helping from the six-night stand, also vinyl-sized. B+(*)

Ilia Belorukov & Vasco Trilla: Laniakea (2017 [2019], Astral Spirits): Russian alto saxophonist, also plays fluteophone and electronics, in a duo with percussion, recorded at the latter's Barcelona studio. Feels too static for jazz, lots of drone, not even much clang. B- [bc]

The Carter Family: Across Generations (2019, Reviver Legacy): A John Carter Cash project, the son of June Carter, who first appeared in her famous family's group at age 10, and her second husband, an even more famous country singer-songwriter. JCC has made his mark as a producer lately, so this must have seemed a natural. Not sure of the details, but he started with old tracks from the group's heyday, cleaned them up and added extra voices from later Carter generations. Not sure it's worth the effort. B

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (2019, Ghosteen/Bad Seeds, 2CD): Australian singer-songwriter, a big deal since the early 1980s, but I was warned off him early, and have only sampled his last two (now three) albums. Still, I recognize his voice from songs used on the 1920s British gangsters show Peaky Blinders, where their industrial klang worked fairly well. But none of that here: everything is slow, eerie perhaps, with nothing much registering beyond a certain pained beauty. B

Clipping.: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (2019, Sub Pop): Experimental rap group from Los Angeles, best known member Daveed Diggs. On an alt-rock label, where their focus on noise over beats seems to be appreciated. I go back and forth. B+(*)

Leonard Cohen: Thanks for the Dance (2016 [2019], Columbia/Legacy): The poet-singer died in 2016, about the time he released You Want It Darker, still excellent despite a voice in tatters. These are "sketches" for songs, rounded up and finished roughly by son Adam Cohen, with guest help like Daniel Lanois and Beck. Barely makes it: nine songs, 29:17, the voice harsh even by recent standards, but the music is uncanny, and his words hit hard. A-

Harold Danko/Kirk Knuffke: Play Date (2018 [2019], SteepleChase): Piano and cornet duo. Alternates Duke Jordan songs with jointly-credited originals, cycling through "Flight to Denmark" three times. B+(***)

Michael Dease: Never More Here (2019, Posi-Tone): Trombonist, originally from Georgia, teaches at Michigan State, has a dozen albums since 2005. This one's styled as an exploration of Charlie Parker's legacy, less through Bird songs than through the work of his followers. With Steve Wilson (reeds), Renee Rosnes (piano), Gerald Cannon (bass), Lewis Nash (drums), and various guests. B+(**)

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: DIVA + the Boys (2017 [2019], MCG Jazz): Drummer Sherrie Maricle conceived this as an all-female big band back in the 1990s, eighth album here following 2017's 25th Anniversary Project. The "boys" are guests Ken Peplowski (clarinet), Claudio Roditi (trumpet), Jay Ashby (trombone), and Marty Ashby (guitar). B+(*) [cd]

DJ Shadow: Our Pathetic Age (2019, Mass Appeal, 2CD): Josh Davis, 1996 Endtroducing was a brilliant debut, 2002 The Private Press still a staple in my travel case. I hear occasional echoes here, among the beats on the mostly instrumental first disc. Second disc offers a parade of rappers, fine enough individually, can't say they add up to much more. B+(**)

Dave Douglas: Engage (2018 [2019], Greenleaf Music): Trumpet player, you know that, lists his band members in same-sized type below the title, for good reason: Anna Webber (alto & bass flutes/tenor sax), Jeff Parker (guitar), Tomeka Reid (cello), Nick Dunston (bass), Kate Gentile (drums). Also employs two more trumpet players on occasion. A- [cd]

Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction (2019, Out of Your Head): Brooklyn-based bassist, first album, has a half-dozen side credits over last couple years, notably one with Dave Douglas. Emphasis on strings, the bass supporting a balance between guitar and violin/viola, with flute (Louna Dekker-Vargas) and drums, and a bit of vocal. B+(**) [cd]

Lorenzo Feliciati/Michele Rabbia: Antikythera (2019, RareNoise): Primarily an electric bassist (with or without frets), but nothing here makes you think of bass-and-drum duets. Feliciati is also credited with keyboards, samples, soundesign, and electric guitar, and Rabbia does electronics as well as drums. Plus you get guests on all eight tracks: Cuong Vu (trumpet), Andy Sheppard (sax), Roy Powell (organ), and two pianists (Rita Marcotulli and Alessandro Gwis). B+(**) [cdr]

FKA Twigs: Magdalene (2019, Young Turks): British crooner-songwriter Tahliah Barnett, second album, producers are often well known electronica artists -- Nicholas Jaar, Daniel Lopatin, Skrillex, Cashmere Cat -- but leans toward torchy ballads. B

Floating Points: Crush (2019, Ninja Tune): English electronica producer Sam Shepherd, also has a PhD in neuroscience and epigenetics. Third album, some danceable beats, more ambient whorls of shaded sound. B+(**)

Calabria Foti: Prelude to a Kiss (2019, Moco): Singer, plays violin, fourth album, wrote one song here, rest are standards. Bob McChesney arranged and produced, bands ranging from solo piano (Roger Kellaway) up to full-blown orchestra. Results vary, but at her best on "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" (with Kellaway). B [cd]

David Friesen Circle 3 Trio: Interaction (2018 [2019], Origin, 2CD): Bassist, also plays piano (four tracks here), notable as a composer, has close to 50 albums since 1975. Trio with Joe Manis (tenor/soprano sax) and Charlie Doggett (drums), more free than I expected. B+(***) [cd]

Andy Fusco: Vortex (2017 [2019], SteepleChase): Alto saxophonist, played with Buddy Rich 1978-83, debut album in 1996, now has four albums on the Danish label since 2016. This is a septet, with Walt Weiskopf (tenor sax -- another Rich alumnus Fusco recorded a 2006 album with, Tea for Two), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), John Mosca (trombone), Peter Zak (piano), bass and drums. B+(**)

Hal Galper Trio: The Zone: Live at the Yardbird Suite (2016 [2019], Origin): Pianist, a good one, first side credit looks to be Chet Baker in 1964, 30+ albums since 1971, a few struck me as A-list, like his 2009 trio with Reggie Workman and Rashied Ali (Art-Work), and last year's album with Jerry Bergonzi (Cubist). This one, a trio with his label's resident rhythm section (Jeff Johnson and John Bishop), live from Edmonton in Canada, isn't quite such a tour de force, but reminds you how impressive he can be. Note that Johnson wrote 4 (of 7) songs, to the leader's one. A- [cd]

Gauche: A People's History of Gauche (2016-18 [2019], Merge): DC band, second album, singers Mary Jane Regalado and Daniele Yandel come from other notable bands (Downtown Boys and Priests). A reviewer I saw was reminded of Devo and B-52s, but for me the saxophone can only mean X-Ray Spex. Not quite that good, of course. B+(***)

Charles Gayle/Giovanni Barcella/Manolo Cabras: The Alto Sessions (2017 [2019], El Negocito): Free jazz saxophonist, spiritual kin to Albert Ayler, played on the streets of New York before eeking out a career on obscure jazz labels. Recorded this one in Belgium, with locals on drums and bass (Barcella originally from Italy), and as the title suggests, plays alto instead of his usual tenor. Also plays some piano. B+(**) [bc]

Ben Goldberg: Good Day for Cloud Fishing (2017 [2019], Pyroclastic): Clarinet player, mostly trio with Nels Cline (guitar) and Ron Miles (trumpet), with Dean Young (poems) also featured on the cover -- inspiration for the music and fodder for the print package, but not an obvious connection. B

Francesco Guerri: Su Mimmi Non Si Spara! (2019, RareNoise): Italian cellist, several albums since 2010, solo here, also credited with electronics, which may explain why this doesn't feel overly constrained. B+(**) [cdr]

Mary Halvorson & John Dieterich: A Tangle of Stars (2018 [2019], New Amsterdam): Guitar duo, she recently won a MacArthur Genius Grant, he best known as a long-term member of Deerhoof, although this isn't his first side project with jazz musicians. B+(**)

Kevin Hays/Mark Turner/Marc Miralta: Where Are You (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound New Talent): Piano/tenor sax/drums, all write original pieces, plus they cover Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman. Turner is as solid as ever, while the pianist adds some spice. B+(***)

Jerome Jennings: Solidarity (2019, Iola): Drummer, one previous album. Starts with "Bebop," expands in many directions with various guests, including a pretty good Camille Thurman vocal, and a striking excerpt from a speech by Stephanie Flowers. B+(***) [cd]

Per Texas Johansson: Stråk På Himlen Och Stora Hus (2019, Moserobie): Swedish, plays clarinets, tenor sax, oboe, and flute, usually puts "Texas" in quotes, released one of the year's best albums (Orakel) as an avant-sax trio. Here goes for something closer to chamber jazz, with violin, vibraphone/marimba, harp, and timpani (OK, some drums), two vocals (one a choir) -- not things I particularly approve of, but has some nice passages. B+(***) [cd]

Laura Jurd: Stepping Back, Jumping In (2019, Edition): British trumpet player, leads the group Dinosaur, who play here as well as a string quartet and extra odds and ends -- trombone, euphonium, santoor, banjo, electronics. The strings are modern/abstract, don't do much for me, but other spots take off. B

Zlatko Kaucic Quintet: Morning Patches (2018 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Slovenian Drummer, credited with "ground sounds" here, couple dozen albums since 1994, quintet members get "feat." credit on cover: Michael Moore (alto sax/clarinet), Marco Colonna (clarinet/bass clarinet), Albert Cirera (tenor sax), Silvia Bolognesi (bass). B+(*) [bc]

Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (2019, Polydor): British singer-songwriter, born in London, parents from Uganda, don't think I accept his classification as "indie folk," but don't see many other pigeonholes. Third album, a star in UK, still a curiosity here. B+(*)

Kneebody: Chapters (2018-19 [2019], Edition): Fusion band, based in Brooklyn, eighth studio album since 2005: Ben Wendel (tenor sax), Shane Endsley (trumpet), Adam Benjamin (keyboards), and Nate Wood (bass/drums), plus various guests, including four vocalists. Not much to start, but gets much better when after guests Josh Dion and Kaveh Rastegar add some bent skronk to "Hearts Won't Break," and hits the occasional moment thereafter. B+(*)

Kodian Trio: III (2019, Trost): Avant-jazz trio: Colin Webster (alto sax), Dirk Serries (electric guitar), and Andrew Lisle (drums). Third album, five pieces ("I" through "V"), cut this on a day off while touring Netherlands. Fairly intense free-for-all. B+(***)

Konstrukt + Ken Vandermark: Kozmik Bazaar (2018 [2019], Karlrecords): Turkish avant-jazz group (alto sax/guitar/bass/drums), two dozen or so albums since 2008, many featuring guests who wandered their way -- Marshall Allen, Peter Brötzmann, and Evan Parker each appeared on 2011 albums, so this paring was almost inevitable. The guest contributes to the free thrash, but doesn't stand out as much as expected -- though that's probably his clarinet on the closing space excursion. B+(**)

Kronos Quartet: Terry Riley: Sun Rings (2019, Nonesuch): String quartet, more than 40 albums since 1979, including various forays into jazz and world music as well as modern/postmodern classical -- this looks like their fourth Terry Riley album. The strings tend to be scruffier than Riley's usual electronics, which is OK by me, but I'm less taken by the choir. B

Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola (2019, Cumbancha): Haitian group, formed after the big 2010 earthquake, visit New Orleans and are greeted warmly. Early rhythm tracks are exciting enough, but I found my interest waning when they slowed it down. Did perk up on their kreyol take on "Iko Iko." B+(*)

Miranda Lambert: Wildcard (2019, RCA Nashville): Country singer-songwriter, seventh album (tenth if you include Pistol Annies), hard to improve on her voice or ask for more spunk, and I'm not finding any reason to doubt this album. A-

Travis Laplante: Human (2018 [2019], New Amsterdam): Tenor saxophonist, best known for his sax quartet Battle Trance, goes solo here, with various effects, including circular breathing his way into air raid siren territory. B

The Last Poets: Transcending Toxic Times (2019, Ropeadope): Group dates from 1968, before hip-hop was recognized as such, and has gone through numerous permutations, but poets Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan return from their first album, along with recent arrival Baba Donn Babatunde and some other guest spots. One thing new here is the musicians are a lot more steeped in jazz, thanks to producer (and bassist) Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Ends with two strong, bitter political rants. B+(**)

João Lencastre's Communion 3: Song(s) of Hope (2019, Clean Feed): Portuguese drummer, has several groups including this trio with piano (Jacob Sacks) and bass (Eivind Opsvik). B+(**) [bc]

Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage: Bad Wiring (2019, Don Giovanni): New York folkie, started out drawing comic books, fifteen years later he goes to Nashville, gets a producer, and rocks harder than ever. Good opening song, a surefire single on "LPs" (advice: "if it's cheap there's less chance you'll regret it"), other wonders. A-

Chris Lightcap: SuperBigmouth (2019, Pyroclastic): Bassist, builds on his Bigmouth group -- two previous albums, with Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby (tenor saxes), Craig Taborn (keybs), and Gerald Cleaver (drums) -- by adding his Superette group: Curtis Hasselbring and Jonathan Goldberger (guitars), and Dan Rieser (drums). Two good ideas that often as not bog each other down. B

Lil Tjay: True 2 Myself (2019, Columbia): Tione Jayden Merritt, 18, from the South Bronx, was featured on Polo G's hit "Pop Out," first album, wound tight. B+(*)

Liquid Quintet [Agusti Fernandez/Artur Majewski/Albert Cirera/Rafal Mazur/Ramon Prats]: Flux (2017 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Barcelona pianist Agustí Fernández, prolific since 1986, has recorded as The Liquid Trio before, with Albert Cirera (saxes) and Ramon Prats (drums), adds Artur Majewski (trumpet) and Rafal Mazur (bass) here. B+(**) [bc]

Fredrik Ljungkvist Trio: Atlantis (2019, Moserobie): Swedish saxophonist, not a lot under his own name -- two 1995-97 Quartet albums, a couple duos -- but is a front line player in Atomic, pops up elsewhere (including my favorite 2018 album). Acquits himself well here, with Mattias Welin (bass) and Jon Fält (drums), plus guests on 3 (of 7) tracks (one a Sofia Jernberg vocal). B+(***) [cd]

Maurice Louca: Elephantine (2019, Northern Spy): Egyptian composer, plays guitar and piano, several albums, leads a group of twelve here including vocalist Nadah El Shazly, some oud, but mostly a large (and occasionally unruly) jazz ensemble. B+(*)

Quiana Lynell: A Little Love (2019, Concord Jazz): R&B singer with some jazz overtones, born in Texas, grew up in Baton Rouge, based in New Orleans, trained in classics and church, won her contract in one of Concord's contests (this one named for Sarah Vaughan). First album, mixed bag of songs, some vibes. B

Made to Break: F4 Fake (2017 [2019], Trost): Ken Vandermark project, seventh group album since 2011, with the leader on reeds, Christof Kurzmann (electronics), Jasper Stadhouders (bass, guitar), and Tim Daisy (drums). Three longish pieces, Vandearmark impressive as ever, the noise around him conducive. A-

Nellie McKay: Bagatelles (2019, Palmetto, EP): Started out as a singer-songwriter on the pop/rock side of the fence, but lately has focused on repertoire, making short work of eight standards here, dispatched in 17:29, most with little more than a bit of ukulele, "I Concentrate on You" close to a cappella. A trifle, but a charming one. B+(*)

MIKE: Tears of Joy (2019, 10K): Mixtape, from New York rapper Michael Bonema, difficult person to look up -- Discogs lists him as "Mike (408)," credits him with 15 recordings, this one under "Miscellaneous." No paragon of clarity, either in samples or words, but something there. B+(**) [bc]

Joe Morris & Evan Parker: The Village (2014 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Guitar and sax duo, the latter switching between soprano and tenor. A bit scratchy, which is what Morris does best. B+(**) [bc]

Rachel Musson/Pat Thomas/Mark Sanders: Shifa: Live at Cafe Oto (2019, 577): British saxophone/piano/drums trio (tenor/soprano), Musson impressed me on Federico Ughi's Transoceanico. She impressed again here, and the pianist starts out sparkling, but this free improv does wear a bit. B+(**)

Mute: Mute (2018 [2019], Fresh Sound New Talent): New York-based quartet, name an anagram from plucking random letters from the artists' names: Kevin Sun (C-Melody sax/clarinet), Christian Li (piano), Jeonglim Yang (bass), Dayeon Seok (drums). All four write songs (3-3-2-1). The saxophonist continues to impress, even spread a bit thin over a finely balanced group. A- [cd] [12-13]

Ted Nash/Steve Cardenas/Ben Allison: Somewhere Else: West Side Story Songs (2019, Plastic Sax): Sax/guitar/bass, the former listed first in larger type. Can't say as the songs mean much to me, but nicely done. B+(**)

Aurora Nealand/Steve Marquette/Anton Hatwich/Paul Thibodeaux: Kobra Quartet (2019, Astral Spirits): Chicago label (lots of interesting records, but most with only a sample song or two on Bandcamp; this 3-song 42:06 the exception). Nealand plays accordion, alto sax, voice, objects. The others guitar, bass, and drums. Fond of slow burns, building to impressive climaxes. B+(*) [bc]

The Niro Featuring Gary Lucas: The Complete Jeff Buckley and Gary Lucas Songbook (2019, Esordisco): Lucas played guitar in Captain Beefheart's Magic Band 1980-82, and has done more than anyone else to keep that flame burning, especially with his Fast 'n' Bulbous jazz band. He's dabbled in all sorts of things, including a 10-month collaboration with singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, before his one studio album, Grace (1994), made him famous, and before his death in 1997 promoted him to infamous. The songs Buckley and Lucas wrote were released in 2002 as Songs to No One 1991-1992, and are reprised here, with Davide Combusti (aka, The Niro) singing, and Lucas helping out. The singer isn't much of an improvement over the model, but the guitarist is. B

Northern Ranger: Eastern Stranger (2019, self-released, EP): Canadian drummer Harry Vetro, quartet with violin (Nelson Moneo), piano/wurlitzer (Noah Franche-Nolan), and bass (Victor Vrankulj). Violin invokes a "Newfoundland-Irish jig," so they're tempted to pass this off as "world fusion," hoping to snare a few customers afraid of what it is, namely jazz. B+(**) [cdr]

One O'Clock Lab Band: Lab 2019 (2019, North Texas Jazz): As you probably know by now, University of North Texas has one of the largest and most successful jazz programs anywhere (in the USA) outside of the Boston-New York corridor. This is their big band class, directed by Alan Blaylock, and their section work and arranging are pretty sharp. Also note that the vocal cut, with Marion Powers, is a highlight. B+(*) [cd]

Evan Parker/Lotte Anker/Torben Snekkestad: Inferences (2016 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Sax trio, not an auspicious lineup as all three play soprano, with minor switches helping (Anker to tenor sax, Snekkestad to trumpet), but not often enough. Two pieces, 41:00. B+(*) [bc]

Nicholas Payton: Relaxin' With Nick (2019, Smoke Sessions, 2CD): Trumpet player from New Orleans, but he takes the opener on piano, rather impressively, and plays electric keyboards later on. Backed by a terrific mainstream rhythm section: Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums). B+(**)

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Bobby Kapp: Ineffable Joy (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): Brazilian avant-saxophonist, only three releases (6-CD) this year on his usual label (Leo), decided to diversify and follow his pianist to the latest iteration of the famous 1960s DIY label, citing an early Gato Barbieri release on same. With bass and drums from old Shipp associates, he couldn't ask for a more robust rhythm section. B+(***)

Roberta Piket: Domestic Harmony: Piket Plays Mintz (2019, Thirteenth Note): Pianist, more than a dozen albums since 1996, mostly trios but this is her third solo. All songs written by Billy Mintz, who led one of the few other albums she's played on. B+(**) [cd] [12-06]

Polo G: Die a Legend (2019, Columbia): Chicago rapper Taurus Remani Bartlett, first album, went gold with a hit single "Pop Out." Trap influence, sound anyway. B+(**)

Charlie Porter: Immigration Nation (2019, OA2): Trumpet player, from New York, second album, postbop quintet with Nick Biello (tenor sax), Oscar Perez (piano), bass, and drums, plus a vocal (Sabine Kabongo) on one song. B+(*) [cd]

Bob Ravenscroft & Inner Journeys: Phantasmagoria (2019, OA2): Piano-bass-drums trio, 25 short improv pieces, with Dwight Kilian (bass) and Rob Moore (piano). Ravenscroft did a couple of albums 1982-83, not much since. B+(*) [cd]

Wallace Roney: Blue Dawn-Blue Nights (2019, HighNote): Trumpet player, hard bopper, had some prestige tutors (Gillespie, Davis, Terry), couple dozen albums since 1987. Seems to have a young band, none I've heard of -- Emilio Modeste (sax), Oscar Williams II (piano), Paul Cuffari (bass), Kojo Odu Roney (drums) -- and they push him pretty hard. B+(***)

Marta Sánchez Quintet: El Rayo De Luz (2019, Fresh Sound New Talent): Spanish pianist (not the singer who outranks her on Google), based in New York, handful of albus since 2008, third quintet effort, with Chris Cheek (tenor sax) joining mainstays Roman Filiu (alto sax), Rick Rosato (bass), and Daniel Dor (drums). Sneaks up on you, with one of Cheek's finest outings. A- [cd]

Sirkis/Bialas IQ: Our New Earth (2018 [2019], Moonjune, 2CD): IQ stands for International Quartet, led Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis and Polish singer Sylwia Bialas, with Frank Harrison (keyboards) and Kevin Glasgow (electric bass) -- both from UK, which appears to be where Sirkis and Bialas are based, although the latter identifies as Scottish. Folkish, has a dark, brooding beauty. B+(**) [cd]

Bria Skonberg: Nothing Never Happens (2019, self-released): Canadian trumpet player, also sings -- hype sheet cites Louis Armstrong and Anita O'Day as models, but also describes her voice as "smoky." Sixth album starts sultry, offers some blues, a rather avant instrumental, then turns "Bang Bang" into a standard. B+(***)

SLD Trio: El Contorno Del Espacio (2018 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Argentine piano-bass-drums trio: Paula Shocron, German Lamonega, Pablo Diaz. Shifts around, including some strong free passages. B+(**) [bc]

Tierney Sutton Band: ScreenPlay (2019, BFM Jazz): Jazz singer, mostly standards, first record 1998, most records attributed to her band. These are songs from movies, originally released in five EPs corresponding to five acts, each with 3-5 songs. Some are quite striking, including "Sound of Silence" (one I normally can't stand) and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." B+(***)

That Dog: Old LP (2019, UMe): Alt-rock group from LA (1991-97), singer-songwriter Anna Waronker, two of Charlie Haden's daughters, and a drummer. Cut three albums before breaking up. After some solo albums, regrouped recently (minus Petra Haden) and finally came up with this dense, quirky new album (title song soars way beyond nostalgic). [was: B+(**)] A-

Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band: Obiaa! (2019, Strut): From Ghana, a highlife star in the 1960s -- see his Coming Home 2-CD compilation), got another shot when he formed this band in 2015. This one seems to be new, but still dwells largely in the past. B+(**)

Threnody [Johan Berthling/Martin Küchen/Steve Noble]: A Paradigm of Suspicion (2018 [2019], Trost): Bass-sax-drums trio, looks like their third album together, the group namme appearing here after being part of the second album's title (Threnody, at the Gates). First album evidently listed Küchen first, as does Bandcamp page here. Free and hard. B+(***)

Toh-Kichi: Baikamo (2019, Libra): Piano-drums duo, Satoko Fujii and Tatsuya Yoshida. Four pieces from each, eight more joint improvs. Nice to hear Fujii roughing up the piano again. B+(***) [cd]

Jonah Tolchin: Fires for the Cold (2019, Yep Roc): Singer-songwriter from New Jersey, fourth album, 2014's Clover Lane was the one that got my attention. He remains a thoughtful songwriter, but shies away from grabbing you. B+(*)

Jeremy Udden: Three in Paris (2018 [2019], Sunnyside): Postbop saxophonist (alto/soprano), from Massachusetts, based in New York, half-dozen albums since 2006. Thinking about Steve Lacy here, backed by Nicolas Moreaux (bass) and John Betsch (drums). "Bone" is a highlight, thanks to a Latin twist. B+(***)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Colorado (2019, Reprise): New material (as far as I can tell), Young's 39th studio album, ten songs straight and true, "Rainbow of Colors" effectively political in today's world. With Nils Lofgren, Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina back on board. His best since 2012's Psychedelic Pill, coincidentally his last Crazy Horse rendezvous. B+(***)

Torbjörn Zetterberg & the Great Question: Live (2017 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Swedish bassist, released four solo albums, three by his Hot Five (2002-04), side credits with most of this band: Jonas Kullhammar (tenor sax/flute), Alberto Pinton (baritone sax/clarinet/flute), Susana Santos Silva (trumpet/tin whistle), Mats Äleklint (trombone/harmonica), and Jon Fält (drums). Lot of firepower there, and the bassist clearly likes it hot. A- [bc]

Michael Zilber: East West: Music for Big Bands (2018 [2019], Origin, 2CD): Saxophonist, originally from Vancouver, BC, moved to Boston, New York, later San Francisco. He's assembled two big bands here, one in San Francisco, the other in New York, and gives each a full disc, writing four pieces on each, adding covers ranging from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." B+(*) [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

James Brown: Live at Home With His Bad Self (1969 [2019], Polydor): Archival release of the complete show in Augusta, GA on October 1, 1969, originally planned for release, then excerpted (four cuts) for Sex Machine. Not hard to see why this was shelved at the time: a fair amount of patter, some uninspired instrumental breaks ("Spinning Wheel"?), especially compared to the later material they went with. On the other hand, much of it is as great as you'd expect. A-

Bulawayo Blue Yodel (1950s [2019], Olvido): "High lonesome sounds from 1950s Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa" -- "14 lost classics . . . all reissued for the first time from original 78rpm discs." The reference to bluegrass isn't too far fetched, but older and more exotic folk forms, lending with something that sounds Hawaiian. Extensive notes are promised. B+(**) [bc]

Gerald Cleaver & Violet Hour: Live at Firehouse 12 (2006 [2019], Sunnyside): Drummer from Detroit, complains he's "been unfairly pigeonholed as a free jazz player for much of his career," strikes back with an unabashed hard bop sextet: JD Allen (tenor sax), Andrew Bishop (bass clarinet, soprano & tenor sax), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Ben Waltzer (bass), Chris Lightcap (bass). Good blowing session, especially for Allen. [I was originally under the impression this was new music.] B+(**)

Future: Monster (2014 [2019], Freebandz): Nayvadius Cash, rapper, released a bunch of mixtapes from 2010, this his 13th in five years, but one of the first to get widely noticed. Reissued for streaming. B+(***)

Georg Graewe/Ernest Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Kammern I-V (2009 [2019], Auricle): Piano-cello-drums trio, group recorded together at least ten times, with 1994's Saturn Cycle a favorite. This comes close, the piano especially vibrant and challenging. B+(***) [cd]

Johnny Griffin & Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse (1962 [2019], Reel to Reel): Two previously unreleased live shots, recorded in Seattle, led by two tenor saxophonists who've done their fair share of jousting over the years, are pretty simpatico here. Backed by Horace Parlan (piano), Buddy Catlett (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). A- [cd] [12-06]

ICP Orchestra: ICP Orchestra in Albuquerque: The Outpost Performance Space, March 17th, 2003 (2003 [2019], ICP): Justly famous Dutch avant big band (11 pieces), initials stand for Instant Composers Pool, founded 1967 and led until recently by pianist Misha Mengelberg, just started trawling through their vault tapes for lost treasures. Meanders, sometimes brilliantly. B+(**) [bc]

Allen Lowe: Jews & Roots/Radical Jewish Acculturation: An Avant Garde of Our Own: Disconnected Works: 1980-2018 (1980-2018 [2019], Constant Sorrow/ESP-Disk, 8CD): Musicologist, his books and their companion CD compilations offer an extraordinarily broad and deep exploration into American recorded music, but he also plays alto sax, and his own works have increasingly turned ambition to sprawl: the 3-CD Blues & the Empirical Truth (2011), the 4-CD Mulatto Radio (2014), the separately packaged 6-CD In the Diaspora of the Diaspora (2016), and now this 8-CD box (most recorded since 2016, but also picking up scattered recordings going back to his first efforts). Haven't heard the first disc, and I'm short for details (especially on the 8th). One case where the physical CDs could make the difference, especially give that Lowe's as much a writer as a musician (though he'd probably hear it the other way round).

  1. Live at the Knitting Factory/Verna's Garage/The Living Room Tapes (1) (1980-2011): Unheard.
  2. Live at the Knitting Factory/Verna's Garage/The Living Room Tapes (2) (1979-2015): Very scattered pieces, almost randomly distributed by time, some touching on trad jazz without getting too comfortable. [B+(**)] [bc]
  3. Poor Pilgrims of Sorrow Suite/I Am a Woman Again (Gladys Bentley Suite) (2016-18) Two sets of related pieces: the former promises overwhelming sax power (James Brandon Lewis and Darius Jones) but they don't bowl anyone over; the latter an octet where the composition comes first. Ray Suhy (guitar) is on both. [B+(***)]
  4. Black Brown and Beige, Yellow, Trans and Queer: My Country 'Tis of This (2018): Septets, title expands on Ellington, but inside he's thinking more of Mingus (and not just on "Fables of Fascism"). Also Jaki Byard and Bud Powell. [A-]
  5. Brother Matthew's Revenge (2017): Mostly nonet, five horns plus guitar producing lots of harmonics; drops to trio twice: Lowe, Randy Sandke (trumpet), and Lewis Porter (piano). [B+(*)]
  6. Hey Lady/Time/Times (2017): One set, Ken Peplowski and Matthew Shipp the best-known. [B+(***)]
  7. The Other America (1) (1993-2016): Odds and sods, including Marc Ribot guitar solos, Nels Cline on Jimi Hendrix, Lowe playing some guitar too (and singing one for Johnny Thunders), closes with "Bull Connor in Hell." [B+(***)]
  8. The Other America (2) (NA) More odds and sods, Ribot switches to banjo, Lowe's vocal is "Where's Lou Reed?"; heavy: "At a Baptist Meeting." [A-]

Overall, something like: B+(***)

Lloyd McNeill: Treasures (1975 [2019], Soul Jazz): Flute player, emerged around 1969 playing an intimate pan-African soul jazz, developed further here in a meeting with Brazilians -- Dom Salvador (piano), Portinho (drums), Ray Armando (percussion) -- backed by bass (Cecil McBee) and more drums (Brian Blake). B+(**)

Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles and Rarities 1965-1972 (1965-72 [2019], Light in the Attic): Soul man from Georgia, released his only album in 1971 (Time and Place, also the title of a 2007 compilation). This pulls his early singles together, including a couple before he really found his voice. B+(**) [bc]

Dudu Pukwana/Han Bennink/Misha Mengelberg: Yi Yole (1978 [2019], Corbett vs. Dempsey): South African alto saxophonist, emigrated with the Blue Notes, richocheted between his native township jive (cf. his wonderful 1973 In the Townships) and avant-jazz extremes (I hated his 1977 Diamond Express). This finds some kind of middle ground, especially when the pianist breaks out his boogie-woogie. B+(**) [bc]

Phil Ranelin: Collected Works 2003-2019 (2003-19 [2019], Wide Hive, 2CD): Trombonist, born in Indianapolis, moved to Detroit in the 1960s, co-founding Tribe in 1971, and later moved on to Los Angeles, hit 80 this year. I discovered his 1970s records when they were reissued (along with a Remixes) by Hefty c. 2002. That rejumped his career, leading to the 5 records that are sampled here, evidently with 3 or 4 new tracks. Various lineups, especially strong at sax -- Pharoah Sanders is most readily recognized, Kamasi Washington is another powerhouse -- and percussion. A-

Tribe: Hometown: Detroit Sessions 1990-2014 (1990-2004 [2019], Art Yard/Strut): Jazz collective founded in 1971 by Wendell Harrison (reeds) and Phil Ranelin (trombone), with Marcus Belgrave (trumpet) perhaps the best known. Ran their own label 1972-76, with various comebacks and throwbacks over the years, including the album Rebirth in 2009. Not clear that this should should be regarded as a named group: Harrison only appears on 6 (of 10) tracks, as does Harold McKinney (piano/vocals). Belgrave is on 4 (as is Pamela Wise, piano/vocals), Ranelin only 2. B+(***)

David S. Ware New Quartet: Théâtre Garonne, 2008 (2008 [2019], AUM Fidelilty): The old Quartet had one of the greatest runs in jazz history, from 1990-2007, with Matthew Shipp (piano), William Parker (bass), and a series of drummers. His new Quartet, with Joe Morris (guitar), Parker, and Warren Smith (drums), turned out one album (Shakti) before kidney failure sidelined Ware (a kidney transplant gave him a brief respite from 2009-12, during which he made a partial comeback). This live date came a few weeks after the album, reprising most of the compositions. Ware is Ware, but Morris has some surprises in store. A-

Mary Lou Williams: Mary Lou Williams (1962-63 [1964], Folkways; [2019], Smithsonian Folkways): Pianist, a chief architect of Kansas City swing in Andy Kirk's orchestra, kept evolving up to her death in 1981 -- including a foray into religious music which shows up here in several choral pieces (although only the first is awful). On the other hand, her piano is often wonderful, especially on "A Grand Night for Swinging" (title of one of her best albums). B+(*)

Old Music

Ben Allison: The Stars Look Very Different Today (2013, Sonic Camera): Bassist, one of the few jazz composers to impress me enough to write his name in that slot on ballots. After nine Palmetto albums set up his own label and made his records scarce. This is a quartet, moves into fusion territory with two guitarists (Steve Cardenas and Brandon Seabrook), plus Allison Miller on drums. B+(*)

Ben Allison: Layers of the City (2017, Sonic Camera): With Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Matt Kimbrough (piano), and Allan Mednard (drums). B+(**)

Harold Danko: After the Rain (1994 [1995], SteepleChase): Pianist, from Ohio, debut album in 1974, joined this Danish label in 1993. This is his second album there, solo piano, a set of John Coltrane songs. B+(**)

Harold Danko Quartet: Tidal Breeze (1995-96 [1997], SteepleChase): Pianist-led quartet, cut several albums in the 1990s, with Rich Perry on tenor sax, Scott Colley on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Strong performances all around. B+(***)

Charles Gayle/Giovani Barcella/Manolo Cabras: Live in Belgium (2015 [2017], El Negocito): One of the grand old avant tenor saxophonists goes to Belgium, picks up local drummer and bassist, and does what he's often done, for an often stunning series of righteous riffs. Plays some piano too, as sigular as his sax. B+(***) [bc]

Georg Graewe/Ernest Reijseger/Gerry Hemingway: Continuum (2005 [2006], Winter & Winter): Piano-cello-drums trio, the cello pointing toward chamber jazz, the percussionist cleverly working his way around the edges, careful not to push too hard. B+(*)

Lloyd McNeill and Marshall Hawkins: Tanner Suite (1969 [2015], Universal Sound): Flute and bass duo. Four ten-minute pieces, hold your interest. B+(*)

Carmen McRae: Torchy (1955, Decca): Jazz singer, second album, standard ballads arranged by Ralph Burns and Jack Pleis. Strong, clear voice, frames every song precisely. B+(**)

Carmen McRae: Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics (1961 [1962,1997], Columbia/Legacy): First reaction is what do we need an inferior collection of Billie Holidays songs for, but this is as good as McRae can make it, a set of swing standards given precise readings, a strong band that includes Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Nat Adderley. Holiday's own "God Bless the Child" is a highlight. The CD bonus tracks are too much (especially "The Christmas Song"). B+(***)

Carmen McRae: As Time Goes By: Carmen McRae Alone Live at the Dug (1973 [1974], Victor): Ten standards done solo, backed by nothing but her own piano, from a concert in Japan. B+(***) [dl]

Lee Moses: Time and Place (1971, Maple): First and only album, nine tracks (33:20) of exceptionally gritty soul, even if some of the covers aren't promising ("California Dreaming," "Hey Joe"). B+(***)

Phil Ranelin: A Close Encounter of the Very Best Kind (1996, Lifeforce): Not much in the trombonist's catalog between his stint with Freddie Hubbard (1979-80) and his revival after 2002 -- one 1986 album, and this trio plus guests -- title cut expands the band to nine, including congas and Steve Turre's conch shell. B+(***)

Phil Ranelin: Living a New Day (2005, Wide Hive): Trombonist, band has two guitars, keys, bass, vibraphone, and drums. Vocal on the title cut is a strong message for peace. Grooves hard, with two alternate takes -- underscoring how good that title piece is. B+(**)

Phil Ranelin & Tribe Renaissance: Reminiscence: Live! (2009, Wide Hive): Discogs has nothing on this release, but AMG offers a lineup: Ranelin (trombone), George Harper Jr (tenor/baritone sax), Carl Randall Jr (tenor sax), Zane Musa (alto sax), Louis Van Taylor (clarinet, flute, alto flute), Keith Fiddmont (flute, soprano sax), Jinshi Ozaki (guitar), Danny Grissett (organ, piano), William Henderson (piano), Nate Morgan (piano), Ryan Cross (bass), James Leary (bass), Lorca Hart (drums), Thomas White (drums), Don Littleton (congas, drums/percussion), Tambu (congas, percussion). Apt title: "Thrivin on a Groove." Closer: "Caravan." B+(***)

Phil Ranelin: Portrait in Blue (2015, Wide Hive): Where Tribe was expansive and all-inclusive, above all else a rallying of community, this is a back-to-basics move: a quintet with trombone, Pablo Calogero (on bass clarinet and tenor/soprano sax), piano, bass, and Don Littleton (drums, congas, percussion), playing bluesy material. Doesn't have the exultation of some of his other albums, but makes up for that lack in subtler ways. B+(***)

Pamela Samiha Wise: A New Message From the Tribe (2017, Tribe): Pianist, sings some, from Cleveland, moved to Detroit in 1978, married Tribe founder Wendell Harrison, wrote the last three tracks on Tribe's Hometown: Detroit Sessions. Fifth album. Emphasizes the Latin tinge in the African diaspora -- as indeed did her debut, the Jerry Gonzalez-produced Songo Festividad. B+(**)

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:

Kim Gordon: No Home Record (2019, Matador): Sonic Youth chanteuse (1983-2009), now 66, first named solo album although she had a side project in the 1990s (Free Kitten), several more since, including post-SY albums as Body/Head and Glitterbust. She does a masterful job of capturing Sonic Youth's sound, then folds it back on itself, making it more impenetrable then ever. Not sure it's even possible to unpack it, but the sound stands magnficently on its own. [was: B+(***)] A-

Sonic Youth: Battery Park, NYC, July 4th 2008 (2008 [2019], Matador): Live shot, a year before their last album (The Eternal), two years after Rather Ripped, both solid entries in their 25-year run, although I can't say as I remember much from either. I do recall their sound, compressed and sharpened here. [Was: B+(***)] A-

Music Weeks

Current count 32388 [32276] rated (+112), 221 [224] unrated (-3).

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

November 25, 2019

November 18, 2019

November 11, 2019

November 4, 2019


Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [cdr] based on an advance or promo cd or cdr
  • [bc] available at
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo