Streamnotes: February 26, 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 January 28. Past reviews and more information are available here (23272+ records).


Recent Releases

Acceleration Due to Gravity: Jonesville: Music by and for Sam Jones (2023 [2024], Hot Cup, EP): Nonet led by bassist Moppa Elliott, best known for his "bebop terrorist" group Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Similar swagger here, ripping through seven pieces (22:01) by or for the esteemed bebop bassist (1924-81). B+(***) [cd]

Advancing on a Wild Pitch: Disasters, Vol. 2 (2023 [2024], Hot Cup): Bassist Moppa Elliott again, the highly recommended 2022 release of Disasters, Vol. 1 credited to his old band, Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Back to a quintet here, with Sam Kulik (trombone), Charles Evans (baritone sax), Danny Fox (piano), and Christian Coleman (drums). Title reflects on his heritage, with seven songs (36:01) each "named after towns in Pennsylvania that experienced historical disasters." Sounds like unfinished bebop from the 1950s, riffing over barely-controlled swing. [PS: Not clear why I got the PR sheet but no CD, as I did with Jonesville. Release so far seems limited to digital and LP.] A- [bc]

Colby Acuff: Western White Pines (2023, Sony Music Nashville): Country singer-songwriter, from Idaho, second album, claims he's "too Idaho for Texas, too Texas for Nashville." Good songs, and sings them hard. B+(***) [sp]

Tanner Adell: Buckle Bunny (2023, Columbia, EP): Debut mixtape, eight songs, 23:59, slotted country but hip-hop to the core, or maybe that should be vice versa? B+(***) [sp]

Eric Alexander: A New Beginning: Alto Saxophone With Strings (2021 [2023], HighNote): Mainstream saxophonist, always played tenor (as far as I recall), usually in conventional quartets (although he's done a lot of work on the side, including the larger One for All group), but tried his hand with strings in 2019, arranged this time by Bill Dobbins. Still, this seems much like his typical quartet outing, with his usual group: David Hazeltine (piano), John Webber (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Jim Alfredson: Family Business (2021 [2023], Posi-Tone): Organ player, has a previous album from 2009, gets the red carpet treatment from his new mainstream label here, with headliners Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Diego Rivera (tenor sax), Michael Dease (trombone), Will Bernard (guitar), and EJ Strickland (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Ben Allison/Steve Cardenas/Ted Nash: Tell the Birds I Said Hello: The Music of Herbie Nichols (2022 [2024], Sonic Camera): Bass, guitar, and tenor sax, fourth album as a trio, also effectively a successor to Allison's Herbie Nichols Project, which recorded three albums 1996-2001, and returns here with arrangements of eight previously unperformed compositions by Nichols (1919-63). B+(***) [sp]

Joe Alterman: Joe Alterman Plays Les McCann: Big Mo & Little Joe: (2023, Joe Alterman Music): Pianist, from Georgia, half-dozen albums since 2009, leads a trio with Kevin Smith (bass) and Justin Chesarek (drums), playing eleven Les McCann compositions, including one written with Alterman in 2021. This came out a few months before McCann (88) died in December. B+(**) [sp]

Bill Anschell: Improbable Solutions (2020-23 [2024], Origin): Pianist, based in Seattle, debut 1995, adds electronics to the mix here, with guitarist Brian Monroney joining the trio on five (of nine) tracks, extra percussion on three, moving into fusion the the finale. B+(*) [cd]

Alex Anwandter: El Diablo En El Cuerpo (2023, 5 AM): Singer-songwriter from Chile, started as vocalist for Teleradio Donoso, based in Los Angeles, sixth album. Big beats carry the day. B+(**) [sp]

Atmosphere: Talk Talk EP (2023, Rhymesayers Entertainment): Hip-hop duo from Minneapolis, started out in 1997, still underground, despite the "EP" in the title this runs 10 songs, 40:20. Two guest spots for Bat Flower; one more shared by Buck 65 and Kool Keith. B+(**) [sp]

Aunty Rayzor: Viral Wreckage (2023, Hakuna Kulala): Bisola Olungbenga, from Nigeria, first album, working with producers Titi Bakorta (from Congo), Ill Gee (Uganda), Scotch Rolex (Japan), DJ Chris Fontedofunk (Brazil), Debmaster (France), Slimcase (Nigeria), and Kabeaushe (Kenya), rapping in Yoruba (and some English) over razor-sharp electrobeats. Last cut (feat. Bakorta) adds a delightful bit of soukous guitar to the mix. B+(***) [sp]

Bad Bunny: Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Manana (2023, Rimas Entertainment): Puerto Rican, major reggaeton star, fifth album, first album in 2018 rose to 11 on US pop chart (1 Latin), second album hit 2, this makes 3 straight number ones. I've played them all, and never really connected -- seems to be a case where my lack of Spanish hurts (or it could just be the record's lack of beats). I took my sweet time getting to this one, because, well, it doesn't seem to have generated much buzz (EOY lists: 7 Complex, 17 Billboard, 32 Rolling Stone, 53 Uproxx Critics Poll, very little else), and because it's really long (22 tracks, 81:18). Gave me time enough to wax and wane, with stretches making me think this could really work, only to be followed by doubts it will ever work for me. B+(**) [sp]

Barbie: The Album (2023, Atlantic): Original songs keyed to the Greta Gerwig-directed movie, produced by Mark Ronson, Kevin Weaver, and Brandon Weaver, with six singles (out of 17 songs), starting with Dua Lipa's "Dance the Night." The dance pop could be tuned up a bit, but some of the novelty songs (including the Billie Eilish, "Pink," and "I'm Just Ken") hit their mark. B+(***) [sp]

Berlioz: Jazz Is for Ordinary People (2023, self-released, EP): All Discogs has to say is "Bassist." But the album credits list two composers: Robin Edward Phillips (piano, keyboards) and Jasper Edward Attle (producer), along with Sam Miles (saxophone) and Jihad Darwish (sitar/bass). Five songs, 15:15, jazzy instrumentation but some other postmodernist feel. B+(*) [sp]

Carsie Blanton: Body of Work (2023, self-released): Singer-songwriter, originally from Virginia, based in New Jersey, seven albums 2005-21, decided to "undress" 15 songs catalog songs here, releasing them one-per-month digitally, finally compile them on vinyl. So, I gather, it's a bit like the Taylor's Version remakes, but on a much lower budget. B+(**) [sp]

Jaap Blonk/Damon Smith/Ra Kalam Bob Moses: Rune Kitchen (2022 [2023], Balance Point Acoustics): Dutch "sound poet," voice and electronics here, backed with bass and drums. B+(*) [sp]

Stix Bones/Bob Beamon: Olimpik Soul (2023 [2024], BONE Entertainment): Billed as a "jazz meets hip-hop EP," the leaders' credits are drums and percussion, respectively (the former aka Franklin Brown), the band adding trumpet, sax, guitar, keybs, bass, and vocalists Abiodun Oyewole and Khadejia Bass. Eight songs, 31:??, some fancy funk, but the mix could be sharper. B+(*) [cd]

Brothers Osborne: Brothers Osborne (2023, EMI Nashville): Country duo, T.J (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and John (lead guitar, background vocals), from Maryland, fourth studio album since 2016, debut went gold, commercially it's been downhill since there. Not to be confused with the Osborne Brothers, a bluegrass group that ran from 1953-2005, with Bobby dying last year, and Sonny in 2021. These youngsters are more country-rock, with a little something. B+(*) [sp]

Peter Bruun/Søren Kjærgaard/Josas Westergaard: Thēsaurós (2022, ILK): Danish drums-piano-bass trio, playing "an ambitious work" composed by Bruun, in seven parts (83:07). B+(*) [bc]

Burial: Dreamfear/Boy Sent From Above (2024, XL, EP): British electronica producer William Bevan, has a couple albums from 2006-07, since then has mostly released two-sided singles, like this one (12:53 + 13:23). Seems more energetic than recent efforts. Also weirder. B+(*) [sp]

Tré Burt: Traffic Fiction (2023, Oh Boy): Singer-songwriter, from Sacramento, third album, slotted folk because he landed on John Prine's label, but not much resemblance, with tags on Bandcamp all over the map. B+(*) [sp]

Willi Carlisle: Critterland (2024, Signature Sounds): Folkie singer-songwriter, previous album (Peculiar, Missouri) seemed like a breakthrough, but struggles here, ending with a spoken word bit of Ozark folklore. B+(**) [sp]

Annie Chen: Guardians (2022-23 [2024], JZ Music): Jazz singer-songwriter, originally from Beijing, based in New York since 2013, third album since 2014, eight pieces, the latter four fashioned as "Guardians Suite." Backed by a sextet, including alto sax/flute/bass clarinet, guitar, drums, violin/viola, bass/meh, and accordion/piano. Way too operatic for me. B [cd]

Mina Cho's Grace Beat Quartet: "Beat Mirage" (2023 [2024], International Gugak Jazz Institute): Korean pianist, based in Boston, fifth album, quartet with Max Ridley (bass), Yeongjin Kim (drums), and Insoo Kim (Korean traditional percussion). B+(**) [cd]

Chuquimamani-Condori: DJ E (2023, self-released): Evidently the work of the California-born electronica producer who has mostly released albums as Elysia Crampton (her name give or take a Chuquimia), although credits here include Elly, Joshua Chuquimia Crampton, and PK Crampton. A back story almost as glitchy as the music, which somehow grows on you if you can resist the temptation to exit immediately. B+(*) [bc]

City Girls: Raw (2023, Quality Control/Motown): Miami hip-hop duo, Yung Miami and JT, third studio album since 2018. B+(**) [sp]

Isaiah Collier: Parallel Universe (2023, Night Dreamer): Chicago-based saxophonist (also flute, keys, vocals), has a couple albums, mostly talks his way through expansive r&b-based grooves, really breaks out when the sax finally breaks free. B+(***) [sp]

Commodore Trio: Communal - EP (2023 [2024], self-released, EP): Hype sheet credits Joel Tucker (guitar) first but neither cover nor spine mentions him. Joined here by Brandan Keller (tuberg bass) and Justin Clark (drums), for five tracks (20:24) of what they call "improvised art rock." B+(*) [cd]

Craven Faults: Standers (2023, The Leaf Label): British electronica artist, described as "enigmatic," favors analogue synthesizers, EPs since 2017 and albums since 2020. Nice and steady. B+(***) [sp]

Charley Crockett: Live From the Ryman Auditorium (2022 [2023], Son of Davy): Country singer-songwriter, has been releasing trad-themed records at a furious pace since 2015, building up a songbook that he crafts into a fine best-of here. A- [sp]

Daggerboard: Escapement (2022 [2024], Wide Hive): Group led by Gregory Howe (percussion) and Erik Jekabson (trumpet), third album, previous group Throttle Elevator Music, Howe was the label founder in 1996. Cover also notes as "featuring" --Henry Franklin (bass), Matt Clark (piano), and Mike Clark (drums) -- but eleven more musicians are pictured, including three violins, cello, and perhaps the most famous, Babatunde Lea (congos). B+(**) [cd] [03-08]

Evelyn Davis/Fred Frith/Phillip Greenlief: Lantskap Logic: Hidden Danger Lets Me In (2022 [2023], Clean Feed): Pipe organ, electric guitar, clarinet/alto sax; second group album, after Lantskap Logic in 2013, at which point they referred to themselves as Drone Trio. More ambient here, but set in a very old church. B+(*) [bc]

Jordan Davis: Bluebird Days (2023, MCA Nashville): Country singer-songwriter, second album. B+(*) [sp]

John Dierker/Jeff Arnal: Astral Chronology (2022-23 [2023], Mahakala Music, EP): Bass clarinet/tenor sax with percussion, electronics, and field recordings. Both have spotty discographies, including a previous album together in 2002. This one is short (4 tracks, 21:48, but engaging and intense. B+(**) [bc]

DJ Danifox: Ansiedade (2023, Principe): Daniel Veiga, based in Lisbon, draws on Afro-Portuguese styles like batida, talking over light, lilting beats, with bits of guitar amidst the percussion. B+(**) [sp]

DJ Finale: Mille Morceau (2023, Nyege Nyege Tapes): From Kinshasa, Congo, solo debut from a member of Afrofuturist collective Fulu Miziki (Lingala for "music from garbage"), like them on Uganda's premier electroclash label, overruns you with beats that bang on metal, and are even more surprising when they don't. A- [sp]

DJ K: Panico No Submundo (2023, Nyege Nyege Tapes): Brazilian funk producer, (19) of his name at Discogs. Broken beats, heavy chants, metallic clunk and grind. B+(*) [sp]

Dogo Du Togo: Dogo Du Togo (2022, self-released): Massama Dogo, from Lome, in Togo, but now based in DC area. B+(*) [sp]

Drain: Living Proof (2023, Epitaph): Hardcore punk band, second album, ten songs, 25:07. Short, but still a bit longer than the joke lasts. B+(*) [sp]

Drake: For All the Dogs (2023, OVO Sound): Canadian rapper, middle name for Aubrey Graham, debut EP 2009, breakthrough album 2010, eighth studio album, all number ones, which he's parlayed into a substantial business empire, while losing virtually all of his critical cachet. I can't begin to explain either why he's so popular, or so disliked by critics: AOTY gives him a career rating of 68 over 311 reviews, with this album scoring 50 for 13. Other than pointing to the extreme length -- 23 songs (84:50), expanded in the Scary Hours Edition to 29 (108:46) -- during which very little stands out (a rare exception is a feature for Sexyy Red and SZA that goes: "shake that ass for Drake/ now shake that ass for me"; that segues into Lil Yachty chanting, "just another late night for my bitch"). Not awful, but not by much. B [sp]

Ana Frango Elétrico: Me Chama De Gato Que Eu Sou Sua (2023, Mr Bongo): Brazilian singer-songwriter, Ana Fainguelernt, third album. Some snappy dance moves. B+(**) [sp]

Andy Emler MegaOctet: No Rush! (2021 [2023], La Buissonne): French pianist, albums since 1982, initial Mega Octet in 1990, ten musicians credited here, including trumpet, tuba, three saxes, guitar (Nguyen Lê), bass, drums, percussion (including marimba, tabla). B+(**) [bc]

Emmeluth's Amoeba: Nonsense (2021 [2024], Moserobie): Danish alto saxophonist Signe Emmeluth, third group album, with guitar (Karl Bjorå), drums (Ole Mofjell), and piano (Christian Balvig). Free jazz with a lot of sharp edges and resonant ripples. A- [cd]

Ilhan Ersahin/Dave Harrington/Kenny Wollesen: Your Head You Know (2023, Nublu, EP): Saxophonist, Turkish roots but born in Sweden, based in New York, albums since 1996; Harrington plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and electronics, with Wollesen on drums. Three tracks (18:47). B+(*) [bc]

Peter Erskine and the Jam Music Lab All-Stars: Bernstein in Vienna (2021 [2024], Origin): Drummer, best known for Weather Report, but his best work is clearest in piano trios, and he's long had a thing for big bands. Pianist Danny Grissett is musical director here, leading a septet of sax, guitar, harmonica, violin, and bass through Leonard Bernstein's most popular show tunes. B+(**) [cd]

Christian Fabian Trio: Hip to the Skip (2022-23 [2024], Spicerack): Funk/fusion grooves, led by electric bassist with Matt King (keys) and Jason Marsalis (drums). B+(*) [cd]

Greg Foat & Eero Koivistoinen: Feathers (2023, Jazzaggression): British pianist, all electric here (Rhodes, Roland, Prophet, Moogs), with the Finnish tenor saxophonist, and rhythm (bass, drums, extra percussion). Nice groove album, the sax a plus but not as dominant as you'd expect (or hope for). B+(*) [sp]

Chad Fowler/George Cartwright/Kelley Hurt/Christopher Parker/Luke Stewart/Steve Hirsh/Zoh Amba: Miserere (2023, Mahakala Music): Free jazz bash, recorded in Little Rock, with visitors from Memphis and points beyond -- Cartwright (alto/tenor sax, guitar) is the senior citizen and mentor to this bunch, with two more saxophonists (Fowler and Amba), piano (Parker), bass (Stewart), drums (Hirsh), and voice (Hurt). B+(**) [bc]

Chad Fowler/Shanyse Strickland/Sana Nagano/Melanie Dyer/Ken Filiano/Anders Griffen: Birdsong (2022 [2024], 'Mahakala Music): Leader plays strich and bass flute; Strickland French horn and flute, with a vocal bit; the others violin, viola, bass, and drums, quite impressive (except for the vocal). B+(**) [sp]

Friends & Neighbors: Circles (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): Scandinavian freebop quintet, sixth album, with André Roligheten (tenor sax), Thomas Johansson (trumpet), Oscar Grönberg (piano), Jon Rune Strøm (bass), and Tollef Østvang (drums), each writing at least one song. B+(***) [sp]

Romulo Fróes and Tiago Rosas: Na Goela (2023, YB Music): Brazilian singer-songwriters, latter also plays guitar, former has ten albums since 2004. B+(**) [sp]

Jayda G: Guy (2023, Ninja Tune): Canadian DJ and producer, actual name Jayda Guy, moved from Grand Forks to Vancouver, then to Berlin, finally to London. Second studio album, also has a DJ-Kicks. B+(***) [sp]

Glass Beach: Plastic Death (2024, Run for Cover): Indie rock band from Seattle, second album. Very complex, in ways I respect the craft for without taking any pleasure in the music, or whatever else they're trying to accomplish. B- [sp]

Jose Gobbo Trio: Current (2023 [2024], self-released): Brazilian guitarist-singer, lyrics here by Deuler Andrade, moved to Iowa in 2011 and on to Illinois, where he teaches. Appears to have some previous albums, but I can't find them in Discogs. With bass (Max Beckman) and drums (Jay Ferguson). Voice barely registers over the rhythm, which is all important. B+(**) [cd]

Gordon Grdina/Christian Lillinger: Duo Work (2023 [2024], Attaboygirl): Duo, guitar/midi-guitar and drums, both on top of their game, with some intriguing dissonance early. B+(***) [cd]

Gordon Grdina's the Marrow: With Fathieh Honari (2023 [2024], Attaboygirl): Grdina plays oud here, along with Mark Helias (bass), Hank Roberts (cello), and Hamin Honari (percussion), son of the Canada-based Persian singer. B+(***) [cd]

Mary Halvorson: Cloudward (2023 [2024], Nonesuch): Guitarist, Braxton student at Wesleyan, started with a trio album in 2008, and expanded in various directions, eventually winning a MacArthur genius grant, and topping the 2022 Francis Davis poll with a pair of albums (Amaryllis was the actual winner, but many voters wanted to include the more string-focused Belladonna). This one is a sextet, with trumpet (Adam O'Farrill), trombone (Jacob Garchik), bass (Nick Dunston), drums (Tomas Fujiwara), and vibes (Patricia Brennan), with no vocals and only a bit of violin (guest spot for Laurie Anderson). The state-of-the-art compositions are fashionably tricky, the horns add some weight, the vibes a bit of levity. Many critics seem to be impression, but still seems rather nebulous to me. B+(**) [sp]

Hardy: The Mockingbird & the Crow (2023, Big Loud): Country singer-songwriter Michael Hardy, from Mississippi, based in Nashville, second album after several EPs and mixtapes (dubbed Hixtape). Has a rep as a hard rocker, which isn't especially in evidence here until the crow comes out. I prefer the "poor boy from Mississppi," but don't mind a little noise (although I am wary of the redneck chauvinism). I don't really approve of the effort to muscle up country music into arena rock, but this makes a case. [Docked a notch for the finale.] B+(**) [sp]

Tim Hecker: No Highs (2023, Kranky): Canadian electronica producer, ambient division, dozen-plus albums since 2001, wound up writing a PhD thesis on urban noise. Describes this as "a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive corporate ambient currently in vogue" -- a fair description of much of his own recent work, and much more interesting for the effort. B+(***) [sp]

Enrique Heredia Trio: Plays Herbie Nichols (2019-22 [2024], Fresh Sound): Spanish drummer, has several previous records, including a 2016 Plays the Music of Bob Zieff, and a previous (but different) trio. This with Pere Soto (guitar) and Xavi Castillo (bass), playing nine pieces by the short-lived Nichols (1919-63, with most of his recordings 1955-57). B+(***) [sp]

Jon Irabagon: Survivalism (2024, Irabbagast): Saxophonist, based in Chicago, best known for "bebop terrorist" group MOPDTK but has a substantial, widely scattered discography on his own. Visited a "munitions bunker in South Dakota" to get the isolated ambiance for this album of solo soprillo sax -- at 33cm (13in), the smallest of all saxophones, pitched a fifth higher than sopranino, a full octave above soprano. Nonetheless, Irabagon spends a fair amount of time here finding more guttural sounds in lower registers, contrast to the high notes, which are never what you'd call flighty. B+(*) [bc]

Jon Irabagon's Outright!: Recharge the Blade (2021 [2024], Irabbagast): Group name refers back to a 2008 album of that name, followed by another (Unhinged) in 2012 -- neither especially successful, as I recall, so I don't really get the thinking behind giving this totally different group an old group name. Leader plays soprano sax here, with Ray Anderson (trombone), Matt Mitchell (piano/keyboards), Chris Lightcap (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums), plus a couple guest spots. B+(***) [bc]

Abdullah Ibrahim: 3 (2023 [2024], Gearbox): South African pianist, has had a remarkable career since his 1963 debut Duke Ellington Presents the Dollar Brand Trio. Trio here with Cleave Guyton Jr. (flute/piccolo) and Noah Jackson (bass/cello). This offers two sets, the second live before a very appreciative audience. Nice stuff when you pay attention, but much of it slips by easily if you don't stay on top of it. B+(*) [sp]

Ayumi Ishito: Ayumi Ishito & the Spacemen Vol. 2 (2020 [2023], 577): Japanese tenor saxophonist, graduated from Berklee, Vol. 1 came out in 2021, group includes synthesizer, theremin, guitar/bass, and drums, with voice scattered about, haunting (or mocking?) the spaciness. B+(*) [os]

Maria João & Carlos Bica Quartet: Close to You (2019-21 [2023], JACC): Portuguese singer, counted in the quartet with bassist Bica, keyboards (João Farinha), and guitar (Gonçalo Neto or André Santos). Leads with four covers, disconcertingly weaving Paul Simon into Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," scatting around "Norwegian Wood," followed by the Bacharach-David title song, and Lennon/Ono's "Oh My Love," then three originals (one with a Yeats text), and "What a Wonderful World." I was tempted to write the openers off as merely eccentric, but the title song is especially striking, and the originals find a nice musical balance, which lets the finale end as it should. A- [bc]

Cody Johnson: Leather (2023, Warner Music Nashville): Country singer from Texas, ninth album since 2006, third on a major label. A voice and band as credible as most of his lot, but didn't write any of these twelve songs -- most conventional, "Jesus Loves You" should make you more than a little nervous. B [sp]

Jonas Brothers: The Album (2023, Republic): Successful boy band, formed 2006 by brothers Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas, sold 17 million copies through 2013, by which time they were pursuing solo projects. Regrouped for a 2019 album, and one more here. It seems to have sold well, but didn't show up in the first 500 lists I collected for my EOY aggregate. Attractive album, although I tired of the overblown finale. B+(*) [sp]

Kabeaushé: The Coming of Gaze (2023, Hakuna Kulala): Singer-rapper from Kenya, first album. B+(*) [sp]

Kabeaushé: Hold on to Deer Life, There's a Blcak Boy Behind You! (2023, Monkeytown): Second album, goes psychedelic. B [sp]

Noah Kahan: Stick Season (2022, Mercury/Republic): Singer-songwriter, originally from Vermont, folkie with some pop appeal, third album -- the first of three iterations to date, as newer releases, cashing in on chart success and a Grammy nomination, pile on way beyond these original thirteen songs. I'm impressed, a little, anyways. B+(***) [sp]

Steven Kamperman: Maison Moderne (2023, Trytone): Dutch clarinetist, half-dozen album since 1999, describes this as "music inspired by the house, life, and passions of Theo van Doesburg," the artist and architect (1883-1931) who in 1917 founded the magazine De Stijl, which advanced abstract art and modernist style, effectively qualifying as a "school." The pieces are supported by piano (Albert van Veenendaal), electric guitar (Paul Jarret), and viola (Oene van Geel). Mostly chamber jazz befitting a museum, but this really sharpens up when Jarret takes the lead and Kamperman introduces some much-needed percussion. A- [cd]

Kaze: Unwritten (2023 [2024], Circum/Libra): Quartet of Satoko Fujii (piano), Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), Christian Pruvost (trumpet), and Peter Orins (drums), seventh group album since 2011, first one billed as "completely improvised," which may excuse some temporary regrouping as they explore. B+(***) [cd]

Ruston Kelly: The Weakness (2023, Rounder): Singer-songwriter, originally from South Carolina, briefly married to Kacey Musgraves, third album since 2018, slotted country but I don't particularly hear that. I do hear some songs. B+(*) [sp]

Anni Kiviniemi Trio: Eir (2023 [2024], We Jazz): Finnish pianist, reportedly US-based but recorded this debut album in Oslo with Eero Tikkanen (bass) and Hans Hulbaekmo (drums), all her compositions. B+(***) [sp]

Knower: Knower Forever (2023, self-released): Duo of Genevieve Artadi (vocals) and Louis Cole (drums), albums since 2010 (at first under the artists' names), many more credits here, mostly electropop, when it peeks out from under the strings. B [sp]

Tony Kofi & Alina Bzhezhinska: Altera Vita (For Pharoah Sanders) (2023, BBE, EP): Tenor sax and harp duet, she also goes as AlinaHipHarp, actually just a 5:34 single, so I shouldn't have bothered, but it showed up in an album list, and is quite nice, as far as it goes. B [sp]

Lia Kohl: The Ceiling Reposes (2021-22 [2023], American Dreams): "Sound artist," based in Chicago, plays cello, synths, kazoo, concertina, wind machine, piano, drums, bells, and live radio. B+(**) [sp]

Ella Langley: Excuse the Mess (2023, Sawgod): Country singer-songwriter, from Alabama, follows up several singles with a solid eight-song, 25:09 album. B+(*) [sp]

Jamie Leonhart: The Illusion of Blue (Side A) (2022, self-released, EP): Jazz singer-songwriter, has a previous album from 2008, very little info on this one, except that it seems to be released as two EPs, this one six songs, 22:34. B- [sp]

Jamie Leonhart: The Illusion of Blue (Side B) (2022, self-released, EP): Kicks this one -- five songs, 24:25 -- off with a cover ("What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?"), followed by another covers ("Willow Weep for Me") and other less substantial songs I'd have to look up. B- [sp]

Liquid Mike: Paul Bunyan's Slingshot (2024, self-released): Indie band from Marquette, Michigan, several albums since 2021. They run through 13 crisp songs in 25:31. B+(**) [sp]

Doug MacDonald: Sextet Session (2023 [2024], DMAC Music): Guitarist, goes back a ways but has been especially prolific since 2014. Mainstream, with a bit of swing, sextet includes trumpet (Aaron Janik), tenor sax (Doub Webb), piano (Josh Nelson, bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd] [03-01]

Eliza McLamb: Going Through It (2024, Royal Mountain): Singer-songwriter, described as "LA-based pop culture icon," which seems to mean she's had a song ("Porn Star Tits") that went viral on TikTok. Intimate songs have some depth. "16" goes: "We pretend that you're trying/ 'I Don't know what to do with you'/ You say it often/ Almost sounds like a good excuse/ For doing nothing." B+(***) [sp]

Metric: Formentera II (2023, Metric Music International): Electropop band from Toronto, ninth studio album since 2001, sequel to their 2022 album; Emily Haines is the vocalist, who co-wrote the songs with guitarist James Shaw. Songs are catchy and engaging. B+(***) [sp]

Mokoomba: Tusona: Tracings in the Sand (2023, Out Here): Tonga group from Zimbabwe, third album (per Discogs) since 2012. Not far removed from the chimurenga popularized in the 1980s, but only picks up real groove power toward the end. B+(**) [sp]

Bonnie Montgomery: River (2023, Gar Hole): Country singer-songwriter from Arkansas, eponymous debut in 2014, fourth album. Claims a "big voice," but there's something a bit off, and big production does the opposite of helping. The more trad backdrops help a bit, but ultimately one just acquiesces, and accepts her as a pretty decent songwriter. B+(*) [sp]

Richard Nelson/Makrokosmos Orchestra: Dissolve (2023 [2024], Adhyâropa): Guitarist, member of Aardvark Jazz Orchestra since 1993, released his own Large Ensemble project in 2011, returns here with a 15-piece group. Three complex and lush pieces, 39:22. B+(**) [cd]

Nickel Creek: Celebrants (2023, Thirty Tigers): Progressive bluegrass trio, released five albums 1993-2005, disbanded, regrouped for a 2014 album, then this one. I heard nothing notable here until "Where the Long Line Leads." Fades back into oblivion, and stays there a long time. Every now and then my ears prick up, suggesting something of interest, most soon souring. Maybe that's what they mean by "progressive"? B- [sp]

Nondi_: Flood City Trax (2023, Planet Mu): Electronics producer Tatiana Triplin, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, looks to have two previous EPs, another self-released digital album, and some kind of mixtape/remix related to this. B+(*) [sp]

Old Crow Medicine Show: Jubilee (2023, ATO): Nashville-based country string band, eighth studio album since 2004. Some gospel flourishes this time. B [sp]

Angel Olsen: Forever Means (2023, Jagjaguwar, EP): American singer-songwriter, six generally well-regarded albums since 2012, released this four song, 16:02 EP. B [sp]

Ulysses Owens Jr. and Generation Y: A New Beat (2023 [2024], Cellar Music): Drummer, debut 2012, leads a large group here through hard bop that may be new to the young musicians, who at least keep it fresh. B+(**) [sp]

The Paranoid Style: The Interrogator (2024, Bar/None): Singer-songwriter (and culture critic) Elizabeth Nelson's front group, several EPs and albums since 2013. The music is almost perfectly straightforward -- aside from flashes of superior guitar, that is -- so one gets the feeling that lyrics are decisive, but I'm too slow on their uptake to note more than their intelligence and erudition. Not sure if I can ask for more than that. A- [sp]

Dave Pietro: The Talisman (2023 [2024], SteepleChase): Alto saxophonist, half-dozen albums 1994-2008, only a couple since. Mainstream lineup with Scott Wendholt (trumpet), Gary Versace (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), and Billy Drummond (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Dougie Poole: The Rainbow Wheel of Death (2023, Wharf Cat): Country-ish singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, third album, some good songs, ends on a soft note. B+(*) [sp]

Noah Preminger/Kim Cass: The Dank (2023, Dry Bridge, EP): Duets, sax/clarinet/flute/synth and bass/guitar. Eight short pieces, 20:06. B+(**) [bc]

Public Image Ltd.: End of World (2023, PIL Official): Original Sex Pistol John Lydon, 67 when this came out, eleventh group album, eight years after previous. He's managed to keep a consistent sound since 1978, and occasionally to channel some rage against "liars, fakes, cheats and frauds." B+(*) [sp]

Zoe Rahman: Colour of Sound (2023, Manushi): British pianist, father Bengali, eighth album since 2001, brother Idris Rahman plays sax, with several other horn players, bass, and drums. Richly detailed, sometimes to excess. B+(*) [sp]

Andrew Rathbun: The Speed of Time (2022 [2023], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, based in Brooklyn, more than a dozen albums since 1999, quartet with Gary Versace (piano), John Hébert (bass), and Tom Rainey (drums), all original pieces. B+(***) [sp]

Chase Rice: I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go to Hell (2023, Broken Bow): Country singer-songwriter from Florida, sixth album since 2010, the one on Columbia (2014) a platinum hit, but three later albums on Broken Bow didn't come close. Title from two songs, both against the grain, as is most of the filler, where the down home is spiced with stratospheric guitar. A- [sp]

Monika Roscher Bigband: Witchy Activities and the Maple Death (2023, Zenna): German guitarist, fourth Bigband album since 2011. Discogs lists genres as: dark jazz, jazz-rock, psychedelic rock. I was thinking prog rock as light opera -- Roscher sings throughout, in English (not that I followed much of it) -- although the big band was built to play jazz, which does a nice job of shading the straightforward beat. B+(**) [sp]

RVG: Brain Worms (2023, Ivy League/Fire): Initials for Romy Vager Group, for the singer-songwriter-lead guitarist, from Melbourne, Australia. B+(**) [sp]

Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: Vox Humana (2023, Jazzheads): Bronx-born drummer, graduated from Berklee, joined Mongo Santamaria in 1983, headlined a 1993 album with Tito Puente and Paquito D'Rivera, has led Latin jazz big bands at least since 2007, naming a 2012 album Multiverse. Runs through a lengthy songbook, starting with "Caravan," hitting "Let the Good Times Roll" and "I Love You Porgy," and perhaps most successfully, Steely Dan's "Do It Again." B+(***) [sp]

Nicky Schrire: Nowhere Girl (2023, Anzic): Jazz singer-songwriter, born in London, grew up in Cape Town, studied in New York, wound up in Toronto, debut album 2012. I'm not seeing song credits, but the only one I recognize is "Heart Like a Wheel," which focuses the remainder for McGarrigles fans. B+(*) [sp]

Adam Schroeder/Mark Masters: CT! Adam Schroeder & Mark Masters Celebrate Clark Terry (2023 [2024], Capri): Big band arrangements of thirteen Terry tunes, Schroeder playing baritone sax, Masters not in the band but with a long career as an arranger. You may recall that Terry played trumpet both for Duke Ellington and Count Basie before leading his own bands, offering plenty of hints for how this works -- largely splitting the difference. B+(***) [cd]

Laura Schuler Quartett: Sueños Paralelos (2021 [2023], Antidrò): Swiss violinist, debut 2018, with Tony Malaby (tenor sax), Hanspeler Pfammatter (synthesizer), and Lionel Friedli (drums), leaning free (last title is "Baby It's Freejazz"). B+(**) [sp]

Matthew Shipp/Steve Swell: Space Cube Jazz (2021 [2024], RogueArt): Piano and trombone duets, improvised, first time recording together. A bit sparse, though both have plenty to say. B+(***) [cdr]

Luciana Souza & Trio Corrente: Cometa (2023, Sunnyside): Brazilian jazz singer, studied in Boston, taught in New York, based in Los Angeles, more than a dozen albums since 1998, trio here with Fabio Torres (piano), Paulo Paulelli (bass), and Edu Ribeiro (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Sparks Quartet [Eri Yamamoto/Chad Fowler/William Parker/Steve Hirsh]: Live at Vision Festival XXVI (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): Piano, sax/flute, bass, drums; quartet released an album as Sparks in 2022, so are following it up with a live set here. B+(**) [bc]

Peter Stampfel/Eli Smith/Walker Shepard: Wildernauts (2024, Don Giovanni): Folk "supergroup" releases their eponymous debut, but I had to look the others up: Discogs shows side-credits for both, mostly playing banjo, including Have Moicy 2. The leader's voice remains instantly recognizable, even as tattered as it is, even as backup ("Picking Dandelions"). Some covers, like the opener "Crazy Arms," and "There Stands the Glass," register right away. Others will take more dedication. B+(**) [sp]

Sunny Five [Tim Berne/David Torn/Ches Smith/Devin Hoff/Marc Ducret]: Candid (2022 [2024], Intakt): Alto sax, two guitars (Torn and Ducret), drums/electronics and electric bass. This lineup might once have suggested fusion, but I have no clear idea of with what? Maybe Berne et al. just see the hardcore/metal instrumentation as something loud to improv with. B+(***) [sp]

Rajna Swaminathan: Apertures (2021 [2023], Ropeadope): Indian percussionist, plays mrudangam, also sings (as does co-producer Ganavya), second album, with Utsav Lal (piano) and a raft of famous jazz musicians: Adam O'Farrill (trumpet), Anna Webber (tenor sax), Miles Okazaki (guitar), Stephan Crump (bass). B+(**) [sp]

Tani Tabbal Quartet: Intentional (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): Drummer, only a couple albums as leader but has side credits starting in 1981 with Roscoe Mitchell, later with David Murray, then was in James Carter's quartet during its prime period. Here with Joe McPhee (tenor sax/poetry), Adam Siegel (alto sax), and Michael Bisio (bass). B+(***) [bc]

David Tamura + Toadal Package: Final Entrance (2023, JPN): New York-based saxophonist (tenor/soprano, also keyboards), "plays noise rock and free jazz," also in a group called The JazzFakers. Backed here with guitar (Cosmo Gallaro), bass (Brenna Rey), and drums (James Paul Nadien). A bit too noisy for me, but that's probably the point. B+(**) [bc]

Azu Tiwaline: The Fifth Dream (2023, IOT): Electronica producer, from Tunisia, second album. Deep, dark, dreamy too, but with a hard industrial frame, not as advertised "guiding us warmly towards trance-inducing hyper states of dance & delight," but strangely comforting anyway. A- [sp]

Truth Cult: Walk the Wheel (2023, Pop Wig): Emo/hardcore band from Baltimore, second album after a 2018 EP, eleven songs, 27:22. Heavy enough I set the "metal" flag, but sharp enough I let them have their say. B+(*) [bc]

Tucker Brothers: Live at Chatterbox (2023 [2024], Midwest Crush Music): Brothers Joe (guitar) and Nick (bass), with sax (Sean Imboden) and drums (Carrington Clinton) at a club in Indianapolis. No song credits, but I always recognize "Caravan." Groove band, nice set. B+(*) [cd]

Mark Turner Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard (2022 [2023], Giant Step Arts): Tenor saxophonist, one of the top ones to emerge in the 1990s, with major label releases on Warners, and much more recently on ECM. So I was surprised that this, unlike other albums on this new label, never showed up in my queue. Live set with Jason Palmer (trumpet), Joe Martin (bass), and Jonathan Pinson (drums). Lots of skill here, but not so much spark. B+(**) [sc]

Turnpike Troubadours: A Cat in the Rain (2023, Bossier City): Country band from Oklahoma, sixth album since 2007, steady, pleasant performers, fiddle helps with the old timey feel, don't have much to say, but at least what they have to say isn't bad. B [sp]

Kali Uchis: Orquídeas (2024, Geffen): Dance-pop singer-songwriter Karly Marina Loaiza, from the Virginia side of DC, father Colombian, returned there while she was in high school, fourth album, second mostly in Spanish. Ends with a piece ("Dame Beso/Muévete") that would jump out even on a Kenyan guitar paradise album. Multiple plays show it's not alone. A- [sp]

Morgan Wallen: One Thing at a Time (2023, Big Loud): Country singer-songwriter, from Sneedville, Tennessee, third studio album since 2018, seems like much more, sprawling from 14-songs (45:11) to 30-songs (96:53) to 36-songs (111:36). Huge bestseller, Billboard's number one album for 2023. I've avoid this due to anticipated fatigue and poor reputation, but a very cursory stream does little credit to either excuse. He writes (with help) ordinary songs, gives them fashionably tradish arrangements, and has an agreeable voice. No one will ever mistake him for Merle Haggard (or, for that matter, Don Williams), but you can drink, or I can write, with him in the background, and never give him a serious thought, even if you happen to pay some attention. B+(*) [sp]

Wiki & Tony Seltzer: 14K Figaro (2023, Wikset Enterprise): Rapper Patrick Morales, prolific since 2015, with producer Antonio Hernandez. B+(***) [sp]

Stephen Wilson Jr.: Søn of Dad (2023, Big Loud): Country singer-songwriter, from Indiana, first album, about his father, got a little carried away (21 songs, 90 minutes). Still, the first three songs set the stage, showing an interest in social realism and demonstrating sonic tricks (including that "strong Southern drawl" but also booming guitar with a bit of fiddle) to sustain the effort. As for his daddy complex, I have my doubts -- what kind of father teaches his age-5 son to box? not mine, but but I can't say much more in his favor. I keep wondering whether I should revisit Zack Bryan, a good album, but one where the length ultimately wore me down. But even if it earns its reputation, I'd be very surprised if will hold up this well. A- [sp]

Eri Yamamoto: Colors of the Night Trio (2022 [2023], Mahakala Music): Japanese pianist, moved to US in 1995, played on several William Parker projects, plus her own (mostly trio) records since 2001. This is another trio, with Parker on bass and Ikuo Takeuchi on drums. B+(**) [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Kofi Ayivor: Adzagli (Jungle Funk) (1981 [2023], Kalita): Born in Nigeria in 1939, grew up in Ghana, mostly a drummer, played with E.T. Mensah, later with Osibisa. Cut a solo album in 1981, reduced to a two-sided single here, with extra remixes by Mendel adding up to 21:38. B+(**) [sp]

Borga Revolution! Volume 1: Ghanaian Dance Music in the Digital Age, 1983-1992 (1983-92 [2022], Kalita): I've long understood that highlife was the superpowered pop music that evolved in Ghana in the 1970s, whence it spread to Nigeria and mutated into juju and other forms, and of course there was a connection to London, but I didn't realize there was a German one, or that it would be called "burger highlife." That's the focus here, featuring George Darko, Wilson Boateng, and Uncle Joe's Afri-Beat, shifting slightly toward electro-dance music. B+(***) [sp]

Borga Revolution! Volume 2: Ghanaian Dance Music in the Digital Age, 1983-1996 (1983-96 (2023), Kalita): Further explorations in the Ghanaian diaspora, including a couple names likely to be recognized elsewhere (A.B. Crentsil, Pat Thomas). Advantage over Volume 1 is in the more sustained dance grooves. A- [sp]

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Live From the Northwest, 1959 (1959 [2023], Brubeck Editions): Four cuts from the Multnomah Hotel in Portland, plus three more from Clark College in Vancouver, WA, both in April, before Take Five came out, mixed with four standards up front (starting with a rather frothy "When the Saints Go Marching In"), two originals, then "The Lonesome Road." Fine piano, with Paul Desmond (alto sax), Eugene Wright (bass), and Joe Morello (drums). This is, of course, quite nice, but not much more. B+(***) [r]

George Cartwright's GloryLand PonyCat: Black Ants Crawling ([2024], Mahakala Music): Alto/tenor saxophonist, best known for the group Curlew (1980-2003?), based in Minneapolis these days, no recording date given, but it's a live trio date from Clown Lounge, with Adam Linz (bass) and Alden Ikeda (drums) and is released (as have several previous Cartwright albums) in the label's "Reissue Series." B+(**) [bc]

Duke Ellington: All the Hits and More 1927-54 (1927-54 [2023], Acrobat, 4CD): This seemed like a useful idea, chronicling the period when jazz was popular music through the longest-running, most consistent, and most often brilliant of the era's big bands, even if strictly following the charts has never been surefire. Also because the standard RCA compilations, up to and including the 24-CD Centennial Edition box, skip over the 1932-40 period, when Ellington recorded mostly for Brunswick -- sides that have only been collected on the French Classics label and, finally in 2010, a pricey 11-CD Mosaic box. This is evenly balanced among all of Ellington's labels, confirming the common judgment that the RCA sides from 1927-28 and 1940-46 were peak periods (along with much of his later work, including Newport in 1956 and many of the suites and tributes and small groups from then through the end of the 1960s), but also reminding us that the maligned 1930s and the Hodges-less early 1950s still produced copious brilliance. About the only complaint one might make is that the chart-focus favors singers, which Ellington had -- how to put this? -- rather idiosyncratic taste in. Comes with a substantial booklet with full credits. A [cd]

Herb Geller: Fire in the West (1957 [2023], Jazz Workshop): Alto saxophonist (1928-2013), inspired by Benny Carter, played in big bands in the early 1950s, led his first session in 1954, released this classic sextet session on Jubilee in 1957, establishing himself as a superb arranger, with Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Harold Land (tenor sax), Lou Levy (piano), Ray Brown (bass), and Lawrence Marable (drums), turning the fire up on "West coast cool jazz." Original title and artwork for an album I know from the 2003 CD That Geller Feller. A- [sp]

Ghetto Brothers: Power-Fuerza (1972 [2024], Vampisoul): South Bronx Puerto Rican group, only album, reissue billed as "one of the best Latin funk albums ever recorded," eventually moves in that direction, but only after a number of efforts at Beatles-like harmonies don't quite hit the mark. B+(*) [sp]

Tubby Hayes: No Blues: The Complete Hopbine '65 (1965 [2023], Jazz in Britain): British tenor saxophonist, one of the few real bebop masters, lived fast and died young (1935-73). With Kenny Powell (piano), Ron Mathewson (bass), and Dick Brennan (drums), with Hopbine host and fellow tenor saxophonist Tommy Whittle joining for a couple of jousts. Burns intense and long (7 tracks, 95:39), though sometimes the mic seems to wander off. B+(***) [sp]

If You Want to Make a Lover: Palm Wine, Akan Blues & Early Guitar Highlife, Pt. 1 (1920s-50s [2023], Death Is Not the End): Twenty-six oldies, dates lack precision but specify "late" both for 20s and 50s, from southern Ghana and environs, influence extending east to Nigeria and west to Liberia. B+(*) [sp]

If You Want to Make a Lover: Palm Wine, Akan Blues & Early Guitar Highlife, Pt. 2 (1920s-50s [2023], Death Is Not the End): Twenty-six more oldies, again nothing but a broad range of dates. B+(**) [sp]

Kantata: It's High Time Now (1986 [2023], BBE): Burger highlife band from Ghana, Lee Duodu the lead singer and Ogone Kologbo the guitarist, with sax, keyboards, bass, drums, and more percussion. Takes a bit of time to find the right gear, but finally gets there. B+(***) [sp]

Late Night Count Basie (2023, Primary Wave, EP): The "Count" is in small print, and tends to get overlooked. The songs mostly originate with Basie (well, not "St. Thomas"), and three are credited to his ghost band (Scotty Barnhart, director, with various featured guests), the others to others, as is obvious when Talib Kweli starts rapping over "Didn't You." And "One O'Clock Jump" gets an encore. All in 23:32, but it definitely swings, and jumps. B+(**) [sp]

Jeffrey Lewis: Asides & B-Sides (2014-2018) (2014-18 [2023], self-released): Antifolk singer-songwriter, got started with a self-released cassette in 1998, has a couple albums suggesting career development, then reverts to DIY obscurity, like his recent series from 2019 Tapes through 2022 Tapes -- on Bandcamp but not enough to review. In 2022, he scraped together a 7-track EP called When That Really Old Cat Dies, which has since all but disappeared, even from Google, evidently supplanted by this miscellany, extending the EP to 10 songs, 31:12, finally showing up on Spotify (after I failed to find it just a week ago). Doesn't add much, but did get "The Guest List" a couple more spins. B+(***) [sp]

Melba Liston: Melba Liston and Her 'Bones (1958 [2023], Jazz Workshop): Trombonist (1926-99), from Kansas City, started playing in all-female big bands during the war, then broke in with Gerald Wilson, then moved on to Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, where she became most valued as an arranger. This is the only album she led -- well, aside from her Randy Weston co-credit, Volcano Blues (1993), still the first item showing up when you search her. This combines two sessions, one with Ray Bryant (piano), the other with Kenny Burrell (guitar), bass, drums, and three more trombonists each (Benny Green, Al Grey, and Benny Powell with Burrell; Jimmy Cleveland, Slide Hampton, and Frank Rehak with Bryant). A real delight. A- [yt]

Los Mohanes: La Tumbia (2017 [2023], Moli Del Tro): Colombian duo, Faunes Efe (bass/guitar) and Joseph Muñoz (field recording/sampler), first album, originally self-released, picked up on a Belgian label. Engaging electronica, falls down at the end. B+(*) [sp]

Don Menza & Sam Noto: Steppin': Quartet Live (1980 [2023], Fresh Sound): Tenor saxophonist, from Buffalo (b. 1936), played in big bands with Maynard Ferguson and Louie Bellson, with more than a dozen albums as leader, joined here by the trumpet player, also from Buffalo (b. 1930), who played with Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and others, headlining a handful of albums. A blistering live gig here from a club in Toronto, with Dave Young (bass) and Terry Clarke (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Charles Mingus: Changes: The Complete 1970s Atlantic Studio Recordings (1973-78 [2023], Rhino, 7CD): I didn't feel much need for this -- and, needless to say, Rhino didn't gift me a copy, so no obligation there -- but looking for something to play while trying to get something else written, this seemed like a pretty nice way to spend 5 hours, 49 minutes. One pass [broken up, with a bit of rechecking, as it turned out], although I've heard most of this before. Starts off with a revitalizing young quartet -- featuring George Adams and Don Pullen, who continued on their own, including a fabulous 1986 album called Breakthrough -- but his health deteriorated fast, and he died of ALS at 56 in 1979. Mostly straight reissues, the breakdown:

  • Mingus Moves (1973, Atlantic; [1993], Rhino): Introduces great 1970s quartet with George Adams, Don Pullen, and Dannie Richmond, plus trumpet (Ronald Hampton), marred by a very unfortunate vocal track. [was: B-] B+(**)
  • Changes One (1974 [1975], Atlantic): Quintet session (with Jack Walrath on trumpet), produced masterpieces: "Remember Rockefeller at Attica," "Sue's Changes," "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"; even one vocal, George Adams' gravel "Devil Blues." A
  • Changes Two (1974 [1975], Atlantic): Most pointed title: "Free Cell Block F, 'Tis Nazi U.S.A.'; includes a piece by Walrath, a reprise of "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" with a Jackie Paris vocal; and another tribute, "For Harry Carney." A-
  • Three or Four Shades of Blues (1977, Atlantic): Five older pieces, starting with "Better Get Hit in Your Soul" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," with a raft of guest soloists. B+(*)
  • Cumbia & Jazz Fusion (1976-77 [1978]): Two side-long Latin extravaganzas with typical moves and layers. [was: B-] B+(*)
  • Me Myself an Eye (1978, Atlantic): At this point he no longer played, so this was done with a long list of studio musicians: the 30:20 "Three Worlds of Drums," and three older pieces, offering a taste of future legacy bands. B+(***)
  • Something Like a Bird (1978 [1980], Atlantic): Leftovers from the big band session, the sprawling, near-classic 31:24 title piece, and an elegiac "Farewell Farewell," issued posthumously. A-

Vinyl box has an 8th LP of outtakes, which are included inline in the CD and digital editions. B+(***) [sp]

Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie/Bud Powell/Charles Mingus/Max Roach: Hot House: The Complete Jazz at Massey Hall Recordings (1953 [2023], Craft, 3CD): Mingus and Roach started their own label, Debut Records, in 1952, so they grabbed these tapes, redubbed the bass parts, and released them on three 10-inch records, two credited to "The Quintet" (with the saxophonist identified as Charlie Chan), the other a hornless Bud Powell Trio set, already hyped as "the greatest jazz concert ever." The Quintet eventually came out on an CD (OJC-44), with the trio as Jazz at Massey Hall, Volume Two (OJC-111), with sound, like most Parker bootlegs, pretty dicey. I've never been much impressed, even after a 2012 remaster answered most of the sound issue. The overdubs, too, were controversial, so when Jazz Factory released their 1-CD Complete Jazz at Massey Hall in 2003, they went back to the original tapes. This edition tries to have it both ways, again combining the original Quintet and Trio sets on one CD, but also providing the overdubs on a 2nd CD. (Vinyl splits the first CD into 2-LP, with the overdubs on a 3rd.) Sound is pretty decent here, but it's still more typical than exemplary. B+(***) [sp]

The R&B No. 1s of the '40s (1942-50 [2023], Acrobat, 4CD): As with the Ellington box, the booklet provides detailed credits and useful history. But the strict chart focus produces some anomalies, especially early on, when Paul Whiteman, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Ella Mae Morse, and Bing Crosby topped the r&b charts (the latter with, of all things we don't need another copy of, "White Christmas"). Indeed, up to 1945, the r&b charts seem to have been dominated with novelties ("Cow Cow Boogie" was one of the better ones, by Ella Fitzgerald with the Ink Spots). The transition comes awkwardly with two takes of "I Wonder," Cecil Gant's original and a cover by Roosevelt Sykes, taken from a badly worn 78. After that, the first thing you realize is how Louis Jordan dominated the decade (18 songs, compared to 5 each for Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and the Ink Spots; Fitzgerald shares 2 songs with the Ink Spots and one with Jordan; no one else has more than 2). Later years advance significantly toward rock and roll, without taking explicit aim -- for that, you'd be better served by the first disc of The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll 1946-1954 (3-CD, on Hip-O) or The First Rock and Roll Record (another 3-CD, Famous Flames) or the first disc of The R&B Box (6-CD, on Rhino, 1944-74, canon-defining), or Rhino's Blues Masters on jump blues (Volume 5: Jumb Blues Classics, and Volume 14: More Jump Blues). And, of course, if you went that direction, you'd need more Louis Jordan: MCA's original CDs The Best of Louis Jordan and Five Guys Named Moe: Vol. 2 are essential. How much more is hard to judge, but the 4-CD Properbox (Jivin' With Jordan) doesn't flag, and there's a similar 4-CD JSP box -- although I've heard that the 9-CD Bear Family box is de trop. A- [cd]

Lou Reed: Hudson River Wind Meditations (2007 [2024], Light in the Attic): An hour-plus of ambient electronica, as far off his beaten path as Metal Machine Music, and certainly more age-appropriate for what appears to have been his last album. And good enough that he could have had a decent career had he started in this vein decades earlier -- not that you or I would have heard of him. B+(**) [sp]

Sonny Rollins: Go West! The Contemporary Records Albums (1957-58 [2023], Craft, 3CD): The label exists primarily to produce luxury vinyl reissues of famous jazz albums, but they also release their remastered wares on CD and digital, so it's possible to stream them, and they get a lot of notice. This collects albums recorded for' Contemporary: Way Out West (1957) and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders. The former, a trio with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne leading off with "I'm an Old Cowhand," is one of his best-known records, and has already been given the Craft treatment. The latter, adding extras (piano, guitar, vibes on one track), is less focused, except when Rollins plays, who continues to show uncanny skill for building on standards. The third disc collects the alternate takes, which were initially added to the OJC CDs. It may be the best of the bunch. A- [sp]

Pharoah Sanders: Festival de Jazz de Nice, Nice, France, July 18, 1971 (1971 [2024], Kipepeo Publishing): British label, banner says "A fundraising project to help Kenyans in need," Bandcamp page offers 46 bootlegs from various venues/dates. This is a quintet with the tenor saxophonist, piano (Lonnie Liston Smith), bass (Cecil McBee), drums (Jimmy Hopp), and percussion (Lawrence Killian). I picked this one out from the list, figuring it would be really nice to hear some vintage Sanders. It hit that spot from the start with a no-vocal 21:30 "The Creator Has a Master Plan." B+(***) [bc]

Taylor Swift: 1989 (Taylor's Version) (2023, Republic): Her fifth album in 2014, now the fourth to get the "Taylor's Version" treatment, which doesn't seem to be anything more than a scam to make more money off back catalogue while giving less of it to Big Machine. I'm not making judgments on that, although I'm also not arguing with anyone who wants to argue against on ethical and/or artistic grounds. I streamed the original, liked it enough for a B+(***), but don't remember a single song, and have no desire compare versions. It's as if I'm hearing a new album for the first time, although it seems unfair to the rest of the world not to list it among reissues. Original grade seems about right. B+(***) [sp]

Barbara Thompson: First Light (1971-72 [2023], Jazz in Britain): British saxophonist (1944-2022), had played with Howard Riley, Michael Gibbs, and Neil Ardley before this, also the rock band Colosseum (she married their drummer, Jon Hiseman), but became better known after 1978 with her Paraphernalia groups. This starts with two Group E pieces, with her on soprano sax and alto flute, and Peip Lemer singing (21:10). That's followed by a big band piece (26:38), then five tracks with her Jubiaba group (29:39; the group finally released an album in 1978). The vocals add to the mess of the first two sets. Jubiaba is also messy, but explodes in rhythm often enough to raise your hopes. B [bc]

Papa Yankson: Party Time (Odo Ye Wu) (1989 [2023], Kalita): Ghanaian highlife singer-songwriter (1944-2017), various spellings which may or may not include Kofi. B+(***) [sp]

Old Music


Abyssinia Infinite Featuring Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw: Zion Roots (2003, Network): A one-shot album I only just noticed, looks like a vehicle for the featured Ethiopian singer (she wrote six songs, the other four trad.), engineered by Bill Laswell. Not rasta, but ethio-soul, subtle and beguiling. A- [yt]

Afrorack: The Afrorack (2022, Hakuna Kulala): Electronic music from Uganda, someone named Bamanya, who built "Africa's first DIY modular synthesizer, a huge wall of home-made modules and FX units. Recapitulates many of the sounds of the pioneers of electronic music, then finds layers of rhythm they never dreamed of. A- [sp]

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown: Sings Louis Jordan [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1973 [2019], Black & Blue): Blues singer-guitarist from Louisiana (1924-2005), played drums after WWII, and started recording singles for Peacock in the late 1940s. Album discography doesn't start until just before this one, a Paris session with jazz musicians, including Milt Buckner (organ), Jay McShann (piano), and Arnett Cobb (tenor sax). No new insights into either Brown or Jordan as blues, but the songs are hits, and Cobb is a real plus. B+(**) [sp]

Millie Jackson: On the Soul Country Side (1977-81 [2014], Kent): Hard-belting soul singer, debut 1972, found her concept with 1974's Caught Up, with a focus on cheating songs that suggested country music -- partly acknowledged on her 1981 album Just a Lil' Bit Country. This repeats six songs from that album (omitting four). The other songs include a couple duets with Isaac Hayes. Some songs are country enough for novelties, but most keep a respectful distance. Puzzling, as respect really isn't her thing. B+(***) [sp]

The Paranoid Style: The Power of Our Proven System (2013, Misra, EP): A reader sent me this YouTube playlist so I could "check it off my list," like this one (updated but not regularly maintained). This was evidently the first of three EPs later combined in unhelpful ways (like a 2013 Misra cassette), a five-song (21:59) digital release, each with its own video (which I've played through several times, but never managed to watch through). Straitlaced indie rock with copious smarts, a formula Elizabeth Nelson and Timothy Bracy have stuck doggedly with, even through full albums like 2016's Rolling Disclosure and the new one, The Interrogator -- both recommended. B+(***) [yt]

The R&B No. 1s of the '50s (1950-59 [2013], Acrobat, 6CD): Another decade's worth of hits, most justly famous, some as blues but more in the early development of rock and roll, with some novelties and other oddities in the mix. The syrupy strings of "Mona Lisa" is the first song that feels out of place (the first of only two Nat King Cole songs). Another surprise was Elvis Presley showing up, although "Hound Dog" sounds great after "Let the Good Times Roll." That kicked off a period where white artists, and we're not just talking ones who famously sounded black but others like the Everly Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers, Paul Anka, and David Seville --a sudden wave of integration that mirrored my own experience. It wouldn't be hard to edit this down to a solid-A set (probably 4-CD). And it would still be rewarding to stream through the rest. A- [cd]

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:

Zach Bryan: Zach Bryan (2023, Warner): Country singer-songwriter, though this second label album (after two self-releaseds) topped the rock charts as well as country and folk. Solid, unassuming, workman-like -- attributes that only deeepen with multiple replays. [Was: B+(***)] A- [sp]

Rodney Crowell: The Chicago Sessions (2023, New West): Country singer, emerged as a thoughtful songwriter with his 1978 debut, seems like his albums have only gotten easier over the years. This was recorded in Jeff Tweedy's Chicago studio, and came so easy they didn't even bother thinking up a title for it. Made it easy to underappreciate, too. [was: B+(**)] A- [sp]

Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders: Barney Kessel/Hampton Hawes/Leroy Vinnegar/Shelly Manne (1958, Contemporary): I thought I should recheck this. [was: B+] B+(***) [r]

Other albums rechecked, with no grade change:

Boygenius: The Record (2023, Interscope): Still, only one song caught my ear (but it was called "The Satanist"). B [sp]

Sufjan Stevens: Javelin (2023, Asthmatic Kitty): Still pretty after all these years. B+(*) [sp]


Music Weeks

Music: Current count 41900 [41743] rated (+157), 22 [16] unrated (+6).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

February 5, 2024

Music: Current count 41777 [41743] rated (+34), 21 [16] unrated (+5).

Very late start here, but I don't have much to say, so let's just get it out of the way.

I published another Speaking of Which Sunday evening. Came out with more links than usual (141), but fewer words (4726), so I didn't do much commenting. Today I added another 1000 words of introduction, but only 5 more links. Look for the red stripe in the right margin. The new words try to explain why some of the things people say to frame what Israel and the US are doing in ways that further genocide and poison any prospect for peace.

I'm about 100 pages into Greg Grandin's The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America. I thought about quoting several sections that seem particularly relevant to the present, especially about how the notion of an expandable frontier, driven by new settlement, leads to racism at home, war abroad, and genocide for whoever gets caught in the middle. In America this is the dynamic of Jefferson's "Empire of Liberty," of Jackson's "Indian Removal," and of Polk's "Mexican War." Many people understand Israel (like America, South Africa, and Algeria) as an example of attempted Settler Colonialism, but few people have noted the significance of Ben Gurion's refusal in 1948 to declare or, even after defining armistices in 1950-51, define Israel's borders -- even though Ben Gurion had lobbied hard to get the UN to approve a partition plan with defined borders.

I'm struggling to revise an old blog post I wrote about "reading obituaries" for possible inclusion in a book some friends are intent on publishing, and I'm tearing my hair out over my inability to focus on that task, or indeed on much of anything. That in turn has left everything else on hold.

I figured I'd wrap up the EOY aggregate once I counted Robert Christgau's Dean's List: 2023. It's out now, and I've split it up into essay and list, but I haven't counted it yet. I also haven't updated the Consumer Guide database and added the links from the list file to the database. Later this week.

I did add a few things to the EOY aggregate, like the Free Jazz Collective Album of the Year and individual critic lists for their writers who didn't vote in the Francis Davis JCP -- I've taken names, 11 of them, compared to the 7 who did vote.

I'd also like to point out that Mark Lomanno is doing a very nice Month in Review series. It's perhaps a bit more mainstream than the monthly columns Phil Freeman writes for Stereogum and Dave Sumner for Bandcamp Daily, but is a very welcome development. I've been neglecting my 2024 music tracking file, but with both labels and release dates, it makes updating too easy to ignore.

Also note that Paul Medrano is making an effort to track all 2024 New Jazz Music Releases, also in very usable format. I hope some readers here will find a way to help him out.

I also want to recommend one of the very best EOY reports I've seen this year, Tris McCall's Pop Music Abstract 2023, which is basically a whole year's worth of well-written reviews. I added all of the albums cited to my EOY Aggregate (code: tmr:+), even after I realized that not all of them were positive reviews; e.g.:

Sigur Ros -- Atta Oh god no.

Which was even more to the point than even my own B− review. But also take a look at his Lemon Twigs review, which does a marvelous job of putting into words what I was thinking when I simply jotted down C+.

Rated count is significantly down this week, to which I can only say, "whew!" Two 4-CD boxes, though, that I actually bought, and possibly cut them some slack (certainly gave them more time) as a result.

Still lots of technical glitches around the office and home, but I did get my main computer's speakers working, so I'm able to start playing downloads and Soundcloud and YouTube links again.

One thing I didn't do last week was pay any attention to my demo queue, for for that matter to 2024 releases (although five snuck in anyway, including one A−).

February 13, 2024

Music: Current count 41828 [41777] rated (+51), 23 [21] unrated (+2).

I posted a long Speaking of Which just before bedtime late Sunday night. I didn't quite get through my usual rounds, so added some more stuff today, which in turn pushed this out late, again. Still unclear how far I'll get Monday night.

Fortunately, I don't have much to say about music this week. The rated count is down, but I hit up several boxes, including the big Mingus one I saw little point in but enjoyed anyway, and yet another iteration of the Massey Hall Quintet/Trio. Also, another big r&b oldies box, again not ideal but quite thoroughly enjoyed.

Very little progress to report on EOY lists, websites, book projects, or anything else. The links, of course, are in the usual place.

February 19, 2024

Music: Current count 41864 [41828] rated (+36), 20 [23] unrated (-3).

I posted a long Speaking of Which just before bedtime late Sunday night. I didn't quite get through my usual rounds, so added some more stuff today, which in turn pushed this out late, again. Still unclear how far I'll get Monday night.

Fortunately, I don't have much to say about music this week. The rated count is down, but I hit up several boxes, including the big Mingus one I saw little point in but enjoyed anyway, and yet another iteration of the Massey Hall Quintet/Trio. Also, another big r&b oldies box, again not ideal but quite thoroughly enjoyed.

Very little progress to report on EOY lists, websites, book projects, or anything else. The links, of course, are in the usual place.

February 26, 2024

Music: Current count 41900 [41864] rated (+36), 22 [20] unrated (+2).

Running late this week, but managed to get most things done that had to be done. Still, I'm a frazzled, nervous wreck as I try to wrap up this introduction, so don't expect much.

I didn't get done with Speaking of Which by bedtime Sunday, so (once again) posted what I had, with the promise of a Monday update. But I've made very little progress on that today, so I don't know where that leaves us. I still expect to post this by bedtime Monday evening, even if it's in a similar state of disarray. There is some chance of further updates on Tuesday, but right now I'm growing sick of all of it.

I did wrap up the February Streamnotes file (except for the last Music Week, which I may still manage to add, and the indexing, which I certainly won't get done in time). At least the empty March Streamnotes file is opened.

I also managed to save off my frozen year 2023 list. Subsequent additions to the active one will be flagged in