Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Music Week

April archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 42079 [42039] rated (+40), 39 [31] unrated (+8).

Speaking of Which published late Sunday night, with a few additions today. Lots of serious stuff there -- a claim I hardly feel like making for this post. However, I resolved quite some time ago to take notes on what I managed to listen to, and to share them for whoever cares.

I didn't realize until mid-week that last Music Week was the last of the month. I've updated the March Streamnotes file accordingly. When I went to index it, I found I hadn't goten to February either. Nasty, tedious job, but done now. It did solve one nagging issue of an album I thought I had reviewed but didn't record in the database.

I week-plus ago, I tweeted advance notice of an A-list album (Roby Glod's No ToXiC), figuring I might make a practice of doing that, at least for cases where the whole album can be sampled on Bandcamp. But I couldn't do much like that this week, aside from my preferred slice of the Pauline Anna Strom box, Plot Zero. I should recheck to be sure, but when I went to look, several of this week's picks aren't on Bandcamp, and most that are only have partial tracks available (in some cases, noted in the reviews, that haven't been released yet).

This post was ready to go Monday evening, but I wanted to go back and touch up Speaking of Which before posting them both. I didn't get that done, and was too exhausted by bed time. I never got started on Tuesday, either, so everything has to go up pretty much as it was. Unlikely I will get much of anything done later in the week, either, so next week's posts will be minimal, if they happen at all.

New records reviewed this week:

1010benja: Ten Total (2024, Three Six Zero): Rapper-singer Benjamin Lyman, based in Kansas City, first album after an EP, finds a groove and sensibility as original as the early mixtapes of Weeknd and Frank Ocean. A- [sp]

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson: Les Jardins Mystiques Vol. 1 (2023, Brainfeeder, 3CD): Los Angeles-based composer, violinist, has several previous albums (back to 2007), this one a monster (even without the promised future volume[s]), running 3.5 hours (also available on 4-LP), no recording dates given but "14 years in the making . . . with contributions from 50+ friends," including a fair number I recognize. Too big and possibly too luxe for me, but makes for consistently engaging background. The few critics who mention it at all rate it very highly. B+(***) [sp]

Jim Baker/Steve Hunt/Jakob Heinemann: Horizon Scanners (2022 [2024], Clean Feed): Pianist, one of few operating in Chicago's vibrant avant-jazz scene, couple dozen albums since his 1997 debut, more side-credits, trio here with drums and bass, Baker also playing ARP-2600. B+(**) [sp]

Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love: Chicken Shit Bingo (2015 [2024], Trost): Posthumous archive dig but not too deep, a set from Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp, with Brötzmann opting for relatively soft horns (tarogato, bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet), Nilssen-Love with a lot of experience in sax/drums duos. B+(*) [bc]

Christie Dashiell: Journey in Black (2023, self-released): Jazz singer-songwriter, first album, seven originals, two covers, with Marquis Hill (trumpet), Allyn Johnson (keyboards), Shedrick Mitchell (organ), Romeir Mendez (bass), and Carroll Vaughn Dashiel III (drums). B+(**) [sp]

Empress Of: For Your Consideration (2024, Major Arcana/Giant Music): Pop singer-songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, from Los Angeles, parents from Honduras, Berklee grad, fourth album since 2015. B+(**) [sp]

Julieta Eugenio: Stay (2023 [2024], Cristalyn): Tenor saxophonist, from Italy, based in New York, 2022 debut album was one of the year's best. Mostly trio with Matt Dwonszyk (bass) and Jonathan Barber (drums), adding Leo Genovese (Fender Rhodes) on two tracks. Doesn't try to blow you away here, but is steady, assured, and consistently engaging -- not a formula yet, not so easy to normalize. A- [cd]

Four Tet: Three (2024, Text): Longtime alias for English DJ Kieran Hebden, a dozen-plus albums since 1999, plus a few jazzier items under his own name (with the late drummer, Steve Reid). Beats up front, then relaxes a bit. As nice as anything he's done in at least a decade. B+(***) [sp]

Kim Gordon: The Collective (2024, Matador): Sonic Youth's better half, second post-divorce solo album. With beats supposed to be derived from trap (albeit plated with a surface of industrial klang), frayed vocals that could be called rap (but are probably too cryptic). Sonically, it's as distinct as anything her former group rolled out, perhaps more so. Youth? Not really. I have some doubts, but it does quite an impression. A- [sp]

Guillermo Gregorio: Two Trios (2018-20 [2023], ESP-Disk): Clarinet player from Argentina, where he first recorded in 1963, moved to Vienna, then to Chicago, where he resumed in the 1990s, and finally to New York. First trio here was recorded at Edgefest in Ann Arbor, with Carrie Biolo (vibes) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello). Second was at Downtown Music Gallery in New York, with Iván Barenboim (contralto clarinet) and Nicholas Jozwiak (cello). B+(***) [cd]

Guillermo Gregorio/Damon Smith/Jerome Bryerton: The Cold Arrow (2022 [2023], Balance Point Acoustics): Clarinets, bass, and percussion ("Paiste Bronze Series gongs & selected metal & cymbals, no drums used"). B+(**) [sp]

Mercer Hassy Orchestra: Duke's Place (2022-23 [2024], Mercer Hassy): Japanese big band, leader "was born as Masahide Hashimoto in Sapporo, Japan," home base for this exceptionally racous and rather raunchy Ellington tribute band. He is credited as arranger, also for drum programming and guitar. Several vocals, lots of excitement. Group has two previous albums, one in this vein (Sir Duke), the other more varied (Don't Stop the Carnival). Hassy has a non-Orchestra album with strings and traditional Japanese instruments, but also Alan Pasqua and Peter Erskine. This one slops off here and there, but is too much fun not so share. A- [cd] [04-15)

Jlin: Akoma (2024, Planet Mu): Electronica producer Jerrilynn Patton, from Gary, Indiana, fourth (or third) album. Beats, which is all that matters. B+(***) [sp]

Julien Knowles: As Many, as One (2023 [2024], Biophilia): Trumpet player, based in Los Angeles, first album, a postbop quintet -- alto sax, piano, bass, drums, no one I recognize, plus strings on three tracks -- as ambitious as claimed but returns are marginal for 70:27. B+(*) [cd] [04-26]

Anysia Kym: Truest (2024, 10k, EP): Brooklyn-based "producer," third album, sings along with her hip-hop beats and shadings, some guest rap (MIKE), not much press. Nine songs, 22:48. B+(*) [sp]

Ellie Lee: Escape (2024, self-released): Korean pianist, original first name Seunghyung, studied at Berklee and in New Jersey, counts Joanne Brackeen and Bill Charlap among her tutors, first album, originals (one an arrangement of Benny Golson), shows remarkable poise, helped considerably by saxophonist Steven Wilson. With Steve LaSpina (bass) and Jongkuk Kim (drums). B+(***) [05-24]

Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future (2024, 4AD): Singer-songwriter, best known as leader of Big Thief, has several solo albums, two before Big Thief, three since. Very basic, guitar and voice, harmonies adding resonance, the songs standing on their own, and faring well. B+(***) [sp]

Kali Malone: All Life Long (2024, Ideologic Organ): American composer, from Denver, based in Stockholm, sixth album since 2017, started with electronics plays pipe organ here, with a choir (Macadem Ensemble) and brass quintet (Anima Brass). Very solemn. B+(*) [sp]

The Messthetics/James Brandon Lewis: The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis (2024, Impulse!): Bassist (Joe Lally) and drummer (Brandan Canty) from Fugazi, plus jazz guitarist Anthony Pirog, formed this post-rock power trio for two 2018-19 albums, return here with the reigning heavyweight tenor sax champ riffing over heavier-than-usual beats. He's supreme, as usual, but Pirog doesn't really rise to the occasion -- unlike, the Ex guitarists in Lean Left, to pick a somewhat comparable example. B+(***) [sp]

Travis Reuter: Quintet Music (2022 [2024], self-released): Guitarist, born in Seattle, has a previous album from 2012, a variety of side credits since, lists his quintet on the cover as you should recognize the names: Mark Shim (tenor sax), Peter Schlamb (vibraphone), Harish Raghavan (bass), Tyshawn Sorey (drums). Slippery, often fractured, rhythm is interesting. B+(***) [cd] [04-19]

Schoolboy Q: Blue Lips (2024, Interscope): Los Angeles rapper Matthew Hanley, sixth album since 2011, this after a five-year break. Sharp beats, ends on a catchy note, but I didn't get much more. B+(*) [sp]

Altin Sencalar: Discover the Present (2024, Posi-Tone): Trombonist, first album, nonet has most of the label's regulars on board, including Diego Rivera, Michael Dease, Art Hirahara, and Rudy Royston. B+(*) [sp]

Matthew Shipp Trio: New Concepts in Piano Trio Jazz (2023 [2024], ESP-Disk): Pianist, has been major since c. 1990, both on his own records and accompanying saxophonists, notably David S. Ware and Ivo Perelman. Went through an avant-jazztronica that I was so taken by I wound up writing a consumer guide to his work (plus a lot more by William Parker) and a Rolling Stone guide entry. Since then, he's refocused on trio and solo albums, exhaustively it can seem. This is his sixth trio album with Michael Bisio (bass) and Newman Taylor Baker (drums), following many more with various others (starting with Parker and Whit Dickey, then Bisio and Dickey). I've heard pretty much all of them, and still I have no idea what the "new concepts" are here. This is, however, a superb sample of what he's been doing for many years now. A- [cd] [04-05]

Jacob Shulman: High Firmament (2024, Endectomorph Music): Tenor saxophonist, also plays clarinets, based in Los Angeles, has a previous album from 2021, and an earlier opera (Role Playing Game), which at least exists on Bandcamp. Also a second new album, Ferment Below, which showed up with this one, an advance looking like a double album, but they are treated as separate digitally, and I don't see any evidence of them existing otherwise. Both albums have piano (Hayoung Lyou), bass (Walter Stinson), and drums (Kayvon Gordon). Fancy postbop, more interesting to read about ("thousands of years of conjecture and agony have led us to conclude that our world diverges from Euclidean geometry in unresolvable ways" -- you can't just observe that?) -- than to listen to. B [cdr]

Jacob Shulman: Ferment Below (2024, Endectomorph Music): Annoyed me even more than the first one, until it inexplicably got better. Maybe I relaxed once I ditched the Pythagoras and realized that the review, like the record, would eventually end. But then it turned back into opera. B [cdr]

Ronny Smith: Struttin' (2024, Pacific Coast Jazz): Guitarist, "melodic and soulful," writes funky originals, covers Wes Montgomery, also credited "keys, bass, programming," second song adds vocals to sound like a Chic outtake (but just that one), elsewhere there's a nice bit of sax. B+(*) [cd] [04-19]

Mary Timony: Untame the Tiger (2024, Merge): Singer-songwriter from DC, been through several indie bands (Helium, Wild Flag, Ex Hex, Hammered Hulls) as well as several solo albums (one called Ex Hex before the group). B [sp]

Erik Truffaz: Clap! (2023, Blue Note): Trumpet player, born in Switzerland, close to twenty albums since 1997. B+(*) [sp]

Julia Vari Feat. Negroni's Trio: Somos (2024, Alternative Representa): Mexican-American standards singer, couple previous albums (but none on Discogs), backed by Puerto Rican pianist José Negroni, who has at least four Trio albums with Josh Allen (bass) and Nomar Negroni (drums, José's son). Seven songs, 35:19, the sort of singer and trio I rarely give a second thought to, but everything here delights me -- the torchy opener in Spanish, seguing into "Nature Boy," "Song for My Father" with lyrics in Portuguese, and especially the bits of French in "C'est si bon," a language I know just well enough to feel the phrase without having to translate it. A- [cd]

Fay Victor: Herbie Nichols SUNG: Life Is Funny That Way (2023 [2024], Tao Forms, 2CD): Jazz singer, born in Brooklyn but moved around a lot, with Trinidad and Zambia figuring in her childhood, Long Island for her teens, with Japan and Amsterdam major pivots in her career. She's probably sick of the Betty Carter comparisons, but after this album it's Carter who should be honored. I've been a huge fan of Nichols since I first heard his Blue Note trios in a 1975 2-LP (The Third World, but still have no idea how she managed to arrange those compositions into these pieces (adding her lyrics, or often just scat), except to note that Nichols' legacy has long inspired other geniuses (Misha Mengelberg, Steve Lacy, and Roswell Rudd leap to mind). (By the way, I'm only now noticing that the original LPs were in two volumes as The Prophetic Herbie Nichols, following on The Amazing Bud Powell, The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, etc.; for CDs, look for The Complete Blue Note Recordings, originally on Mosaic but reissued by Blue Note in 1997, and also look out for his Bethlehem album, Love, Gloom, Cash, Love. A good place to start for Nicols projects in Regeneration (1983), with all three names I dropped above, but they've each done more, as have many others.) Group here is superb, with Michaël Attias (alto/baritone sax), Anthony Coleman (piano), Ratzo Harris (bass), and Tom Rainey (drums). (Like Carter, she really knows how to work a band.) A [cd] [04-05]

Waxahatchee: Tigers Blood (2024, Anti-): Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, out of Alabama (Bandcamp puts her in Kansas City), formerly of P.S. Eliot, also of Plains, sixth Waxahatchee album since 2012, currently 4 on AOTY's "highest rated albums of 2024" (86/26, more reviews than anyone above; fewer than two other top-ten albums I don't particularly like). If I'm being evasive here, it's probably because while the songs sound good enough, I'm not connecting with them. Pehaps one to revisit later? B+(***) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Sven-Ĺke Johansson und Alexander von Schlippenbach: Über Ursache und Wirkung der Meinungsverschiedenheiten Beim Turmbau zu Babel (1994 [2024], Trost): Swedish free jazz drummer, has played in duos with the German pianist at least since 1976, their relationship going back further in Globe Unity Orchestra. This was billed as a "Musikdrama in einem Akt," with Shelley Hirsch joining Johansson (who plays accordion) for vocals, and a small group that includes piano, drums (Paul Lovens), reeds (Dietmar Diesner and Wolfgang Fuchs), and cello (Tristan Honsinger). I can't speak to the libretto, but the music is a riot. B+(**) [bc]

Microstoria: Init Ding + _Snd (1995-96 [2024], Thrill Jockey, 2CD): Electronica duo of Markus Popp (Oval) and Jan St. Werner (Mouse on Mars), recorded six albums 1995-2002, the first two reissued here. Not exactly ambient, but not much to distinguish itself either. B+(*) [sp]

Old music:

Guillermo Gregorio: Faktura (1999-2000 [2002], Hat Now): Clarinet player from Argentina, then based in Chicago, fairly minimal pieces, some trio with Carrie Biolo (vibes/marimba) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), other guest spots including Jim Baker (piano), Jeff Parker (guitar), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Jeb Bishop (trombone), and François Houle (clarinet), with two "concrete sound" interludes crediting engineer Lou Mallozzi. B+(**) [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Trans-Millenia Consort (1982, Ether Ship): Electronic music composer (1946-2020), synthesizers and taped sounds, first album (of seven through 1988, was a "Reiki master, spiritual counselor, and healer," so her music was part and parcel of all that. This and two more albums were boxed up for 2023's Echoes, Spaces, Lines, which is on Bandcamp but Spotify only has the albums broken out, so we'll take them one-by-one. Constructs a universe of peace and beauty, with few distractions. B+(***) [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Plot Zero (1982-83 [1983], Trans-Millenia Consort): Further developing her sense of keyboard rhythm, also spacey flights, with one unseemly crescendo detracting from the soothing bliss. A- [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Spectre (1982-83 [1984], Trans-Millenia Consort): More of the same, seeming a bit less wondrous, as tends to happen. B+(**) [sp]

Pauline Anna Strom: Echoes, Spaces, Lines (1982-83 [2023], RVNG Intl, 4CD): This compiles her first three albums -- see above: Trans-Millenia Consort, Plot Zero, and Spectre -- and adds two cuts (6:30) at the end, the extra CD probably due to the reshuffling to also box the same music on 4-LP. I gave the second album a slight edge over the others, but it's possible that the variations add up to something more than the parts. (Also that the packaging helps, although I haven't seen it. Note that the individual album remasters are available separately, at least on Bandcamp.) B+(***) [sp/bc]

Julia Vari: Adoro (2015, Alternativa Representa): Mexican-American, not much on her but reportedly sings in eight languages and plays piano, even less on this album -- just the release date, a note that it's her second, and that there is a 4-song EP of the same name, but this has 10 songs, 45:09. Mostly Spanish (presumably, at least nothing I recognize), some excellent piano, a bit of nice sax. B+(**) [sp]

Julia Vari: Lumea: Canciones del Mundo en Jazz (2013, Alternativa Representa): This does seem to be her first album. Credits would be helpful, but I can't find any -- other than to note one standard in English, and at least one Jobim, but most must be in Spanish. More notes: "multilingual singer-songwriter and pianist"; "both albums soared to the top of the jazz-blues charts in Latin America"; "divides her time between Miami and Mexico City"; "BMI songwriter"; "performs as a Headliner on luxury cruise lines." B+(*) [sp]

Julia Vari: Bygone Nights (2018, Alternativa Representa, EP): Four songs, 12:37, title song an original in English, followed by two songs in Spanish I can trace back to others ("Achupé," "Te Veo"), and a Latin twist on old Yiddish, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen." B+(*) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon: In Perfect Harmony: The Lost Album (1972, Jazz Detective) [04-20]
  • John Basile: Heatin' Up (StringTime Jazz) [04-01]
  • Nicola Caminiti: Vivid Tales of a Blurry Self-Portrait (self-released) [05-10]
  • The Core: Roots (Moserobie) [04-12]
  • Arnaud Dolmen/Leonardo Montana; LéNo (Quai Son) [03-29]
  • Dave Douglas: Gifts (Greenleaf Music) [04-12]
  • Yelena Eckemoff: Romance of the Moon (L&H Production) [05-10]
  • Eric Frazier: That Place (EFP Productions) [03-29]
  • Jazz at the Ballroom: Flying High: Big Band Canaries Who Soared (Jazz at the Ballroom) [05-03]
  • Maria Joăo & Carlos Bica Quartet: Close to You (JACC)
  • Yusef Lateef: Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon (1972, Elemental Music, 2CD) [04-26]
  • Shawn Maxwell: J Town Suite (Cora Street) [05-01]
  • Modney: Ascending Primes (Pyroclastic) [05-18]
  • Mike Monford: The Cloth I'm Cut From (self-released) [05-04]
  • Mute: After You've Gone (Endectomorph Music) * [05-13]
  • The Michael O'Neill Sextet: Synergy: With Tony Lindsay (Jazzmo) [04-19]
  • Sun Ra: At the Showcase: Live in Chicago 1976-1977 (Jazz Detective, 2CD) [04-20]
  • Art Tatum: Jewels in the Treasure Box: The 1953 Chicago Blue Note Jazz Club Recordings (Resonance, 3CD) [04-20]
  • Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy: The Mighty Warriors (1995, Elemental Music, 2CD): [04-20]

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