Monday, April 15, 2024

Music Week

April archive (in progress).

Music: Current count 42126 [42104] rated (+22), 30 [37] unrated (-7).

We have some friends my late sister virtually adopted -- we consider them virtual family -- who live on a farm in the Arkansas Ozarks, and they made a big push to get all of their closest family and friends to congregate there for the eclipse. We didn't give it much consideration, but my brother and his son and their families drove there from Washington and back, stopping here in Wichita both ways. (My brother's daughter and her family also made the trip, but flew in and out of Tulsa, bypassing us.) The rapid-fire visits took up a big chunk of my time the last two weeks. We did more cooking on the first leg, but on return I schemed to get help on a bunch of housework tasks. Both activities cut my normal output way back, as is evident here.

They finally left on Saturday afternoon. After that, I cobbled together a bit of Speaking of Which, which I posted late last night. I should go back and do some reviewing and editing and such, but I started feeling ill that night, and that's carried over today, so even this bit of shovelware has become a chore. Probably nothing serious, but at my age, one does fret a lot more than in the past.

But also I've lost a good ten hours since Thursday trying to get Cox to solve an AUP#XSNDR error in SMTP that totally keeps me from sending email. As best I can figure this out -- which, by the way, is probably better than anyone at Cox has yet managed -- is that when I send a piece of email (using Thunderbird connecting to, the SPF or DKIM list of legit IP sender addresses doesn't include the one Cox my one (assigned to me via DHCP, or substituted in transit?), and some forwarding server notices the discrepancy and kicks it back (which takes about 20 seconds, so there may be multiple stops for multiple lists before it fails).

I only have a couple things to say about the records below. The brief dive into Ken Colyer came about because someone sent me a typo correction to a Penguin Jazz Guide file I put together ages ago. When I was glancing through it I noticed a Colyer album I hadn't heard, so tried to track it down. I've always liked trad jazz, and that shared fondness was one of the things that I loved about Penguin Guide.

The Rail Band album is pictured but not reviewed below. Read about it next week. It comes from Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide: April 2024. I've reviewed most of those albums already, including an A grade for Heems/Lapgan; A- for Cucumbers, Dan Ex Machina, and Kim Gordon; similar HMs for Four Tet and Messthetics/James Brandon Lewis; and lesser grades for Buck 65, Adrianne Lenker, Vampire Weekend, and Waxahatchee. I've played Buck 65 four more times since the CG came out, and I always react the same: sounds really great for 10-15 minutes, then my mind wanders until it returns with a "what the fuck?" ending. Still a B+(***). The other three are probable EOY list frontrunners that I can't sustain any serious interest in (despite having noted multiple A-list albums from each). Still, I'm rather impressed that Bob can still put on his "rock critic establishment" robes and lobby for critical consensus like he advocated for fifty years ago.

Hope I'll be able to knock out a Book Roundup this week. Still, feeling pretty lousy at the moment, pushing this out with no Speaking of Which updates.

New records reviewed this week:

Cyrille Aime: Fleur De Peau (2018-23 [2024], Whirlwind): French jazz singer, based in New York, more than a dozen albums since 2006. Album recorded "at Jake Sherman's Apartment and Keyboard Haven in Brooklyn," with the singer credited with acoustic guitar and baritone ukelele, Sherman with "various," Abe Rounds "drums & percussion," various others for a song or two. B+(**) [sp]

Florian Arbenz: Conversation #10 & #11: ON! (2023 [2024], Hammer): Swiss drummer, started this series working remotely, but this appears to be a studio meet, extended over two days (11 tracks, 69 minutes), with more musicians: Yumi Ito (voice), Percy Pursglove (trumpet/flugelhorn), Ivo Neame (fender rhodes/synths), Szymon Mika (guitar), and Jim Hart (vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, percussion). B+(**) [sp]

Ctric Dmmies: Zen and the Arcade of Beating Your Ass (2023, Feel It): Hardcore-punk band from Minneapolis, fourth album since 2017, cover art designed to evoke Hsker D's Zen Arcade. B+(*) [sp]

Hilary Gardner: On the Trial With the Lonesome Pines (2024, Anzic): Standards singer, from Alaska, based in Brooklyn, one-third of the vocal trio Duchess, has a couple solo albums. looks to the "trail songs" of "singing cowboys" here, which means Gene Autry but also Bing Crosby. B+(*) [sp]

Arve Henriksen/Harmen Fraanje: Touch of Time (2023 [2024], ECM): Norwegian trumpet player, dozens of albums since 2000, duo here with a Dutch pianist who also debuted in 2000. B+(*) [sp]

Jazz Ensemble of Memphis: Playing in the Yard (2023 [2024], Memphis International): Memphis group, assembled by the label owner as a showcase for young talent, remembering other jazz musicians from Memphis over the years: the eldest here is saxophonist Charles Pender II (26), the youngest drummer Kurtis Gray (17), with with Martin Carodine Jr (17, trumpet), Liam O'Dell (21, bass), and DeAnte Payne (25, keyboards, vibes, congas, percussion). B+(*) [cd]

Benji Kaplan: Untold Stories (2023 [2024], self-released): Guitarist, born in New York but plays Brazilian influences, including nylon strings. Solo, nine tracks, 28:42. B+(*) [cd] [05-01]

Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones: New Monuments (2024, We Jazz): Brooklyn-based vocalist, third group album, also has duos (Lea Bertucci, Luke Stewart) and has appeared with Darius Jones, Mary Halvorson, William Parker, and Robert Ashley. Group here with Matthew Nelson (soprano sax), Leter St. Louis (cello), Eva Lawitts (bass), and Jason Nazary (drums/synthesizer). B+(**) [sp]

Joo Madeira/Margarida Mestre: Voz Debaixo (2022 [2024], 4DaRecord): From Portugal, bass and voice duo, the former does its job of setting up and framing the latter, which offers limited interest. B+(**) [cd]

Old 97's: American Primitive (2024, ATO): Indie band founded 1992 in Dallas, thirteenth studio album, alongside eight solo efforts (2002-22) from leader Rhett Miller -- perhaps a tad more pop, where the band leans harder on the guitar. I ran out of patience with this one pretty fast, not that objectively it's all that bad. B+(*) [sp]

Jonah Parzen-Johnson: You're Never Really Alone (2024, We Jazz): Baritone saxophonist, also plays flute, from Chicago, solo here (as are most of his albums), but with some electronics mixed in. Eight tracks, 39:39. B+(**) [sp]

Ernesto Rodrigues/Bruno Parinha/Joo Madeira: Into the Wood (2023 [2024], Creative Sources): Portuguese trio: viola, bass clarinet, bass. Live improv set, the bassist does an exceptional job of binding the sounds together into an engine of endless fascination. A- [cd]

Dave Schumacher & Cubeye: Smoke in the Sky (2024, Cellar): Baritone saxophonist, leads a very credible Latin jazz outfit with trumpet, often a second sax, and a rhythm section with Manuel Valera (piano), Alex "Apolo" Ayala (bass), and two drummer-percussionists (Mauricio Herrera and Joel Mateo). B+(***) [cd] [04-19]

Shakira: Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran (2024, Sony Latin): Colombian superstar, twelfth studio album, mostly Spanish. B+(***) [sp]

Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made (2022 [2024], Curtis Taylor Music): Trumpet player, bio hints at Cleveland, southern California, University of Iowa ("currently inspiring students"), seems to have two previous albums, side credits in big bands. Mainstream group here, backed by piano-bass-drums, with tenor sax (Marcus Elliot) on four (of 7) tracks. B+(**) [sp]

Vampire Weekend: Only God Was Above Us (2024, Columbia): Major group, first three albums (2006-13) were poll contenders, not so much for their fourth album (2019), where singer-songwriter Ezra Koenig carried on after the departure of Rostam Batmanglij. Seems this one is being recognized as a return to form, but my reaction is very indifferent, even as I admire their occasional dazzle. B+(**) [sp]

Recent reissues, compilations, and vault discoveries:

Sonny Rollins: Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings (1959 [2024], Resonance, 3CD): Starts with a set I've heard before as St. Thomas in Stockholm 1959, which I've long recommended as one of his best live sets, and rarely drops below that level as he moves on across Europe, trios with Henry Grimes on bass and various drummers (Pete La Roca, Kenny Clarke, Joe Harris). A- [cd] [04-20]

Old music:

Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Club Session With Colyer (1956 [2000], Lake): English trumpet/cornet player (1928-88), played trad jazz and skiffle, sang some. Penguin Guide picked this particular album (originally in Decca in 1957) as part of their "core collection," and it certainly is a primo example of the genre, a sextet of Ian Wheeler (clarinet), Mac Duncan (trombone), John Bastable (banjo), Ron Ward (bass), and Colin Bowden (drums), playing "good ol' good 'uns." A- [r]

Ken Colyer's Jazzmen: Up Jumped the Devil (1957-58 [2001], G.H.B.): Eleven songs, originally on Upbeat in 1958, rags to open and close, Jelly Roll Morton conspicuous in between, septet here, adding pianist Ray Foxley to the usual suspects. B+(**) [r]

Ken Colyer and His Jazzband: Colyer's Pleasure (1963, Society): Sextet plays more classics, John Bastable (banjo) and Ron Ward (bass) are carryovers from the 1956 band, Sammy Remington (clarinet) getting a "featuring" credit on the 1993 CD reissue (Lake, with extra cuts I haven't heard). B+(***) [r]

Joan Daz Trio: We Sing Bill Evans (2008, Fresh Sound New Talent): Spanish piano trio, with Giulia Valle (bass) and Ramn Angel (drums), "introducing" singer Silvia Perez [Cruz], who had a previous album or two, with a half-dozen more since. Songs composed by Evans, with lyrics mostly from others (only one by Perez). B+(**) [sp]

Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:

  • Sam V.H. Reese, ed.: The Notebooks of Sonny Rollins (New York Review Books): paperback book.

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