Monday, September 12, 2022

Music Week

September archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 38685 [38637] rated (+48), 48 [56] unrated (-8: 19 new, 29 old).

I don't have much to say about music this week, so the reviews can speak for themselves. I did have quite a bit to say yesterday in Speaking of Which. One thing I didn't bother with was the 21st anniversary of September 11. That's something I don't need to be reminded to "never forget," but the endless memorials have grown tiresome, especially as we still haven't come to terms with the much greater tragedy of the wars G.W. Bush and his merry band of Vulcans then launched to remind the world not to challenge American omnipotence.

If you still are interested, I wrote a bit of memoir and comments on various articles in a September 10, 2021 Speaking of Which, which more or less coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Attica prison massacre, so I wrote about that, too. The pieces cited there are still worth pondering (except for Olson, which I ponder enough), starting with Garrett M Graff's After 9/11, the US Got Almost Everything Wrong. I quoted Graff's section heads there, and they sum up the argument (but I'll add some clarifying notes here):

  • As a society, we succumbed to fear. -- Which was largely orchestrated by political interests, and echoed by a pliant media.
  • We chose the wrong way to seek justice. -- With the blunt instruments of war, guaranteed to compound injustice and regenerate resistance.
  • At home, we reorganized the government the wrong way. -- Elevating an out-of-control security state, concerned only with projecting power abroad (well, and stifling dissent at home).
  • Abroad, we squandered the world's goodwill. -- Only thinking of our own power, and using it to inflict harm far greater than the original offense.
  • We picked the wrong enemies. Starting with peace and social justice advocates at home and elsewhere, with scant concern (and ultimately blanket racism) for the inevitable collateral casualties of war.

I've written about 9/11 many times over the years. The first was written in October, 2001, and backdated for the September, 2001 notebook. One line from then: "Those of us who survived Sept. 11 have survived a wake-up call: we need to look at our lives, and work all the harder to make right." That wasn't a very popular sentiment at the time. And that's part of the problem now.

Also note that all Responsible Statecraft did on 9/11 this year was to reprise their 9/11 at 20: A Week of Reflection pieces.

New records reviewed this week:

Jeff Arnal/Curt Cloninger: Drum Major Instinct (2021 [2022], Mahakala Music): Drummer, I've run across him a number of times since 2000, although rarely as first credit. Based in Asheville, NC, as is Cloninger, who works with modular synthesizers. B+(***) [bc]

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: Popular Culture (Community Music Vol. 4) (2020 [2022], Royal Potato Family, EP): Nine-piece band, recorded Vol. 3 as the Hot 9, reverts here to band name he set up after arranging the Kansas City soundtrack. Six songs (Grateful Dead, Eddie Harris, Beatles, Bessie Smith, Ellington, and Ellington-via-Mingus), 28:42. Finale is typically gorgeous. B+(**) [sp]

Blue Reality Quartet!: Ella's Island (2022, Mahakala Music): Avant jazz supergroup -- Joe McPhee (tenor sax), Michael Marcus (reeds), Warren Smith (vibes), Jay Rosen (drums) -- second group album. Some fine moments, then they dither a bit. B+(**) [sp]

Rob Brown/Juan Pablo Carletti: Fertile Garden (2020 [2022], NoBusiness): Alto sax and drums duo, two improv pieces (57:08). Brown is an associate of William Parker since the early 1990s -- In Order to Survive, Little Huey, Raining on the Moon, various Quartets (O'Neal's Porch), etc. He is in fine form here, which gives the drummer plenty to work with. A- [cd]

George Cartwright/Steve Hirsh/Chad Fowler/Christopher Parker/Kelley Hurt: Notice That There (2020 [2022], Mahakala Music): Date not given, but suggested by "created during the pandemic and in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder." Cartwright plays guitar and sax, Fowler stritch, Parker piano, Hirsh drums, Hurt vocals (not a major factor). B+(**) [bc]

Con+Kwake: Eyes in the Tower (2022, Native Rebel): UK hip-hop duo, Confucius MC (William Carbine-Glean) and producer Kwake Bass, with jazz keyboardist Alexander Hawkins, and Shabaka Hutchings co-credited as producer. B+(***) [sp]

Confucius MC: Somewhere (2021, YNR Productions): British rapper William Carabine-Glean, singles since 2017, seems to be his first album. [sp]

Gustavo Cortińas: Kind Regards: Saludos Afectuosos (2022, Pesato Candente): Drummer, from Chicago, has a couple albums, this one mostly a vehicle for vocalist-pianist Meghan Stagl, with some nice trumpet from Emily Kuhn, plus guitar and bass. B+(*) [cd]

Steven Feifke/Dijon Watson: Steven Feifke and Dijon Watson Present: Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra (2022, Cellar): Big band, leaders play piano and trumpet, Feifke is the arranger. Guest spots for Kurt Elling and Sean Jones, the band well stocked with mainstream players, some young (like Alexa Tarentino and Roxy Coss), some with big band experience (like John Fedchock). B+(*) [cd]

Tim Fitzgerald: Tim Fitzgerald's Full House (2019-21 [2022], Cellar): Chicago-based guitarist, seems to be his first album, has published a book of Wes Montgomery transcriptions, leads a septet here (wasn't Full House a Montgomery title?), with trumpet (Victor Garcia) and two saxophones (Greg Ward II, Chris Madsen). Ten songs, all penned by Montgomery in new arrangements. B+(*) [cd] [09-16]

Forest Chorus: Forest Chorus (2019 [2022], Orenda): Quintet, Finns Mikko Innanen (baritone/alto/sopranino sax) and Joonas Lappänenn (drums), Argentine Seba Saenz (trumpet), and Americans Caleb Vaazey (guitar) and Miller Wrenn (bass). B+(***) [bc]

Chris Forsyth: Evolution Here We Come (2021 [2022], No Quarter): Guitarist, has a couple dozen albums since 1998, but I hadn't heard of him. So I don't know how this record fits in the greater scheme of things, or even whether he's really jazz (which is suggested by many duo albums, including one with Nate Wooley). This is a quartet, with second guitar, electric bass, and drums, kicking off with a delightful groove piece, and more of the same to come. It also has guest spots, including a Steve Wynn vocal on one track, and Marshall Allen playing EVI on the opener. B+(**) [sp]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Broken Unbroken (2022, Mahakala Music): Arkansas-based free jazz saxophonist, dials it back a bit here by playing stritch, saxello, and alto flute. Backed by bass and drums, with Griffen also playing some trumpet. B+(***) [bc]

Chad Fowler/William Parker/Anders Griffen: Thinking Unthinking (2022, Mahakala Music): Same group, probably same session, three more pieces (47:58). B+(***) [bc]

Joel Futterman/Steve Hirsh: Warp & Weft (2021, Mahakala Music, 2CD): Piano and drums duo. B+(***) [bc]

Joel Futterman/William Parker/Chad Fowler/Steve Hirsh: The Deep (2022, Mahakala Music): Piano, bass, sax, drums, playing one 51:56 piece, recorded in one take. Enough going on that the piano explosions stand out even more. A- [bc]

Matthew Halsall: The Temple Within (2022, Gondwana, EP): British trumpet player, DJ, label head, dozen-plus albums since 2008. Four tracks, 23:10, mixes in flute, harp, piano/organ, bass drums, extra percussion. Likes a good beat. B+(**)

Heart of the Ghost: Summons (2022, No Quarter): Avant-sax trio from DC area, Jarrett Gilgore on alto/soprano sax, with Luke Stewart (bass) and Ian McColm (drums). They have a couple previous cassetts, plus a live album with Dave Ballou. Hype suggests they started in punk, then got creative. Blasts right out of the gate, still steady with the horn chills down or drops out. B+(***) [bc]

Steve Hirsh/Zoh Amba/Luke Stewart: An Unlikely Place (2022, Mahakala Music): Drums, tenor sax/piano, bass. Amba, originally from Tennessee but based in New York, seems to be the breakout free jazz star of the year, but three earlier albums have eluded my grasp. This is an unplanned 48:19 improv, strong enough to suggest that Amba should be a subject for further research. B+(***) [bc]

JER: Bothered/Unbothered (2022, Bad Time): Alias for Jeremy Hunter, of Skatune Network, first album. Upbeat ska. B+(*) [sp]

K.O.G.: Zone 6, Agege (2022, Pura Vida Sounds): Kweku Sackey, from Ghana but based in England, initials for Kweku of Ghana, first album -- Bandcamp has various singles and EPs, attributed to K.O.G. & the Zongo Brigade. Souped up highlife, rapping at times. B+(**) [sp]

The Koreatown Oddity: Isthisforreal? (2022, Stones Throw): Rapper, Dominique Purdy, from Los Angeles (despite the initial misdirection), started in stand up comedy, prolific since 2012. B+(*) [sp]

Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Xaybu: The Unseen (2022, Pi): Alto saxophonist, studied under Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, has released some of the finest avant-jazz albums of the last 15 years, took a radical turn with his 2016 Sélébéyone, a fusion of electronics, hip-hop, and mbalax -- the title translates as "intersection" from Wolof. Here he doubles down, with vocals in Wolof (Gaston Bandimic) and English (HPrizm), an extra saxophone (Maciek Lasserre on soprano), and drums (Damion Reid). Uncredited electronics and samples. Dense, with sharp edges, the sax breaks remarkable, but few and far between. B+(***) [cd]

Enrico Rava/Fred Hersch: The Song Is You (2021 [2022], ECM): Trumpet and piano duets: five standards, ranging from Monk to Jobim, one original each, one joint improv. Very comfortable. B+(***) [sp]

Howard Riley/Keith Tippett: Journal Four (2016 [2022], NoBusiness): Two major avant-jazz pianists in Britain: Riley's 1970 The Day Will Come is a Penguin Crown album, but Tippett (1947-2020) was the flashier player. They each take a warm-up solo here (15:53 for Tippett, 10:26 for Riley) then conclude with a 46:47 duet. B+(**) [cd]

Jeremy Rose: Face to Face (2022, Earshift Music): Australian saxophonist (tenor/soprano, also bass clarinet), several albums (I have a newer one in the queue). Quartet with piano, bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]

Jackie Ryan: Recuerdos De Mi Madre (2022, Open Art): Standards singer, grew up north of San Francisco, mother was Soledad Garcia, born in Mexico. Songs in Spanish, some even I recognize, with a band that features Paquito D'Rivera. B+(**) [cd] [10-07]

Wayne Shorter/Terri Lyne Carrington/Leo Genovese/Esperanza Spalding: Live at the Detroit Jazz Festival (2017 [2022], Candid): Venerable saxophonist, 83 when he was called on to headline the festival, played one set with his regular quartet, then assembled this one for another set, giving the drummer featured place, followed by piano and bass-vocals. The vocals flow nicely with the music, and as does the sax. B+(**) [sp]

Sonny Singh: Chardi Kala (2022, self-released): Based in Brooklyn, sings, plays trumpet, dhol, and harmonium, drawing on Sikh devotional poetry (gurbani), projecting high spirits as well as "denouncing tyranny, oppression, and dogmatic ideologies, while uplifting oneness and justice." The bit of lyric I understood helped. B [sp]

Clark Sommers Lens: Intertwine (2021 [2022], Outside In Music): Bassist, side-credits since 1998, has a couple albums with his group Ba(SH), Lens seems to be another group -- although Geof Bradfield (reeds) and Dana Hall (drums) overlap, joined here by Chris Madsen (tenor sax) and Matt Gold (guitar). Original pieces, nicely orchestrated postbop. B+(**) [cd] [09-16]

Vic Spencer x Small Professor: Mudslide (2022, Coalmine): Chicago rapper, albums since 2012, while producer Jamil Marshall goes back a bit further. Most memorable cut is a murder yarn. B+(*) [sp]

Sudan Archives: Natural Brown Prom Queen (2022, Stones Throw): Brittney Parks, born in Cincinnati, based in Los Angeles, plays violin, sings, raps, and presumably wrote the 18 bits that toss and turn in this kaleidoscope of an album. A- [sp]

Eric Vloeimans & Will Holshouser: Two for the Road (2021 [2022], V-flow/Challenge): Trumpet and accordion duo, not the most felicitous of combinations, recorded live. B(*) [cd]

Wrecking Crew: Sedale Threat (2022, self-released): Hip-hop collective, Small Professor brings the beats, others I haven't heard of. Title a Lakers basketball reference I didn't get, although I caught a couple more. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:


Old music:

Yugen Blakrok: Return of the Astro-Goth (2013, Iapetus): South African rapper, first album, I liked her 2019 album Anima Mysterium but didn't bother to look back at at whatever else was available. Mostly this album, with its cosmic beats and consciousness to match, noting "of all the things to waste the most terrible is the mind," and pushing: "we need a paradigm shift." A- [bc]

Kanif the Jhatmaster: The Hashemite (2016, Iapetus): South African hip-hop producer Rufus Sebright, "first appeared on the South African hip-hop scene in '97," but this seems to be his first album headlining. Note that 9 of 10 titles end in "Dub" (the other ends in "Ska"). And that's about all there is to it. B+(*) [bc]

Kanif the Jhatmaster: Flight of the 50 Foot Vimana (2016, Iapetus, EP): As understated as dub, but much more inscrutable. Seven tracks (25:01). B+(**) [bc]

Enrico Rava: Il Giro Del Giorno in 80 Mondi (1972 [1976], Black Saint): Italian trumpet player, still active, looks like his first album, appeared on a small label at the time before being reissued here. Title translates to Around the Day in 80 Worlds. Quartet with guitar (Bruce Johnson), bass (Marcello Melis), and drums (Chip White). Tries to be funky but also a bit out. B+(**) [sp]

Enrico Rava: The Pilgrim and the Stars (1975, ECM): First of many records on ECM, backed by guitarist John Abercrombie's trio, with Palle Danielsson (bass) and Jon Christensen (drums). They set a fine pace, and he sounds exceptional. A- [sp]

Enrico Rava: The Plot (1976 [1977], ECM): Return engagement, same quartet, similar vibe. B+(***) [sp]

Enrico Rava: Secrets (1986 [1987], Soul Note): Quintet with electric guitar (Augusto Manicinelli), piano (John Taylor), bass (Furio Di Castri), and drums (Bruce Ditmas). B+(**) [sp]

Enrico Rava/Franco D'Andrea: For Bix and Pops (1994 [1996], Philology): Trumpet and piano duets, not a style of music either is known for, and may seem a bit stiff, but nicely done. B+(**)

Enrico Rava/Ran Blake: Duo En Noir (1999, Between the Lines): Trumpet/flugelhorn and piano duets. One Rava original, the rest standards, with Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" a nice addition to the usual fare (not that they will ever run out of things to do with "Tea for Two"). B+(***) [sp]

Lou Rawls: The Essential Lou Rawls (1963-81 [2007], Philadelphia International/Legacy, 2CD): Soul singer from Chicago, started in church, recorded with the Pilgrim Travelers in 1962, also with Les McCann, becoming a fixture at Capitol (1962-70), but wasn't a very big star there (3 singles charted 13-17-18). He got a second chance on Philadelphia International (1976-81), where he scored his biggest hit -- the still remarkable "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" -- but little else. That's as far as this goes, but he moved on to Epic, and kept releasing records up to his death in 2006. Impresses as a singer, but rarely finds the right song or arrangement. B- [sp]

Shorty Skilz: Spirit Scream (2019, Iapetus, EP): South African rapper, half of Witchcraft Books, short debut album (7 tracks, 24:09). B+(*) [bc]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Bobby Broom: Keyed Up (Steele) [09-23]
  • John Escreet: Seismic Shift (Whirlwind) [10-07]
  • Song Yi Jeon/Vinicius Gomes: Home (Greenleaf Music) [11-18]
  • Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone: Xaybu: The Unseen (Pi) [08-26]
  • William Parker: Universal Tonality (2002, Centering/AUM Fidelity, 2CD) [09-30]

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