Monday, February 26, 2024

Music Week

February archive (finished).

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

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

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

[PS: Updated Tuesday.]

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

I also managed to save off my frozen year 2023 list. Subsequent additions to the active one will be flagged in a distinctive color. It looks like I added 91 such post-freeze records to the year 2022 file.

I added a few more lists to the EOY aggregate, most notably the long Aquarium Drunkard list, which pointed me to a few items and suggested many more. I had trouble focusing on things last week, so rated count was down, but A-list exploded from 2 last week to 9 this week (plus two upgrades from revisits -- I've been meaning to return to Bryan and Crowell; also, but not yet, Brandy Clark and Tyler Childers. That helped the Non-Jazz A-list catch up with the Jazz, now 84-83.

New records reviewed this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old music:

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

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

Grade (or other) changes:

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

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

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Albare: Beyond Belief (AM) [02-12]
  • Ian Carey & Wood Metal Plastic: Strange Arts (Slow & Steady) [03-22]
  • Stephan Crump: Slow Water (Papillon Sounds) [05-03]
  • Remy Le Boeuf's Assembly of Shadows: Heartland Radio (SoundSpore) [03-16]
  • David Leon: Bird's Eye (Pyroclastic) [03-08]
  • Queen Esther: Things Are Looking Up (EL) [04-09]
  • Ron Rieder: Latin Jazz Sessions (self-released) [03-04]
  • Jeremy Rose & the Earshift Orchestra: Discordia (Earshift Music) [03-01]
  • Jacob Shulman: High Firmament/Ferment Below (Endectomorph Music, 2CD) [03-01]
  • Julia Vari Feat. Negroni's Trio: Somos (Alternative Representa) [02-16]
  • Fay Victor/Herbie Nichols SUNG: Life Is Funny That Way (Tao Forms, 2CD) [04-05]

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