Streamnotes: April 24, 2023

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 March 27. Past reviews and more information are available here (21603 records).

Recent Releases

100 Gecs: 10,000 Gecs (2023, Dog Show/Atlantic): St. Louis duo, Dylan Brady and Laura Les, second album, hyperpop (I'm told), turns the corner from mostly annoying to occasionally amusing. Blessedly short: 26:53. B+(*) [sp]

100 Gecs: Snake Eyes (2022, Dog Show/Atlantic, EP): Even shorter: three tracks (5:53), with Skrillex on the middle one, in case they ran short of bubblegum. B+(*) [sp]

Arooj Aftab/Vijay Iyer/Shahzad Ismaily: Love in Exile (2023, Verve): Pakistani singer, based in Brooklyn, several previous albums, working here with piano and bass, both also on synths, all three credited on all six songs. Not quite mesmerizing, but tries. B+(**) [sp]

Konrad Agnas: Rite of Passage (2021 [2023], Moserobie): Swedish drummer, family well stocked with musicians, has a couple albums with lead credits but this is the first as leader and composer. Also plays synthesizer, with Per Texas Johansson (reeds), Johan Graden (piano/organ), and Torbjörn Zetterberg (bass). B+(***) [cd]

Susan Alcorn/Patrick Holmes/Ryan Sawyer: From Union Pool (2022 [2023], Relative Pitch): Pedal steel guitar, clarinet, and drums, playing very free, which leaves you wondering what the guitar really sounds like. B+(*) [sp]

Ralph Alessi Quartet: It's Always Now (2021 [2023], ECM): Trumpet player, from San Francisco, a dozen albums since 1999, plus more side credits (especially with Uri Caine, Steve Coleman, and Ravi Coltrane). Quartet with Florian Weber (piano), Bänz Oester (bass), and Gerry Hemingway (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Algiers: Shook (2023, Matador): Alt/indie band from Atlanta (or maybe London), fourth album. Mojo hears "stories of struggle, pain and healing are painted in edgy electro, impassioned punk-soul, cloudbursts of jazz and rattlesnake trap pulses." I don't hear much of that, but some concerned talk with grim overtones. B+(*) [sp]

Florian Arbenz/Greg Osby/Arno Krijger: Conversation #9: Targeted (2023, Hammer): Swiss drummer, released a couple albums in 2001 but has been most prolific since 2020, when he hit on his "Conversation" series as a pandemic lockdown workaround. Trio with alto sax and organ. Osby has been terrific of late -- last year's album with Tyshawn Sorey topped my list -- and the organ kicks off to a strong start. B+(***) [bc]

Florian Arbenz/Jorge Vistel/Wolfgang Puschnig/Oren Marshall/Michael Arbenz: Conversation #8: Ablaze (2022, Hammer): After a lockdown series of mostly duos and trios, the Swiss drummer convened a quintet, with group pic on the back cover. Others play trumpet, sax, tuba (!), and piano, with Vistel and Puschnig bringing a song each, and a cover of "Freedom Jazz Dance." B+(***) [bc]

Dave Askren/Jeff Benedict: Denver Sessions (2022 [2023], Tapestry): Guitar and saxophone, backed by vibes, bass, and drums. They've had several albums together, going back at least to 2005, including a big band led by Benedict. B+(**) [cd]

AVA Trio: Ash (2021 [2023], Tora, EP): Giuseppe Doronzo (baritone sax/mizmar), Esat Ekincioglu (bass), Pino Basile (frame drums/cupaphon), though I omitted some wrinkles (percussions, effects, voice). Two pieces, 21:26. Down and dirty soundscape. B+(*) [bc]

Matt Barber: The Song Is You (2023, MB): Standards singer, seventh album (per hype sheet; I can't find any confirmation on sites like Discogs, although he's pretty clearly not the Canadian singer-songwriter Matthew Barber, or the British politician). One co-writing credit (with pianist Day Kelly), and covers advancing the songbook to Billy Joel. B+(*) [cd]

Kenny Barron: The Source (2022 [2023], Artwork): Pianist, approaching 80 (b. 1943), recently elected by the fans to DownBeat's Hall of Fame, offers a solo album, his first since 1982, with four original pieces, two Ellingtons, two Monks, and a standard ("I'm Confessing"). B+(***) [sp]

Belle and Sebastian: Late Developers (2023, Matador): Scottish indie pop group, since 1996. Mostly engaging. B+(***) [sp]

Daniel Bingert: Ariba (2023, Moserobie): Swedish, nominally a bassist, but defers here to Torbjörn Zetterberg and limits his playing to Moog. Second album. Band includes Per Texas Johansson (tenor sax/bass clarinet), Jonas Kulhammar (alto sax), and Charlie Malmberg (piano/baritone sax), as well as trumpet, bass, and drums. Has a loose, playful chemistry, coming into a nice, soft landing. A- [cd]

Gina Birch: I Play My Bass Loud (2023, Third Man): British painter, photographer, moviemaker, played in the Raincoats and Red Krayola, released this debut solo album at 67. It has some of the off-kilter quirkiness of her groups, and some lessons of age. Bass isn't as loud as advertised. B+(***) [sp]

Bktherula: LVL5 P1 (2022, Warner, EP): Atlanta rapper Brooklyn Rodriguez, fourth album, albeit a short one (10 tracks, 20:57). B+(*) [sp]

Boygenius: The Record (2023, Interscope): Implicit supergroup, consisting of three recently but firmly established singer-songwriters: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. First album, after a much-noticed EP. B [sp]

Hailey Brinnel: Beautiful Tomorrow (2023, Outside In Music): Wrote two songs but is mostly a standards singer, with trombone (prominently pictured) her side instrument. Voice is sweet with a bit of sour, delectable on fare like "Tea for Two" and "Candy." Band includes Terell Stafford on trumpet and Chris Oatts on sax. B+(***) [cd]

Peter Brötzmann/Heather Leigh/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Naked Nudes [Brötz 80th at ADA 2021] (2021 [2023], Trost): Legendary German avant-saxophonist (alto/tenor), as part of his 80th birthday celebration in Wuppertal, a trio with frequent collaborators of late, on pedal steel guitar and cello/electronics. I'd hate to suggest that he's slowing down, but the background is kind of thick. B+(*) [bc]

John Cale: Mercy (2023, Domino): From Wales, studied in London, moved to New York in 1963, was part of the experimental music underground until he joined the Velvet Underground for two pathbreaking albums. His subsequent solo career was all over the map, aside from a three album 1974-75 stretch when he deserved to be a major rock star. Now 81, with his first album of new songs in over a decade, a monster running 71:34 with a guest list that couldn't be guessed (7/12 songs have featuring credits). Sounded awful at first, but got interesting at some point, and might merit further study. B+(*) [sp]

Ann Hampton Callaway: Fever: A Peggy Lee Celebration (2023, Palmetto): Standards singer, debut 1992, writes some but this is a songbook album, one relatively well suited for her voice. With John Pizzarelli (guitar) and Ted Rosenthal (piano), as well as bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Rodrigo Campos: Pagode Novo (2023, YB Music): Brazilian singer-songwriter, albums since 2009, but surprisingly little on him. Seems to fit in the MPB mainstream, with a previous album called 9 Sambas. B+(***) [sp]

Canadian Jazz Collective: Septology: The Black Forest Session (2022 [2023], HGBS Blue): Individual names on the cover: Derrick Gardner (trumpet/flugelhorn), Lorne Lofsky (guitar), and Kirk MacDonald (tenor sax), joined here by four more, playing clarinet, piano, bass, and drums. All eight pieces are by the three named. Postbop with a nice flow. B+(*) [cd]

Joe Chambers: Dance Kobina (2023, Blue Note): Drummer, b. 1942 (80), sixteenth album since 1974, has hundreds of side credits, playing on many major albums in the 1960s, plays vibes (5 tracks, with Michael Davidson on 3) as well as drums here. Caoilainn Power plays alto sax on three tracks, Marvin Carter alto on one and tenor on another, with piano and bass duties split, and extra percussion (Latin or African). B+(**) [sp]

Slaid Cleaves: Together Through the Dark (2023, Candy House Media): Singer-songwriter from DC, grew up in Maine, wound up in Austin, where he can pass for country but not for Nashville, more than a dozen albums since 1990. Solid. B+(***) [sp]

Tom Collier: Boomer Vibes Volume 1 (2023, Summit): Born 1950, plays keyboards and drums as well as vibraphone, picks eleven songs from the 1960s (not checking, but being his age that's how I know them), offering versions that are slightly more than muzak, and slightly less than pop. B+(*) [cd]

Miley Cyrus: Endless Summer Vacation (2023, Columbia): Pop star since her teens, semi-famous father had a fluke country hit, eighth album since 2007 and still just 30. Some striking songs, but inconsistent as always. B+(**) [sp]

Das Kondensat: Andere Planeten (2020 [2023], WhyPlayJazz): German saxophone/clarinet player Gebhard Ullmann, prolific since 1985, leads a quartet with Liz Kosack (keyboards), Oliver Potratz (electric bass/electronics), and Eric Schaefer (drums/modular synthesizer) on third group album. The keyboard is an addition from two earlier trios. A- [cd]

Jesse Davis: Live at Smalls Jazz Club (2022 [2023], Cellar): Alto saxophonist from New Orleans, established himself with seven 1991-2000 albums on Concord, but recording dates have been scarce since then. Live set here with Spike Wilner (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Joe Farnsworth (drums), doing standards and hard bop favorites. B+(**) [sp]

Angel Bat Dawid: Requiem for Jazz (2019-20 [2023], International Anthem): Angel Elmore, based in Chicago, fourth album, plays clarinet but I don't see her in the credits here (beyond "composed, arranged, conducted & mixed"), divided between the ArkeStarzz (15-piece band including a string quartet), the Choruzz (4 singers), Special Cosmic Guests (including Marshall Allen, dubbed in later), Dancers, Set Design, and Visualz. I suppose I should be impressed by all the high-minded artfulness employed here, but some things still strike me as just plain pretentious. B [sp]

Michael Dease: The Other Side: The Music of Gregg Hill (2022 [2023], Origin): Trombonist, started in big bands with Illinois Jacquet in 2002, debut 2010, teaches at Michigan State. Joins here the wave of artists recording pieces by Michigan composer Hill. B+(*) [cd]

Lana Del Rey: Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd (2023, Interscope/Polydor): Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Grant, ninth album since 2010, all but the first charting high, but only the second (Born to Die) selling multi-millions. Long (16 songs, 77:43), co-produced and often co-written by Jack Atonoff. Low-key, but possibly of more than passing interest. B+(**) [sp]

Marc Ducret: Palm Sweat: Marc Ducret Plays the Music of Tim Berne (2022 [2023], Screwgun/Out of Your Head): Guitarist, born in Denmark, debut 1986, has played on at least 20 Tim Berne albums. As there seems to be a push to get others to play Berne's compositions, he's a natural. Sparsely accompanied by various horns (trumpet, alto flute, trombone) and cello, no drums, the music is stripped down and prickly. B+(***) [cd]

Bokani Dyer: Radio Sechaba (2023, Brownswood): Pianist-singer, born in Botswana, based in South Africa, has a half-dozen albums since 2010, has one foot in jazz but this sounds more like soul music. Ends with a nice instrumental. B+(**) [cd] [05-12]

Yelena Eckemoff: Lonely Man and His Fish (2021 [2023], L&H Production, 2CD): Russian pianist, usual classical training, came to US in 1991 and switched to jazz. Original compositions, trio with Ben Street and Eric Harland plus major help from Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Masaru Koga (Japanese flutes). B+(***) [cd]

Vince Ector Organotomy Trio +: Live @ the Side Door (2020 [2023], Cabo Verde): Drummer, has a couple albums, side credits back to 1995 (Charles Earland, which eventually led to a Charles Earland Tribute Band). Leads a quartet here, with Pat Bianchi (organ), Paul Bollenback (guitar), and Justin Jones (sax, presumably the +1). B+(**) [cd]

El Michels Affair & Black Thought: Glorious Game (2023, Big Crown): New York funk/soul instrumental band led by Leon Michels, eighth album since 2005, lands a world class MC this time, working over some loops with occasional guest spots. A- [sp]

Emperor X: Suggested Improvements to Transportation Infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor (2023, Dreams of Field, EP): Singer-songwriter Chad Matheny, gave up graduate study in physics to focus on music, self-released debut 1998, eleven albums and nine EPs. Six songs, 18:14, each tied to a regional transportation authority (from WMATA to MBATA). B+(**) [bc]

Michael Feinberg: Blues Variant (2022 [2023], Criss Cross): Bassist, has a half-dozen albums since 2012, postbop quartet here with Noah Preminger (tenor sax/flute), Leo Genovese (piano), and Nasheet Waits (drums). He gets a lot of sound and action from that lineup. B+(***) [sp]

Mark Feldman/Dave Rempis/Tim Daisy: Sirocco (2022 [2023], Aerophonic): Violin, saxophones (alto/tenor/baritone), and drums, the latter two a long-running Chicago duo, Rempis one of the most consistent free jazz players around. A- [cd]

Fever Ray: Radical Romantics (2023, Rabid/Mute): Swedish singer-songwriter Karin Dreijer, previously did business as The Knife (a duo with brother Olof Dreijer), third album under this alias. B+(**) [sp]

Nick Finzer: Dreams Visions Illusions (2022 [2023], Outside In Music): Trombonist, based in New York, albums since 2012. Postbop sextet, with Lucas Pino (tenor sax/bass clarinet), Alex Wintz (guitar), Glenn Zaleski (piano), bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Anat Fort Trio: The Berlin Sessions (2022 [2023], Sunnyside, 2CD): Israeli pianist, debut 1999, trio with Gary Wang (bass) and Roland Schneider (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Robbie Fulks: Bluegrass Vacation (2023, Compass): Alt-country singer-songwriter, debut 1996, has done collaborations with Linda Gail Lewis and the Mekons, and covers of Michael Jackson and 13 Hillbilly Giants. This one he wrote all but one song (Delmore Brothers). B+(***) [sp]

Girl Scout: Real Life Human Garbage (2023, Made, EP): Swedish group, Emma Jansson the singer, rocks some but doesn't reduce to punk or riot grrrl. Might even pass as winsome. Five songs, 15:35. B+(**) [sp]

GoGo Penguin: Everything Is Going to Be OK (2023, XXIM): British piano-bass-drums trio (Chris Illingworth, Nick Blacka, Jon Scott), albums since 2012 including a run on Blue Note, with some crossover appeal. B+(**) [sp]

Mette Henriette: Drifting (2020-22 [2023], ECM): Norwegian tenor saxophonist, backed with piano (Johan Lindvall) and violoncello (Judith Hamann), takes chill a bit too far. B [sp]

Hieroglyphic Being: There Is No Acid in This House (2022, Soul Jazz): Electronica producer Jamal R. Moss, from Chicago, many albums since 2008. B+(***) [sp]

The Hold Steady: The Price of Progress (2023, Positive Jams): Craig Finn's band since 2003, ninth studio album (plus a few solos on the side). It's getting hard to tell their (or his) albums apart, but they're infrequent enough that each comes as a revelation: the stories interest, the words command your attention, his talkie voice is clear enough, and the music just fits. A- [sp]

Lonnie Holley: Oh Me Oh My (2023, Jagjaguwar): Singer-songwriter from Alabama, hard to classify, long more noted for his paintings and sculptures, only recording from 2012 on. B+(*) [sp]

Islandman Feat. Okay Temiz/Muhlis Berberoglu: Direct-to-Disc Sessions (2021 [2023], Night Dreamer): Turkish groove merchant Tolga Böyük, debut 2015, credits: drum machine, electric bass, synthesizers. Percussionist Temiz (b. 1939) has been on the fringe of the European free jazz scene since the 1970s (including albums with Johnny Dyani and Monghezi Feza). Berberoglu is younger, plays baglama and cura (plucked string instruments used in Ottoman classical music), while others play guitar (Erdem Baser) and drums (Eralp Guven). A- [sp]

JPEGMafia x Danny Brown: Scaring the Hoes (2023, AWAL): Producer-rapper Barrington Hendricks, fifth album since 2016, adding rapper Daniel Sewall here, whose discography goes back to 2010. Sounds like they threw everything into a blender, but instead of pureeing that shit, they just sent it flying everywhere. B+(*) [sp]

Larry June and the Alchemist: The Great Escape (2023, Empire): San Francisco rapper Larry Hendricks, half-dozen albums since 2017, hooks up with prolific LA producer Dan Maman. B+(*) [sp]

Karol G: Mañana Será Bonito (2023, Universal Music Latino): Colombian singer, Carolina Giraldo Navarro, from Medellin, fourth album. B+(***) [sp]

Kate NV: Wow (2023, RVNG Intl): Russian electronica producer-singer Kate Shilonosova, sixth album since 2016. A little on the campy side this time. B [sp]

Kaze & Ikue Mori: Crustal Movement (2021-22 [2023], Libra): Japanese-French group, with Satoko Fujii (piano), Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Christian Pruvost (trumpet/flugelhorn), and Peter Orins (drums), seventh album since 2010, joined here by the famous Japanese noisemaker. Another pandemic paste project, with live overdubs, billed as "a visceral, richly textured hybrid," which it certainly is. A- [cd]

Kelela: Raven (2023, Warp): Pop singer-songwriter, last name Mizanekristos, born in DC of Ethiopian heritage. Second studio album, plus mixtapes and singles and EPs back to 2014. Soft soul, sometimes too atmospheric, but savvy as ever. B+(**) [sp]

Jason Kush: Finally Friday (2021 [2023], MCG Jazz): Tenor saxophonist, teaches at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, seems to be his first album, a quartet with piano-bass-drums. Has a big sound and likes to soar, so it helps that the rhythm section gives him steady support. B+(***) [cd]

Julian Lage: The Layers (2022 [2023], Blue Note, EP): Jazz guitarist, six more tracks (24:44) from the sessions of last year's View With a Room, with Jorge Roeder (bass), Dave King (drums), and/or Bill Frisell (guitar) -- two are duos. B+(**) [sp]

Las Vegas Boneheads: Sixty and Still Cookin' (2023, Curt Miller Music): Trombone-heavy band, traces its history back to 1962, but has only recorded since Curt Miller took over, with their debut in 2017, and this their sophomore effort. Mostly standards, closing with "I Thought About You," "Cherokee," and "Gians Steps." B [cd]

Mark Lewis: Sunlight Shines In (2019 [2023], Audio Daddio): Saxophonist (alto/tenor, also flute), (9) at Discogs, from Tacoma, debut album 1979, original pieces, backed by piano, bass, and drums, with Nolan Shaheed on trumpet. B+(**) [cd]

The Long Ryders: September November (2023, Cherry Red): Country-rock band from Los Angeles, released three studio albums 1984-87, broke up, reunited in 2004 and occasionally since, releasing a new album in 2019 and now this one. B+(**) [sp]

Brandon Lopez: Vilevilevilevilevilevilevilevile (2023, Tao Forms): Avant-bassist, side credits start around 2012, has been very prolific of late. This is solo, impressive enough within the obvious limits. B+(**) [cd]

Loscil & Lawrence English: Colours of Air (2023, Kranky): Scott Morgan, from Vancouver, ambient electronica producer (and sometime Destroyer drummer), albums since 1999, working with an Australian producer of similar experience and bearing. B+(*) [sp]

Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra: Lightning Dreamers (2023, International Anthem): Trumpet/electronics player, albums back to 1994, juggles several groups, eighth album with this one since 2007, now an octet, with Jeff Parker (guitar), Craig Taborn and Angelica Sanchez (keyboards), Damon Locks (voice/electronics), Gerald Cleaver (drums), Mauricio Takara (electronics/percussion), and Nicole Mitchell (flute). B+(**) [sp]

Christian McBride's New Jawn: Prime (2021 [2023], Mack Avenue): Bassist, from Philadelphia, established himself as the premier mainstream jazz bassist with his 1994-2000 Verves. Introduced this group on his 2018 album, with Josh Evans (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax/bass clarinet), and Nasheet Waits (drums), with all four bringing songs. This one adds covers of Larry Young, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins; each, in its way, sharpening the edges. A- [sp]

Brad Mehldau: Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles (2020 [2023], Nonesuch): Pianist, plays solo, a live recitation of ten Beatles songs (including one by George Harrison), opening with "I Am the Walrus," plus "Life on Mars?" to close. B [sp]

Francisco Mela Featuring Cooper-Moore and William Parker: Music Frees Our Souls Vol. 2 (2020 [2023], 577): Cuban drummer, went to Berklee in 2000, early records more obviously Latin, but has knocked out several free jazz sets recently. This has Cooper-Moore on piano and Parker on bass, for two side-long improvs, plus a couple spare bits for the digital. B+(***) [dl]

Gurf Morlix: Caveman (2022, Rootball): Singer-songwriter, from Buffalo before Texas and Los Angeles; was drummer, producer, and more to Lucinda Williams 1985-96, has a steady stream of records since 2000. When I went to look this up in my 2022 tracking file, I noticed that it was missing (meaning that I missed it and also that it hadn't appeared on the hundreds of EOY lists I tracked), but that his 2021 album was there, indicating that the same thing happened before. This is another solid collection of songs. B+(**) [sp]

Gurf Morlix: I Challenge the Beast (2023, Rootball): Nine more songs, most comfortably within the blues idiom. B+(***) [sp]

MUEJL [Michel Stawicki/Uygur Vural/Elisabetta Lanfredini/João Madeira/Luiz Rocha]: By Breakfast (2022 [2023], 4DaRecord): Sax, cello, voice, bass, clarinet. Instrumentation favors chamber jazz, the voice arty and arcane. B+(*) [cd]

Willie Nelson: I Don't Know a Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard (2023, Legacy): Ten songs written by Howard (1927-2002), two (one of which will be recognized as such) co-credited to Buck Owens, delivered in an economical 31:11. Songs are a mixed bag. Singer, of course, is great. B+(**) [sp]

Billy Nomates: Cacti (2023, Invada): British singer-songwriter Tor Maries, got a big jump on her 2020 debut with her connection to Sleaford Mods. Little sonic evidence of that here, especially first half, but gets more interesting on the way out. B+(**) [sp]

Grant Peeples: A Murder of Songs (2023, self-released): Folksinger-songwriter, ninth album since 2008, one memorable title: Okra and Ecclesiastes. Pieced together while dodging the pandemic. Could be more pointed politically, and/or could be funnier, but any song that reminds me of John Prine (as "Elizabeth" does) helps. B+(**) [sp]

Caroline Polachek: Desire, I Want to Turn Into You (2023, Perpetual Novice): Singer-songwriter, started in the group Chairlift, second album under her own name. B+(*) [sp]

Margo Price: Strays (2023, Loma Vista): Country singer-songwriter, fourth studio album. B+(*) [sp]

Quasi: Breaking the Balls of History (2023, Sub Pop): Portland duo of "former spouses" Sam Coomes (vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass) and Janet Weiss (vocals, drums), started in 1993, with both also engaged in other bands (most notably, Weiss in Sleater-Kinney), this their tenth album (albeit first since 2013). Just when I was ready to shitcan this, I heard some organ I liked. When it got awful again, a bass riff caught my ear. Up and down like that, but in the end, not worth the aggravation. B- [sp]

Joakim Rainer Trio: Light.Sentence (2021 [2023], Sonic Transmissions): Norwegian pianist, last name Petersen, first album after several side-credits, a trio with Alexander Piris (bass) and Rino Sivathas (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Life & Umbrella (2023, Desafio Candente): Pianist, from Mexico, based in Chicago, second album, with Jake Wark (tenor sax), Ben Dillinger (bass), and Gustavo Cortinas (drums). Cover text: "Spreading empathy, understanding, and love for Autism." No idea what that means, but the music has an inner tension that is constantly shifting and refocusing. Remarkable. A- [cd] [05-12]

Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen: Itkuja Suite, Invocations on Lament (2022 [2023], Edgetone): Two saxophonists: the former also credited with flute, melodica, and voice; the latter with e-trumpet and kantele. Fine print adds: "featuring Life's Blood Ensemble and Heikki Lantinen." The former is Romus's working group; the latter the vocalist who pulls this toward opera: the point of the "invocations on lament," something I could do without. B+(*) [cd]

Taiko Saito: Tears of a Cloud (2022 [2023], Trouble in the East): Japanese marimba/vibraphone player, solo. B+(*) [cd]

Ryuichi Sakamoto: 12 (2023, Milan): Japanese pianist, died a couple months (age 71) after this album was released. counted as his 12th album (although some sources credit him with more than 20, plus his work in Yellow Magic Orchestra. Minimal ambiance, aiming at serenity. B [sp]

Cécile McLorin Salvant: Mélusine (2023, Nonesuch): Jazz singer, her last four albums (2015-22) topped the Jazz Critics Poll vocal category, though her MacArthur Genius Grant was a bigger milestone. Born in Miami, father Haitian, mother French, has used the latter language frequently in the past, but this album -- based on medieval French folk tales and music, with five original pieces -- is almost all in French (with some Kreyòl and a bit of English). I've been duly impressed, but never really enjoyed her records. B+(*) [sp]

Kendrick Scott: Corridors (2023, Blue Note): Drummer, from Houston, half-dozen albums since 2007, 80-90 side-credits. Trio with Walter Smith III (tenor sax), and Reuben Rogers (bass). B+(**) [sp]

Sleaford Mods: UK Grim (2023, Rough Trade): British rap-punk duo, vocalist Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn, grim since 2007, with twelve albums as consistent as the Fall. B+(***) [sp]

Slowthai: Ugly (2023, Method/Universal): British rapper-turned-singer Tyron Frampton, third album, title supposedly an acronym for "U Gotta Love Yourself" (spelled out but not expanded on in the title song). A- [sp]

Peter Smith Trio: Dollar Dreams (2022 [2023], Real Magic): Pianist, from Los Angeles, has a couple previous albums. Trio with Mike Gurrola (bass) and Reggie Quinerly (drums), playing six Smith originals and four standards. B+(**) [cd]

Wadada Leo Smith and Orange Wave Electric: Fire Illuminations (2023, Kabell): Trumpet player, has a new group in his Yo! Miles! mode, with three guitarists (Nels Cline, Brandon Ross, Lamar Smith), two bassists (Melvin Gibbs and Bill Laswell), drums (Pheeroan aKlaff), percussion (Mauro Refrosco), and electronics (Hardedge) bringing the avant electrofunk. A- [sp]

Walter Smith III: Return to Casual (2023, Blue Note): Tenor saxophonist, debut 2006 (Casually Introducing), titled a 2014 album Still Casual), so this suggests a return to his roots. Band here includes Kendrick Scott (drums) and Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet, 2 tracks) from his debut, as well as Taylor Eigsti (piano), Matt Stevens (guitar), Harish Raghavan (bass) -- listed with Scott on the cover. Smith makes a better (less casual) impression on Scott's recent Corridors. B+(*) [sp]

Something Blue: Personal Preference (2021 [2023], Posi-Tone): Effectively producer Marc Free's house hard bop band, a showcase for his label's younger musicians, with only bassist Boris Kozlov returning from the 2019 release under the same group name. Newccomers, all on the cover: Markus Howell (alto/soprano sax), Willie Morris (tenor sax), Altin Sencalar (trombone), Misha Tsiganov (trombone), and Donald Edwards (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Mark Soskin/Jay Anderson: Empathy (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): Piano and bass duets, Soskin has a couple dozen albums since 1980, more side credits, including a 1978-91 run with Sonny Rollins. Nothing terribly flashy here, but the pair live up to the title. B+(***) [sp]

Bruce Springsteen: Only the Strong Survive (2022, Columbia): Covers album of soul songs from the 1960s and 1970s, panned by one reviewer as "pretty much Bruce does karaoke," but done with surpassing care, with Ron Aniello's production, clusters of horns and backing vocals, and a string section (on 10/15 cuts). Not bad, but I can't imagine ever wanting to hear it again, least of all as a goof. [PS: Soon as I wrote that line, "7 Rooms of Gloom" came on, followed by "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" and "Someday We'll Be Together," which along with the earlier "I Wish It Would Rain" are some kind of camp.] B [sp]

Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: The Universe's Wildest Dream (2023, Strick Music): Saxophonist (soprano/alto/tenor, also bass clarinet), albums since 2001, played with Dave Douglas 2005-10, third album under this Afro-futurist project name (which originally dates back to his 2006 album). With Mitch Henry (keys), Kyle Miles (bass), and Charles Haynes (drums), plus guest vocals on three tracks. B+(*) [bc]

Natsuki Tamura/Ittetsu Takemura: Lightning (2022, Libra): Trumpet and drums duo, two pieces, 38:32, some uncredited vocal, some runs I can't help but be amused by. B+(**) [bc]

Lucas Traxel: One-Eyed Daruma (2023, We Jazz): Swiss bassist, has a couple dozen side-credits since 2012, first album under his own name, a trio with Otis Sandsjö (tenor sax) and Moritz Gaumgärtner (drums). B+(***) [sp]

The Tubs: Dead Meat (2023, Trouble in Mind): London band (not the Norwegian one), first album after an EP), a rock band with a bit of jangle pop. B+(*) [sp]

Luis Vicente 4tet: House in the Valley (2021 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese trumpet player, very active since 2012. Quartet with John Dikeman (tenor sax), Luke Stewart (bass), and Onno Govaert (drums), on two (or four) long pieces (67:16). The saxophonist has long struck me as a rather blunt instrument, hitting especially hard here. B+(**) [sp]

Waco Brothers: The Men That God Forgot (2023, Plenty Tuff): Mekon Jon Langford's Chicago bar band, more cowpunk when they were founded in 1995, own label now named for one of the songs on that debut. Tenth album, after a break of seven years. B+(**) [sp]

Ben Wendel: All One (2020-22 [2023], Edition): Tenor saxophonist from Vancouver (also soprano and bassoon), seventh album since 2009, plus seven in the group Kneebody, and more side-credits. Tracks were laid down at home, then guests dubbed in (Cécile McLorin Salvant on "I Love You Porgy," Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell, Elena Pinderhughes, José James on "Tenderly," and Tigran Hamasyan). B [cd]

Petter Wettre: The Last Album (2021, Odin): Norwegian saxophonist, rarely specifies but tenor is his main horn, started out around 1996 as a young man with a hot hand, offers a lot of excuses -- mostly economic, including the new old saw that "the full length album has had its time" -- for quitting, but decided his "swan song" should be a luscious set of ballads ("since ballads has been avoided before"). Quartet, with Fred Nardin (piano), Viktor Nyberg (bass), and Francesco Ciniglio (drums). Nice enough, but I suspect he could do better if he gives himself another chance. Meanwhile, still a lot I haven't heard. B+(**) [sp]

Buster Williams: Unalome (2022 [2023], Smoke Sessions): Bassist, has led more than a dozen albums since 1975, many more side credits back to Gene Ammons in 1961, back cover calls this group the Buster Williams Something More Sextet: Jean Baylor (vocals), Bruce Williams (sax/flute), Stefon Harris (vibes), George Colligan (piano), Lenny White (drums). B [sp]

Yaeji: With a Hammer (2023, XL): Kathy Yaeji Lee, born in New York, of Korean parents, produces electronica and sings, first studio album after a couple EPs and a mixtape. B+(*) [sp]

Young Fathers: Heavy Heavy (2023, Ninja Tune): Scottish trio, one (Alloysious Massaquoi) born in Liberia but moved to Edinburgh when he was four, another (Kayus Bankole) has parents from Nigeria. Slotted hip-hop based on their two early mixtapes, but four albums later they're unclassifiable. B+(***) [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Chet Baker: Blue Room: The 1979 Vara Studio Sessions in Holland (1979 [2023], Jazz Detective, 2CD): First release of three studio sessions recorded for Dutch radio: two quartet dates in April with Phil Markowitz on piano, plus one from November with Frans Elsen. Typically nice trumpet, with a few vocals, and long piano leads. B+(**) [cd]

The Birth of Bop: The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection (1944-49 [2023], Craft, 2CD): The $99.99 edition reproduces five 10-inch LPs that Savoy released in 1952-53, but this is also available on 2CD (30 songs, 84:00), and digital. Savoy is mostly remembered for Charlie Parker's early sides (only one here, "Romance Without Finance," with vocal), and perhaps Dexter Gordon (three tracks here), so this was meant to spread the spotlight. Two times I turned away from reading the paper to see who was playing, and both were trombone player Kai Winding (remembered these days mostly for his "Jay Jay and Kai" duets). Ends with a cut by Morris Lane called "Blowin' for Kicks," that pretty effectively sums up the moment and the style. B+(***) [sp]

Bill Charlap: All Through the Night (1997 [2023], Criss Cross): Mainstream pianist, mother is singer Sandy Stewart, debut 1993, a later run at Blue Note (2003-10) made him one of the best known pianists around. This is the third of three Criss Cross albums, a trio with Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums). Standards, smartly done as usual. B+(**) [sp]

Dream Dolphin: Gaia: Selected Ambient & Downtempo Works (1996-2003) (1996-2003 [2023], Music From Memory, 2CD): Japanese electronica producer Noriko, recorded 20 albums 1996-2003, trimmed down here to 18 pieces, 116 minutes. Has some beat, vocals (mostly spoken) too. B+(**) [sp]

Jeff Johnson: My Heart (1991 [2023], Origin): Bassist, b. 1954 in Minneapolis, long time in Seattle, debut 1986, has been a central figure in this label's sessions. Early quartet with John Gross (tenor sax), Art Resnick (piano), and Billy Mintz (drums). Skirts around the edges of postbop. B+(**) [cd]

JuJu: A Message From Mozambique (1972 [2023], Strut): Afrocentric jazz group founded in San Francisco by saxophonist Plunky Nkabinde (originally James Branch), with other African-sounding names: Ken Shabala (Kent Parker, bass/flute), Lon Moshe (Ron Martin, flute/vibes), Al-Hamel Rasul (Tony Grayson, piano), Babatunde (Michael Lea, congas/drums), and Jalango Ngoma (Dennis Stewart, timbales). A little rough, but could still get filed as spiritual jazz now, but at the time tried to fuse avant with black power community. Group evolved into Oneness of Juju. A- [sp]

D.B. Shrier: D.B. Shrier Emerges (1967 [2023], Omnivore): Tenor saxophonist (1938-2017), from Philadelphia, only released this one five-track album, expanded here with five more live tracks. Opens with a Gigi Gryce bopper, then shows some range by turning in a credible ballad. Then he shows he's paid attention to Coltrane, a bit before everyone else. The extra tracks run hot, as well they should. A- [sp]

Dick Sisto: Falling in Love (1994 [2023], SteepleChase): Vibraphonist, this looks like a reissue of his American Love Song album from 1995, mostly standards, backed by Fred Hersch (piano), Drew Gress (bass), and Tom Rainey (piano). B+(**) [sp]

Steve Swell's Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire From the Road (2003-04 [2023], RogueArt, 3CD): Trombonist (b. 1954), played a lot of different things early on but moved to the front of the avant-garde in the late 1990s, and is the first person I think of for polls and such these days. He released an album in 2004 called Fire Into Music, co-credited to Hamid Drake (drums), Jemeel Moondoc (reeds), and William Parker (bass), and took that group out on the road for the three superb concerts collected here. A- [cd]

Old Music

Mose Allison: The Word From Mose Allison (1964, Atlantic): Subtitle: "The Songs of Mose Allison: Words of Wisdom from the Jazz Sage." Jazz singer-pianist (1927-2016), white boy from Mississippi, invented a hipster sound that is still very distinctive. He recorded several albums for Prestige 1957-59, for Columbia (1959-61), and more for Atlantic 1962-76, then staged a comeback with Blue Note after 1987. I've only sampled him, but this LP is as consistently fine as his compilations. A- [sp]

Mose Allison: Mose Allison Sings (1957-59 [2006], Prestige): Compilation originally released in 1963 with 13 tracks, later expanded to 16. I can find all but two on albums, but Prestige often held material back to release later albums once its artists moved on. Penguin Guide recommends a 2001 reissue called Mose Allison Sings and Plays, which goes all the way to 23 tracks. Just four originals here, twelve covers, all with various bass and drums, done with his trademark light touch. B+(***) [sp]

Derek Bailey/George Lewis/John Zorn: Yankees (1982 [1983], Celluloid): Guitar, trombone, alto/soprano sax (plus clarinet and game calls). All improvised, the sort of abstract noise I rarely get into. It did have me wondering who the three baseball players on the cover were. Presumably New York Yankees, but I don't see any insignia. One song was named for Enos Slaughter (mostly a Cardinal, but finished his career with New York), but doesn't look like him. B [r]

Kenny Baker and Warren Vaché: Ain't Misbehavin' (1996-97 [1998], Zephyr): Baker's a British trumpet player (1921-99), was lead trumpet in Ted Heath's post-WWII orchestra, led his own groups from 1954 on. He's looking much older than the American, who sticks to cornet, backed by Brian Lemon (piano), Howard Alden (guitar), bass, and drums. Standards, few as upbeat as the title, but slow is just sublime. A- [sp]

Billy Byers & Martial Solal: Jazz on the Left Bank & Réunion à Paris (1956 [1998], Fresh Sound): Two LPs on one 72:13 CD, credits on each just listed the whole bands, but Byers and Solal are the common denominator, and wrote most of the songs (Byers 4-1 on the former, Solal 5-1 on the latter; Benoit Quersin played bass on both albums; for the others, see the breakouts below). Byers (1927-96) was a trombonist and arranger for many post-WWII big bands, later working for Quincy Jones and Count Basie. Solal (b. 1927) was just starting out on his brilliant career. The combination plays nice at first, then adds solo power. B+(***) [sp]

Das Kondensat: Das Kondensat (2016 [2017], WhyPlayJazz): The first of three albums (so far) by this group, at this point just a trio of Gebhard Ullmann (tenor/soprano sax, looper/sampler), Oliver Potratz (bass/effects), and Eric Schaeffer (drums/modular synth). B+(**) [sp]

Das Kondensat: 2 (2020 [2021], WhyPlayJazz): Same trio, Poltratz adding bass synthesizer, "live without overdubs." This may be the best I've heard Ullmann play, probably because the electric bass sets him up to soar while still eschewing predictable grooves. A- [sp]

Dick Mills/Billy Byers/William Bouchaya/Martial Solal/Wessel Ilcken/Benoit Quersin: Jazz on the Left Bank (1956 [1957], Epic): Band members as listed on front cover (trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, piano, drums, bass), although Byers wrote four songs, Solal one, and both were listed in the Fresh Sound reissue as arrangers. [per Billy Byers, above] B+(**) [sp]

Ralph Reichert Quartet With Randy Sandke: Reflections (2002 [2004], Nagel Heyer): German tenor saxophonist, did a PG 4-star album with Jack Walrath I haven't been able to find, has a few more items in his catalog. Quartet with piano (Buggy Braune), bass (Andreas Henze), and drums (Wolff Reichert), joined by the American trumpet player. Mostly standards, nicely done. B+(**) [sp]

The Ralph Reichert/Jerry Tilitz Quintet: Back to Back (2002 [2006], Nagel Heyer): Tilitz is a trombonist, sings some, from New York, but this was recorded in Hamburg, with Reichert on tenor sax, backed by piano-bass-drums. Tilitz wrote three (of 8) pieces, with five standards (ranging from "Crazy Rhythm" to "Lush Life" to "Alfie" -- the latter two with Tilitz vocals). B+(***) [sp]

Jim Snidero: The Music of Joe Henderson (1998 [1999], Double-Time): Alto saxophonist, steady stream of albums since 1985, leads a sextet through eight pieces by Henderson (1937-2001). With Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Conrad Herwig (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), Dennis Irwin (bass), and Kenny Washington (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Martial Solal: Réunion à Paris (1956 [1957], Vogue): Discogs credits this to the pianist, but album cover lists all names: Billy Byers (trombone), Allen Eager (tenor sax), Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet), Benoit Quersin (bass), and Kenny Clarke (drums). Probably helps that the pianist is more clearly in charge, but Deuchar and Eager add solo power. [per Billy Byers, above] B+(***) [sp]

Martial Solal: Improvise Pour France Musique (1993-94 [1994], JMS, 2CD): Solo, de trop, but masterful as long as you can sit still. B+(***) [sp]

Martial Solal With Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson: Triangle (1995, JMS): Piano trio, you know who plays what, Johnson and Erskine contribute one song each, to eight for the pianist. B+(**) [sp]

Martial Solal Trio: Balade Du 10 Mars (1998 [1999], Soul Note): Another piano trio, with Marc Johnson (bass) and Paul Motian (drums). B+(**) [sp]

South Frisco Jazz Band: Sage Hen Strut (1984, Stomp Off): Trad jazz band, founded in Orange County, California, its name a tribute to Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band, led by cornetists Dan Comins and Leon Oakley, with clarinet/sax, trombone, piano, banjo, tuba, and washboard/percussion. B+(***) [sp]

South Frisco Jazz Band: Broken Promises (1987, Stomp Off): Eighteen good ol' good ones (well, sixteen, plus two Mike Baird originals). Recorded in Alameda, so maybe they moved north. Dan Comins sings a couple. B+(***) [sp]

Bobo Stenson/Anders Jormin/Jon Christensen: Reflections (1993 [1996], ECM): Piano-bass-drums trio. B+(***) [sp]

Sun Ra: St. Louis Blues: Solo Piano (1977 [1978], Improvising Artists): Solo piano, in his own zone but very much of this world, adds "Three Little Words" and "Honeysuckle Rose" to the title track and four originals. B+(***) [r]

Sun Ra: We Travel the Spaceways/Bad & Beautiful (1956-61 [1992], Evidence): Two albums on one CD, since split back up for digital. Front cover credits Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra, back cover Sun Ra and His Solar Arkestra, spine just Sun Ra, which is good enough for me. Former was pieced together from several sessions, latter came from one session that wasn't released until 1972. First one starts with one of those ditties that makers you think these guys can't be serious, then settled down and eventually finds its groove. Second album, highlighted by a cover of "Just in Time," is more consistent. B+(**) [r]

John Surman & Friends: The Dawn Sessions: Where Fortune Smiles/Live at Woodstock Town Hall (1971-75 [1999], Sequel, 2CD): English groups from the brief moment when fusion and free jazz were intertangled. The first was credited to guitarist John McLaughlin, with Surman (reeds), Karl Berger (vibes), Stu Martin (drums), and Dave Holland (bass) on the credit line. The second was a duo of Martin (also synthesizer) and Surman. While McLaughlin impresses as expected, the revelation is the saxophonist, fresh and fiery to an extent never reproduced in his many later ECM albums. B+(***) [sp]

John Surman: Glancing Backwards: The Dawn Anthology (1970-75 [2006], Sanctuary, 3CD): Easy enough to nitpick the second half of this, which is still far more aggressive and heartfelt than the often expert work he followed with in his long run with ECM. However, the first half, released in a double-LP simply called The Trio (with Barre Phillips and Stu Martin), is a landmark of British free jazz, one that erases all those caveats. And having them all together defines an era. A- [sp]

Ralph Sutton: Ralph Sutton at Café Des Copains (1983-87 [1990], Sackville): Old-fashioned stride pianist (1922-2001), first records 1950, a signature title is Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players (1989, with Jay McShann), but these solo performances are livelier, downright delightful. A- [sp]

Ralph Sutton: More Ralph Sutton at Café Des Copains (1988-89 [1994], Sackville): As advertised, but some confusion over dates. Not much of a drop off, although the applause strikes me as more tepid. B+(***) [sp]

Ralph Sutton/Kenny Davern: Ralph Sutton & Kenny Davern (1980 [1998], Chiaroscuro): This looked like an ideal pairing, and it's a delight: the clarinet soars, and the piano produces so much rhythm you don't notice the absence of a bassist (although you do notice Gus Johnson on drums). Three vocals, one each, with Johnson's "Sweet Lorraine" a highlight. A- [sp]

Martin Taylor: In Concert: Recorded at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (1998 [2000], Milestone): British guitarist, grew up on Django Reinhardt and wound up playing with Stephane Grappelli (13 albums, 1981-99), as well as several dozen of his own, from 1979 on. Solo, a live set in Pittsburgh, a dozen standards. Really lovely. B+(***) [r]

John Tchicai: Grandpa's Spells (1992 [1993], Storyville): Danish saxophonist (1936-2012), father Congolese, moved to New York in 1964 and played with Albert Ayler and John Coltrane (Ascension) as well as New York Art Quartet and New York Contemporary Five, then back to Europe, where he played with ICP, Brotherhood of Breath, Pierre Dørge, and many others. This is a quartet featuring Misha Mengelberg (piano), with Margriet Naber (synth) and Peter Danstrup (bass). Hard to miss Mengelberg here. A- [sp]

Henri Texier Transatlantik Quartet: Izlaz (1988, Label Bleu): French bassist, albums from 1976, group here includes Aldo Romano (drums), plus two Americans: Joe Lovano (tenor/soprano sax, clarinet, percussion) and Steve Swallow (electric bass). The saxophonist was just getting started, but excels, guided by the bassists. A- [sp]

Jean Thielemans: Man Bites Harmonica (1957 [1958], Riverside): Belgian harmonica player (1922-2016), better known as Toots, also played guitar and accordion (his first instrument), was initially influenced by Django Reinhardt, but joined a 1949 jam session with Charlie Parker, and played with Benny Goodman on a 1949-50 European tour. This New York session followed his 1955 debut. Names on the front cover: Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Kenny Drew (piano), Wilbur Ware (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). He plays harmonica on six tracks, guitar on the other three. B+(**) [r]

Toots Thielemans: Live (1974, Polydor): Various live albums with various dates, but this seems to be the favored Penguin Guide album. Leader plays guitar and harmonica, with more guitar by Joop Scholten, plus Rob Franken (electric piano/organ), bass, drums, and percussion. Sound strikes me as a bit off. B+(**) [sp]

Radka Toneff: Winter Poem (1977, Sonet): Norwegian jazz singer (1952-82), father from Bulgaria, first album. She wrote original music for five poems (Sylvia Plath, Robert Creeley, and three by Nikki Giovanni), and bassist Arild Andersen wrote music for two more Creeley poems. More striking still are the covers, a torchy "All the Sad Young Men" and a very striking "Mr. Bojangles." Group is mostly strings, with piano (Lars Jansson) and guitar (Jon Eberson). B+(**) [sp]

Mel Tormé: The Duke Ellington & Count Basie Songbooks (1960-61 [1984], Verve): Reissue of his 1962 album I Dig the Duke, I Dig the Count, with six songs each, loosely speaking. Big band, Johnny Mandel arranger. B+(***) [r]

The Trio: Conflagration (1971, Dawn): Originally John Surman (saxes), Barre Phillips (bass), and Stu Martin (drums), released a very strong eponymous double album in 1970, joined by a long list of names for this sequel: Harold Beckett (trumpet, Mark Charig (cornet), Chick Corea (piano), Nick Evans (trombone), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), Dave Holland (bass), John Marshall (drums), Mike Osborne (alto sax/clarinet), Alan Skidmore (soprano/baritone sax/flute), Stan Sulzmann (clarinet/flute), John Taylor (piano, Kenny Wheeler (trumpet). Overkill perhaps, invigorating if you're into that sort of thing. A- [sp]

The Trio: Meet the Locals (1998 [1999], Resonant): Different group, this one from Norway, first of two albums, led by tenor saxophonist Petter Wettre, with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Jarle Vespestad (drums). A terrific sax trio album. A- [sp]

The Trio: In Color (1999 [2000], Resonant): Second album, later editions attribute this to Petter Wettre Trio, adding Dave Liebman for five (of 10) tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Gianluigi Trovesi Octet: From G to G (1992, Soul Note): Italian alto saxophonist (also alto/bass clarinet), debut 1978, octet also includes Pino Minafra (trumpet, etc., including voice and "noises"). Jaunty pieces like "Hercab" have the most appeal. B+(***) [r]

Gebhard Ullmann: Kreuzberg Park East (1997 [2000], Soul Note): German saxophone/bass clarinet player, joined by Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax), Drew Gress (bass), and Phil Haynes (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Warren Vaché and Brian Lemon: Play Harry Warren: An Affair to Remember (1995 [1997], Zephyr): Cornet and piano duo. Harry Warren songs, including two takes of "Nagasaki," and a couple vocals -- uncredited, but Vaché sings some elsewhere. B+(***)

Warren Vaché/Tony Coe/Alan Barnes Septet: Jumpin' (1997 [1999], Zephyr): Cornet with two English saxophone/clarinet players, all inclined to straddle the swing-to-bop eras, backed by guitar, bass, and drums. Standard fare, from two Ellington pieces to "Giant Steps." B+(**) [sp]

Warren Vaché & Alan Barnes: Memories of You (1997 [1999], Zephyr): Cornet and alto/baritone sax, backed with guitar (Dave Cliff), piano (Brian Lemon), bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Warren Vaché & Tony Coe: Street of Dreams (1997 [1999], Zephyr): Coe playe tenor and soprano sax. Otherwise, this is the same deal, same group, similar batch of songs. I give it a slight edge, mostly based on Coe's ballad tone. B+(***) [sp]

Warren Vaché/Allan Vaché: Mrs. Vaché's Boys (1998 [1999], Nagel Heyer): Cornet (with some flugelhorn) and clarinet, backed by piano (Eddie Higgins), guitar (Howard Alden), bass (Phil Flanagan), and drums (Ed Metz Jr), mostly playing 1930s swing classics (three Ellingtons, one Goodman). More Ellington would be better, especially more like the blazing "Cottontail." B+(***) [sp]

Warren Vaché: I Can't Get Started: Warren Vaché Meets Derek Watkins Again! (2000, Zephyr): Watkins (1945-2013) was a British trumpet player, mostly played in big bands but released two 1995 records on Zephyr: Over the Rainbow, with the Brian Lemon Quartet, and Stardust, his previous meeting with Vaché. No info on this album, which seems to have escaped notice at Discogs and AMG. Release date isn't authoritative, and session date probably earlier. Still a lovely record. Nice guitar. B+(***) [sp]

Kid Thomas Valentine: Kid Thomas in California (1969 [1994], GHB): Old-time trumpeter (1896-1987) from New Orleans, sings some, developed his style in the 1920s and stuck with it. His 1962 Ragtime Stompers album with George Lewis was a Penguin Guide crown album, and this one, with Capt. John Handy, Big Bill Bissonnette, Dick Griffith, and other stalwarts, plus two Carol Leigh vocals, doesn't fall much short. A- [sp]

Tom Varner: Martian Heartache (1996 [1997], Soul Note): From New Jersey (b. 1957), plays French horn, albums from 1985. This is a group with two saxophones (Ed Jackson on alto and Ellery Eskelin on tenor), bass (Drew Gress), and drums (Tom Rainey), plus guest spots for guitar (Pete McCann, 3 tracks) and vocals (Dominique Eade, the closer, the only cover, a trad folk song). B+(***) [sp]

Joe Venuti and Dave McKenna: Alone at the Palace (1977, Chiaroscuro): Violin and piano duo. Venuti (1903-78) first achieved fame in the late 1920s with guitarist Eddie Lang, who died in 1933. Their string-based swing had a parallel in France with Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. In both cases, the violinists went on to long solo careers. McKenna (1930-2008) is an old-fashioned pianist, who often got by playing solo because he generated so much rhythm. They're an ideal pairing here. A- [sp]

Vienna Art Orchestra: Suite for the Green Eighties (1981 [1990], Hat Art): Experimental big band, founded 1977 by composer-director Nicholas Rüegg, disbanded 2010 after releasing 35 albums, mixing jazz and classical in improbable combinations. Here Rüegg conducts 11 musicians plus vocalist Lauren Newton in three pieces (32:02) plus the five-part title piece (38:01). B+(**) [sp]

Vienna Art Orchestra: Quiet Ways: Ballads (1996 [1997], Amadeo): Nine songs, each with a different guest vocalist, starting with Helen Merrill on "What's New." B+(**) [sp]

Vienna Art Orchestra: All That Strauss (2000, TCB): Mostly nine pieces from Johan Strauss (1825-99), with one by brother Josef Strauss and two by brother Eduard Strauss, including waltzes and polkas. Live recording, cover looks like Johan Strauss playing tenor sax. The arrangements are suitably extravagant, far removed from a classical recital. B+(*) [sp]

Miroslav Vitous: Journey's End (1982 [1983], ECM): Czech bassist, moved to US in 1966 to study at Berklee, but soon was playing with Miles Davis, which led to him co-founding Weather Report in 1970, but fusion wasn't really his thing. He started recording for ECM in 1979, and eventually moved back to Europe. This was recorded in Norway, a quartet with John Surman (reeds), John Taylor (piano), and Jon Christensen (drums). Surman is remarkable here, but the way the bassist keeps the momentum building has a lot to do with that. A- [sp]

Philipp Wachsmann/Paul Lytton: Some Other Season (1997 [1999], ECM): English violinist, b. 1944 in Uganda, more than dabbles in electronics, has been tied to the European avant-garde since 1976. Duo here with the drummer, who also produces live electronics. B+(**) [sp]

Mal Waldron/Reggie Workman/Billy Higgins: Up Popped the Devil (1973 [1974], Enja): Pianist (1925-2002), emerged in the late 1950s, most famously accompanying Billie Holiday, but had a long career moving from bop to free jazz. Trio with bass and drums here. Carla Poole plays flute on one track. B+(**) [sp]

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy: Live at Dreher Paris 1981 (1981 [2003], Hatology, 4CD): Piano and soprano sax duo, sets from four nights, most pieces run 10-13 minutes with a couple topping 17. They play six Waldron pieces, eight by Lacy, and nine by Thelonious Monk, who provides a reference hook that Lacy has often returned to throughout his career. Remarkable music, hard to pick among the discs, so the earlier 2-CD sets should do just as well. A- [sp]

Jack Walrath: Master of Suspense (1986 [1987], Blue Note): Trumpet player (b. 1946), born in Florida but grew up in Montana, joined Mingus late in the game, who remains a prominent influence -- especially in the more tumultous pieces, clashing with Carter Jefferson (tenor sax), Kenny Garrett (alto sax), and Steve Turre (trombone). Things calm down for two guest vocals, where Willie Nelson sings "I'm Sending You a Big Bouquet of Roses" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." And this closes with a ballad that could be his bid for a "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love." A- [sp]

Jack Walrath: Unsafe at Any Speed (2014 [2015], SteepleChase): I hadn't heard anything by him since 2002, but turns out he has five 2008-15 albums on SteepleChase, so I have some backfilling to do. Original pieces, texture and flow much influenced by Mingus, with Abraham Burton (tenor sax) strong as ever, backed by piano (George Burton), bass (Boris Koslov), and drums (Donald Edwards). B+(***) [sp]

Priska Walss/Gabriela Friedli: Intervista (2000-02 [2003], Intakt): Swiss trombonist, also plays alphorn, in a duo with the Swiss piano-organ player. Neither has much more discography, but they did a 1998 album as Duo Frappant. B+(***) [sp]

Cedar Walton: Roots (1997 [1999], Astor Place): Pianist (1934-2013), started appearing on albums in 1958, joined Art Blakey in 1962, always had a knack for working with horns (most importantly in Eastern Rebellion). Group here is billed as a trio (Walton, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash) with special guests -- Joshua Redman (tenor sax), Terence Blanchard (trumpet), and Mark Whitfield (guitar), three tracks each -- but there's also an "added ensemble." B+(***) [sp]

Weather Report: The Best of Weather Report (1973-80 [2002], Columbia/Legacy): Fusion group, principally Joe Zawinul (keybs) and Wayne Shorter (tenor/soprano sax), ran from 1970-86, with various bassists (most notably Jaco Pastorius 1976-82), drummers (Peter Erskine (1978-82), and percussionists (except 1978-80). Nice account of a band I never much cared for, mostly because they kick the rhythm up. B+(**) [r]

Weather Report: Live in Tokyo (1972, Columbia, 2CD): Live double, 88:29, only released in Japan until 2014, four (of five) cuts medleys. Band at this point was Zawinul, Shorter, Miroslav Vitous (bass), Eric Gravatt (drums), and Dom Um Romão (percussion). A couple things stand out here: the bassist keeps a lot of tension in the pulse, and Shorter is playing exceptionally free. B+(**) [sp]

Eberhard Weber: The Colors of Chloë (1973 [1974], ECM): German bass/cello player, first record, did much to define ECM's sound in the 1970s, working here with flugelhorn, piano, drums, voice (Gisela Schäuble), and extra celli. B+(*) [sp]

Eberhard Weber: Yellow Fields (1975 [1976], ECM): This quartet is more substantial, with electric keyboards (Rainer Brüninghaus) and drums (Jon Christensen) more prominent, but also Charlie Mariano (soprano sax, shenai, nagaswaram) in fine form. B+(***) [sp]

Eberhard Weber: Pendulum (1993, ECM): Nominally a solo bass album, but doesn't sound like that, with some adroit fingerpicking suggesting guitar, punctuated by impossibly low notes. Actually he's not playing a standard double bass. He calls his instrument a "special bass," which curiously involves "effects" but remains "absolutely 'synthesizer-free.'" No word on overdubs, other than that the changes of effect couldn't be reproduced in real time. B+(***) [sp]

Bobby Wellins: The Satin Album (1996, Jazzizit): Scottish tenor saxophonist (1936-2016), played in Stan Tracey's quartet in the early 1960s, his own albums start in 1978. This is a ballad album, with Colin Purbrook (piano), bass (Dave Green), and drums (Clark Tracey). Nice and easy. B+(**) [sp]

Bobby Wellins Quartet: Don't Worry 'Bout Me (1996 [1997], Cadillac): Live at Vortex in London, with piano (Graham Harvey), bass (Alec Dankworth), and drums (Martin Drew). Standards plus an original to close. B+(***) [r]

Kate Westbrook: Cuff Clout (2001 [2004], Voiceprint): Née Kate Barnard (1939), married pianist-composer Mike Westbrook, sings (as does John Winfield, listed on cover as "featuring," here), wrote all the texts here, to music (originally commissioned in 1994) mostly by band members. Possible subtitle: "a neoteric music hall." Possible band name: the Skirmishers. Some remarkable music, but the vocals strike me as rather operatic, even if sometimes the reference is Weill. B+(**) [r]

Mike Westbrook Trio: Love for Sale (1985 [1990], Hat Art): British pianist (b. 1936), started producing albums in 1967. He is much admired by Penguin Guide, but my own sampling has been limited and not always enjoyable -- partly because I don't share his interest in classical composers, opera, and art song. The latter is mostly the province of his wife, Kate Westbrook, who joins here with credits that start with "design concept" and include vocals, tenor horn, bamboo and piccolo flute. So this isn't a conventional piano trio. The pianist is also credited with tuba and voice, and the third is Chris Biscoe (alto clarinet and alto/baritone/soprano sax). After an original that sounds Brechtian comes "Lush Life" and the title song (with a German lyric, so "Käufliche Liebe"), each striking in its own way. Even more so is a dense and brooding "Buddy Can You Spare a Dime," which is where the tuba is perfect. That's followed by texts from Blake and Brecht ("Seeräuber Jenny"), the originals "Sonnet" and "Crazy for Swing," the grim "Weltende," and a couple songs in French about shipwrecks. A- [r]

Mike Westbrook: Westbrook-Rossini (1986 [1988], Hat Art): Penguin Guide duplicates this title for a Zürich live performance that is just long enough to require a second CD. Neither album is clearly credited to the British pianist, but I can't think of a better way to handle it. This one, which arranges for septet (five horns, piano, and drums, with Kate Westbrook singing some) various famous opera pieces by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), adding odd bits here and there. B+(*) [sp]

Mike Westbrook: Westbrook-Rossini, Zürich Live 1986 (1986 [1994], Hat Art, 2CD): Live rendition of the previous album, same group, runs a bit longer (83:55) resulting in the split over 2-CD. Some extra bright spots. B+(**) [r]

Mike Westbrook: Glad Day: Settings of William Blake (1997 [1999], Enja, 2CD): Lyrics by the poet (1757-1827), voiced by Phil Minton, Kate Westbrook, and the Senior Girls Choir of Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts; the leader's music played by three saxophonists, piano, bass, and drums (Kate also plays tenor horn and piccolo). B+(**) [r]

Mike Westbrook: Chanson Irresponsable (2002 [2003], Enja, 2CD): A front cover banner and the back cover credit this to The New Westbrook Orchestra, but spine and front cover slug as above, with four more names in smaller front cover type: Chris Biscoe (reeds), Matthew Sharp (voice), Kate Westbrook (voice), and Peter Whyman (reeds), with music by the leader and lyrics by his wife. Other musicians appear on trumpet, tenor sax, baritone sax, and drums, with spots of strings, bass, and French horn. B+(*) [r]

Mike Westbrook: After Abbey Road (1996-2009 [2019], Westbrook): Westbrook was commissioned to do a new presentation of the Beatles' Abbey Road for its 20th anniversary in 1989. That produced the album Off Abbey Road, but when I searched, I found this later (1996) performance -- finished off with a 2009 recording of "She Loves You." Abbey Road has long been my least-favorite Beatles album, and stretching it out ("Here Comes the Sun" runs to 15:41, "Because" to 13:26) and blowing it up hardly help. John Winfield and Kate Westbrook sing. B- [r]

Petter Wettre Quartet: Pig Virus (1998, Curling Legs): Saxophonist, from Norway, his Trio albums encouraged further research. First album, a quartet with Håvard Wiik (piano), Terje Gewelt (bass), and Per Oddvar Johansen (drums). Another powerful album. B+(***) [sp]

Petter Wettre Quintet: Household Name (2002 [2003], Household): Saxophone, with piano (Håvard Wiik) and guitar (Palle Pesonen), bass and drums. Well enough, but more piano and guitar means less saxophone. B+(**) [sp]

Petter Wettre/Dave Liebman: Tour De Force (2000 [2004], Household): Live set, following the Trio In Color sessions that Liebman crashed -- same bass and drums here, both saxophonists playing soprano, with Wettre also on tenor. B+(**) [sp]

Gerald Wilson: The Artist Selects (1961-69 [2005], Pacific Jazz): Big band arranger (1918-2014), moved from Mississippi to Detroit when he was 16, played trumpet for Jimmie Lunceford in 1939, led some groups in the 1940s, but recorded little until the 1960s, when Pacific Jazz released eleven of his resurgent big band albums. That's where these 16 tracks come from. B+(**) [r]

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: New York New Sound (2002 [2003], Mack Avenue): After his 1961-69 run on Pacific Sound, Wilson didn't release anything else until 1981, after which he slowly rebuilt his career into a Grammy-winning juggernaut. One thing that helped was recruiting all-star bands. On most cuts, the trumpet section here is: Jon Faddis, Eddie Henderson, Sean Jones, and Jimmy Owens, with Clark Terry sitting in on two tracks. The saxes: Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Jerry Dodgion, Jesse Davis. Piano is split between Kenny Barron and Renee Rosnes. His son, Anthony Wilson, plays guitar, joined on one track by Oscar Castro-Neves. B+(***) [r]

Steve Wilson Quartet: Four for Time (1994 [1996], Criss Cross): Alto/soprano saxophonist, b. 1961, was signed to Blue Note in the 1980s, but only appeared as a sideman. Quartet here with Bruce Barth (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), and Leon Parker (drums), who between them wrote five (of eight) songs. Covers of "Perdido" and "Woody'N You" try to close strong. B+(***) [r]

Norma Winstone: Edge of Time (1971 [1972], Argo): English jazz singer (b. 1941), first album, following features with Michael Garrick and Mike Westbrook, eventually recognized with a MBE. Band includes many notables of the early English avant-garde, like Kenny Wheeler, Paul Rutherford, Mike Osborne, and Alan Skidmore, John Taylor. That's a lot of firepower for a singer to maneuver around. B+(***) [r]

Nils Wogram: Root 70 (2000 [2001], 2nd Floor): German trombonist (b. 1972), group name and title could be parsed variously, but Root 70 would more/less remain as his group name, at least up through an 8-CD box in 2020. Quartet with Hayden Chisholm (alto sax/bass clarinet), Matt Penman (bass), and Jochen Rückert (drums). A- [r]

Nils Wogram: Odd and Awkward (2000 [2001], Enja, 2CD): First disc is a sextet, with Chris Speed (tenor sax/clarinet), Hayden Chisholm (alto sax/clarinet), Cuong Vu (trumpet), Steffen Schorn (bass clarinet/baritone sax/alto flute/contrabass clarinet), and Jochen Rückert (drums). Second disc adds piano (Simon Nabatov) and bass (Henning Sieverts) for an octet. Music doesn't strike me as all that odd, and certainly not awkward. B+(***) [sp]

Nils Wogram's Root 70: Getting Rooted (2003, Enja): Same quartet as on the namesake album (Spotify lists this one as Root 70, but Discogs has the above title, and it's clearly not the Penguin Guide recommendation; title is also pretty clear on the cover). Same quartet, similar bounce, gets a little rough at the end. B+(**) [sp]

Bojan Z Trio: Transpacifik (2003, Label Bleu): Serbian pianist Bojan Zulfikarpasic, moved to Paris 1988, debut album a quartet in 1993. Opens on electric here, with Scott Colley (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums), recorded in Brooklyn. B+(**) [r]

Jeppe Zeeberg: It's the Most Basic Thing You Can Do on a Boat (2014, Barefoot): Danish pianist, half-dozen albums since 2014, this his debut, backed by bass and drums, two of each listed. Could be split into two trios, but in full fury it does sound like they're all playing. B+(***) [sp]

Jeppe Zeeberg: Riding on the Boogie Woogie of Life (2015, Barefoot): Second album, piano with alternate keyboards (synth, spinet, organ), again with the doubled-up bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Jeppe Zeeberg: The Four Seasons (2017, Barefoot): First large group album, his pairs of bass and drums (with Henrik Olsson also playing guitar) augmented by four horns (sax/clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and tuba). It can get to be a bit much. B+(*) [sp]

Jeppe Zeeberg: Eight Seemingly Unrelated Pieces of Piano Music (2018, Barefoot): Danish pianist, half-dozen albums since 2014, this one solo, also playing synthesizer, pipe organ, percussion, and electronics. He promises variety, and delivers: a stride piece to open, some organ ambiance, a crashing free piece ("A Regular Guy in Japan"), and another, then ends with "something jolly." He's most impressive flat out, but it helps that he doesn't stay there. A- [bc]

Jeppe Zeeberg: Universal Disappointment (2019, self-released): Various lineups, some he's not credited on, except as composer, arranger, etc. The eclecticism is getting a bit much. B [sp]

Monica Zetterlund: Swedish Sensation (1958, Columbia): Swedish jazz and pop singer (1937-2005), first album, standards in English, backed by Gunnar Svenssons Orkester (with Arne Domnerus) or (two tracks) Donald Byrd Quartet. [Penguin Guide recommends Swedish Sensation! The Complete Columbia Recordings, 1958-60, which adds eight EPs to this album, spread over 2-CD.] B+(**) [r]

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. Also some old albums extracted from further listening:

Stu Martin/John Surman: Live at Woodstock Town Hall (1975 [1976], Pye): [sp]: B+(***)

John McLaughlin/Dave Holland/John Surman/Stu Martin/Karl Berger: Where Fortune Smiles (1971, Dawn): [sp]: [was: B+] B+(***)

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra: We Travel the Space Ways (1956-60 [1960], El Saturn): [r]: B+(*)

Mr. Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Bad and Beautiful (1961 [1972], El Saturn): [r]: B+(**)

Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron: Live at Dreher Paris 1981, Round Midnight Vol. 1 (1981 [1996], Hat Art, 2CD): A- [sp]

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy: Live at Dreher Paris 1981, The Peak Vol. 2 (1981 [1996], Hat Hut, 2CD): A- [sp]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 40078 [39873] rated (+191), 52 [56] unrated (-4).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

April 3, 2023

Music: Current count 39927 [39873] rated (+54), 52 [56] unrated (-4: 24 new, 28 old).

I'm continuing to focus on the unheard Penguin Guide 4-star albums list, and having pushed my pass into the V's, I might as well continue to the end. I ran into a bit of trouble with Martial Solal, John Surman and Sun Ra, as the Penguin Guide recommendations didn't line up with what I could find to stream. I dealt with this by breaking things up or selecting playlists from available sources, which led to some extra entries in "grade (or other) changes." In some cases, credits have shifted (Billy Myers and Dick Mills have given way to Martial Solal; John McLaughlin to John Surman, Mr. Sun Ra to Sun Ra), so entries get broken up. Reissues get shuffled around all the time, so it shouldn't be a surprise that it's impossible to keep them aligned with what's available now or what was available at any past point.

Still, when I'm working off a check list, the temptation to check things off is too much to resist. Nowadays, you might as well go straight to the John Surman box (Glancing Backwards) rather than try to find the Sequel set the Penguin Guide reviewed. The extra in the box is the first The Trio album, which is one of the best things British jazz ever produced. As for Sun Ra, the series of twofer CDs Evidence produced in the 1990s are prime targets for scroungers, but almost everything has been reissued in digital by reverting to the original LP configurations (as is whatever new vinyl is available). This reshuffling has produced some redundancies in my Sun Ra listing.

I should mention that Henri Texier's Izlaz seems to be available these days in a two-CD package with Colonel Skopje. I reviewed the latter long ago as a B, didn't bother to listen to it again just to compromise on the package. Sometimes I went off on tangents: Warren Vaché's Zephyrs seem pretty much of a piece; Petter Wettre seemed to demand further research. Vienna Art Orchestra was particularly frustrating, with nine 4-star albums I looked for but couldn't find, while I checked out three albums not even on my list (some remarkable music, but too many vocals, and too much Strauss).

I did finally add some unheard albums to my tracking file, but haven't delved in as yet. My desk is still a mess, and the demo queue remains far from sorted, so the best new jazz this week won't be available until 4/28 (Dave Rempis) or 5/12 (Javier Red). Sorry about that, but it was nice to pull out something from the queue that I really liked.

April 10, 2023

Music: Current count 39968 [39927] rated (+41), 58 [52] unrated (+6: 30 new, 28 old).

This week's haul continues recent week trends: lots of old jazz, mostly suggested by my Penguin Guide unheard 4-star list. I finished Z with John Zorn. (His Tzadik records were on Rhapsody for a while, but were taken down several years ago, and are well nigh impossible for me to come by these days.) That leaves eight various artists comps, which came from early editions of the Guide (as they stopped covering them), so they are probably impossible to find. That still leaves 615 albums unheard on the list.

Probably worth another pass, but most of them fall into big clusters: old comps of classic artists (Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Teddy Wilson; the French Classics label has disappeared from Napster), that I largely skipped because those editions are out of print, and in most cases I've heard other editions; lots of obscure free (AMM, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Cecil Taylor) and (mostly British) trad jazz records; boxes not deemed cost-effective; other labels that refuse to play ball with the streaming rackets (like Tzadik); and back catalog the cooperating labels haven't gotten around to (Concord is one that particularly bothers me). I did just find a Mose Allison album I had missed. Still unlikely I'l whittle the list down much more.

The Live at Dreher set led me to file separate grades for the earlier editions, especially as one appears under Mal Waldron and the other under Steve Lacy. Not really separate grades, as the four discs just delight on and on. But no point picturing the older edition covers.

Rated count could pass 40,000 next week. I'm currently 32 short, which is a fairly average week's work for me. Main thing that may distract me is that we're in the brief season between too cold and too hot, so it would be opportune to do some house/yard projects. In house it's mostly decluttering, starting with my desk.

April 17, 2023

Music: Current count 40031 [39968] rated (+63), 54 [58] unrated (-4: 26 new, 28 old).

Not only hit but blew right past the 40,000 rated albums mark this week. I noted the moment in a tweet on Friday (4/14). The database introduction and genre breakdown is here. Most of this framework dates back to the early 2000s, when I was scouring the album guides for prospects. Perhaps some of the genres should be divided up more, especially by time, but I keep thinking that a better solution would be a better tagged database -- a project that always seems to be slipping away into the future.

Records below are primarily non-jazz: probably the first week all year. I added a lot of stuff to my 2023 tracking file, so I've had a lot to pick from. Given how many records by reputable artists I heard, I'm surprised that so far hit the A- mark -- especially the three A records from Robert Christgau's April Consumer Guide (which I played at least three times each). Some of those I had played earlier (recently: Willie Nelson, 100 Gecs; others way back: Oranj Symphonette, Wayne Shorter. By the way, my pick of the Shorter Blue Notes is Night Dreamer, although the one I really recommend is The Classic Blue Note Recordings (2-CD, 2002). My Shorter list is here. Beyond that, his albums with Art Blakey and Miles Davis are often great, and his albums with Weather Report never are.

Seems like a lot of musicians have been dying recently, but few as notable as Ahmad Jamal (1930-2023). He almost exclusively recorded in trios, something I'm not a big fan of, but if you look at my list, you'll find A- records scattered over four decades, and also notice that I missed a lot in between.

Technically, the Christian McBride album missed my cutoff, but I decided to include it here because I thought I should have more good new releases, and because it shows you what Marcus Strickland can do when he's not recording his own albums.

Rough day today, especially with eyes and allergies. Former will probably clear up (though cataract surgery is likely in the future), and latter will probably get worse.

April 24, 2023

Music: Current count 40078 [40331] rated (+47), 49 [54] unrated (-5: 21 new, 28 old).

Again, mostly new music, mostly attributable to the tracking file, which is usually the first thing I consult when I need a new record. Pace picked up considerably from Friday, when I started collecting Speaking of Which: at 5668 words, just a bit shorter than the previous week (5773 words). The difference (and much of the difference from the even longer previous weeks (of April 9 and April 2) is in the introductions, which I cut short this week.

It's a grind to pull those posts together in three days, which results in another grind as I process music in the background. I'm usually paying enough attention to form a reasonable opinion, but rarely have the time to write down much detail: hence, you get a bunch of reviews that hardly say anything. That probably says something about my priorities: I'd rather get to the next record than nail the one I just heard, and in any case I care more about making my political points than music crit ones: I feel like I have more to say, more that is original, and more that matters.

Unfortunately, few others feel that way. And frankly, I was rather gratified in a noticeable uptick of interest in last week's Music Week. That marked the week when my rated count topped 40,000, so it was as much a lifetime achievement as another weekly installment. My wife recently watched Sullivan's Travels for her film group, so for a week there I kept imagine people coming up to me and advising, "forget about the politics you can't do anything about anyway, and just write better record reviews." But here I am, still taking a half-assed stab at both.

I'm almost done with Brian T Watson's Headed Into the Abyss: The Story of Our Time, and the Future We'll Face. I'm not convinced that the forces he identifies will lead to the doom of civilization he predicts, but he got me thinking about other things he slights (war, guns, racism, civil strife, injustice, surveillance, repression) and in some cases misses completely (his book appeared just before Covid broke out). He is fairly good on climate change (without more than a few lines on how it might generate waves of emigration, resource conflicts, and war), a little both-sidesy on capitalism and politics, and way over the top on what he calls Webworld.

He understands that these "forces" interact and compound in ways that are hard to separate out -- his Webworld is largely a confluence of dangers he doesn't fully articulate in capitalism, technology, politics, and human nature. The latter is by far the trickiest to write about: even though we've been studying it for ages, it's almost impossible to generalize about in contexts that haven't yet happened.

What I do believe is that there are practical, technical solutions to virtually all problems we face, except that there is (and will continue to be) formidable political opposition to doing anything before it is much too late. So, I think it's ultimately very important to thoroughly critique those political opponents. Of course, it's also nice to have some nice music to play in the background. (I happen to be on an Ivo Perelman kick at the moment.)


Sources noted as follows:

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