Streamnotes: July 31, 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 June 26. Past reviews and more information are available here (22151 records).

Recent Releases

Jason Adasiewicz: Roy's World (2017 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): From Chicago, plays vibraphone and balafon, couple dozen albums since 2000, many more side credits. Project here was music for a film. Group a nicely balanced quintet, with Josh Berman (cornet), Jonathan Doyle (saxes), Joshua Abrams (bass), and Hamid Drake (drums). A- [bc]

African Head Charge: A Trip to Bolgatanga (2023, On-U Sound): Dub group started in 1981, with percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and producer Adrian Sherwood. B+(**) [sp]

Aila Trio: Shaped by Sea Waves (2022 [2023], Edgetone): Swedish bassist Georgia Wartel Collins is the writer here, Aila an extra first name. She is based in Norway, second group album, with tenor saxophonist Karl-Hjalmar Nyberg and drummer Andreas Winther. B+(***) [sp]

Akmee: Sacrum Profanum (2022, Nakama): Norwegian quartet, second album: Erik Kimestad Pederson (trumpet), Kjetil Jerve (piano), Erlend Olderskog Albertsen (bass), and Andreas Wildhagen (drums), 3-2-2-1 pieces respectively. B+(**) [bc]

Susan Alcorn/José Lencastre/Hernâni Faustino: Manifesto (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Pedal/lap steel guitar, alto/tenor sax, acoustic/electric bass. B+(*) [sp]

The Harry Allen Orchestra: With Roses (2023, Triangle7): Tenor saxophonist, retro swing, many albums since 1994, this a fairly large band -- eight pieces, not counting guests and singer Lucy Yeghiazaryan, who I'm not especially impressed with. B [sp]

Aphex Twin: Blackbox Life Recorder 21f/In a Room7 F760 (2023, Warp, EP): Electronics producer Richard D James, born in Ireland, grew up in Cornwall, has been recording since 1985, has slowed down of late, with an album in 2014 and several EPs since. Four songs, 14:31. Nice beats, but not much more to it. B+(*) [sp]

JoVia Armstrong & Eunoia Society: Inception (2021 [2023], Black Earth Music): Percussionist, credited here with hybrid cajon, the group adding "5 Strings," bass, and guitar. Fusion of some sort, lots of riff without much rhyme. B [cd]

Jeff Babko/David Piltch: The Libretto Show (2022 [2023], Tudor Tones): Piano-bass duo, four Babko originals, plus covers of pianists Mac Rebennack and Denny Zeitlin, and a Jobim with a bit of guest violin. B+(*) [cd]

Jalen Baker: Be Still (2022 [2023], Cellar): Vibraphonist, second album, with piano (Paul Cornish), bass (Gabriel Godoy), and drums (Gavin Moolchan). B+(*) [cd]

Caterina Barbieri: Myuthafoo (2023, Light-Years): Italian electronica composer, sixth album since 2017, mostly works with minimalist synths. B+(**) [sp]

João Barradas: Solo II: Live at Festival D'Aix-En-Provence (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese accordion player, several albums since 2013, this a six-part improv, where he is also credited with MIDI controller and voice. B+(*) [bc]

Tor Einar Bekken/Inga-Mei Steinbru: Jungle One Jungle Two Jungle Blues (2023, self-released): Piano and drums duo, the former with records as Dr. Bekken back to 1995, the latter apparently not in Discogs. B+(**) [bc]

Carlos Bica: Playing With Beethoven (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Portuguese bassist, albums since 1995, was commissioned by Cineteatro Louletano "to respond creatively to the musical legacy of Ludwig von Beethoven," so starts with eleven classical themes and plays with them. With Daniel Erdmann (tenor/soprano sax), João Barradas (accordion), and DJ Illvibe (turntables). Mixed results. I'm hard pressed to identify the Beethoven here, although he makes a ready scapegoat when it goes wrong. B [sp]

Big Freedia: Central City (2023, Queen Diva): New Orleans bounce rapper Freddie Ross, second album (plus mixtapes, EPs, and a bunch of singles). At best, this reminds me of George Clinton's funk foundry, but at worst the banging gets out of hand, turning into pure headache. B- [sp]

Selwyn Birchwood: Exorcist (2023, Alligator): Blues singer-songwriter from Florida ("down where rebel flags meet Mickey Mouse""), parents from Tobago and UK, plays electric guitar and electric lap steel guitar, sixth album since 2011. Guitar most impressive. Songwriting a little iffy, but I jotted down one line: "I love you baby, like the church loves money." B+(*) [sp]

Ice Cold Bishop: Generational Curse (2023, Epic): Los Angeles rapper, hasn't made it big enough for Wikipedia yet, debut album not yet in Discogs (which has 2022's single), credit jammed together in all-caps but Pitchfork review repeatedly refers to "Bishop." Tight loops, hard to follow, with high voices tracked cartoonishly but something deeper in the message. A- [sp]

Samuel Blaser: Routes (2021-22 [2023], Enja): Trombonist, from Switzerland, couple dozen albums since 2008, mostly plays free jazz but pays tribute here to reggae great Don Drummond, with Alex Wilson (piano/organ/melodica), Alan Weekes (guitar), Ira Coleman (bass), Dion Parson (drums), Soweto Kinch (alto sax/vocals), Michael Blake (tenor sax), and Edwin Sanz (percussion), with Scratch Perry dubbing on two tracks, and extra trombones on another. B+(***) [sp]

Blur: The Ballad of Darren (2023, Parlophone): One of the big britpop bands of the 1990s, with six albums from that decade, but this is only their third since (2003, 2015). Maintains an air of grandeur. B+(*) [sp]

Pony Bradshaw: North Georgia Rounder (2023, Black Mountain Music): Country singer-songwriter from north Georgia, fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

Dee Byrne: Outlines (2021 [2023], Whirlwind): British alto saxophonist, has a couple previous albums, leads a sextet, with trumpet, clarinet, piano, bass, and drums -- only name familiar to me is Olie Brice (bass). B+(**) [sp]

Julie Byrne: The Greater Wings (2023, Ghostly International): Singer-songwriter from Buffalo, based in New York, third album (or second if you discount the cassette-only debut). Ballads singer, something I rarely tune in for, but I did notice the ghostly calm shift toward mesmerizing. B+(**) [sp]

Carook: Best of Carook (So Far) (2021-22 [2023], Atlantic): Nashville-based singer-songwriter Corinne Savage, several singles and EPs, has a substantial Wikipedia page, where I note 839.6K TikTok followers, but the only Discogs entry is one track on a label Record Store Day sampler. Signs of a cult figure, trendily trans, which I'm little inclined to indulge, so forgive the pronoun infractions, but "they" sound her to me, so let's go with that. Eleven songs, 34:07, the first couple and at least one more too slight to consider, but she learns some tricks along the way, after which the music more than suffices. And while I rarely catch words, I did jot down a couple lines: "hey, hey it's ok/everybody feels kinda weird some days"; and "lately the weight of the world is a lot." [PS: I've seen this described as "old music," but the singles start up in 2021, though they may have been recorded earlier. Everybody releases singles ahead of the albums they belong to, so despite its name this strikes me as more of a new release. I've seen a Nov. 2022 release date, but the label release is May 12, 2023, not that I know what, beyond digital, was actually released. I've noticed that whoever insists on "(So Far)" as part of their best-of title has been cursed to never have any more hits. I doubt that applies here.] B+(***) [sp]

Carook: Serious Person (Part 1) (2023, Atlantic, EP): Seven songs, 21:12, should be more consistent but isn't. Opens with two pretty good songs that could be more musical, then reverses the formula. Only one that makes me want to hear more is the closer, which isn't like any of the others. B+(***) [sp]

Valentin Ceccaldi: Bonbon Flamme (2023, Clean Feed): French cello player, brother of violinist Théo Ceccaldi, has at least one previous album. Joined here by Luis Lopes (guitar), Fulco Ottervanger (piano, keyboards), and Étienne Ziemniak (drums), bits of spoken word. Dense, with rock energy that might explode but doesn't quite. B+(***) [bc]

Alex Coke & Carl Michel Sextet: Emergence (2022 [2023], PlayOn): Tenor saxophonist, also plays flute, from Texas, played in Willem Breuker Kollektief in 1990s. Michel is a guitarist, who wrote four songs (to 3 from Coke, out of 12). Group also includes concert harp, pedal steel, bass, and vibes. B+(*) [cd]

Shirley Collins: Archangel Hill (2023, Domino): Venerable British folk singer, now 87, returned from a 38-year hiatus in 2016, with a second album in 2020, and now this third one. Voice continues to wither, as does the songs. B+(*) [sp]

The Cucumbers: Old Shoes (self-released, EP): New Jersey group founded in 1983 with Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, released a delightful EP then, and an eponymous album in 1987 that remains a favorite. Since then, Deena has released several solo albums while occasionally reviving the group, as she does here, for a brief seven songs (23:11), as delightful as ever. Like old shoes, "I'm the one that fits you." A- [cd]

Chuck D as Mistachuck: We Wreck Stadiums: Homage to Rap & Baseball Heroes (2023, SpitSLAM): Public Enemy front man Carlton Ridenhour, feeling nostalgic about his baseball cards, ten years younger than me, which is close enough I recognize the players he namechecks. Interesting as that is, his beats are what I'm more nostalgic for. B+(***) [sp]

Maria Da Rocha/Ernesto Rodrigues/Daniel Levin/João Madeira: Hoya (2022 [2023], Creative Sources): Portuguese string quartet: violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Starts off with a solo piece each (average 4:07), then six shorter duo pieces (2:15), then two quartet pieces (22:54 total). B+(**) [cd]

Oivia Dean: Messy (2023, EMI): British pop singer-songwriter, first album after several EPs. B+(*) [sp]

Deer Tick: Emotional Contracts (2023, ATO): Singer-songwriter John McCauley and band, a couple members going back to 2007, another to 2009. Eighth album, basic Americana. B+(*) [sp]

McKinley Dixon: Beloved! Paradise! Jazz! (2023, City Slang): Rapper from Virginia, fourth album. B+(*) [sp]

Entoto Band: Entoto Band (2023, Guitar Globetrotter): Songs from "the golden era of Ethiojazz," with singer Helen Mengestu and saxophonist Amanyal Tewelde, along with Dutch guitarist Joep Pelt. B+(**) [sp]

Gabriel Espinosa: Bossas and Boleros (2022 [2023], Zoho): From Mexico, based in New York, plays bass and sings, shares both roles with others, "with Kim Nazarian" noted on the cover. Five originals among ten songs. Touted guest spots include Anat Cohen, Fred Hersch, and New York Voices, none of which help much. B- [cd]

Orrin Evans: The Red Door (2020-22 [2023], Smoke Sessions): Pianist, from Philadelphia, has recorded quite a bit since 1995. Several lineups, half with horns added (mostly Nicholas Payton and Gary Thomas), three with vocals (Jazzmeia Horn, Sy Smith, and Alita Moses). B [sp]

Drayton Farley: Twenty on High (2023, Hargrove): Country singer-songwriter from Alabama, second album. B [sp]

Sammy Figueroa: Something for a Memory (Busco Tu Recuerdo) (2022 [2023], Ashé): Percussionist (especially congas), from the Bronx, has led His Latin Jazz Explosion since 2006, before that had many side-credits, notably with pop bands like Chic. Thinking about his father here, a bolero singer named Charlie Figueroa, who died young, leaving no direct memories on his son. Featuring Gonzalo Rubalcaba (piano) and Aymée Nuviola (vocals), with Figueroa also singing, plus a sample from the father. B+(**) [cd]

Ingebrigt Haker Flaten & Paal Nilssen-Love: Guts & Skins (2022 [2023], PNL): Norwegian bassist and drummer, the rhythm section for Atomic, the Thing, School Days, Scorch Trio, and countless other groups over the last 20-30 years, headline for an explosive octet. Ragged at first, then they slow it down and regroup more impressively. B+(**) [sp]

Aldo Fosko Collective: This One Time (2023, Hitchtone): From Croatia, plays Rhodes piano and bass clarinet, sems to be his/their first album. Fairly large group, generates impressive swing, but Alba Nacinovich's vocals disrupt and/or confound. B+(**) [cd]

Paulo Fresu/Omar Sosa: Food (2023, Tuk Music): Italian trumpet/flugelhorn player, in a duo with the Cuban pianist, playing a variety of keyboards, samplers, and effects, also credited with voice. Guest slots provide additional vocals, cello, and steel pan. The trumpet is very nice. B+(**) [sp]

Gabriels: Angels & Queens (2023, Atlas Artists/Parlophone): Gospel-inspired soul trio from Los Angeles, Jacob Lusk the lead singer, with Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian, follows up 2022's short Angels & Queens: Part I (7 tracks, 27:29), with a second part (6 more songs, 21:31), but folds the two parts together. (Adding to the confusion, Spotify has a Deluxe Edition, with a second disc's worth of live and other extras, which I've heard but I'm not factoring in.) B+(**) [sp]

Gel: Only Constant (2023, Convulse): Hardcore band from New Jersey, Sami Kaiser the singer, who previously fronted a band called Sick Shit. Calling them "punk" helped to get me curious, but the only resemblance is in their minimal song structures and times. First album, after a couple EPs, but at 16:29 this could be counted as another, despite ten "songs." B [sp]

Max Gerl: Max Gerl (2023, JMI): Bassist, electric and acoustic, with a nice solo album, ten originals plus a Monk. B+(*) [cd]

Gloss Up: Before the Gloss Up (2023, Quality Control): Memphis rapper, first mixtape after a flurry of singles appearances (4 in Discogs), 12 tracks, 29:53. B+(***) [sp]

Ricardo Dias Gomes: Muito Sol (2023, Hive Mind): Brazilian, played bass with Caetano Veloso in the 2000s, fourth album, also plays keyboards, nylon guitar, and sings, in a quiet, off-kilter style that passes for psychedelia. I just wish there was more of Tiero Queiroz's saxophone. B+(***) [sp]

The Sofia Goodman Group: Secrets of the Shore (2023, Joyous): Jazz drummer, based in Nashville, second album, with saxophonists Joel Frahm and Dan Hitchcock, clarinet, guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums, performing Goodman originals (three with co-credits). Fairly luxe postbop. B+(*) [cd]

Allan Harris: Live at Blue Llama Jazz Club (2023, Love Productions/Live at Blue Llama): Jazz singer, plays guitar, more than a dozen albums since 1994, writes some: four songs here, out of ten, the covers from "Sunny" to "Nature Boy." With piano, bass, drums, and spots for Irwin Hall (alto sax, flute). B+(**) [cd]

Kevin Harris & the Solution: Jazz Gumbo (2023, Blujazz): Singer, no idea which of 33 of his name at Discogs might he be, but he's recovered impressively from throat cancer, and leads a band including Donald Harrison (alto sax), Will Lee (bass), and Jerry Z (organ/piano) through a list of r&b-to-jazz standards like "Yes We Can Can," "I Get Lifted," and "Freedom Jazz Dance." I'm not wild about any of them. B- [cd]

PJ Harvey: I Inside the Old Year Dying (2023, Partisan): English singer-songwriter, initials for Polly Jean, was a big deal in the 1990s -- I really disliked her first two albums, but was won over by To Bring You My Love, even though I've only intermittently enjoyed her since, liking but not being wowed by her 2011 album-of-the-year contender Let England Shake. Only her second album since, shows a lot of work, yet remains exceedingly difficult to get into. B+(*) [sp]

Aaron Yale Heisler: The Bechet Century: A Centenary Celebration of the Music of Sidney Bechet (2023, 2nd Bechet Century): Guitarist, from Toronto. Mostly solo, with some bass from his brother, bits of keyboard and mandolin, and a fragile vocal. Four Bechet originals, some pieces like "Summertime" he played, other pieces inspired by Bechet, including two Heiser wrote. B+(**) [sp]

Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra: Open Spaces: Folk Songs Reimagined (2022 [2023], Cellar): Canadian trumpet player, second big band recording, big name soloists include Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Scott Robinson (reeds), Noah Preminger (tenor sax), and Frank Carlberg (piano). Seems like I should have recognized most of the folk songs, but they tend to get lost in the arrangements. B+(*) [cd]

High Pulp: Days in the Desert (2023, Anti-): Los Angeles-based jazz collective, self-released album in 2018, this their second with Anti-. Core group is a sextet, no names I recognize, with guest spots, including one track each for James Brandon Lewis (tenor sax), Brandee Younger (harp), Jeff Parker and Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Daedelus and Telemakus (electronics). B+(**) [sp]

HIIT: For Beauty Is Nothing but the Beginning of Terror (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Italian pianist Simone Quatrana, in a trio with Andrea Grossi (bass) and Pedro Melo Alves (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Jason Kao Hwang Critical Response: Book of Stories (2023, True Sound): Violinist, b. 1957 in Illinois, parents immigrated from Hunan after WWII, has spent considerable time mastering classical Chinese music but he's mostly recorded cutting-edge jazz, making him the heir apparent after the deaths of Leroy Jenkins and Billy Bang. Trio here with guitarist Anders Nilsson, who blends in beautifully, and drummer Michael T.A. Thompson. A- [cd]

The Japanese House: In the End It Always Does (2023, Dirty Hit): British singer-songwriter Amber Mary Bain, second album, after several EPs. B+(*) [sp]

Jelly Roll: Whitsitt Chapel (2023, BBR Music Group): Singer-songwriter Jason Bradley DeFord, from Tennessee, started out hip-hop but goes country here, which among other things means he gets to stretch out his drawl and crank the guitars up. But he's as dissolute as anyone around, and religion can't save him (neither "Dancing with the Devil" nor "Hungover in a Church Pew." B+(**) [sp]

Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loveliest Time (2023, Silent): Canadian pop star, seventh album, but this is the second of those compiled from extra scraps -- there are also remix albums of two others -- these from the sessions that gave us The Loneliest Time. B+(***) [sp]

Russ Johnson Quartet: Reveal (2022 [2023], Calligram): Trumpet player, based in Chicago after a couple decades in New York, albums since 2004, moving from left of mainstream to farther out. Quartet with Mark Feldman (violin), Ethan Phillon (bass), and Tim Daisy (drums). Starts off with a romp, but less striking when they slow down, by which I mostly mean the violin. B+(**) [cd] [08-04]

Kala Jula & Gangbé Brass Band: Asro (2019 [2023], Buda Musique): Band with roots in Mali and Benin, feat. credit on cover for Fama Diabaté (voice, balafon), with three guitarists (one also on kora, and everyone adding to the percussion), with added sax and brass from the Gangbé Brass Band. B+(**) [sp]

Izumi Kimura/Gerry Hemingway: Kairos (2022 [2023], Fundacja Sluchaj): Japanese pianist, based in Ireland, has a 2010 album and several more since 2016, including a 2019 trio with the drummer and Barry Guy. Sharper here as a duo, the focus shifting from piano to drums (or marimba or vibraphone), and back again. Then out of nowhere comes something totally different: a trad piece with Hemingway's bluesy, otherworldly vocal. A- [cd]

John Carroll Kirby: Blowout (2023, Stones Throw): Los Angeles-based keyboard player, tenth album since 2015, also lots of pop session work. Dance grooves, but closer to smooth jazz than to techno. B- [sp]

Kool Keith: Black Elvis 2 (2023, Mello Music Group): Veteran rapper Keith Thornton, started with Ultramagnetic MCs (1984-93), also worked as Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom (not to be confused with MF Doom, the late Daniel Dumile), used this name for his 1999 release of Black Elvis/Lost in Space, released much more before cycling around for this sequel. (The Return of Dr. Octagon came out in 2006, 10 years after Dr. Octagonecologyst.) Has some of that old school bite. B+(**) [sp]

Sarathy Korwar: KAL (Real World) (2023, The Leaf Label): London-based drummer, born in US but grew up in India, where he learned tabla. Three studio albums, plus this live one, offered as a companion to his 2022 album Kalak. Mostly stripped down to rhythm here, some reminding me of DJ Shadow. B+(**) [sp]

Jessy Lanza: Love Hallucination (2023, Hyperdub): Electropop singer-songwriter, from Ontario, fourth album (or fifth if you include her DJ-Kicks). B+(*) [sp]

Large Unit: New Map (2021 [2022], PNL): Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's avant big band, several albums since 2014, this particular iteration lists 15 musicians, with 3 brass (trumpet/trombone/tuba), 3 reeds, 2 basses, 3 drums/percussion, and scattered others (guitar, harp, accordion, electronics). Two long pieces, one shorter, tend to hold back their firepower for interesting ambiance. B+(**) [sp]

Large Unit: Clusterfuck (2021 [2022], PNL): A second album released the same day, same group, recorded during the same three-day stretch, with more three pieces (48:52). A little more thrash, perhaps to justify the title. B+(**) [sp]

Bettye LaVette: LaVette! (2023, Jay-Vee): Soul singer, raised in Detroit, was 16 when she recorded her first hit in 1962 but struggled after that, until the breakthrough of her 2003 album A Woman Like Me. All tracks here were written by Randall Bramblett, who I remember as a singer-songwriter in the mid-1970s, who dovetailed into soul but couldn't pull it off himself. LaVette can, and then some. A- [sp]

Brennen Leigh: Ain't Through Honky-Tonkin' Yet (2023, Signature Sounds): Country singer-songwriter, based in Nashville, ten-plus albums since 2002 (and still doesn't have a Wikipedia page). Starts with a song about escaping Hope, Arkansas. B+(***) [sp]

The Lemon Twigs: Everything Harmony (2023, Captured Tracks): Soft rock band from Long Island -- seems more accurate than Wikipedia's other genres (indie pop, or various rocks: indie, pop, power, glam, art, baroque). So soft it is. Also rather glum: "every day is the worst day of my life." C+ [sp]

Jenny Lewis: Joy'all (2023, Blue Note): Singer for Rilo Kiley (2001-07), released a solo album in 2006, four more since. Nice enough. B+(**) [sp]

Lil Uzi Vert: Pink Tape (2023, Generation Now/Atlantic): Rapper Symere Woods, from Philadelphia, third album, a big one at 87:03 (26 songs, 3 billed as bonuses). Mostly stuff I have trouble distinguishing from dozens of other young rappers, although the beats and production are above average. Then there are the metal mash ups with Bring Me the Horizon and Babymetal. Not awful, but wtf? B+(**) [sp]

Doug MacDonald Trio: Edwin Alley (2022 [2023], DMAC Music): Touted as "the great straight ahead jazz guitarist," which means he probably wouldn't mind if I thought of Wes Montgomery (when I thought of anyone at all). B+(**) [cd]

Mach-Hommy/Tha God Fahim: Notorious Dump Legends Vol. 2 (2023, self-released): New Jersey rapper Ramar Begon, Haitian parents, spent much of his childhood in Port-au-Prince. First EPs in 2011, many albums since 2017, this a short one (27:31). B+(*) [sp]

Mahalia: IRL (2023, Atlantic): British neo-soul singer, last name Burkmar, second album after a compilation of earlier singles and EPs. B+(***) [sp]

The Malpass Brothers: Lonely Street (2023, Billy Jam): Country duo, Christopher and Taylor Malpass, from North Carolina, fourth album. Trad, with an easy-going manner. B+(***) [sp]

Gabriela Martina: Homage to Grämilis (2023, self-released): Jazz singer-songwriter, from Switzerland, second album, backed with guitar (Jussi Reijonen), accordion (Ben Rosenblum), piano (Maxim Lubarsky), bass, and drums. B+(*) [cd]

Donny McCaslin: I Want More (2023, Edition): Tenor saxophonist, plays some flute, regular albums since 1998, as well as session work, notably for Dave Douglas, David Bowie, and Maria Schneider (for which he won a couple Grammys). Always impressive chops, but his slick postbop can be a turn off, especially when he goes with the synths as here. B [sp]

Lori McKenna: 1988 (2023, CN): Singer-songwriter from Massachusetts, 12th album since 2000, title refers to the year she got married, at 19, a union that endures, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and increasingly in well-observed song. A- [sp]

Militarie Gun: Life Under the Gun (2023, Loma Vista): Los Angeles band, Ian Shelton the singer-producer, first album, suggested genres are power pop (somewhat tuneful) and/or hardcore punk (somewhat gnarly). B [sp]

Aja Monet: When the Poems Do What They Do (2023, Drink Sum Wtr): Poet, from Brooklyn, last name Bacquie, four books since 2012, first album, songs co-credited to the musicians: Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (trumpet), Weedie Braimah (percussion), Luques Curtis (bass guitar), Marcus Gilmore (drums), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), and Samora Pinderhughes (piano). Much remarkable here, but it does go on awfully long (83:00), and demands a lot of attention. A- [sp]

Near Miss: The Natural Regimen (2022 [2023], Kettle Hole): Chicago trio, with two tenor saxophonists (Rob Magill, also on soprano and bass clarinet, and Gerrit Hatcher) plus drums (Bill Harris). A bit rocky, but they may prefer it that way, at least to hitting some hypothetical bulls eye. B+(***) [cd]

Rita Ora: You & I (2023, BMG): Pop singer, born in Kosovo, moved to England when she was a baby, parents added Ora to their original surname (Sahatçiu). Third album since 2012. B+(**) [sp]

Okwy Osadebe and Highlife Soundmakers International: Igbo Amaka (2023, Palenque): Nigerian, the son of Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe (1936-2007), an Igbo highlife star in Lagos from his first album in 1958. During the 1970s, highlife was eclipsed by juju and afrobeat, but I always found the early stuff especially charming, as is this slight update. A- [sp]

Margaux Oswald/Jesper Zeuthen: Magnetite (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Swiss pianist, based in Copenhagen, has a couple previous albums. Duo with Zeuthen, who is Danish, older (b. 1949), plays alto sax, played in Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra. B+(***) [sp]

Palehound: Eye on the Bat (2023, Polyvinyl): Indie band, fourth album since 2015, singer-songwriter El Kempner, trans pronouns but sounds female. B+(**) [sp]

Gretchen Parlato/Lionel Loueke: Lean In (2022 [2023], Edition): Jazz singer from Los Angeles, father and grandfather were musicians, sixth album since 2005, paired here with the guitarist and occasional vocalist from Benin, usually backed by drums (Mark Guilliana), sometimes bass (Burniss Travis). Not sure if this is intended to sound Brazilian, or that's just their natural fusion. B+(*) [sp]

Bruno Parrinha/Vine Leaf: Tales of Senses (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Just the group name on the cover, which is an English translation of the Portuguese alto saxophonist's name. With Luis Lopes (guitar) and João Valinho (drums). Strong, steady. B+(***) [sp]

Bruno Parrinha: Da Erosão (2023, 4DaRecord): Alto saxophone, solo, even with such a talented player always a difficult proposition, one that at 43:24 outlasted my patience. B+(*) [cd]

Emanuele Parrini/Samo Salamon/Vasco Trilla: Eating Poetry (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Italian violinist, debut a duo album in 1998, joined here by guitar (from Slovenia) and drums (from Portugal). B+(**) [sp]

Kim Petras: Feed the Beast (2023, Island): German pop singer-songwriter, moved to Los Angeles at 19, by which point she was a celebrity as the "world's youngest transsexual." First album, after a couple mixtapes and the 2022 EP Slut Pop. I thought the latter was pretty great, but didn't care for her Grammy-winning duet with Sam Smith (which closes out this 15-song, 40:36 album). This has gotten savaged by critics (59 on Metacritic). Hard to tell whether that's prejudice -- or what kind, given that many pop albums get savaged when they fail to overwhelm. Especially given that this one does feel rote as often as not. B+(*) [sp]

Phiik & Lungs: Another Planet 4 (2023, Tase Grip/Break All): Two rappers from New York, otherwise I know very little about them. B+(*) [sp]

Peso Pluma: Génesis (2023, Double P): Mexican rapper, sings more, actual name Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija, father traces roots back to Lebanon, third album. B+(**) [sp]

Marek Pospieszalski: No Other End of the World Will There Be: Based on the Works of Polish Female Composers of the 20th Century (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Polish saxophonist, leads an octet here. Listing the composers, or even the musicians, would be an obscure exercise (not that I don't recognize trumpet player Tomasz Dabrowski). I rarely like records that lean this much toward classical, but this keeps me interested. B+(**) [sp]

Nate Radley & Gary Versace: Snapshots (2023, SteepleChase): Guitar and piano duo. B+(**) [sp]

The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Harvesters (2023, Aerophonic, 2CD): Saxophonist Dave Rempis, from Chicago, plays alto and tenor, assembled this two-drummer quartet (Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly), with bass (Ingebrigt Håker Flaten), in 2006, and returns with their ninth album. I hit the second disc first, and thought it was nicely balanced, as cogent or more as anything they've done. The first was more typically aggressive, although it settled down after a nice bass solo. Next piece added Jean-Luc Cappozzo on flugelhorn. A- [cd]

Marc Ribot/Ceramic Dog: Connection (2023, Knockwurst): Jazz guitarist, although this group, with Shahzad Ismaily (bass) and Ches Smith (drums), dating back to 2008, is more rock-oriented (or maybe "post-rock"), with vocals. Also some fairly major guest spots, including James Brandon Lewis (sax) on two tracks, Anthony Coleman (farfisa) on three, and Oscar Noriega (clarinet) on one. Includes a noise blast I could do without, and ends on an instrumental romp I'd' like to hear more like. B+(**) [sp]

Ernesto Rodrigues/Florian Stoffner/Bruno Parrinha/João Madeira: Altered Egos (2023, Creative Sources): Portuguese group: viola/crackle box; electric guitar; clarinet/alto sax; double bass. B+(***) [cd]

Ernesto Rodrigues/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Flak/João Madeira/José Oliveira: The Giving Tree Moving On (2023, Creative Sources): Viola/crackle box, cello, electric guitar, double bass, percussion. An extended piece in eight parts. B+(**) [cd]

The Rodriguez Brothers: Reunited: Live at Dizzy's Club (2023, RodBros Music): "Reunited" seems to be a reference back to an album Michael (trumpet, Mike here) and Robert Rodriguez (piano) did for Savant in 2006, which is the only thing I can find by them. Not sure whether bassist Ricardo Rodriguez (Ricky here) is related, but he returns, along with new players on drums and percussion. B+(*) [cd]

Rome Streetz: Wasn't Built in a Day (2023, De Rap Winkel): Rapper Jerome Allen, busy since 2018, produced by Big Ghost LTD, who sometimes gets a co-credit here. B+(*) [sp]

Brandon Ross: Of Sight and Sound (2019 [2023], Sunnyside): Guitarist, short list of records since 2004, played in Harriet Tubman and other groups. Music here -- with Kevin Ross (bass guitar), Chris Eddleton (drums), and Hardedge (sound design) -- was presented to accompany paintings by Ford Crull. B+(*) [sp]

Arman Sangalang: Quartet (2022-23 [2023], Calligram): Tenor saxophonist, from Chicago, studied at Indiana and Northern Illinois, first album, with David Miller (guitar), Matt Ulery (bass), and Devin Drobka (drums). B+(**) [cd] [08-04]

Mehmet Ali Sanlikol & Whatsnext?: Turkish Hipster (2023, Dunya): Turkish composer, born in Istanbul of parents from Cyprus, studied at Berklee and remains in Boston. Fourth album, his group named after his 2013 debut. Title is apt enough, but the widely scattered styles, ranging from trad to hip-hop to symphonic (I'll have to take his word for "psychedelic") cancel each other out. B [cd]

Bill Scorzari: The Crosswinds of Kansas (2022, self-released): New York-based singer-songwriter, fourth album since 2014, before which he was some kind of hot shot attorney. Thirteen songs, stretched out to 71 minutes, has a long list of supporting musicians with a few tracks each, suggesting this was recorded over multiple sessions, perhaps going back to 2012. Christgau suggests reading along with the lyric sheet, but he has one, and would do that. Still mostly guitar and words, the latter almost talky. Seems like the surest way to a high grade around here is to remind me of John Prine, which happens when his usual Dylan gets off on a story. A- [sp]

Marina Sena: Vicio Inerente (2023, Sony Music Brasil): Brazilian singer-songwriter, second album. B+(***) [sp]

Sexyy Red: Hood Hottest Princess (2023, Heavy on It): Rapper Janae Wherry, from St. Louis, second mixtape. No doubt she puts out, but B+(*) [sp]

Lisa Marie Simmons/Marco Cremaschini: NoteSpeak 12 (2023, Ropeadope): Poet, born in Colorado, "survived several troubled adoptions and foster homes," sang in church choir, moved to New York, wound up in Italy, with keyboardist Cremaschini providing music for her words. Has a previous NoteSpeak album from 2020. This one is supposedly captivated by the number 12 (as in the 12-tone scale). The music is full-bodied without drawing attention away from the words, and the speaker can sing as easily as speak, but holds your interest either way. A- [sp]

Isach Skeidsvoll: Dance to Summon (2021 [2023], Ultraääni): Norwegian pianist, has several albums, the one I've heard is a duo with his brother Lauritz, who plays soprano sax here. Also with Espen Songstad (tenor sax), Aksel Øvreas Reed (baritone sax), Peder Skeidsvoll (pocket trumpet), bass, and drums, with everyone also credited with percussion, some with voice. They make a very impressive noise, but I'm not quite up to it all. B+(***) [sp]

Skrillex: Quest for Fire (2023, OWSLA/Atlantic): Electronica producer Sonny Moore, debut was a 2009 EP, and that's been his main vehicle, with only one studio album (2014) before two this year. B+(*) [sp]

Skrillex: Don't Get Too Close (2023, OWSLA/Atlantic): Third album, released a day after his second. Tools are the same, but this seems more substantial as song -- not that I'm quick enough to be sure of what they're worth. B+(**) [sp]

Sam Smith: Gloria (2023, Capitol): British singer, first album (2014) was a big hit, others have followed suit, even this fourth one, after he (ok, they) went non-binary. Has a rich, but limited, soul crooner voice, increasingly turned into a choir here. B [sp]

Emilio Solla/Antonio Lizana: El Siempre Mar (2023, Tiger Turn): Pianist, from Argentina, based in New York, started with the band Apertura (1983-89), most of his albums are steeped in tango. Joined here by the Spanish flamenco-rooted saxophonist, who also sings, with smaller front cover print for Jorge Roeder (bass) and Ferenc Nemeth (drums). B+(*) [cd]

Sonar With David Torn and J. Peter Schwalm: Three Movements (2022 [2023], 7d): Swiss quartet, with two guitarists (Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner), bass (Christian Kunther), and drums (Manuel Pasquinelli) -- tenth album since 2012, sometimes considered math rock (due to the intricate rhythms, or maybe because leader Thelen is a mathematician), but complex enough for jazz with no real hint of fusion. Joined here by guitarist Torn, who's appeared on several of their albums, and Schwalm (electronics). B+(**) [sp]

Tyshawn Sorey Trio: Continuing (2022 [2023], Pi): Drummer-led piano trio, with Aaron Diehl (piano) and Matt Brewer (bass). Four covers, none I immediately recognized as standards -- ok, I should have noted "Angel Eyes," but the others are composed by Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Harold Mabern -- ranging from 10:25 to 15:43. Sounds more together than your average piano trio, but I can't really tell you why. A- [cd]

Joanna Sternberg: I've Got Me (2023, Fat Possum): Singer-songwriter, visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, based in New York, second album. Holds your attention with just guitar or piano and voice. A- [sp]

Sundy Best: Feel Good Country (2023, self-released): Country duo, Kristofer Bentley and Nicholas Jamerson, from Kentucky, five albums 2012-16, split up in 2018, announced a reunion in 2020, which finally led to this. B+(*) [sp]

Dudu Tassa/Jonny Greenwood: Jarak Qaribak (2023, World Circuit): Israeli (Mizrahi) musician, leads the group Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis, which play songs based on Iraqi classics, including songs by Tassa's grandfather and great-uncle Daoud and Salih Al-Kuwaity. The group opened for Radiohead in 2017, leading to this collaboration. Sounds Arabic to my ears. B+(*) [sp]

Felo Le Tee/Mellow & Sleazy: The III Wise Men (2023, New Money Gang): South African amapiano trio, affiliated somehow with DJ Maphorisa (Themba Sonnyboy Sekowe), although the producer names that appear here areTshelofelo Mokhine, Phemelo Sefanyetse, and Olebogeng Kwanaite (plus Mlotlasi Phoshoko on one track). Beats are inscrutable enough they take quite a while to settle in, and will be hard to distinguish from future efforts. But pretty good for now. A- [sp]

Tiny Ruins: Ceremony (2023, Ba Da Bing): New Zealand singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook started this as an alias in 2011, grew it into a band. Fourth album, rather nice. B+(*) [sp]

Josie Toney: Extra (2023, Like You Mean It): Country singer-songwriter, plays violin, notably for Sierra Ferrell, first album. B+(**) [sp]

Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway: City of Gold (2023, Nonesuch): Bluegrass singer-songwriter, plays banjo and guitar, from California, fourth album after a 2017 EP. B+(***) [sp]

Paul Tynan & Aaron Lington: Bicoastal Collective: Chapter Six (2022 [2023], OA2): Trumpet/flugelhorn and baritone sax, respectively, backed by electric bass (Trifon Dimitrov) and drums (Joe Abba). B [cd]

Pictoria Vark: The Parts I Dread (2022, Get Better): Singer-songwriter, bassist from Iowa City, actual name Victoria Park, has a previous double-EP called Self-Titled (2018). Rob Sheffield is enough of a fan that he brought this to a "Pazz and Jop" podcast with Robert Christgau, who hasn't weighed in yet. I don't have much to say, either. B+(*) [sp]

Liba Villavecchia Trio: Birchwood (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Alto saxophonist from Barcelona, Discogs lists two items 1999-2002 but kicked off from 2020 on. Second Trio album with Alex Reviriego (bass) and Vasco Trilla (drums). Sounds great at first, then pretty good as the riffs roll on. B+(***) [sp]

Colter Wall: Little Songs (2023, Black Hole/La Ronda): Canadian country singer-songwriter, more western than most. Fourth album, songs advertised as "little" but carefully nuanced. B+(***) [sp]

The War and Treaty: Lover's Game (2023, Mercury Nashville): Michigan duo, Michael and Tanya Trotter, fourth album, first with a major label, which is pushing them as Americana, but their roots are in blues and gospel. B+(**) [sp]

Sam Weinberg Trio With Chris Lightcap & Tom Rainey: Implicatures (2022 [2023], Astral Spirits): Tenor saxophonist, has appeared on a number of albums since 2016, not someone I've recognized so far, but his bassist and drummer are prominent enough they got their names on the cover. They help a lot, but Weinberg himself gives a clinic on what free jazz sax needs to sound like to keep your attention throughout. A- [bc]

WiFiGawd & Soudiere: 36 Chambers of Pressure Vol. 2 (2023, Purple Posse, EP): DC rapper, has a lot of work out since 2016, as does French DJ Soudiere, their first volume (9 songs, 23:47) out in October 2022. This one offers 9 more songs (22:03). Tight in the groove, or buried in the mix. B [sp]

Wild Up: Julius Eastman Vol 3: If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? (2023, New Amsterdam): Large Los Angeles group, conducted by Christopher Rountree, their third foray into the composer's work. B+(***) [sp]

Jess Williamson: Time Ain't Accidental (2023, Mexican Summer): Alt-country singer-songwriter, from Austin but based in Los Angeles, four previous albums, but is probably best known for her duo project Plains, with Katie Crutchfield. B+(***) [sp]

YMA & Jadsa: Zelena (2023, self-released, EP): Brazilian artists, very little info I can find on either (Jadsa's surname is Castro, and comes from Salvador). Six songs, 18:38. B+(*) [sp]

Young Thug: Business Is Business (2023, Atlantic): Atlanta rapper Jeffrey Williams, third studio album after a lot of mixtapes. [PS: Also available is (Metro's Version), where Metro Boomin' produced more tracks, but still not all of them.] B+(**) [sp]

Adrian Younge: Jazz Is Dead 18: Tony Allen (2018 [2023], Jazz Is Dead): Bandcamp page credits, Allen, Younge, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, but cover omits Muhammad, and 18 releases in I see no need to mess with the what's become canonical order. Nigerian drummer Allen is unusual in two respects: he's relatively famous, and he's dead (in 2020, at 78), so for once we get a date on the sessions. He also gives you more than the usual beat, along with organ vamps and section horns. On the other hand, the title has never been more à propos. Eight songs, 27:58. B+(*) [sp]

Denny Zeitlin: Crazy Rhythm: Exploring George Gershwin (2018 [2023], Sunnyside): Pianist, has recorded extensively since 1963. Solo here, a bit of percussion, on eleven Gershwin compositions (no title tune, but "Fascinating Rhythm" appears). B [sp]

Nicole Zuraitis: How Love Begins (2022 [2023], Outside In Music): Jazz singer-songwriter, plays piano, at least four previous albums, starting in 2008. This is divided into "oil" and "water" sides. Co-produced by bassist Christian McBride, with Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Maya Kronfeld (organ/keyboards), and Dan Pugach (drums), plus guests. B+(*) [cd]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Brew: Heat/Between Reflections (1998-2019 [2023], Clean Feed, 2CD): Trio of Miya Masaoka (koto), Reggie Workman (bass), and Gerry Hemingway (drums). Masaoka was born in Washington DC, lived in Paris, studied in San Francisco, is based in New York, is a master of many traditional Japanese instruments, has appeared on 50+ albums, mostly with free jazz figures. First disc, with two 1998-99 sessions, is deeply compelling. The latter disc is a recent session, considerably lighter. A- [cd]

John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy: Evenings at the Village Gate (1961 [2023], Impulse!): Recently discovered at the New York Public Library, "eighty minutes of never-before-heard music," and who isn't psyched to listen to more vintage Coltrane, especially his 1961 group with Dolphy? After all, the same group (give or take a bassist) recorded Live at the Village Vanguard in November, a career highlight which loses nothing even in its 4-CD Complete version. This goes back to August, and while the group isn't quite as together, the sound isn't nearly as great either. Granted, by the time they get into "Greensleeves" they've hit great, but you've heard that how many times before? B+(***) [sp]

Joel Futterman: Inneraction (1984 [2023], Mahakala Music): Avant-jazz pianist, originally from Chicago, debut 1979, has co-led important groups with Kidd Jordan, Hal Russell, and Ike Levin. This reissues his third album, with Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), Richard Davis (bass), and Robert Adkins (drums), with Nat Hentoff's original liner notes. B+(***) [bc]

L'Orchestre National Mauritanien: Ahl Nana (1971 [2023], Radio Martiko): Music from the northwest Sahara, recorded in Casablanca, Discogs and Bandcamp have group name and album title swapped, probably the label's mixup, but across multiple editions this way makes the most sense. I can't say much either for its "revolutionary" nature (unlikely) or its supposed influence on later "desert rock" (probably not directly, but similar bands of this vintage undoubtedly existed). Still, it is rather unique, as befits a discovery from a relatively unknown corner of Africa. B+(***) [sp]

Madonna: Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones (1982-2019 [2022], Warner, 3CD): I can only imagine what it was to grow up with Madonna, but I got a glimpse when walking in New York, when the young daughter of a friend saw an iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe in a store window, and exclaimed. But from the few times I got stuck listening to radio in the 1980s, I got the sense that she produced most of the decade's memorable pop music (seems I only got Prince via albums). Her albums were rarely as great as the singles, but 1990's The Immaculate Collection was just that. That ended with "Vogue," which is track 11 on the first disc here. She never got better than that, but I count nine A/A- albums since, vs. four before, so she's entitled to a career-spanning compilation. This has a couple of dubious covers from back when she was toying with becoming a crossover star, but then she settled back into her dance groove, and hired the best beats she could afford, for a final disc that is serviceable but rather short of immaculate. B+(***) [sp]

Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: 60 Years (1961-2019 [2023], The Village): Six previously unreleased pieces (83:35) from Los Angeles pianist Horace Tapscott's community organizing project, dates not missing (at least from what I've found, which alludes to the group's founding in 1961, and continuation twenty years after Tapscott's death in 1999. I think of this as social music from the brief period when the avant-garde sought a deeper audience in black power, but in retrospect the vocals didn't always help. B+(***) [bc]

Piconema: East African Hits on the Colombian Coast (1978-84 [2023], Rocafort): Various artists compilation, no idea when these nine tracks were recorded, or indeed whether the artists hail from Palenque in Colombia or from Kenya, the home of Benga with its sweet guitar and incessant rhythm. [PS: All groups appear to be from Kenya or Tanzania, active in 1978-84, plus or minus a couple years, with all songs available as singles or in some cases on albums, although Discogs provides few dates. But the compilers first heard these songs on Colombian sound systems.] A- [bc]

Arthur Russell: Picture of Bunny Rabbit (1985-86 [2023], Audika): From Iowa (1951-92), moved to New York in 1973, studied electronic music, became music director of the Kitchen (a famous avant-garde spot), played cello, later moved into dance music, releasing an album as Dinosaur L. His legend has grown since his premature (AIDS) death, especially with the 2004 release of The World of Arthur Russell. This new discovery is a sketchy minimalist piece of solo voice, cello, keyboards, guitar, harmonica, and echoes. B+(**) [sp]

Nina Simone: You've Got to Learn (1966 [2023], Verve): Piano-playing jazz singer-songwriter, with a previously unreleased seven track, 32:56 live set from Newport Jazz Festival. Backed by guitar (Rudy Stevenson), bass ( Lisle Atkinson), and drums (Bobby Hamilton). B+(*) [sp]

Luther Thomas: 11th Street Fire Suite (1978 [2023], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Alto saxophonist (1950-2009), from St. Louis, was involved in the Black Artists Group, Human Arts Ensemble, and Saint Louis Creative Ensemble, with just a handful of albums under his own name. Mostly solo -- Luther C. Petty gets a flute credit -- including voice and "little instruments." Starts out of tune, and never really gets on track. C+ [bc]

Old Music

Johnny Adams: There's Always One More Time (1983-97 [2000], Rounder): Rhythm and blues singer (1932-98), from New Orleans, ranged into gospel and jazz, had some minor hits in the 1960s, signed with folk-oriented Rounder in 1983, which is where this -- an entry in the label's "Rounder Heritage" series of compilations -- picks up. B+(**) [sp]

Aila Trio: Aila Trio (2018, Hoo-Ha): Trio led by Swedish bassist-composer Georgia Wartel Collins, with Karl Hjalmar Nyberg (tenor sax/clarinet) and Andreas Skår Winther (drums). Nice sax tone. Nice bass solos, too. B+(**) [sp]

Count Basie/Tony Bennett: Basie/Bennett: Count Basie and His Orchestra Swings/Tony Bennett Sings (1958 [1959], Roulette): Basie's "New Testament" band got very busy during this period, not just cranking out their own bombastic swing albums but appearing with others who wanted to sing or play along. Bennett recorded several albums with them, and the uplift helps on the fast ones, which makes me wonder why the singer decided to slow it down. B+(*) [r]

Tony Bennett: Cloud 7 (1954 [1955], Columbia): The late singer's first LP -- preceded by the 10-inch Because of You in 1952 -- offering ten standards, 33:05, with small jazz combos: two tracks with Al Cohn (tenor sax) and Gene DiNovi (piano), others with Dave Schildkraut (alto sax), Charles Panely (trumpet), and Chuck Wayne (guitar), among others. Good voice and nice band(s), but doesn't sound major. B+(*) [sp]

Tony Bennett: The Beat of My Heart (1957 [1996], Columbia/Legacy): One of the early albums treated to an expanded CD reissue, with six songs added (but one dropped). Mitch Miller remained the producer at Columbia, but British pianist Ralph Sharon, who would serve as Bennett's music director at least through 2001 (he died at 91 in 2015), took over the arranging, and was presumably responsible for the scattershot lineup of jazz notables, including six drummers (ranging from Art Blakey to Jo Jones to Candido), three each flutes and trombones, Nat Adderley on trumpet, and Al Cohn on tenor sax. One of his jazziest records, both by song selection and arrangement, but also a rather weird one. B+(**) [sp]

Christer Bothén 3: Omen (2019 [2021], Bocian): Swedish bass/contrabass clarinetist, albums as far back as 1982, spent time in Mali learning donso n'goni (which he was introduced to by Don Cherry), also in Morocco. Trio with Vilhelm Bromander (bass) and Konrad Agnas (drums). B+(***) [bc]

Bashful Brother Oswald: Dobro's Best (1976 [2008], Gusto): Beecher Ray Kirby (1911-2002), from Tennessee, played Dobro resonator guitar, notably in Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. He recorded four albums for Rounder, as well as isolated albums for a few other labels. Most (11 of 12) of these songs appeared on his 1976 album for Gusto, 14 Songs, which is the only one on Spotify. B+(*) [sp]

Tony Fruscella: Tony's Blues: The Unique Tony Fruscella (1948-55 [1992], Cool & Blue): Trumpet player (1927-69), from New York, recorded an eponymous album for Atlantic in 1955, another session that wasn't released at the time, and a few live sets, like this one: one 1955 track with Hank Jones, eight short tracks from 1948 (23:00) with Chick Maures (alto sax) and Bill Triglia (piano), and three long tracks (39:23) from 1955 with Phil Woods (alto sax) and Triglia. Fruscella has a reputation as a forgotten hero. He makes a fine showing here -- as does Woods -- but this doesn't feel all that unique. B+(**) [sp]

High Pulp: Pursuit of Ends (2022, Anti-): Jazz collective, came together in Seattle, self-released an album in 2018, then sold this one to a rock label. Simplifying the credits a bit: Bobby Granfelt (drums), Rob Homan (keyboards), Antoine Martel (guitars), Andrew Morrill (alto sax), Victory Nguyen (tenor/soprano sax, flute, trumpet), and Scott Rixon (bass & guitar), with a couple guests (Theo Croker, Jacob Mann, Jaleel Shaw, Brandee Younger) featured on one track each, and a few spare parts. B+(*) [sp]

Izumi Kimura: Asymmetry: Piano Music From Japan and Ireland (2009 [2010], Diatribe): Japanese pianist, born in Yokohama but based in Ireland. First album. Label ran a "Solo Series" with four releases each in 2010 and 2014, with no one else I've heard of. Composed pieces, alternating as advertised, still not easy to dive in randomly and discern which is which, but I'm hardly one to know. B+(**) [sp]

Izumi Kimura/Cora Venus Lunny: Invisible Resistances (2022, Farpoint): Lunny is an Irish violinist, daughter of a noted Irish folk musician, has a few albums since 2011. Duet with pianist Kimura. B+(*) [sp]

Roots of Rock (1927-37 [1979], Yazoo): Actually just a country blues sampler, from a label which did yeoman work rescuing classic recordings, cleaning up the sound, organizing them into LPs, and later reissuing them on CD without trying to cram more into them (this one came out in 1991). These songs run early -- only Blind Blake came later than 1931. The title/cover concept is ridiculous: rock mostly came out of later jump blues, thematically shifted for the emerging teen market. But many (all?) of these songs got revisited in the 1960s, and recognizing their sources opened a few eyes. B+(***) [sp]

Shuckin' Stuff: Rare Blues From Ace Records (MS) (1955-81 [2002], Westside, 2CD): A r&b label run by Johnny Vincent in Jackson, Mississippi, from 1955-62, with a revival in 1971 (a few of these tracks are dated 1977-81, and more are listed as previously unreleased), before it was sold to Demon Music Group in the UK. A couple songs, including the title track, I know from elsewhere -- The Best of Ace Records, Vol. 2: The R&B Hits is one I play a lot -- but most cuts are fairly generic blues, and I like them just fine. B+(***) [sp]

Co Streiff-Russ Johnson Quartet: In Circles (2011, Intakt): Dutch saxophonist (alto/soprano), wrote four pieces to the three by the American trumpet player, the Quartet rounded out with Christian Weber (bass) and Julian Sartorius (drums). B+(*) [r]

The Ultimate College Party: 50s & 60s Party Anthems (1953-62 [2014], Jasmine, 2CD): London-based, Czech-manufactured reissue label, in business since 1982, cherry-picking through the past unencumbered by America's ridiculously extended copyright regulations. Clifford Ocheltree often showcases their wares in his daily featured recordings. He reckons this one has "48 A+ songs, 7 A and 4 more A-." That's a bit high, but it looked too good not to order (and that's something I almost never do these days). Half are hits I have in other often-played anthologies and never tire of, and the other half are items I remember from my misspent youth (except maybe for "To the Aisle," a real find). I sampled the dates, so I might be off a bit, but not by much: the few 1960s cuts are early, even "Surfin' Safari." Ignore the concept: the pivotal age here is 16, even when "Tequila" is served. Also, the print is damn near impossible to read. But those hardly qualify as quibbles. A [cd]

Limited Sampling

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

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:

Elle King: Come Get Your Wife (2023, RCA): Singer-songwriter from from Los Angeles or New York, daughter of comedian Rob Schneider, took her mother's name, started as an actress in 1999, recorded an EP in 2012, followed by an album in 2015, with this her third, and most country, right down to the trailer cliché, which she treats as a badge of honor. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 40636 [40476] rated (+160), 14 [0] unrated (+5).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

July 3, 2023

Music: Current count 40512 [40476] rated (+36), 14 [9] unrated (+5).

Weekly rated count continues to drop, as I've been starting off most days with something classic from the cases, before trying to find something new to check out. This has taken some scratching, but I wound up with four A- records, all (I think) initially suggested by members of the Expert Witness Facebook group, many of whom have spawned Substack newsletters. (It could be that I found LaVette on my own, but her records has been much admired by group members in the last few days.) I should construct a list, or at least add them to my "Music" navigation menu, but don't feel up to it today. For a while, I toyed with the idea of setting up my own Substack, but it still doesn't feel right, and the more people who do it, the less inclined I feel.

I thought of doing Madonna after news she was hospitalized. After a strong ending, I could have gone with an A-, but I noticed on Wikipedia that my grade for the previous one-CD sampler was B+(***), and finally decided that works here as well. Why make them extra work? It shouldn't be hard to compile an A- compilation of her post-1990 work, given that half of the albums are already there. Note that the Pet Shop Boys have a similar compilation, but I haven't been able to stream it yet.

Also not getting done today is the indexing I put off for last month's Streamnotes. Maybe next week. Other projects are falling by the wayside. The one that bothers me most is that the Sony CD changer upstairs is broken, so I haven't had any bedtime music for several weeks now. Seems like it's probably just a broken belt, but I haven't even managed to take it apart to see -- at least beyond removing the top, which allowed me to rescue the CD.

July 10, 2023

Music: Current count 40543 [40512] rated (+31), 17 [14] unrated (+3).

Picks last week were non-jazz, but this week they're all jazz -- the band behind Aja Monet is practically all-star, while the others are more avant. Gerry Hemingway wrote a while back and asked if I'd be interested in him sending me something. I said sure, not expecting side credits, but they made my week. His own songs-with-vocals album Afterlife was perhaps the biggest, most pleasant surprise of 2022.

Spent most of today catching up with the indexing on June's Streamnotes, which entails the annual list and the artist index. Beware that the latter is 21,814 records long.

July 17, 2023

Music: Current count 40575 [40543] rated (+32), 17 [17] unrated (-0).

I wrote a fairly long comment reply to one of Allen Lowe's Facebook screeds. I thought maybe I would expand it here, but don't feel up to it at the moment. A slightly better formatted version is in my notebook under "Daily Log." One point I do want to take exception to is Lowe's claim: "THERE IS NO LONGER ANY EXCUSE for critic/voters to be unaware of anyone, to just pull the lever for the same person year after year" (for which he then gives a fictional example). But there is a big excuse, which is the finite amount of listening time in each day, far short of what's available let alone of the still vast amount that isn't available (at least free, and who knows how much there is that isn't even that?).

Lowe's had a bug up his ass about jazz polls recently. I've been pretty explicit about the limits and biases built into even the best critics polls -- I also talk a bit about this in my JJA Podcast -- but please, we're doing the best we can, with limited hours and lots of other pressures (not least of which is money). (And let me add that the better I get to know my fellow critics, the more impressed I am with how much they know, and how hard they work to share their knowledge and understanding.)

Jazz polls will never give you a perfect accounting of genius (or whatever they're imagined to be measuring). What they do offer is a chance to learn something you don't already know. And that's a good thing, because the odds that you know it all are nil. As an example, at least 25% of the records that get votes in the Francis Davis Jazz Poll every year were previously unknown to me.

Also, for future reference, Phil Overeem reposted another Allen Lowe piece in response to Robert Christgau's A- review of Lowe's America: The Rough Cut. I think what he's trying to say is that roots are dirty, which is practically the definition everywhere but music.

Aside from Hwang, which I got in the mail, and who is one of those guys I've voted for "year after year" (at least since Billy Bang died), all of my picks below are someone else's recommendation. Most of the misses, too. That's just how it always works.

July 24, 2023

Music: Current count 40606 [40575] rated (+31), 10 [17] unrated (-7).

I don't have much to add about this week's record reviews, except that it's gotten hard for me to think of things I really want to listen to next. Not only am I playing more non-work CDs when I get up, I'm finding myself stuck in extended patches of silence (or tinnitus). Very little in my demo queue has been released, and I inadvertently jumped the gun on a couple items.

In the Old Music section, Allen Lowe has been rhapsodizing about Tony Fruscella. I previously gave his 1955 eponymous album -- the only one released under his name in his brief lifetime (1927-69) -- a B+(***), which on replay seems about right. I only found two more albums, and didn't bother with the one I couldn't date. Jazz Factory has boxes of everything, but I haven't heard them.

As you probably know, Tony Bennett died last week, at 96. I liked his big hit when it came out, and I've always thought he was a good singer and a generally cool guy, but stuck in a niche that was neither jazz nor rock. So I thought I'd try a few of his early albums, focusing on things that seemed closer to jazz, but that didn't last long. (Another Lowe favorite, Dave Schildkraut, showed up in the Bennett credits, but I can't say as I noticed him in the music.) I considered a 1987 compilation called Jazz, but didn't have the time to track down where it all came from, so passed for now. My grade list for Bennett is here. Nothing A-listed, or even close, I'm sorry to say.

Looks like the heat has finally arrived here in Wichita, with 100F forecast every day through Friday. Still not the worst we've ever seen. I still have a long list of domestic projects, which have been frustrating me no end. Despite service calls, I'm still not receiving server email. I did get the server admin messages rerouted, so that's manageable. I have a new scanner to set up. Also a broken CD player: if I can't fix it (and thus far I haven't even managed to take it apart), I'll need to find service. I did manage to get the car oil changed (a typically bad experience with this dealer). I still need to line up a new doctor, as mine quit. Probably much more I'm blotting out of my increasingly feeble mind. At least July has one more Monday, so I don't have to face wrapping up the monthly archive yet. Got a couple packages in the mail today, to be unpacked next week.

July 31, 2023

Music: Current count 40636 [40606] rated (+30), 14 [14] unrated (-0).

Seemed unlikely I would hit 30 albums this week, as I've started every day with something old (Fats Waller today), and often found myself uncertain what to play next. The two A- records this week were recommended by Brad Luen and Chris Monsen, having largely exhausted Phil Overeem's July 2 list. Only things that nudged me up to 30 were writing an extra-long Speaking of Which and, when my initial count was 29, an EP recommended by Harbinger Entity.

The reviews will have to speak for themselves. What follows is mostly rant, meant mostly just to clear my head, so no real reason for you not to jump to to the review section. End of the month, so the July archive is final (link above), but I'll post this before I wrap up the indexing.


Sources noted as follows:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at
  • [r] available at (formerly Rhapsody)
  • [sp] available at