Monday, December 11, 2023

Music Week

December archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 41370 [41321] rated (+49), 17 [6] unrated (+11).

Let's see how quickly I can knock this out.

Speaking of which yesterday. Abbreviated intro and pretty much the same old news, but still came to 5184 words (114 links).

Lots of records below, but fewer A-list than in the last couple weeks, so diminishing returns? Two came from jazz poll ballots, and two from Chuck Eddy's latest PJPR post.

Deadline for the Francis Davis Jazz Critics Poll is coming up fast: Friday, December 15. I have 77 ballots counted. Hopefully we'll add at least that many more. It will be dispiriting (and a personal embarrassment) if we don't. Right now New Releases is a very tight two-album race. Total number of albums with votes is over 500.

EOY Aggregate has grown slowly as I fall ever farther behind. Last I checked it was a dead heat between Boygenius and Olivia Rodrigo, with Caroline Polachek close in third.

I'm updating my other lists as I go along, but have nothing much to report there.

I filed the following as my Jazz ballot:

New Releases:

  1. Rodrigo Amado/The Bridge: Beyond the Margins (Trost)
  2. Irreversible Entanglements: Protect Your Light (Impulse!)
  3. Steve Lehman/Orchestre National de Jazz: Ex Machina (Pi)
  4. James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet: For Mahalia, With Love (Tao Forms)
  5. The Rempis Percussion Quartet: Harvesters (Aerophonic)
  6. George Coleman: Live at Smalls Jazz Club (Cellar)
  7. Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Sixth Decade From Paris to Paris: Live at Sons D'Hiver (RogueArt)
  8. Jason Kao Hwang Critical Response: Book of Stories (True Sound)
  9. Emmet Cohen: Master Legacy Series Volume 5: Featuring Houston Person (Bandstand Presents)
  10. Farida Amadou/Jonas Cambien/Dave Rempis: On the Blink (Aerophonic)

Rara Avis (Reissues/Historical):

  1. Roy Hargrove: The Love Suite: In Mahogany (1993, Blue Engine)
  2. Steve Swell's Fire Into Music: For Jemeel: Fire From the Road (2003-04, RogueArt)
  3. François Carrier Ensemble: Openness (2006, Fundacja Sluchaj)


  1. Lisa Marie Simmons/Marco Cremaschini: NoteSpeak 12 (Ropeadope)


  1. Dave Bayles Trio: Live at the Uptowner (Calligram)


  1. Aruán Ortiz: Pastor's Paradox (Clean Feed)

I should probably just give up on trying to vote in the three specialist categories, as I have little sense of them anymore. Good chance my vote is the only one for each of the three (although Ortiz does have votes for Serranias, which seems to be regarded as more authentic or paradigmatic (or whatever the word is).

New records reviewed this week:

Bar Italia: The Twits (2023, Matador): London-based indie rock band, a guitar-bass-drums trio with Nina Crisante doing most of the vocals. Fourth album, second this year (after Tracey Denim), which it stretches out a bit, in ways that may or may not improve. B+(***) [sp]

John Blum/David Murray/Chad Taylor: The Recursive Tree (2022 [2023], Relative Pitch): Avant-pianist, has a rather thin discography, starting with a solo in 2002. The interest here, of course, is the tenor saxophonist, who lifts any encounter. He sounds a bit thinner here than on Plumb, probably due to having to navigate a more fractured landscape -- mostly piano, but the drummer chips in. A- [sp]

ML Buch: Suntub (2023, 15 Love): Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter, initials for Mary Louise, plays guitar, second album. B+(*) [sp]

Dave Burrell: Harlem Rhapsody (2023, Parco Della Musica): Pianist, debut 1969, now in his 80s, mostly avant-garde but has a particularly memorable solo album of Jelly Roll Morton. This, too, is solo, six improvs on oldies averaging 10 minutes, quite often fascinating. B+(***) [sp]

Adriana Calcanhotto: Errante (2023, Modern/BMG): Brazilian singer-songwriter, MPB, 17 albums since 1990. A fine example, probably one among many. B+(**) [sp]

Call Super: Eulo Cramps (2023, Can You Feel the Sun): British electronica producer Joseph Richmond-Seaton, fourth album. B+(**) [sp]

Chory Thicket [Christy Doran/Ronan Guilfoyle/Gerry Hemingway]: A Breath of Time (2023, Auricle): Guitar, bass guitar, drums; improv trio, dates from 2016 but this is their first record. B+(**) [bc]

Chouk Bwa & the Ängstromers: Somanti (2023, Bongo Joe): Haitian group, several previous albums, hard rhythms and chants. B+(**) [sp]

Creation Rebel: Hostile Environment (2023, On-U Sound): UK-based reggae/dub group, basically Adrian Sherwood's Hitrun and On-U Sound house band, had a run of albums 1978-84, so I would expect some personnel turnover nearly forty years on, but they do have that sound. Not a vocal powerhouse, but voices too find the groove. A- [sp]

Harold Danko: Trillium (2023, SteepleChase): Pianist, from Ohio, several dozen albums since 1974, this a trio with tenor sax (Rich Perry, from Danko's 1990s Quartet) and trumpet (Kirk Knuffke), playing Danko originals that have something to do with Stravinsky's "Rites of Spring" (as have two of his other albums). B+(**) [sp]

DJ +1: Aromáticas (2023, También): Colombian electronica producer, "draws inspiration from the herbal teas his mother would make," so pretty ambient. B+(*) [sp]

Nick Dunston: Skultura (2022 [2023], Fun in the Church): Bassist, based in Brooklyn, couple previous albums, this one makes use of samplers and electronics, mixing in scattered vocals and sax/clarinet (Eldar Tsalikov), a jittery combo. B [sp]

Hilario Duran and His Latin Jazz Big Band: Cry Me a River (2023, Alma): Cuban pianist, based in Toronoto since 1995, with more than a dozen albums since then. Big band, Paquito D'Rivera among the star-laden cast. B+(**) [sp]

Ekiti Sound: Drum Money (2023, Crammed Discs): Leke Awayinka, divides his time between London and Lagos, has a previous album (though searching for "ekiti sound" also a compilation of Emmanuel Omotuyi and His Osirigi Band, from 1975). B+(*) [sp]

The Feelies: Some Kinda Love: Performing the Music of the Velvet Underground (2018 [2023], Bar/None): The Velvet Underground emerged in 1967 as weird and arty, but after John Cale left, Lou Reed's band developed the basic guitar sound that became for model for most of the alt/indie bands from the 1990s on. The Feelies, from New Jersey, were one of the first to get on that bandwagon, with their jangly 1980 debut Crazy Rhythms. So this live set from White Eagle Hall in Jersey City work as their roots album, taking eighteen songs I know better than the back of my hand, and performing them as normally as humanly possible. B+(**) [sp]

Alan Ferber Nonet: Up High, Down Low (2022 [2023], Sunnyside): Trombonist, debut 2005, mostly large groups since then, with four nonet albums plus a big band. B+(**) [sp]

Funkwrench Blues: Soundtrack for a Film Without Pictures (2023, Need to Know): As best I can tell, this is Frank Swart, bassist and sometime producer, with no name credits but a bunch of side credits since 1991, mostly with folk singer-songwriters (e.g., a Nathan Bell record, this same label, that made my top ten in 2021). Aims for some kind of Miles Davis fusion here, and picks up enough top guests (including a couple of Davis alumni) to make it happen. B+(*) [sp]

Muriel Grossmann: Devotion (2023, Third Man, 2CD): Austrian saxophonist, but born in Paris, based since 2002 in Spain (now Ibiza), debut 2007, one album each year since 2015, many titles (like this one) suggesting sincere spirituality, the main evidence being devotion to John Coltrane. Backed by guitar (Radomir Milojkovic), organ (Abel Boquera), and drums (Uros Stamenkovic). Raises the rafters. B+(***) [sp]

Miho Hazama's M_unit: Beyond Orbits (2023, Edition): Japanese pianist, based in New York, seventh album since 2012, just composer and conductor here (Billy Test plays piano), leading a large ensemble -- 18 names on back cover, counting the two designated as "special guests" (Christian McBride and Immanuel Wilkins), but 13 seems to be the standard configuration, including two violins, viola, cello, and vibes. The compositions are complex, cosmic in sweep and grandeur, and expertly played. A- [sp]

Lisa Hilton: Coincidental Moment (2023, Ruby Slippers): Pianist, has produced a steady stream of albums since 1997, adds Igmar Thomas (trumpet) to her long-running trio of Luques Curtis (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Mary Lattimore: Goodbye, Hotel Arkada (2023, Ghostly International): Harp player, makes for a richly resonant if rather static form of ambient music. B+(*) [sp]

Ingrid Laubrock: Monochromes (2022 [2023], Intakt): German saxophonist (tenor/soprano), based in Brooklyn, many albums since 1998. One 39:18 piece here, composed using taped sounds (trumpets, accordions, percussion, Harry Bertoia sculptures), plus Jon Irabagon (sopranino sax), Zeena Parkins (electric harp), and Tom Rainey (drums). B+(*) [sp]

Lenhart Tapes: Dens (2023, Glitterbeat): Producer Vladimir Lenhart's "Belgrade Ethno-Noise outfit," aims at "re-tooling of submerged Balkan musics." B+(***) [sp]

Gregory Lewis: Organ Monk Going Home (2022 [2023], Sunnyside): Organ player, hit on the idea of playing Monk tunes on organ in 2010, released five such albums on his own up to 2017, now returns with a sixth (and a label). With Kevin McNeal (guitar) and Nasheet Waits (drums). Wrote one original to go with seven (mostly lesser-known) Monks. B+(*) [sp]

Mat Maneri Quartet: Ash (2021 [2023], Sunnyside): Viola player, father Joe Maneri was famous for his microtone works, he followed suit, with many albums since 1994. Quartet with Lucian Ban (piano), John Hébert (bass), and Randy Peterson (drums). B+(***) [sp]

Lesley Mok: The Living Collection (2023, American Dreams): Percussionist, styles herself as a "sound artist," first album, rounded up a nonet here, with two brass (Adam O'Farrill on trumpet and Kalun Leung on trombone), two reedists (David Leon and Yuma Uesaka), piano (Cory Smythe), and strings (viola, cello, bass). This is a very ambitious, and mostly accomplished, piece of work. B+(***) [sp]

Mozart Estate: Pop-Up! Ker-Ching! and the Possibilities of Modern Shopping (2023, West Midlands/Cherry Red): Latest alias for Lawrence Hayward, British singer-songwriter behind Felt (1982-92), Denim (1992-97), and Go-Kart Mozart (1999-2018). Corny or camp? B+(*) [sp]

Nihiloxica: Source of Denial (2023, Crammed Discs): Second LP from a "Bugandan techno outfit" based in Kampala, Uganda, described as "Bugandan drums meets UK bass." The drums put it over the top. A- [sp]

Maciej Obara Quartet: Frozen Silence (2022 [2023], ECM): Polish alto saxophonist, albums since 2009, third quartet album for ECM, here with Dominik Wania (piano), Ole Morten Vågan (bass), and Gard Nilssen (drums). Postbop, nicely poised. B+(***) [sp]

Endea Owens and the Cookout: Feel Good Music (2023, BassBae Music): Bassist, from Detroit, based in New York, graduated from Juilliard, played in the Late Show's house band (co-produced by bandleader Louis Cato). First album, ten musicians plus singers (Jhoard, Shenel Johns) listed, but septet is probably it. B+(**) [sp]

Jeb Patton: Preludes (2021 [2023], Cellar Music): Pianist, half-dozen albums since 2005, quintet with Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), John Ellis (tenor/soprano sax, flute, bass clarinet), bass, and drums. Eight original "Prelude in" titles followed by a cover of "Prelude to a Kiss." B+(**) [sp]

Eddie Prévost/NO Moore/James O'Sullivan/Ross Lambert: Chord (2022 [2023], Shrike): Percussion, plus three electric guitarists. B+(*) [bc]

Amy Rigby: Cut & Run (2022, Southern Domestic): A "ragtag collection of covers I recorded for my podcast or just to learn how they go, & some new songs that might not make the cut for my 'proper' album in progress." On the low end of lo-fi, should be throwaway stuff, but isn't. B+(**) [bc]

Amy Rigby: Cut Two (2023, Southern Domestic): More rough demos and podcast scraps. B+(**) [bc]

Say She She: Silver (2023, Colemine): "Female-led 8 piece" from Brooklyn, or maybe just the trio of singers (Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham, Nya Gazelle Brown) up front, the band name a nod to Chic ("C'est Chi-Chi"). The music too, except when the lush vocal harmonies win out. B+(***) [sp]

Slowdive: Everything Is Alive (2023, Dead Oceans): British shoegaze band, released three albums 1991-95, regrouped for another in 2017, and now this fifth one. Love the sound here. Not sure how much more there is. B+(**) [sp]

Simon Spillett Big Band: Dear Tubby H (2023, Mister PC): British tenor saxophonist, several albums since 2006, compiled a Properbox and wrote a biography of Tubby Hayes, who is further honored here. This keeps getting brasher. B+(***) [sp]

Elias Stemeseder/Christian Lillinger: Umbra (2022 [2023], Intakt): Piano and drums duo, plus guests on most cuts: Peter Evans (piccolo trumpet), Russell Hall (bass), DoYeon Kim (gayageum), with Brandon Seabrook (guitar) as a fourth on four tracks. B+(***) [sp]

Sultan Stevenson: Faithful One (2022 [2023], Whirlwind): British pianist, parents from Barbados and St. Vincent, first album, half trio, half adding trumpet (Josh Short) and tenor sax (Denys Baptiste). B+(**) [sp]

Loren Stillman: Time and Again (2022 [2023], Sunnyside): Alto saxophonist, born in London but raised in New York, released an album on Soul Note in 1997 (when he was still a teen), and pretty regularly since 2003. Trio with bass (Drew Gress) and drums (Mark Ferber), on his own pieces. Another strong album. B+(***) [sp]

Two Shell: Lil Spirits (2023, Mainframe Audio, EP): Electronic music duo from London, half-dozen singles and EPs since 2019, nothing LP-length, but these five cuts (16:41) make for a very satisfying demi-album. A- [sp]

Martina Verhoeven Quintet: Driven: Live at Roadburn 2022 (2022, Klanggalerie): Dutch pianist, married to guitarist Dirk Serries, who plays here, along with Colin Webster (sax), Gonçalo Almeida (bass), and Onno Govaert (drums). One 49:31 shot, aptly named. B+(***) [sp]

Colin Webster Large Ensemble: First Meeting (2022 [2023], Raw Tonk): Saxophonist (alto here), based in London, has a huge number of albums since 2011. Large means octet here, two sets (66:55) from Cafe Oto, with two more saxophonists (Rachel Musson on tenor and Cath Roberts on baritone), trumpet (Charlotte Keeffe), electronics (Graham Dunning), guitar (Dirk Serries), bass (John Edwards), and drums (Andrew Lisle). Gets noisy, I'm tempted to add exquisitely (not my normal reaction). B+(***) [bc]

Wilco: Cousin (2023, dBpm): Jeff Tweedy's band, back for their 12th studio album (since 1995), pleasant as usual. B+(*) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

John Butcher & Gerry Hemingway: Roulette - New York City (2005) (2005 [2023], Auricle): Sax and drums duo, both well established, recorded a couple days before a similar duo they released in 2008 (Buffalo Pearl). B+(**) [bc]

Clairvoyance Is the Dance (2023, Huveshta Rituals): "Polish-Belgian tastemkaker Kreshik" compiled this 18-track sampler of "worldwide talents." Seems deliberately obscure. B+(*) [sp]

Luis Russell: At the Swing Cats Ball: Newly Discovered Recordings From the Closet, Volume 1 1938-1940 (1938-40 [2023], Dot Time): Originally from Panama, he moved to New Orleans in 1919, then worked his way up to Chicago (1925) and New York (1929), both running his own band and using it to back Louis Armstrong (11 of 20 tracks here feature Armstrong; the last four are solo piano). Crudely recorded airchecks, sound so-so, not a major discovery. B+(*) [sp]

Bernie Worrell/Cindy Blackman Santana/John King: Spherical (1994 [2023], Infrequent Seams): P-Funk keyboard whiz from the launch in 1970, did a solo album in 1978, several more in the 1990s and later, before he died in 2016. Fusion jam session here with drums and guitar. B+(**) [sp]

Old music:

Lenhart Tapes: Duets (2021, Novo Doba): Eight tracks of Afro-Balkan Ethno-Noise, seven with features singers (Mirjana Raic or Svetlana Spajic), the other featuring "Orchestra." B+(**) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Alia Trio: Shaped by Sea Waves (Edgetone) [07-07]
  • Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious (Sunnyside) [03-08]
  • The Rob Dixon/Steve Allee Quintet: Standards Deluxe (self-released) [02-01]
  • Anne Foucher & Jean-Marc Foussat: Chair Ça (Fou) [??-??]
  • Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro: Trente-Cinq Minutes & Vingt-Trois Secondes (Fou) [??-??]
  • Amanda Gardier: Auteur: Music Inspired by the Films of Wes Anderson (self-released) [01-26]
  • Riley Mulherkar: Riley (Westerlies) [02-16]
  • Noertker's Moxie: In Flitters: 49 Bits From B*ck*tt (Edgetone) [11-07]
  • Bill Scorzari: Through These Waves (self-released '16)
  • Bill Scorzari: Now I'm Free (self-released '19)
  • Bill Scorzari: The Crosswinds of Kansas (self-released '22)/li>
  • Rob Sussman: Top Secret Lab (Sus4music) [12-12]

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