Streamnotes: March 28, 2022


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 February 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (19089 records).


Recent Releases

75 Dollar Bill: Live Ateliers Claus (2016-19 [2021], self-released): Saharan-influenced instrumental rock duo -- Rick Brown (percussion) and Che Chen (guitar) -- started around 2013, one of those artists who released a lot of live tapes during the pandemic, leaving us with too much material available, and no easy job of sorting out which albums are more valuable than others. This combines two sets, one a duo from 2016 (22:34), the other from 2019 (50:21, with Andrew Lafkas on bass). B+(**) [bc]

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (2022, Deewee/Because Music): Born in France, grew up in Belgium, traces her ancestry back to Nigeria (Yoruba) via Martinique and Guadeloupe. First album, after a couple EPs and a "self-meditation" cassette. I know less about Pupul, other than that he's collaborated with her on singles, and has a couple of his own. Spare but danceable beats, words mostly in English, like: "Don't say 'we need to build a wall'/ Say, I'm a world citizen, I don't believe in borders" A- [sp]

Melissa Aldana: 12 Stars (2021 [2022], Blue Note): Tenor saxophonist, from Chile, father a jazz saxophonist (Marcos Aldana), sixth album since 2010. Quintet with Lage Lund (guitar), Sullivan Fortner (piano), bass, and drums. Postbop, nice tone and flow. B+(***)

Brandon Allen: The Stanley Turrentine Project (2022, Ubuntu Music): Tenor saxophonist, originally from Australia, based in London since 2000, has a previous Gene Ammons Project, also a Monk-oriented Mysterioso Quartet. Backed here by piano (Will Barry), bass (Conor Chaplin), and drums (Dave Ingamells). Song selection is a little corny ("Can't Buy Me Love," "Little Green Apples," "The Fool on the Hill"), but he powers through them, like T would do. B+(**)

Alt-J: The Dream (2022, Infectious Music): English band, won a Mercury Prize for their 2012 debut, fourth album, flows comfortably, kind of like Pink Floyd but has yet to interest me. B

Animal Collective: Time Skiffs (2022, Sub Pop): Experimental pop band, founded 2000, seemed likely to be a big thing with 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion (at least with critics, as it won the Pazz & Jop poll, leading a long list of albums I more/less hated: Phoenix, Neko Case, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Flaming Lips, Avett Brothers; however, the album peaked at 13, not even gold, the follow-up sold a quarter as many copies, and later albums have come out at increasing intervals -- this 6 years after its predecessor). Usual complaints here: loose sense of time, excess pseudo-psychedelic shimmer. B

Beach House: Once Twice Melody (2022, Sub Pop): Dream pop duo from Baltimore, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (the former originally from France, niece of Michel Legrand), eighth album since 2006. Four sets of 4-5 songs, designed for 2-LP but needs 2-CD (86:29). Synths and guitar, the stuff of dreams, indeed. B+(**)

Andy Bell: Flicker (2022, Sonic Cathedral): British singer-songwriter, guitarist, solo albums start in 2020, as he was turning 50. He is best known for the group Ride (1988-96). In between he did production work and played in various bands, including a brief stint with Oasis, and with Noel Gallagher's post-Oasis group Beady Eye. Long record, lots of graceful pop songs and easy listening. B+(***)

Benji.: Smile, You're Alive! (2021, SinceThe80s): Atlanta rapper, toured with EarthGang, joined Spillage Village in 2020, appearing on several tracks on their Spilligion album. Some sources co-credit Spillage Village here, but I only see Benji.'s name on the cover. B+(**) [sp]

Tim Berne/Gregg Belisle-Chi: Mars (2021 [2022], Intakt): Alto sax and guitar duo, the latter having released a set of solo takes on Berne songs last year. B+(**) [sp]

Steven Bernstein's MTO: Good Time Music (Community Music Vol. 2) (2022, Royal Potato Family): Trumpet player, formed his Millennial Territory Orchestra in 2005 after working on Robert Altman's Kansas City, recreating the blues-based "territory bands" of the 1930s. Ten-piece band plus featured singer Catherine Russell. B+(***) [bc]

Big K.R.I.T.: Digital Roses Don't Die (2022, BMG): Rapper Justin Scott, from Mississippi, acronym for "King Remembered in Time," fifth studio album, twice as many mixtapes back to 2005. B+(**)

Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (2022, 4AD): Indie band from Brooklyn, singer-songwriter is Adrienne Lenker (who also has a couple solo albums), fifth group album since 2016, a big one (20 songs, 80:13). Impressive album, one that will be on many mainstream EOY lists, but I probably won't stick with long enough. A-

Binker & Moses: Feeding the Machine (2021 [2022], Gearbox): British duo, saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd, fifth album together. Not exactly a duo here, as Max Luthert is credited with electronics, but he hasn't earned marquee credit yet. B+(**)

Michael Bisio Quartet: MBefore (2020 [2022], Tao Forms): Bassist, albums since 1987, many side credits, especially with Matthew Shipp and Joe McPhee. Unconventional, almost chamber-ish quartet, with vibes (Karl Berger), viola (Mat Maneri, and drums (Whit Dickey). B+(***) [cd]

Black Country, New Road: Ants From Up There (2022, Ninja Tune): English art rock band, second album, first was one of the more critically acclaimed debuts of 2021, and this one currently sets as the top-rated 2022 release at AOTY (89 on 29 reviews, with Metacritic giving it a 92). I can't hear it, probably because the texture and flow seems so variable, but like the debut I'll admit that it has something going for it. Singer Isaac Wood quit the band after this was recorded. No idea what that portends. B+(*)

Black Flower: Magma (2022, Sdban Ultra): Belgian quintet, led by Nathan Daems (sax/flute), half-dozen albums since 2013, "mixing Ethio-jazz and oriental with afrobeat and dub." One spoken vocal by Meskerem Mees. Enticing grooves with rich textures. B+(***) [sp]

Black Lives: From Generation to Generation (2021 [2022], Jammin' Colors, 2CD): Produced by Stefany Calembert, with bassist Reggie Washington prominent, "new work on the subject of racism and Black realities," out on a Belgian label. Some pieces are explicitly political (e.g., "Existing Conditions"), others content to explore grooves and tones. Mostly names I recognize come from jazz, but too eclectic to really follow. B+(**) [cd]

Mary J. Blige: Good Morning Gorgeous (2022, 300/Mary Jane Productions): Big star, thirty years past "What's the 411?"; five years since her last (13th) studio album. She's settling in nicely here, perhaps stronger than ever, less urgent, the few high points lifting an impeccable consistency. I doubt I've ever fully appreciated her before, as my only previous A- grade was for Herstory, Vol. 1, so this may not be her best ever, but it's the one that got me. A-

Sarah Borges: Together Alone (2022, Blue Corn Music): Singer-songwriter from Boston area, eighth album since 2005, had a couple of those on bluegrass-oriented Sugar Hill, returns to her first label here. B+(*)

Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (2021, Oh Boy): A year after Prine's Covid death brought forth a flood of eulogies that approached what he deserved, his label limps on with a small stable of good-but-not-Prine songwriters. So with another product shortfall, why not invite a second volume of tribute covers? Eleven years after Vol. 1, it's not like they're going to the well too often (though they probably won't stop until they do). And they did draw bigger and better names this time, without coming close to running out of songs. A- [sp]

James Brown: Song Within the Story (2021 [2022[, NGP): Guitarist, from Toronto, fourth album, the last one Sevendaze in 2009 -- or so the hype sheet says. Searching for him is well nigh impossible, like trying to identify a small asteroid backlit by the sun. (Discogs has at least 83 James Browns and no Sevendaze. Google produced some results after adding "guitar" and "toronto" to the name.) Original material, with bass and drums, plus tenor sax (Mike Murley) on 3 (of 10) tracks. Respectable postbop, solid support, Murley's always a plus. B+(**) [cd]

Caroline: Caroline (2022, Rough Trade): British post-rock group, first album, Casper Hughes plays guitar and sings. B [sp]

George Cartwright/Dave King/Josh Granowski: Stick Insect (2021, Mahakala Music): Sax/drums/bass trio, Cartwright best known for the 1980-2003 group Curlew, King more famous as the Bad Plus drummer. I'd never heard of Granowski, but he's got an "upright metal bass" that could pass for a nasty guitar. This runs long (110:20) and far, with moments that will turn your head, and others that just make you wonder. B+(**) [bc]

Central Cee: 23 (2022, self-released): London rapper Oakley Caesar-Su, second mixtape, something called "UK drill" for its fast, staccato delivery. B+(***)

Charli XCX: Crash (2022, Asylum): British pop star Charlotte Aitchison, fifth album, four singles, two with guest stars. Big production, in some ways the top of her game, but didn't quite click for me, until the delirious "You Don't Know Me" broke through. A-

CMAT: If My Wife New I'd Be Dead (2022, AWAL): Irish singer-songwriter Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, first album. Strong singer, thinking about "Nashville" and cowboys. B+(***) [sp]

Conway the Machine: God Don't Make Mistakes (2022, Griselda/Interscope): Buffalo rapper Demond Price, mixtapes going back to 2014, second studio album. B+(***)

Elvis Costello & the Imposters: The Boy Named If (2022, Capitol): Band name he's used since 2002, long-taken to mean "not the Attractions." Here, the opener ("Farewell, OK") sounds like a throwback to his youth, but soon enough he's orating again, albeit with a harder guitar edge ("Magnificent Hurt" is another example). So, yeah, better than he's been in quite some while (aside from Spanish Model, which recycled some of his best old songs en españnol, hot enough he called that group The Attractions). B+(*)

Stephan Crump: Rocket Love (2020-21 [2022], Papillon Sounds): Bassist, impressive list of albums since 2001, mostly in trios with guitar or piano. This one is solo, currated from a year-long subscriber-supported series, not planned as a pandemic project but it worked out that way. B+(**)

Curren$y & the Alchemist: Continuance (2022, Jet Life): Rapper Shante Franklin, many albums since 2009, some with producer Daniel Maman. B+(*)

DJ 809: EightOh! (2022, self-released, EP): From New Jersey, seven short pieces, beats stripped down and popped up, with talkover (14:45). B+(*) [bc]

DJ 809: Unexpected (2022, self-released, EP): Same cover art, three more tracks (8:25), all with "Club" in the title, two with "Beat," the other with "Remix." Runs a bit down. B [bc]

Dave Douglas: Secular Psalms (2020-21 [2022], Greenleaf Music): Great trumpet player, hit-and-miss composer, was commissioned to write ten pieces "inspired by Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, as well as music by 15-Century Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay." Libretto sung by Berlinde Deman in Ghent -- each musician was recorded separately; with Marta Warelis (piano), Frederik Leroux (guitar), Tomeka Reid (cello), and Lander Gyselinck (drums). Some great trumpet stuck into the mass. B+(*) [cd] [04-01]

Kit Downes/Petter Eldh/James Maddren: Vermillion (2021 [2022], ECM): Piano/bass/drums trio. British pianist has more than a dozen albums since 2009. Swedish bassist, based in Berlin, has a comparable discography, and wrote five originals here, as did Downes. Album closes with a Jimi Hendrix tune, "Castles Made of Sand." B+(*)

EarthGang: Ghetto Gods (2022, Dreamville/Interscope): Atlanta hip-hop duo, Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot), involved in Spillage Village, fourth album. B+(**)

Bill Easley: Diversitonic (2022, Sunnyside): Tenor saxophonist, celebrating a 60-year career but doesn't have a lot of albums to show for it -- half-dozen albums under his own name, side credits with Jimmy McGriff, maybe twenty more. B+(**)

Kelly Eisenhour: I Just Found Out About Love (2022, BluJazz): Standards singer, released a previous album in 2007, so not as prolific as her bio says. Recorded this at Capitol Records, which she found inspirational, but also give credit to the rhythm section (Jeff Hamilton, Tamir Hendelman, Christoph Luty), and to the songs. B+(**) [cd]

Equiknoxx: Basic Tools (2021, Equiknoxx Music): Jamaican hip-hop collective, fourth mixtape, recorded in New York and UK (Birmingham/Manchester) as well as Kingston. B+(**) [bc]

Erin Rae: Lighten Up (2022, Good Memory): Last name McKaskie, singer-songwriter, third album, easy on the ears. B+(*) [sp]

Etran de L'Aïr: Agadez (2022, Sahel Sounds): Tuareg group from Agadez, in Niger, in the Saharan Dessert near the Aïr Mountains, a town of 100,000 which has launched a number of world renowned bands with fiery guitars and chanting choruses. Second album, not unlike the others, and every bit as exciting. A- [bc]

Eubanks Evans Experience: EEE (2022, Imani): Duo, guitarist Kevin Eubanks and pianist Orrin Evans, both first appeared in the mid-1990s. Fairly quiet affair. B+(*) [cd]

Julieta Eugenio: Jump (2021 [2022], Greenleaf Music): Tenor saxophonist, from Argentina, based in New York, first album, backed by bass (Matt Dwonszyk) and drums (Jonathan Barber). Eight originals, two standards, tone and phrasing remind me of Coleman Hawkins. A- [cd]

Fanfare Ciocarlia: It Wasn't Hard to Love You (2021, Asphalt Tango): Romanian brass band, which probably means Romani [confirmed], formed in the late 1990s with albums in 1998 and 1999 (World Wide Wedding). Starts with a Bill Withers cover, strange enough to make you hungry for more, then lapses into more traditional fare: upbeat party music. A-

Wolfgang Flür: Magazine 1 (2002, Cherry Red): Percussionist from classic German "krautrock" group Kraftwerk (1973-87), not a lot since then, but after Florian Schneider's 2020 death, he looks to reclaim the franchise sound. He does so, and rather humorously, helped by a series of guests like U96, Midge Ure, Carl Cox, and Juan Atkins. B+(***)

Keeley Forsyth: Limbs (2022, The Leaf Label): British singer-songwriter, better known as an actor before her 2019 debut album. Slow, overdramatic, again. B [sp]

The Grace Fox Big Band: Eleven O Seven (2022, Next Level/Blue Collar): Young trumpet player, still a student at Manhattan School of Music, organized the all-female big band, wrote a couple pieces, arranged others. Sounds fairly conventional at first, but grows on you -- particularly the closer, a Janis Ian song, striking with vocals by Alexis Fox and a smashing sax solo by Sarah Hanahan. B+(**) [cd]

Foxes: The Kick (2022, PIAS): British dance pop singer-songwriter Louisa Rose Allen, third album. Sounds a bit like Madonna, except for a shortfall of hit songs. B+(*)

Satoko Fujii & Joe Fonda: Thread of Light (2021 [2022], FSR): Piano and bass duo, latter also plays cello and flute. They've played together before (I'd be hard pressed to count the times, but at least 5 times), and each has well over 50 albums with others (many notable). B+(***) [cd]

Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double: March (2019 [2022], Firehouse 12): Drummer, an Anthony Braxton student, runs the Firehouse 12 club and label in New Haven. Second album for his Triple Double group: two each trumpets (Ralph Alessi and Taylor Ho Bynum, latter on cornet), guitars (Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook), and drums (Fujiwara and Gerald Cleaver). Some tremendous talent here, a little rough to start out, with both the horn and guitar jousts fast and furious. Ends with a long and remarkable drum duo, dedicated to Alan Dawson, the patron saint of New England drummers. A- [cd]

Fulu Miziki: Ngbaka EP (2022, Moshi Moshi, EP): Group from Kinshasa, based in Kampala, one source says they were founded in 2003 by Piscko Crane as an "eco-friendly, Afro-futuristic" punk band, but that source also has this as their "debut EP" (6 songs, 20:27). Name translates as "music from the garbage," which is also the source of their instruments and costumes. Electronics leads the way. A-

Joel Futterman/Chad Fowler: Timeless Moments (2022, Mahakala Music): Piano and stritch duets, the latter reed instrument long associated with Roland Kirk, and later David S. Ware. Futterman is from Chicago, although I associate him more with Memphis. He plays a little like Cecil Taylor, often with saxophonists who can get a bit out of hand: Jimmy Lyons, Hal Russell, Kidd Jordan, Ike Levin, and now Fowler, who runs his label out of Hot Springs, Arkansas. B+(**) [bc]

James Gaiters Soul Revival: Understanding Reimagined (2021 [2022], self-released): Drummer, from Columbus, Ohio, leads a soul jazz quartet with Robert Mason (organ), Kevin Turner (guitar), and the magnificent Eddie Bayard (tenor sax, I recognize him as Edwin from many Mark Lomax albums). Six covers, ranging from Sonny Rollins to Isaac Hayes. B+(***) [cd]

Dave Gisler Trio With Jaimie Branch and David Murray: See You Out There (2021 [2022], Intakt): Swiss guitarist, third Trio album with Raffaele Bossard (bass) and Lionel Friedli (drums), the second adding Branch on trumpet, this one also joined by the tenor sax legend. They get messy fast. B+(**) [sp]

Robert Glasper: Black Radio III (2022, Loma Vista): Pianist, from Houston, signed by Blue Note in 2005 and touted for his hip-hop influence, supposedly the leading edge of a new generation of jazz stars. Despite undeniable chops, I don't think he ever lived up to the hype. The jazz content here is negligible, with all but the last song offering featured spots for rappers (including Killer Mike, Big KRIT, Common, and Q-Tip) and/or singers (like Ledisi, Jennifer Hudson, Gregory Porter, Lalah Hathaway, Musiq Soulchild). B+(*)

Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (2022, The Vital Record): Led by singer Daniel Gonora, a "family band that has been busking on the streets of Zimbabwe since 2004," present their debut album. I don't buy the title for a minute, but they're so vital and so compelling you can excuse, perhaps even delight in, their sense of indestructibility. A

Gordon Grdina's Haram With Marc Ribot: Night's Quietest Hour (2022, Attaboygirl): Guitarist from Vancouver, also plays oud (exclusively here, with Ribot on guitar). He's often incorporated Arabic elements into his music, but dives deep here, with a large group of mostly Canadian luminaries playing a mix of Arabic (ney, riq, darbuka) and jazz instruments (sax, clarinet, trumpet, two violins). Extended jams on five more/less trad Arabic songs, with vocals by Emad Armoush. B+(***) [cd]

Gordon Grdina: The Music of Tim Berne: Oddly Enough (2022, Attaboygirl): Compositions by Berne, played solo by Grdina on his range of instruments: electric/midi guitar, classical, acoustic, oud, and dobro. Interesting pieces and effects, although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to recognize Berne's compositions. B+(***) [cd]

Joy Guidry: Radical Acceptance (2022, Whited Sepulchre): Plays bassoon and electronics. Starts with a spoken word piece called "Just Because I Have a Dick Doesn't Mean I'm a Man." Then wanders off into dark ambience and strings, sax, and drums, with a brief dip into "Down in the Valley." B+(**)

Matt Hall: I Hope to My Never (2022, Summit): Trombonist, toured the country in the USMC Jazz Orchestra, studied with Jon Faddis, got a Masters degree at San Diego State, debut album, with Charlie Arbelaez on alto sax (wrote one song, to seven by Hall plus one standard). B+(*) [cd]

Alexander Hawkins/Mirror Canon: Break a Vase (2021 [2022], Intakt): British pianist, group a sextet with Shabaka Hutchings (tenor/soprano sax, flute), guitar (Otto Fischer), bass, drums, and percussion. B+(**)

Hippo Campus: LP3 (2022, Grand Jury): Indie band from St. Paul, third album since 2016 (plus two volumes of Demos). B+(**)

Homeboy Sandman: There in Spirit (2022, Mello Music Group, EP): New York rapper Angel Del Villar, underground, favors EPs, this one 7 songs, 21:54. B+(**)

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Co-Starring Too (2022, Big Machine): Alt-country singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, called his 1970s band the Cowboy Twinkies, didn't get my attention until 2010-17, with a string of four top-notch records (e.g., The Grifter's Hymnal). Slacked off with his 2020 Co-Starring, leaning on old friends and hangers on, a formula reprised here. But while he gets help, this isn't a duets showcase, and his songs are as tough and onery as any of late. A-

Hurray for the Riff Raff: Life on Earth (2022, Nonesuch): Folkie singer-songwriter Alynda Segarra, moved from the Bronx to New Orleans, eighth album since 2008. B+(***)

Jenny Hval: Classic Objects (2022, 4AD): Norwegian singer-songwriter, started in a gothic metal band, recorded two albums as Rockettothesky, five now under her own name, one more as Lost Girls, plus has published three novels. Occurs to me she doesn't have an identifiable style or sound: she's a master of disguise, not that I know what these elaborate artifacts are meant to signify. B+(**)

Imarhan: Aboogi (2022, City Slang): Saharan guitar band, Tuareg, from the Algerian side of the border with Mali and Niger, a groove that has repeatedly been embraced by westerners with no clue to the language. Third album. Strikes me as a bit muted, which may mean they're hoping you'll understand what they're saying, not just how they say it. B+(**)

Calvin Johnson Jr.: Notes of a Native Son (2022, self-released): Saxophonist from New Orleans, plays soprano and tenor, opens with "I'm Walkin'" and "Summertime," some originals in the middle, closing with "Lift Every Voice and Sing." B+(*) [cd]

Eugenie Jones: Players (2021 [2022], Open Mic, 2CD): Jazz/r&b singer, writes most of her songs (10 of 15 here), the rest standards, with Nina Simone an outlier. Long list of notable musicians here, rotated in small groups. Would have fit on a single CD (69 minutes), but that's not how they do things these days. B+(**)

Junglepussy: JP5000 (2022, No Label, EP): New York rapper Shayna McHayle, has a couple albums with titles like JP3 and JP4, framed this five track, 11:42 release as an offshoot. Nice flow, until it trickles out. B+(*) [sp]

Tony Karapetyan Trio: Point of View (2020 [2022], Jazzist): Bassist-led trio with piano (Yuri Barsukov) and drums (Peter Ivshin), first album, featuring German trumpet player Sebastian Studnitzky on several cuts. B+(*)

Ryan Keberle Collectiv Do Brasil: Sonhos Da Esquina (2021 [2022], Alternate Side): Trombonist, this music grew out of 2017 and 2018 trips to Brazil (not clear when this was recorded). Quartet with Felipe Silveira (piano), Thiago Alves (bass), and Paulinho Vicente (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Rokia Koné & Jacknife Lee: Bamanan (2022, Real World): Singer-songwriter from Mali, nicknamed "the rose of Bamako," has appeared in Les Amazones d'Afrique, releases her debut album with co-credit to Irish producer Garret Lee. B+(***) [sp]

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: Cold as Weiss (2022, Colemine): Soul jazz trio, fourth album, the leader on organ, Jimmy James on guitar, and newcomer Dan Weiss -- evidently not the Dan Weiss (famous NYC drummer) nor even the other Dan Weiss (beloved critic with the Dan Ex Machina sideline), but he does share most of the writing credits here. Bright and funky. B+(*)

Cate Le Bon: Pompeii (2022, Mexican Summer): Cate Timothy, singer-songwriter from Wales, sixth album since 2009, has recorded in Welsh as well as English. B+(*) [sp]

Michael Leonhart Orchestra: The Normyn Suites (2019-21 [2022], Sunnyside): Trumpet player (credits here include many instruments), son of bassist Jay Leonhart, won a Grammy while still in high school, tenth album since 1995, side credits have mostly been in rock and soul. Several different things here. Normyn was a dachshund and the two suites were written during her last days, They're lovely. In between there is a spoken word piece, "Radio Is Everything," read by Elvis Costello, with Bill Frisell and Nels Cline. Costello sings a couple more songs. Ends with two quartet tracks, featuring Donny McCaslin, dedicated to Kenny Dorham and Wayne Shorter. B+(***) [cd]

Mark Lomax, II: Prismatic Reflections No. 1 (2021 [2022], CFG Multimedia): Drummer, based in Columbus, Ohio, impressed me on numerous occasions though I've always given much of the credit to saxophonist Edwin Bayard. But here he's alone, a whole album of drum solos. B+(***) [sp]

Brandon Lopez/Ingrid Laubrock/Tom Rainey: No Es La Playa (2021 [2022], Intakt): Bass/sax/drums, reading cover clockwise from top. B+(***) [sp]

Los Bitchos: Let the Festivities Begin! (2022, City Slang): Globe-trotting instrumental surf rock group, four women who met in London, one British, the others from Australia (Serra Petale, the main writer), Sweden, and Uruguay. B+(***)

Lump: Animal (2021, Chrysalis): British electropop duo, singer Laura Marling (who has 7 albums since 2008) and producer Mike Lindsay (of Tunng and Throws), second album, clever and comfortably appealing. B+(**)

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Animal Crossing EP (2022, Whirlwind, EP): Alto saxophonist, reconvenes his 2020 Hero Trio, with François Moutin (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), for four songs, 22:39. B+(**) [bc]

Maisha: Open the Gates (2019 [2020], Brownswood): London-based jazz group led by drummer Jake Long. I was aware of their 2018 debut and a 2020 Night Dreamer set backing Gary Bartz, but didn't notice that what Discogs calls EPs are more like albums: their 2016 Welcome to a New Welcome ran 29:33, and this one 33:21. Credits unclear, but Binker Golding joined for the title cut, and it sounds like it. B+(***) [bc]

Myra Melford's Fire and Water Quintet: For the Love of Fire and Water (2021 [2022], RogueArt): Pianist, her 1990 debut was a Francis Davis Jazz Consumer Guide Pick Hit in 1990 (along with an Allen Lowe album, both unknown to me at the time but major figures ever since). Quintet brings together several recent alliances: Ingrid Laubrock (tenor/soprano sax), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Tomeka Reid (cello), Susie Ibarra (drums). B+(***) [cd] [04-01]

Vic Mensa: Vino Valentino (2022, Roc Nation, EP): Chicago rapper, sings here, father from Ghana (where the famous name is Mensah). Mostly EPs, this one 4 tracks, 11:31. B+(*)

Xose Miguélez: Contradictio (2021 [2022], Origin): Tenor saxophonist, from Galicia in Spain, debut album in 2019, leads a quartet with piano (Jean-Michel Pilc), bass, and drums. Four originals, one by Pilc, one trad folk song, some standards, one called "Someday My Monk Will Come." B+(***) [cd]

Tyler Mitchell Featuring Marshall Allen: Dancing Shadows (2022, Mahakala Music): Bassist, joined Sun Ra Arkestra in 1985, which continues under the direction of the 97-year-old saxophonist, featured here, though helped out by two more saxophonists in the sextet: Chris Hemingway (tenor) and Nicoletta Manzini (alto). B+(***)

Mitski: Laurel Hell (2022, Dead Oceans): Mitskui Miyawaki, born in Japan, father a US State Department official who toted her around the world before settling in New York. Sixth album since 2012. B+(*)

Tony Monaco: Four Brothers (2022, Chicken Coup/Summit): Columbus, Ohio organ player, has a dozen albums going back to 2001, wrote the title piece here and a reprise with little thought to the Jimmy Giuffre standard, but to celebrate his exceptional quartet, sharing Kevin Turner (guitar) and Edwin Bayard (tenor/soprano sax) with James Gaiters' group. Bayard, again, is superb, his surprise turn on "Lush Life" a revelation. B+(***) [cd]

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Disasters Vol. 1 (2020 [2022], Hot Cup): Pennsylvania-born bassist first recorded under this group name in 2004, and for many years the pianoless quartet, with its irreverent and often fanciful survey of the jazz tradition, was one of the decade's most consistently exciting groups. Over time, the imposing horn players dropped out -- first Peter Evans (trumpet), then Jon Irabagon (tenor sax) -- as pianist Ron Stabinsky joined. It doesn't seem like the same group as a piano trio, but this batch of Pennsylvania disaster-inspired tunes (most famously from Jonestown to Three Mile Island) is pretty lively. The closing take of "Wilkes-Barre" leaves me with Monk rattling around my head. A- [cd]

Sean Nelson's New London Big Band: Social Hour! (2022, MAMA): Trombonist, New London is a town in Connecticut (but this was recorded in Waterford), big band, plus some extra flutes and harp in spots, the trombone section swelling to nine on one tracks. Nelson wrote 6 (of 12) tracks, with other band members contributing pieces, so the only standard is "When You Wish Upon a Star." B [cd]

Nova Twins: Who Are the Girls (2020, 333 Wreckords Crew): British post-punk duo, Amy Love (guitar/vocals) and Georgia South (bass/keyboards), debut EP 2016, first album, short (10 songs, 30:22). Hard, in your face, full of spit and fire, not exactly metal, but look out for flying shrapnel. A-

Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono (2022, Canvasback): Unlike many, I didn't hate her when she broke up the Beatles, but I've never gotten into her own records, respecting a couple HMs -- Season of Glass (1981), and Take Me to the Land of Hell (2013) -- while disliking other, most of all the Walking on Thin Ice "best-of" (1971-85, graded A by Christgau but C+ by me). So I didn't expect to recognize any of the 14 songs here, or many of the artists: familiar names all, but mostly David Byrne, Yo La Tengo, and Stephin Merritt, with Deerhoof and Faming Lips typical of the second tier (and having more fun). B+(*)

Dolly Parton: Run, Rose, Run (2022, Butterfly): Title ties in to what's described as her first novel, for which she shares credit with James Patterson, who has written at least 200 since 1976 -- most, it appears, with co-authors, the most famous (and notorious) Bill Clinton. She did write all the songs this time (no Patterson credits there), a solid batch with prim neo-trad arrangements (lots of credits there). B+(**)

Eric Person Featuring Houston Person: Blue Vision (2018 [2022], Distinction): Alto/soprano saxophonist, debut 1993, mainstream player, inevitably ran into the elder tenor saxophonist and hit it off (no relation). They play together on 4 (of 7) tracks here, in a quintet with Pete McCann (guitar), organ (Adam Klipple), and drums (Tony Jefferson). The other three tracks cut back to trio. B+(**)

Noah Preminger/Max Light: Songs We Love (2022, SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, mainstream, bunches of records since 2007. Light is a guitarist, has a trio album from 2018, appeared on several albums with Preminger, also with Jason Palmer and Kevin Sun. Sounds nice, but perhaps they love these songs too much (or maybe I just don't love them enough). B+(*)

Punkt. Vrt. Plastik: Zurich Concert (2021 [2022], Intakt): Piano-bass-drums trio, names on the cover -- Kaja Draksler, Petter Eldh, Christian Lillinger -- third album since 2016. Rhythm jumps around a lot, a perpetual motion machine. B+(***)

Kojey Radical: Reason to Smile (2022, Atlantic): British rapper Kwadwo Adu Genfi Amponsah, parents from Ghana, has a couple albums but this is a step up. Sings more, especially towards the end, and smiles a lot. B+(***)

Rosalía: Motomami (2022, Columbia): Spanish pop star, third album, the previous one (El Mal Querer) topped the US Latin Pop chart and got a lot of good press here, but I wasn't taken with it. This one wasn't easy, and I still have a dozen or more spots that rub me the wrong way, plus the more general issue that I don't understand a word (not something that necessarily bothers me), but the odd beats and surrounding murk won me over. Enough surprises that this will show up on EOY lists (but probably not mine). A-

RXK Nephew: Slitherman Activated (2021, Towhead): Rapper from Rochester, aka RX Nephew, possibly Kristopher Kevon Williams, popped up around 2019 but exploded in 2021, reportedly releasing some 400 songs, yet still barely recognized (this album didn't make my EOY Aggregate, but another one did, barely: Crack Dreams, not in Discogs but several volumes of Crack Therapy are). Fast and feverish, hard to keep up. Not on the album is his 9:44 "American Tterroristt," which takes a rebelious instinct so far as to praise Trump -- a bit too far, I'd say. B+(**)

Saba: Few Good Things (2022, Saba Pivot): Chicago rapper Tahj Malik Chandler, co-founder of Pivot Gang, associated with Smino, Noname, and Chance the Rapper. Third album. Underground, inches along with purpose and feeling. A-

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Ghost Song (2022, Nonesuch): Jazz singer, from Florida, father Haitian, mother French, debut 2010, wins polls plus a Macarthur Genius Grant, sixth album, first time she wrote most of her songs. Still, the covers are where her skills are most evident: a Kate Bush opener, an a cappella "Unquiet Grave" to close, best of all a Brecht/Weill song, "The World Is Mean." B+(**)

Marta Sanchez: SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (2021 [2022], Whirlwind): Spanish pianist, based in New York, half dozen albums since 2008. Quintet with two saxophonists (Alex LoRe and Roman Filiu), bass, and drums, aside from one cut in the middle that adds Camila Meza (voice and guitar), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), and Charlotte Greve (synths). I'm reminded of Monk, except where Monk would throw the odd note in to unbalance you, Sanchez keeps changing, twirling off-balance without falling down. A- [cd]

Sevdaliza: Raving Dahlia (2022, Twisted Elegance, EP): Iranian singer-songwriter, based in Rotterdam, two previous albums, usually sings in English, backed with electronics. Six songs (one a remix), 26:08. B+(*) [sp]

Dave Sewelson: Smooth Free Jazz (2021, Mahakala Music): Baritone saxophonist, pushing 70, longtime member of the Microscopic Septet, also William Parker's big bands, aside from a 1979 album only recently started releasing albums under his own name -- I recommend both Music for a Free World and More Music for a Free World. Quartet, with lap steel guitar (Mike Neer), bass, and drums. Nothing slick or conventionally smooth here: he loves the grit of the low notes, and when he sings "Nature Boy" over an extended vamp, he exhibits a voice to match. The record ends with a 3:12 "radio version," versus the original 19:30. A- [bc]

Kenny Shanker: Vortex (2019 [2022], Wise Cat): Alto saxophonist, soprano on one cut, has a couple previous albums including a 2011 debut on mainstream Posi-Tone. Backed by guitar, piano, bass, drums, with trumpet (Bill Mobley) on three tracks. Nice postbop sound. B+(**)

Idit Shner & Mhondoro: Heat Wave (2021 [2022], OA2): Alto saxophonist, studied in Oklahoma City and at UNT, based in Oregon, sixth album since 2008. Mhondoro is "the lion spirit in Shona (Zimbabwe)." Group a sextet with piano, bass, drums, percussion, and mbira, with occasional vocals. B+(***) [cd]

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Nightroamer (2022, Abeyance): Country-rock singer-songwriter with a working band, third album, I liked her debut on Bloodshot, but expected more. B+(**)

Slum of Legs: Slum of Legs (2020, Spurge): From Brighton, UK, a "queer, feminist noise-pop DIY band," first album after a couple singles, made my 2020 tracking list, so not totally unheralded. Sextet, everyone credited with lots of things, but the basics: Tamsin (vocals), Mich (drums), Maria (violin), Kate (guitar), Emily (synths), Alex (bass guitar). The violin raises the texture, if not the spirit, above punk. A-

Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Kris Davis/Dave Holland/Terri Lyne Carrington: In Common III (2021 [2022], Whirlwind): Tenor saxophonist, third album in this series, all quintets, all with guitarist Stevens, the other spots shifting each time -- this piano/bass/drums combo easily the most famous. B+(**)

Spoon: Lucifer on the Sofa (2022, Matador): Indie band from Austin, Brit Daniel singer-songwriter, 10th studio album since 1996. Like all their records, this had a tight, pleasing guitar grind, and a humane exterior. Not a style of music I've much cared for of late, but a fine example. B+(***)

John Stowell/Dave Glenn & the Hawcaptak Quartet: Violin Memory (2018-20 [2022], Origin): Guitarist, many albums since 1977. Glenn is a trombonist, teaches in Walla Walla, has an album from 2009, presents a nice contract to the guitar and the string quartet. B+(*) [cd]

Stromae: Multitude (2022, Mosaert): Belgian singer, rapper, and songwriter Paul van Haver, father Rwandan (Tutsi), third album, first two were bestsellers in Europe and Canada. Sings mostly in French. B+(**)

Superchunk: Wild Loneliness (2022, Merge): Indie rock band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, led by singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan (also in Portastatic, has a couple solo albums), 12th album since 1990. I've never paid them much heed, even when Christgau declared What a Time to Be Alive "the most affecting political album of our brutally politicized era." Impeccable, as solid as I can imagine a mainstream rock record this year. And while I'm not picking up much politics, "Endless Summer" has a point hard to miss. A-

Charlie Sutton: Trout Takes (2022, Chuckwagon, EP): Country singer-songwriter, learned his trout in northern Idaho, has a previous album with a fish on the cover, Primitive Songs for Modern Times. Eight songs, 25:14. B+(*)

Tanya Tagaq: Tongues (2022, Six Shooter): Inuk singer-songwriter from Canada, fifth studio album, tied to her novel Split Tooth, dark and arty with real dramatic flair. Unique, though distantly related to Björk. B+(**)

Lisa Ullén/Elsa Bergman/Anna Lund: Space (2021 [2022], Relative Pitch): Born in South Korea, studied classical music in Stockholm, switching to free jazz in the 1990s. Trio with bass and drums. B+(***)

The Weeknd: Dawn FM (2022, XO/Republic): Canadian alt-r&b singer-songwriter Abel Tesfaye, something of a sensation in 2011 with his debut mixtape, has regularly topped charts with his studio albums. I've found his albums increasingly sluggish, but he found a beat here, and even his voice has brightened up. B+(***)

Hailey Whitters: Raised (2022, Big Loud/Pigasus): Country singer-songwriter, originally from Iowa, moved to Nashville, fourth album. Songs reflect back to her native corn fields, but she finds country everywhere, even where "The Grass Is Legal." A-

Babes Wodumo: Crown (2021, West Ink): South African singer, Bongekile Simelane, first album was called Gqom Queen, after the genre, after the beats sound ("minimal, raw, repetitive, with heavy bass sound"). Beats captivating, range narrow, probably a good show. B+(***)

Lady Wray: Piece of Me (2022, Big Crown): R&B singer Nicole Wray, released her debut album Make It Hot in 1998, but didn't follow it up until 2016. In between, she joined a duo in England called Lady, so adopted the new name. Third album, perhaps more retro than nu. Her voice has an intriguing grin, and she turns experience into a plus. A- [sp]

Nilüfer Yanya: Painless (2022, ATO): Singer-songwriter, born in London, father Turkish, mother of Irish-Barbadian descent, second album, likes her guitar more than most pop stars. A-

Yung Kayo: DFTK (2022, Sevensevenseven/YSL): Rapper Kai Green, from DC, based in LA, first album after an EP and a bunch of singles. B+(**)

Omri Ziegele Where's Africa: That Hat (2021 [2022], Intakt): Swiss saxophonist (alto, also plays nai), group named for a 2005 album with Irène Schweizer, since then he's used the name for several groups, including this trio with Yves Theiler (piano) and Dario Sisera (drums). The African interest shows in the rhythms, but also in the social feel, not least when Ziegele puts down his horn and sings. A- [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Rabih Abou-Khalil: The Flood and the Fate of the Fish (2017-18 [2019], Enja): Oud player, from Beirut, based in France (Cannes), has two dozen albums since 1982, building jazz from Arabic traditions and finding common threads around the Mediterranean. Group includes ney, soprano sax, violin, accordion, and drums, with Portuguese Fado singer Ricardo Ribeiro on three tracks with old texts. B+(**) [bc]

Peter Brötzmann/Milford Graves/William Parker: Historic Music Past Tense Future (2002 [2022], Black Editions): German tenor saxophonist, a founding father of the European avant-garde, taped at CBGB's in New York with local drummer and bassist. B+(***)

Miles Davis Quintets: Stockholm Live 1967 & 1969 Revisited (1967-69 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Two live sets on one 79:41 CD, the first with the legendary 1960s quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams) in top form, the second retaining Shorter but swapping in a younger and ultimately even more famous rhythm section (Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette) -- the latter a brief and somewhat uncomfortable feint toward the avant-garde, before Shorter left and Davis invented fusion. The Stockholm concerts were part of longer European tours, which Legacy compiled into terrific 3-CD boxes as the first two volumes of their Bootleg Series. So this is either redundant, or a perfectly fine introduction. A- [bc]

The Detroit Escalator Co.: Soundtrack [313] + 6 (1996, Mental Groove/Musique Pour La Danse): Detroit techno producer Neil Ollivierra, started around 1988-89, seems to be his first album, reissued with six extra tracks. B+(***) [bc]

Hal Galper Trio: Invitation to Openness: Live at Big Twio (2008 [2022], Origin): Piano-bass-drums trio, one more of many Galper has led since 1976. He's a terrific player, but it takes a bit more to make one of his albums stand out -- cf. Art-Work, another performance from the same year, but with Reggie Workman and Rashied Ali. B+(**) [cd]

Pere Ubu: The Lost Band: Live at Metro Cabaret, Chicago (1993 [2022], Ubu Projex): Avant-punk band from Cleveland, formed 1975, David Thomas the singer and only continuous member (except for 1982-88 band hiatus). This particular band consisted of Jim Jones (guitar), Garo Yellin (cello), Tony Maimone (bass), and Scott Krauss (drums). As Thomas says: "It was a brilliant version of Pere Ubu, doomed by uncertainty in the business end of things." Maimone (who joined the band in 1976) left, then Krauss (an original member) and Yellin (a brief tenure, the only one with cello, and without keyboards, making him the secret sauce here). Especially striking is "The Story of My Life" (the title of their 1993 album). A- [bc]

Owiny Sigoma Band: The Lost Tapes (2015-19 [2021], Brownswood): Luo band rooted in Kenya but based in London, released their first album in 2011. This picks up some tracks recorded with singer Charles Owoko before his death in 2015, adding later tracks. B+(**)

Cecil Taylor: The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert: The Town Hall, NYC November 4, 1973 (1973 [2022], Oblivion): At the time, the definitive avant-garde pianist, leading a strong quartet with Andrew Cyrille (drums), Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), and Sirone (bass). Three pieces: "Autumn/Parade" weighing in at 88:00, and two versions of "Spring of Two Blue-J's," first part done solo, second quartet. [PS: Napster has a version edited down to 30:51; Spotify has the whole thing.] A- [sp]

Vis-a-Vis: The Best of Vis-a-Vis in Congo Style (1976 [2021], We Are Busy Bodies): Group from Ghana, Discogs lists a fair number of records 1975-82. Despite title (could have been recorded earlier), this was the second, six pretty decent highlife tracks. B+(***) [bc]

Old Music

Brandon Allen: The Gene Ammons Project (2016, RT Jazz): Tenor saxophonist, has a new album called The Stanley Turrentine Project, the second in a likely series that starts here, with one of my favorites. B+(**)

Jim Black Alasnoaxis: Splay (2001 [2002], Winter & Winter): Drummer, originally from Seattle, group named for his 2000 album, group with Chris Speed (tenor sax/clarinet/keyboards), Hilmar Jensson (guitar), and Skuli Sverrisson (bass). B+(**)

The Blue Notes: Legacy: Live in South Afrika 1964 (1964 [1995], Ogun): South African jazz group, gained some fame at the 1963 National Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, but ran afoul of the Apartheid order -- pianist Chris McGregor was white, the others black -- so went into exile in 1964, joining the burgeoning avant-garde scene in England. This is what they sounded like originally, with two saxophones (Dudu Pukwana on alto and Nikele Moyake on tenor), trumpet (Mongezi Feza), bass (Johnny Dyani), and drums (Louis Moholo-Moholo). B+(***) [bc]

Blue Notes: Blue Notes for Mongezi (1975 [1976], Ogun): A tribute to the late trumpeter Mongezi Feza by his former bandmates -- Chris McGregor (piano), Dudu Pukwana (alto sax), Johnny Dyani (bass), Louis Moholo (drums) -- the group that brought township jive-based jazz to Europe as South Africa became impossible for an integrated group. I first noticed Feza in a Robert Wyatt album, a lovely feature, and soon fell in love with the irresistible groove of Pukwana's In the Townships. One long jam session cut into four LP sides (later expanded to fill 2-CD), with bit of source music wafting in and out. B+(***) [yt]

Blue Notes: Blue Notes for Johnny (1987, Ogun): And then they were three, with the death of bassist Johnny Mbizo Dyani, leaving Dudu Pukwana (soprano/alto sax), Chris McGregor (piano), and Louis Moholo (drums). Not that a bassist woldn't help, but Dyani's pieces capture the South African groove, with plenty to build on. [PS: Digital adds three alternate takes.] A- [bc]

Boston Camerta/Joel Cohen: Nueva España: Close Encounters in the New World 1590-1690 (1993, Erato): Boston-based early music ensemble, long directed by Cohen (1969-2008). Mostly a vocal group, not my thing, although it picks up a bit toward the end. B

Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (2010, Oh Boy): Probably looked like stopgap product at the time: Prine was five years past Fair and Square, and six years shy of For Better, or Worse, with only a singalong with Mac Wiseman and In Person & on Stage in between. Maybe they figured he could use some reassurance of what a great songwriter he was. Still, the artist line up was so-so: starts with Justin Vernon, Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, Josh Ritter, Lambchop. More promising are Drive-By Truckers and Those Darlins, but I wouldn't say they deliver more. B+(**)

Lol Coxhill: Coxhill on Ogun (1977-78 [1998], Ogun): British soprano saxophonist (1932-2012), also credited with "loose floorboard" here, on the 16:24 solo "Diver." This combines two albums, The Joy of Paranoia (1978, with multiple guitars on the first side, Veryan Weston's piano on the second), and Diverse (1977, one side solo, the other adding cello, bass, and percussion). B+(***) [bc]

Betty Davis: Nasty Gal (1975, Island): Née Mabry, changed her name when she married Miles Davis (1968-69). Recorded some tracks for Columbia then, but they were shelved until 2016. She did finally get an album released in 1973. This was her third, and last -- at least until a 1976 album appeared in 2009. Funk, gritty enough to hope for a great album, but too inconsistent to achieve one. B+(**)

Betty Davis: The Columbia Years 1968-1969 (1968-69 [2016], Columbia/Legacy): Unreleased demos, three from 1968 arranged by Hugh Masekela, the other six (total 31:04) produced by Miles Davis and Teo Macero, with credits that will raise some eyebrows (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Larry Young, Mitch Mitchell) although they could be anyone here. B+(*)

EDQ [Elton Dean Quartet]: They All Be on This Old Road (1977, Ogun): Saxophonist (alto/saxello), got his start in Bluesology (1966-67), led by Long John Baldry, remembered mostly as the sources for their piano player Reginald Dwight's stage name. Dean went on to play with Michael Tippett from 1968, and Soft Machine 1969-72. Quartet here with Tippett (piano), Chris Laurence (bass), and Louis Moholo (drums). Finishes very strong. A- [bc]

Elton Dean's Ninesense: Happy Daze + Oh! For the Edge (1976-77 [2009], Ogun): Nine-piece band, doubling up on sax (Dean and Alan Skidmore), trumpet (Harry Beckett and Mark Charig), and trombone (Nick Evans and Radu Malfatti), with Keith Tippett (piano), Harry Miller (bass), and Louis Moholo (drums). Reissue combines their first two albums. B+(***) [bc]

Elton Dean: Elton Dean's Unlimited Saxophone Company (1989 [1990], Ogun): Three saxophonists -- Dean (alto/saxello), Paul Dunmall (tenor/baritone), and Trevor Watts (alto) -- backec by bass (Paul Rogers) and drums (Tony Levin). B+(***) [bc]

Carlos Franzetti/Allison Brewster Franzetti: Alborada (2011, Amapola): Argentine pianist, composer, has done Latin jazz and classical, and (especially) soundtracks. Shares headline here with his wife, another pianist, their work backed by bass (Robert Balzar), drums (Jiri Slavicek), and the City of Prague Philharmonic, adding lushness to the drama. B

Dusan Goykovich: Swinging Macedonia (1966 [1983], Enja): Serbian trumpet player (b. 1931), from a session in Germany which basically kicked off a long and illustrious career (latest album 2014). Sextet includes two saxophonists (Nathan Davis and Eddie Busnello), Mal Waldron (piano), bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Waylon Jennings: A Man Called Hoss (1987, MCA): Country singer, lots of albums 1964-2012, so this autobiographical concept came in midway. Roger Murrah co-wrote the songs, which mostly do him proud. The annotation isn't a plus. B+(*)

Lump: Lump (2018, Dead Oceans): Short (7 tracks, 31:56, including audio credits) debut album from the duo of Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay. Ambient electronics, shaped around Marling's lyrics and voice. B+(*)

Jacob Merlin: Alchemy of Soul (2009, Backline): Keyboard player, from Portland, not sure how much more he's done, or what the credits on this one are: are the vocals his? All originals, funk rhythm, horn section. Loud and brassy, but not very memorable. B-

Louis Moholo Octet: Spirits Rejoice! (1978, Ogun): Five tunes, all by South Africans (including three former Blue Notes: Moholo, Mongezi Feza, and Johnny Dyani), but the drummer (with two bassists and two trombonists) fell in with the cream of the British avant-garde: Evan Parker (tenor sax), Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), and Keith Tippett (piano). After the roughness, closes with a solemn piece that translates to "Times of Sorrow." B+(***)

Louis Moholo-Moholo/Dudu Pukwana/Johnny Dyani with Rev. Frank Wright: Spiritual Knowledge and Grace (1979 [2004], Ogun): Live set from Eindhoven, Netherlands, a trio of South African Blue Notes (drums, alto sax, bass), joined by a tenor saxophonist from America -- never seen him referred to as Rev. before, but he's always been a disciple of Albert Ayler -- with Pukwana and Dyani also playing some piano (which seems to pick the other up). B+(**) [bc]

Louis Moholo's Viva-La-Black: Exile (1990-91 [1991], Ogun): South African drummer, following up his 1988 Viva La Black album, group a septet, starts off with two pieces by tenor saxophonist Sean Bergin and one by guitarist Frank Douglas, followed by four Moholo originals. B+(**) [bc]

Louis Moholo's Viva-La-Black: Freedom Tour: Live in South Afrika 1993 (1993 [1994], Ogun): For the South African exiles here, a triumphant return tour, including English saxophonists Sean Bergin and Toby Delius. B+(***) [bc]

Louis Moholo-Moholo Quartet: 4 Blokes (2013 [2014], Ogun): With Jason Yarde (sax), Alexander Hawkins (piano), and John Edwards (bass). B+(***)

Mike Osborne Trio: All Night Long: The Willisau Concert (1975 [2012], Ogun): British alto saxophonist (1941-2007), major figure in the British avant-garde (though he tends to get overlooked -- I see 4 Penguin Guide 4-star albums in my database). Backed by South Africans Harry Miller (bass) and Louis Moholo (drums). Sax is intense, a little rough, but quite a performance from the drummer. Reissue adds two previously unreleased traks (26:36). A- [bc]

Mike Osborne Trio/Quintet: Border Crossing/Marcel's Muse (1974-77 [2004], Ogun): Combines two albums on one CD (79:31), the first a trio with Harry Miller and Louis Moholo, the second adding Mark Charig (trumpet) and Jeff Green (guitar), replacing the drummer with Peter Nykyruj. A- [bc]

Alan Skidmore/Mike Osborne/John Surman: S.O.S. (1975, Ogun): Three British saxophonists (tenor, alto, baritone/soprano and bass clarinet), Surman also plays synth and the others add some percussion, so it's not purely sax choir. B+(**) [bc]

John Stevens/Evan Parker: Corner to Corner + The Longest Night (1977-93 [2007], Ogun, 2CD): Drums and soprano sax duo, Stevens also playing cornet. The 1976 session was originally released as two volumes of The Longest Night, edging over into the second disc here. The balance of the second disc is the 1993 album. Remarkable, but at length the limited sonic range wears thin. B+(**) [bc]

Angela Strehli: Deja Blue (1998, House of Blues): Lubbock, Texas blues guitarist-singer, debut 1987, part of the trio that cut Dreams Come True in 1993, moved to California after that, recording a couple more albums, widely spaced after this one. B+(**) [yt]

Aki Takase: St. Louis Blues (2001 [2020], Enja): Japanese pianist, moved to Berlin 1988, joined Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, married German avant-garde founder Alexander von Schlippenbach, has a substantial discography of her own, including several looks back at the jazz tradition, like this one. Reprises six W.C. Handy classics, with two of her pieces, plus contributions by band members Rudi Mahal (bass clarinet) and Nils Wogram (trombone). Also with Fred Frith (guitar) and Paul Lovens (drums). Too erratic, although "Memphis Blues" makes the chaos work. B+(**)

Okay Temiz: Drummer of Two Worlds (1980, Finnadar): Turkish percussionist, back cover has a picture of his instrument array, including some things he invented. In the 1970s, he moved to Sweden, where he played with Don Cherry, and in a trio with South Africans Johnny Dyani and Mongezi Feza. B+(***)

Keith Tippett/Julie Tippetts/Harry Miller/Frank Perry: Ovary Lodge (1975 [1976], Ogun): All improv, group played together for three years but only recorded this one album. All but Miller (bass) credited with voice, although that's mostly Tippetts' domain (she was married to the pianist, who was born with the 's' but dropped it early in his recording career. Aside from percussion (Perry), other instruments: harmonium, recorder, er-hu, sopranino recorder, hsiao, sheng. B [bc]

Tronzo Trio: Roots (1994, Knitting Factory Works): Guitarist David Tronzo, from Rochester, developed a reputation in the mid-1990s playing jazz on slide guitar, took a job at Berklee in 2002, has recorded only occasionally since. Plays dobro as well as guitar, for a bit of bluegrass tone. Trio with Stomu Takeishi (bass) and Jeff Hirschfeld (drums) mostly, with Billy Martin (percussion) on two tracks, and producer Jimi Zhivago (dobro and guitar) on three. Mix of originals and eclectic covers. B+(**) [bc]

Papa Wemba/Modogo Gian Franco Ferre Et L'Orchestra Viva La Musica: Le Jour J: Nouvelle Generation a Paris (1988, Sonodisc): Congolese star, a founder of Zaiko Langa Langa, went solo in 1974 and recorded dozens of albums, this short album (4 tracks, 27:29) one introducing singer Ferre, grooves like you'd expect. B+(**) [sp]

Putte Wickman & Red Mitchell: The Very Thought of You (1987-88 [1988], Dragon): Swedish clarinet player (1924-2006), has a 10-inch album from 1949 but didn't really get going until 1966. Duets with the American bassist, who plays piano on three tracks. Standards. B+(**)

Putte Wickman: Putte Wickman in Trombones (1992, Phontastic): The clarinetist is backed by four trombones and a rhythm section. B+(**) [sp]

Putte Wickman & Ernie Wilkins Almost Big Band: Kinda Dukish (2004 [2005], Gazell): Recorded in Copenhagen, the clarinetist plus 12 others (4 saxes, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones) playing Wilkins' arrangements of Ellington tunes. B+(**)

Christine Wodrascka/Ramon Lopez: Aux Portes Du Matin: Live at Instants Chavirés (2000 [2001], Leo): French pianist, 18 albums since 1994, this a duo with the drummer (also French, 25 albums since 1992). B+(**)

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 37597 [37418] rated (+169), 128 [144] unrated (-16).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

March 7, 2022

Music: Current count 37465 [37418] rated (+47), 149 [144] unrated (+5).

It normally takes most of a day from when I take a snapshot of the rated count the week's record list to when I've finished writing my piece and am ready to post it. During that day, I keep listening to new records, normally saving them for the next week, but seeing as how last week was the end of the month and for my purposes 2021, I was sorely tempted to fold any 2021 records into my frozen file. That convinced me to move on to 2022 releases, and I've pretty much kept that up all week (I wound up with 5 2021 releases below, several from December, plus one 2020 release in the new section, and a 2002 in the old). I was aided in this search by several Expert Witness posts, and I wound up taking a look at AOTY's top-rated 2022 albums. The result was a rare bonanza of exceptional records: in addition to the 10 A- albums, there's 12 more stuck at B+(***). Good chance a couple of those could benefit from more attention (also a fair chance that a couple might slide down a notch).

I'm posting this Music Week earlier than usual because I want to get it done and out of the way. I expect to be indisposed for a few days, and hope that's it. My earlier thoughts about doing some sort of statistical survey of 2021 will have to wait. I can say that my 2021 release rated count comes to 1451. Not a record, but a pretty respectable number, and a good deal more than I expected early in 2021.

I started to write a "Speaking of Which," mostly (but not all) on Ukraine, but didn't come close to getting it done. If you're curious, the draft is in the notebook. Perhaps I'll pick it up again later this week. One thing that kept me from working on it was that I finally started researching for a new Book Roundup. I wrote two of them back in April 2021. Needless to say, a lot of interesting books have come out in the meantime. I probably have enough to post now, but I'm still digging. Good chance I'll wind up with two posts again, but hard to predict when.

March 14, 2022

Music: Current count 37510 [37465] rated (+45), 146 [149] unrated (-3).

I wanted to close this off Sunday evening to get it out of the way, but yesterday's political post ran well into the evening, and I had had unpacking to do. I also had a programming task to do, and that (plus other errands) wiped out Monday afternoon, and into the evening.

Don Malcolm requested the change: that I add A- albums to the A/A+ breakouts in the ratings database. He noted how rarely I used A/A+ in recent years, and argued that expanding the selection would be more useful. That made sense to me, and I figured it would be an easy change, but hadn't reckoned with the re-learning curve on a set of programs I originally hacked together 20+ years ago (mostly make and shell scripts, using awk and sed, but the biggest one is in C++, which I'm especially rusty in). And while the change turned out to be as simple as I expected (changing 14 to 13 in two places), I found other issues that needed attention:

  • I noticed I wasn't generating a miscellaneous A-list file, so I added that.
  • I saw that I had a make formula for a single A/A+ file, but hadn't made it available, so I added a link. I also decided not to expand it to include A- records (with just A/A+ the count is 1394), so I went back and made the 14-to-13 change switchable.
  • In looking at the A/A+ file, I found five errors, so I fixed them. It took a while to determine they were in the data and not the program itself. Good thing, given how obscure I'm now finding the program.

One thing I noticed but didn't do anything about was the granularity of the files. I haven't, for instance, generated new files for rock or jazz after 2020. I've spent enough time today looking at the code that I have a pretty good idea how to do that, but still don't see the need. A better solution would be to move all of the data into a real database, which could then be sliced and diced as thin as one might desire. Big job, though.

Moving on, another fairly large batch of new records this week, with the majority (34 of 41, so 83%) 2022 releases. A-list items are both numerous and diverse. One source was Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide. (Pleased to see Fimber Bravo and A Gift to Pops there -- records I stuck my neck out in touting. Also Big Thief, but everybody knew about that. I also gave an A- to Playboi Carti, over a year ago.) Other tips came from all over the place, or from nowhere at all.

No time for a 2021 summary. I've done some minor maintenance on the usual lists, but I've gotten over spending any significant time on them. I'm thinking now I'll turn from this to do a fairly quick Speaking of Which (most, but not all, on Ukraine), then get back to working on a Book Roundup. Draft file for the latter has 32 books at the moment, plus 212 books in the scratch file (mostly unwritten), so I have enough for a post (maybe two: standard is 40 blurb notes + another 30-60 listings).

Just finished Astra Taylor's first book, The People' Platform. I bought it several years ago on a friend's recommendation, but didn't pick it up until recently, after I read her second book, on democracy. One thing I'm impressed by is the breadth of her reading, and her ability to make connections between a wide range of sources. (My Book Roundups help me fake it, but give me a ballpark idea of what she's drawing on.) Like David Graeber, her politics developed out of Occupy Wall Street, but she strikes me as both more flexible and more innovative. I have a new collection by her, Remake the World: Essays, Reflections, Rebellions, so that's the obvious thing to pick up next. Still, the books exercise is suggesting a lot more I'd like to read.

March 21, 2022

Music: Current count 37555 [37510] rated (+45), 125 [146] unrated (-21).

Was expecting to have to make excuses for another rated count drop, but I wound up same as last week, with just one fewer A- grade. I had a lot of trouble thinking up records to look up. Then I hit on the idea of picking off records from the unrated list by looking for streaming copies instead of digging the physical discs from wherever they may be. Aside from 19 still pending new releases, the rest are things I once had physical copies of, including some old vinyl, but never got around to playing them. Over the years, I knocked that number down from a high of 975 to a low of 125, but it had crept up in recent weeks as the Spring promos came in. Unfortunately, there is very little else I can do that with.

I also wound up slowing down for Charli XCX and Rosalía: neither was a slam dunk A- first (or second) time through, but not knowing where to go next, I gave them extra chances, and eventually decided they made the grade. Neither are in the upper half of my 2022 A-list, but even the top half feel rather tentative at the moment, but with 25 A- records at the moment, and B+ records divided 36-45-38, the new year list is shaping up nicely.

Back when I was struggling with what to play next, it occurred to me that it would be easy to open up a metadata list, since I was already doing a tracking file. It's very sketchy at present, and I doubt I'll spend the time to bring it (let alone keep it) up to date. The main source so far is AOTY, working down their "highest rated" list and then branching off into various publication "highest rated" lists. Basically, albums get a point for each publication that gives it an 80+ rating, marked with an abbreviation:* (see legend). Thus far I'm accepting everything except for some metal specialists (Blabbermouth.net, Distorted Sound, Metal Hammer, Metal Injection, Metal Sucks; although some metal sneaks through, mostly covered by pubs that lean that way but aren't so exclusive, like Kerrang and Sputnik). To this I will add specialists in areas that don't get compiled by AOTY (I've already scrounged through Saving Country Music's reviews, looking for 1.75+ "guns up"; relatively high priorities include AAJ, FJC, and DownBeat). I've noted my grades (scored 0-5, from B to A/A+), but haven't fully loaded them. I'll add various personal lists as I see them (Phil Overeem, for sure), so I'm guilty of trying to skew this a bit towards what interests me.

I expect to do a Book Roundup later this week. I have enough material now (40 blurbs + related lists + briefly noted), and close to enough to follow up before long. Hoping to avoid a Speaking of Which, although the world can be cruel and aggravating. For example, I listened to a Democracy Now interview with Alfred McCoy, who's one of the writers appearing regularly at TomDispatch, where he was droning on about how China and Russia are forming "a new world order" -- a common panic theme popular with the mandarins who dominate American foreign policy thinking (something he's supposed to be a critic of). Then I looked at Intelligencer, only to find two attacks directed at "the left," one by Jonathan Chait on education, the other by Eric Levitz on Ukraine. I agree with very little of what they're attacking, but can't help taking such slanders personally. But perhaps my time would be better spent working on the book outline? Or finally fixing my XSS problems? Or just figuring out the jigsaw puzzle?

March 28, 2022

Music: Current count 37597 [37555] rated (+42), 128 [125] unrated (+3).

Failed to get my Book Roundup post done last week, or even to make any significant headway on it. Instead, I wrote a fitful Speaking of Which, which left me in a very bad mood. I'm not sure I can explain why, or whether I even want to, so let's leave it at that.

Meanwhile, I listened to some records last week, as you can see. For much of the week, I had little trouble deciding what to listen to next. I have a rather limited but functional metacritic file, which urged me to waste time on the likes of Alt-J and Animal Collective (neither as bad as I feared, but with different redeeming merits). I noticed that Best of Jazz has started a New Jazz Releases 2022 page (they cite me in their intro), which led me to identify several prospects. Among the things they pointed me to were Bandcamp reissues from Enja/Yellowbird -- misidentified as new releases. I've also spent a good deal of time on the Ogun Records Bandcamp, which I discovered last week, when I went looking for Blue Notes for Mongezi (and found the even better Blue Notes for Johnny). I expect to continue with Ogun next week. (A quandary there on reissue dates: many are new enough by Bandcamp dates to qualify for this or last year's lists, but I've generally gone with either the original LP date or the most appropriate CD reissue -- hence they're showing up under "Old Music" here.) Other records came from various Facebook EW lists, including Gonora Sounds and Hailey Whitters.

The odd record out in many ways is Nova Twins, a 2020 release (too new for old? too old for new?). I probably noticed it at the time -- barely, it got 10 points in my 2020 EOY Aggregate -- but what brought it to my attention was that the daughter of a friend of a friend of my wife's was in it, a good old word-of-mouth grapevine. Not something I expect to go back to often, but exemplary in a fairly unique way, enough so I gave it the benefit of the grade.

The March, 2022 Streamnotes file (link above) is wrapped up (except for the Music Week excerpts), with 169 records (123 new music, 109 of them 2022 releases).

Notes

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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com
  • [yt] available at youtube.com