Streamnotes: January 28, 2024

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 December 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (23272 records).

Recent Releases

75 Dollar Bill: Singularity 06: Anchor Dragging Behind (2023, The State51 Conspiracy, EP): Guitarist Che Chen and percussionist Rick Brown, draw more on North Africa than on jazz in their instrumental pieces, of which this is one track, 18:42, pleasantly then intoxicatingly ambient. B+(***) [sp]

Deena Abdelwahed: Jbal Rrsas (2023, Infiné): Tunisian DJ/producer, moved to Paris at 26, although this, her second album (plus a handful of EPs), was recorded in Tunisia, and bears an Arabic title. B+(***) [sp]

Acid Arab: Trois (2023, Crammed Discs): Paris-based electronic group, founded 2012 by Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho, "a distinctive mix of deep club-based beats with arabic instruments and vocals." Third album, title is Arabic for such. B+(**) [sp]

Agust D: D-Day (2023, Big Hit Music): South Korean rapper Min Yoon-gi, also known as Suga, joined K-pop boy band BTS in 2013, Agust D was the name of a mixtape he released in 2016, followed by a second mixtape in 2020 (D-2), and this, his first proper solo album. In Korean, so this waxes and wanes on the beats, which clearly have some money behind them. B+(*) [sp]

Alfa Mist: Variables (2023, Anti-): British nu jazz producer Alfa Sekitoleko, plays keyboards, fifth album since 2017. B+(*) [sp]

Altin Gün: Ask (2023, Glitterbeat): Mostly Turkish psychedelic rock band, based in Amsterdam, fifth album since 2018. B+(*) [sp]

B. Cool-Aid: Leather Blvd. (2023, Lex): Hip-hop duo from Long Beach, producers Ahwlee and Pink Siifu (Livinston Matthews), keeping it cool. B+(*) [sp]

Daniel Bachman: When the Roses Come Again (2023, Three Lobed): Guitarist, first albums self-released as Sacred Harp, and under his own name since 2011, started out in the American primitive school but has added a drone dimension. B+(*) [sp]

Ballister: Smash and Grab (2022 [2024], Aerophonic): Sixth group outing for saxophonist Dave Rempis's fiercest group, a trio with Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/electronics) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). I'm probably losing all credibility on him. I'm certainly getting used to the rough stuff -- although even here, they set up sublime moments. A- [cd]

Patricia Bastos: Vos Da Taba (2023, self-released): Brazilian singer-songwriter, from Macapá, just north of the Amazon delta, seventh studio album since 2002. Exceptionally delightful. A- [sp]

Beneficence & Jazz Spastiks: Summer Night Sessions (2023, Ill Adrenaline): Rapper Rahim Muhammad, from New Jersey, eighth album since 2004, with earlier efforts going back to 1991. First I've heard from him, but he sounds familiar, reminding me of groups like Downtown Science and the Perceptionists. Jazz Spastiks is a group, based in Scotland, of jazz-oriented hip-hop beatmakers, with ten or so albums since 2010. They're terrific here. A [sp]

Big O: In the Company of Others (2023, Vintage Soundz): London-based hip-hop producer, possibly Oliver Moore (Discogs offers the name, but only lists one album and one EP, the latter from 1996; on the other hand, Bandcamp shows no less than 44 releases, but most behind other leaders). Feat. guests everywhere, many with scratches by gman. B+(*) [bc]

Black Belt Eagle Scout: The Land, the Water, the Sky (2023, Saddle Creek): Alias for Katherine Paul, a "Swinomish/Iñupiaq singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Portland, Oregon." Sounds like a bon bon dipped in shoegaze. B+(**) [sp]

Black Milk: Everybody Good? (2023, Mass Appeal): Detroit rapper Curtis Cross, eighth albums ince 2005. B+(*) [sp]

Mykki Blanco: Postcards From Italia (2023, Transgressive, EP): Michael Quattlebaum, from Orange County, trans (gender, but everything is hard to pin down), started as a poet, then rapper, but sings here, six songs, 15:46. B+(*) [sp]

Blockhead: The Aux (2023, Backwoodz Studioz): New York hip-hop producer Tony Simon, has a couple dozen albums since 2001, more production credits. Fifteen tracks here, features start with Billy Woods, Navy Blue, Quelle Chris, Aesop Rock, Koreatown Oddity, Open Mike Eagle. B+(***) [sp]

Blonde Redhead: Sit Down for Dinner (2023, Section1): Indie band from New York, tenth album since 1994, fronted by Kazu Makino, with brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace. B+(*) [sp]

Don Braden: Earth Wind and Wonder Volume 2 (2023, self-released): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, followed a fairly classic arc from Criss Cross in 1991 to major labels to HighNote 2001-08 and winding up with a self-released covers project (first volume in 2018). Still an imposing saxophonist, but no one I can think of has managed to claim these songs for jazz. B [sp]

Apollo Brown & Planet Asia: Sardines (2023, Mello Music Group): Detroit hip-hop producer Erik Stephens, has dropped an album (or two or three) every year since 2009, this one featuring rapper Jason Green, who's been even more prolific for longer (since 2000) but has previously escaped my attention -- as has everyone else working out of Fresno. B+(***) [sp]

John Butcher/Dominic Lash/Emil Karlsen: Here and How (2022 [2023], Bead): English avant-saxophonist, released half dozen albums in 2023 but this was one of the few I managed to find, a trio with bass and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious (2022 [2024], Sunnyside): The leader claims "all compositions and re-compositions," the latter producing titles like "Wrinkle on Trinkle." An impressive piece of work, the orchestrations complex and occasionally striking, the vocal bits unnecessary fluff but fleeting. Feels like a major bid for the high ground in seriously serious music. But while multiple plays didn't increase my irritation, they did leave me uninterested. B+(**) [sp] [03-08]

CASisDEAD: Famous Last Words (2023, XL): British grime rapper, started as Castro Saint, first studio album after a decade of singles, EPs and mixtapes. Some confusion over caps, which I could do without. Attractive groove album. B+(**) [sp]

Cat Clyde: Down Rounder (2023, Second Prize): Canadian singer-songwriter, fifth album since 2017. B+(*) [sp]

Cautious Clay: Karpeh (2023, Blue Note): Singer-songwriter Joshua Karpeh, from Cleveland, studied jazz but leaned r&b on here is encouraged to explore those "jazz roots." He plays sax/reeds/flute, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, but gets help from label mates, like Immanuel Wilkins, Julian Lage, Joe Ross, and Ambrose Akinmusire. B+(*) [sp]

CESVR/Fleevus/Febem: Brime! (2020 [2021], Butterz/Beatwise, EP): Title signifies Brazilian Grime, six song, 20:15 EP, various sources show different covers, labels, artist order, but same batch of songs, with only Cesar Pierri (CESVR, co-founder of Beatwise Recordings) seemingly well established. Does sound like UK grime, but in Portuguese, a bit less stiff, much as the concept promises. B+(***) [sp]

CESVR/Fleezus/Febem: Brime! (Deluxe Edition) (2020-23 [2023], Butterz/Beatwise): Tacks on five extra tracks, total 39:15. More, but not much better. B+(***) [sp]

Rasheed Chappell & the Arcitype: Sugar Bills (2023, Project City Music Group): New Jersey rapper, sixth album since 2011, with producer Janos Fulop. This runs up against my distaste for "gangsta shit" (as HHGA rather circumspectly put it: "traditional hip-hop . . . a great emcee who is in turn with golden -age aesthetics") but this carries that deadly weight better than any album I've heard in years (maybe since Ghostface Killah?). A- [sp]

Chino XL & Stu Bangas: God's Carpenter (2023, Brutal Music/1332): Rapper Derek Barbosa, released debut album in 1996, also has an acting career, working here with producer Stuart Hudgins. He's remarkably fast, not least because he has a lot to say, and the beats serve him well. A- [sp]

Christine and the Queens: Paranoia, Angels, True Love (2023, Because Music): French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier, "assigned female at birth," fourth album since 2014, "the second part of an operatic gesture," the title a nod to Tony Kushner's Angels in America, running 96:49 over 3-LP. B [sp]

Gerald Cleaver: 22/23 (2023, Positive Elevation/577): Normally a drummer, produces electronics here, with some voice (both him and Jean Carla Rodea) and sax (Andrew Dahlke). Runs 22 tracks, 169 minutes, on and on, one suspects the excess is the point. [LP selects 6 (of 22) tracks, for 32:26. Probably just a sampler, as if a taste is all you need.] B+(***) [sp]

Chembo Corniel Quintet: Artistas, Músicos y Poetas (2023, Chemboro): Puerto Rican percussionist, several albums since 2006, second Quintet, with "featuring" names on the front cover: Don Pancho Terry, Andrea Brachfeld, Felipe Luciano, and Ismael East Carlo -- but the quintet consists of Hery Paz (tenor sax/flute), Carlos Cuevas (piano/fender rhodes), Ian Stewart (electric bass), and Joel E. Mateo (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Czarface: Czartificial Intelligence (2023, Silver Age/Virgin): Hip-hop "supergroup" -- Inspectah Deck, 7L, Esoteric -- twelfth album since 2013, all with comix covers and comic grooves, perpetual adolescence as proof of vitality: "better check your pulse if you don't feel it." A- [sp]

Day Tripper: What a Day to Be Dead (2023, self-released): Atlanta rapper, originally from North Carolina, has several albums, one as far back as 2004 signed "DT & Osama." B+(**) [sp]

Declaime and Theory Hazit: Rocketman (2023, SomeOthaShip): Rapper Dudley Perkins, dozen-plus albums since 2001, with producer Thearthur Washington. Deep, out of this world yet very much within it, loses the thread of the music when he declares his belief in God, yet through some miracle keeps you connected anyway. A- [sp]

Helena Deland: Goodnight Summerland (2023, Chivi Chivi): Canadian singer-songwriter, second album, title from her hometown in British Columbia, now based in Montreal, has a light touch. B+(*) [sp]

Disclosure: Alchemy (2023, Apollo/AWAL): British synthpop duo, brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, fourth studio album since 2013. B [sp]

The Rob Dixon/Steve Allee Quintet: Standards Deluxe (2023 [2024], self-released): Tenor/soprano saxophone and piano, quintet adds trumpet (Derrick Gardner), bass, and drums. Singer Amanda King joins for first six tracks, getting a feature credit on the cover, as does Gardner, for the back six (five Dixon pieces, but a reprise of the opener "Caravan." That gives us two rather distinct albums: a better-than-average standards showcase (mostly because the songs are so sure-fire), and an upbeat and rather luxe postbop combo set. B+(**) [cd] [02-01]

DJ Girl: Hellworld (2023, Planet Mu): Detroit techno producer Terri Shaska, second album. Some bits (especially vocal riffs) don't do much, but gets much better as the beats pick up (e.g., "When U Touch Me," featuring Lighght, but "Groover" works as well). B+(**) [sp]

DJ Ws Da Ingejinha: Caça Fantasma Vol. 1 (2023, Delama): Funk brasilero artist, Wilson da Silva, from Belo Horizonte, can't find him on Discogs, and not making much sense out of this oddly disjointed mess. But stick with it and it may develop its own logic. B [sp]

Dragonchild: Dragonchild (2023, FPE): Ethiopian saxophonist DA Mekonnen, a founder and leader of the Boston-based Debo Band, offers up a solo album. B+(**) [sp]

Baxter Dury: I Thought I Was Better Than You (2023, Heavenly): Second-generation singer-songwriter, eighth album since 2002. Sounds rather like his father, except there's no mistaking him for genius. B [sp]

Jason Eady: Mississippi (2023, Old Guitar): Country singer-songwriter, originally from Mississippi, based in Texas, ten albums since 2005, in a steady, low-key career. B+(**) [sp]

Easy Star All-Stars: Ziggy Stardub (2023, Easy Star): New York-based reggae collective/label, active since 1997. First one I've heard, but title (and cover) should have been a giveaway, as is a back catalog of Dub Side of the Moon, Radiodread, Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band, and Easy Star's Thrillah. So, a slightly amusing covers band? B- [sp]

Elzhi X Oh No: Heavy Vibrato (2023, Nature Sounds): Rapper Jason Powers, debut with Slum Village 2002, several solo albums since 2008. Oh No is Michael Jackson Woodrow, son of soul singer Otis Jackson and brother of Madlib/Quasimoto. Terrific flow here, lyrics dancing not just on the beats but surrounded by dazzle. A- [sp]

Enji: Ulaan (2023, Squama): Mongolian singer Enkhjargal Erkhembayar, based in Germany, third album, draws on folk music with jazz musicians. B [sp]

FACS: Still Life in Decay (2023, Trouble in Mind): Chicago group, several albums since 2017, related to Disappears, which had a nice run of albums, 2010-16. Similar industrial vibe here, a bit on the lumbering side. B+(**) [sp]

Fatboi Sharif X Steel Tipped Dove: Decay (2023, Backwoodz Studioz): New Jersey rapper, third album, with producer Joseph Fusaro. B- [sp]

Mike Flips/Nord1kone/Seize: Life Cycles (2023, SpitSLAM): The MC answered one question by pronouncing his name "nordic-one." Flanked here by two producers, Flips at least from UK. B+(**) [sp]

Anne Foucher & Jean-Marc Foussat: Chair Ça (2022 [2024], Fou): Violin/electronics, and "Synthi AKS, piano, jouets & voix," which I guess explains the sonic range here, but not enough to describe it. B+(***) [cd]

Four Elements & Beyond: Clock the Chemistry (2023, Four Elements & Beyond): "Boom bap hip hop crew from New York," second album. B+(***) [sp]

Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro: Trente-Cinq Minutes & Vingt-Trois Secondes (2023 [2024], Fou): Title the sum of three constituent pieces, Credits: "méchanisme instinctif et résonnant" and "kaléidophone ténor." File under "drone" or "noise," but more interesting than that implies. B+(***) [cd]

Satoko Fujii Tokyo Trio: Jet Black (2023 [2024], Libra): Japanese avant-pianist, well over 100 albums, nice to hear her in a conventional trio setting, this with Takashi Sugawa (bass) and Ittetsu Takamura (drums). B+(***) [cd] [01-24]

Peter Gabriel: I/O (2023, Real World): British singer-songwriter, started in prog rock band Genesis, released a series of eponymous albums 1977-82, this 10th album is first since 2011, but it incorporates earlier work going back to 1995, and comes in two mixes ("Bright Side" and "Dark Side"), each 12 songs and well over an hour. Pleasant enough, but interminable. B+(*) [sp]

Amanda Gardier: Auteur (Music Inspired by the Films of Wes Anderson) (2022 [2024], self-released): Alto saxophonist, based in Baltimore, third album, quartet with Charlie Ballantine (guitar, a major factor here), Jesse Wittman (bass), and Dave King (drums). I don't have any idea what the tie-in to the films might be, but something inspired her. A- [cd]

Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets: Pan Africa (2022 [2023], Impact Jazz): Trumpet player, from Chicago, has several albums, brother is trombonist Vincent Gardner (plays here), with Robert Dixon (alto/tenor sax), George Caldwell (piano), Obasi Akoto (bass) and, most importantly, Kweku Sumbry (drums/African percussion). B+(***) [sp]

Geese: 3D Country (2023, Partisan): Brooklyn-based alt-rock band, second album, dubbed "art punk," compared to outfits like Black Midi, which might seem interesting until the time shifts and odd eruptions turn super-annoying. B- [sp]

Sam Gendel: Cookup (2023, Nonesuch): Saxophonist, offers "simultaneous synchronized sonic construction/deconstruction" of r&b/soul hits from 1992-2004, which is to say songs that I've probably heard but am unlikely to recall, especially toned down and flattened out like this. Includes one Meshell Ndegeocello vocal, in case radio needs something to fixate on. B [sp]

Samuel Goff/Camila Nebbia/Patrick Shiroishi: Diminished Borders (2023, Cacophonous Revival): Drummer plus two saxophonists, free jazz with Nebbia adding some commentary. The lineup reminds me of Cosmosamatics, which worked to the same impressive effect, although this one tails off toward the end. B+(***) [bc]

Vinny Golia/Max Johnson/Weasel Walter: No Refunds (2014 [2023], Unbroken Sounds): A live sax-bass-drums set from Seaside Lounge a while back, the bassist doing the mix and release. Golia plays clarinet, saxello, soprano and baritone sax. B+(**) [sp]

Gorillaz: Cracker Island (2023, Parlophone/Warner): Cartoon band, founded 2001 by Damon Albarn, who seems to have been the only regular, aside from illustrator Jamie Hewlett: the other principal musician here is Greg Kurstin, with a bunch of guests dropping in for one song each (Thundercat, Stevie Nicks, Tame Impala, Beck, etc.). Albarn's always had a good sense for hooks, but I grew tired of the mask some time back, and now it all just sounds anonymous (except the title cut is rather catchy). B [sp]

Hands & Tongues: 3 Meta-Dialogues (2023, 4DaRecord): Three pairings of voice and instrument: Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg with 10-string microtonal guitar (Pascal Marzan); Bill Young with clarinet (Noel Taylor); Rodrigo Brandão with bass (João Madeira). Unable to decipher the words, there's very little to relate to here. B- [cd]

Mayer Hawthorne: For All Time (2023, P&L): Soul/funk singer-songwriter Andrew Cohen, took his middle name and added the street he grew up on, debut 2009. [sp]

Marina Herlop: Nekkuja (2023, Pan): Spanish singer, songwriter and pianist, fourth album, electroacoustic experiments, short (7 songs, 26:35). B+(*) [sp]

Anna Hillburg: Tired Girls (2023, Speakeasy Studios): Bay Area singer-songwriter, third album, has a nice flow. B+(*) [sp]

Hope D: Clash of the Substance (2023, self-released): Indie band from Australia, or maybe just short for Hope Defteros. First album, rather catchy. B+(**) [sp]

Hozier: Unreal Unearth (2023, Island): Irish singer-songwriter Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, third album since 2014. Seems like a good guy, with grand ambitions both musical and lyrical. Perhaps a little too grand, for my taste. B+(**) [sp]

Nabihah Iqbal: Dreamer (2023, Ninja Tune): British electronica producer, Pakistani descent, worked with Sophie as a singer, some vocals here, songs even. Second album, captivating. B+(***) [sp]

Gregory Alan Isakov: Appaloosa Bones (2023, Dualtone): Singer-songwriter from South Africa, moved to Philadelphia when he was seven, wound up in Boulder, Colorado. Eighth album since 2003. Seems like a thoughtful but not especially engaging guy. B [sp]

Ethan Iverson: Technically Acceptable (2024, Blue Note): Pianist, made a big impression with his early Fresh Sound releases, followed with a rare commercial breakthrough as the Bad Plus, left them in 2017, continues to write a very smart blog. Two bass-drums trios here -- Thomas Morgan/Kush Abadey and Simón Willson/Vinnie Sperrazza -- and a couple of covers (one I love, followed by a vocal I hate), ending with a three-part solo sonata. Appropriately titled. B+(*) [sp]

Ja'king the Divine: Parables of the Sower (2023, Copenhagen Crates): Brooklyn rapper, half-dozen albums since 2021. His fascination with things oriental led to the album title Black Sun Tzu. Here he raps over a particularly sinuous "Caravan." [sp]

Anders Jormin/Lena Willemark: Pasado En Claro (2021 [2023], ECM): Swedish bassist, debut 1984, on ECM since 2001, second album with the Swedish singer/violinist, who has a similar presume, including an ECM debut in 1996. With, below the title, Karin Nakagawa (25-string koto) and Jon Fält (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Kid Abstrakt & Leo Low Pass: Still Dreaming (2023, Melting Pot Music): Los Angeles rapper, parents from Brazil and Nicaragua, a "young emcee with an old soul aims to give you nostalgic vibes and provide jazzy hip hop sounds," which he certainly does. The producer, from Amsterdam, helps out. A- [sp]

King Kashmere X Alecs DeLarge: The Album to End All Alien Abductions (2023, High Focus): British rapper Obiesie Adibuah, aka Iguana Man, or some combination thereof. Debut EP 2002, this a double-LP (24 tracks, 58:43). B+(*) [sp]

Kool Keith & Real Bad Man: Serpent (2023, Real Bad Man): Rapper Keith Thornton, started in 1984 with Ultramagnetic MCs, went solo in 1996 as Dr. Octagon, later as Dr. Dooom, Black Elvis, and most often as Kool Keith, with close to fifty albums so far. His producer here is Adam Weisman, who's grabbed co-credits since 2020 with Boldy James, Pink Siifu, Smoke DZA, and Blu. B+(***) [sp]

Benjamin Koppel/Scott Colley/Brian Blade: Perspective (2023, Cowbell Music): Danish alto saxophonist, 30+ albums since 1998, has worked with this bass-drums combo since 2011. B+(**) [sp]

Benjamin Koppel: White Buses: Passage to Freedom (2023, Cowbell Music): In 1943, as the Nazis were consolidating their occupation of Denmark, some 90% of Danish Jews managed to escape into Sweden, thus avoiding the Holocaust. That much is fairly widely known, but this draws on a lesser-known incident near the end of the war, when the Swedish Red Cross sent white buses to Theresienstadt, where another 425 Danish Jews were held, and affected their liberation. This narrates that story, along with some inspiring music, led by the Danish alto saxophonist. B+(***) [sp]

Talib Kweli & Madlib: Liberation 2 (2023, Luminary): A sequel 16 years later, runs longer (45:51), is even harder to find. With politics that deserve wider airing, but thinned out with more ambient breaks. B+(***) [sc]

La Sécurité: Stay Safe (2023, Mothland): Montreal "art punk" group, first album: "equal parts: jumpy beats, off-kilter arrangements, and minimalistic melodic hooks," also a nice balance between English and French. They remind me of vintage new wave, perhaps Martha & the Muffins spiked with Devo? A- [sp]

Mon Laferte: Autopoiética (2023, Universal Music Mexico): Singer-songwriter from Chile, based in Mexico, ninth studio album since 2011. This has some remarkable parts, mixed up in a pastiche that I can't begin to comprehend, but only start to doubt with the terminal dirge. But is that really the end? A- [sp]

Alex Lahey: The Answer Is Always Yes (2023, Liberation): Australian singer-songwriter, turns out layered, hooky pop, with a "wall of sound" effect. Third album. B+(**) [sp]

Oliver Lake/Mathias Landæus/Kresten Osgood: Spirit (2017 [2023], Sfär): Alto sax, piano, drums. Lake is a bit erratic, but impresses more often than not. B+(**) [bc]

Lalalar: En Kötü Iyi Olur (2023, Bongo Joe): Turkish group, second album. Vibe reminiscent of several Balkan rock groups. B+(***) [sp]

David Larsen: The Peplowski Project (2022 [2023], self-released): Saxophonist, from Spokane, several albums since 2019, credits scarce but cover photo shows him with a baritone, and Discogs photo adds a tenor (also note a previous album called The Mulligan Chronicles). Ken Peplowski plays clarinet, and suggested some Al Cohn tunes. B+(**) [sp]

Gabe Lee: Drink the River (2023, Torrez Music Group): Nashville native, parents immigrants from Taiwan, fourth album since 2019. Anyone who doubts the power of the American melting pot is in for an object lesson here. A- [sp]

Jim Legxacy: Homeless N*gga Pop Music (2023, (!)): Debut mixtape, from the London-based rapper/singer/producer. B [sp]

Carin León: Colmillo De Leche (2023, Socios/Oplaai): Mexican singer-songwriter, plays guitar, third studio album since 2019, many more live albums. His style depends on you understanding the words, but even if you don't, he makes it clear that he does. B+(**) [sp]

Nils Lofgren: Mountains (2023, Cattle Track Road): Debut at 20 as leader of Grin, one of the better country-rock outfits of the early 1970s, followed by an acclaimed eponymous solo album in 1975. I rated those highly, but didn't file any more of his solo albums until 2019 -- with no gap more than five years, looks like I skipped 25. Meanwhile, he played with Crazy Horse/Neil Young, and since 1986 with Bruce Springsteen. This sounds promising for a while, then runs low. B [yt]

Dave Lombardo: Rites of Percussion (2023, Ipecac): Drummer, born in Cuba but moved to California when he was two. Best known as drummer in the thrash metal band Slayer, but also in Fantômas (based on a French anti-hero, "waging an implacable war against the bourgeois society in which he moves"). I've run across him once before, when he joined DJ Spooky on a 2005 Thirsty Ear album called Drums of Death. Solo here, so more drums of death? B+(**) [sp]

Maurice Louca Elephantine Band: Moonshine (2023, Sub Rosa/Northern Spy): Egyptian composer, plays guitar, lap steel guitar, and synthesizer, in a group with saxophones, clarinet, tuba, vibes, bass, and drums. (Elephantine was the title of his 2019 album, and plays more prominently on the cover here; artist credit here from Sub Rosa sticker.) B+(***) [sp]

Salvoandrea Lucifora Quartet: Drifters (2022 [2023], Trytone): Trombonist, from Sicily, based in Amsterdam, should count as his first album (although I've heard him before). Quartet with piano (Marta Warelis), bass (Omer Govreen), and drums (Marcos Baggiani). Two lp-side-long pieces, very sharp. A- [sp]

M(h)aol: Attachment Styles (2023, Tulle): Irish feminist punk group. B+(**) [sp]

Machine Girl: Neon White Soundtrack Part 1: The Wicked Heart (2022, self-released): Electronica duo, Matt Stephenson and Sean Kelly, discography starts in 2012, with a debut album in 2014. As Neon White is some kind of video game, the music is designed not for dance but for speedrunning, giving it a cartoonish air, that can be extended indefinitely. This one proved the point by hanging on to 83 minutes, and dropping a notch in the process. B+(**) [sp]

Machine Girl: Neon White Soundtrack Part 2: The Burn That Cures (2022, self-released): Of course, there's more: 33 more tracks, 66 minutes. B+(*) [sp]

Madlib/Meyhem Lauren/DJ Muggs: Champagne for Breakfast (2023, Soul Assassins): Producer Otis Jackson, rappers James Rencher and Lawrence Muggerud, all active more than 20 years, the latter since co-founding Cypress Hill in 1988. B+(***) [sp]

Melenas: Ahora (2023, Trouble in Mind): Spanish indie rock band, from Pamplona, third album since 2017, keyboard thick. B+(**) [sp]

Memphis LK: Too Much Fun (2023, Dot Dash, EP): Melbourne, Australia DJ/producer/vocalist Memphis Kelly, Paul Kelly's daughter, several albums and more EPs since 2019. Five tracks, 14:01. Fun, but not too much. B+(**) [sp]

Memphis LK: True Love and Its Consequences (2023, Dot Dash, EP): More fun, or maybe just faster beats. Five songs, 13:16. B+(***) [sp]

Hailu Mergia: Pioneer Works Swing (Live) (2016 [2023], Awesome Tapes From Africa): Ethiopian keyboardist (also plays accordion and melodica), had a couple albums there before moving to America, where he drove a cab before (and probably well after) someone took an interest, reissuing old albums, adding new ones, setting up gigs like this one in Brooklyn. B+(**) [sp]

Lyia Meta: Always You (2023, self-released): Malaysian singer-songwriter, based in Kuala Lumpur, identifies as jazz and sings in English as an impressive contralto voice. First full album, after an EP. Quite some accomplishment, yet nothing I much care for. B [sp]

Stephan Micus: Thunder (2020-22 [2023], ECM): German singer-songwriter, on ECM since 1977, sings some and plays everything here, mostly exotic instruments like lute, sarangi, calabash, nyckelharpa, shakuhachi, bass zither, frame drums and various bells. Very ambient, other than the distant rumbling of brass, which helps. B [sp]

Moka Only: In and of Itself (2023, Urbnet): Canadian rapper Daniel Denton, based in Vancouver, co-founder of Swollen Members, many albums since 1995. Easy underground beats. B+(***) [sp]

Van Morrison: Accentuate the Positive (2023, Exile/Virgin): Second release of a covers set this year, reminds you that while he used to be a pretty great songwriter, he's still a terrific singer. Advantage here is in the songs, moving from the country-folk roots of Moving on Skiffle to rhythm and blues and rock and roll, although he's loose enough on the concept to include the Mercer-Arlen title song, and to start off with a "You Are My Sunshine" that proves to be a high point. Elsewhere, lots of nits one can pick, but really too much fun for that. B+(**) [sp]

The Mountain Goats: Jenny From Thebes (2023, Merge): Singer-songwriter John Darnielle, been at it a long time, reports are that this is a sequel to his 2002 All Hail West Texas and/or a "soft rock opera." Sounds like another batch of probably smart songs that skitter past too quickly for me to get a handle on, albeit with more ballast than usual in the background. B+(**) [sp]

Riley Mulherkar: Riley (2021-22 [2024], Westerlies): Trumpet player, from Seattle, a co-founder of the Westerlies, debut album, with Chris Pattishall (piano) and Rafiq Bhatia both credited with programming and sound design, on a mix of originals and vintage covers ("Stardust," "King Porter Stomp"). B+(***) [cd] [02-16]

Estee Nack: Nacksaw Jim Duggan (2023, Griselda): Another rapper I'd never heard of, Alex Rosario, of Lynn, Mass., but Discogs credits him with 25 albums since 2015, and offers 11 distinct editions of this title (but no CD). Rather fractured, with a long riff on Dominicans in the drug trade. B+(*) [sp]

Nas: Magic 2 (2023, Mass Appeal): Rapper Nasir Jones, prolific since his 1994 Illmatic breakthrough, but seems like he's run dry on titles recently, since Nasir (in 2018) going with three volumes each of King's Disease and Magic. This one is strong, but short (31:54). B+(**) [sp]

Nas: Magic 3 (2023, Mass Appeal): A third volume, following the 2021 EP and in short order after this year's Magic 2. Perhaps wrapping things up, this one runs a healthy 45:43. B+(**) [sp]

Ndox Electrique: Tëd ak Mame Coumba Lamba ak Mame Coumba Mbang (2023, Bongo Joe): Traditional n'doëp community vocal group from Cap-Vert in Senegal, remixed by François R. Cambuzat and Gianna Greco (who also produced Ifriqiyya Electrique), who bring the beats, and some heavy machinery. B+(*) [sp]

Neak: Die Wurzel (2023, self-released): Chicago rapper, digs deep roots, all the way back to 1619. B+(**) [sp]

Camila Nebbia: Una Ofrenda a la Ausencia (2023, Relative Pitch): Tenor saxophonist from Argentina, debut 2015, has been especially busy of late, here with a solo album, a format with pretty severe limitations. Still impressive, building up over time. B+(**) [sp]

Ivan Neville: Touch My Soul (2023, The Funk Garage): From New Orleans, "the greatest place on earth," second generation, son of Aaron Neville, joined his uncles in the Neville Brothers, cut a solo album in 1988, has a few more but this is the first since 2004. Agreeable funk sliding into ballad artistry. B+(**) [sp]

The New Pornographers: Continue as a Guest (2023, Merge): Canadian indie group, debut 2000, with the departure of Dan Bejar the songwriting is down to Carl Newman, although singer Neko Case remains. B+(*) [sp]

Noertker's Moxie: In Flitters: 49 Bits From B*ck*tt (2023, Edgetone): Bassist, recordings go back to 2003's Sketches of Catalonia, with a cover reminiscent of Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain (or maybe Billy Jenkins' Scratches of Spain, a superior album [imho]), but then expanded into multi-volume suites for Dali, Miró, and Gaudi. Here the inspiration is Samuel Beckett's Watt, a novel I bought long ago and never managed to read, but evidently of interest to jazzbos (it's the name of Carla Bley's record label). It's put to good use here, with Annelise Zamula (clarinet/flute), Brett Carson (piano), and Jordan Glenn (drums). No idea what's up with the asterisks. B+(***) [cd]

Nostalgia 77: The Loneliest Flower in the Village (2021 [2023], Jazzman): British jazz producer Benedic Lamdin, has nearly a dozen albums under this alias since 2004, not clear how nostalgic and/or jazzy they are, but this recalls the South Africans who were such a large part of British jazz in the 1970s. B+(**) [sp]

Atle Nymo Trio: Circle Steps (2023, Arc): Norwegian tenor saxophonist, best known for the quintets I.P.A. (6 albums since 2009) and Chrome Hill (4 albums since 2008), also plays bass and contrabass clarinets, trio with bass (Mats Eilertsen) and drums (Michaela Antalová). B+(**) [sp]

Offset: Set It Off (2023, Motown): Rapper Kiari Kendrell Cephus, from Georgia, started in the group Migos, second solo album. Has a nice, steady flow. B+(*) [sp]

Lothar Ohlmeier/Tobias Klein: Left Side Right (2023 [2024], Trytone): Bass clarinet duo, with a little sax (tenor and alto, respectively) on the side. B+(**) [cd] [02-16]

Omnigone: Against the Rest (2023, Bad Time): California ska-punk band led by Adam Davis, second album, the punk aesthetic pumped up with keyb and horns. B+(*) [sp]

Joell Ortiz & L'Orange: Signature (2023, Mello Music): Brooklyn rapper, debut was The Brick: Bodega Chronicles in 2007, had his biggest success with Slaughterhouse. With producer Austin Hart, who usually works with underground rappers, whereas Ortiz is closer to gangsta (but getting out). B+(*) [sp]

Pardoner: Peace Loving People (2023, Bar/None): Seattle post-punk (or some might say "not really punk") outfit, third album since 2017. B+(*) [sp]

Dolly Parton: Rockstar (2023, Butterfly/Big Machine): For those who still count, album number forty-nine, conceptual payback for getting elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although we can argue whether it establishes her bona fides or makes a mockery of them. Thirty songs, 141:18, although there may be editions with more (or less?), six she had a hand in writing, the rest covers, many I never care to hear again -- some in any form, some in this one, although a few I can't help but find amusing (e.g., the 10:45 "Freebird"). None of which denies that in the most generic sense of the term, she's long been a rockstar. If she wasn't, she couldn't have begun to pull off this monstrosity. B [sp]

Hery Paz: Jardineros (2021 [2023], 577): Cuban saxophonist (also flute, piano, suona), based in New York, first album, backed by drums (Francisco Mela) and percussion (Román Diaz, also credited for vocals -- basically a spoken narration, in Spanish). B+(**) [sp]

Vinnie Paz: All Are Guests in the House of God (2023, Iron Tusk Music): Italian-born Philadelphia rapper Vicenzo Luvineri, started in Jedi Mind Tricks, solo debut EP 1996. B+(**) [sp]

Pest Control: Don't Test the Pest (2023, Quality Control HQ): British punk/thrash metal/hardcore group, from Leeds, first album. Tolerable enough. B+(*) [sp]

Sara Petite: The Empress (2023, Forty Below): Country singer-songwriter, from rural Washington via San Diego, seventh album since 2006, promises "the intersection of country twang and roots-rock bang." Delivers too, with an embrace of low-life and high-times. A- [sp]

Pipe: Pipe (2023, Third Uncle): Punk/hardcore band from North Carolina, three albums 1994-97, now a fourth 26 years later. They describe it as "a scorching new album and a lament for affordable living." I put it on, stopped it after 20 seconds to ask whether I wanted to bother with this, then decided against trying to pick something else, and wound up glad I heard it through. B+(**) [sp]

Andy Pratt: Trio (2023 [2024], Thrift Girl): Jazz guitarist, plays standards with some retro swing and Perez Prado to spice up the rhythm, sings some, can't quite cut it as a crooner but tries to slip by with a grin. Name threw me at first, reminding me of a much-hyped singer-songwriter from 1973, still active at least through 2015. B+(*) [cd]

Prince Kaybee: Gemini (2022, self-released): South African house producer, I know very little about him, but this long (15 songs, 76 minutes) set has been identified as his fifth album. B+(**) [sp]

Prins Emanuel: Diagonal Musik II (2023, Music for Dreams): Swedish producer Emanuel Sundin, fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

Purelink: Signs (2023, Peak Oil): Chicago-based electronica trio, very ambient. B+(*) [sp]

Quantic: Dancing While Falling (2023, Play It Again Sam): English soul/funk musician/producer Will Holland, has operated under various aliases since 2001, but since moving to Colombia in 2007 has also released records as Combo Bárbaro, Los Miticos del Ritmo, and Ondatrópica, bringing some of the rhythm back here. B+(***) [sp]

Queens of the Stone Age: In Times New Roman . . . (2023, Matador): Rock band from Seattle, tempted me 25 years ago but proved too hard and too dull to sustain interest. I wouldn't bother now, but as of this writing, they're the top-rated unheard album in my EOY aggregate (71, but in AOTY's more metal-friendly aggregate they only rise to 64; second on my list is Hozier at 94, or 52 at AOTY). Not so heavy after all, but not much good either. B- [sp]

Reggie Quinerly: The Thousandth Scholar (2023 [2024], Redefinition): Drummer, has several albums, wrote all the pieces but one here, that by pianist Manuel Valera. Also with Matt Brewer (bass) and Samuel Torres (percussion), skewing Afro-Latin. B+(**) [cd]

Reneé Rapp: Snow Angel (2023, Interscope): American pop singer-songwriter and actress, first album (not counting a 2022 EP which expanded to 24:48 on a "Deluxe Edition"), songs co-written by guitarist Alexander Glantz, and often others. B [sp]

Raw Poetic: Away Back In (2023, Def Pressé): Rapper Jason Moore, from Virginia, several albums since 2014, most (like this one) with Damu the Fudgemunk, one with his uncle, Archie Shepp. B+(**) [sp]

Jason Rebello/Tim Garland: Life to Life (2022 [2023], Whirlwind): British piano and sax duo, the latter playing tenor, soprano, sopranino, and bass clarinet, both composing (with covers of Chick Corea and trad). B+(**) [sp]

Recognize Ali: Back to Mecca II (2023, Greenfield Music): Ghanaian rapper Nii Ayitey Ajin Adamafio, has quite a few albums/mixtapes since 2014. B+(***) [sp]

Ishmael Reed/West Coast Blues Caravan of All Stars: Blues Lyrics by Ishmael Reed (2023, Reading Group): Spoken word from the legendary novelist, backed by a band featuring David Murray (tenor sax) and Ronnie Stewart (guitar), with Art Halen (trombone), Gregory "Gman" Simmons (bass), Michael Robinson (keyboard), and Michael Skinner (drums). A- [bc]

Jay Royale: Criminal Discourse (2023, self-released): Baltimore rapper Justin Johnson, part of Umbrella Collective, fourth album since 2015. B+(**) [sp]

Naoko Sakata: Infinity (2023, Pomperipossa): Japanese pianist, based in Sweden, has several albums, not sure if this is meant as jazz, but is solo piano, boldly imagined, nicely turned out. B+(*) [sp]

Samo Salamon/Vasil Hadzimanov/Ra-Kalam Bob Moses: Dances of Freedom (2021 [2024], Samo): Slovenian guitarist, has many fine albums since 2003, also plays some banjo here, with piano/keyboards and drums/percussion, both outstanding. A- [cd]

Seablite: Lemon Lights (2023, Mt. St. Mtn.): Indie pop band from San Francisco, second album, Wikipedia redirects to "Suaeda," a genus of seepweeds. B+(*) [sp]

Shabazz Palaces: Robed in Rareness (2023, Sub Pop, EP): Hip-hop group from Seattle led by Ishmael Butler, formerly of Digable Planets, albums since 2011. Seven tracks, 24:03. B+(*) [sp]

Kavita Shah: Cape Verdean Blues (2023, Folkalist): Singer, at least per her degree, born in New York, parents Gujarati from Mumbai, majored in Latin American studies at Harvard and jazz voice at Manhattan School of Music (with Sheila Jordan); studied in Ecuador, Peru, China, and Brazil; "trained in styles ranging from opera to gospel to folk music in more than 20 languages." Subject here is Cesária Évora, and once again she is the perfect student. B+(***) [sp]

Shaheed & DJ Supreme: The Art of Throwing Darts (2023, Communicating Vessels): Hip-hop duo from Birmingham, second album. Has an old school air, the words (doubled up?) coming so fast and hard they effectively are the rhythm. B+(***) [sp]

Shakti: This Moment (2023, Abstract Logix): Indian supergroup formed by English guitarist John McLaughlin in 1975-77, was revived in 1997 for a series of "Remember Shakti" albums, and now again here, with McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain (tabla) returning, joined by Selvaganesh Vinayakaram (kanjira) and Shankar Mahadevan (vocals) from the 1990s, and Ganesh Rajagopalan (violin). B+(*) [sp]

Louis Siciliano: Ancient Cosmic Truth (2023, Musica Presente, EP): Italian trumpet player, seems to have mostly worked on film music, aims for some kind of Miles Davis fusion here, and is mostly successful, for four songs, 22:42. B+(**) [sp]

Antero Sievert: Dear Bossa (2023, JMI): Spanish pianist, second album, a "pan-Latin musical journey" with Pedrito Martinez (Cuban percussion), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), and Elena Pinderhughes (Bay Area flute), plus bassist Corcoran Holt, and a bit of trumpet I'd like to hear more from. B+(***) [sp]

Sigur Rós: Átta (2023, Krunk/BMG): Post-rock band from Iceland, eighth studio album, which you already know if you know Icelandic. B- [sp]

Guilty Simpson: Escalation (2023, Uncommon): Detroit rapper Byron Dwayne Simpson, debut 2008, came up working with J. Dilla and Madlib, produced here by Uncommon Nasa (Paul Loverro). B+(**) [sp]

Josh Sinton: Couloir & Book of Practitioners Vol. 2: Book W (2023 [2024], Form Is Possibility, 2CD): Solo baritone saxophone, the second a volume of Steve Lacy "etudes" -- Sinton led the Lacy tribute band Ideal Bread -- the first originals that are hard to distinguish from Lacy's models. B+(***) [cd]

Alex Sipiagin Quintet: Mel's Vision (2022 [2023], Criss Cross): Russian trumpet/flugelhorn player, moved to US in 1990, has a steady stream of mainstream jazz albums since 1998. With Chris Potter (tenor sax), David Kikoski (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), and Johnathan Blake (drums). Two Sipiagin originals (including the unexplained title song), one from Potter, a Ukrainian folk song, and four modern jazz covers. Long (9 tracks, 71:18). B+(**) [sp]

Sister Zo: Arcana (2023, All Centre, EP): New York-based electronica artist, has at least one previous EP, this one 4 exquisitely balanced rhythm tracks, 17:38. Remarkably satisfying. A- [sp]

Jae Skeese: Abolished Uncertainties (2023, Empire): Rapper from Buffalo, fourth album since 2020, tight with Conway the Machine, but this really gets interesting on the later guest shots -- Jillian Haynesworth on "Red Koolaid" over free jazz sax, and "1 of 1" with Kota Savia channeling Digable Planets. Loosens him up too. A- [sp]

Chucky Smash: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (2023, King of the Beats): J. Samuels, part of a Bronx hip-hop trio called the Legion, which recorded some in the 1990s, with one more album from 2019. B+(*) [sp]

Caitlyn Smith: High & Low (2023, Monument): Country singer-songwriter, based in Nashville, third album. B+(*) [sp]

Ches Smith: Laugh Ash (2023 [2024], Pyroclastic): Drummer, many side-credits since 2000, his own records fairly scattered (or, I suppose, "eclectic"). He composed this, with electronics and percussion, with a string section, and spots for voice (Shara Lunon), flute (Anna Webber), clarinet (Oscar Noriega), tenor sax (James Brandon Lewis), and trumpet (Nate Wooley), with Shahzad Ismaily (bass and keyboards). Some of this are as impressive as you'd hope for, but only scattered bits, nothing I feel compelled to pursue. So I won't be surprised when this shows up on EOY lists. B+(*) [cd] [02-02]

Jimi "Primetime" Smith & Bob Corritore: The World in a Jug (2023, Vizztone/SWMAF): Blues guitarist-singer from Chicago, based in Minneapolis, third album (21 years after a second called Back on Track), mostly originals credited to Minford James Smith, with Corritore on harmonica. B+(***) [sp]

Jorja Smith: Falling or Flying (2023, FAMM): British singer-songwriter, father Jamaican, second album. B+(***) [sp]

Jim Snidero: For All We Know (2023 [2024], Savant): Alto saxophonist, many albums since 1989, straightforward trio here with Peter Washington (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums), playing eight standards. Splendidly, of course. A- [cd] [02-16]

Cleo Sol: Heaven (2023, Forever Living Originals): British soul singer Cleopatra Nikolic, third solo album. B+(*) [sp]

Cleo Sol: Gold (2023, Forever Living Originals): Fourth album, came out just two weeks after Heaven, and is a slightly more substantial effort (42:03 vs. 32:04), with slightly more Chic (or maybe just Sault?) reverberations. B+(**) [sp]

Spectacular Diagnostics: Raw Lessons (2023, Rucksack): Chicago hip-hop producer Robert Krums. Has several previous "Raw" titles (Raw Unknown, Raw Studies). B+(**) [sp]

Joe Stamm Band: Wild Man (2023, self-released): Country rock band, from Illinois, fourth album since 2018. B+(*) [sp]

Marnie Stern: The Comeback Kid (2023, Joyful Noise): Singer-songwriter, plays guitar and has a rep for that, fifth album since 2007, but ten years after her fourth. Pop overtones over something dense and mathy. B+(**) [sp]

Stik Figa X The Expert: Ritual (2023, Rucksack): Rapper John Westbrook, originally from Kansas but based in Fort Worth, Discogs style is "conscious," which I take to mean smart and coherent, which he most certainly is. The Expert is Irish hip-hop producer Cian Galvin, who earns his moniker. A- [sp]

The Dave Stryker Trio With Bob Mintzer: Groove Street (2023 [2024], Strikezone): Guitarist, has long settled into the organ groove tradition, releasing a new iteration each January. Trio names on cover: Jared Gold (organ) and McClenty Hunter (drums), with the saxophonist joining in, even contributing a couple of songs. B+(**) [cd] [01-24]

Jonathan Suazo: Ricano (2023, Ropeadope): Alto saxophonist from Puerto Rico, based in Boston, has a couple previous albums, aims for the whole "Afro-Caribbean experience" here, with lots of guests (he moves to tenor on the Miguel Zenón spot), including vocals. Too massive for my taste, but the sax is most impressive, and the rest is plenty authentic. B+(***) [sp]

AJ Suede & Televangel: Parthian Shots (2023, Fake Four): Rapper from Seattle, debut 2015; Discogs lists several alias for the producer, including Ian Taggart. B+(*) [sp]

Surgeon: Crash Recoil (2023, Tresor): English electronica producer Anthony Child, was most active 1997-2000, with several long gaps since then. Fairly simple patterns run through at a relentless pace, reminds me of some game music themes, but exceptionally compelling. B+(***) [sp]

Rob Sussman: Top Secret Lab (2023, Sus4music): New York-based trombonist, also plays keyboards, released an eponymous album in 2002, since then has mostly appeared in groups like Swingadelic and Funk Shui NYC. Ends with a pretty energetic "When a Man Loves a Woman." B+(*) [cd]

Sweeping Promises: Good Living Is Coming for You (2023, Sub Pop): Duo (Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug), met as students in Arkansas, moved to Boston, recorded a pretty good album there, relocated to Lawrence, Kansas, where they recorded this sophomore effort. B+(**) [sp]

Willie Tea Taylor & the Fellership: The Great Western Hangover (2023, self-released): Alt-country singer-songwriter, from Oakdale, California, which claims to be the "cowboy capital of the world." B+(**) [sp]

Tele Novella: Poet's Tooth (2023, Kill Rock Stars): Texas-based "indie psych" band, principally Natalie Ribbons and Jason Chronis, third album. B+(*) [sp]

Emilio Teubal: Futuro (2021 [2023], Not Yet): Argentinian pianist, based in New York, first album 2009, mostly trio with bass (Pablo Lanouguere) and drums (Chris Michael or Brian Shankar Adler), with a few guests, like Sam Sadigursky (clarinet on three tracks) or Chris Dingman (vibes on three). B+(**) [sp]

Tomu DJ: Crazy Trip (2023, No Bias, EP): From California, has a couple previous releases, this a short album (7 tracks, 27:06), enticing beats scattered about a swishy ambient space. B+(***) [sp]

Rian Treanor & Ocen James: Saccades (2023, Nyege Nyege Tapes): British electronica producer, working here with a Ugandan, who mixes traditional acoustic instruments with electronics. B+(**) [sp]

V Knuckles & Phoniks: The Next Chapter (2023, Don't Sleep): Boston rapper Rahim Muhammad, from the group N.B.S. [Natural Born Spitters], ten albums 2002-20, first solo album, produced by Phoniks (from Portland, ME). Old school vibe, some nice features. B+(***) [sp]

Katie Von Schleicher: A Little Touch of Schleicher in the Night (2023, Sipsman): Brooklyn singer-songwriter, fifth album since 2012. B+(*) [sp]

Walter Wolfman Washington: Feel So at Home (2022 [2023], Tipitina's Record Club): Blues guitarist-singer from New Orleans, records start in 1981. Last record before he died in December 2022, feints toward easy listening until his guitar finds the right note. B+(*) [sp]

Bobby West: Big Trippin' (2023, Soulville Sound): Los Angeles-based pianist, possibly the same one Discogs credits with session work for James Taylor and Buffy Sainte Marie in the 1970s, and for R. Kelly in the 1990s. Second album, after a debut in 2021. Trio, nice touch on the occasional ballad, but likes them fast, with lots of frills. B+(*) [sp]

Sam Wilkes: Driving (2023, Wilkes): Bassist, producer, has worked with saxophonist Sam Gendel, plays various instruments and sings some here. B+(*) [sp]

Hank Williams IV: Honky Tonk Habit (2023, Lone Star Reserve, EP): Original name Ricky Fitzgerald, his claim to great-grandson status follows the assertion that Lewis Fitzgerald was Hank's illegitimate son (b. 1943, when Hank would have been about 19). So not as clear as Coleman Williams (dba IV), who goes back through his father Shelton Williams (aka Hank III) and Hank Jr., who was three when his already-estranged father died. Still, he does a fair approximation of the voice, and his "Hank Williams Ghost" is an inspired, touching, and pathetic reprisal of "Living Proof." Five songs, 16:39. B+(*) [sp]

Jaime Wyatt: Feel Good (2023, New West): Country singer-songwriter, second album. B [sp]

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 16: Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison (2023, Jazz Is Dead): Jazz didn't really die in the 1970s, but while Miles Davis and the fusioneers were filling arenas, and most of the real stuff went underground (mostly to be sustained on European labels), there were others struggling to maintain a populist connection, even if the business didn't validate them. The idea here is for the producers to seek out long-forgotten jazz-funk heroes and revive them with fresh grooves. The guests here were main guys in a protean Detroit group, the Tribe, playing trombone and tenor sax. B+(**) [sp]

Yungmorpheus & Real Bad Man: The Chalice & the Blade (2023, Real Bad Man): California hip-hop artist Colby Campbell, a dozen-plus albums since 2016, working here with producer Adam Weissman. B+(**) [sp]

Yungmorpheus: From Whence It Came (2023, Lex): Another one, understated lyrics over minimal beats. B+(*) [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Jewel Ackah: Electric Hi-Life (1986 [2023], BBE): Highlife singer from Ghana (1945-2018), his name long imprinted on my mind thanks to a single Christgau review of his elusive 1989 album My Dear. Discogs credits him with 27 albums, and a birth date that doesn't jive with other sources. B+(***) [sp]

Cannonball Adderley Quintet: In Concert: Falkoner Centret, Copenhagen, Denmark, April 13, 1961 (1961 [2023], SteepleChase): Hard bop group, with brother Nat Adderley (trumpet), Victor Feldman (piano/vibes), Sam Jones (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums), playing a long set (8 songs, 4 by Feldman to 1 by the leader, 71:59). B+(***) [sp]

Dorothy Ashby: With Strings Attached (1957-1965) (1957-65 [2023], New Land): Jazz harpist (1932-86), probably the only one of note before recent years brought us Edmar Castañeda and Brandee Younger (sure, Alice Coltrane dabbled a bit). This box, which finished 7th in this year's Jazz Critics Poll, remasters her first six LPs on fresh vinyl. I can't speak to the sound quality, but having reviewed all of the albums (see below), I can say that the concept is more intriguing than the realization. B+(*) [r/yt]

Danger Mouse & Jemini: Born Again (2003-04 [2023], Lex): Hip-hop producer Brian Burton and rapper Thomas Smith (also known as Jemini the Gifted One), released an album together as Ghetto Pop Life, then recorded this one, shelved until this release -- meanwhile, Danger Mouse achieved a measure of fame for his Beatles remix, The Gray Album. This really hops. A- [bc]

Eddie Lockjaw Davis Quartet: All of Me (1983 [2023], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, debut 1951, had a very productive decade with Prestige from 1958, was scrapping for dates after that, this from a stop in Copenhagen with locals (counting expat pianist Kenny Drew, backed here by Jesper Lundgaard and Svend-Erik Nørregaard on bass and drums). [Digital includes an extra track added to the 1994 CD, but the 2023 vinyl does not.] B+(***) [sp]

J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan Volume 4: The Nippon Columbia Label 1968-1981 (1968-81 [2023], BBE): It's hard in America to get any sense of jazz in Japan, but this series seems to be having little trouble picking up superb examples, nearly all from musicians I never heard of. (The Lithuanian label NoBusiness has also been fruitfully exploring Japanese jazz, focusing on the avant-garde there.) Nippon Columbia was founded as Nipponophone in 1910, licensing Columbia trademarks as early as 1931, and changing the company name in 1946, but has always remained independent. Not clear how important jazz was to Nippon Columbia (or vice versa), but this ranges widely and impressively, through hard bop combos, big bands, and a lot of Miles Davis influences. B+(***) [sp]

Per 'Texas' Johansson: Alla Mina Kompisar (1998 [2023], Moserobie): Swedish reeds player, second album, plays tenor/baritone sax and clarinets here, with Fredrik Ljunkgvist (four saxes), Johan Lindström (pedal steel guitar), Dan Berglund (bass), and Mikel Ulfberg (drums). A- [sp]

Kenneth Kiesler/University of Michigan Opera Theatre: James P. Johnson: De Organizer/The Dreamy Kid (Excerpts) (2006 [2023], Naxos): I'm inclined to file classical music by the performer, with the composer included in the title, but even there the cover makes this difficult, as I wound up flipping the larger type order, and ignoring a long list of smaller-type names. (I did give into the obvious and listed this under Johnson in the Jazz Critics Poll standings, but figured I should be more consistent here.) Johnson (1894-1955) is widely recognized as an outstanding stride pianist, but his ambitions as a composer are less well known. James Dapogny, a superb stride pianist in his own right, arranged these two short operas, the former with lyrics by Langston Hughes, the latter Eugene O'Neill. I've never liked opera, but I can't help but applaud union organizers. B+(*) [sp]

Ary Lobo: Ary Lobo 1958-1966 [Limited Dance Edition No. 19] (1958-66 [2023], Analog Africa): Brazilian singer, from Belém in the northeast (1930-80), this picks up 15 early recordings, more upbeat and salsa-like than the samba and bossa nova that was becoming popular at the time. B+(***) [bc]

Evan Parker: NYC 1978 (1978 [2023], Relative Pitch): British avant-saxophonist, first trip to America, six numbered pieces named for the venue (Environ), all solo, four on soprano, two on tenor. B+(***) [sp]

Oscar Peterson: Con Alma: Live in Lugano, 1964 (1964 [2023], Mack Avenue): More from the Trio, with Ray Brown (bass) and Ed Thigpen (drums). B+(**) [sp]

WaJazz: Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol. I: Deep, Heavy and Beautiful Jazz From Japan 1968-1984: The Nippon Columbia Masters (1968-84 [2022], Universounds): Label is a Tokyo record store, owned by Yosuk Ogawa, who selected this material (and is credited by Discogs). B+(**) [sp]

WaJazz: Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol II: Deep, Heavy and Beautiful Jazz From Japan 1962-1985: The King Records Masters (1962-85 [2023], Universounds): A second volume, but only seems to be available as 2-LP, with Bandcamp limited to annoyingly short excerpts (with fades), accenting the eclecticism. B [bc]

Mal Waldron/Terumasa Hino: Reminscent Suite (1973 [2024], BBE): Pianist, started in the mid-1950s supporting singer Billie Holiday, and may still be best known for that, but he produced major works for Prestige 1956-62, and moved decisively into avant-jazz later on, especially with Enja, ECM, and Soul Note. He cut this quintet set in Japan with the well-known trumpet player, each writing a side-long piece. A- [sp]

Yo! Boombox: Early Independent Hip Holp, Electro and Disco Rap, 1979-83 (1979-83 [2023], Soul Jazz): Only groups here I recognize are Funky Four Plus One More and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, but twelve others cop the same funky beats with the same sea-sawing round of vocals, all in long, 12-inch versions that take 14 songs to 101 minutes. B+(***) [sp]

Old Music

Dorothy Ashby: The Jazz Harpist (1957, Regent): From Detroit (1932-86), started on piano but switched to harp by 1952, was the first jazz musician to establish herself on the instrument. First album, with Frank Wess (flute), Ed Thigpen (drums), and bass (Eddie Jones or Wendell Marshall). Aside from the occasional fancy frill, first thought is this could be guitar, so the real question may be how you feel about flute. B+(**) [yt]

Dorothy Ashby With Frank Wess: Hip Harp (1958, Prestige): Their second harp and flute album, with Herman Wright on bass and Art Taylor on drums, playing three Ashby originals and four standards. Goes a bit soft. B [r]

Dorothy Ashby and Frank Wess: In a Minor Groove (1958, New Jazz): Third album, Roy Haynes takes over drums, two originals to six covers. Very minor. B [r]

Dorothy Ashby: Soft Winds: The Swinging Harp of Dorothy Ashby (1961, Jazzland): Fourth album, only one original ("With Strings Attached," which would be the title of her box), title from a Benny Goodman tune, backed by Terry Pollard (piano and vibes), Herman Wright (bass), and Jimmy Cobb (drums). B [yt]

Dorothy Ashby: Dorothy Ashby (1962, Argo): Fifth album, first with just a trio, her harp with bass (Herman Wright) and drums (John Tooley). In some ways, the focus helps. B+(**) [yt]

Dorothy Ashby: The Jazz Harpist (1957-62 [2012], Fresh Sound, 3CD): A remaster of her first five albums, which leaves it one short of the more recent (and much more expensive) With Strings Attached vinyl box. B+(*) [r/yt]

Dorothy Ashby: The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby (1965, Atlantic): The first thing you notice here is a big improvement at bass, with Richard Davis taking over, although Willie Bobo adds some extra percussion. The trombones don't enter until the third track, and return for six (of ten) tracks. B+(*) [yt]

Dorothy Ashby: Afro-Harping (1968, Cadet): With anonymous orchestra, "arranged and conducted by Richard Evans," who also wrote the "featuring" song on the cover, "Soul Vibrations." Evans seems to think that a little more groove will help, and it does, but only so much. B+(*) [sp]

Dorothy Ashby: Dorothy's Harp (1969, Cadet): Richard Evans producing again, also wrote two pieces, as did the harpist, combined with seven covers that are light at best, or maybe the word I want is "treacly"? B- [sp]

Dorothy Ashby: The Rubáiyát of Dorothy Ashby (1969-70 [1970], Cadet): "Original compositions in spired by the words of Omar Khayyam, arranged and conducted by Richard Evans." Ashby plays koto (pictured on the cover) as well as harp, and sings. This is supposed to be a pioneering world jazz album, but Davis keeps it a bit too pat. B [sp]

Danger Mouse & Jemini: Ghetto Pop Life (2003, Lex): Rapper Thomas Smith had an EP in 1995, then this collaboration and its only-recently-released sequel, and that's about it -- while producer Brian Burton keeps recruiting new collaborators. This isn't quite as consistent as the sequel. B+(***) [sp]

Talib Kweli/Madlib: Liberation (2007, Blacksmith Music): Rapper, last name Greene, broke out with Mos Def as Black Star in 1998, with Hi-Tek as Reflection Eternal in 2000, released a solo album in 2002. I found this one down after failing to find Liberation 2 (2023) on streaming. This was given away as a freebie for a week, then withdrawn, so is similarly scarce. Short (30:12), but the production is dazzling, and the guy is a thinker: "I went to college, then I left/ That's when I got my education." (Unlike the college dropouts who simply couldn't wait to get rich.) A- [yt]

Native Soul: Teenage Dreams (2021, Awesome Tapes From Africa): South African duo, teens, programming amapiano beats that keep coming at you like game music, twelve pieces, 82 minutes. Christgau added Amapiano to the title, but I'm not seeing any hint of that on the cover scans. A- [sp]

Camila Nebbia/Patrick Shiroishi: The Human Being as a Fragile Article (2021, Trouble in Mind): Sax duo, alto and baritone for Shiroishi, tenor for Nebbia, latter speaks, samples and fx for both. B+(**) [sp]

Bill Scorzari: Through These Waves (2016, self-released): Singer-songwriter from New York, turned from law to music after his father ("a preeminent New York Trial Attorney") passed. Second album (but first of three he sent me). Vocals sound like Dylan at first, but give him time and they're soon his own, as are the stories and views. A- [cd]

Bill Scorzari: Now I'm Free (2019, self-released): Third album. Long, songs mostly about relationships, considered and carefully assembled, especially the long "Yes I Can." Took me quite some while, but may be his best. A- [cd]

Bill Scorzari: Just the Same (2015, self-released): First album, last heard. He's got his basic sound, some harmonica, some songs that ramble but don't stick with you. B+(*) [sp]

Tomu DJ: Feminista (2021, self-released): First album, eight songs running 41:49. B+(**) [sp]

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:

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia, With Love (2023, Tao Forms, 2CD): [was: A-] A

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 41743 [41531] rated (+212), 16 [21] unrated (-5).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

January 8, 2024

Music: Current count 41584 [41531] rated (+53), 23 [21] unrated (+2).

Back on regular schedule after the holiday calendar confusion. The 18th Annual Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll came out quickly on January 2. Article links at ArtsFuse:

The complete results and all 159 ballots are on my Jazz Poll Website.

After the fact, and not as part of the package, I wrote up a little Music Week: Jazz Poll blog piece. I offer a little bit of analysis there, not so much about the winning records but of the process of putting the Poll together. Obviously, I could have written a lot more, but I was frustrated by the lack of analysis tools. [PS: One mistake in that piece was citing Pyroclastic when I meant Tao Forms, for James Brandon Lewis's label. Both are small, artist-owned labels that extend significantly beyond their owner's albums, and in our Poll punch way over weight. Pyroclastic, whose ace publicist is Braithwaite & Katz, has 16 albums by 10 artists in our top-fifties. Tao Forms has 5 top-fifties by 3 artists, with two wins.]

But one bit of data I did manage to include is a list of albums that made my Jazz A-list (80 new and 22 old albums) but didn't show up on any of the voters' ballots: 16 new and 3 old. On the other hand, I calculated that, even after enjoying the advantage of seeing voters' ballots weeks in advance of their publication, and having logged grades for 865 jazz albums this year, I still hadn't heard 34% of the 535 new albums that got votes, or 39.8% of the old.

If/when I get time, I'd like to do some more analysis of the data. And, of course, I'd like to see what other people can do in terms of analyzing the data. At some point I hope to collect some of the mail and discussion based on the Poll. One thing I can point you to now is a Facebook post by Matt Merewitz (the publicist for the winning album), which I also collected notes from in my notebook.

Several people have offered to help, which I much appreciate -- although I haven't had time yet to figure out what help I most need. At this point, the things that would be most useful for me are to take a critical look at the website, especially the early years, and note where information needs to be improved (or in some cases, provided in the first place). Also, send me questions. I started to write a FAQ file, but it's always harder to think of questions than it is to answer them. I'm usually pretty diligent about working off assigned tasks, but I tend to flounder when I have to figure out what to do myself.

One thing I want to do more of is to compare our Poll against others. I haven't added much jazz data to my ever-growing EOY aggregate file, but will try to remedy that next week. In particular, I should then be able to generate a list of albums that appeared on other jazz lists but not on our ballots.

Meanwhile, one poll I want to mention here is one just published this week by the Spanish jazz magazine, El Intruso (which I voted in). Short on albums, with only a top five, and long on categories (instruments, groups, functions -- for them, with no pretense of significance, I just pick a few names off the top of my head, figuring they deserve mention, but of course so do many others). The top six albums (our finish in brackets):

  1. Steve Lehman & Orchestre National De Jazz, Ex Machina (Pi) 43 [3]
  2. Sylvie Courvoisier, Chimaera (Intakt) 40 [19]
  3. Jaimie Branch, Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) (International Anthem) 30 [9]
  4. James Brandon Lewis/Red Lily Quintet, For Mahalia, With Love (TAO Forms) 27 [1]
  5. Darius Jones, fLuXkit Vancouver (i-t-s suite but sacred) (We Jazz Records/Northern Spy) 23 [15]
  6. Rodrigo Amado The Bridge, Beyond The Margins (Trost) 23 [24]

I often tack my grades onto lists like this one, but the only one here that didn't make my A-list was Jaimie Branch's, after two previous ones that did (perhaps one I should revisit?). Their poll tilts more toward European artists (two in the top six; the same two finished highest among Europeans in our poll, but at 19 and 24). That's no surprise, given that our share of American voters is still up around 80%, where theirs is a bit less than 40% (still a pretty large bloc). They also lean slightly more avant, although I can't say how much of that has to do with nationality as opposed to taste and interest.

Of El Intruso's 62 voters, 31 also voted in our poll; 7 more were invited but didn't respond; leaving 24 not invited (some I knew the names of but hadn't gotten around to vetting, and probably didn't have email for, plus a few more I wasn't even aware of). Given that their ballots and credentials are included in the poll, I should have studied harder.

I mentioned the EOY Aggregate file above. I've been trying to add specialized lists for hip-hop into it, as those records seem to be especially underrepresented in the lists collected by outfits like Album of the Year. By far the most useful list I've found is HHGA's The Best Hip Hop Albums of 2023. That send me looking for more than a dozen albums I was previously unaware of, eight of which I wound up adding to my Non-Jazz A-List just this week (stretching it out to 68 albums, still well short of the 80 on the Jazz A-List.

Although it seems like list-making season should be over now, there are still a lot of lists I haven't gotten to (current total: 238; last year: 565). No chance I will come close to 2022, but I have yet to factor in the Jazz Critics Poll (aggregate and most individual ballots), and while I've picked up some ballots from PJRP on the fly, I haven't yet made a systematic trawl through their feed. I also haven't counted sources like Ye Wei Blog, or Saving Country Music. Nor have I looked through the many international lists at Acclaimed Music Forums. I haven't even glanced at Uncle Fester yet (and may not, given how metal-heavy his lists are).

I'm torn right now because I have a lot of momentum toward wrapping up Music Year 2023, and readying the jazz poll for next year's round. On the other hand, I've resolved to spend the next month making a serious push toward writing the long-simmering political book. It's getting late to have any practical effect in 2024, and plenty of people will tell you that this is the year that will break democracy in America . . . if we don't rally and do lots of things to change people's minds. Those things seem clear enough in my mind to write without getting bogged down in research. So I figure I should give it a month, and see if what I come up with makes my friends think the effort is worth the trouble.

I've been pacing myself with my weekly Speaking of Which posts -- the first under that name dating to June 18, 2021, the latest yesterday (110 of them, with 561,232 words, but there are more similar pieces going back to the early days of the notebook, the political pieces collected into four Last Days book files: 2000-09 (766k words), 2009-2013 (768k), 2013-2017 (675k), 2017-2020 (651k), so I can look back on 3.4 million words. Reducing them to 60k would be a daunting amount of work, but remembering enough basic ideas to rattle off 30k from the top of my head should be easy. From that point, I could use some help checking facts, adding fine points, and tightening up the prose a bit, but there's reason to think that help might not be too hard to come by. Getting the thing started is, and has always been, the problem.

I won't start today, and I may not tomorrow -- it going to snow tonight, and I'm going to make meatloaf tomorrow -- plus I have some fairly urgent housekeeping chores I've been putting off. But sometime in the next week or so I am resolved to set out and start grinding down on it.

One more pretty major correction: in my review of Don Fiorino/Andy Haas: The Accidentals (from Dec. 4, 2023) I wrongly assumed that Jay Dee Daugherty was the same person as the late Bush Tetras and Radio I-Ching drummer Dee Pop. Daugherty, who appeared with Fiorino and Haas at a tribute for Dee Pop (Dimitri Papadopoulos), is very much alive.

January 15, 2024

Seriously long Speaking of Which posted yesterday (5748 words, 135 links). The Joshua Frank piece, Making Gaza Unlivable, is important, as are the additional points I made last week and this. Also consider the Michael Kruse piece on Trump's long assault on the very notion of justice.

It's painfully cold here in Kansas tonight, or at least that's how I'm feeling it. We haven't been out in several days. I still have to take the trash out tonight, and I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I'm dreading both. [OK, trash went out. And dentist office decided to shut down tomorrow, so I'm off the hook.] Of course, it's worse north of here. I see where Trump is urging his supporters to vote in Iowa even if it kills you. Easy for him to say. But "voting to kill" has been a Republican tradition, at least since right-wing journo Jim Geraghty used it as a book title (2006, about the 2004 election). [PS: Trump won, but no reports yet on the collateral damage.]

I've been trying to clean up some things, especially with the EOY lists. One big thing I did was to scan through the Pazz + Jop Rip-Off Poll ballots, and count a bunch of them (about 110, out of 338?). Most were names I recognized, mostly from having counted them before (90), but another 20 or so just struck me as interesting ballots. This is one way my subjective bias infects the standings, but the only rooting interest I had this year was for Olivia Rodrigo over Boygenius, and in that my selection didn't help at all.

The more substantive biases in the aggregate are that I follow a lot of jazz critics, and also know many critics (or just fans) who follow Robert Christgau. I've also factored Christgau's grades into the point totals, so his more esoteric picks are generously represented in the totals. (As are my grades, as far as they get you.) Since I regard the EOY aggregate as a tool for prospecting unheard albums, those biases are mostly useful in finding other lists with intersecting tastes. Still, our picks don't have a lot of sway in the upper tiers of the aggregate, and many fall well down the list.

I finally factored my Jazz and Non-Jazz lists into the aggregate, although I haven't picked up all the lesser grades yet. And while I've entered the top results from the Jazz Critics Poll, thus far I've entered very few individual ballots. I'll add some, plus whatever other jazz lists I find. After last week's bumper crop of underground hip-hop, pickings have thinned out a bit this week. Saving Country Music's album of the year (Gabe Lee) got an A- this week, but nothing else made the grade. Sara Petite came from Ye Wei Blog, but other albums I checked from there fell short.

Also, note that three A- albums this week were in Old Music, but not very old. The tip for the South African record came from Christgau's January CG. The other two came in the mail well after I gave an A- to Bill Scorzari's The Crosswinds of Kansas (again, following up on a Christgau tip). Having the CDs helped, but only because the albums were so good in the first place.

No idea how much more of this I'll bother with. I usually wait until the end of February to save off a "frozen" annual list, but my rated count this year is already up to 1549, which if not a personal record is pretty close. And I'm itching to move onto other things, so it's tempting to call it a year. Now, if only it'd warm up a bit.

January 22, 2024

I wrote a pretty substantial Speaking of Which over the weekend, including more on the ongoing genocide in Gaza, and on why Israel wants to see the rest of the Middle East up in flames, figuring that will force the Americans into the fight, as opposed to their usual role, which is giving Israel arms, money, and advice (which they are freer than ever to ignore, although Netanyahu was more public than usual in slapping Biden down over the two-state fantasy). I've added a couple more links since initial posting (look for the red right-border stripe), and will probably add a few more before (or after) this gets posted.

Also stuff there on Iowa and New Hampshire, as Republicans continue to embrace the criminality their leaders have been promoting at least since Nixon.

I haven't made anything like a transition to knuckling down on the book yet. A big chunk of last week went to adding all of the Jazz Critics Poll ballots to my EOY aggregate. The result was, predictably enough, a massive surge for jazz albums in the overall standings:

  1. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((World War)) (International Anthem)
  2. James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia With Love (Tao Forms)
  3. Jason Moran: From the Dancehall to the Battlefield (Yes)
  4. Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the Garden (Constellation)
  5. Steve Lehman/Orchestre National de Jazz: Ex Machina (Pi)
  6. Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons Live at the Village Vanguard (Pyroclastic)
  7. Tyshawn Sorey: Continuing (Pi)
  8. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Dynamic Maximum Tension (Nonesuch)
  9. Lakecia Benjamin: Phoenix (Whirlwind)
  10. Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light (Impulse!)

I expect those standings to slide back down over the next week, although I'm still searching specifically for jazz lists. Since I finished with the ballots, I've already seen one change, where Jaimie Branch pulled back ahead of James Brandon Lewis -- the former has had quite a bit of crossover list support, but only came in 9th in the Poll. Matana Roberts, Lakecia Benjamin, and Irreversible Entanglements also do somewhat better away from the jazz critics.

I haven't added Brad Luen's Expert Witness Poll results in yet, but did manage to pick up some individual ballots. A late expansion of Greg Morton's list led me to Brazilian singer Patricia Bastos this week. I also picked up two more A- titles from the extraordinary Hip Hop Golden Age list. I also happened on some pretty decent electronica while adding Mixmag's 169 albums to the aggregate. And when I got hard up for something to play at the moment, I dipped into the 2024 queue, usually (not always) finding items that are already out.

I'll probably spend some more time wrapping up the EOY aggregate, and checking out some of the albums I'm only now finding out about, but should be winding that down this week. I also have a few things on the Jazz Critics Poll left to wrap up, and some mail I haven't gotten to. I also have a database update to the Robert Christgau website almost ready to go.

January 29, 2024

Music: Current count 41743 [41697] rated (+46), 16 [19] unrated (-3).

Over the weekend, I cobbled together another substantial Speaking of Which (130 links, 7048 words). Feels pretty hopeless, but did give me a couple days respite from a week of flopping haplessly, accomplishing nothing.

Speaking of nothing, here's this week's catch. Five of six A- releases are jazz; four of six are 2024 releases. The best of the batch is the exception to both generalizations, which seems about right. They all seem rather marginal, but so do most things these days. Still, they're all interesting, very accomplished records, as are the next tier down. By the way, there's more "burger highlife" coming from the "mysterious bin-bags" that brought forth the Jewel Ackah record.

No telling how far behind I am with various bookkeeping tasks. One thing I did manage to do was to add results from Brad Luen's The 13th Annual Expert Witness Poll to the EOY aggregate, all the way down to the singletons. Several things there I still haven't heard.


Sources noted as follows:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at
  • [r] available at (formerly Rhapsody)
  • [sc] available at
  • [sp] available at
  • [yt] available at
  • available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo

Grades are probably self-explanatory, aside from B+, which is subdivided 1-2-3 stars, because most records that come my way are pretty good, but they're not all that good.