My Other Websites
Streamnotes: October 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 August 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (22600+ records).
Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: Afro Futuristic Dreams (2023, Strut): Saxophonist, originally Bruce Baker from Chicago, studied at Antioch under Cecil Taylor, discovered Africa and the cosmos, formed his original Pyramids there, reviving them around 2016 for four albums so far. A mix of cosmic Sun Ra and down home social music, a bit long on strings and vocals. B+(***) [sp]
Affinity Trio [Eric Jacobson/Pamela York/Clay Schaub]: Hindsight (2022 , Origin): Trumpet, piano, bass; all three write pieces, joined by covers from Cedar Walton (title piece), Charlie Parker (two), "Tin Tin Deo," and "The End of a Love Affair." B+(***) [cd]
Afro Peruvian New Trends Orchestra: Cosmic Synchronicities (2023, Blue Spiral): Large band (10 pieces), directed by composer Corina Bartra, first album, richly textured with engaging rhythm. B+(***) [cd]
Constantine Alexander: Firetet (2023, self-released): Trumpet/flugelhorn player, from Chicago, parents Greek, first album (at least first I can find), basically a hard bop quintet, in which the trumpet stands out. B+(**) [cd]
Farida Amadou/Jonas Cambien/Dave Rempis: On the Blink (2022 , Aerophonic): Chicago saxophonist Rempis recorded in the Netherlands, with the two Belgian musicians on bass and piano, both with electronics. (Cambien is currently based in Oslo.) The background is enticing, something Rempis shows great sensitivity to, not that he never breaks loose for a power solo. A- [cd]
Zoh Amba: O Life, O Light Vol. 2 (2021 , 577): Tenor saxophonist from Tennessee, plays some flute, burst onto the scene in 2022 with a half dozen albums of explosive free jazz, as if Albert Ayler had descended from the heavens and taken up improbable earthly form. The one I missed was the first part of this set, with William Parker on bass (and gralla) and Francisco Mela on drums. Two tracks, 39:25. I was reminded of this when I read a review bemoaning the drop from Vol. 1. I can't imagine how the previous album could have caused that remark. B+(***) [bc]
Emil Amos: Zone Black (2023, Drag City): Drummer, and then some, has produced 16 albums since 2000 as Holy Sons, plus two under his name, describes this as "mood music for drug trips spent dreaming up new soundtracks to take drugs to!" B+(*) [sp]
Florian Arbenz: Conversation #10: Inland (2023, Hammer): Swiss drummer, albums back to 2001, most of his work in the group VEIN until 2020, when he started his Conversation series, collaborating via email, initially in duos and trios, but with one of his largest groups here: Martial In-Albon (trumpet), Nils Wogram (trombone), Christy Doran (guitar), and Rafael Jerjen (bass), with Matthias Würsch (glass harmonica) on one track. B+(**) [sp]
Armand Hammer: We Buy Diabetic Test Strips (2023, Fat Possum): Hip-hop duo of Billy Woods and Elucid (Chaz Hall), sixth album. Hard, and I'm not sure why. (Gave this some extra plays, and it doesn't wear thin. If anything, it gets harder.) B+(***) [sp]
Dmitry Baevsky: Kid's Time (2022, Fresh Sound New Talent): Russian alto saxophonist, from Leningrad, moved to New York over 20 years ago, great-grandfather was a famous Yiddish ethnomusicologist, has always shown great poise and tone (I count three previous A- albums). Trio with bass (Clovis Nichols) and drums (Jason Brown), plus guest trumpet on three tracks (Stéphane Belmondo). Nine originals with a couple standards and one from Dexter Gordon. Makes it all look easy. B+(***) [sp]
Bark: Loud (2023, Dial Back Sound): Husband-wife duo, Tim Lee (bass iv guitar) and Susan Bauer Lee (drums), a subset of the Tim Lee 3, both write and sing, several albums, get some help here. B+(**) [bc]
Ron Blake: Mistaken Identity (2021 , 7ten33 Productions): Tenor/baritone saxophonist, had three albums 2003-08, this his first in 15 years. With Bobby Broom (guitar), bass (Nat Reeves or Reuben Rogers), and drums (Kobie Watkins). Mainstream sound, Broom really paves the way. B+(***) [sp]
Bowmanville: Bowmanville (2023, StonEagleMusic): Chicago group, cites their local blues legacy and Django Reinhardt's Hot Club de Paris as inspirations -- the latter with its guitar and violin swing (Mason Jilier and Ethan Adelsman), the former with a harmonica-playing blues shouter (Graham Nelson), plus two bassists and a drummer. Six originals (mostly Adelsman) and five covers: "Georgia," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Saint James Infirmary," "Caravan," and "La Vie En Rose." B+(**) [cd]
Geof Bradfield/Richard D Johnson/John Tate/Samuel Jewell: Our Heroes (2023, Afar Music): Saxophonist (tenor, soprano, bass clarinet), backed by piano, bass, drums. Mainstream, very nice. B+(***) [cd]
Kyle Bruckmann/Tim Daisy/Phillip Greenlief/Lisa Mezzacappa: Semaphore (2022 , Relay): Listing is alphabetical, but Bruckmann (oboe, english horn, electronics) composed three pieces to four by Daisy (drums), with the others -- members of San Francisco's Creative Music Continuum -- on tenor sax and bass. B+(**) [bc]
Sarah Mary Chadwick: Messages to God (2023, Kill Rock Stars): New Zealand born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, eighth album since 2012. Mostly declaiming sharp words over piano, although the music picks up a bit midway, probably attributable to producer Tony Espie. B+(***) [sp]
Chai: Chai (2023, Sub Pop): Japanese pop/rock band, fourth album since 2017, all four-letter words. Could be fun. B+(**) [sp]
Tyler Childers: Rustin' in the Rain (2023, Hickman Holler/RCA): Country singer-songwriter, sixth studio album -- a 2011 debut worth searching out, and fifth since his 2017 breakthrough (Purgatory, also recommended, as is 2019's Country Squire). Cuts this one short (7 songs, 28:01), leans on guests (including one, S.G. Goodman, who brought her own song), covers Kristofferson, the Bible too. B+(***) [sp]
Margo Cilker: Valley of Heart's Delight (2023, Fluff and Gravy): Country singer-songwriter from Oregon, second album after 2021's impressive debut, Pohorylle. B+(***) [sp]
Brent Cobb: Southern Star (2023, Ol' Buddy/Thirty Tigers): Country singer-songwriter, sixth studio album since 2006. Easy-going songs, comfort food. B+(**) [sp]
Jeff Coffin/Jordan Perlson/Viktor Krauss: Coffin/Perlson/Krauss (2023, Ear Up): Saxophonist (tenor, soprano, clarinet, bass flute), drums, and bass (brother of Alison Krauss), all three writing songs. Coffin, based in Nashville, has a dozen albums since 1997, and has had long-running gigs with Béla Fleck and Dave Matthews. I've been filing his records under pop jazz, but this one is solidly postbop, impressive even. B+(***) [cd]
Hollie Cook: Happy Hour in Dub (2023, Merge): British reggae singer, daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, four studio albums, including Happy Hour in 2022, this her second dub remix. B+(*) [sp]
Corook: Serious Person (Part 2) (2023, Atlantic, EP): Singer-songwriter Corinne Savage, apologies for misspelling their name in previous reviews (identity "queer and non-binary," per Wikipedia). Five songs, 14:20. Second sounds like the Moldy Peaches merged into a single person. First and fourth trace the growth of "a pretty cool person." A- [sp]
Caroline Davis' Alula: Captivity (2021 , Ropeadope): Alto saxophonist, "mobile since her birth in Singapore," debut 2011 but mostly since 2017, different group from that of her 2019 album Alula, the synths replaced with Val Jeanty's turntables/electronics, the new drummer Tyshawn Sorey, with Chris Tordini on bass, and a couple guest spots, and scattered spoken word samples. The rhythm is the star here, wildly unsettled, keeping everything else in the air. A- [cd]
DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ: Destiny (2023, Spells on the Telly): London-based electronica duo, anonymous but reportedly siblings, aliases DJ Sabrina (as in Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Salem, in business since 2017. Ninth album (per Discogs, plus a bunch of compilations and mixtapes), this one a monster: 41 songs, 236:00. Way too much. B+(*) [bc]
Paul Dunmall/Olie Brice: The Laughing Stone (2021 , Confront): Duo, saxophone (tenor, alto, clarinet, flute, tenor again) and bass. Nicely balanced. B+(***) [bc]
Espen Eriksen Trio With Andy Sheppard: As Good as It Gets (2023, Rune Grammofon): Norwegian pianist, albums since 2010, with bass (Lars Tormod Jenset) and drums (Andreas Bye) joined by the saxophonist (as with two previous records). B+(**) [sp]
Flying Pooka! [Dani Oore & Florian Hoefner]: The Ecstasy of Becoming (2021 , Alma): Saxophonist, plays soprano here and is credited with voice, has side credits back to 2005, with piano here, a German based in Canada. I'd like this better without the voice. B+(*) [cd]
The Front Bottoms: You Are Who You Hang Out With (2023, Fueled by Ramen): Hooky indie rock band from New Jersey, formed in 2007 by Brian Sella (guitar/vocals) and Mathew Uychich (drums) with various "touring members" coming and going. Eighth album. B+(*) [sp]
Arina Fujiwara: Neon (2023, self-released): Pianist, graduated from Manhattan School of Music, first album (or EP, as it's billed: six tracks, 29:26). With string quartet, vibes, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(*) [cd]
Charles Wesley Godwin: Family Ties (2023, self-released): Country singer-songwriter from West Virginia, third album, a long one (19 songs). B+(*) [sp]
Grrrl Gang: Spunky! (2023, Big Romantic): Punkish pop trio from Indonesia, the only female singer Angeeta Sentana, third album, sung in English. Short (10 songs, 24:53), or you could say snappy. B+(*) [sp]
Laurel Halo: Atlas (2023, Awe): Electronic musician, from Ann Arbor, moved to Los Angeles, more lately spending time in Berlin, London, and Paris -- where this fifth album was recorded, with guest sax, violin, cello, and vocals, but nothing to break with the ambiance. PopMatters called this "her most glacial music yet." B [sp]
Louis Hayes: Exactly Right! (2022 , Savant): Drummer, b. 1937, started 1957 with Horace Silver and Curtis Fuller, played with Cannonball Adderley 1959-65. Scattered albums from 1960, becoming more regular after 1989. Quintet here with Abraham Burton (tenor sax), David Hazeltine (piano), Steve Nelson (vibes), Dezron Douglas (bass). B+(**) [sp]
Heather Lynne Horton: Get Me to a Nunnery (2023, Pauper Sky): Singer-songwriter, third album, married to Michael McDermott (plays here, Americana singer-songwriter from Chicago, 23 albums since 1991 per Discogs, none that I've heard). Opens with a wall-of-sound piece I can't stand, before falling back into pained troubadour mode with weeping strings. B- [sp]
Loraine James: Gentle Confrontation (2023, Hyperdub): British electronics producer and vocalist, fifth album. Goes downtempo for "vignettes of memory and emotion," trip hop without the trip, or the hop. B+(*) [sp]
Jlin: Perspective (2023, Planet Mu, EP): Electronica producer Jerrilyn Patton. She's taught a course called "Rhythm, Variation, & Vulnerability." This doesn't feel like a text, but its six tracks (27:21) are exemplary. B+(***) [sp]
Darius Jones: Fluxkit Vancouver (Its Suite but Sacred) (2022 , We Jazz): Alto saxophonist, established his credentials as an Ayler heir in 2009, had a tendency to go overboard, but keeps that in control here, working with four Vancouver-based strings -- Jesse and Josh Zubot on violin, Peggy Lee on cello, James Meger on bass -- with Gerald Cleaver on drums. Preferred typography for the title is "fLuXkit," and they're doing something unreproducible to "its" -- just some of the many things I don't quite get here, but I can dig the long bass solo just fine, and even more so what comes out of it. A- [sp]
Sunny Kim/Vardan Ovsepian/Ben Monder: Liminal Silence (2023, Earshift Music): South Korean vocalist, debut 2004 (or 2012), appeared on a 2008 Roswell Rudd album which I wasn't wild about. Here backed with piano and guitar. Slow, arch, music has some points, but I find this sort of classical diva thing hard to take. C+ [cd] [11-10]
Frank Kohl: Pacific (2022 , OA2): Guitarist, Discogs has very little but a couple side-credits from 1969, and picture is not at odds with that. I have one previous album in my database. This is solo, not as fancy as the guitarists name-checked in the hype sheet, but really hit the spot on a cold and miserable Sunday morning. B+(***) [cd]
Sofia Kourtesis: Madres (2023, Ninja Tune): DJ/producer from Peru, based in Berlin, first album but active since 2014 (maybe 2001). B+(**) [sp]
Andrew Krasilnikov: Bloody Belly Comb Jelly (2023, Rainy Days): Saxophonist, plays soprano and C-melody here, probably Russian (studied at Berklee and lived in New York before a "return to his roots" moved him to Moscow. Possibly his first album, recorded in Moscow, on a label which recently moved from St. Petersburg to Israel. Quartet with piano-bass-drums, plus spots for extra horns (many on the title track) and marimba. B [cd]
Marie Krüttli: Transparence (2022 , Intakt): Swiss pianist, has trio and quintet albums, solo on this one. B+(*) [r]
Nils Kugelmann: Stormy Beauty (2022 , ACT): German bassist, first album, with piano (Luca Zambito) and drums (Sebastian Wolfgruber). B+(**) [sp]
Jeff Lederer With Mary LaRose: Schoenberg on the Beach (2023, Little (i) Music): Saxophonist, plays clarinet and flute here, composed this song cycle based on the twelve-tone music of Schoenberg and Webern, with texts by Goethe, Rilke, and others, sung by La Rose. In other words, this is way too fancy for me to figure out, and just annoying enough to keep me from wanting to try, but yeah, there's something here if you're up to it. B+(*) [cd]
Jeff Lederer/Morningside Tone Collective: Balls of Simplicity: Jeff Lederer Notated Works 1979-2021 (2023, Little (i) Music): "Chamber works" composed over the saxophonist's career. The group is: Leo Sussman (flute), Emmaile Tello (clarinet), Francesca Abusamra (violin), Jordan Bartow (cello), and Weiwei Zhai (piano), conducted by Lederer (although one piece calls for two clarinets), with Jamie Saft as guest pianist. B+(**) [sp]
Lewsberg: Out and About (2023, self-released): Dutch VU-influenced alt-rock group, from Rotterdam, fourth album since 2017, songs in English, bassist Shalita Dietrich the main (but not only) singer. B+(**) [sp]
Ivan Lins: My Heart Speaks (2023, Resonance): Brazilian singer-songwriter, b. 1945, fifty or so albums since 1970, I can't find a recording date (a bit troubling from a label that specializes in archival finds, but they're calling it a "follow up to Eddie Daniels' 2020 acclaimed Resonance tribute to Ivan Lins, Night Kisses," itself a "follow-up to Grammy-nominated Egberti Gismonti tribute!"). Featured guest spots here for Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, Tawanda, and Randy Brecker. Songs are Lins classics, played for ultimate lushness by the 91-piece Tblisi Symphony Orchestra. B+(**) [cd]
Fred Lonberg-Holm/Tim Daisy: Current 23 (2022 , Relay): Duo, cello/electronics and drums/percussion, both from the final edition of Vandermark 5, which takes them back 20 years. B+(**) [bc]
Lydia Loveless: Nothing's Gonna Stand in My Way Again (2023, Bloodshot): Singer-songwriter from Ohio, last name Ankrom, started in a family band called Carson Drew, her 2011 debut on alt-country label Bloodshot impressed me, nothing quite so much since then. B+(*) [sp]
Chien Chien Lu: Built in System: Live in New York (2023, Giant Step Arts): Vibraphonist, from Taiwan, has a previous (self-released) album, quartet here with Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Richie Goods (bass), and Allan Mednard (drums). Very nice. B+(***) [sp]
Martin Lutz Group: LoLife/HiLife (2023, Gateway, 2CD): Danish pianist, group plays what they call "afro nordic soul jazz." The "afro" comes from a childhood spent much in eastern and southern Africa, with the horns recycling riffs you'll recognize from township jive classics, although toned down and stretched out a bit. Organized as two discs, but total is just 41:53. B+(***) [sp]
Madre Vaca: Knights of the Round Table (2022 , Madre Vaca): Jazz collective, from Jacksonville, several previous albums, eleven credits this time, for an eclectic mix. B+(*) [cd] [11-21]
Astghik Martirosyan: Distance (2021 , Astghik Music): Armenian singer, plays piano (as does co-producer Vardan Ovsepian), first album, recorded in Los Angeles, refashions Armenian folk songs. B+(*) [cd]
Francisco Mela and Zoh Amba: Causa Y Efecto Vol. 1 (2021 , 577): Cuban drummer, moved to Boston in 2000 to study at Berklee, has a distinguished career in Afro-Cuban jazz, but lately has been appearing in small free jazz sets, like this one with the young tenor saxophonist (she also plays a bit of flute). B+(***) [dl]
Mendoza Hoff Revels: Echolocation (2023, AUM Fidelity): Noise guitarist Ava Mendoza and bassist Devin Hoff (probably best known for the Nels Cline Singers), with drummer Ches Smith and tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis -- the bigger name here, but taking a supplementary role, mostly buried in the mix, but worth listening for. I probably should like this more than I do, but she's never clicked for me. B+(***) [sp]
Vic Mensa: Victor (2023, Roc Nation): Chicago rapper Victor Kwesi Mensah, father from Ghana, officially his second studio album, has a bunch of EPs (one in 2010, rest from 2016). Much of this seems pretty sharp, but too many odd moments that flow sideways, if at all. B+(*) [sp]
Colette Michaan: Earth Rebirth (2022 , Creatrix Music): Flute player, from New York, four previous albums (back to 2004). Not an instrument I'm particularly fond of, but the bouncy Latin rhythms keep it in the air. B+(*) [cd]
MIKE/Wiki/The Alchemist: Faith Is a Rock (2023, ALC): New York rappers Michael Bonema and Patrick Morales, backed by producer Alan Maman. B+(*) [sp]
Billy Mohler: Ultraviolet (2023, Contagious Music): Bassist, known to play guitar elsewhere, has a fairly wide range of pop and rock side credits, but this is his third quartet album with Shane Endsley (trumpet), Chris Speed (tenor sax/clarinet), and Nate Wood (drums). Nine tracks, 32:24. B+(***) [cdr]
Money for Guns: All the Darkness That's in Your Head (2023, Money for Guns): Google search for group name yields one plausible link, and lots of: "cash for arms," "sell your guns," "how to sell a gun online," "guns into cash," "money quick guns." Drop the title in and you don't get much more, even from the band's own website. Didn't sound like much at first, then I detected a pub rock vibe, then jotted down a line ("all the Catholic girls love Paul Simon"), and it got more interesting from there out. [PS: While Discogs has nothing, Spotify has ten albums, going back to 2011, one credited to Frustrated Bachelors 2003-06. Discogs identifies them as a band from Columbia, MO, and names three members, two in Money for Guns -- Dave Birk, Will Saulsbery. I've since heard they are now based in St. Louis.] B+(**) [sp]
Azuka Moweta & Anioma Brothers Band: Nwanne Bu Ife (2022, Palenque): Igbo highlife band, from Nigeria, seems to be their first album. B+(***) [bc]
Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse/Jeff Siegel: Flight of Evangeline (2021 , Playscape): Guitarist, couple albums in the 1980s, picked up the pace after he founded Playscape in 2000. Trio with bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]
Wolfgang Muthspiel: Dance of the Elders (2022 , ECM): Austrian guitarist, younger brother of trombonist Christian Muthspiel, has a couple dozen albums since 1989, early records mapped out a fusion groove comparable to John Scofield (Black & Blue, from 1992, is a favorite), but has slowed down, especially since landing on ECM in 2014. This one is a nice trio with Scott Colley (bass) and Brian Blade (drums), playing five originals plus covers of Brecht/Weil and Joni Mitchell. B+(**) [sp]
Quinsin Nachoff: Stars and Constellations (2022 , Adyhâropa): Tenor saxophonist, based in New York, ten or so albums since 2006, this one reconvening his Ethereal Trio of Mark Helias (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), supplemented by string quartet: Bergamont Quartet, conducted by Matthew Holman, doubling up with a second string quartet, The Rhythm Method, on the middle piece. B+(***) [cd]
The National: Laugh Track (2023, 4AD): Indie band led by singer-songwriter Matt Berninger, with most of the music from brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, with two more brothers (Scott and Bryan Devendorf) on bass and drums. Tenth album, second this year. A very steady group I can't quite put my finger on. B+(***) [sp]
Angelika Niescier/Tomeka Reid/Savannah Harris: Beyond Dragons (2023, Intakt): Alto saxophonist, born in Poland, 16th album since 2000, recorded in Chicago with cello and drums. A constantly mutating free jazz extravaganza. A- [sp]
Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra: Family (2022 , We Jazz): Norwegian drummer, has played in a number of avant groups since 2002 (Cortex was particularly memorable), runs the trio Acoustic Unity and this unconventional 17-piece big band (7 saxophones, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 3 basses, 3 drumsets, everyone adds to the percussion), now on their second album. A- [sp]
Elsa Nilsson's Band of Pulses: Pulses (2023, Ears & Eyes): Flute player, from Sweden, based on Brooklyn, classical background, member of Esthesis Quartet. This project, backed by piano, bass, and drums, sports spoken word by poet Maya Angelou. B+(***) [cd]
No-No Boy: Empire Electric (2023, Smithsonian Folkways): Julian Saporiti, singer-songwriter from Nashville, parents Vietnamese, Ph.D in American Studies, based in Portland, alias taken from a 1957 novel about a Japanese-American going home to Seattle after two years in an internment camp. Previous albums 1942 and 1975, both remarkable. His music is subtle and nuanced -- even more so than the otherwise similar Sufjan Stevens -- so the stories are critical, and for now a bit beyond my grasp. B+(***) [sp]
Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy: O Yinne! (2023, Philophon): Frafra gospel group from northern Ghana, the leader flanked by a chorus of two women and backed by an old-fashioned highlife band, the gospel in another language, but the joy is universal. B+(***) [sp]
Oneohtrix Point Never: Again (2023, Warp): Daniel Lopatin, tenth studio album under this alias, other work under his own name (mostly for films) and other aliases. Synths, sometimes configured for strings, a peculiar mix of background dreck with moments that sound pretty interesting, but never really develop. B [sp]
Graham Parker & the Goldtops: Last Chance to Learn the Twist (2023, Big Stir): British pub rock breakout star in 1976, first two records were really great, but my interest waned after 1979's Squeezing Out Sparks (another good one), with a 2-CD comp on Rhino (1993) confirming he had lost it from 1980 on. But he never stopped, with only two breaks of more than three years (1996-2001, 2018-or-2019-2023). I rather doubt that I missed much, but he's in good voice and surprisingly light on his feet here. B+(**) [sp]
Jessica Pavone: Clamor (2023, Out of Your Head): Violinist, closely associated with Mary Halvorson and more broadly with the Braxton crowd, twenty-some albums since 2001, some I can't stand while others improbably impress. She plays viola here in a string sextet (two each violins and viola, Matana Roberts on cello, Shayna Dulberger on double bass, with Karen Young for bassoon solos on the middle two tracks. B+(***) [cd]
Ivo Perelman/Nate Wooley: Polarity 2 (2023, Burning Ambulance): Tenor sax and trumpet duo, following up on a 2021 album. B+(**) [bc]
Precarious Towers: Ten Stories (2023, Shifting Paradigm): Described as "a Midwestern all-star band," I recognize Sharel Cassity (alto sax/flute) and Johannes Wallman (piano), but they aren't exactly household names, and I'm not sure I've run across the others: Mitchell Shiner (vibes), John Christensen (bass), and Devin Drobka (drums). B+(***) [sp]
Ratboys: The Window (2023, Topshelf): Indie band from Chicago, fifth album since 2015, principally Julia Steiner (vocals/guitar) and Dave Sagan (guitar). B+(***) [sp]
Mike Reed: The Separatist Party (2023, We Jazz/Astral Spirits): Drummer, born in Germany but long based on Chicago, with a remarkable series of albums since 2006. Marvin Tate's spoken word is arresting, and the music -- Ben LaMar Gay (cornet), Rob Frye (tenor sax/flute), Coper Crain (guitar), Dan Quinlivan (synth) -- loops sinuously, sometimes gravely. A- [sp]
Chappell Roan: The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess (2023, Amusement/Island): Pop singer, songwriter (I guess), Kayleigh Amstutz, from a suburb of Springfield, MO, via Los Angeles. First album after a 2017 EP, produced by Dan Nigro (cf. Olivia Rodrigo). B+(**) [sp]
Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the Garden (2023, Constellation): Alto saxophonist, from Chicago, debut 2002 in the trio Sticks and Stones, started the Coin Coin series in 2011, with spoken word narratives exploring ancestral history, this one a "character study" of "an ancestor of Roberts who died from an illegal abortion." B+(**) [sp]
The Rolling Stones: Hackney Diamonds (2023, Polydor): British group, big in the 1960s, still big in the 1970s, even now they can still cut a fine blues riff, and the singer has lost little of his commanding presence. Still, they're so used to playing arenas that they've recreated that sound in the studio, perhaps because they don't trust the new songs to sell themselves. They don't. But sound is the bigger problem. What you get from them in the arena is spectacle -- plus rehashes of once-great songs. But with their arena-in-the-studio shtick, all you really get is loud. B
Jim Rotondi Quintet: Over Here (2023, Criss Cross): Mainstream trumpet player, originally from Montana, debut 1997, based in Austria these days, joined here by Americans Rick Margitza (tenor sax) and Danny Grissett (piano), plus bass and drums. B+(**) [r]
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Borrowed Flowers (2023, Top Stop Music): Cuban pianist, long based in Florida, thirty-some albums since 1987. Solo here, venerable standards (unless one wants to get snide about Lennon/McCartney and Sting), most done perhaps a bit too slow, but "Take Five" is irrepressible. B+(**) [cd]
Bobby Rush: All My Love for You (2023, Deep Rush/Thirty Tigers): Blues singer-songwriter Emmett Ellis Jr., born in Louisiana, made his way to Chicago in the 1950s, recorded some singles but only released his first album in 1978 -- a one-shot with Philadelphia International. Went back south to "put the funk into the blues," and has been grinding out records ever since, still sounding vital as 89. B+(***) [sp]
Allison Russell: The Returner (2023, Fantasy): Singer-songwriter from Montreal, absent father from Grenada, had a harrowing childhood, ran away to Vancouver at 15, joined a Celtic folk band, navigated through several other groups, including roots supergroup Our Native Daughters. Second solo album, no reason to file this under folk -- well, bits of banjo and French, but the hooks are pop, and the barbs pointed. Hits its stride with "Eve Was Black." A- [sp]
The Angelica Sanchez Nonet: Nighttime Creatures (2021 , Pyroclastic): Pianist, from Phoenix, more than a dozen albums since 2003, many with free jazz saxophonists like Tony Malaby, Ellery Eskelin, Paul Dunmall, Ivo Perelman. Large group here, with an interesting mix of unconventional reeds (Michaël Attias, Ben Goldberg, Chris Speed), brass (Thomas Heberer, Kenny Warren), guitar (Omar Tamez), bass (John Hébert), and drums (Sam Ospovat). B+(***) [cd]
Joe Santa Maria: Echo Deep (2023, Orenda): Alto saxophonist, plays four weights here plus flutes, clarinet, and keyboards; based in Los Angeles, several previous albums. Fusion riffs, with guitar, brass and strings. B- [cd] [11-03]
Sara Serpa & André Matos: Night Birds (2022 , Robalo Music): Jazz singer, from Portugal, or maybe I should say art singer, as she works in a slow idiom that's suggestive of but not quite as arch as classical. Many of her albums are duos with a solo instrument, like Ran Blake on piano, or Matos on guitar (her third duo with him). Certainly artful. B [cd]
Slayyyter: Starfucker (2023, Fader): Electropop singer-songwriter Catherine Garner, from Kirkwood (MO), based in Los Angeles, her debut a 2019 "mixtape," second album since. Some songs remind me of Madonna. Some videos remind me of that Sex book. B+(***) [sp]
Slow Pulp: Yard (2023, Anti-): Indie band from Madison, added singer Emily Massey and moved to Chicago, second album. B+(**) [sp]
Chris Speed Trio: Despite Obstacles (2022 , Intakt): Tenor sax/clarinet player, originally from Seattle, a dozen or so albums as leader, many side credits (especially Tim Berne, Jim Black, Claudia Quintet). Steady trio with Chris Tordini (bass) and Dave King (drums). B+(***) [sp]
Terell Stafford: Between Two Worlds (2023, Le Coq): Trumpet/flugelhorn player, from Miami, debut 1995, mainstream, nice sound, backed by Tim Warfield (tenor/soprano sax), Bruce Barth (piano), bass, drums, and percussion. B+(***) [sp]
Steep Canyon Rangers: Morning Shift (2023, Yep Roc): Bluegrass group from North Carolina, debut 2001, have backed banjo-picking comedian Steve Martin on three albums. B+(*) [sp]
Sufjan Stevens: Javellin (2023, Asthmatic Kitty): Singer-songwriter from Detroit, I was disappointed he never pushed his "50 states project" beyond Michigan and Illinois, but he's up to ten studio albums now (per Wikipedia; sometimes it's hard to tell what counts and what doesn't). Seems like he's getting more and more baroque. B+(*) [sp]
Veronica Swift: Veronica Swift (2023, Mack Avenue): Jazz singer, parents were pianist Hod O'Brien and singer Stephanie Nakasian, which gave her a leg up in recording her debut album at age nine. Third album since turning 21, an elaborate showcase for her talents and technique, starting with dazzling scat, swinging with some kind of big band, touching base with Brazil, sopping up strings and exotic guitar, throwing in an aria for all I can tell -- the label isn't very forthcoming on details -- then some rocked-out show tunes. I should be awed, but I'm not even dumbfounded. Just dumb. B- [sp]
That Mexican OT: Lonestar Luchador (2023, Manifest/Good Talk/Good Money Global): Texas rapper Virgil René Gazca, from Bay City (down the coast southwest of Houston), "OT" for "Outta Texas," first album after an EP and some singles. B+(**) [sp]
Tinashe: BB/ANG3L (2023, Nice Life, EP): R&B singer from Kentucky, last name Kachingwe, 2014 debut on RCA was a minor hit, left the label after declining sales of two more albums, third independent album (but at 7 songs, 20:45, we're calling it an EP). B+(*) [sp]
Gianluigi Trovesi: Stravaganze Consonanti (2014 , ECM): Italian saxophonist, debut 1978, plays alto and clarinet here, with a small orchestra (11 pieces: strings, two oboes, bassoon, archiute, harpsichord, percussion/electronics), on a mostly classical program (Purcell, Dufay, Desprez, three Italians I don't recall hearing of, Trovesi himself). B+(*) [sp]
True Stomach of a Bird [Ulf Mengersen/Lina Allemano/Kamil Korolczuk]: Computation Intensive Spontaneousness (2023, self-released): German bassist, with trumpet and electronics. B+(*) [sp]
Brad Turner Quintet: The Magnificent (2023, Cellar): Canadian pianist/trumpet player, at least one previous album plus several featured credits, with Cory Weeds (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar), bass, and drums, playing the leader's compositions. B+(*) [cd]
Dan Tyminski: God Fearing Heathen (2023, 8 Track Entertainment): Bluegrass singer-songwriter, plays guitar in Alison Krauss's band, did an album in 1985, had a bit part in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, has a couple more albums. Finishes strong with a song about Occam's Razor and an ode to Jimmy Martin. A- [sp]
Andrea Veneziani Quartet: The Lighthouse (2022 , self-released): Italian bassist, based in New York, second album, quartet with Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Charlie Sigler (guitar), and Allan Mednard (drums). A very good setting for Knuffke, the guitar a big help. A- [cdr]
Fay Victor: Blackcity Black Black Is Beautiful (2023, Northern Spy): Jazz singer-songwriter, from Brooklyn but she's been around, with childhood years in Zambia and Trinidad, started singing with a three-month gig in Japan with Bertha Hope, then several years in Amsterdam before returning to New York, earning a reputation as a successor to Betty Carter, both as a singer and as a bandleader. This one, however, is solo, an ambitious work built out of processed tracks with keyboards, and multi-layered voices. B+(**) [sp]
Pabllo Vittar: Noitada (2023, Sony Music): Brazilian drag queen Phabullo Rodrigues da Silva, reportedly the most popular one in the world. Fifth album, nine songs (plus a 0:39 "Intro"), clocks in short at 21:55. Dance pop, beats choppy like hip-hop but rather oblique, six co-credits. B+(**) [sp]
Pabllo Vittar: After (2023, Sony Music): Remix album, repeating nine titles from Noitada and adding one, most tracks significantly longer (total 36:51), with featured guests. B+(*) [sp]
Hĺvard Wiik/Tim Daisy: Slight Return (2023, Relay): Norwegian pianist, plays in Atomic, played in Ken Vandermark's Free Fall trio, their association bringing him into contact with the Chicago (ex-Vandermark 5) drummer. B+(***) [bc]
Simón Willson: Good Company (2022 , Fresh Sound New Talent): Bassist, from Chile, based in New York, first album, mostly quartet with piano (Isaac Wilson), drums (Jonas Esser), plus tenor sax (Jacob Schulman), adding a little extra oomph on 8 (of 10) tracks. B+(**) [cd]
Ben Winkelman: Heartbeat (2023, OA2): Pianist, originally from Oregon, sixth album since 2007, mostly trios, this one adding Gilad Hekselman on guitar (5 of 9 tracks), not much of a difference. B [cd]
John Wojciechowski: Swing of the Pendulum (2022 , Afar Music): Tenor saxophonist, originally from Detroit but long based in Chicago, has several albums since 2015. Strong tone, solid quartet, with Clark Sommers (bass) contributing three songs, plus Xavier Davis (piano) and Dana Hall (drums). B+(**) [cd]
Jamila Woods: Water Made Us (Jagjaguwar): Chicago poet-rapper turned singer-songwriter, third album. Throws you various looks, most promising. B+(***) [sp]
Peter Xifaras: Fusion (2023, Music With No Expiration): Guitarist, also plays keyboards, Discogs lists one previous album, from 2000, website offers another, which like this one credits the Czech Symphony Orchestra, among the more typical electronic beats and fills. B+(*) [cdr]
Miguel Zenón & Luis Perdomo: El Arte Del Bolero, Vol. 2 (2023, Miel Music): Alto sax and piano duo, from Puerto Rico and Venezuela, have played in Zenón's Quartet since 2002, with a previous volume of bolero duets in 2021. This is very pretty, only picking up the pace toward the end. B+(***) [sp]
Bailey Zimmerman: Religiously: The Album (2023, Warner Nashville/Elektra): Country singer-songwriter, from a small town in southern Illinois, first album after an EP and a couple singles, the title song here big enough to explain the subtitle distinction. Chock full of colloquial clichés, production pumped by producer Austin Shawn, who also claims a big chunk of writing co-credits. B+(**) [sp]
John Zorn: New Masada Quartet (2021, Tzadik): When I heard that Zorn's label Tzadik is returning to streaming streaming, I knew I had my work cut out -- they neve sent out promos, but were on Rhapsody for a while, so I tried to cover them extensively. I figured I'd start with the 2023 releases: Zorn has eight so far, which makes this an average year, but the first entry was this title with a Vol. 2, so I scanned back to catch this one. The original Masada quartet appeared in 1994, with Zorn (alto sax), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Greg Cohen (bass), and Joey Baron (drums). They did a series of albums named after the Hebrew alphabet, then many live albums. Moving on, the new quartet has Zorn, Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), and Kenny Wolleson (drums). Maybe it's just that I've been out of touch, but Zorn seems especially fired up here. A- [sp]
John Zorn: New Masada Quartet, Vol. 2 (2022 , Tzadik): More of the same. Guitarist Julian Lage seems a bit better integrated, but that may just mean they're playing more at his speed, rather than challenging him to keep up with the saxophonist, who can blow up at any moment (and isn't that what we live for?). B+(***) [sp]
John Zorn: The Fourth Way (2022 , Tzadik): Credited to the non-playing composer, but played by Brian Marsella (piano), Jorge Roeder (bass), and Ches Smith (drums) -- the little spine wrapper lists another 13 "Brian Marsella Plays John Zorn on Tzadik" albums. B+(***) [sp]
John Zorn: 444 (2022 , Tzadik): No horns, just composer, arranger, conductor here, keyboard-heavy with Brian Marsella on electric and John Medeski on organ, plus electric guitar (Matt Hollenberg) and drums (Kenny Grohowski). This can get too herky-jerky for fusion, but that's not necessarily a plus. It can also settle down into a mild ambiance, not much of a plus either. B [sp]
John Zorn: Multiplicities: A Repository of Non-Existent Objects (2022, Tzadik): Half of a book of new compositions, "inspired by the writings and thought of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze," "wildly imaginative and meticulously structured, filled with unexpected twists and turns jumping from rock, jazz, and classical, to funk, metal and more." Zorn calls this group Chaos Magick: John Medeski (organ), Brian Marsella (Fender Rhodes), Matt Hollenberg (guitar), and Kenny Grohowski (drums). B+(*) [sp]
John Zorn: Multiplicities II: A Repository of Non-Existent Objects (2023, Tzadik): Described as "the acoustic companion piece to Multiplicities Volume One, ten more compositions, with Brian Marsella switching to acoustic piano, Julian Lage (guitar), Jorge Roeder (bass), and Ches Smith (drums). B+(**) [sp]
John Zorn/Bill Laswell: Memoria (2023, Tzadik): Alto sax and bass duo, three live improvs, each dedicated to a recent late great: Pharoah Sanders, Milford Graves, Wayne Shorter. B+(*) [sp]
John Zorn: Quatrain (2023, Tzadik): Composed and arranged by Zorn, played by two guitarists, Julian Lage and Gyan Riley. B+(*) [sp]
John Zorn: Homenaje A Remedios Varo (2023, Tzadik): Tribute to the Spanish painter (1908-63), who fled Spain in 1937 to escape Franco, and France in 1941 to escape the Nazis, winding up in Mexico. Quartet Incerto again, waxing sublime. B+(***) [sp]
John Zorn: Full Fathom Five (2023, Tzadik): More Zorn compositions, played by his quartet Incerto (Julian Lage, Brian Marsella, Jorge Roeder, Ches Smith). Dubbed "modern chamber music." Marsella's touch on Zorn's piano works always impresses. B+(**) [sp]
John Zorn: Nothing Is as Real as Nothing (2023, Tzadik): More compositions and conducting, this time a guitar trio, with Bill Frisell joining Julian Lage and Gyan Riley. B+(**) [sp]
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Gabe Baltazar Quartet: Birdology (1992 , Fresh Sound): Alto saxophonist (1929-2022), from Hawaii, father born in Manila, got a scholarship to Los Angeles in 1946, and an introduction to bebop (meeting Charles Parker in 1948 in New York). After Army and some time back in Hawaii, he played in the Lighthouse All-Stars, and for Stan Kenton and Oliver Nelson. He returned to Hawaii in 1969, and only has a couple of recordings after that -- although give him a side-credit for Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii. This was recorded in Los Angeles with Frank Strazzeri (piano), Andy Simpkins (bass), and Nick Martinis (drums). Two originals (title comes from his own "Birdology 101"), one by the pianist, one from Russ Freeman, the rest songbook standards (highlight: "In the Still of the Night"). A- [bc]
Basie All Stars: Live at Fabrik Vol. 1: Hamburg 1981 (1981 , Jazzline): As with Ellington, Count Basie's big band spun off smaller groups, with or without the leader. Basie recorded a couple 1983 albums after he missed this set, but here Nate Pierce is the pianist, leading a stellar alumni nonet: Marshall Royal (alto sax), Buddy Tate (tenor sax), Billy Mitchell (synth), Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), Joe Newman (trumpet), Benny Powell (trombone), John Heard (bass), and Gus Johnson (drums). B+(**) [r]
Eddie Bert Sextet: The Human Factor (1987 , Fresh Sound): Trombonist (1922-2012), original name Bertolatus, played with Stan Kenton 1948-55, then switched to Charles Mingus, then Thad Jones & Mel Lewis -- well, he played with a lot of folks, all kinds. Group here has Jerry Dodgion (alto sax), Carmen Leggio (tenor sax), Duke Jordan (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), and Lewis (drums). B+(**) [bc]
Miles Davis Quintet: In Concert at the Olympia, Paris 1957 (1957 , Fresh Sound): Not the trumpet player's legendary Quintet, just a local band but names you should recognize: Barney Wilen (tenor sax), René Urtreger (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass), and American expat Kenny Clarke (drums). B+(**) [bc]
The Frustrated Bachelors: In the End It Wasn't Enough: All the Good Ones 2003-2006 (2003-06 , Money for Guns): Discogs identifies this as a Columbia, MO band that registered a song on an anthology somewhere. At least two of the members (Dave Birk and Will Saulsbery) went on to form the equally obscure group Money for Guns. Looking for product to dump on Spotify, they dug these fifteen songs out of their archives. "You'll Never Raise the Dead" sounds like a Nirvana outtake, which I don't mean as top tier praise, but is something. Not all like that, of course. B+(**) [sp]
Holy Church of the Ecstatic Soul: A Higher Power: Gospel, Funk & Soul at the Crossroads 1971-83 (1971-83 , Soul Jazz): The label has a track record of putting together expert compilations around surprising concepts, so something like this is usually worth a go. But my interest in gospel has long been limited, such that I've only rated records by one artist included here (Swan Silvertones, and nothing since 1965), and haven't even heard of (at least they're not in my "shopping" database) half of them. I do hear the funk here, but don't see why we need to bother God about it. B+(*) [sp]
Les Rallizes Dénudés: Citta' '93 (1993 , Temporal Drift): Japanese experimental rock group, formed in 1967 but didn't anything until 1991, when they dropped three albums, including early studio tapes and a '77 Live. Wikipedia suggests their early works were psychedelic rock. Here they hint at Velvet Underground, before eventually plunging into an all-out noise assault: the last two pieces run 24:12 and 39:13, bringing the eight track total to 118:29. It's pretty remarkable, but a lot to sit through. B+(***) [bc]
Jan Lundgren Trio/Herb Geller: Stockholm Get-Together! (1994 , Fresh Sound): Cover says "featuring," but the alto sax great is the star and the reason for this record. This was one of the Swedish pianist's first recordings, but Geller, after some terrific albums in the 1950s, had a strong comeback in the 1990s, thanks (but not just) to Jordi Pujols' project to bring his "cool jazz" heroes back into the studio. B+(***) [bc]
Paul Moer Trio: Plays the Music of Elmo Hope (1991 , Fresh Sound): Pianist (1916-2010), last name Moerschbacher, moved to Los Angeles after graduating Miami in 1951, played with many cool jazz luminaries, recorded a couple albums 1959-61, then this trio with John Heard (bass) and Lawrence Marable (drums). The old albums as well as this one were collected on Fresh Sound's 2018 The Amazing Piano of Paul Moer: Complete Trio Sessions 1957-1991. B+(***) [bc]
Money for Guns: Dead Tracks (2007-20 , Money for Guns): Vault dive, collected when they decided to put their works out on Spotify. Mostly acoustic, could have stayed there. B [sp]
Jack Nimitz Quartet: Confirmation (1995 , Fresh Sound): Baritone saxophonist (1930-2009), joined Woody Herman in 1954, Stan Kenton in 1956, played in the big bands of Terry Gibbs and Gerald Wilson, co-founder of Supersax (1973-88), many side credits, only a few albums under his own name. This one is a quartet with Lou Levy (piano), Dave Carpenter (bass), and Joe LaBarbera (drums). All standards, title from Charlie Parker. B+(***) [sp]
The Dave Pell Octet: Plays Again (1984 , Fresh Sound): Tenor saxophonist (1925-2017), originally from Brooklyn but moved to Los Angeles in the 1940s, playing with Les Brown 1947-55, before becoming best known for his 1953-63 Octets. Med Flory (baritone sax) was the only other one who made this reunion, but the arranger list is: Marty Paich, Bob Florence (piano here), Bill Holman, Short Rogers, and John Williams (a former Octet member). B+(**) [sp]
Bill Perkins: Perk Plays Prez: Bill Perkins Recreates the Historic Solos of Lester Young (1995 , Fresh Sound): Tenor saxophonist (1924-2003), also plays clarinet, one of the west coast players who came out of the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton bands to define cool jazz -- all devoted to Lester Young, many getting an extra push on Jordi Pujol's label in the 1990s. Helping out here is the Jan Lundgren Trio. B+(***) [bc]
Frank Strazzeri and His Woodwinds West: Somebody Loves Me (1994 , Fresh Sound): Pianist (1930-2014), from Rochester, moved to New Orleans in 1954 then on to the west coast. Group here with three saxophonists (Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz, Pete Christlieb) plus bass and drums. B+(**) [bc]
Farida Amadou/Pavel Tchikov: Mal De Terre (2020 , Trouble in Mind): Bass and guitar duo, with electronics and effects, two improvised sessions. Leans toward a slightly unsettled ambiance. B+(*) [sp]
Eddie Bert Quintet: Kaleidoscope (1953-59 , Fresh Sound): Trombonist, three 1953-54 sessions with Duke Jordan (piano), Sal Salvador (guitar) or Vinnie Dean (alto sax), bass (Clyde Lombardi), and drums, collected by Savoy Jazz under this title in 1987. This reissue adds a fourth set from 1959 (same group as the second), plus a 17:33 live take of the title tune. B+(**) [r]
Big Bill Broonzy: Big Bill's Blues (1937-41 , Epic): First-draft compilation, not of the blues songster's early work (for that, see Yazoo's The Young Big Bill Broonzy and/or Do That Guitar Rag) but moving along. Robert Santelli pegged this at 61 in his top-100 blues album list -- behind the Legacy CD Good Time Tonight (1930-40 , years overlap, but no duplicate songs, with some of his most famous appearing here). Title repeats a 1958 album, and has been used for other compilations. A- [sp]
Big Bill Broonzy/Washboard Sam: Big Bill Broonzy With Washboard Sam (1953 , Chess): First LP attributed to either, though Broonzy (Lee Bradley) has many records from 1927 on, and Sam (Robert Brown) played regularly at least back to 1932, crossing paths often enough I've seen reference to them as "half-brothers" (both have disputed birth dates and locales). Not one of Broonzy's more elegant efforts, but keeps digging down, getting that much harder. A- [sp]
The Golden Era of Rock & Roll 1954-1963 (1954-63 , Hip-O, 3CD): A sequel to the label's essential The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll 1946-1954, this kicks off with "Rock Around the Clock" and "Gee," hits its stride with "Maybellene" and "Ain't That a Shame" and "Tutti Frutti" and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" and "Peggy Sue," winding up with "Duke of Earl" and "He's So Fine" and "Surfin' U.S.A." So, a good 80% is totally obvious, and the rest is welcome in context, including a couple originals I know better for covers ("Stranded in the Jungle" and "Susie Q"). A [cd]
Little Willie Jackson & the Original Honeydrippers Jazz Me Blues [The Legendary Modern Recordings] (1947-48 , Ace): Tenor saxophonist (1912-2001), also played clarinet and sang, not to be confused with Willis Jackson. Played in Joe Liggins' band from the mid-1930s, including on their big 1945 hit, "The Honeydripper," which became the name of the band. Recorded this material with the band -- unclear who else was on board, or how much actually got released. All vocal pieces, but well on the jazzy side of jump blues. A- [r]
Willis Jackson: The Remaining Willis Jackson 1951-1959 (1951-59 , Blue Moon): Tenor saxophonist (1928-87), from Miami, nickname Gator, which shows up often in his titles, like his 1952 hit single "Gator's Groove." Played in Cootie Williams' big band, married singer Ruth Brown, recorded the scattered honking sax singles collected here (mostly for Atlantic). B+(*) [r]
Willis Jackson/Pat Martino: Willis . . . With Pat (1964 , 32 Jazz): Discography here is annoying. Digital on Savoy Jazz (now owned by Fantasy, but why use it here?) goes by the title Willis Jackson With Pat Martino, but so does a 2007 Prestige (Jackson's original label) twofer with a different set of songs -- evidently from the same date, originally released as Jackson's Action and Live! Action. The eight songs (51:09) here didn't appear on any of the eight 1963-64 LPs I've tracked down with these two (tenor sax and guitar). 32 Jazz did (often renamed) reissues mostly from the Muse catalog, making me think this came from another LP that escaped Discogs cataloguing, but that question remains. At least going with the 32 Jazz title gets around the title confusion. Nice soul jazz, with bits of standout sax. Organ player is probably Carl Wilson. B+(**) [sp]
Willis Jackson/Richard "Groove" Holmes: Live on Stage (1980 , Black & Blue): Tenor sax and organ quartet, with Steve Giordano (guitar) and Roger Humphries (drums), in a live set that was originally released as In Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1980, then reissued in 1984 by Muse as Ya Understand Me?. B+(***) [sp]
Kashmere Stage Band: Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974 (1968-74 , Now-Again, 2CD): Big band, from Kashmere High School in Houston, directed by Conrad O. Johnson, inspired by bands like the Bar-Kays and the J.B.'s. Johnson released several albums by the bands. The band was featured in the documentary, Thunder Soul, in 2011, which occasioned this reissue. B+(***) [sp]
Martin Lutz Group: It's Swing Not Rocket Science (2011, Calibrated): Danish pianist with African roots, looks like his third group album (since 2004), tempted me with the title and lead off with an "African Polka" featuring Marilyn Mazur. Very little doc beyond that. B+(*) [sp]
Wild Bill Moore: The Complete Recordings Volume 1: 1945-1948 (1945-48 , Blue Moon): Tenor saxophonist (1918-83), from Houston. His earliest recordings as leader, including a spell at Savoy that included titles like "We're Gonna Rock" and "Rock and Roll." Various lineups, cover featuring: Paul Williams, Milt Buckner, T.J. Fowler, and Shifty Henry. B+(**) [r]
Wild Bill Moore: The Complete Recordings Volume 2: 1948-1955 (1945-48 , Blue Moon): More singles, more honkin', more r&b vocals. Lineups vary, but featured musicians on the cover: Jonah Jones (trumpet), Paul Quinichette (tenor sax), Milt Buckner (piano), Emmitt Slay (guitar). B+(***) [r]
Wild Bill Moore: Bottom Groove (1961 , Milestone): Collects two 1961 Quintet LPs: Wild Bill's Heat, with Junior Mance (piano), and Bottom Groove, with Johnny "Hammond" Smith (organ), both with Joe Benjamin (bass), Ben Riley (drums), and Ray Barretto (congas). Solid soul jazz sets, with Mance adding extra flair. B+(**) [r]
Wolfgang Muthspiel/Scott Colley/Brian Blade: Angular Blues (2018 , ECM): Guitar, bass, drums. The collaboration with drummer goes back at least to a very good 2006 duo album, while the bassist replaced Larry Grenadier from two previous ECM albums. B+(**) [sp]
Jack Nimitz and Friends: Yesterday and Today (1957-2007 , Fresh Sound): Appearing a year before the baritone saxophonist's death, this looks like an attempt to build him up a bit of discography. The old set has trombonist Bill Harris with a cast that rotated over three sessions, with various guitarists (Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Raney, Chuck Wayne), bassists (Oscar Pettiford, Russ Saunders), drummers, and strings. The recent one is a quintet with Adam Schroeder (baritone sax), John Campbell (piano), Dave Carpenter (bass), and Joe LaBarbera (drums). B+(**) [sp]
Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy: Mam Yinne Wa (2019, Philophon): Their debut album, a trio of gospel singers from the far north of Ghana, discovered by German producer Max Weissenfeldt, rooted in highlife, and exuberantly joyful. B+(***) [sp]
Ernst-Ludwig Luten Petrowsky/Uschi Brüning/Michael Griener: Ein Résumé (2013, Jazzwerkstatt): "Luten" is the alto saxophonist's nickname. It shows up in various titles, but rarely on the slug line. He's also credited with piano, clarinet, and voice here, but the real vocalist is Brüning. Their duet on "You Don't Know What Love Is" reminds me of Sheila Jordan. That's the high point, among various scattered treats, etc. Griener plays drums. B+(**)
Sam Price and the Rock Band: Rib Joint: Roots of Rock and Roll (1956-59 , Savoy): Piano player from Texas (1980-92), played jazz (notably in the Mezzrow-Bechet groups), boogie woogie, and jump blues as it morphed into rock. Four sessions, with King Curtis (tenor sax) and Mickey Baker (guitar) for the 1956 ones, Haywood Henry (baritone sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) in 1957, and Panama Francis (drums) among others in 1959. Not sure I'd count it as rock, but sure swings hard. B+(***) [sp]
The Roots of Rock'n Roll (1948-57 , Savoy): One of a series of cream-colored compilations that Arista released when they picked up right to the Savoy collection. I picked up several at the time, starting with a Charlie Parker set I didn't quite see eye-to-eye with. I missed this r&b set: 32 songs, 28 I playlisted on Napster and 4 more I found on YouTube, most of which I had run across elsewhere (most famously three cuts each from the Ravens and Big Maybelle, and "Cupid's Boogie" among nine Johnny Otis tracks). B+ [r] [yt]
The Rose Grew Round the Briar: Early American Rural Love Songs, Vol. 1 (1920s-30s , Yazoo): Typical of this label's fine compilations, twenty-three songs from collectors of 78s, nicely integrated because the races had more in common than the law wanted you to think. B+(***) [sp]
The Rose Grew Round the Briar: Early American Rural Love Songs, Vol. 2 (1920s-30s , Yazoo): Twenty-three more love songs, every bit as notable, partly because more than half of the artists return. I give this volume a slight edge, although it could just be that it ends even stronger. A- [sp]
Zoot Sims: For Lady Day (1978 , Pablo): Tenor saxophonist, does a songbook album, all songs from Billie Holiday's songbook, with Jimmy Rowles on piano, George Mraz (bass), and Jackie Williams (drums). B+(**) [sp]
Zoot Sims: The Swinger (1979-80 , Pablo): A studio session from Hollywood with his brother Ray Sims (trombone, also sings one), Jimmy Rowles (piano), John Heard (bass), and Shelly Manne (drums), plus a spare track from New York with different bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]
Music: Current count 41078  rated (+150), 32  unrated (+1).
Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:
Music: Current count 40961  rated (+43), 31  unrated (+1).
I lost less time thrashing this week, trying to find something to play next, mostly thanks to Phil Overeem's latest list. Two records I didn't get around to because they're just too damn long are DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ's Destiny (six LPs) and the big box (4-CD) of the Replacements' Tim. Given that Tim has long been my favorite of their albums, and that everyone is raving about the new mix, the latter seems like a lock. I did manage to make it through two more sets that ran too long, but were remarkable before I lost track: Kashmere Stage Band and Les Rallizes Dénudés. Phil also initiated the Money for Guns dive. I love that he comes up with records like these.
Still only had one A-list album when I cut off the week, but it took long enough to do the Streamnotes indexing today that I got to the Allison Russell album, and decided to move it up. I also knocked off three jazz CDs from the queue, but they can (and should) wait. Until lately, the queue was almost all scheduled well into the future, but release dates have started to come fast -- ten (of 31) albums are already out. I need to work on that.
I'm starting to think about the Jazz Critics Poll this year. It would be nice to get a jump on it for the first time ever, rather than getting blindsided a few days before the ballots need to be sent out. If you have suggestions, drop me a line.
Music: Current count 40983  rated (+22), 26  unrated (-5).
I expected this week's report to be delayed, and even so short. My plan was to entertain company, and do some fairly serious cooking. My niece came for a visit, but I came down with something undiagnosed and was a terrible host (though I did finally manage to knock out a decent phat thai). But rather than wait another day or two, I found a few minutes to knock this out before bed Monday, and figured it would be best to put it behind me.
Nothing much to add to the reviews below, except that the new ones that came closest (Armand Hammer, Sarah Mary Chadwick) got multiple plays without quite convincing me. And while I showed a slight preference for one of the Yazoo comps, I would have gone with the higher grade for a 2-CD package.
Music: Current count 41003  rated (+20), 27  unrated (+1).
While I was working on this, I found it very hard to prospect for new music, and even harder to write about it. I got off on an odd r&b sax tangent early in the week. I was lucky to come up with three good new saxophone albums (Nachoff fell just shy of the mark with an excess of strings).
But what really made this week so difficult was the death of Donald Barnes (81), known to all of us as Tookie. He came into our lives when he married my dear cousin Jan in 1960. They grew up in Kinsley, KS, and married right out of high school. His father was a welder, and he learned that trade very young. They followed his father to a shop in Wyoming for a couple years, before coming back to Kansas. He got a job at Cessna, and they lived in Wichita for about a year when I was in 9th grade. Their love and friendship was about all that got me through that year. They adopted a daughter that year, Heidi, and I've never seen anyone as happy as he was when he signed the papers. Not long after that, they had a son, Patrick.
But Jan hated the big city, so they left, first to Hugoton in western Kansas, where he built feedlots, and then to Idaho to work on a pipeline. They wound up settling in Soda Springs, where he worked at Monsanto's phosphate plant, becoming an electrician as well as a welder. There was nothing mechanical he couldn't master. Someone once complimented me as the "most competent person" she had ever met. For me, that person was Tookie.
Jan refused to go to college, and wound up working low-paid jobs which she was totally overmatched for. But they loved the outdoors, camping, and hunting. Tookie was an artist, hunting elk with bow and arrow, tying his own flies, crafting antique guns (including a blunderbuss). But the moose head that dominates their living room was Jan's doing. He was quiet and fastidious, with a sly and mischievous sense of humor. She was a force of nature, energizing all around her. She was (well, is) one of the most formidable cooks in the family, continuing to make industrial quantities of bread and rolls for her local farmers market each week. They've always struck me as one of the world's most perfectly suited couples.
I could dredge up dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories, missing only a stretch in the middle of our lives when distance kept us apart. First time Laura and I took a trip together, we went to Yellowstone, then to Soda Springs to see Jan and Tookie. Heidi had been to college, but was there and proclaimed us "perfect for each other," which pretty much sealed the deal. We won't talk about politics here, except to note that no matter we might have disagreed on those things, it never got in the way of our love for each other.
Music: Current count 41047  rated (+44), 31  unrated (+4).
I took an extra day this weekend. I decided to hold off starting Speaking of Which until late Saturday, and then write intro instead of searching for links. I struggled Sunday with what turned out to be a false start, then wrote yet another intro, taking a break midway to collect some links. It got late, and I decided I should hold off and write up the missing outline points Monday afternoon. Took most of the day before I posted.
I then did the cutover for Music Week, but by then I didn't feel like writing any form of this intro, so I sat on it until Tuesday, fairly late. Tuesday afternoon got wiped out in grocery shopping, a first pass toward a birthday dinner later this week. Frankly, I'd rather think about that than this, but last week is in the bag, so I might as well wrap it up quick.
Next week will be short. I seriously doubt I'll get any listening in until Saturday. I certainly won't be starting another Speaking of Which. And I wouldn't mind just punting for the year. The world has a long ways to go to catch up with what I've written already.
What I do hope to write about next week is the 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Poll. I've set up the result directory locally, so I need to post that. The main thing I want to do in the next couple weeks is to expand the voter list. To that end, I'm trying to take a more systemmatic survey of who's writing what. I'd like to extend invites to another 30-50 critics -- probably half outside the US, which (I don't have a reliable count, so I'm only guessing) could double the number of non-US critics. I doubt this will skew the results much, but it should broaden the base. That would be a big plus for people like me who find the bottom two-thirds of the list more interesting than the winners.
As for this week, I started off with a premature jazz ballot, where half of the records selected were unheard by me. The Miles Davis archival piece got me looking at recent Fresh Sound reissues, mostly albums from the 1990s when Jordi Pujols set up sessions with many of his cool jazz heroes, and I wanted to hear them all. (I already knew several, especially with Herb Geller and Bud Shank, and also some very good Charlie Mariano records.)
Then I read that John Zorn's Tzadik records are returning to streaming platforms. (I followed them fairly close before they picked up their toys and headed home.) Tzadik is much more than Zorn's personal label, but he's so prolific all I managed this week was his own 2023 releases (plus a couple slightly older).
Music: Current count 41078  rated (+31), 32  unrated (+1).
I spent most of last week thinking about, shopping for, and finally cooking up this year's birthday dinner. I've made it to 73, which is +3 from my grandfather, and -4 from my father, so it's starting to weigh heavy on my mind. Dinner was served on Friday, as several guests had schedule conflicts for Wednesday. Menu was Spanish:
I also opened up a couple cans and jars: octopus, sardines, artichoke hearts. I had bought much more for possible tapas, but ran out of time to get them prepared, or in some cases simply organized. I mixed up a batch of sangria to drink, and had my traditional coconut cake for dessert, with vanilla ice cream. (I know, reminds you of the "white cake" in Tarrantino's Django Unchained. Sometimes we can't help being who we are.)
I meant to write up notes, and will after this post. They should show up in a future notebook entry (which I've already stubbed out, so the link will work, and eventually get you the information). Facebook entry, including a plate pic, is here. A "memory" entry, with a recycled picture of last year's cake, is here. The actual cake was even uglier, and not just because it was less blindingly white. No complaints, except for the guy who was so phobic about seafood he didn't eat anything until the cake was served.
Apologies to those of you who just want the latest music dope, but you must know how to scroll past my rants by now. I had damn near nothing, other than the Clifford Ocheltree picks down in the Old Music section, before I started writing Speaking of Which on Saturday. But I worked through a steady stream of records once I started writing, so with the extra day came up with a semi-normal week. Among the high B+, National and Angelica Sanchez tempted me to replays, but they didn't quite manage to move the needle.
This coming week, I will put up a website for the 18th Annual Francis Davis Critics Poll, and I will start communicating with a few possible voters, trying to gauge interest and identify others who should vote with us. The voters from last year are listed here. They will all be invited back, but please let me know if there are any others you read and find useful. I'd like to see more international critics, although those are particularly hard for me to judge. I'm also tempted to slip in a few more jazz-knowledgeable rock critics -- where I figure the minimal qualification is listen to 200+ jazz albums per year (used to be expensive, but easy enough with streaming) and write about at least 5-10 (or more if you, like me, write real short). I'd welcome suggestions from publicists and musicians, but probably not for yourself or each other. (Not an absolute rule, as we've had the odd exception from time to time.)
I'm also toying with the idea of forming an advisory board, if you really want to get deep into the weeds. There's a fair chance I won't be doing this beyond this year, so this might be a chance to eventually step up.
End of October, so I still need to do the indexing on the archive file. It's also time to reorganize my 2023 list into separate jazz and non-jazz lists. I've already started expanding my tracking file so I'll be ready to look up jazz albums when ballots start to flow in. And I will probably set up my usual EOY aggregate files, as they build on the tracking file, and have long been one of my favorite wastes of time.
Sources noted as follows: