Streamnotes: March 25, 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 February 26. Past reviews and more information are available here (23577 records).

Recent Releases

Albare: Beyond Belief (2023 [2024], AM): Guitarist Albert Dadon, born in Morocco, grew up in Israel and France, moved to Australia in 1983 and made a fortune in business. Albums start in 1992. B+(*) [cd]

Bob Anderson: Live! (2023 [2024], Jazz Hang): Standards crooner, also described as an impressionist, career dates back to 1973, "has performed in more Las Vegas show rooms than just about anyone." Wikipedia has a bio but doesn't list any albums. Discogs has him as "(18)," with two two albums and three singles, none dated. These recordings were "taken from live performances in New York City, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Hollywood, Boston, and the like," also undated. Not a great ballad singer, but on the right song he does a pretty decent Sinatra. B+(*) [cd]

Lynne Arriale Trio: Being Human (2023 [2024], Challenge): Pianist, originally from Milwaukee, 17th album going back to 1994, mostly trios, this one with Alon Near (bass) and Lukasz Zyta (drums). B+(**) [cd]

Espen Berg: Water Fabric (2023, Odin): Norwegian pianist, dozen or so albums since 2007. Cover shows "featuring": Hayden Powell (trumpet), Harpreet Bansal (violin), Ellie Mäkelä (viola), Joakim Munker (cello), Per Oddvar Johansen (drums). I'm not often a big fan of strings, but here they take themes that start enchanting and raise them to something magnificent. A- [sp]

Espen Berg: The Hamar Concert (2022 [2023], NXN): Solo piano, recorded at Kulturhus in Hamar, Norway. B+(**) [sp]

Black Art Jazz Collective: Truth to Power (2024, HighNote): Fourth group album, 2016 debut started with six mostly prominent mainstreamers -- Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), James Burton (trombone), Xavier Davis (piano), and Johnathan Blake (drums) -- up to nine this time: still a sextet, but with Victor Gould, Rashaan Carter, and Mark Whitfield Jr. taking over at piano-bass-drums for four tracks. Rich harmonically, but still not much of interest happening here. B [sp]

Blue Moods: Swing & Soul (2023 [2024], Posi-Tone): Second album, "celebrating Duke Pearson," for label regulars Diego Rivera (tenor sax), Art Hirahara (piano), Boris Kozlov (bass), and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums), with Jon Davis taking over piano on two tracks. Very upbeat, joyous even. B+(***) [sp]

Jonas Cambien: Jonas Cambien's Maca Conu (2023 [2024], Clean Feed): Belgian pianist, based in Oslo, leads a quartet with Signe Emmeluth (alto/tenor sax), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass), and Andreas Wildhagen (drums), plus guest Guuro Kvåle (trombone) on two tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Gerald Cannon: Live at Dizzy's Club: The Music of Elvin & McCoy (2023 [2024], Woodneck): Bassist, mainstream, several albums under his name since 2000, more side-credits back to 1989, including 75th Birthday Celebration with Elvin Jones, a couple with McCoy Tyner, and most of the stars he lined up for this set of two Jones pieces, five Tyners, and one original: Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Sherman Irby (alto sax), Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Steve Turre (trombone), Dave Kikoski (piano), Lenny White (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Ian Carey & Wood Metal Plastic: Strange Arts (2019 [2024], Slow & Steady): Bay Area trumpet player, seventh album, leads a "new chamber jazz septet with strings." B+(**) [cd]

The Choir Invisible [Charlotte Greve/Vinnie Sperazza/Chris Tordini]: Town of Two Faces (2022 [2024], Intakt): Brooklyn-based trio of German saxophonist Charlotte Greve, Chris Tordini (bass), and Vinnie Sperazza (drums), the group taking the title of their initial 2020 album. Greve is also credited with voice, but the real vocal here is Fay Victor's outstanding blues, "In Heaven." B+(***) [sp]

Djeli Moussa Condé: Africa Mama (2023, Accords Croises): Kora playing griot from Conakry, Guinea; at least two previous albums, more as Kondé. B+(***) [sp]

The Chick Corea Elektric Band: The Future Is Now (2016-18 [2023], Candid, 2CD): Fusion group, originally formed in 1986, active for a decade after that, with a similar Elektric Band II appearing for a 1993 album, and an outlier album in 2004. This was collected from five concerts, August 2016 to May 2018. Lineup: Corea (piano/keyboards), Frank Gambale (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Dave Weckl (drums), Erik Marienthal (sax) -- all in the band as of 1987. B+(*) [sp]

Patrick Cornelius: Book of Secrets (2022 [2023], Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from San Antonio, based in New York, ten or so albums since 2006. Also plays soprano, alto flute, and clarinet here (on two tracks with Diego Rivera guesting on tenor sax). Backed by Art Hirahara (piano), Peter Slavov (bass), Vinnie Sperrazza (drums), and Behn Gillece (vibes). B+(**) [sp]

Stephan Crump: Slow Water (2023 [2024], Papillon Sounds): American bassist, debut 1997, many albums since, as well as sidework (especially with Vijay Iyer). [Major failing that he does not yet have a Wikipedia page.] Chamber jazz move, thick with slowly moving strings, occasional flashes of brass. Refers to a recent book by Erica Gies: Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge. B+(***) [cd] [05-03]

Giuseppe Doronzo/Andy Moor/Frank Rosaly: Futuro Ancestrale (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): Baritone saxophonist, from Italy, has a couple previous albums, also credited with Iranian bagpipe here, in a trio with electric guitar -- English, but has long played in the Dutch punk band, the Ex -- and drums (from Chicago). B+(**) [sp]

Gui Duvignau/Jacob Sacks/Nathan Ellman-Bell: Live in Red Hook (2022 [2024], Sunnyside): Bassist, fourth album since 2016, born in France, moved to Morocco as an infant, then grew up in Brazil, eventually winding up in New York, where he recorded this trio with piano and drums. B+(*) [sp]

Kahil El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Open Me, a Higher Consciousness of Sound and Spirit (2023 [2024], Spiritmuse): Chicago percussionist and vocalist (perhaps a bit too much), celebrates fifty years of mostly working within this ensemble, lately a trio with Corey Wilkes (trumpet) and Alex Harding (baritone sax), supplemented here by James Sanders (violin/viola) and Ishmael Ali (cello). A potent mix here, especially on the funk classic "Compared to What" -- vocal is perfect there. A- [sp]

Alon Farber Hagiga With Dave Douglas: The Magician: Live in Jerusalem (2023 [2024], Origin): Israeli saxophonist (soprano/alto), group name is Hebrew for "celebration," has used it to frame his quintet and sextet albums since 2005, up to seven here with their guest star, who brought two (of five) songs, and plays some of his hottest trumpet since he left Masada. A group this joyous deserves as better country. B+(***) [cd]

R.A.P. Ferreira & Fumitake Tamura: The First Fist to Make Contact When We Dap (2024, Ruby Yacht): Underground rapper from Chicago, initials for Rory Allen Philip, formerly did business as Milo, based in Nashville; producer has a handful of collaborations since 2014. Music very sketchy here, but finds an interesting groove. Twelve cuts, 32:16. B+(***) [sp]

Fire!: Testament (2022 [2024], Rune Grammofon): Trio of Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax), Johan Berthling (bass), and Andreas Werlin (drums), formed 2009, eighth album, plus another seven as the expanded Fire! Orchestra. B+(***) [sp]

David Friesen: This Light Has No Darkness (2023 [2024], Origin): Bassist, one should add composer as that's been key to him leading fifty-some albums since 1975, and that's the focus here, with this 12-part work arranged and orchestrated by Kyle Gordon, using a 33-piece orchestra. Classically lush, way too much for my taste. B [cd]

The Fully Celebrated Orchestra: Sob Story (2023 [2024], Relative Pitch): Group led by alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, first appeared as a trio in 1996, last heard on the terrific 2009 Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, back here as a quintet, with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and Ian Ayers (guitar) joining Luther Gray (drums) and original member Timo Sharko (bass). B+(**) [sp]

Glitter Wizard: Kiss the Boot (2023, Kitten Robot, EP): Glam rock group from San Francisco, four albums 2011-19, adds this six song, 18:30 EP. Includes a cover of "Sufragette City," not that they need to be so explicit about their niche. B [sp]

Roby Glod/Christian Ramond/Klaus Kugel: No ToXiC (2022 [2024], Nemu): German trio -- alto/soprano sax, bass, drums -- reportedly have been playing together twenty years but discography is thin; Glod and Kugel have an album together from 2013; Glod has side credits back to 1992. One Connie Crothers piece, the rest joint improv credits. The sort of free sax tour de force I always love. A- [cd]

Vanisha Gould and Chris McCarthy: Life's a Gig (2022 [2024], Fresh Sound New Talent): Jazz singer, has a previous self-released duo album but I could see this as her debut, wrote one song plus lyrics to another, but the focus here is on seven standards, most with just McCarthy's piano accompaniment (guest viola on two: the original and "Jolene"). Given the right song, like "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," and she doesn't need more. B+(**) [sp]

Laura Jane Grace: Hole in My Head (2024, Polyvinyl): Originally Thomas Gabel, singer-guitarist leader in punk group Against Me!, third solo album, a short one (11 songs, 25:28). Still sounds male, so you can just bracket the trans angle. Songs open up a bit towards folk, partly to expound on politics, e.g.: "out in the country is where fascists roam." B+(***) [sp]

Dave Harrington/Max Jaffe/Patrick Shiroishi: Speak, Moment (2021 [2024], AKP): Los Angeles-based trio: guitar, drums, sax, with some electronics and extra percussion. B+(**) [sp]

Keyon Harrold: Foreverland (2023 [2024], Concord): Mainstream trumpet player, debut 2009, many credits but only a few albums since. Major effort here, with variable lineups, and a sticker noting special guests Common, Robert Glasper, PJ Morton, and Laura Mvula. B+(**) [sp]

Heems & Lapgan: Lafandar (2024, Veena Sounds): Rapper Himanshu Suri, formerly of Das Racist and Swet Shop Boys, third solo album (first since 2015). Lapgan is a producer with a couple recent albums, draws on Indo-Pak heritage, Lollywood dance beats, and transnational hip-hop. Beaucoup guests celebrate, and flaunt, diversity. I should dig up a lyric sheet, but the many word juxtapositions are exciting enough. A [sp]

Art Hirahara: Echo Canyon (2023, Posi-Tone): Pianist, based in New York, side credits back to 1995, but emerged as a leader in 2011 and, especially with this trio of Boris Kozlov (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) has become his label's default rhythm section. B+(**) [sp]

Brittany Howard: What Now (2024, Island): Former Alabama Shakes leader, second solo album, always winds up confusing me, although this one kept my interest piqued longer than most. B+(**) [sp]

Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Past Is Still Alive (2024, Nonesuch): Band but mostly folkie singer-songwriter Alyndra Segarra, from the Bronx via New Orleans, shows no obvious links to either but rather seems totally assimilated into declassé Americana. Ninth studio album. Always seemed like someone I should like more than I did, but this album is the breakthrough, and not just in likability. I'm not good enough at words to recall much of the brilliance I heard, beyond the "Buffalo" lament and the "Ogallala" reference, but they come with great ease. A- [sp]

Idles: Tangk (2024, Partisan): British rock band, from Bristol, fifth album since 2017, formally post-punk, have a lot of critical and popular support. Sounds good, but ended before anything really registered. B+(**) [sp]

Vijay Iyer: Compassion (2022 [2024], ECM): Pianist, from upstate New York, parents Tamil, studied physics before deciding on music, many albums since 1995, has won virtually everything. Trio with Linda May Han Oh (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). Starts slow, develops into something I never quite grasp -- one is tempted to use "dazzling," but that belongs more to the drummer. B+(***) [sp]

Katy Kirby: Blue Raspberry (2024, Anti-): Folkie singer-songwriter, grew up in Texas, based in Nashville, second album. B+(**) [sp]

Julian Lage: Speak to Me (2024, Blue Note): Guitarist, debut 2009 on EmArcy, after stints with Palmetto and Mack Avenue landed on another major in 2021. This one leans a bit more rock, produced by Joe Henry, with Levon Henry (sax), Patrick Warren (keyboards), Joege Roeder (bass), and Dave King (drums). Except when it doesn't, and I lose all interest. Then, well, there's some piano that sounds like Kris Davis, and I'm interested again. B+(*) [sp]

Lapgan: History (2023, Veena Sounds): Hip-hop producer, most likely Punjabi but no info as yet on how far removed (seems to be based in Chicago), breakthrough is with the new Heems album, which instantly validated this title. B+(*) [sp]

Lapgan: Duniya Kya Hai (2021, Veena Sounds): Earlier, beats "almost exclusively with sounds from India and Pakistan." B+(**)

Lapgan: Badmaash (2019, self-released): Digging deeper, I find his name is Gaurav Nagpal (last name reversed for Lapgan), his parents came from India (but where? samples are as likely to come from Kerala as Punjab), he was born in Queens, grew up near Chicago, and worked his way backwards into roots. B+(**) [sp]

The Last Dinner Party: Prelude to Ecstasy (2024, Island): British rock group, five women, Abigail Morris the lead singer, debut album frequently described as art rock and/or baroque pop. B+(*) [sp]

Remy Le Boeuf's Assembly of Shadows: Heartland Radio (2023 [2024], SoundSpore): French alto saxophonist, also plays flute, several albums, this group a big band (third album, group named for the first) with vocals on two tracks. Some nice passages but generally too many classical moves for my taste, and I don't think the vocals help. B [cd]

David Leon: Bird's Eye (2022 [2024], Pyroclastic): Cuban-American alto saxophonist, based in Brooklyn, has a couple previous albums, also plays soprano sax, alto flute, and piccolo. Trio with DoYeon Kim (gayagum, voice) and Lesley Mok (percussion). Rather sparse and scattered, with some very interesting stretches, and some that don't do much (or worse, like the voice). B+(**) [sp]

Les Amazones d'Afrique: Musow Danse (2024, Real World): African supergroup, three brand-name Malian singers -- Mamani Keïta, Mariam Dumbia, Oumou Sangare -- plus 'French music-industry veteran" Valerie Malot. B+(***) [sp]

James Brandon Lewis Quartet: Transfiguration (2022 [2024], Intakt): Tenor saxophonist, brilliant on his 2014 major label debut, has continued to impress ever since, including landmark concept albums that won the Francis Davis Poll in 2021 and 2023. On the side, he's recorded a series of excellent working group albums for this Swiss label. Quartet with piano (Aruán Ortiz), bass (Brad Jones), and drums (Chad Taylor). A- [sp]

Little Simz: Drop 7 (2024, Forever Living Originals, EP): British rapper-singer Simbi Ajikawo, first mixtape 2010, four albums and a dozen EPs, including seven Drop titles, this one with seven titles, 14:52. B+(**) [sp]

Charles Lloyd: The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow (2024, Blue Note, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, released this album on his 86th birthday (any reason Blue Note can't give you recording dates?), was sort of a crossover star in the late 1960s, solidified his career when he moved to ECM in 1989, remaining pre-eminent within his move to Blue Note in 2013. Also plays some alto here, as well as bass and alto flute. Backed by Jason Moran (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), and Brian Blade (drums), a sprawling 15 songs (90:25). Longer than I'd like as a straight-through stream, but the CD/LP versions would break that up into manageable chunks, and it would be hard to pick among them. He's in fine form throughout, and the band (especially Moran) are superb. A- [sp]

Cecilia Lopez & Ingrid Laubrock: Maromas (2022 [2023], Relative Pitch): Electronics musician, from Argentina, based in New York, more than a dozen releases since 2015, doesn't appear to be related to bassist Brandon Lopez, but they did a 2020 duo called LopezLopez. Duo here with the German saxophonist (soprano/tenor), also New York-based. Sketchy, but interesting. B+(**) [sp]

Corb Lund: El Viejo (2024, New West): Canadian country singer-songwriter, twelfth album since 1995. Has a good sound and good sense, but songs are a bit hit-and-miss (a tip might be that his best album so far was called Songs My Friends Wrote). B+(***) [sp]

Brady Lux: Ain't Gone So Far (2024, 6483357 DK, EP): Country singer-songwriter from Montana, reportedly "a genuine ranch hand cowboy who works his ass off every day, and at night he writes songs and saws a little fiddle when he can find the time." Sounds really western, albeit without horses. Seven songs, 23:05. B+(***) [sp]

Mannequin Pussy: I Got Heaven (2024, Epitaph): Post-punk band from Philadelphia, Missy Dabice the singer, fourth album since 2014, harder than I care for, but do mix it up a bit. B+(**) [sp]

Nicole McCabe: Live at Jamboree (2023 [2024], Fresh Sound New Talent): Alto saxophonist, from Los Angeles, Introducing debut from 2020, second album here. She recorded this in Barcelona, with Iannis Obiols (impressive on piano), Logan Kane (bass), and Ramon Prats (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Mike McGinnis + 9: Outing: Road Trip II (2023 [2024], Sunnyside): Clarinet player, albums since 2001, including his prior Road Trip from 2012. Tentet again, with three saxes, three brass (trumpet/trombone/French horn), Jacob Sacks on piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [sp]

Moor Mother: The Great Bailout (2024, Anti-): Camae Ayewa, from Philadelphia, poet first, then musician, spoken word under this alias initially suggested hip-hop, but several side projects moved into jazz, most notably the group Irreversible Entanglements, and she's always had an activist angle. Numerous guest features here, hard to follow (but seems very Anglo-themed), music murkily industrial. B+(*) [sp]

Willie Morris: Conversation Starter (2022 [2023], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, from St. Louis, Discogs page adds a III to his name. First album, quintet with Patrick Cornelius (alto sax/alto flute), Jon Davis (piano), Adi Meyerson (bass), and E.J. Strickland (drums), playing eight originals, two covers, one of those from Joe Henderson. B+(**) [sp]

Willie Morris: Attentive Listening (2023 [2024], Posi-Tone): Second album, similar lineup, with Patrick Cornelius (alto sax/alto flute) and Jon Davis (piano) returning, plus label regulars Boris Kozlov (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). Another solid mainstream record. B+(*) [sp]

Kjetil Mulelid: Agoja (2022 [2024], Odin): Norwegian pianist, several albums, also electric piano and synth, quartet with pedal steel plus bass and drums, but most tracks have a scatter of guests, including violin, vibes, and/or some famous horn players. Still stays within atmospheric bounds. B+(**) [sp]

Mali Obomsawin/Magdalena Abrego: Greatest Hits (2024, Out of Your Head): Singer-songwriter/bassist from Abenaki First Nation, started in the folk group Lula Wiles, released a jazz-powered solo debut in 2022 I liked a lot (Sweet Tooth), but title here made me wonder. Abrego is a guitarist based in Hudson, NY, with not much before this, but adds appreciable heft to the songs. Eight songs, 32:02. B+(**) [bc]

Emile Parisien/Roberto Negro: Les Métanuits (2023, ACT): French soprano saxophonist, debut was a quintet in 2000, duo with the Italian pianist, one year older but albums only since 2015. "Inspired by György Ligeti's String Quartet No. 1." B+(**) [sp]

Emile Parisien Quartet: Let Them Cook (2024, ACT): French saxophonist (mostly soprano, but doesn't say, and sounds more like alto to me), debut was a quintet in 2000, info on this one is still very sketchy, but more names on cover: Julien Loutelier (drums), Ivan Gélugne (bass), Julien Touéry (piano). B+(***) [sp]

Pissed Jeans: Half Divorced (2024, Sub Pop): Another post-punk band with some critical acclaim. Sixth album since 2005. B+(*) [sp]

Chris Potter/Brad Mehldau/John Patitucci/Brian Blade: Eagle's Point (2024, Edition): The tenor saxophonist's album, his pieces, but all four surnames on the cover, fellow stars at piano, bass, and drums. Potter also plays soprano sax and bass clarinet. When he gets going, he can be quite astonishing. Mehldau is equally impressive, when he gets his opportunities, as here. A- [sp]

QOW Trio: The Hold Up (2024, Ubuntu Music): British trio -- Riley Stone-Longeran (tenor sax), Eddie Myer (bass), Spike Wells (drums) -- second album after an eponymous debut in 2020, basically a retro-bop band, name taken from a Dewey Redman song, Wells old enough to have played with Tubby Hayes. No complaints here if the saxophonist sounds a lot like Sonny Rollins. A- [sp]

Queen Esther: Things Are Looking Up (2024, EL): Bio is evasive beyond raised in Atlanta and "embedded" in Charleston, Discogs says "vocalist, songwriter, lyricist, producer, musician, actor, performance artist, TED Speaker and playwright," credits her with 7 albums (but not yet this one), also six groups (Hoosegow, JC Hopkins Biggish Band, The 52nd Street Blues Project, The Harlem Experiment, The Memp0his Blood Jugband Singers, Yallopin' Hounds). Last I heard was the banjo-fied roots album Gild the Black Lily (an A-), so I was surprised and taken aback by the jazz diva styling here, before the fine print revealed a Billie Holiday project, with the few original songs credited to Lenny Molotov. Replay required, and worth it. Promised later this year: "the alt-Americana album Blackbirding." A- [cd] [04-09]

Queen Esther: Rona (2023, EL): I missed this one, only a bit more than an EP (8 songs, 29:18), in her country mode, often with ukulele and/or strings. Mostly originals, but note that the first cover is "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- Queen, but just one voice, just a bit of guitar, but long at 6:39. B+(*) [sp]

Gruff Rhys: Sadness Sets Me Free (2024, Rough Trade): Welsh singer-songwriter, former member of Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, eighth studio album since 2005, first one I've heard. Tuneful, but little more to suggest I should look into his catalog. B [sp]

Zach Rich: Solidarity (2021 [2024], OA2): Trombonist, originally from Wichita, teaches in Colorado, seems to be his first album. Postbop quintet with piano and guitar, bass and drums, plus string quartet, plus extra horns and voice on the second piece ("Broken Mirrors"). B+(*) [cd]

Ron Rieder: Latin Jazz Sessions (2023 [2024], self-released): Composer, seems to be his first album, inside pic shows him at piano but album credits Alain Mallet (piano), one of nine musicians listed on cover, including impressive tenor sax from Mike Tucker, flute from Fernando Brandão, and lots of rhythm. B+(***) [cd]

Diego Rivera: With Just a Word (2022 [2024], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, Mexican-American family, born in Ann Arbor, director of jazz studies at Texas (Austin), sixth album as leader since 2013, plus side projects like Blue Moods. Latin-tinged mainstream quintet here with Pete Rodriguez (trumpet), Art Hirahara (piano), Luques Curtis (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Dex Romweber: Good Thing Goin' (2023, Propeller Sound): Rockabilly/roots guitarist, singer-songwriter, surprised to hear that he died at age 56, leaving this album has his last -- ominously dedicated to his late sister and duo partner, Sara Romweber (1963-2019). A mix of originals and covers, the latter more often amusing (even if inadvertently so). B+(*) [sp]

Jeremy Rose & the Earshift Orchestra: Discordia (2023 [2024], Earshift Music): Composer, plays soprano sax and bass clarinet, leading a conventional 17-piece big band and drummer Chloe Kim. Theme: "the paradoxes of our information era" and "the dangerous implications of misinformation," exacerbated by AI. B+(***) [cd]

Joel Ross: Nublues (2023 [2024], Blue Note): Vibraphonist, fourth album since 2019, all on Blue Note, which instantly made him some kind of star. No doubt he is, as is his label mate and guest here, Immanuel Wilkins (alto sax). A- [sp]

Bill Ryder-Jones: Iechyd Da (2024, Domino): English singer-songwriter, co-founded the Coral, seventh album since going solo in 2011, first one I've checked out, mostly because it's currently [03-12] the top-rated 2024 album at AOTY (88/16 reviews, but mostly from UK sources). He's not much good as a singer, but is touchingly vulnerable, and gets help from lush orchestrations and a kiddie choir, which somehow turns in miracles. Nearest similar example I can think of someone I wound up liking despite hardly liking anything about him is Sufjan Stevens. Ryder-Jones seems even more improbable. A- [sp]

Scheen Jazzorkester & Cortex: Frameworks: Music by Thomas Johansson (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): Norwegian large group, ninth album since 2013, teamed up with a quartet that's been active since 2011, both long associated with the trumpet player who composed these five pieces. B+(***) [sp]

Ignaz Schick/Oliver Steidle: Ilog3 (2021 [2023], Zarek): Germans, Schick started out as a saxophonist but credits here are "turntables, sampler, pitch shifter/looper," in a duo with the drummer ("percussion, sampler, live-electronics"). Third duo album, starting in 2015. Some splendid noise. B+(***) [bc]

Fie Schouten/Vincent Courtois/Guus Janssen: Vostok: Remote Islands (2023, Relative Pitch): A treat for Worldle devotees, improvised music "inspired by Judith Schalansky's book Atlas of Remote Islands: 50 Islands I Never Set Foot in and Never Will. Schouten plays "bass clarinet, clarinet in A, basset horn"; the others cello and keyboards, with Giuseppe Doronzo joining in on baritone sax (4 of 12 tracks). Eleven are named for islands (only a couple big enough to be Worldle answers), the other for a bird ("Inaccessible Island Rail"). B+(**) [sp]

Nadine Shah: Filthy Underneath (2024, EMI North): British singer-songwriter, from Whitburn, lives in Newcastle, father Pakistani, fifth album since 2013. B+(*) [sp]

Sheer Mag: Playing Favorites (2024, Third Man): Postpunk band from Philadelphia, Tina Halladay the singer, third album, after EPs in 2015-16 and albums in 2017 and 2019. B+(**) [sp]

Patrick Shiroishi: I Was Too Young to Hear Silence (2020 [2023], American Dreams): Japanese-American alto saxophonist, has produced a lot of records since 2014, mostly improv duos and trios, this a solo, starting in a deep listening vein, struggling to build something much more imposing (while maintaining that eery resonance). B+(***) [sp]

Håkon Skogstad: 8 Concepts of Tango (2023 [2024], Øra Fonogram): Norwegian pianist, has taken tango as his art form, with previous albums called Visions of Tango and Two Hands to Tango. All original pieces here, played by a classical-sounding group of band (piano, two bandoneons, string quartet plus bass). B+(*) [cd]

Sleater-Kinney: Little Rope (2024, Loma Vista): Portland-based rock group, now down to a duo of singer-songwriters Carrie Brownstein and Corrin Tucker, eleventh studio album since 1995. I've long respected their craft while finding one or both of the voices intensely grating. Still, repeated exposure finds me caring less than ever, although this has less than usual for me to complain about. B [sp]

The Smile: Wall of Eyes (2024, XL): Band with ex-Radiohead leaders Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, plus Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. Second album. Slow and plainly pretty, not the sort of thing I find appealing. B [sp]

Vera Sola: Peacemarker (2024, Spectraphonic/City Slang): Singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, parents famous actors, from which her alias provides some distance, started as a poet, second album, first was DIY but at least has a co-producer here, Kenneth Pattengale. B+(**) [sp]

Simon Spiess Quiet Tree: Euphorbia (2022 [2024], Intakt): Swiss tenor saxophonist, debut 2011, eighth album, group includes pianist Marc Méan (who wrote four pieces, same as Spiess), and drummer Jonas Ruther (writer of one piece). This sort of sneaks up on you. B+(**) [sp]

John Surman: Words Unspoken (2022 [2024], ECM): British saxophonist (the whole family, but just soprano, baritone, and bass clarinet here), avant-garde into the 1970s but settled into ECM's ambient chill by 1979 and has been secure ever since. With Rob Luft (guitar), Rob Waring (vibes), and Thomas Strønen (drums). This one is exceptionally engaging. A- [sp]

Michael Thomas: The Illusion of Choice (2023 [2024], Criss Cross): Alto saxophonist, based in New York, three previous albums going back to 2011, not to be confused with trumpeter of same name (or any others: he's "(25)" at Discogs). Mainstream quartet with Manuel Valera (piano), Matt Brewer (bass), and Obed Calvaire (drums), playing eight originals plus "It Could Happen to You." B+(***) [sp]

Viktoria Tolstoy: Stealing Moments (2023 [2024], ACT): Swedish jazz singer, great-great-granddaughter of the famous Russian writer, dozen-plus albums since 1994, sings in English, song credits to others but I don't recognize them as standards (mostly Ida Sand and Anna Alerstedt). B+(*) [sp]

A Tonic for the Troops: Realm of Opportunities (2022 [2023], Odin): Norwegian quartet led (at least all songs composed) by Ellen Brekken (bass), with Magnus Bakken (tenor sax), Espen Berg (piano), and Magnus Sefniassen Eide (drums), second group album, Brekken's side credits mostly with Hedvig Mollestad. B+(**) [sp]

Rafael Toral: Spectral Evolution (2024, Moikai): Portuguese guitarist, mostly works in electronics, quite a few albums since 1994, some (like Space Quartet) more obviously connected to jazz. This is solo, starts with guitar which is soon heavily overlaid. B+(*) [sp]

Akiko Tsugura: Beyond Nostalgia (2023 [2024], SteepleChase): Japanese organ player, moved to New York in 2001 ten or more albums since 2004, this one with Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Jerry Welcon (tenor sax), Byron Landham (drums), and Ed Cherry (guitar). B+(**) [sp]

The Umbrellas: Fairweather Friend (2024, Tough Love): San Francisco-based jangle pop band, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Albert Vila Trio: Reality Is Nuance (2022 [2023], Fresh Sound New Talent): Spanish guitarist, half-dozen albums since 2006, this a trio recorded in Brussels with Doug Weiss (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). Nice, low-key feel, drummer excels. B+(**) [sp]

Hein Westergaard/Katt Hernandez/Raymond Strid: The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn (2022 [2024], Gotta Let It Out): Guitar-violin-drums trio from Sweden. A little sketchy. B+(**) [cd]

Tierra Whack: World Wide Whack (2024, Interscope): Rapper from Philadelphia, her own name (after trying Dizzle Dizz), famous for her 13-songs-in-13-minutes mixtape Whack World (2018), followed by a trio of EPs in 2021, and now this debut studio album (15 tracks, 37:47). Same shtick here, short bits with a tasty hook but scant adornment, moving easily from set to set, like in her video. A- [sp]

Yard Act: Where's My Utopia? (2024, Island): British group, from Leeds, second album, James Smith's vocals are most often spoken, with bits of skits cut up and scattered. B+(**) [sp]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Alice Coltrane: The Carnegie Hall Concert (1971 [2024], Impulse!): Pianist and harpist, formerly Alice McLeod, of Detroit, her mother a choir singer, others in the family had musical careers, while she had a trio and played with others (Terry Pollard, Terry Gibbs; possibly her first husband, singer Kenny Hagood). She married John Coltrane in 1965, joined his quartet in 1966 (replacing McCoy Tyner), and had three children with him (most famous is Ravi Coltrane), but he died in 1967. In 1968, she released her own album, A Monastic Trio, and followed it with six more, also on Impulse!, through 1973, continuing on other labels through 1978, a few more later on. This live concert, part of which was previously released in 2018 as Live at Carnegie Hall, 1971, happened about the same time as what was perhaps her best known album, Journey in Satchidananda appeared. Title song leads off here (15:02), followed by three more pieces, centered on the 28:09 "Africa." She did much to develop the spiritual side of her husband's legacy, and if you follow the reviews, you may detect its center of gravity shifting from him to her: she was, after all, the one who lived the life. But compared to most recent reissues, this concert most securely links her back to his music, most obviously through bassists Jimmy Garrison and Cecil McBee, and saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. But her harp is developing (though it is her piano that brings "Africa" to its climax), and she adds harmonium (Kumar Kramer) and tamboura (Tulsi Reynolds), along with two drummers (Ed Blackwell and Clifford Jarvis). I've listened to most of her albums, but this is the first one that really moved me. A- [sp]

Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebru: Souvenirs (1977-85 [2024], Mississippi): Ethiopian pianist (1923-2023), described as a nun, "Emahoy" being a religious honorific. Recorded her first album in 1963, until recently was known mostly for her Éthiopiques 21 compilation of solo piano. This collects eight pieces (36:11), solo piano with vocals as soothing as the music. B+(***) [sp]

Joe Henderson: Power to the People (1969 [2024], Craft): Tenor saxophonist (1937-2001), his early records for Blue Note (1963-67) helped define that label's golden age, his move to Milestone (1968-77) much less storied (although Milestone Profiles found enough for an A-). Pitchfork calls this "an essential document of a transitional moment in which everything in jazz seemed up for grabs." It was a time of intense political ferment, whence the title, but for jazz musicians, it was more stress as labels dwindled and died. With names on the cover: Herbie Hancock (piano/electric), Jack De Johnette (drums), Ron Carter (bass/electric), Mike Lawrence (trumpet on two tracks). The band helps, but the only real point is the saxophone, which wakes you up with a few strong solos, including a monster to end. B+(***) [sp]

Roberto Magris: Love Is Passing Thru: Solo/Duo/Trio/Quartet (2005 [2024], JMood): Italian pianist, from Trieste, many albums since 1990, has been rifling through old tapes recently, and has come up with an exceptionally delightful one here. Recorded over two dates. This works out to five solo tracks (including two takes of "Lush Life"), plus two with drums and percussion (Enzo Carpentieri, some Balinese), three more with bass (Danilo Gallo), and finally three with tenor sax (Ettore Martin). A- [cd]

Jack Wood: The Gal That Got Away: The Best of Jack Wood, Featuring Guest Niehaud Fitzgibbon ([2024], Jazz Hang): A classic crooner, "long a favorite in Southern California." No dates given here, but "some of the Wood's finest recordings," with various groups, including Doug MacDonald and John Pisano on guitar, some sweetened by the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra. The featured guest is an Australian singer, who takes over for two tracks, and is as adept as her host. I must admit that I still have a soft spot for the style, especially on the songs that it made timeless. B+(***) [cd]

Old Music

Espen Berg Trio: Bølge (2017 [2018], Odin): Norwegian pianist, albums since 2007, this the second of four trio albums with Bárður Reinert Poulsen (bass) and Simon Olderskog Albertsen (drums). Opens with a Sting cover, then on to nine Berg originals. Strong album, good rhythmic sense. B+(***) [sp]

Espen Berg Trio: Fjære (2021 [2022], Odin): Same piano-bass-drums trio, but three more names in fine print on cover: Mathias Eick (trumpet, 2 tracks), Silje Nørgard (vocal, 1 track, the Paul Simon song, "I'd Do It for Your Love"), Hanna Paulsberg (tenor sax, 1 track). B+(**) [sp]

Jaki Byard: Live in Chicago 1992 (1992, Jazz³+): Pianist (1922-99), started with Charlie Mariano in 1950, later with Maynard Ferguson and Charles Mingus, his own albums from 1960 on. This is solo, from Chicago Jazz Festival, 45:58, doesn't seem to have a proper release so is some kind of bootleg. At one point he manages to blow some sax while playing along. B+(**) [yt]

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru: Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru (1963-70 [2016], Mississippi): Solo piano from the Ethiopian nun's early albums (although the last three cuts, sourced from a 1996 Best Of, could be later). Seems like simple patterns, but lives up to the hype: "some of the most moving piano music you will ever hear." A- [sp]

Emahoy Tsege-Mariam Gebru: Jerusalem (1972-2012 [2023], Mississippi): More solo piano (with a bit of vocal), three tracks from a 1972 album called The Hymn of Jerusalem: The Jordan River Song, six more from a much later album, by which time she had emigrated to Israel. Some biographical notes: she was of "a wealthy Amhara family," from Gondar, and learned music in a boarding school in Switzerland, from age six. She returned to Ethiopia in 1933, and became a "civil servant and singer to Emperor Haile Selassie." She became a nun when she was 21, and "spent a decade living in a hilltop monastery in Ethiopia." After that, she returned to playing music, and released her first album in 1967, in Germany. She emigrated to Israel in 1984, after Selassie fell, and "settled in an Ethiopian Orthodox convent in Jerusalem." B+(***) [sp]

Herb Geller: European Rebirth: 1962 Paris Sessions (1962 [2022], Fresh Sound): Alto saxophonist (1928-2013), from Los Angeles, recorded some fine albums 1954-58, but after his wife Lorraine died of an asthma attack in 1958, he left the US, played bossa nova in Brazil, then on to Europe, only really getting back into recording around 1984. Fifteen tracks from various Paris sessions, plus two bonus tracks from festivals. B+(***) [sp]

Herb Geller: Plays the Al Cohn Songbook (1994 [1996], Hep): The alto saxophonist plays twelve songs Cohn wrote, plus one original and one standard. With Tom Ranier (piano, tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), John Leitham (bass), and Paul Kreibich (drums), plus a couple of vocals by Ruth Price. B+(**) [r]

The Herb Geller Quartet: I'll Be Back (1996 [1998], Hep): Plays alto and sopranino sax here, with Ed Harris (guitar), Thomas Biller (bass), and Heinrich Köbberling (drums), on four originals and six standards (including a Jobim). B+(**) [r]

The Herb Geller Quartet: You're Looking at Me (1997 [1998], Fresh Sound): Alto and soprano sax, featuring Jan Lundgren (piano), with Dave Carpenter (bass) and Joe LaBarbera (drums), on ten standards followed by four tracks Geller wrote for a musical about Josephine Baker. B+(***) [r]

Herb Geller and Brian Kellock: Hollywood Portraits (1999 [2000], Hep): Duets, alto/soprano sax and piano, Kellock is Scottish, did some very good duets with Tommy Smith shortly after this one. Geller composed twenty pieces here, each named for a famous actress, most 1930s through 1950s. B+(***) [r]

Herb Geller: To Benny & Johnny, With Love From Herb Geller (2001 [2002], Hep): Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges, two of the alto saxophonist's heroes and models as he started his own career -- Charlie Parker is often cited as a third, but at this late date, he seems to be more in the mood for easy swing. With Hod O'Brien (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), and Paul Kreibich (drums). B+(**) [r]

Herb Geller: Plays the Arthur Schwartz Songbook (2005, Hep): Fourteen songs plus a medley, all co-credits with lyricists irrelevant here (Howard Dietz, Frank Loesser, Leo Robin, E.Y. Harburg). Alto or soprano sax, backed with piano (John Pearce), bass (Len Skeat), and drums (Bobby Worth). B+(**) [r]

Herb Geller With Don Friedman: At the Movies (2007, Hep): Alto/soprano sax and piano, also with Martin Wind (bass), Hans Braber (drums), and Martien Oster (guitar on four tracks, of 13). Standards, back cover names some but not all of the movies. B+(**) [r]

Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd: Jazz Samba (1962, Verve): The first of a series of immensely popular albums that reflected and contributed to what was then called "the bossa nova craze." I know this music from a later 4-CD compilation: The Girl From Ipanema: The Bossa Nova Years (1989, following a 5-LP edition in 1984). Getz was well established, having started as a bebopper, deftly maneuvering through the "West Coast Cool Jazz" scene, and grasping other opportunities -- his 1961 album Focus was the first "sax with strings" album where the strings were every bit as interesting as the sax. He had developed as a fine ballad player -- and would continue to grow up to his final act, 1991's duos with Kenny Barron, People Time. Byrd takes the lead here in laying out the rhythms, which Getz rides so gracefully. Getz followed this with a big band album, a minor misstep, then recruited Luiz Bonfa for Encore, Laurinda Almeida, then João Gilberto for the best album of the series, which made the latter's wife, singer Astrud Gilberto, a star. A- [sp]

Stan Getz With Al Haig: Preservation (1948-51 [1967], Prestige): A compilation of Getz's earliest 78s, all with Haig on piano, his name below the title but set off from the others: Kai Winding, Jimmy Raney, Tommy Potter, Gene Ramey, Roy Haynes, Stan Levey, Blossom Dearie and Jr. Parker. Title, from a song here, reflects the influence of Lester Young, especially the light tone. A dozen songs, three vocals of varying interest -- I'd rather hear more of Getz, but I'm not going to complain about Haig's solos. B+(**) [sp]

Gigi: Gigi (2001, Palm Pictures): Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu Shibabaw, third album, got a boost on Chris Blackwell's label, produced by Bill Laswell, with a roster of jazz greats (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Henry Threadgill, Hamid Drake, Amina Claudine Myers) mixed in with Laswell regulars and many Ethiopians. Laswell and Gigi married, following this up with a dub remix, then Zion Roots, credited to Abyssinia Infinite, with Gigi's full name as "featuring." B+(***) [sp]

Gigi: Illuminated Audio (2003, Palm Pictures): Some sort of dub remix of Gigi, omitting most of the vocals, which was the Gigi part of the album. Also cuts out the jazz solos, so you wind up with a lot of Bill Laswell ambient groove -- not much, but pleasant enough. B+(*) [sp]

Gigi: Gold & Wax (2006, Palm Pictures): Her third, and final, album for Chris Blackwell's label, again with Bill Laswell producing. A wide range of musicians -- including Nils Petter Molvaer, Bernie Worrell, Aiyb Dieng, Foday Musa Suso, Ustad Sultan Khan, and Buckethead -- integrate seamlessly with the mesmerizing vocals. A- [sp]

Gigi W Material: Mesgana Ethiopia (2009 [2010], M.O.D. Technologies): Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu Shibabaw, recorded a couple albums 1997-98, then hooked up with Bill Laswell for a series of albums from Gigi in 2001 to this live album, but nothing since. (They were married for some period, but I haven't found dates.) Material was a band Laswell started in 1979, breaking up in 1985 but Laswell continued using the name for various projects through 1999, reviving it here. B+(**) [sp]

Hawkwind: Doremi Fasol Latido (1972, United Artists): British space-rock band, debut 1970, still extant (Dave Brock is the only original member left, and was probably always the main guy; Nik Turner left in 1976, and Huw Lloyd-Langton left in 1971 but returned for 1979-88), this their third album, with two otherwise notable musicians present: guitarist Lemmy Kilmister (later of Motorhead), and vocalist Robert Calvert (whose 1975 solo Lucky Leif and the Longships, produced by Eno, was a personal favorite, and who I credited most for the one Hawkwind album I did really love, 1977's Quark, Strangeness and Charm). Seems too dated to turn into a major research project at this point, but between the post-Pink Floyd and proto-Motorhead, familiar soundposts abound. B+(***) [sp]

Barney McAll: Precious Energy (2022, Extra Celestial Arts): Australian pianist, close to twenty albums since 1995, seems to have designed this to appeal to his featured guest, alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, although the more critical collaborator may be jazz-soul outfit Haitus Kayote. This starts with a Leon Thomas/Pharoah Sanders homage, and ends with Coltrane, while touching on planets Sun Ra and Stevie Wonder. That was Bartz's golden age, but barely registers here over the zonked out vocals. B [sp]

Nicole McCabe: Introducing Nicole McCabe (2020, Minaret): Alto saxophonist, not much biography I can find, but studied in Portland and at USC, is based in Los Angeles, teaches there, released this debut with George Colligan (piano, terrific), Jon Lakey (bass), and Alan Jones (drums), plus Charlie Porter (trumpet, a plus on three tracks). Very strong performance, with a nice touch on the rare slow bits. A- [sp]

Nicole McCabe: Landscapes (2022, Fresh Sound New Talent): Second album, alto saxophonist continue to impress, this time with piano-bass-drums I've never heard of, an equally obscure vocalist adding scat I barely noticed to one track, forgotten by the next. B+(***) [sp]

Pajama Party: Up All Night (1989, Atlantic): Dance-pop vocal trio, released two albums, this debut and another in 1991. B+(**) [sp]

Art Pepper & Warne Marsh: Unreleased Art: Volume 9: At Donte's, April 26, 1974 (1974 [2016], Widow's Taste, 3CD): Alto saxophonist, spent most of the years 1954-65 in prison, produced some brilliant albums when he was briefly free, especially the run from Modern Art (1957) to Smack Up (1960), but he has little to show for the period from 1965 until 1975, when he recorded Living Legend, kicking off a staggering series of albums and live performances up to his death, at 56, in 1982. In 2007, his widow, Laurie Pepper, started releasing old tapes, with ten (often multi-CD) volumes through 2018. This is the only one I missed, unusual both in that it's from just before his big comeback, and also that it pairs him with another leader, tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh. They were backed by Mark Levine (piano), John Heard (bass), and Lew Malin (drums). Some terrific playing here, especially toward the end. Harder to get a real handle on Marsh here. Pepper makes the point that they hadn't seen, much less played with, each other in 17 years. B+(***) [r]

Art Pepper: Surf Ride (1952-53 [1957], Savoy): Possibly his first LP, compiled from three dates, two with three tracks, the last with six. Different groups on each, with Russ Freeman, Hampton Hawes, and Claude Williamson the pianists, and Jack Montrose (tenor sax) added on the backstretch. Exceptionally lively, ten originals plus a Lester Young and "The Way You Look Tonight," with Montrose joining the race when he could. Not quite everything Pepper recorded for Savoy, so any compilation -- one I've long recommended is Straight Life: The Savoy Sessions (1984) -- is likely to be redundant. [NB: The 2-CD The Complete Surf Ride, which appeared in Japan in 1987, has four more songs and 25 extra takes, inline, so it's likely to be too redundant.] A- [sp]

Art Pepper Quintet: Live at Donte's 1968 (1968 [2004], Fresh Sound, 2CD): Digging around, I found this rare item from Pepper's missing decade (1965-75), recorded in North Hollywood, with Joe Romano (tenor sax), Frank Strazzeri (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), and Nick Ceroli (drums). Only six songs, but four of them top 19:37, and the others 13:35 and 10:07 ("incomplete"). Basically the formula he would use for the rest of his life, at least after losing the extra sax. B+(***) [r]

Art Pepper/Warne Marsh: Art Pepper With Warne Marsh (1956 [1986], Contemporary/OJC): This is where they met previously, both West Coast saxophonists, alto and tenor, Pepper a scrappy be-bopper out of the Stan Kenton band, Marsh a serious protégé of the more idiosyncratic Lennie Tristano (as was Lee Konitz, who often played with Marsh). With Ronnie Ball (piano), Ben Tucker (bass), and Gary Frommer (drums), the CD adding extra takes of three (of seven) pieces. Everyone here has a feather-light touch, so that even "Stompin' at the Savoy" seems to float. [NB: Some of this was released as The Way It Was! in 1972.] A- [r]

Art Pepper: No Limit (1977 [1978], Contemporary): Studio album, quartet with George Cables (piano), Tony Dumas (bass), and Carl Burnett (drums), covers "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," plus three originals: two for his wife, the last a mambo. The latter adds a second horn, a tenor sax, dubbed in by Pepper, and quite wonderful. A- [sp]

Art Pepper: Saturday Night at the Village Vanguard (1977 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): After being blown away with the Thursday and Friday Night sets, I sprang for the whole 9-CD The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions box, and never looked back. But three tracks here were released on vinyl in 1977, and a fourth added (52:00 total) for the 1992 CD. This was his all-star group, with George Cables (piano), George Mraz (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums). Two standards, two original I've heard many times and never tire of. A- [r]

Art Pepper: More for Les: At the Village Vanguard, Volume Four (1977 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): As the box proved, there was a lot more great music after extracting the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Night LPs, so they cobbled a fourth volume together in 1985, and expanded it some for the CD. In the intro, Pepper gushes that he's never before appeared with players of this caliber (George Cables, George Mraz, Elvin Jones), which is not quite true (see Meets the Rhythm Section), but he plays like it is, because they play like they are. Title song is an original. The standards are equally his: I've heard him play them many times, rarely (if ever) better than here. A [sp]

QOW Trio: QOW Trio (2020, Ubuntu Music): English sax-bass-drums trio -- Riley Stone-Lonergan, Eddie Myer, Spike Wells -- title song/group/album name from Dewey Redman, also dok one from Joe Henderson, several standards (three from Cole Porter), and two originals not far removed from their inspirations ("Pound for Prez," "Qowfirmation"). B+(***) [sp]

Queen Esther: Talkin' Fishbowl Blues (2004, EL): First album, although a duo with guitarist Elliott Sharp as Hoosegow came out in 1996. Produced by Jack Spratt, tagged as "Black Americana," with a dark cover of "Stand By Your Man." B+(**) [sp]

Queen Esther: What Is Love? (2010, EL): Jazz ensemble this time, piano trio plus four horns (Patience Higgins on tenor sax, plus trumpet, trombone, and French horn), with JC Hopkins producing and writing most of the songs. The occasional standard makes it easier to appreciate the precise nuance the singer is capable of. B+(***) [sp]

Queen Esther: The Other Side (2014, EL): This one, with nine originals, two covers of Paul Pena (q.v.), one each from Charlie Rich and Bryan & Wilda Creswell, is filed under country rock. Band is mostly guitar, including pedal and lap steel, but note that the fiddle player (just two tracks) is Charles Burnham. B+(**) [sp]

Sonny Redd/Art Pepper: Two Altos (1952-57 [1992], Savoy): Pepper you know. The other alto saxophonist here is Sylvester Kyner Jr. (1932-81), from Detroit, started with Barry Harris, mostly played in hard bop groups, got his debut (sort of) here, recorded five albums 1959-62 (dropping the extra d, so just Sonny Red), only one more after that. This was slapped together from four sessions, different personnel for each (drummer Larry Bunker is on two). No alto duets either: Pepper leads on four tracks, Redd on the other two. Nice enough. Front cover puts Pepper first, but spine has Redd, and he needs the credits more. This came out on LP in 1959 on Regent, as Redd's career was taking off, and Pepper was headed back to the slammer. B+(*) [sp]

Sonny Red: Out of the Blue (1959-60 [1996], Blue Note): Alto saxophonist, formerly Redd, first and only album for Blue Note, originally eight tracks with Wynton Kelly, six from 1959 with Sam Jones and Roy Brooks, plus two from 1960 with Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb, the CD tacking on five more from the latter session. A very solid outing, not least for the bonus tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Stacey Q: Greatest Hits (1982-95 [1995], Thump): Dance-pop artist, Stacey Swain, opens with five resplendent remixes of singles from her 1986 solo debut, then ignores two later albums, going back to her early work in Q -- a "minimal synth/new wave" group with Jon St. James and Ross Wood, and then SSQ (supposedly emphasizing the singer's initials). B+(***) [sp]

SSQ: Playback (1983, Enigma): Stacey S[wain]'s pre-solo group, produced by guitar/synth player (and sometime vocalist) Jon St. James, both previously in the band Q, first and only album until a 2010 return. B+(**) [sp]

SSQ: Jet Town Je T'Aime (2020, Synthicide): A return to form for Stacey Swain and Jon St. James, 37 years after their first (and hitherto only) album. B+(*) [sp]

Limited Sampling

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

Stephan Crump/Steve Lehman: Kaleidoscope and Collage (2011, Intakt): Bass and alto sax duo, both with previous connections to Vijay Iyer, although none that I see with each other. [1/2 tracks, 16:40/39:02] - [r]

Nicole McCabe: Improvisations (2022, Minaret, EP): Solo alto sax with pedals, for something of a bagpipe effect. Four tracks, 20:46. [1/4 tracks, 5:01/20:46] - [bc]

Grade (or other) Changes

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:

Stan Getz: Nobody Else but Me (1964 [1994], Verve): At the time, Getz's samba albums were selling so well they didn't bother releasing this quartet session, which aside from the infusion of Gary Burton's vibes sounds much in line with his early bebop efforts. Mostly standards, starting with a memorable "Summertime," but also including two Burton originals. With Gene Cherico (bass) and Joe Hunt (drums). [was: B+] A- [cd]

The R&B No. 1s of the '50s (1950-59 [2013], Acrobat, 6CD): I still haven't filed this set, which made it a convenient option, especially to start each day. Mostly that's meant disc 6, where the novelties not in Rhino's canonical The R&B Box are exceptionally catchy -- especially the Lloyd Price hits ("Personality," "I Wanna Get Married") that I already loved before I turned ten. But revisiting discs 1-3 clinched the deal. [was: A-] A [cd]

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 42039 [41900] rated (+139), 31 [22] unrated (+9).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

March 5, 2024

Music: Current count 41938 [41900] rated (+38), 21 [22] unrated (-1).

I'm having a rough time getting anything done, which is my best explanation for wasting most of last week on a still-unfinished Speaking of Which -- posted well after midnight last, with a few further adds flagged today. The most important add is the link to Pankaj Mishra's The Shoah after Gaza (also on YouTube).

I've neglected pretty much everything and everyone else. My apologies to anyone expecting a response from me. As I must have noted already, I gave myself a month to write a quick, very rough draft of my long gestating political book, with the promise that if I couldn't pull it off, I'd shelve the idea once and for all, and spend my waning days reading fiction -- forty years later, I still have a bookmark 300 pages into Gravity's Rainbow, and enough recollection I'm not sure I'll have to retrace -- while slipping in the occasional old movie and dawdling with jigsaw puzzles (ok, I'm already doing the latter). I certainly wouldn't have to plow through any nonfiction that might be construed as research -- e.g., a couple items currently on the proverbial night stand: Franklin Foer's book on Biden, or Judis/Teixeira on the missing Democrats.

That month was supposed to be January, but the Jazz Critics Poll and EOY lists lapped over without me starting, so I decided I'd give it February. I still have no more than a fragment of a letter stashed away in a notebook entry, so the obvious thing to do at this point is admit failure, and be done with it. Aside from easing my mind -- the last six months have been unbearably gloomy for my politics, my prognostications turning markedly dystopian -- ditching politics might be good news for those of you more interested in my writing on music.

Two small projects that I've also neglected are: a thorough review of the Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll website, which is missing some unknown quantity of historical material (hopefully Davis has it stashed away), and needs some modernization; I'm also behind on maintenance, not to mention the long-promised redesign, of the Robert Christgau website. It would also make sense to reorganize my own data along those same lines, as even now it's virtually impossible for even me to look up what I've written about any musician.

I also have neglected house projects: the most pressing of which is the imminent collapse of a chunk of ceiling in my wife's study room. I used to be pretty competent at carpentry and home improvement tasks. About all I can claim to have managed in the last month has been replacement of two light bulbs, which took me weeks (in my defense, both involved ladders and unconventional sockets).

Nothing special to say about this week's music. A copy of the year 2023 list has been frozen, but I am still adding occasional records to my tracking file, jazz and non-jazz EOY lists, and EOY aggregate, but mostly just my own belatedly graded items. But I'm not very focused on what I'm listening to, and often get stuck wondering what to play next. I can't say I've reached the point of not caring, but I'm getting there.

My most played record of the last couple weeks is The R&B No. 1s of the '50s, especially the final disc, which has left me with Lloyd Price's "I'm Gonna Get Married" as the ultimate earworm. I should probably bump the whole set up to full A. I played the last three discs while cooking on Saturday, and I'm satisfied with them. Then I started Sunday and Monday with disc 6. As this post lapsed into Tuesday, I was tempted again, but had unfinished Vijay Iyer queued up.

Found this in a Facebook comment: "I'm not sure keeping up with Tom Hull is possible. The very thought makes my synapses cry out, 'no mas, no mas.'" But from my view, they really just keep coming poco a poco. During the long delay from listing out this file to posting it -- mostly spent on the Speaking of Which intro -- I only managed to collect four more reviews for next week: two marginally A- jazz albums (Joel Ross, John Surman), and two more marginally below A- (Vijay Iyer, Emile Parisien).

March 11, 2024

Music: Current count 41974 [41938] rated (+36), 27 [21] unrated (+6).

Another substantial Speaking of Which yesterday, plus some late additions today, bringing it up to 206 links, 9408 words. Otherwise, I have nothing much to show for the week, and I'm feeling as drained and hapless as I can recall, perhaps ever. Lots of tasks and projects piling up, unattended. At least I feel fairly well informed, and like I'm making sense when I drop into whatever topics come my way. Reflexes, and a substantial backlog of references I can still call up.

Meanwhile, I listened to the following bunch of records. I spent a lot more time with the R&B comp, eventually replaying all of it, which was enough for the promotion. Good tip from the redoubtable Clifford Ocheltree, so thanks again. The Hawkwind album tip came from a follower who goes by Cloudland Blue Quartet, who featured it in a #13at13 list. I didn't spend enough time on it -- certainly nothing like I would have had I encountered it at 13 (or 21, which I was when it came out; I certainly didn't have 13 albums at that age, and none to brag about). It seems like I must have heard more from them at the time than I have in the database, but not enough to really register (except as noted).

Three relatively mainstream jazz albums in the A-list this week. I feel a bit bad about not finding less obvious choices, but sometimes it breaks that way. The Potter album isn't actually in the 36 count, but I moved it in to wrap it up here. None scored high enough to be strong top-ten candidates at EOY (11, 13, 14 at the moment, or 6, 8, 9 among jazz), but they are likely to finish high in EOY polls.

Hurray for the Riff Raff is another pick with pretty broad support (86 on 21 reviews at AOTY; making it the year's highest-ranked album so far with that many reviews). It's taken over the number 2 slot in my 2024 list.

As for Old Music, the Gebru album I most recommend is still Éthiopiques 21: Ethiopia Song (1963-70 [2006], Buda Musique), attributed more precisely to Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, but any of the recent Emahoy/Mississippi compilations could do the trick. For solo piano, I usually prefer something upbeat (Earl Hines), fanciful (Art Tatum), and/or abrasive (Cecil Taylor), but all rules seem to have exceptions, and this is definitely one.

PS: [03-19] I have it on good authority that my Laura Jane Grace review, below, is "archaically transphobic." I understand their arguments, and will consider them in the future. But I will let this review stand. I've spent considerable time considering how I might respond, but after one rash attempt, I doubt that further discussion will do anyone any good.

March 19, 2024

Music: Current count 42007 [41974] rated (+33), 28 [27] unrated (+1).

Just a day late, although it feels like longer, and feels like it should have been longer still. I did manage to wrap up a small essay that's been hanging over my head for weeks -- or at least I'm hoping, as a final sign off would be nice. This pushed Speaking of Which back a day, which I didn't mind.

While I've occasionally threatened to kill it, the process of scanning my news sources, plucking out what strikes me as important and/or interesting, and occasionally commenting -- sometimes taking off on a tangent of personal/philosophical interest, sometimes just to heckle -- has been giving me a strange sense of comfort in what are clearly discomforting times.

Besides, this week the writing project I most seriously considered killing was Music Week. As to why, you're free to dig into the notebook, but what you'll find there is rather sketchily one-sided, with very little of what I really think, let alone why. Nor is there more than a hint of how much pain and anger I've felt this week. In my experience, such emotions do no good, although for better or worse -- sure, mostly the latter -- they are a big part of who I am, and how I came to be this way.

You also can simply ignore most of that paragraph, and just accept what I have to say in this one. Music Week changed this week, and may be changed for good, although I rather doubt it. Midweek I stopped reviewing new music, so everything in this week's "New records" section was done by Wednesday last. I don't plan on resuming any time soon, although that's no guarantee I won't have a few next week, and the odds of at least some appearing increase over time. In particular, it's inevitable that at some point I'll return to my promo queue, and when I do play something, I'll probably write it up in my logs, because, well, that's what I do.

Indeed, I started on that this week. After several days of playing my kind of comfort food, I decided I wanted to hear some Art Pepper. But instead of pulling out an old favorite -- of which there are dozens, including any random disc in The Complete Galaxy Recordings -- I remembered a 7-CD box that came out last year, that I thought I could stream. I put it off, mostly due to the length, but I figured I had time now, and was looking to fill it up. Unfortunately, while the title is listed (The Complete Maiden Voyage Recordings, what's actually available is a 4-CD release from 2017, which I couldn't find a label for. But I did find an Unreleased Art volume I hadn't heard, and that got me looking around. And as I did play them, I wound up doing what I always do.

I trust there are no surprises in the "Old music" section this week. Four A/A- records are ones I previously had graded that high in other forms. Getz's Nobody Else but Me is an old standby from one of the primo shelves, and I was surprised I only had it listed at B+, so an upgrade was clearly in order. The Jaki Byard is a bootleg that Allen Lowe raved about. I found it when I was trying to clear up some tabs, and decided I might as well play it, and write it up.

I moved from Getz to Geller by proximity. He's long fascinated me, so seemed worth the dive. Playing him now as I write, so next Music Week will at least have him. His late period seems to produce consistently fine but less than spectacular records.

Indexing February still delayed, as is damn near everything else in my life.

By the way, Kansas's first presidential primary in ages was today. We braved a line of absolutely no one to vote for Marianne Williamson in the Democratic primary. I gave up my Independent status in 2008 to caucus for Obama (against Clinton), and again in 2016 for Sanders (again, against Clinton), both of whom won big in Kansas. Williamson didn't win: current returns (91.9% in) give her 3.4% to Biden's 83.9%, with 10.2% "none of the names shown." Still, anyone who wants to create a Department of Peace gets my vote over Biden's war machine.

Trump is leading Haley 75.3% to 16.1%, with 5.2% for "none of the names shown." Trump had lost the 2016 caucus to Cruz.

PS: Oops! Was thinking about this most of the week, then slipped my mind when I initially posted. Meant to mention that the rated count ticked over another thousand mark this week, now over 42,000.

March 25, 2024

Music: Current count 42039 [42007] rated (+32), 31 [28] unrated (+3).

Speaking of Which ran over again. I posted what I had late Sunday night (227 links, 9825 words; the former possibly a record, the latter well above usual but less than 10883 for the week of March 3. (Updated tally: 259 links, 11559 words, so may very well be the biggest one ever.)

I got this started early Monday afternoon, but probably won't post until late, not so much because I expect this to take much as because I'd rather spend the time cleaning up Speaking of Which. I'm under no delusions that what I say here will make any difference to the world, but times like these need witnesses. And that is the one thing I can still offer.

Not a lot of albums this week -- played a lot of old stuff again -- but I'm fairly pleased with the finds this week, including some jazz artists not previously on my radar (Espen Berg, Roby Glod, Nicole McCabe) and a couple old-timers who returned to form with their best releases in years (Kahil El'Zabar, Charles Lloyd). I'll also note that results flipped expectations for two much-hyped reissues (Joe Henderson, Alice Coltrane).

Very little non-jazz this week, especially if you count Queen Esther as jazz (which you should for her better releases below, but not for the still-recommended Gild the Black Lily). Tierra Whack came from Robert Christgau's latest Consumer Guide. I should replay the records he liked better than I did -- Yard Act, Les Amazones d'Afrique, the Guy Davis I reviewed shortly after it came out in 2021. Most other records I have similar grades for (the three I mentioned I'm just one or two notches down on), leaving unheard the Queen compilation and a Thomas Anderson album that isn't streamable yet. By the way, Christgau skipped over Anderson's recent odds & sods set, The Debris Field (Lo-Fi Flotsam and Ragged Recriminations, 2000-2021), which I gave an A- to in my review.

Unpacking below does not include Monday's haul, which looks to be substantial. Most promising among the new releases is Dave Douglas with James Brandon Lewis, but note also a new album with Kevin Sun as Mute. Plus a lot of vault discoveries: Chet Baker/Jack Sheldon, Yusef Lateef, Sun Ra, Art Tatum, Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy, in addition to the Sonny Rollins already uwrapped.


Sources noted as follows:

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

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.