Saturday, December 31, 2022

Music Week

December archive (done).

Music: Current count 39330 [39275] rated (+55), 39 [36] unrated (+0: 11 new, 28 old).

I've been known to extend the last Music Week of December to the end of the month, because the transition from year to year is such a natural breaking point, and I don't want to cheat 2022. Still, lots of things contributed to this delay, including an illness that didn't lay me up so much as it sapped my will to do anything, and a still persistent problem with internet connection that has made it hard to stream and to research. The main casualty in this has been the Jazz Critics Poll, which should have been published last week, but is now delayed . . . hopefully no later than next week. I still have much to write for it, so I won't dawdle further here.

Note that other website updates are minimal: I haven't done anything to wrap up the monthly Streamnotes; I'm a couple entries behind in the Recent Reading; and who knows what else I've left broken. One thing I can leave you with is a PJRP ballot, which I basically scraped from my 2022 list without further thought:

  1. The Regrettes: Further Joy (Warner) 16
  2. Tyshawn Sorey Trio + 1: The Off-Off Broadway Guide to Synergism (Pi) 15
  3. Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (The Vital Record) 14
  4. Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You (4AD) 10
  5. Dave Rempis/Avreeayl Ra Duo: Bennu (Aerophonic) 10
  6. Omri Ziegele Where's Africa: That Hat (Intakt) 8
  7. Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul: Topical Dancer (Beewee/Because Music) 7
  8. Saba: Few Good Things (Saba Pivot) 7
  9. Bob Vylan: Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life (Ghost Theatre) 7
  10. Nilufer Yanya: Painless (ATO) 6

More details in the EOY lists for Jazz (73 A-list) and Non-Jazz (80 A-list). My tracking file shows 1524 records rated this year (out of 4619 listed). You might also find the EOY Aggregate interesting.

New records reviewed this week:

$ilkmoney: I Don't Give a Fuck About This Rap Shit, Imma Just Drop Until I Don't Feel Like It Anymore (2022, DB$B): Rapper from Virginia, fourth album, this title only slightly longer than the others. B+(**) [sp]

Taru Alexander: Echoes of the Masters (2022, Sunnyside): Drummer, father a saxophonist, started early, playing with Reggie Workman at 13. First album, cover surrounds his picture with a name cloud of various sizes, of which I can make out Billy Higgins and Roland Alexander near the top, elsewhere Tony Williams, Mulgrew Miller, McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and largest of all, Freddie Hubbard. Actual group here has Antoine Roney (tenor sax), James Hurt (piano), and Rashaan Carter (bass), with Hanka G. singing one track. B+(***) [sp]

Jake Blount: The New Faith (2022, Smithsonian Folkways): Black (ok, biracial) folk singer-sonwriter from DC, digs deep for his roots, then uses them to sing about the future, a bleak one, though perhaps not as bleak as it would be without a heritage that has survive plenty. B+(**) [sp]

Zach Bryan: American Heartbreak (2022, Warner, 2CD): Country singer-songwriter, born in Okinawa to a Navy family, did eight years in the Navy himself, but was still just 26 when this third album was released, and it's a whopper, with 34 songs running 121:00. B+(**) [sp]

Call Super: Swallow Me (2022, Can You Feel the Sun, EP): British electronica producer, Joseph Richmond-Seaton, three albums, more EPs and singles since 2011. This is basically a single: two tracks, 16:16. One of my favorite beat purveyors, but fairly minor. B+(**) [sp]

Sabrina Carpenter: Emails I Can't Send (2022, Island): Singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania, started as an actor at age 12, fifth album by age 23. B+(***) [sp]

Melissa Carper: Ramblin' Soul (2022, Mae Music): Country singer-songwriter, plays banjo and upright bass, started out with a family band, has two self-released albums on her own, plus two more with Rebecca Patek (one as Buffalo Gals Band). B+(**) [sp]

The Casual Dots: Sanguine Truth (2022, Ixor Stix): Second album, after an eponymous 2004 debut on Kill Rock Stars. DC alt-rock trio, froonted by singer-guitarist Kathi Wilcox. B+(**) [sp]

Marc Copland Quartet: Someday (2022, InnerVoice Jazz): Pianist, 40-plus albums since 1988, a quartet with Robin Verheyen (tenor/soprano sax; also wrote 2 songs to Copland's 3), Drew Gress (bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). Near-perfect balance. A- [sp]

Jon Cowherd Trio: Pride and Joy (2022, Le Coq): Pianist, originally from Kentucky, has a couple albums under his own name, several dozen side credits. Trio here with John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums). One oddity is the Vol. 2 in the lower right corner -- as best I can tell, Vol. 1 was a Patitucci album called Trio with Vinnie Colaiuta and Bill Cunliffe. Another oddity is that this opens with two of three tracks (of eight total) with Chris Potter (tenor sax) and Alex Acuña (percussion). B+(*) [sp]

Dandy Dandie: Hypnos & Morphée (2019 [2022], Yolk Music): Side-project composed and arranged by French saxophonist Alban Darche (one track by trumpet player Geoffroy Tamisier), built around texts from Poe, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Roethke, and others, sung by Chloë Cailleton. With piano by Nathalie Darche, but no drums or anything else, has an art song feel, but I like the sax. B+(*) [sp]

Harold Danko: Rite Notes (2021 [2022], SteepleChase): Pianist, thirty-plus albums since 1979, takes this one solo. B+(*) [sp]

Daphni: Cherry (2022, Jiaolong): Canadian electronica producer Dan Snaith, recorded a couple albums as Manitoba (2001-03) before switching to Caribou (2005, 5 albums through 2020) and adding Daphni as an alias (2012, 4th album). B+(***) [sp]

Eli Degibri: Henri and Rachel (2021 [2022], Degibri): Israeli saxophonist (tenor/soprano), studied in Boston and moved to New York before returning in 2011, eighth album since 2003, dedicated to his parents. B+(***) [sp]

Hamid Drake: Dedications: Black Cross Solo Sessions 6 (2020 [2022], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Drummer, originally from Louisiana but moved to Chicago as a child, playing especially with Fred Anderson, and later with William Parker. Solo, nine pieces, each dedicated to free jazz notables, not least the drummers. B+(**) [bc]

Dai Fujikura/Jan Bang: The Bow Maker (2022, Punkt): Japanese composer of "contemporary classical music," based in UK, teams here with the Norwegian composer-producer, who tends to straddle jazz and electronica. Atmospheric, a bit dark at times. B+(*) [sp]

Runhild Gammelsæter & Lasse Marhaug: Higgs Boson (2022, Ideologic Organ): Norwegian voice/electronics duo, she has a PhD in cell physiology and is on the board of a biotech company, but has a background singing in metal bands. He has a rep as a noise artist: I first encountered him in Vandermark groups, but more often these days I see him credited with album art. Second album together, after 2014's Quantum Entanglement. B+(*) [sp]

Julia Hülsmann Quartet: The Next Door (2022, ECM): German pianist, several albums since 2000, fourth Quartet album, with Uli Kempendorff (tenor sax), bass, and drums. Nice, even tone, with a lot of movement beneath the surface. B+(***) [sp]

Shawneci Icecold/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Sepphoris (2022, Underground45): Pianist from Rhode Island, has a hip-hop sideline as well as several free jazz albums, mostly plays harmonium here, with Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics. Runs 29:57. B+(**) [cd]

Shawneci Icecold/Shuishan Yu: Flowing Water: Music for Guqin & Harpsichord (2022, Underground45): Another duet set, the guqin an ancient Chinese string instrument, plucked fits in nicely with the harpsichord. B+(**) [cd]

Jazzanova: Strata Records: The Sound of Detroit (2022, BBE): German production collective, started in 1995, only a few proper albums but lots of remixes. This one honors a small Detroit label which released nine albums 1974-75, by artists little-remembered, a cocktail of jazzy pop that the producers are tempted to add some fizz to. Sean Haefeli claims most of the vocals, unfortunately. B [sp]

Kassmasse: Bahil | Weg (2022, Meedo): Ethiopian, sings/raps in Amharic, with a catchy beat and agreeable musicality. B+(***)

Lady Aicha & Pisco Crane's Original Fulu Miziki Band of Kinshasa: N'djila Wa Mudjimo (2022, Nyege Nyege Tapes): This seems to be the same group that released a highly recommended EP earlier this year (Ngbaka EP), but at greater length here, not least in the headline credit. Like Congotronics, they salvage and engineer instruments from junk, not just drums but that's what makes this work. A- [sp]

Little Simz: No Thank You (2022, Age 101/Awal/Forever Living Originals): Late album drop from UK rapper Simbi Ajikawo, her fifth, after 2021's Sometimes I Might Be Introvert swept many of the year's best album lists. Major musical contribution here by Dean Josiah Cover (of Sault), with Cleo Sol (also of Sault) backing vocals, but still sharpest when the raps cut through to the front. A- [sp]

Igor Lumpert's Innertextures: I Am the Spirit of the Earth (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): Slovene tenor saxophonist, based in New York since 2000, favored group name dates from a 2004 album title. B+(**) [sp]

João Madeira/Wagner Ramos: Meristema (2022, 4darecord): Portuguese duo, bass and drums, fairly minimal but sustains my interest for 71:11. B+(***) [cd]

Joe Magnarelli: New York Osaka Junction (2022, SteepleChase): Mainstream trumpet player, early albums (1998-2006) on Criss Cross, recent ones (since 2018) here. Osaka connection is organ player Akiko Tsuruga, joined with Gary Smulyan (baritone sax) and Rudy Royston (drums). As hopped up as a big band. B+(*) [sp]

Majamisty Trio: Wind Rose (2021 [2022], Majamisty): Serbian piano-bass-drums trio (Maja Alvanovic, Ervin Malina, Lav Kovac), fourth album, cover notes two featured guests: Aneta George (vocals), and Ulrich Drechsler (clarinet). B+(*) [sp]

Dado Moroni/Jesper Lundgaard/Lee Pearson: There Is No Greater Love (2016 [2022], Storyville): Italian pianist, many albums since 1980, this a trio with a Danish bassist and an American drummer. Flashy swing-oriented piano, gets down on "C Jam Blues." B+(***) [sp]

Odesza: The Last Goodbye (2022, Foreign Family/Ninja Tune): Electropop duo from Washington state, Harrison Mills (Catacombkid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches), fourth album since 2012. Guest vocals include Juliana Barwick, Bettye LaVette, and Låpsley. B+(**) [sp]

Sadistik x Kno: Bring Me Back When the World Is Cured (2022, self-released): Seattle rapper Cody Foster, half-dozen albums since 2008, helped here by Atlanta producer Ryan Wisler, a founder of CunninLynguists. B+(***) [sp]

Sault: 11 (2022, Forever Living Originals): British collective, anonymous when they first appeared in 2019, their first albums striking me as the second coming of Chic, but we now know that's just one of various masks. We also have a couple identities: producer Inflo (Dean Josiah Cover, who's worked with Little Simz), and vocalist Cleo Sol (who has three of her own albums). This kicks off a batch of five new digital-only albums that dropped on November 1. Strikes me as trivial on its own. Most reviewers glommed them together, then threw up their hands. B+(*) [sp]

Sault: AIIR (2022, Forever Living Originals): Title seems to refer back to their April, 2002 Air, which, as I noted at the time, with its strings and choral vocals "lost me." Same elements here, not worth making fine distinctions over, although this has five new titles, is shorter (25:27 vs. 45:06 for the seven-piece Air). B [sp]

Sault: Earth (2022, Forever Living Originals): African drums, scattered raps, bits of tasty guitar, other effects which may or may not work. B+(*) [sp]

Sault: Today & Tomorrow (2022, Forever Living Originals): A venture into retro rock, some say punk, but nowhere near that immediate, which is probably just as well. B+(*) [sp]

Sault: Untitled (God) (2022, Forever Living Originals): One more, a long one (21 songs, 73:08), "God" appears in several titles and more lyrics, but "We Are Gods" strikes me as suspicious. I'm reminded here how often thinking of God turns the mind to mush, but the last two songs make me wonder whether mush is the point ("God in Disguise," "Life We Rent but Love Is Free"). Possibly the best album of the series, but more likely the worst. B [sp]

Frank Paul Schubert/Kazuhisa Uchihashi/Klaus Kugel: Black Holes Are Hard to Find (2021 [2022], Nemu): German saxophonist (alto/soprano), albums since 2005, in a trio with guitar/electronics and drums. B+(***) [cd]

Maya Shenfeld: In Free Fall (2022, Thrill Jockey): Israeli composer, originally studied classical guitar, but moved to Berlin and got into electronics. First album, stately pieces that drift between ambient and drone. B+(*) [sp]

Sowal Diabi: De Kaboul à Bamako (2022, Accords Croisés): An international project, named for Persian and Bambara words for "question" and "answer," with two singers -- Mamani Keita of Mali and Sogol Mirzael of Kurdish Turkey -- plus Iranian violinist Aïda Nosrat and various French musicians. Both ends of the imaginary journey have been damaged by war and terror, but if Mali is the answer, the answer must be music. A- [sp]

Special Interest: Endure (2022, Rough Trade): Third album from a New Orleans no-wave dance-punk group, a' contradiction they flaunt but don't necessarily resolve. B+(*) [sp]

SZA: SOS (2022, Top Dawg/RCA): R&B singer Solána Rowe, second album, both critical and commercial successes, not that they do much for me. B+(**) [sp]

Ricardo Toscano Trio: Chasing Contradictions (2021 [2022], Clean Feed): Portuguese alto saxophonist, several albums, this a basic trio with Romeu Tristão (bass) and João Pereira (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Wako: Ut Av Det Nye (2022, Øra Fonogram): Norwegian quartet, led by pianist Kjetil Mulelid and saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsen, with Bárður Reinert Poulsen on bass and Simon Olderskog Albertsen on drums. Sixth album since 2015. B+(**) [sp]

Weyes Blood: And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow (2022, Sub Pop): Singer-songwriter Natalie Mering, fifth album, but only the second to see much chart presence. Much pomp and splendour, with a little more beat this time. B [sp]

Jason Yeager: Unstuck in Time: The Kurt Vonnegut Suite (2022, Sunnyside): Pianist, several albums, starts from anecdotes showing the comic novelist, born 100 years ago, to have been a jazz fan, indeed a wannabe jazz pianist, and presents him with some music, which may or may not have tickled his funny bone. B+(**) [cd]

Per Zanussi & Vestnorsk Jazzensemble: Li (and the Infinite Game) (2022, Clean Feed): Norwegian bassist, several albums since 2004, his Zanussi 5 Live in Coimbra (2014) impressed me. Working with a large (11 by my count) group here. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

The Pyramids: AOMAWA: The 1970s Recordings (1973-76 [2022], Strut, 4CD): Saxophonist Bruce Baker, originally from Chicago, better known since 2012 as Idris Ackamoor, founded this Afrocentric, Sun Ra-influenced group in Antioch, Ohio, in the early 1970s as part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble. A- [bc]

Buddy Tate & White Label: Tate's Delight (1982 [2022], Storyville): One of the famed Texas Tenors, came up in the Basie band, has a local Danish quintet for support, playing upbeat songs they all should know, including "Jumpin' at Woodside" and "Lester Leaps In." B+(***) [bc]

Old music:

Roland Alexander: Pleasure Bent (1961 [1962], New Jazz): Tenor saxophonist (1935-2006), from Boston, first album, Discogs only credits him with one more (a live quintet in 1978), came to my attention only when his drummer son released a good hard bop album (although now I recognize a few notable side credits, like Eddie Gale's Black Rhythm Happening (1969). This is remembered as a hard bop lineup, with Marcus Belgrave (trumpet) and Ronnie Mathews (piano), but is more mainstream, the sax tone softer, with a bit of swing. B+(**) [r]

Willi Carlisle: Too Nice to Mean Much (2016, self-released, EP): Arkansas tunesmith, first album, or most of one (six songs, 25:56), got some clever words, banjo too. B+(***) [sp]

Willi Carlisle: To Tell You the Truth (2018, self-released): Twelve songs this time, four credited to Traditional. Seems to be aiming for something darker, more primitivist. B+(**) [sp]

Billy Harper Quintet: Destiny Is Yours (1989 [1990], SteepleChase): Tenor saxophonist, from Texas, 1975 album Black Saint inspired the name for one of the era's most important labels. With Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Francesca Tanksley (piano), Clarence Seay (bass), and Newman Baker (drums) -- with a new bass player, this group went on to record three volumes of Live on Tour in the Far East (Vol. 2 is especially spectacular). B+(**) [sp]

Ronnie Mathews With Freddie Hubbard: Doin' the Thang! (1963 [1964], Prestige): Pianist (1935-2008), mostly shows up in side credits, starting in 1961 with albums led by Roland Alexander and Bill Hardman. This was his first album as leader, with four originals plus Ellington and Davis covers, with Hubbard on trumpet, Charles Davis on baritone sax, Eddie Kahn on bass, and Albert Heath on drums, shortly before Matthews appeared on Hubbard's Breaking Point. B+(**)

Ronnie Mathews/Roland Alexander/Freddie Hubbard (1961-63 [2002], Prestige): CD reissue combines two LPs, both with Mathews on piano: one with Hubbard on trumpet (Hubbard gets the small cover print, although he's much the bigger name), and another led by tenor saxophonist Alexander, with Marcus Belgrave on trumpet. B+(**) [r]

Grade (or other) changes:

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri (2022, Free Dirt): Folksinger from the Ozarks, earned his credentials the new-fashioned way, with a BA in Writing and Performance Studies and a MFA in Poetry, plus two self-released albums before moving up to a label with a name. [was B+(***)] A- [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Sixth Decade From Paris to Paris: Live at Sons D'Hiver (RogueArt, 2CD) [2023-01-20]
  • François Carrier/Alexander von Schlippenbach/John Edwards/Michel Lambert: Unwalled (Fundacja Sluchaj)
  • Fred Frith/Susana Santos Silva: Laying Demons to Rest (RogueArt) [2023-01-20]
  • Gerry Hemingway: Afterlife (Auricle)
  • Shawneci Icecold/Fred Lonberg-Holm: Sepphoris (Underground45) [10-02]
  • João Madeira/Wagner Ramos: Meristema (4darecord) [10-16]
  • Shawneci Icecold/Shuishan Yu: Flowing Water: Music for Guqin & Harpsichord (Underground45) [10-27]
  • Frank Paul Schubert/Kazuhisa Uchihashi/Klaus Kugel: Black Holes Are Hard to Find (Nemu) [01-12]

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