Streamnotes: July 26, 2021


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 June 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (17360 records).


Recent Releases

Snoh Aalegra: Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies (2021, ARTium/Roc Nation): R&B singer Shahrzad Fooladi, born in Sweden, parents Persian, third album. B+(*)

Arooj Aftab: Vulture Prince (2021, New Amsterdam): Pakistani vocalist, studied at Berklee, based in New York since 2009, third album, rather atmospheric. B+(*)

[Ahmed]: Nights on Saturn (Communication) (2019 [2021], Astral Spirits): Tribute to bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik (1927-93), born Jonathan Tim Jr. in Brooklyn, recorded some of the first American jazz albums to look to Africa and the Middle East, starting with Jazz Sahara in 1958. British quartet: Pat Thomas (piano), Joel Grip (bass), Antonin Gerbal (drums), Seymour Wright (alto sax). One 41:47 piece, taken from a 1961 album, plus an 8:25 "sample" (the bit you can hear on Bandcamp). Much edgier than the original, which captures the spirit. A- [dl]

Alder Ego: III (2021, We Jazz): Title of Finnish drummer Joonas Leppänen's debut album (2017), adopted as quartet name for II and III. With trumpet (Tomi Nikku), tenor sax (Jamo Tikka), and bass (Nathan Francis). B+(**) [bc]

Gary Allan: Ruthless (2021, EMI Nashville): Country singer, from California, last name Herzberg, tenth album since 1996, most gold, first since 2013, co-wrote one song. Has a nice, even flow. B+(*)

The Armed: Ultrapop (2021, Sargent House): Detroit "anonymous hardcore punk collective," formed 2009, fourth album. Has all the murk of metal, but I've managed to keep the volume in check, which makes for tolerable anti-ambient chaos. Utility for that (if any) remains unclear. B

Michaël Attias/Simon Nabatov: Brooklyn Mischiefs (2014 [2021], Leo): Alto sax and piano, recorded in Brooklyn, four joint pieces plus a Herbie Nichols medley. B+(**)

Backxwash: I Lie Here Buried With My Rings and My Dresses (2021, Ugly Hag): Born and raised in Zambia, based in Montreal, Ashanti Mutinta, raps, sings some, third album, has some metal moves. B+(*)

Mandy Barnett: Every Star Above (2019 [2021], BMG): Standards singer, strong voice, slotted as country because she started out in a Patsy Cline revival, intends this as a tribute to Billie Holiday and her penultimate Lady in Satin album, selecting 10 (of 12) songs, set to similar maudlin strings. Picking on Holiday's worst album lowers the bar enough Barnett can clear it, but it's hard to see why. At least she doesn't try on Holiday's tone or phrasing -- impossible on a good day, or even on her death bed. B

Keshav Batish: Binaries in Cycle (2021, Woven Strands): Drummer, comes from a line of musicians in India, studying at UC Santa Cruz, first album, quartet with alto sax (Shey Sethov), piano (Lucas Hahn), and bass (Aron Caceres). Five originals, distinctive covers of Monk and Ornette Coleman. B+(**) [cd] [07-10]

Bfb Da Packman: Fat Niggas Need Love Too (2021, The Lunch Crew): Heavyweight rapper, raised in Flint, based in Houston. Cracks some jokes, slings some raunch. B+(**)

Body Meπa: The Work Is Slow (2020 [2021], Hausu Mountain): Band name may finally force me to convert to UTF-8. After it happens, I may feel thankful, but right now the irritation factor is through the roof. How do you pronounce it? Or is part of the point that you shouldn't even try? I've seen it transliterated as "Mena" or "Metta" or "Meta" (which is what Bandcamp uses for their ASCII-limited domain name), but not (yet) the obvious "Mepa." No vocals, two guitars (Grey McMurray and Sasha Frere-Jones), bass (Melvin Gibbs), drums (Greg Fox) -- note famous rock critic in the mix (although SFJ has voted, very idiosyncratically, in the Jazz Critics Poll). Bandcamp tags suggest they think of this as rock-not-jazz, but after shopping around I filed it under jazz anyway (tagged "ambient fusion"): instrumental, some improv, suggests free even if not committed, I can think of a dozen-plus similar jazz guitar vibes -- mostly more adventurous and/or harsher/noisier, but that doesn't necessarily mean more coherent or listenable, even if the jazz-phobic don't make the connection. A-

Olie Brice/Binker Golding/Henry Kaiser/N.O. Moore/Eddie Prévost: The Secret Handshake With Danger: Vol. One (2020 [2021], 577): Recorded in London, British bassist, saxophone star, two guitars, drums. B+(*)

Brockhampton: Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine (2021, Question Everything/RCA): Wikipedia calls them a "hip hop boy band." Kevin Abstract also has a solo presence, and probably the rest will follow: Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, Joba, Bearface, Jabari Manwa. Several mixtapes before their major label debut in 2018. Second album since. Rap and sing, expertly both, but I pay more attention to the rap lyrics. B+(**)

Burial: Chemz/Dolphin (2021, Hyperdub, EP): British dubstep producer William Bevan, has a couple albums but mostly works on shorter releases, with these two tunes on the long side, at 21:33. First is upbeat, fun. Second is down, ambient, not so much fun. B+(*) [bc]

Cedric Burnside: I Be Trying (2021, Single Lock): Memphis blues singer/guitarist, son of R.L. Burnside, ninth album since 2006. B+(**)

Matt Caflisch: Runaway (2020, Fat Oak): Minneapolis singer-songwriter, grew up in Eau Claire, first album after playing around 32 years. B+(*)

Jonas Cambien Trio: Nature Hath Painted the Body (2021, Clean Feed): Belgian pianist (also organ on 2 tracks and soprano sax on 1), based in Oslo, with saxophonist André Roligheten (soprano, tenor, bass clarinet) and Andreas Wildhagen (drums). Title is from an Izaak Walton quote, the line ending with "of the fish with whitish, blackish, brownish spots." B+(**)

Pedro Carneiro & Pedro Melo Alves: Bad Company (2021, Clean Feed): Portueguese duo, marimba ("with quarter tone extension") and drums ("prepared"). B+(*) [bc]

Eric Church: Heart (2021, EMI Nashville): The first of three short albums, released separately a few days apart, one "available exclusively to members of Church's official fan group, the Church Choir", although I've seen art work that combines them into a single product: Heart & Soul (24 songs, 85:47). This one is 9 songs, 31:24. Solid start toward a pretty good album. B+(**)

Eric Church: Soul (2021, EMI Nashville): Third album, skipping the unavailable &, 9 more songs, 31:21. Well, maybe not so good? B+(*)

Clairo: Sling (2021, Fader/Republic): Singer-songwriter Claire Cottrill, second album, rather reserved. B+(*)

Cloud Nothings: The Shadow I Remember (2021, Carpark): Indie rock band from Cleveland, Dylan Baldi the singer-songwriter, seventh album (skipping a couple self-released pandemic projects). Above-average for the genre, not that I feel like listening anymore. B+(**)

Alex Collins/Ryan Berg/Karl Latham: Together (2020-21 [2021], Dropzonejazz): Piano-bass-drums trio, seems to be the pianist's first (with a couple side-credits back to 2015). Six standards, counting one by Wayne Shorter. Drummer produced. B+(**) [cd]

Contour: Love Suite (2021, Good Question, EP): Vocalist, electronica producer, from South Carolina, sketches out a trip-hoppy alt-r&b, in eight brief tracks (19:01). B+(*) [bc]

Simão Costa: Beat With Out Byte (2021, Cipsela): Portuguese pianist, has at least one previous album, solo here, subtitle "(Un)Learning Machine." Starts too soft for me to hear, ends loud and percussive, making a strong impression. B+(**) [cd]

Sylvie Courvoisier/Ned Rothenberg/Julian Sartorius: Lockdown (2020 [2021], Clean Feed): Swiss pianist, with reeds (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, shakuhachi) and drums. Nice mix of sharp edges and gentle tones. B+(***) [bc]

Rodney Crowell: Triage (2021, RC1): Singer-songwriter, country division, 18th studio album since 1978. Opens himself up, shows doubts about religion, but generous (perhaps overly so) with his love. B+(***)

Lucy Dacus: Home Video (2021, Matador): Singer-songwriter from Virginia, third album (not counting supergroup Boygenius). Cranks up the guitar, and the voice is clear. B+(**)

Harold Danko: Spring Garden (2019 [2021], SteepleChase): Pianist, 30+ albums since 1974, early side-credits include Chet Baker and Lee Konitz. Original compositions, with Rich Perry (tenor sax), bass, and drums. B+(**)

Desertion Trio: Numbers Maker (2019 [2021], Cuneiform): Guitarist Nick Millevoi, albums since 2011, recorded Desertion with a sextet in 2016, cuts the dead weight here, keeping Johnny DeBlase on electric bass and switching to Jason Nazary on drums. B+(***) [dl]

McKinley Dixon: For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her (2021, Spacebomb): Rapper, based in Virginia, third album. B+(***)

Doja Cat: Planet Her (2021, Kemosabe/RCA): Amala Diamini, from Los Angeles, third album, trap beats, sings more than raps, doesn't have the voice for it, but has vision and style, which makes her something more than a conceptualist. Raised my hopes, then dashed them. [Thumbs down: "Ain't Shit."] B+(*)

East Axis [Matthew Shipp/Allen Lowe/Gerald Cleaver/Kevin Ray]: Cool With That (2020 [2021], ESP-Disk): Piano, alto sax, drums, bass. Joint improv, artist order some approximation of fame, though Lowe is the commanding presence here. Cleaver defines "free jazz" as "many contexts and frames of reference held at once." You feel them in the space these artists maneuver through so deftly. A [cd]

Elkka: Euphoric Melodies (2021, Technicolour, EP): House producer Emma Kirby, second EP (5 songs, 28:04). B+(**)

Ensemble O/Aum Grand Ensemble: Julius Eastman: Femenine (2020 [2021], Sub Rosa): Most sources credit the composer (1940-90) for this version of his 1974 minimalism-and-more piece (71:13), with the group names relegated to the back cover. Together, they add up to 12 pieces plus voice, recorded in Brussels. B+(***)

Noga Erez: Kids (2021, City Slang): Israeli electropop singer-producer, second album, plays keyboards and percussion. Dry voice, subtle beats, grows on you. B+(***)

The Flatlanders: Treasure of Love (2021, Rack 'Em): Lubbock, Texas band back in 1972, recorded an album that didn't get much notice until 1990, after their solo careers took off: Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock. Regrouped in 2002 when those solo careers were flagging, and they've gone back to the well a couple times since (2004, 2009). Not a great sign that the covers connect first. Ely sounds especially great, Gilmore less so. B+(***)

Joel Frahm: The Bright Side (2021, Anzic): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, from Wisconsin, based in New York, albums since 1999, but mostly side-credits. Trio with bass (Dan Loomis) and drums (Ernesto Cervini). B+(**)

Frisque Concordance: Distinct Machinery (2017-18 [2021], Random Acoustics, 2CD): Free jazz group, recorded one previous album in 1992. Common to both are Georg Graewe (piano) and John Butcher (tenor/soprano sax), joined here by Wilbert de Joode (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums). First disc is studio, second live, both recorded in Vienna. The pianist, in particular, is full of surprises. A-

The Front Bottoms: In Sickness & in Flames (2020, Fueled by Ramen): New Jersey indie group/duo, Brian Sella (guitar/vocals) and Mat Uychich (drums), seventh album since 2008. Hooked for pop. B+(**)

Rob Frye: Exoplanet (2021, Astral Spirits): Plays woodwinds and synthesizer, third album, also plays in various groups like the Bitchin Bajas. With Ben Lamar Gay on cornet, more synths and electronics, more drums, violin on three tracks, voice on two. Engaging groove with occasional spaciness. B+(***) [dl]

Danilo Gallo Dark Dry Tears: A View Through a Slot (2021, Clean Feed): Italian bassist, third group album, allegedly recorded in Nuuk, Grønland on February 30, 2077. Two saxophonists (Francesco Bigoni and Masimiliano Milesi), Jim Black on drums. B+(**) [bc]

Garbage: No Gods No Masters (2021, Infectious Music, 2CD): Seventh album since 1995, one every 4-7 years since 2001. Home base for drummer/producer Butch Vig, fronted by Shirley Manson. Starts strong and true: "The men who rule the world/ have made a fucking mess." "Deluxe Edition" adds a second disc, starting with their impressive 2017 "No Horses" single, ending with the best song here ("Time Will Destroy Everything"), with some pleasing covers for filler. A-

Justin Gerstin: Music for the Exploration of Elusive Phenomena (2020 [2021], Zabap Music): Percussionist, studied around the world, based in Vermont, fourth album, 12 songs, "recorded in a time of Covid by each musician at home," no one appearing on more than 6, but unified by the drums. Wanda Houston's initial array of sound bite quotes on "American History" is a highlight. B+(***) [cd]

Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi: They're Calling Me Home (2021, Nonesuch): Former Carolina Chocolate Drops singer, plays violin and banjo, went on her own in 2015, moved to Ireland, formed a partnership there with Italian multi-instrumentalist Turrisi, second album together. The old songs are the most striking, especially "O Death." A couple in Italian are possibly older, but resonate less. B+(***)

Rocio Giménez López/Luciana Bass/Fermin Suarez/Rosina Scampino: Reunion En La Granja (2019 [2021], Discos ICM): Argentinian quartet: piano, guitar, bass, drums. Mostly Ornette Coleman pieces, with one by Paul Motian, and a bit of Ayler paired with "Lonely Woman." B+(***) [bc]

The Goon Sax: Mirror II (2021, Matador): Australian group, third album, nominally a trio (Louis Forster, James Harrison, Riley Jones), all sing and play multiple instruments, with Ross Walker producing and sometimes programming. The Go-Betweens are in their heritage (genetically for Forster), and I invariably like their most derivative/evocative work, but some of their fancier tics throw me. B+(**)

Tee Grizzley: Built for Whatever (2021, 300 Entertainment/Atlantic): Detroit rapper Terry Wallace, third album. A bit gangsta for my taste, but beats and raps plenty sharp. B+(***)

Grofo: Grofo (2020 [2021], Clean Feed): Portuguese quartet, led by Bernardo Tinoco (tenor sax), with João Almeida (trupet), João Fragoso (bass), and João Sousa (drums), 2-3 songs each. B+(**)

Mats Gustafsson/Joachim Nordwall: Shadows of Tomorrow/The Brain Produces Electric Waves (2019-20 [2021], Astral Spirits, EP): Actually, 7-inch single, with radio-friendly lengths of 3:50 and 3:46, not that you should expect to hear them broadcast. Both Swedish, Nordwall seems to be some kind of electro-acoustical sound producer. They did an album together in 2017 where the saxophonist was credited simply with "blowing stuff." He's toned that down to heavy breathing here. Not bad, but much to it. B [dl]

Danny L Harle: Harlecore (2021, Mad Decent): London-based electronica producer, first album after singles going back to 2013, most on PC Music. Lavishly, extravagantly upbeat, almost comically so -- the sort of thing I sometimes relish, yet I'm not quite convinced I should, here anyway. B+(**)

Hearth: Melt (2020 [2021], Clean Feed): Quartet: Mette Rasmussen (alto sax), Ada Rave (tenor sax/clarinet), Susana Santos Silva (trumpet), Kaja Draksler (piano). The pianist isn't notable for keeping time of pushing things along, so this tends to scatter (and splat). B+(*) [bc]

John Hiatt With the Jerry Douglas Band: Leftover Feelings (2021, New West): Singer-songwriter from Indianapolis -- I remember seeing him play solo in a bar there -- settled in Nashville, with 24 albums since 1974. Douglas is a bluegrass guy, and his band swings gently, getting by without a drummer. The unrushed atmosphere suits Hiatt, whose voice has moderated without losing its distinctness. Also, the songs are full of memorable images and turns of phrase. [PS: Didn't check, but found at least one leftover song: "All the Lilacs in Ohio," from The Tiki Bar Is Open -- best song there, and one of the better ones here.] A-

Hiatus Kaiyote: Mood Valiant (2021, Brainfeeder): Australian group, third album, edges into neo soul with singer Nai Palm (Naomi Saalfield). B+(*)

Dylan Hicks: Accidental Birds (2021, Soft Launch): Singer-songwriter from Minneapolis, literate enough he's turned out a couple novels. First few songs are captivating enough, but I found myself paying less attention as the record continued, pleasantly. B+(**)

Chrissie Hynde: Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan (2021, BMG): Pretenders leader since 1980, third solo project since 2014. Nine Dylan songs, none what you'd call signature pieces, done up fairly simply, mostly her voice and guitar. B+(**)

Rocco John Iacovone/Tom Cabrera: Out of the Maelstrom (2020 [2021], Unseen Rain): Sax-and-drums duo, socially distanced, like many lockdown recordings, built up through the Internet. Rocco plays alto, tenor, soprano, and bass clarinet, and isn't in a hurry, what with the drums coming later. B+(**)

Rocco John Iacovone/Phil Sirois/Tom Cabrera: Synchronics (2021, Unseen Rain): Sax-bass-drums trio, the leader playing tenor, alto, soprano, and bass clarinet. Another slow-developing pandemic project. B+(**)

Iceage: Seek Shelter (2021, Mexican Summer): Danish post-punk band, first EP 2009, fifth album. All original tracks, but feels like some kind of throwback, at least as long as it felt like anything at all. B

Mikko Innanen/Stefan Pasborg/Cedric Piromalli: This Is It (2020 [2021], Clean Feed): Finnish saxophonist (sopranino, alto, baritone), backed by drums and Hammond organ. The organ isn't close to soul jazz models, but provides enough lift to let the saxophonist strut his stuff.. A- [bc]

Instant Composers Pool & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil: De Hondemepper (2018 [2020], ICP): Dutch groups: the former better known as ICP Orchestra, carrying on after the death (2017) of long-time leader Misha Mengelberg (Guus Janssen, a remarkable pianist in his own right, fills in); the latter a sextet with violin, cello, mandolin/panflute, bassoon, piano, and percussion. Mostly Mengelberg circus pieces, two conductions led by Tristan Honsinger, and old touchstones: pieces by Monk and Nichols. A- [bc]

Loraine James: Reflection (2021, Hyperdub): London-based electronica producer, third album. Rough edges, broken glass, squibs of trip-hoppy vocals. B+(*)

Jaubi: Nafs at Peace (2021, Astigmatic): Pakistani instrumental quartet, exploring "eastern mysticism and the spiritual self [Nafs]." Starts calmly, not unlike Orüj Güvenç's Ocean of Remembrance, but doesn't stay in that groove as they move from Lahore to Oslo and pick up a couple of ringers, notably on towering saxophone. A- [bc]

Anthony Joseph: The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives (2021, Heavenly Sweetness): Poet, novelist (The African Origins of UFOs, Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon), singer-songwriter, born in Trinidad in 1966, moved to UK in 1989, eighth album since 2007. Six pieces stretch out, the pointed poems have much to say ("how long do you have to live in a place before you can call it home?"), and the band, which starts jazzy but swings and powers up like Mingus, needs room to breathe. Credits list four saxophonists. Together they're formidable, but the monster solos I'd guess to be the work of Shabaka Hutchings. A

Jupiter & Okwess: Na Kozonga (2020 [2021], Everloving): Congolese band, led by Jupiter Bokondji (vocals/percussion), sextet with two guitars, bass, lots of percussion. B+(***)

Khrysis: The Hour of Khrysis (2021, Jamla): Hip-hop producer Christopher Tyson, from North Carolina, half of the Away Team, raps some here. B+(**)

Amythyst Kiah: Wary + Strange (2021, Rounder): Singer-songwriter from Tennessee, second album, member of folk supergroup Our Native Daughters, leads off with the anthem "Black Myself." That's the best thing here. No problems with the change-up ballad that follows, but she never changed back. B+(*)

Angélique Kidjo: Mother Nature (2021, Decca): Singer from Benin, based in France, 17th album since 1981, one of the most recognized African singers in the US, but I can't say as I've ever been much impressed. She's got beats, languages, beaucoup help -- 9 (of 13) songs here have featured guests. Did manage to jot one bit of lyric down: "feel the music/it's never dull." B

Kiwi Jr.: Cooler Returns (2021, Sub Pop): Indie rock group from Toronto, g-b-d plus Jeremy Gaudet vocals, second album, has a new wave pop humor appeal (reminds me of the Rezillos, or maybe the Adverts, but they'd probably prefer the Ramones). B+(***)

John Kruth: Love Letters From the Lazaretto (2020 [2021], self-released): Folk singer-songwriter, first album Banshee Mandolin in 1992, moved into world music (especially in TriBeCaStan), has written books on Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Roy Orbison, and Townes Van Zandt. Solo effort here, plays everything. B+(***)

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: I Told You So (2021, Colemine): Organ player, third album, with Jimmy James (guitar) and Grant Schroff (drums). Soul jazz, rather retro when it was invented 60 years ago, so neatly buttoned down you'd almost think that's their concept. B+(*)

Luís Lopes/Lisbon Berlin Quartet: Sinister Hypnotization (2018 [2021], Clean Feed): Portuguese guitarist, electric, impressive discography since 2007, with Rodrigo Pinheiro (fender rhodes), Berlin represented by Robert Landfermann (bass) and Christian Lillinger (drums). Rough wired, ruggedly free. B+(***) [bc]

Lost Girls: Menneskekollektivet (2021, Smalltown Supersound): Norwegian duo, Jenny Hval voice and lyrics spoken over guitar-tinged electronica by Hval and Håvard Holden. Five tracks, two run to 12:10 and 15:30, consciousness rising out of mesmerizing depths. A-

Low Cut Connie: Tough Cookies: The Best of the Quarantine Broadcasts (2020 [2021], Contender): Adam Weiner (piano/vocals) and Will Donnelly (guitar), from Philadelphia, streamed themselves playing covers twice weekly during the lockdown. They picked 23 from more than 500. I liked their first three albums a lot, then found my interest flagging. I'm sure glad I don't have to slog through the lot, but this sampler is short enough to be manageable, and weird enough to be interesting. B+(***)

LSDXOXO: Dedicated 2 Disrespect (2021, XL, EP): Raushan Glasgow, from Philadelphia, DJ/producer, has two albums. Four tracks, 16:19, hard beats, trivial lyrics (e.g., "I'm a sick bitch/ I like freak sex"). B+(**)

Lukah: Whe the Black Hand Touches You (2020 [2021], Raw Materials): Memphis rapper, second album, very little info on him, dispute over label and release date. B+(**)

Marina: Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land (2021, Atlantic): Singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, from Wales (Welsh mother, Greek father), four previous albums as Marina and the Diamonds, first with her name shortened. Her consciousness is more deeply personal, and more militantly feminist. A-

The Mark Masters Ensemble: Masters & Baron Meet Blanton & Webster (2019 [2021], Capri): Originally a trumpet player, Masters is a big band arranger/leader with more than a dozen records going back to 1984. Art Baron is a trombonist who played in Ellington's final orchestra and later with Mercer Ellington. Jimmy Blanton and Ben Webster were stars in Ellington's 1940-42 orchestra, Blanton's arrival in 1939 and death in 1942 defining one of Ellington's most legendary periods. Seven Ellington songs, three by Billy Strayhorn, and Juan Tizol's "Perdido." Tim Hagans is featured on trumpet. B+(***) [cd]

MIKE: Disco! (2021, 10k): Rapper Mike Bonema, born in New Jersey, lived in London from 10-15, back to Philadelphia then New York, ninth album/mixtape since 2015. B+(**)

Bob Mintzer & WDR Big Band Cologne: Soundscapes (2019 [2021], MCG Jazz): Saxophonist-led big band, a long term interest, dating back to his 1975-77 stretch with Buddy Rich. B+(**) [cd]

Roscoe Mitchell/Mike Reed: The Ritual and the Dance (2015 [2021], Astral Spirits): Reeds and drums, the latter also credited with electronics. One 36:43 improv, plus a 16:08 "sample." Intense free jazz, but can be a bit shrill. B+(***)

Liudas Mockunas/Arfvydad Kaziauskas: Purvs (2020 [2021], Jersika, 2LP): Saxophone duo, both playing a wide range, from sopranino to bass, and something called "keyless overtone." One disc is called "The Bog Sessions," the other "Live at the Peat Amphitheater." None of the LP sides runs less than 22:53, and I'm intimidated by the sheer weight of the vinyl. As for the music, the patterns and interaction are interesting when you can pay them close attention, but don't do much as background. B+(**) [lp]

The Modern Jazz Trio With Jerry Bergonzi: Straight Gonz (2021, AMM): MJT is described as a "Nordic supergroup," but I can't find any other albums under that group name. The members are Carl Winther (piano), Johnny Åman (bass), and Anders Mogensen (bass), and they have played with tenor saxophonist Bergonzi before -- one source says this is their sixth album together, and I can account for three, going back to 2013. B+(**)

Modest Mouse: The Golden Casket (2021, Epic): Indie band based in Portland, had a run from 1996-2009 with 6 Christgau A- records (4 by me), only their second album since. Dense, complex, may deserve more attention than I feel like giving it. B+(**)

The Mountain Goats: Dark in Here (2021, Merge): It's getting harder and harder for me to get a grip on mainstream rock records -- I'm not retaining the words, the melodies all sink into sameness, nothing stands out. I should probably give up on trying to review them. But this does seem special, even if I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe the brightness of his voice against the dark of recent history? A-

Róisín Murphy: Crooked Machine (2021, Skint): Irish electropop singer-songwriter, started in 1990s in trip hop duo Moloko, five studio albums since 2005, this counts as a remix of 2020's Róisin Machine. B+(*)

Laura Mvula: Pink Noise (2021, Atlantic): Birmingham, UK, singer-songwriter, third album, gets slotted as neo-soul but this is closer to crunchy (if not especially memorable) electropop. B+(*)

Navy Blue: Song of Sage: Post Panic! (2020, Freedom Sounds): Brooklyn rapper Sage Elsesser, professional skateboarder, fashion model, visual artist, second album. Speaks over nondescript synths, conscious, at one point explains, "this is therapeutic." A-

Navy Blue: Ádà Irin (2020, Freedom Sounds): Earlier album, short (11 songs, 31:13). Music and lyrics more cryptic, but he's onto something. B+(*)

Nervous Dater: Call in the Mess (2021, Counter Intuitive): Brooklyn "punk trio" (although I count six credits; first-listed Rachel Lightner: guitar, vocals, saxohphone), second album. B+(**)

Marius Neset: A New Dawn (2021, ACT Music): Norwegian alto saxophonist, based in Copenhagen, albums since 2008. Solo. B+(*)

Billy Nomates: Emergency Telephone (2020, Invada, EP): Quickie follow-up to last year's eponymous album, record of the year in some quarters, came out in December to little notice. Four songs, 16:51. Good but not brilliant ones. B+(***)

Aaron Novik: Grounded (2020 [2021], Astral Spirits): Clarinet player (including bass and contrabass clarinets), "minimal effects," composed and recorded this during lockdown last year, much closer to minimalism than to jazz. B+(**) [dl]

William Parker: Painter's Winter (2020 [2021], AUM Fidelity): Title a reference back to the bassist's 2000 album Painter's Spring, reconvening the same trio: Daniel Carter (trumpet, alto/tenor sax, clarinet, flute) and Hamid Drake (drums). Carter pokes around the edges, rarely taking charge, which is fine given how strong the bass lines are. A-

William Parker: Mayan Space Station (2020 [2021], AUM Fidelity): Another trio, unlike anything in Parker's enormous catalog, as it features a guitarist (Ava Mendoza), with Gerald Cleaver on drums. Mendoza has a fair number of albums since 2013, including a similar trio led by William Hooker. Mendoza is impressive, someone I should look into further, but the fusion moves don't quite seem right here. [PS: Parker does have an earlier g-b-d trio with Raoul Björkenheim and Hamid Drake, DMG @ the Stone: Volume 2 (2008), but it's less of a fusion move.] B+(***)

Arlo Parks: Collapsed Into Sunbeams (2021, Transgressive): Semi-pop singer-songwriter from London, given name Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, ancestors from Nigeria, Chad, and France, first album after two EPs. I, for one, find "Hope" remarkably reassuring, and less for the lyrics than for the music, something few others have been able to do (Stevie Wonder, I guess). I wouldn't have held it for the sixth single, but it probablly wouldn't have been my first pick either. A-

Mario Pavone/Dialect Trio + 1: Blue Vertical (2021, Out of Your Head): Bassist, died on May 15 this year, recorded this last album on March 25-26, with his Dialect Trio (pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Tyshawn Sorey) plus trumpet player Dave Ballou. B+(***) [cd]

Mario Pavone/The Tampa Quartet: Isabella (2021, Clean Feed): Recorded less than a month earlier, also dedicated to the bassist's late granddaughter Isabella Pavone, a quartet with his son Michael Pavone (guitar), Mike DiRubbo (alto sax), and Michael Sarin (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Liz Phair: Soberish (2021, Chrysalis): Released her masterpiece in 1993, slacked off, last album Funstyle, 11 years ago, marginal but underappreciated. Little change here: "I don't live in a world that appreciates me." None of us do. B+(***)

Pom Pom Squad: Death of a Cheerleader (2021, City Slang): Brooklyn indie band, founded by singer-songwriter Mia Berrin, first album after a couple EPs. Curious covers: "Crimson & Clover," "This Couldn't Happen." B+(**)

Powers/Rollin Duo: Strange Fortune (2021, Astral Spirits): Jen Powers (hammered dulcimer/autoharp) and Matthew J. Rolin (12-string guitar/chimes), half-dozen albums together since 2018. B+(*) [dl]

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Sud Des Alpes (2019 [2021], Aerophonic): Eighth group album since 2007, Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis (alto/tenor), with bass (Ingebrigt Håker Flaten) and two drummers (Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly). B+(***) [dl]

Andrew Renfroe: Run in the Storm (2021, self-released): Guitarist, based in New York, officially his debut album after a 2020 EP (Dark Grey). Postbop, with alto sax (Braxton Cook), keyboards, bass, drums, "plus special guest Marquis Hill" (trumpet). B+(**) [cd] [08-27]

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog: Hope (2020 [2021], Northern Spy): Guitarist, sings here, fifth group album with Shahzad Ismaily (bass/keyboards) and Ches Smith (drums). Leads with anti-Trump politics. Ends with heroic guitar. B+(***)

Dawn Richard: Second Line (2021, Merge): From Louisiana, left for Baltimore after Katrina, went through all sorts of gimmicks to get her career started, including a reality TV show that landed her a spot in Diddy's girl group Danity Kane. On her own for a decade now, aims for electrofunk here and hits the mark more often than not, as artificial satisfies as often as authentic. B+(***)

Sault: Nine (2021, Forever Living Originals): British mystery group ("pseudonymous"), black-identified, first album in 2019 titled 5, second later that year 7. Their next two albums, both Untitled, became the surprise soundtrack to last summer, when fear of pandemic was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protests. I preferred the first batch, probably because the debt to Chic was more obvious, but they continue to be intriguing as they evolve. I'm still unsure of this one. B+(***)

Chris Schlarb/Chad Taylor: Time No Changes (2019 [2021], Astral Spirits/Big Ego): Guitarist, also plays keyboards, owns a studio and label in California, has a half-dozen albums I've usually filed as rock, in a duo here with the jazz drummer (and mbira player). B+(*) [dl]

J. Peter Schwalm: Aufbruch (2021, RareNoise): Keyboards/electronics, duo with Markus Reuter (electronics/guitar), latter's name below the title. Dark, gloomy ambiance. Sophie Tassignon credited with vocals on two tracks. B+(*) [cdr]

Alex Sipiagin: Upstream (2020 [2021], Posi-Tone): Russian trumpet player, moved to US in 1990, regular albums since 1998. Quartet with piano (Art Hirahara), bass (Boris Kozlov), and drums (Rudy Royston). Five pieces by the leader, two by Kozlov, one by Hirahara, one by Wayne Shorter. B+(*)

Skee Mask: Pool (2021, Ilian Tape): German DJ/producer Bryan Müller, singles since 2014, third album. Long, available digital and 3-LP but would fit comfortably on 2-CD (18 tracks, 103:14). Love the stutter rhyths with odd embellishments, the slower ones only a bit less. A-

Slayyyter: Troubled Paradise (2021, Fader Label): Hyperpop singer-songwriter Catherine Slater, from Kirkwood in the St. Louis suburbs, first album after a 2019 mixtape. What's hyper is mostly the drums, while the porn quotient is toned down (or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention, which I'd count as the same thing). B+(*)

Sleater-Kinney: Path of Wellness (2021, Mom + Pop): Riot grrrl band from the Olympia, Washington scene, based in Portland, tenth album since 1995, first since 1996 without drummer Janet Weiss. I've dutifully listened to all of their albums, bought some, never really liked them (mostly due to the shrieking voices), never quite dismissed them, always thought Weiss was a great drummer. None of that really applies here: the voices have mellowed, the drums too, and while most of this is anodyne, there's nothing to rail against. In fact, I rather like "Bring Mercy." B+(*)

Slide Attack: Road Trip (2020 [2021], SACD): Two trombonists, Howard Levy and Alan Goidel, backed by piano-bass-drums. Inspired, of course, by J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. B+(*) [cd]

Wadada Leo Smith/Douglas R. Ewart/Mike Reed: Sun Beans of Shimmering Light (2015 [2021], Astral Spirits): Trumpet, reeds (sopranino sax, bassoon, flute), and drums. Trumpet stands out early on. B+(***) [dl]

Space Quartet: Directions (2019 [2021], Clean Feed): Rafael Toral (electronics), Hugo Antunes (bass), Nuno Morão (drums), Nuno Torres (sax/electronics). First two were on a previous Space Quartet album, with Toral the leader (although everything here is jointly credited). B+(**) [bc]

Tele Novella: Merlynn Belle (2021, Kill Rock Stars): Lockhart, Texas-based "indie-psych band," principally singer-guitarist Natalie Ribbons and bassist Jason Chronis, second album. B+(***)

Emma-Jean Thackray: Yellow (2021, Movementt/Warp): British trumpet player, "multi-instrumentalist" (no music credits here), after at least three EPs, this is billed as her debut album, "draws glowing lines between '70s jazz fusion, PFunk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane." True enough, but less remarkable than you'd hope. B

TØRSÖ: Home Wrecked (2021, self-released, EP): Bay Area hardcore group, three songs, 5:05. Short, intense. B [bc]

Tune-Yards: Sketchy (2021, 4AD): Merrill Garbus, fifth album. Christgau A-listed the first four, but didn't rush to judgment here. I've never gotten her/them, so I figured no harm in waiting before I check this off my list. I don't mind the chaos, but can't tell what (if anything) it's covering up. And still don't care. B

Tyler, the Creator: Call Me if You Get Lost (2021, Columbia): Los Angeles rapper Tyler Okonma, started in the Odd Future collective, sixth studio album since 2011. I didn't care for his early work, but he keeps growing. B+(***)

Luís Vicente Trio: Chanting in the Name Of (2021, Clean Feed): Portuguese trumpet player, heard a lot from him since 2013. Trio with bass (Gonçalo Almeida) and drums (Pedro Melo Alves), keeps him front and center. B+(**) [bc]

Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom (2018 [2021], Sahel Sounds): I guess you could call these field recordings, made by Swedish "music archeologist and leftfield musician" Karl Jonas Winqvist, then doctored in Sweden, with bits from 20 musicians here and there. B [bc]

Faye Webster: I Know I'm Funny Haha (2021, Secretly Canadian): Singer-songwriter, based in Atlanta, fourth album. Not as funny as she thinks, but pleasant in its own low-key way. B+(*)

Wild Up: Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine (2021, New Amsterdam): Led by cellist Seth Parker Woods, handful of albums since 2014, I count 17 musicians plus voice, with less electronics and more horns than the Ensemble O/Aum Grand Ensemble version. More dramatic, not necessarily better. B+(***)

Chris Williams/Patrick Shiroishi: Sans Soleil (2021, Astral Spirits): Trumpet and sax duo, both playing a wide range of family instruments and other objects, bouncing scattered sounds off each other. The former has a couple records as Chris Ryan Williams, as opposed to the Australian Chris Williams who plays trupet and didgeridoo, and most likely others -- Discogs lists him as "Chris Williams (84). Shiroishi has a long list of marginal-looking albums going back to 2013. B+(*)

Sarah Wilson: Kaleidoscope (2012 [2021], Brass Tonic): Trumpet player, also sings on less than half of these songs, based in Oakland, third album, sextet with Charles Burnham (violin), Myra Melford (piano), Matt Wilson (drums), guitar, and bass. B+(**) [cd]

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 7: João Donato (2021, Jazz Is Dead, EP): First three volumes listed Younge first, next three Muhammad, now back to Younge. They've been picking out a mix of jazz-funk oldsters and Brazilians to feature, and while these could be remixes they've all been made with living musicians: Donato is a pianist who started in the bossa nova era and is now 86, with a couple dozen albums under his name, and at least as many side-credits. Flirts with LP-length (9 tracks, 26:44). B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Hasaan Ibn Ali: Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album (1965 [2021], Omnivore): Pianist William Henry Langford Jr., from Philadelphia (1931-80), remembered (if at all) for an album released in 1965 under the drummer's name, The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan. Turns out that he recorded a second album for Atlantic, but it was shelved after Ibn Ali was imprisoned for drugs, and the master tapes were lost in a warehouse fire in 1978. A copy was discovered in 2017, so here it is: quartet with Odean Pope (his first session) on tenor sax, Art Davis (bass), and Kalil Madi (drums). Seven original pieces, plus three alternate takes. Pope is especially impressive, the bassist holds things together, and the pianist cuts against the grain, keeping it interesting. Feels like something that could have been released a decade later in Europe and taken as a sign that jazz still has the spark of life. A-

Can: Live in Stuttgart 1975 (1975 [2021], Mute, 2CD): German experimental rock group, first album 1969, used vocalists early but had no vocals at this point, becoming increasingly ambient, a quartet with Michael Karoli (guitar), Irmin Schmidt (keybs), Holger Czukay (bass), and Jaki Leibezeit (drums). Five numbered pieces here, three for 70:09 on the first disc, 2 for 19:56 on the second. Fairly impressive, in their own limited way. B+(***) [bc]

Don Cherry: The Summer House Sessions (1968 [2021], Blank Forms Editions): Trumpet player, part of Ornette Coleman's legendary quartet, moved to Sweden, recorded this with two groups he had been working with, plus Turkish drummer Bulent Ates. Plays pocket trumpet here, with Tommy Koverhult and Bernt Rosengren on tenor sax, all three also playing flute. B+(*)

Don Cherry's New Researches: Organic Music Theatre: Festival De Jazz De Chateauvallon 1972 (1972 [2021], Blank Forms Editions): Featuring Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos. Cherry plays piano, harmonium, tanpura, and sings, over exotic percussion with with Doudou Goulrand on soprano/alto sax. B+(*)

Alice Coltrane: Live at the Berkeley Community Theater 1972 (1972 [2019], BCT): Detroit pianist Alice McLeod, played with Terry Pollard as a duo and in Terry Gibbs' quartet, met John Coltrane then and married him in 1965. Her spiritual focus sharpened after his death: "By 1972, she abandoned her secular life, and moved to California, where she established the Vedantic Center in 1975," and later the Shanti Anantam Ashram, and wound up only releasing cassettes to her followers. This is transitional, four long space jams. She plays harp, organ, and piano, wedged between the Charlie Haden-Ben Riley rhythm section and three South Asian musicians playing sarod, tabla, and tambura/percussion. The most recognizable pieces are "A Love Supreme" and "My Favorite Things." B+(**) [yt]

Alice Coltrane: Kirtan: Turiya Sings (1981 [2021], Impulse!): "Functional music," meant as an aid to meditation, originally recorded to be distributed exclusively at her ashram during a period where she gave up commercial recording, but not music. The title change (the 1982 cassette was just Turiya Sings) reflects a reframing of the music, stripping it down to just voice and Wurlitzer organ. Not the sort of thing I'm inclined to like, but I take comfort in its becalming aura nonetheless. B+(***)

Miles Davis: Mercy, Miles! Live at Vienne (1991 [2021], Rhino, 2CD): Recorded a couple months before the trumpet giant died in September, in France, where he was soon to become "a Knight of their Legion of Honour." With Kenny Garrett on sax, funk keyboards, bass, drums. Eight songs (77:28, two each by Prince and Marcus Miller, only one with Davis' name on it. B+(*)

Diane Delin: Chicago Standard Time (1991 [2021], BluJazz): Violinist, from Chicago, five albums 1997-2006, this short one (5 songs, 28:13) dates back earlier. Quartet, "featuring" Jodie Christian (piano), with bass and drums. One original, nice covers including "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me." B+(*) [cd]

Arne Domnérus Quartet: Dompan at the Savoy (1990 [2021], Phontastic): Swedish saxophonist (1924-2008), Wikipedia credits him with 44 albums as leader, many more on the side. He plays alto and clarinet here. Cover credits "featuring Ulf Johansson" (piano/trombone), and lists Sture Åkerberg (bass) and Aage Tangaard (drums). Open with an original, then follow with eleven swing-era standards. B+(**)

Bill Evans: Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings (1969 [2021], Elemental Music, 2CD): This adds to a substantial number of recent releases, mostly on Resonance, of the pianist from this period, mostly live but also some studio recordings made in Europe, like this one. The trio with Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell is one of his most striking, with the bass solos almost as interesting as the piano. This ends with a couple cuts with Metropole Orkest strings that I'd probably have cut, but they, too, are lovely. A- [cd]

Eyedea: Thirty Nine Lines (2001 [2021], Crushkill): Minneapolis rapper Micheal Larsen (1981-2020), with DJ Abilities (Eyedea & Abilities) released three 2001-09 albums on Rhymesayers. Thirteen freestyle raps, reminiscent of early Atmosphere. B+(**) [bc]

Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller: In Harmony (2006-07 [2021], Resonance, 2CD): Trumpet and piano duo, two live shows a little more than a year apart. The artists seem a little young for this sort of archival dig -- Hargrove first appeared in 1988, and quickly became the trumpet star of the 1990s; Miller started in 1984 with Art Blakey, and while his own records were less popular, he spent the 1990s in Kenny Garrett's band, Hargrove's main rival for "next big thing" -- but both died young (49 for Hargrove, 57 for Miller), leaving their estates to pick through the remains. Aside from Blakey, Miller apprenticed with Woody Shaw and Betty Carter -- the latter an especially demanding leader. He always reminded me of McCoy Tyner (he even looked like Tyner), with flashes of Oscar Peterson to show off, making him an ideal accompanist, as well as someone who could spell the leader with a dazzling piano solo. Includes a big booklet, but it's mostly tributes from younger musicians who grew up in awe of these two. A- [cd]

He's Bad! 11 Bands Decimate the Beats of Bo Diddley ([2021], Slovenly): "Ten years in the making," which suggested this project started around 2010. Eleven bands I've never heard of (ok, except for Rocket 808), True Sons of Thunder claiming two tracks with "Bad Trip pt. 1" and "Bad Trip pt. 2." Probably metal bands, didn't even recognize this as Diddley until I cranked the volume down and heard "Mona." B

Indaba Is ([2021], Brownswood): Eight tracks (64:39) by various South African musicians, none I recognize. Also don't quite recognize the township jazz this is supposedly an update on, although I'm familiar with most of the musicians name-checked in the notes. B+(*)

Alan Lomax's American Patchwork (1978-83 [2021], Mississippi): Field recordings -- "miners, moonshiners, and Primitive Baptists in Kentucky; flat-footers, string bands, and Piedmont blues in North Carolina; Cajun cowboys, fiddlers, and zydeco stompers in French-speaking Louisiana; and fife-and-drum ensembles, gospel quartets, former railroad track-liners, levee-camp muleskinners, and players on the pre-war blues circuit in Mississippi -- from Lomax's last tour of the American South, selected from some 350 hours of tapes. B+(***)

Charles Mingus: Mingus at Carnegie Hall [Deluxe Edition] (1974 [2021], Atlantic, 2CD): The bassist had floundered a bit in the late 1960s, but by 1974 he had rebounded with a superb quartet which would out-live him by a decade, led by George Adams (tenor sax) and Don Pullen (piano), with his long-time drummer Dannie Richmond. They went on to record his last great albums (Changes One and Changes Two) later in 1974, but for this concert he added Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax) to make a quintet, and also Jon Faddis (trumpet). They played a set together, then returned with extra saxophonists (Rahsaan Roland Kirk, John Handy, Charles McPherson) to blast through two 22-24 minute Ellington jams ("Perdido" and "C-Jam Blues"). The latter were released as an LP (and later CD), one of my favorite examples of what a great bandleader Mingus could be. The Deluxe Edition restores the whole concert, starting with three long Mingus pieces plus one by Pullen. The restored parts are pretty good, with Pullen the essential star player. But the jams still blow the socks off everyone. A

Nermin Niazi and Feisal Mosleh: Disco Se Aagay (1984 [2021], Discostan): Disco in Urdu, a "rediscovered synth-pop masterpiece," featuring the 14-year-old singer and her 19-year-old brother, recorded by a label in Birmingham [UK]. Pretty much what it's cracked up to be. B+(**) [bc]

Rare.wavs Vol. 1 ([2021], Foreign Family Collective): American electronica label, founded by Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of Odesza. Fifteen pieces by other artists, no dates -- I'm taking their word for obscurity, although Kasbo, Jai Wolf, Ford, Robotaki, possibly others have albums on the label (all that I've found since 2017). Nice variety, rare vocals don't hurt. B+(**)

Scott Reeves Quintet: The Alchemist (2005 [2021], Origin): Trombonist, debut 1998, likes big bands, found this little gem on the shelf. Leader plays alto valve trombone, alto flugelhorn, and electronics, with guitar (Russ Spiegel), keyboards (Mike Holober), bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Screamers: Demo Hollywood 1977 (1977 [2021], Super Viaduct, EP): First-wave LA punk band, early demos, five songs (15:31). Never released an album, although there is a 2-CD compilation of demos and live shots (In a Better World, released in 2001), which includes a couple of these songs. Despite the name, much less rage, and more sonic range, than I associate with LA punk. B+(**)

The Trojan Story (1961-71 [2021], Trojan, 3CD): British record label, founded in 1968, became a major player in reggae music although they were eclipsed by Island in the 1970s. The first of several releases of this title came out in 1971, and it's not clear that anything here was recorded later. Opens with Lord Tanamo calypso "Invitation to Jamaica," which sounds earlier than 1961, but that seems to be when he started. Sanctuary acquired the catalog in 2001, and I've listened to a lot of their reissues, so I know that it wouldn't be hard to assemble a 3-CD box that rivals Island's canon-defining Tougher Than Tough, but this only rises to that level on the shared songs. Nonethless, much of the rest is interesting. B+(**)

Shem Tupe/Justo Osala/Enos Okola: Guitar Music of Western Kenya: 45s From the Archive of Shem Tupe (1960s-70s [2021], Mississippi): Nine tracks, six with Tupe (aka Shem Tube, five list him first), eight with Osala (three first), six with Okola (none first), so at least one on each cut. The trio also recorded as Abana Ba Nasery. Falls short of Guitar Paradise of East Africa, but in its simpler way fills the same need. B+(***) [bc]

Vernacular: The Little Bird (2003 [2021], Astral Spirits): Cleveland group, somewhere in the seam between jazz, blues, and agitprop, with Lawrence Daniel Caswell (bass and vocals), R.A. Washington (trumpet/percussion), and Chris Kulcsar (drums/guitar). Caswell's slightly better-known band was This Moment in Black History, which had one of the all-time great titles: It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back. Liner notes by Amiri Baraka. Ends with a 17:43 live jam with Black Ox Orkestar (not on the original release), which moves boldly into free jazz territory. B+(***) [dl]

Wallahi Le Zein! ([2021], Mississippi): Compilation "drawing from the deep well of Mauritanian classical music," relased on 2-CD in 2010, and reissued in other formats here. No idea how old the original recordings are. The surface noise on Mohammed Guitar's opener suggests they go way back, but that goes away on later tracks. Long, and strong, on Saharan guitar riffs. B+(***)

Old Music


Ahmed Abdul-Malik: East Meets West (1959 [1960], RCA Victor): Second album (after Jazz Sahara), plays oud as well as bass, a mix of exotics and hard bop stars -- in Japan the album was credited to Lee Morgan and Benny Golson. Still, this date belongs to the oud, darabeka, kanoon, and violin. B+(*)

Ahmed Abdul-Malik: The Music of Ahmed Abdul-Malik (1961, New Jazz): Bass and oud, less of an indulgence in middle easern music than the previous albums although the influence was still here, more tightly interwoven than before. With trumpet (Tommy Turrentine), tenor sax (Eric Dixon), clarinet, cello, and a young drummer named Andrew Cyrille. B+(***)

C81 (1981, NME/Rough Trade): Sampler, promoted by NME and released on cassette tape, the original running 24 tracks (79:39), mostly post-punk/new wave bands. Some groups on the way up, some down, some just hanging around. B+(*) [dl]

Can: Landed (1975, Virgin): German rock group, debut 1969, sixth album. Some vocals on first five songs, leading into the 13:21 "Unfinished" instrumental, not quite spacey because it never really takes off. B+(**)

Alice Coltrane: A Monastic Trio (1967-68 [1998], Impulse!): First album, a year after her famous second husband's death. She plays piano and harp, with Jimmy Garrison on bass and Ben Riley or Rashied Ali on drums. CD opens with Pharoah Sanders on three tracks (only one on the original album), and they leave you wanting more. More impressed with her piano than her harp. B+(**)

Alice Coltrane: Ptah the El Daoud (1970, Impulse!): Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson, on tenor sax and alto flute, with Ron Carter (bass) and Ben Riley (drums). Needless to say, the saxophonists are most impressive. B+(***)

Alice Coltrane: Journey in Satchidananda (1970 [1971], Impulse!): Harp and piano, with Pharoah Sanders on soprano sax, Cecil McBee on bass (Charlie Haden on one track), Rashied Ali on drums, some tambura and oud. B+(**)

John Hiatt: Bring the Family (1987, A&M): Eighth album, his first to chart, although my impression that this was his breakthrough hit is dashed by seeing it peaked at 107 -- four later albums (1993, 1995, 2012, 2014) edged into the top-50, peaking at 39 with Mystic Pinball. Band here had Ry Cooder (guitar), Nick Lowe (bass guitar), and Jim Keltner (drums) -- they also recorded an album as Little Village. B+(*)

John Hiatt: The Eclipse Sessions (2017 [2018], New West): Recorded in Nashville "in August 2017 as the solar eclipse travelled across the U.S.," although I count more songs (6-5) recorded in October. B+(**)

Grace Jones: Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions (1980-85 [1998], Island, 2CD): From Jamaica, came to New York and worked mostly as a model. Recorded three albums for Island in the 1970s, but got little notice until her fourth, Warm Leatherette, in 1980, with Sly & Robbie creating a dub/new wave dance synthesis. This offers 6/8 cuts from Warm Leatherette ("Bullshit" is a major loss), 8/9 from Nightclubbing, 5/7 from Living My Life, the title single from Slave to the Rhythm, and 5 non-album songs, many in long/dub versions ("She's Lost Control" has one of each, totaling 17:00). B+(***)

Grace Jones: Slave to the Rhythm (1985, ZTT/Island): Trevor Horn takes over as producer. Structured as "a biography," with bits of narration and interview between songs, which themselves are stuffed to the gills without totally giving up the pretense that they are still danceable. But it isn't. B-

Biz Markie: I Need a Haircut (1991, Cold Chillin'): Rapper Marcel Hall, dead this year at 57, debut 1988, this was his third album, banned from the market by a federal judge for using an uncleared sample -- the judge was so prejudiced against him that he also referred Markie for criminal prosecution. What ticked plaintiff Gilbert O'Sullivan off was hearing that Markie's use of the sample is "humorous" -- more an affront to his self-conception than than a lost chance to cash in on Markie's added-value. (Of course, race had nothing to do with anything.) The immediate effect of the suit was explained in Markie's next title, All Samples Cleared. The long term effect was to reduce the use of samples, one way hip-hop expanded on popular culture. (Ample sample budgets is one advantage artists like Eminem and Kanye West have enjoyed.) B+(***) [yt]

Biz Markie: Biz's Baddest Beats: The Best of Biz Markie (1987-94 [1994], Cold Chillin'): Leans heavily on his first album, filled out with singles, so "best" is subject to interpretation, but it doesn't skimp on the human beatbox, the old school boasts, not to mention the boogers and doo doo that were his trademark. B+(***)

Helen Merrill: Helen Merrill (1954 [1955], Emarcy): Jazz singer Jelena Ana Milcetic, born in New York of Croatian parents. This was her first album, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones, sometimes reissued to highlight the contribution of trumpet player Clifford Brown, who gave her the same superb support he provided Sarah Vaughan and Diana Jams (all in 1955). Seven standards, seems unremarkable at first but they grow on you, fast. A-

Helen Merrill: Helen Merrill With Strings (1955 [1956], Emarcy): Second album, cover proclaims "a new sound in jazz," "orchestra arranged and conducted by Richard Haymen," but she also has a legit jazz combo led by Hank Jones with Barry Galbraith on guitar, Milt Hinton (bass), and Sol Gubin (drums). Strings in the 1950s were usually the kiss of death, but these are fairly tasteful, as is the combo. Songs like "Anything Goes" are taken awful slow, but Merrill's vocal control is marvelous. B+(***)

Helen Merrill: Dream of You (1956 [1958], Emarcy): Gil Evans produced, using a varying cast of 5-8 musicians over three sessions. He had started as an arranger for Claude Thornhill, and gained a measure of fame for the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool sessions, but became much more famous for his later work with Davis, and his 1957 debut as a leader (Gil Evans & Ten). I'm not sure these arrangements deserve their reputation, but they are smart and unobtrusive, and the singer shines. B+(**)

Helen Merrill: Helen Merrill With Clifford Brown and Gil Evans (1954-56 [1990], Emarcy): CD reissue highlights her most famous early collaborators, combining her Quincy Jones-produced debut with Clifford Brown (all 7 songs, in order) and 8 (of 12) songs from her Gil Evans-produced fourth album, Dream of You. B+(***)

Helen Merrill: Merrill at Midnight (1957, Emarcy): With Hal Mooney and His Orchestra for some fairly anodyne string arrangements. Also credits a small combo with Marian McPartland or Buddy Weed on piano, and Romeo Penque on oboe. B

Helen Merrill: You've Got a Date With the Blues (1959 [1989], Verve): Five (of eleven) songs with "Blue[s]" in the title, two titles in French. Slow-to-mid-tempo, light touch, nicely done. B+(**)

Helen Merrill: American Country Songs (1959, Atco): Twelve songs, four by the ever-reliable Hank Williams, a couple others that hold up as standards, others a bit of a reach. Strings on eight hamper the singer's jazz instincts. B

Helen Merrill/Dick Katz: The Feeling Is Mutual (1965 [1989], Emarcy): Pianist Katz arranged, group includes Thad Jones (cornet), Jim Hall (guitar), Ron Carter (bass), and Pete LaRoca or Arnie Wise (drums). Standards. She's always good, but Jones and Hall add something special here. B+(***) [yt]

Helen Merrill/Teddy Wilson: Helen Sings, Teddy Swings! (1970, Catalyst): Initially released in Japan, not sure when recorded but the pianist performed into the 1980s (he died at 73 in 1986). Not the best sound for the singer, but the piano sparkles on old standards. B+(**) [yt]

Nirvana: Sliver: The Best From the Box (1985-94 [2005], DGC): I thought they were terribly overrated when Nevermind took off, then with only one more album released Kurt Cobain killed himself, achieving an exalted sainthood that Hank Williams, Charlie Parker, and Jimi Hendrix at least put more work into (as did the more directly comparable Jim Morrison). I don't deny that they had some talent: I enjoyed the rumage through the trash they released as Incesticide, and the least intense of one of the posthumous live albums (MTV Unplugged in New York). The "box" here is 2004's With the Lights Out, its three 70+-minute CDs reduced here to one clocking in at 74:34. Credit them with hooks I still recognize on demos so crude demos they have a certain charm, not that I want to ever hear them again. And often a level of intensity I never want to feel again. B+(*)

The Rolling Stones: Rewind (1971-1984) (1971-84 [1984], Rolling Stones): Since I was relistening to Dirty Work, I thought I'd try to reconstruct this rare Christgau-approved compilation, with 13 songs from 9 albums -- 3 (or 4) worth owning whole, 3 (or 4) I'd advise skipping. I suspect one could find more good songs in the latter, which might make this more useful, but probably not better. Or they could have shifted the years to omit Exile and pick up Dirty Work, but licensing doesn't work like that. A-

The Rolling Stones: Sucking in the Seventies (1973-79 [1981], Rolling Stones/Virgin): Compilation album, skips past the justly legendary 1971-72 albums to pick up in 1973, with three songs from their big 1978 comeback album, Some Girls -- except that one is an edit, another live, and they throw in a B-side not on the album. They also raid the Emotional Rescue sessions for an unreleased piece. The obscurities cut both ways: not the best the period could offer, but also not totally redundant. I was unable to construct a play list, but found most of the songs in the wrong order on YouTube, and filled in the holes so I can say I've heard it all, but not as presented. That's one caveat. No doubt there should be more. B+(**) [yt]

The Rolling Stones: Some Girls [Deluxe Edition] (1978 [2011], Universal Republic, 2CD): Like Christgau, I skipped the original album, which I know intimately and rate among their 1970s works higher than Sticky Fingers if not quite Exile on Main Street. Most "Deluxe Edition" filler is redundant -- most often live versions and/or alternate takes -- but the 12 songs here are new (ok, a couple are covers), effectively an entire lost Rolling Stones album. Admittedly, it's a pretty minor one, falling way short of the conceits of an outfit billing itself as The World's Greatest Rock Band. But a little modesty does them good, and reminds you that it wasn't spectacle that put them on top: it was sound. A-

The Roots: Organix (1993, Remedy): Philadelphia hip-hop group, first album, runs over an hour, principally rapper Tariq Trotter (Black Thought) and drummer Ahmir Thompson (Questlove), live band has some jazzy overtones, no samples or turntables. Old school, and proud of it. B+(***) [yt]

The Roots: From the Ground Up (1994, Geffen, EP): Six songs, 32:50, four previewing their second album (Do You Want More?!!!??!). B+(**)

The Roots: Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995, DGC): Second album, first on a major label. Like the sound, but didn't catch much. B+(**)

The Roots: Dilla Joints (2010, self-released): Not a lot of info with this. Presumably at least a reference to Detroit producer James Yancey (better known as J Dilla), who died in 2006. One suggestion is that the band is playing Dilla's "greatest hits" without the electronics. Hard to say. B

Charlie Shavers: Charlie Shavers and the Blues Singers 1938-1939 (1938-39 [1995], Timeless): Trumpet player (1917-71), started with Chu Berry, group list on Discogs is encyclopedic (Georgie Auld, Buster Bailey, Mildred Bailey, Charlie Barnet, Paul Baron, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, several dozen more). He's not the headliner here, just the common denominator, and sometimes he gets overshadowed by the clarinet players (Buster Bailey and, especially, Bechet). Singers are Trixie Smith, Leola [Coot Grant] & Kid Wesley Wilson, Lether McGraw, Rosetta Howard, and Alberta Hunter. One cut where Shavers does get to strut his stuff is called "Toot It, Brother Armstrong." Shavers isn't much remembered these days, but he used to do a bit where he replicated the styles of a half-dozen great trumpet players, starting with Pops. He wasn't one of them, but he could sure fake it. B+(***)

Charlie Shavers: The Last Sessions [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1970 [1999], Black & Blue): February 7-8, 18 months before the trumpet player died. Three previously unreleased tracks, almost double the length of the 1970 Live! album co-led by saxophonist Budd Johnson, with J.M. Monestier (piano), Roland Lobligeois (bass), and Oliver Jackson (drums). Shavers also sings three songs. B+(*)

Further Sampling

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Jinx Lennon: Liferafts for Latchicos (2019-20 [2021], Septic Tiger (2019-20 [2021], Septic Tiger): Irish folk-punk. [bc: 2/5:09] +

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:

The Rolling Stones: Dirty Work (1986, Virgin): Played this while I was working on posting Robert Christgau's recycled review article. I never believed that the Stones were done after Exile -- well, certainly not after Some Girls -- but did pay less attention over the years. And yes, with its hard and rough angularity, this is a good one. Best song "Back to Zero," and I've always liked "Harlem Shuffle." [was: B+] A-

Sa-Roc: The Sharecropper's Daughter (2020, Rhymesayers): Rapper Assata Perkins, originally from DC, studied at Howard, based in Atlanta, father sharecropped tobacco in Virginia. Races through 15 songs, sharp and urgent. Features include Saul Williams and Black Thought. [was: B+(**)] A-


Music Weeks

Current count 35900 [35715] rated (+185), 210 [205] unrated (+5).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

July 5, 2021

Music: Current count 35760 [35715] rated (+45), 212 [205] unrated (+7).

Back in my software engineering days, someone came up with the notion of "train-leaves-the-station" release scheduling, where you pick a date (as opposed to a set of needed functionality) and release whatever you have done by the date. That way you get regular releases, even if you rarely get done what needs to be done. On the other hand, content-driven releases invariably took too long.

Releasing Music Week every Monday is a "train-leaves-the station" affair. Whatever's in by a cutoff date goes out, regardless of whether it fits together, or is obviously incomplete. Moreover, if I don't feel like writing an introduction, I don't have to. The fact is, I have nothing much to say this week. But I do have 45 records below, so that will have to do.

I should note that the Helen Merrill dive was the result of a question about Clifford Brown, the Grace Jones another question, and the Rolling Stones revisit followed a Robert Christgau Big Lookback. I'm also a bit worried that I haven't listened to the Mingus enough for the whole thing to merit that A grade, but the the second set sure does, and the Don Pullen piece added to the second disc sets the jams up perfectly.

July 12, 2021

Music: Current count 35803 [35760] rated (+43), 212 [212] unrated (-0).

I listened to a lot of new non-jazz this past week. I checked off all the unheard records from last week's Dan Weiss list (12/24), and most of the unheard albums on Expert Witness lists by Christian Iszchak and Sidney Carpenter-Wilson. Also picked up a couple records from Phil Overeem's list, although I'm still about 30 down.

All but two records in my (jazz) demo queue are future releases (4 coming out on 7/16, 3 in August, 3 in September). The one I've been remiss on is a 2-LP by Liudas Mockunas and Arfvydad Kaziauskas -- the only vinyl in the queue. I play so little vinyl these days it just seems like too much bother (but I'll try to get to it this week). One of the demos I did play last week was Mario Pavone's last session. I thought I should also include his new Clean Feed album, recorded about a month before, and that got me into belatedly looking at their 2021 releases. Also took a look at my Downloads directory, which is where I found C81.

Quite a few B+(***) albums this week (14). There must be a couple in there that could rate higher, but most did get two plays. The ones I'm most tempted to revisit are by Erez Noga and Sylvie Courvoisier, although Rempis and Tyler are also possibles. (Marina and Navy Blue started out in that group, then got bumped with an extra play.) I wouldn't rule out the 10 B+(**) records either.

A few more mid-year lists:

I haven't looked very hard this week. The Quietus list is not only exceptionally long, but includes a lot of electronica, and even a bit of jazz (thanks to Peter Margasak).

July 19, 2021

Music: Current count 35855 [35803] rated (+52), 212 [212] unrated (+0).

Lots of records below. Single biggest source of inspiration (by a large margin) was Phil Overeem's latest mid-year list. I think when the list came out there were 33 albums on it I hadn't heard. Down to 10 now, although at Phil's acquisition rate I may still be down 30. Played what I hadn't heard from Robert Christgau's July Consumer Guide, and revisited Sa-Roc (well, also Aesop Rock, but no change there). For what little it's worth, I still consider Sons of Kemet's Black to the Future to be a full-A album, and if that isn't all the Shabaka Hutchings you can handle, he plays his ass off on Anthony Joseph's The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives -- this year's other full-A album. (Well, there's also the Mingus at Carnegie Hall deluxe reissue, which is exactly what I was reminded of when the other saxophonists on Joseph's album weigh in.)

The two Femenine recordings wound up with the same grade, but I think I slightly prefer the more ambient Sub Rosa version. I had them grouped together for a while, but alphabetical-by-artist order insisted. The Sub Rosa looks to be attributed directly to Eastman, but some time ago I decided to attribute classical music to the performer, not the (usually headline) composer (unless the composer is directly involved (as is often the case with recent works). I didn't manage to find Eastman's 1974 original, which would have been filed under his name.

Thanks to Joe Yanosik for sending me a copy of his book, A Consumer Guide to the Plastic People of the Universe. Thin but large format, lots of pictures, lots of records I had never heard of. Glad to see that Pulnoc's legendary Live at P.S. 122 is finally going to be available. I've long had a bootleg cassette of it, but without a cassette player I never got it into my database. (I also had a prejudice against bootlegs for not being genuine products, but the mixtape era messed that up.)

July 26, 2021

Music: Current count 35900 [35855] rated (+45), 210 [212] unrated (-2).

Notes

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
  • [lp] based on physical lp (vinyl)
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com
  • [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