Monday, October 31, 2011
Music: Current count 18972  rated (+45), 852  unrated (+4).
Fairly high rated week, almost all due to Rhapsody. December's Streamnotes
was looking a little short, so now that's been fixed. Recycled Goods is
in far worse shape, but my ACN on Sony's 25-CD boxes helps out. No Jazz
Prospecting this week: on hold while I sort out whatever with the Village
Voice. Laura is on the mend, but it's been a slow and painful week.
Jazz Prospecting (JCG #28, Part 12)
Didn't plan on doing a Jazz Prospecting this week, but wound up
with ten records anyway, then figured why not? Still in limbo right
now. As I noted last week, the Village Voice declined to
publish my 27th Jazz Consumer Guide column. The editor had been
sitting on it for more than three months, so at this point any sign
of movement is welcome. I don't have any other suitors -- at least
that I know of, but would be interested in hearing from anyone with
a good idea. I can, of course, post it here. Or I can resurrect the
presently moribund Terminal Zone and publish it there. But
at present the most likely resolution would be to move over to a
blog-only slot at the Voice. Details on how (and when) that
might happen are up in the air. Until I know how that works I'll
keep doing what I have been doing, but maybe not as much of it.
And we're both slowly recovering, another reason to take it easy
Meanwhile, Recycled Goods will appear here sometime this week.
Michael Tatum tells me he's shooting for Friday for A Downloader's
Diary. I have a pile of Streamnotes saved up for sometime shortly
after that -- that's actually most of what I did last week.
Again, I would appreciate hearing any future publishing ideas
you may have in mind. (Also, as an experiment I'll allow moderated
comments for now.)
Pablo Aslan Quintet: Piazzolla in Brooklyn and the Rebirth
of Jazz Tango (2011, Soundbrush): The official birth of jazz
tango was announced in 1959 by new tango composer Astor Piazzolla,
living at the time in New York and recording a record called Take
Me Dancing with a jazz quintet. Piazzolla himself considered the
record "dreadful" but Aslan, an Argentine bassist based in Brooklyn
who over the last decade has produced the best jazz tango albums ever,
decided to give it another shot. Aslan added an extra Piazzolla tune
to the seven plus two covers from the album ("Laura," "Lullaby of
Birdland"). For the group, he went back to Buenos Aires -- Gustavo
Bergalli (trumpet), Nicolas Enrich (bandoneon), Abel Rogantini (piano),
and Daniel "Pipi" Piazzolla (drums, Astor's grandson). I don't have
the original album to compare to, but I don't doubt that Aslan has
managed to pep it up. Still, feels a bit compressed.
Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: MTO Plays
Sly (2011, Royal Potato Family): A small big band based on
pre-Basie models with a postmodern twist -- trumpet (Bernstein),
trombone (Curtis Fowlkes), three reeds (Doug Weiselman, Peter Apfelbaum,
Erik Lawrence), guitar/banjo (Matt Munisteri), violin (Charles Burnham),
bass (Ben Allison), drums (Ben Perowsky) -- has gigged regularly for
over a decade but this is just their third album. Eleven Sly Stone
songs (counting "Que Sera Sera") with guest vocals, two "Sly Notions"
instrumentals, a "Bernie Worrell Interlude": the covers offer more
horns but don't stray far from the originals, mostly adding weight
(which tends to be the case 40 years down the road). Worrell, Vernon
Reid, and Bill Laswell help out; of the singers Dean Bowman is the
most Sly-like, and Shilpa Ray the slyest. Fun, of course, but I
don't hear it either stepping back or moving forward.
Kenny Burrell: Tenderly: Solo Guitar Concert (2009
, High Note): Eighty-year-old guitarist (must have been 78 at
the time), recapitulates a career that took off in the late 1950s,
sticking close to his craft and not complicating it by having to
work/compete with other musicians. Centerpiece is his "Ellingtonia
Montage," much like how Ellington Is Forever sits on the
pinnacle of his discography. No surprise that it runs slow or that
two-thirds through he announces his intent to play "quieter," but
by then he's probably hooked you.
Chick Corea/Stefano Bollani: Orvieto (2010 ,
ECM): Two pianists, nothing else, recorded live at Umbria Jazz Winter
2010. Mostly standards, including two Jobims and "Jitterbug Waltz,"
plus two stabs at the title improv. I have even more trouble with
piano duos than solos -- at least it's clear who's doing what in
them -- and there's not enough clash here to convince me when both
The Dynamic Les DeMerle Band: Gypsy Rendezvous, Volume Two
(2008 , Origin): Volume One is an HM in my ill-fated last
Jazz CG column, and this is the same thing only with more faux pas --
DeMerle's Louis Armstrong impression, for one. The setup is that DeMerle
plays drums and sings in an amusedly offhanded way, while wife/vocalist
Bonnie Eisele takes the straight leads. The band is your basic Hot Club --
violin (Willie Wainwright), guitar (Tom Conway and Phil Benoit), and bass
(Marcus Johnson) -- and a couple guests drop in. Think Louis Prima and
Keely Smith, but DeMerle isn't as funny, and Eisele isn't as stuck up.
Pat Martino: Undeniable: Live at Blues Alley (2009
, High Note): Guitarist, b. Pat Azzara in Philadelphia 1944;
cut mostly soul jazz albums 1966-76; suffered a brain aneurysm which
caused amnesia, but was able to cut an album again in 1987 and has
worked steadily since 1994. I've rarely been impressed by his return --
great story, of course, wish him well and all -- but this one seems
to be his calling: an organ quartet, with Tony Monaco on the Hammond,
Eric Alexander on tenor sax, and Jeff Watts on drums. Monaco could
be a little less soupy, and Alexander could be more boisterous, but
the guitarist is always at the top of his game.
Carol Morgan Quartet: Blue Glass Music (2011, Blue
Bamboo Music): Blue-tinted cover photo too. Trumpet player, from
Texas, studied at Juilliard, teaches in New York. Fourth album:
quartet with Joel Frahm (tenor sax), Martin Wind (bass), and Matt
Wilson (drums). Five covers ranging from Cole Porter to Ornette
Coleman, plus a song each from Frahm and Wind. Straight-ahead
postbop, nice mix from the horns, strong leads, loses a bit when
the tempos slow.
Heikki Sarmanto Big Band: Everything Is It (1972
, Porter): Pianist, b. 1939 in Finland, influenced by George
Russell, ran an interesting avant-fusion band in the early 1970s,
later became artistic director of UMO Jazz Orchestra. His big band
is long on reeds (including Eero Koivistoinen and Juhani Aaltonen,
names you should know by now), short on brass (three trumpets, two
trombones), doubled up on drums. Noisy as these things go, which
is fine with me, but the main distinction here is Taru Valjakka's
soprano-diva vocals on the "Marat" suite, which I could have done
Susan SurfTone: Shore (2011, Acme Brothers):
Guitarist, signs her songs Susan L. Yasinski. Group includes organ,
bass, and drums, by Avory, Lynn, and Stephi SurfTone, respectively.
Basically, instrumental rock, like Dick Dale, or Duane Eddy without
a signature trick. Her originals all have agreeably brief one-word
titles. Ends with a cover of "Riders on the Storm." Nothing wrong
with this, but it's pretty far down on the list of things I find
Tarana: After the Disquiet (EP) (2011, self-released,
EP): Indian drummer Ravish Momin, from Hyderabad, studied north Indian
classical music, then went to Carnegie Mellon for an engineering degree.
Has two albums on Clean Feed with different editions of his Trio Tarana,
typically violin and oud. (The first, with Jason Kao Hwang and Shanir
Ezra Blumenkranz, is excellent.) Here his group is down to two, a duo
with Trina Basu on violin, recorded live at Bop Shop in Rochester.
Four tracks, 34:06, available digitally at Bandcamp for $3. Something
of a retreat, but he still gets most of the trio effect here, adding
some electronics for diversity.
No final grades/notes this week on records put back for further
listening the first time around.
Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last week:
- Chris Bauer: In a Yuletide Groove: Harmonica Jazz for the Holidays (self-released)
- Liz Childs Quartet: Take Flight (self-released)
- Tony R Clef: Tuesday Afternoon (Big Round)
- Dead Cat Dance: Chance Episodes (Cuneiform)
- Dave Douglas: Rare Metals [Greenleaf Portable Series Volume 1] (Greenleaf Music)
- Dave Douglas: Orange Afternoons [Greenleaf Portable Series Volume 2] (Greenleaf Music)
- Dave Douglas/So Percussion: Bad Mango [Greenleaf Portable Series Volume 3] (Greenleaf Music)
- Ideal Bread: Transmit: Vol. 2 of the Music of Steve Lacy (Cuneiform)
- Jackson Garrett: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (self-released)
- Keith Jarrett: Rio (ECM, 2CD)
- Kate Reid: The Love I'm In (self-released)
- Joan Stiles: Three Musicians (Oo-Bla-Dee)
- John Surman: Flashpoint: NDR Workshop - April '69 (1969, Cuneiform, 2CD)
- Anthony Wilson: Seasons: Live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Goat Hill)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Some scattered links I squirreled away during the previous few days:
Ari Berman: How the Austerity Class Rules Washington:
Groups like the CRFB and the Concord Coalition, founded by former
Congress members in the 1980s and '90s, have long presented themselves
as nonpartisan, penny-pinching critics of wasteful government spending,
when really they are anti-government, pro-corporate ideologues whose
boards are filled with K Street lobbyists and financial executives.
The goal of much of the austerity class is to see government funds
redirected to the private sector. (Their ideology, which accepts the
accumulation of private debt but opposes government debt, explains why
the austerity class ignored the massive housing and credit bubble,
which more than any single factor contributed to an explosion of debt
The austerity class's reach has expanded in the Obama era, boosted
by leaders of both parties and an influx of new funding. After consistently
approving massive deficit spending under the Bush administration,
Republicans suddenly found true religion under Obama (ironically, at
a time when precisely the opposite of austerity was most needed).
And within the Democratic Party, what Nobel laureate economist Joe
Stiglitz calls "deficit fetishism" is viewed as the gold standard for
responsible economics. Democrats revered Bill Clinton's balancing of
the budget as good policy and good politics, not to mention a shrewd
way to tap Wall Street's endless fundraising stream.
Obama and his main economic advisers (Tim Geithner, Orszag, Larry
Summers) were devotees of former Clinton Treasury Secretary and Goldman
Sachs/Citigroup alum Rubin, who co-founded the pro-Wall Street Hamilton
Project think tank at the Brookings Institution in 2006. The Hamiltonians
had warned of "the adverse consequences of sustained large budget deficits"
during the Bush administration and advocated "painful adjustments," namely
cuts to social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare in
exchange for more liberal policies like tax increases and healthcare
reform. Obama entered office with the Hamilton plan in his back pocket.
John Cassidy: Where Is the New Keynes? Short piece, asks what new
economic insights have been gleaned from the Great Recession; answers
not much, but it has led to rediscovering some things economists used
to know, mostly rooted in Keynes. In particular, lists six areas:
- Finance matters: cf. Hyman Minsky and Wynne Godley
- Credit busts are different from ordinary recessions: cf.
Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff
- Positive feedback and multiple equilibria have to be taken
seriously: yes, markets can screw up; cf. Markus Brunnermeier,
Paul De Grauwe, Paul Krugman
- Espeically in financial markets, self-regarding rational
behavior isn't necessarily socially optimal: cf. Cassidy's own
book, How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities;
I would add Yves Smith's Econned and John Quiggin's Zombie
- Monetary policy doesn't always work very well: e.g.,
Japan's "lost decade"; cf. Paul Krugman, whose The Return of
Depression Economics beat this one by a decade, precisely
because it was based on Japan
- Fiscal stimulus programs don't provide a panacea for deep
recessions, but the alternatives -- do-nothing policies or austerity --
are much worse: compare Obama's inadequate stimulus (or more
effective ones in Germany and China) with Britain's austerity mania.
Peter Daou: Vindicated by New Polls, Progressive Bloggers and Activists
Will Determine President Obama's Political Fate:
Interesting thesis, hard to believe given how completely mainstream media
ignores us on matters we actually care about:
The defining conflict of the Obama presidency is not between the White
House and Republicans. It's not between the White House and the Tea Party.
It's between President Obama and the left, specifically between Obama and
progressive opinion-makers and online activists.
It's no coincidence that the angriest barbs from this White House have
been directed at the netroots. And it's no surprise that the media and
political establishment -- along with a vitriolic cadre of Obama supporters --
are mortified by the principled left, simultaneously dismissing them as bit
players and accusing them of being ingrates who are damaging Obama's
reelection prospects (hint: you can't be both).
I've repeated a version of this thesis for years: a handful of influential
progressive opinion-makers are canaries in the coal mine, propounding and
presaging views and arguments later adopted by rank and file Democrats.
[ . . . ]
Recent polls (including Gallup, which shows a double-digit decline
among liberals) indicate significant erosion of support for Obama among
groups who propelled him to victory in 2008, reinforcing the idea that
reality is catching up with netroots criticism. This crumbling of support
is typically attributed by pundits to the poor economy, but the problem
is more complicated: it's the poor economy coupled with the sense (fair
or unfair) that Barack Obama has no convictions, no moral center, nothing
for which he will take an unwavering stand.
That perception of a lack of convictions can't be attributed solely
to attacks from the right, since they can be discounted as partisan. It's
when the left makes that argument that conventional wisdom congeals.
I think the explanation here goes something like this: most Americans
hate politics, and distrust politicians. Because they hate politics they
don't consider political arguments carefully, so they ignore what the
left blogosphere has to offer: a serious discussion of issues and
policies that concern the welfare of most Americans. Instead, they
wind up voting based on a sense of identity -- which candidate,
which party, makes them feel best about themselves. (This is why
the right focuses on identity issues rather than policies; that
and the fact that most of their favored policies are so injurious
to most people they want to keep them under wraps, disguised with
all sorts of misleading rhetoric.) Obama won in 2008 because he
got votes both from the left and from a lot of people who naively
identified with him, in large part because he seemed to rise above
the usual political squalor. However, with the left blogosphere --
for no reason other than they care about issues -- impugns Obama's
principles and/or skills, a lot of that lustre rubs off, revealing
Obama as just another two-faced, corrupt politician. In 2010 the
dynamic was that the Republicans gained almost exclusively because
so many of Obama's 2008 voters didn't show up: they had lost faith,
they hadn't seen (or understood) results, and Obama did a piss poor
job of reminding them how important their support was. I'm doubtful
that the bloggers had much to do with the Democrats' debacle, but
Occupy Wall Street amplifies the effect by getting the rejection
of Obama on the nightly news even when the issues are scrambled or
flat out ignored.
Related to this, see
Peter Frase: The Partisan and the Political. He's arguing not only
that the two are different things, but that it's possible to simultaneously
have partisanship become more polarized while real political differences
have been reduced, even to the point of identity. Moreover, he's arguing
that now is such a time. This may come as a surprise to people who take
what the Republicans say seriously, but not to those who are dismayed at
the lack of change Obama has affected from Bush's policies -- not just
on things like foreign policy which seem to be controlled by some mystery
cabal but on things like taxes (which Obama has cut) and undocumented
workers (which Obama has more effectively prosecuted). Frase has several
points, the most important being how fretting over partisanship is used
to cover up real policy debates. But it also starts to make the argument
that the 2012 presidential election doesn't matter because the candidates
will wind up supporting the same status quo. I'm not endorsing this, but
I expect we'll be hearing more of it.
Paul Woodward: Inequality in America Is Even Worse Than You Thought:
Justin Elliot, but the chart is bigger and easier to read here.
The US Social Justice rank among the top 31 economies is 27th, slightly
better than Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. The greater the level
of, and tolerance for, inequality in a country, the worse the powers
(both public and private) treat its people.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Jazz 1960-69: The Core List
My original idea here was to pull out 50 albums from my
1960s Jazz list, but my
first pass snapping up the A/A+ records exceeded 50, and that didn't
include anything by such important players as Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill,
or Wayne Shorter. So, I figured I might as well go for 100. Still no
Shorter (Night Dreamer would have been my pick), but the 100
gives you a better sense of the decade, and still only works out to
10 per year.
I avoided compilations and multi-disc boxes -- three 2CD sets below,
only one of those (the Fitzgerald/Ellington) assembled well after the
fact (and much shorter than the 8CD box version. In two cases I actually
prefer longer versions: Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard
is available in a 4CD set, and Davis's Plugged Nickel sets total
7CD. Both are defining instances of "more is more" -- rare cases where
reiteration adds depth. I don't know about the 2CD Armstrong/Ellington
option, but imagine it would hold up fine. A few twofers appear below:
I'm not trying to cram (otherwise I'd list some more), but they happen
to be the configurations I know. I've generally tried not to dwell too
long on individual artists: Coltrane gets 7 mentions, Ellington 6
(including Armstrong and Fitzgerald), Davis and Mingus 3, several
others 2 (Coleman, Hines, Hodges, Kirk, Montgomery, Peterson, Roach,
Rollins, Smith, and Taylor). Some others held to a single record could
have been expanded greatly, especially Blakey (6 A- records), Getz (+5),
Hill (+8), McLean (7), and Monk (7).
The year breakdown is strongly skewed toward 1960-65 (15, 14, 12, 11,
13, 15) and against 1966-69 (5, 6, 3, 6). While I'm not unfriendly to
the avant-garde recordings of the late 1960s, what I like even better
are the last magnificent efforts of the pre-bop generation -- a group
that faded as the decade progressed. But also the early 1960s were a
golden age for Blue Note and Impulse, and a strong period for Verve
and Prestige, all of which declined over the course of the decade --
as did nearly every prominent label.
The 1960s were an era when black musicians still dominated jazz, at
least at the top ranks: I count 82/100 black artists below, with 5/16
of the whites from Europe (Amalgam, Beck, Komeda, McLaughlin, Riley),
1 from Canada (Bley). US count was 92/100 (one black, Harriott, was
from Jamaica). (Some guesswork lies behind these numbers, including
arbitrarily splitting up groups.) I wouldn't know how to begin dividing
them by genre or style.
The core list, sorted alphabetically by artist, follows. Sorry I
don't have time to annotate: much of it I could do off the top of my
head, but doing it all adequately would turn into a huge time sink.
- Amalgam: Prayer for Peace (1969, FMR)
- Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor (1960, Prestige)
- Louis Armstrong: The Complete Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Sessions (1961, Roulette)
- Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1964, ESP-Disk)
- Gordon Beck: Experiments With Pops (1967, Art of Life)
- Art Blakey: Roots and Herbs (1961, Blue Note)
- Paul Bley: Closer (1965, ESP-Disk)
- Tina Brooks: True Blue (1960, Blue Note)
- Marion Brown: Why Not? (1966, ESP-Disk)
- Oscar Brown Jr.: Sin and Soul . . . And Then Some (1960, Columbia)
- Dave Burrell: High Won -- High Two (1968, Black Lion)
- Benny Carter: Further Definitions (1961, Impulse)
- Don Cherry: Complete Communion (1965, Blue Note)
- Sonny Clark: Leapin' and Lopin' (1961, Blue Note)
- Buck Clayton/Buddy Tate: Buck and Buddy Blow the Blues (1961, Prestige)
- Ornette Coleman: This Is Our Music (1960, Atlantic)
- Ornette Coleman: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm: Volume 1 (1965, Blue Note)
- John Coltrane: My Favorite Things (1960, Atlantic)
- John Coltrane: Olé Coltrane (1961, Atlantic)
- John Coltrane: Ballads (1962, Impulse)
- John Coltrane: Live at the Village Vanguard (1961, Impulse)
- John Coltrane: Live at Birdland (1963, Impulse)
- John Coltrane: Crescent (1964, Impulse)
- John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964, Impulse)
- Miles Davis: Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel (1965, Columbia)
- Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (1969, Columbia)
- Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1969, Columbia, 2CD)
- Paul Desmond/Gerry Mulligan: Two of a Mind (1962, RCA)
- Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch! (1964, Blue Note)
- Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach: Money Jungle (1962, Blue Note)
- Duke Ellington: Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962, Impulse)
- Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite (1966, RCA)
- Duke Ellington: His Mother Called Him Bill (1967, RCA)
- Booker Ervin: The Freedom Book (1963, Prestige)
- Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961, Riverside)
- Ella Fitzgerald/Duke Ellington: Ella and Duke at the Côte D'Azur (1966, Verve, 2CD)
- Eddie Gale: Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music (1968, Blue Note)
- Stan Getz: Focus (1965, Verve)
- Dexter Gordon: Our Man in Paris (1963, Blue Note)
- Grant Green: Idle Moments (1963, Blue Note)
- Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (1964, Blue Note)
- Joe Harriott: Free Form (1960, Redial)
- Coleman Hawkins: Today and Now (1963, Impulse)
- Roy Haynes: Out of the Afternoon (1962, Impulse)
- Joe Henderson: Inner Urge (1964, Blue Note)
- Woody Herman: Woody's Winners (1965, Columbia');
- Andrew Hill: Black Fire (1963, Blue Note)
- Earl Hines: Up to Date (1964, RCA)
- Earl Hines: Live at the Village Vanguard (1965, Columbia)
- Johnny Hodges: Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges (1964, Impulse)
- Johnny Hodges: Triple Play (1967, RCA)
- Freddie Hubbard: Ready for Freddie (1961, Blue Note)
- Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue (1965, Blue Note)
- Budd Johnson: Let's Swing (1960, Prestige)
- Sheila Jordan: Portrait of Sheila (1962, Blue Note)
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk: We Free Kings (1961, Mercury)
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Rip, Rig and Panic/Now Please Don't You Cry, Beautiful Edith (1965-67, Emarcy)
- Krzysztof Komeda: Astigmatic (1965, Power Bros)
- Lee Konitz: Motion (1961, Verve)
- Steve Lacy/Roswell Rudd: School Days (1963, Hat Art)
- Charles Lloyd: Of Course, Of Course (1964-65, Columbia)
- John McLaughlin: Extrapolation (1969, Polydor)
- Jackie McLean: Let Freedom Ring (1962, Blue Note)
- Joe McPhee: Underground Railroad/Live at Holy Cross (1968-69, Atavistic)
- Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (1960, Atlantic)
- Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963, Impulse)
- Hank Mobley: Soul Station (1960, Blue Note)
- Modern Jazz Quartet: Dedicated to Connie (1960, Atlantic, 2CD)
- Thelonious Monk: It's Monk's Time (1964, Columbia)
- Wes Montgomery: Incredible Jazz Guitar (1960, Riverside)
- Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly: Smokin' at the Half Note (1965, Verve)
- Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land (1964, Blue Note)
- Gerry Mulligan: Jeru (1962, Columbia)
- Oliver Nelson: Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961, Impulse)
- Art Pepper: Smack Up (1960, Contemporary)
- Oscar Peterson: Night Train (1962, Verve)
- Oscar Peterson: Oscar Peterson Trio + One: Clark Terry (1964, Emarcy)
- Howard Riley: Angle (1968, Columbia)
- Sam Rivers: Fuschia Swing Song (1964, Blue Note)
- Max Roach: We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960, Candid)
- Perry Robinson: Funk Dumpling (1962, Savoy)
- Sonny Rollins: On Impulse! (1965, Impulse)
- Sonny Rollins: Alfie (1966, Impulse)
- Jimmy Rushing: Every Day I Have the Blues (1967, Impulse)
- George Russell: Ezz-Thetics (1961, Riverside)
- Sonny Sharrock: Black Woman (1969, Vortex)
- Archie Shepp: Fire Music (1965, Impulse)
- Horace Silver: The Jody Grind (1966, Blue Note)
- Jimmy Smith: Back at the Chicken Shack (1960, Blue Note)
- Jimmy Smith/Stanley Turrentine: Prayer Meetin' (1960-63, Blue Note)
- Sonny Stitt/Paul Gonsalves: Salt and Pepper (1963, Impulse)
- Sun Ra: Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy/Art Forms for Dimensions Tomorrow (1961-63, Evidence)
- Cecil Taylor: The World of Cecil Taylor (1960, Candid)
- Cecil Taylor: Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come (1962, Revenant)
- Lucky Thompson: Lucky Strikes (1965, Prestige)
- McCoy Tyner: The Real McCoy (1967, Blue Note)
- Kid Thomas-George Lewis Ragtime Stompers (1961, GHB)
- Ben Webster/Harry Eddison: Ben and Sweets (1962, Columbia)
- Tony Williams: Life Time (1964, Blue Note)
- Larry Young: Unity (1965, Blue Note)
Let me also include a short list of historically important albums
that I don't like well enough to include in the above:
- AMM: AMMusic 1966 (1966, Matchless)
- Anthony Braxton: For Alto (1968, Delmark)
- Peter Brötzmann: Machine Gun (1968, FMP)
- John Coltrane: Ascension (1965, Impulse)
- Jimmy Giuffre: Free Fall (1962, Columbia)
- Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (1969, Impulse)
- Grachan Moncur III: Evolution (1963, Blue Note)
- Sonny Rollins: East Broadway Run Down (1966, Impulse)
- Horace Tapscott: West Coast Hot (1969, Jive/Novus)
- Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (1966, Blue Note)
Other artists with A- records during the 1960-69 decade:
Nat Adderley, Curtis Amy/Dupree Bolton, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck,
Kenny Burrell, Jaki Byard, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis/Johnny Griffin, Lou
Donaldson, Teddy Edwards/Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge, Don Ellis, Gil
Evans, Frank Foster, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Burton Greene,
Edmond Hall, Tubby Hayes, Jimmy Heath, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Helen
Humes, Illinois Jacquet, Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett, Thad Jones/Mel
Lewis, Duke Jordan, Shelly Manne, Les McCann/Eddie Harris, Blue
Mitchell, New York Art Quartet, Horace Parlan, Big John Patton, Bud
Powell, Ike Quebec, Freddie Redd, Dizzy Reece, Pee Wee Russell,
Shirley Scott, Tony Scott, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Simmons, Frank Sinatra,
John Surman, Ralph Sutton, René Thomas, Bobby Timmons, Charles Tolliver.
Jazz 1960s Ballot
- Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite (1966, RCA) 
- John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964, Impulse) 
- Duke Ellington: Meets Coleman Hawkins (1962, Impulse) 
- Charles Mingus: Mingus at Antibes (1960, Atlantic) 
- Johnny Hodges: Everybody Knows Johnny Hodges (1964, Impulse) 
- Sam Rivers: Fuschia Swing Song (1964, Blue Note) 
- Paul Desmond/Gerry Mulligan: Two of a Mind (1962, RCA) 
- Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1964, ESP-Disk) 
- Amalgam: Prayer for Peace (1969, FMR) 
- Jackie McLean: Let Freedom Ring (1962, Blue Note) 
Christgau's column today consisted of eight HMs along a country-rock
continuum. Earlier I pointed out that Ruth Gerson's label was Wrong
(instead of the loathsome practice of mentioning her domain name).
Also have a correction for Rod Picot (listed as "no label"):
Looks like Picot's label is Welding Rod. It's self-released, but he's
used that label name for most (maybe all) of his records. I've been
picking at a lot of country-ish stuff lately for my Streamnotes column,
but had only hit on two of these (LaVere and Shelton). Played what I
could find on Rhapsody today -- everything but Golightly, and there I
played another new one called Nobody Will Be There -- and liked
Picot the best (by far). Still, good as his sheetrock song is, he can't
muster the attitude (or the wit) of Todd Snyder's sheetrock song.
My standard line on Guru Guru is to do their first three albums in
reverse order --
Start with Känguru (1972), go on to Hinten (1971) and
if you want more, check out the getting-their-shirt-together debut,
Tigster326, combining two posts:
When I sent my jazz ballot to Brad I mentioned that much of my early
listening was influenced by reading Jazz & Pop mag which also ran
the original J&P poll. Ballots followed the Pazz & Jop formula
but let the critics vote for 10 albums each for jazz and rock (100 total
points, 30 to 5). I said I would try to see if I saved any back issues
and came across the '67 and '69 poll result issues. A little late for
Brad's but I thought it might be of interest to list some of the results.
Top '67 Jazz in order:
- Far East Suite
- Unit Structures
- Miles Smiles
- Live at the VV Again
- Mama Too Tight
- That's My Kick (Errol Garner)
- Big Swing Face (Buddy Rich)
- Forest Flower (Charles Lloyd)
- Duster (Gary Burton)
Jazz & Pop '69 jazz results:
- In a Silent Way
- Filles de Kilimanjaro
- Standing Ovation (Count Basie)
- Now He Sings Now He Sobs
- Duets (Lee Konitz)
- This Is Our Bag (Bobby Hackett)
- Congliptious (Roscoe Mitchell)
- Mr. Joy (Paul Bley)
To my knowledge there were 7 polls published before the mag
folded. I think Xgau voted in the '68 and '69 polls which I don't
believe have ever been reprinted anywhere else. His '69 ballot was as
follows (no jazz submitted):
- Tommy (30)
- Gilded Palace (15)
- Beggars Banquet (10)
- The Band (9)
- Electric Ladyland (6)
- VU3 (6)
- Hey Jude (Wilson Pickett) (6)
- Original Delaney & Bonnie (6)
- Nashville Skyline (6)
Still looking to see if I have the '68 issue.
Christgau explaining his Odds and Ends gambit:
So here's the deal with Odds and Ends, a title I changed from
Honorable Mention to quash expectations and break with the past.
Basically, I don't want to write these things. They're a distraction
from uses of my writing, reading, and living time that are more
profitable for me--not financially, for the most part, but as a
person well aware of how much time he has.
However. Looking for records worthy of full EW reviews sometimes
requires dedicated listening that comes down on the wrong side of
the quality divide. Usually I know the answer by track seven or eight,
say, sometimes not till the very end. And sometimes as I listen phrases
just pop into my head, or an analysis makes itself clear. And fairly
often I know what tracks have me listening. So if I figure I'm 15
minutes or less from an HM-style squib, I invest that time. And
sometimes I'll do it even if the time remaining is half an hour,
especially if it's a big record I really want to get my mind around.
Watching a ballgame with my friend Christian Hoard, the reviews
editor at RS, we started talking about a band I happened to have
covered in one of these reviews--nothing above. He was astonished
to learn that I had any HM style review in the can at all, and told
me I should publish them. So I did. This batch has the virtue of
flagging some rather obscure records--or in the case of the Gerson,
which has been slightly overpraised in that "interesting record"
way that gets so many striking concepts some ink, saying yeah it's
good but it also has its limitations.
Anyway, there'll be more eventually. But I want to diminish
expectations right here. No Turkeys unless I really get on a hobbyhorse
about something--they're no fun at all. Unifying concepts not guaranteed.
Probably won't happen often 'cause there ain't that many. Comments about
layout welcome. Oughta be three pics, but maybe they should all be on
top. I like the implied order, though--which you will note is different
from quality-proper order, though as is appropriate only a little.
I commented on the Jazz & Pop poll results, and snuck in a plug
for my own list post.
Main thing I'm struck by in the Jazz & Pop 67/69 results is how
many of those records are either sitting in my database graded B
or weren't in there at all. One thing I noticed when I posted my 1960-69
Core List earlier today was how heavily the list was weighted to 1960-65:
80 of 100 records, or 13.3/year, vs. 20 of 100, or 5.0/year, for 1966-69.
I expected some sort of trend like that, but nothing so steep: basically,
mainstream jazz drove off a cliff in 1966. (And my list, by the way, was
overwhelmingly mainstream: as long as Hawkins and Hodges and Hines and
Budd Johnson were around they were my first choice, no matter how much
I liked Ayler and Shepp and Cecil Taylor.)
By the way, I've never felt that it takes any special effort to listen
to and enjoy jazz. Before I got deep into it jazz was always functional
music: something I'd play for background, especially when I'm reading
because it usually doesn't have words to interfere with whatever I'm
doing. Moreover, I always figured jazz for popular music, even when it
wasn't. That's one reason I think a lot of avant-noise stuff (Vandermark
is a prime example) has more rock appeal than jazz appeal, even though
it's technically very astute jazz. (Writing about it is a different
matter altogether, because it's much easier to write about words --
in many cases they write your review for you.)
Friday, October 28, 2011
John and Hildegard Kreutzer
death notice for John Francis Kreutzer ("survived by his wife
Hildegard"). B. Nov. 10, 1915, died July 9, 2007. Attended grade
school in Liebenthal, KS, and high school in Schoenschen, KS. Was
a WWII Navy veteran. He was 91. Johnny and Hildegard were very
close friends of my parents. They had no children, and were for
all intents and purposes our Godparents. They lived in a ranch
house on what was then the far outskirts of west Wichita, on
Soccorra Drive, pretty much the end of the block going north
from Maple. They had a large yard, a farm building in the back.
They bred Spitz puppies, and raised rabbits. They gave us rabbits
to keep for a while, and our dog Frisky. (Also gave us rabbits
to eat.) Johnny was an amateur barber. We would visit them every
week or so. Me and my brother would get haircuts, then they would
play pinochle. I saw Johnny at my brother's wedding. I had very
long hair at the time, and joked that I was almost ready for one
of his haircuts. Last saw him at my mother's funeral. Frequently
thought about trying to track him down. Hildegard was in worse
health back then, so I'm a bit surprised that she survived him.
Mother had become estranged from Hildegard, so she didn't come
to the funeral.
Indeed, Hildegard Kreutzer has also
away. She was born March 21, 1917 in Spearville, KS (also my
father's home town). She married John F. Kreutzer on Sept. 6,
1948 (a year before my parents were married; I'm pretty sure we
have a photo of them at my parents' wedding). She died on March
21, 2008, age 91. Maiden name Schaffer. Obit says she taught
school for many years, but I have no recollection of that.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Enough links here I figured I might as well kick them out now.
Make room for more come the weekend.
Steve Benen: Scandal in the Age of Obama:
In the post-Watergate era, most presidents have offered these reporters
plenty to chew on, but President Obama has left them starving.
Reagan had Iran-Contra and the S&L debacle. Clinton had the
Lewinsky affair. Bush/Cheney had so many scandals, it was tough to
keep up with them all: lying a nation into a war, illegal wiretaps,
Abu Ghraib, the U.S. Attorneys purge, outing a CIA operative and then
lying about it, Hatch Act violations, MMS corruption, paying pundits
to toe the administration's line, the suppression of scientific data
the White House found politically inconvenient, the misuse of
"faith-based" grants to help Republican congressional candidates,
inviting a male prostitute to ask friendly questions during press
Reporters love White House scandals, but with Obama, there just
haven't been any.
Must be that "no drama" thing, but also the media is falling
into the trap of thinking that when Obama continues a Bush policy
that somehow legitimates it (as opposed to discrediting Obama,
the view I'm more inclined to take). The cozy interplay between
power and money has continued, perhaps not as tawdry. Still,
some of those things do drop up as scandals: BP, Solyndra.
Probably more should.
Steve Benen: Can the Rich Wage Class Warfare Against Themselves?:
Interesting: Spectrem Group did a poll of millionaires and found that
68% favored raising taxes on those with $1 million or more annual income
(admittedly, a smaller group). What prevents that from happening isn't
the rich so much as their self-appointed saviors, the Republicans. One
thing this reminds me of is how Obama carefully rounded up all of the
big interested parties -- the AMA (the doctors), AHA (the hospitals),
AHIP (the insurance companies), PHARMa (the drug pushers), the device
companies, everyone -- to back his conservative health care reform
agenda, only to have the Tea Party Republicans go beserk on him. The
right is clearly bankrolled by a subset of the ultra-rich, but they're
also freewheeling, power hungry, seething with violent fury, and so
uncompromising they'll run roughshod over even the rich if they get
out of line. Such behavior isn't unprecedented. This was, after all,
how the Fascists and Nazis promised to save the discredited aristocracy,
only to destroy their nations in war.
Brian Beutler: Charts of the Day: Where'd All the Income Growth Go?
To the 1 Percent!: New CBO charts run from 1979 to 2007, from
just before the Volcker recession to just before the Greenspan (or
should I say Bush?). The data is consistent no matter how you slice
it. Even the 80-99% near-quintile barely held even, with all of the
losses of the bottom 80% going to the top 1%. We've seen statistics
like these for years, and people who follow such things have long
fretted about how increasing inequality poisons the social fabric.
The numbers haven't had much traction to date, even though there
are literally millions of real people who can testify to how such
inequality has burdened their lives. The only thing different now
is that Occupy Wall Street has tried to draw the line between us
and them at 99%.
Paul Krugman: The Amnesiac Economy: More I-told-you-so, since
people keep missing the point:
Mark Thoma sends us to
John Cassidy on the absence of really new ideas in this crisis --
largely because we didn't need new ideas, all we needed for the most
part was to remember things that we somehow forgot.
This is a theme dear to my heart. The crisis we're in is not something
unprecedented. It's a close cousin to the Great Depression -- milder, but
recognizably the same sort of thing. And we understand -- or used to
understand -- how the Depression happened, and what to do in such a
situation. Most of what's required are fairly straightforward translations
of existing concepts. For example, we have a pretty good understanding of
bank runs; extending that framework to shadow banking requires little more
than the understanding that repo and other kinds of short-maturity
obligations are, from an economic point of view, more or less equivalent
to deposits. [ . . . ]
The result of all this is that the supposedly sober, serious people are
actually radicals insisting that we can make the economy work in ways
that it has never worked in the past -- hence the embrace of magical
thinking on expansionary austerity and the power of structural reform.
Meanwhile, the irresponsible bearded professors are actually the
custodians of traditional wisdom.
And those who are determined to forget the past run a high risk of
reliving it -- which is why we're in the state we're in.
Actually, I'm not sure that the worst case scenario is reliving
history, but it's always tougher to envision things that have never
happened yet than ones that have. And there are plenty of bad things
in the past one can point to -- Japan's "lost decade" is one of the
milder for instances. For more I-told-you-so, see
Krugman: Praise Is Always Welcome:
Anyway, my personal qualities aside, I'm glad to see some people
noticing that those of us who have taken the basic theory of the
liquidity trap seriously have done very well at calling the economy
these past three years. This was big stuff: predicting that a tripling
of the monetary base would not be inflationary, that deficits exceeding
a trillion dollars a year wouldn't drive up interest rates. In a rational
world, the way things have panned out would add a lot of credibility.
In the real world, of course, you're only considered serious if you
propound doctrines that have been wrong at every step.
Of course, it's not just a matter of right and wrong. It's more a
matter of right versus wrong interests. Or, as Krugman quotes Keynes
further down: "Worldly wisdom teaches us that it is better for
reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally."
Paul Krugman: Say Anything:
Over the last couple of days, I've been getting mail accusing me of
consorting with Nazis. My immediate reaction was, what the heck?
Then it clicked: the right wing is mounting a full-court press to
portray Occupy Wall Street as an anti-Semitic movement, based, as
far as I can tell, on one guy with a sign.
[ . . . ]
My first thought was that OWS must have the right really rattled.
And there's probably something to that. But actually, this is the way
the right goes after everyone who stands in their way: accuse them of
everything, no matter how implausible or contradictory the accusations
are. Progressives are atheistic socialists who want to impose Sharia
law. Class warfare is evil; also, John Kerry is too rich. And so on.
The key to understanding this, I'd suggest, is that movement
conservatism has become a closed, inward-looking universe in which
you get points not by sounding reasonable to uncommitted outsiders --
although there are a few designated pundits who play that role
professionally -- but by outdoing your fellow movement members in zeal.
It's sort of reminiscent of Stalinists going after Trotskyites in
the old days: the Trotskyites were left deviationists, and also saboteurs
working for the Nazis. Didn't propagandists feel silly saying all that?
Not at all: in their universe, extremism in defense of the larger truth
was no vice, and you literally couldn't go too far.
Andrew Leonard: Free Trade's Multinational Corporate Bonanza:
I'm probably more pro-free trade than not, but as this post makes clear
what commonly gets wrapped up in so-called free trade negotiations is
mostly a bunch of specific corporate interests based on who's got the
most lobbying swag with little or no concern for anything else.
But that's not to say we can't declare a winner. If you want to know
who benefits most from free trade, all you have to do is look at the
list of co-chairs steering the U.S.-Korea FTA Business Council -- the
gold-plated blue chip clearinghouse for corporate support of the
biggest of the three trade deals, the South Korea FTA. They include:
- Ted Austell, Vice President, Trade Policy, The Boeing Company
- Lisa Barry, Vice President and General Manager, Chevron
- Joseph Damond, Vice President, International Trade Policy, Pfizer, Inc.
- Matt Niemeyer, Vice President, Office of Government Affairs, Goldman Sachs
- Laura Lane, Managing Director and Head of International Government Affairs, Citigroup, Inc
That is some multinational, deep-pocketed, globe-spanning power! The
second largest U.S. oil company, the world's largest pharmaceutical company,
two of the most powerful U.S. financial institutions, and one aircraft maker
that has long enjoyed a premier position in the U.S. military-industrial
What Boeing stands to gain from the FTA is the easiest to discern.
Boeing already sells around $2.4 billion worth of aircraft-related goods
and services to South Korea, but faces tariffs ranging from 3 to 8 percent
on many of its products. Lower tariffs mean higher profits for Boeing.
Pfizer's case is a bit different. The influence of multinational
pharmaceutical companies on the fine print of free trade agreements has
always offered one of the most telling demonstrations of why there is
nothing "free" about them. Among the provisions of the South Korea FTA
are limitations on South Korea's ability to authorize generic versions
of foreign drugs, get access to safety data about those drugs, and,
perhaps mody insidiously, determine which drugs South Korean healthcare
plans will provide reimbursement for.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Joe Lunday asked whether it was kosher to vote for box sets in the
1960s' best-of poll:
Joe's question reminds me that I meant to post a sample 1960s jazz
ballot, what I call the greedhead's ballot since it crams as many discs
as possible into ten slots. (Considered calling it the Giddins ballot,
since when he ran a Sonny Rollins poll that forced his fellow critics
to decide between a dozen or so serious contenders, he voted for a
7CD box: The Complete Prestige Recordings.)
- Miles Davis: The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel (Columbia, 7CD)
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Rahsaan: The Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk (Mercury, 10CD)
- John Coltrane: The Classic Quartet: Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings (Impulse, 8CD)
- Eric Dolphy: Complete Prestige Recordings (Prestige, 9CD)
- Miles Davis: The Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (Columbia/Legacy, 6CD)
- Dexter Gordon: The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions (Blue Note, 6CD)
- Sonny Rollins: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (RCA, 6CD)
- Art Ensemble of Chicago: Art Ensemble 1967-68 (Nessa, 5CD)
- Herbie Hancock: The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions (Blue Note, 6CD)
- Paul Desmond: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (RCA, 5CD)
Only other one on my list at 5+ CDs is the Miles Davis Seven
Steps box (7CD), but there are a bunch of 4CD sets, like
Coltrane's The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings.
Chris mentioned that Music Club's Coltrane In a Soulful Mood
is really a repackage of Coltrane's 1957 Bethlehem recordings but
neglected to add that they're utter crap.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Music: Current count 18927  rated (+19), 848  unrated (+4).
Laura went into hospital for surgery Monday very early. She did well and
was released Thursday morning, but backslid after that and returned to
the hospital Saturday afternoon. Doing better, but still in -- no idea
for how long. I spent pretty much all day and night at hospital for the
first stretch. Taking more time away from hospital for the second stay --
less worry in this case. In the meantime, got my shed built on Friday,
so I spent most of that afternoon watching the workers. So this week is
a bit light, a few things here and there worked into the cracks.
Jazz Prospecting (JCG #28, Part 11)
Update: I've been informed that the Village Voice will
not run Jazz CG #27 in its original form. As I understand it, the
music section has shrunk to 2.5 pages, and my column no longer
fits. We are, however, in further discussions about me continuing
to review jazz for the Voice online, which might settle my two
major complaints about the old system: too little space, and too
much time between appearances.
Also, a reader has pointed out that I don't quite understand
the ins and outs of the health care billing/payment/coverage mess.
In particular, the surgeon is unlikely to have any incentive to
release a patient early. As for the hospital, that depends on a
bunch of variables. My view is that what happened in this case
had more to do with excessive optimism and lack of cautionary
data by both doctor and patient. When I understand this better
I'll try to write more.
Jazz Consumer Guide is still in limbo. Normally 11-12 weeks into
a cycle I'd be wrapping it up, but given that the previous column
hasn't been printed yet I'm at a loss as to what to do. If I were
in New York I'd take a break from Occupy Wall Street and camp out
in the Voice office until I got a commitment, a kill fee check, or
pepper sprayed. We've had some vague talks about possibly moving
this into the more comfortable (and less expensive) world of the
blogosphere, which would be better than nothing -- as an exile from
New York that's how I experience the Voice anyway, although I will
note that I was living in Wichita in 1969 when I first subscribed
to the Voice (also, by the way, to The New York Free Press).
But that was another era, another set of owners. The Voice has
been coasting on its reputation for many years now, as one by one
the links to its past distinctions have been broken.
Will publish an update when I know more.
I skipped posting Jazz Prospecting last week, so this one
collects two weeks of work (and mail). Last Monday was tough.
My wife entered the hospital at 5AM for surgery. It went as
planned, and she was released on Thursday, but had further
complications and she returned to the hospital Saturday noon.
She's doing better now, but I don't know when she'll be able
to come home without risking another backslide. (I suppose I
should update last week's "In the Hospital" post: while the
service was stellar, the decision to send her home turned out
to be premature, more a case of everyone believing in the
standard schedule than observing and understanding what was
actually happening. Unsurprisingly, this also has a financial
angle: as I understand it Medicare reimburses a fixed amount
for a given procedure, so as long as the schedule holds the
hospital makes money, but if complications ensue the hospital
could lose money. However, having to return to the hospital
later is most likely a separate billable matter. I doubt that
anyone thought of it that way -- we were all hoping for a
normal recovery -- but the flow of money certainly helped
ease the way.)
Antonio Adolfo: Chora Baião (2011, AAM): Brazilian
pianist, hard to say how important he is down there, but has recorded
since 1969. I belatedly caught up with his 2010 Lá e Cá with
daughter Carol Saboya and put it on my HM list. Saboya sings one song
here, too, but these are mostly instrumentals, mostly choro or baião,
uniformly nice and tasteful, nearly as ingratiating.
Afro Bop Alliance: Una Más (2010 , OA2): Big
band with extra Latin percussion: Roberto Quintero (congas) and Dave
Samuels (vibes, marimba), otherwise pretty much the Vince Norman/Joe
McCarthy Big band. Hot in spots, merely tepid in others; saved, I
think, by Quintero.
Rahsaan Barber: Everyday Magic (2010 , Jazz
Music City): Saxophonist (tenor, alto, soprano, also flute), teaches
at Belmont U. in Nashville; second album. Calls his group Everyday
Magic -- Adam Agati (guitar), Jody Nardone (piano), Jerry Navarro
(bass), and Nioshi Jackson (drums) -- and adds a couple guests. His
tenor is strong and full-toned, and he gets some funk out of the
guitar-piano combo without compromising his postbop cred. The other
horns slack off a bit.
John Basile: Amplitudes (2011, StringTime Jazz):
Guitarist, b. 1955 in Boston, ninth album since 1986. Solo, plugged
his guitar into an iPhone, some kind of "app," and ProTools with
"no amps and some digital plug in effects." One original, mostly
standards (including one Jobim), covers of tracks by John Abercrombie
and Ralph Towner.
Zach Brock: The Magic Number (2010 , Secret Fort):
Violinist, b. 1974 in Lexington, KY. Third album since 2005, not counting
a couple EPs. Quartet with bass, drums, and extra percussion, with some
vocal exuberance toward the end. Poised with some swagger, pushes the
violin up front and makes it sing.
Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Apparent Distance (2011, Firehouse
12): Cornet player, has been popping up all over the place recently, but
claims this as his "primary working ensemble." There's a lot to like about
the group -- Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Bill Lowe (bass trombone, tuba), Mary
Halvorson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums) -- not least
its extreme range and diversity (almost to the point of divisiveness). Yet
even though the pieces fit together uncomfortably, neither of the most
exposive players (Hobbs, Halvorson) break out -- most likely the gravity
exuded by Filiano and (especially) Lowe keeps them in orbit.
Ernesto Cervini Quartet: There (2010 , Anzic):
Drummer, b. 1982, grew up in Toronto, studied there and at Manhattan
School of Music, based in New York. Second album -- first was titled
Here. Quartet: Joel Frahm (saxophones), Adrean Farrugia (piano),
Dan Loomis (bass). Mainstream group, swings, most impressive when
Frahm takes charge -- especially on tenor, but he's earned the right
to play soprano as well -- and the group, notably the pianist, keeps
up. Recorded live at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club, so everyone gets
their solo space.
Cecilia Coleman Big Band: Oh Boy! (2010 ,
PandaKat): Pianist, b. 1962 in Long Beach, CA; based in New York,
although she teaches part-time at Cal State Long Beach. Seventh
album since 1992; first with a big band (six reeds, standard brass,
piano, bass, and drums) -- a few names I recognize, but not many.
Wrote all the pieces. Contemporary postbop, well orchestrated but
doesn't stand out either in the solos or the crispness of the
Patrick Cornelius: Maybe Steps (2010 , Posi-Tone):
Alto saxophonist, from San Antonio, studied at Berklee, based in New York.
Fourth (or fifth) album since 2001. Quintet with piano (Gerald Clayton),
guitar (Miles Okazaki), bass (Peter Slavov), and drums (Kendrick Scott).
Wrote 9 of 11 songs (covers Kurt Weill and George Shearing). Those are
all strong players, but little things nag at me, like the alto tone at
Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route de Frères
(2005 , TUM): Drummer, b. 1939 in Brooklyn, parents (mother at least)
from Haiti; has a couple dozen records since 1971 as leader, well over
100 side credits (The Hawk Relaxes seems to have been his first,
but more typical was his work in Cecil Taylor's late-1960s groups). The
Haitian connection here includes guitarist Alix Pascal and percussionist
Frisner Agustin. The others are Lisle Atkinson on bass and Hamiett Bluiett
on baritone sax: the latter's gruff but muffled sound is crucial, with
everyone else just adding to the seduction.
Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble: Inana (2011, Pi):
Trumpet player, b. 1977 in Chicago, father Iraqi, studied classical
music at DePaul before wandering into jazz. Third album since 2003.
Like several other prominent second generation hyphenated-Americans,
he looks back to his ancestral land for a unique angle on jazz --
the two rivers, of course, the Tigris and Euphrates. Sextet mixes
Arab classicists with avant-jazzbos -- Ole Mathisen (tenor/soprano
sax), Zafer Tawil (oud, perussion), Tareq Abboushi (buzuq), Carlo
DeRosa (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums) -- for a dense, somber sound.
Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston: Live at the Hillside Club
(2010 , Asynchronous): The two principals of the Microscopic Septet,
which has been making interesting music since 1981 -- most recently, see
Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk. Here they play as a
duo, Forrester on piano, Johnston on soprano sax, which gives you a bare
framework of their act and repertoire. Four Monk songs, one from Johnston,
the rest Forrester. Tempting to say this would be great if they'd just
flesh it out a little: bass and drums, some extra horns with a little
more weight like a baritone sax, maybe the marvelous Michael Hashim.
Fourthought: Fourthought (2010 , Nambulo Music):
New York quartet's eponymous debut album, with two principals writing
all but one cover ("Green Dolphin Street") -- Nicholas Biello (alto sax,
soprano sax) and Manuel Weyand (drums) -- plus Kerong Chok (piano,
Fender Rhodes) and Cameron Kayne (bass). Weyand (b. Germany) and Biello
met at Manhattan School of Music; Kayne hails from Buffalo, Chok from
Singapore. Smart postbop, some bite to the alto.
Roy Haynes: Roy-Alty (2011, Dreyfus): Drummer,
not of the first generation of bebop drummers but came hot on
their heels with a Zelig-like knack for being everywhere you'd
want to be: with Lester Young at the Royal Roost in 1948, with
Charlie Parker at St. Nick's in 1951, with Bud Powell and Stan
Getz and Wardell Gray and Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins -- all
by 1955; with Sarah Vaughan at Mister Kelly's in 1957, with
Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in 1958, on Introducing
Nat Adderley. Eventually he went on to cut 30-some albums
under his own name, winning Downbeat polls in categories
like Jazz Artist of the Year. He'd be considered a grey eminence
now, except he keeps his pate shaved and no one in history ever
has looked more fit at 86. Roy Hargrove and Chick Corea get a
"featuring" sticker. The booklet also spotlights what he calls
the Fountain of Youth Band: Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Martin
Bejerano (piano), and David Wong (bass). Not sure if Corea
plays beyond his two featured spots. Hargrove is featured on
6 of 10 tracks, Shaw is impressive throughout, and the closer
(McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance") adds Marcus Strickland for a
blow out. Presumably it's Haynes talking the intro to "Tin
Tin Deo" (with Roberto Quintero's extra percussion) -- who
else can plausibly claim to have discovered Chano Pozo?
Big, bright, a celebration.
Magos Herrera: México Azul (2010 , Sunnyside):
Singer, from Mexico, seventh album since 1997. This one was cut in
New Jersey with a stellar jazz group -- Tim Hagans (trumpet), Adam
Rogers (guitar), Luis Perdomo (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Alex
Kautz (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion) -- although I don't find
she gets much out of them. Songs are all in Spanish, evidently mostly
movie themes. Dark voice, dramatic, but one of those hard to judge
singers for those of us who don't understand the language.
Mace Hibbard: Time Gone By (2010 , MHM):
Alto saxophonist, b. 1976 in Waco, TX; studied at U. Texas in
Austin, based in Atlanta. Second album, hard-bop-style quintet
with trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Nice tone, soulful and a
Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio: Clustrophy (2009
, TUM): Saxophonist (alto, baritone, soprano), b. 1978 in
Lapinjärvi, Finland. I count six albums with his name up front
since 2006, plus group albums with Gourmet, Delirium, and Triot
(Sudden Happiness was a Jazz CG pick in 2004). Three reed
players here -- Innanen, Fredrik Ljungkvist, and Daniel Erdmann,
playing various saxes, clarinets, and toy versions thereof. At
center is Seppo Kantonen on synth, much splashier than electric
piano or organ, plus there's Joonas Riippa on drums and, going
along with the toy fascination, pocket trumpet. The splattershot
noise gives you a quick jolt, especially right out of the box.
Doesn't all live up to that, but breaks out in entertaining ways.
Jazzvox Presents: In Your Own Backyard (2009-10
, OA2): Seventeen songs (only two originals) by nine singers --
three by Jo Lawry; two each by Kathleen Grace, Kelley Johnson, Kristin
Korb, John Proulx, Stephanie Nakasian, Hanna Richardson; one each by
Nich Anderson and Cathy Segal-Garcia -- backed minimally (most with
just one of piano, bass, or guitar; no one with more than two, and
no drums, but one accordion). Mixed bag, but many cuts are striking,
including Anderson's "Time After Time" -- he produced, but seems to
be the only one without a record out, and is the only one whose
name is missing from the cover. I guess Jazzvox is his baby, and
Helge Lien Trio: Natsukashii (2010 , Ozella):
Pianist, from Norway; fourteen albums since 2000, including some as
Tri O Trang (a piano-sax-tuba trio) and HERO (piano-sax duo), but
mostly trio records with this same group since 2001: Frode Berg on
bass, Knut Aalefjaer on drums. My copy has a sticker with a quote
from Jazzwise: "Lien creates music of unexpected depth and
slow burn intensity." That is precisely correct -- I would add
something about the rumbling of the undercarriage, and point out
that he's closer to Jarrett than to most of ECM's northern tier
Charles Lloyd Quartet with Maria Farantouri: Athens
Concert (2010 , ECM, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1938,
built both a popular and critical rep in the late 1960s with a group
that introduced Keith Jarrett. Nothing in my database for him from
1969-89 when ECM picked him up -- AMG lists 9 records 1970-83, two
with four stars, most with two, and has an empty gap from 1983-89.
Since joining ECM he's been on a roll, especially lately with this
quartet: Jason Moran (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Eric Harland
(drums). Farantouri is a Greek vocalist, b. 1947, has 30 or more
albums, and a political record that sent her into exile during the
military coup years -- I've seen reference to her as the "Joan Baez
of Greece" but caution against taking that seriously. Live concert,
spread over two discs. Took me a while to acclimate to her voice,
which is deep and striking (the Greek Abbey Lincoln?). A couple
instrumentals let the band shine on the first disc, but by the
second it all meshes.
Luis Lopes: Lisbon Berlin Trio (2011, Clean Feed):
Guitarist, from Portugal, has a couple records under his own name,
more as Afterfall and Humanization 4tet, and he's shown up on the
side of other very solid records. Everything he does is worthwhile,
but he's mostly complemented saxophonists (like Rodrigo Amado) --
his 2009 trio What Is When seemed like a bit less, but this
trio with Robert Landferman on bass and Christian Lilinger on drums
settles it. His use of feedback gives this an extra charge. Also,
Lilinger does exactly what you want in a free drummer.
Olavi Trio & Friends: Triologia (2008 ,
TUM): No idea how common a name Olavi is in Finland, but drummer Olavi
Luohivouri rounded up two more for this project: Teppo Olavi Hauta-aho
(bass), and Jari Olavi Hongisto (trombone). All, in the great Sun Ra
tradition, also play percussion, with bird whistles, wood blocks,
musical boxes, and toy instruments prominently featured. The "friends"
show up on two tracks each: Verneri Pohjola (trumpet, also played with
Louhivouri in Ilmilekki Quartet), Juhani Aaltonen (tenor sax, has been
active since 1970 and should be a household name by now), and Kalle
Kalima (electric guitar, had a recent album on TUM). Combination tends
toward the murky side, although every now and then you'll hear something
Dino Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes (2010 ,
ECM): Argentine bandoneon player, b. 1935, twelfth album for ECM
since 1982. Or maybe more: AMG has lately developed a bad habit of
misfiling records under second or third artists, so they attribute
this one to cellist Anja Lechner. Third artist here is Felix Saluzzi
(tenor sax, clarinet): he makes very little impact here, but is a
plus when he does. "Christmas in the Andes": not insuferably Xmas-y;
in fact, all Saluzzi originals with a couple of co-credits. Slow,
lush sounds in spare arrangements.
Sounds and Silence: Travels With Manfred Eicher (1980-2008
, ECM): Soundtrack for a film by Peter Guyer and Norbert Wiedner,
a documentary on ECM founder/producer Manfred Eicher. Leans toward the
classical end of ECM's spectrum -- one Puccini cut, two Arvo Pärt, plus
affinity exotica from Gurdjieff, Anouar Brahem, Dino Saluzzi, Eleni
Karaindrou -- and away from conventional jazz. Enjoyed a bit of Marilyn
Mazur percussion. One could easily construct a better sampler.
The Spokes: Not So Fast (2009 , Strudelmedia):
Title is descriptive enough: hard to get much momentum without bass
and drums, especially if all you have to work with are horns, plus
you get that sax quartet feel with nothing but neatly puffed discrete
notes. Trio: Andy Biskin (clarinet), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone),
Phillip Johnston (soprano sax). All three write: Biskin 6 of 12,
Johnston 4, Hasselbring 2.
John Stein: Hi Fly (2011, Whaling City Sound):
Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, studied and teaches at
Berklee; ten albums since 1995. Quartet with Jake Sherman on
piano and organ, John Lockwood on bass, and Ze Eduardo Nazario
on drums. Wrote 5 of 10 songs, the others trending standard
except for Randy Weston's title tune, the originals leaning
toward John Scofield-style funk. The organ fits that mode but
isn't a major factor.
Chandler Travis: Philharmonic Blows! (2009 ,
Sonic Trout): Gray-beared guitarist-singer, back cover says he's
82, but I haven't found anywhere else that confirms that. AMG lists
eight albums since 1993. Before that he was in a rock group called
the Incredible Casuals: memorialized here in "The Day the Casuals
Went to Sweden," easily the lousiest song here. What that song lacks
is the squeaky, shrieking brass the albums opens and closes with,
more than fulfilling the party graphics on the cover.
Wellstone Conspiracy: Humble Origins (2010 ,
Origin): Second album under this group name, although there was one
previous listing out the four artists: Brent Jensen (soprano sax),
Bill Anschell (piano), Jeff Johnson (bass), and John Bishop (drums).
The first three write pieces: 5 for Anschell, 2 for Johnson, 1 for
Jensen; the other is a Lennon-McCartney piece, "Fixing a Hole."
Mainstream group, with Jensen continuing to impress on soprano,
and everyone contributing to the seductive flow.
Jeff Williams: Another Time (2010 , Whirlwind):
Drummer, b. 1950 in Ohio, studied at Berklee with Alan Dawson; joined
Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach in 1973, has done steady work as a
sideman, with a handful of albums under his own name. He wrote 5 of 8
pieces here, the other three one each from his two-horn quartet mates:
Duane Eubanks (trumpet), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), John Hébert
(bass). Postbop tone, draws on the avant-garde without really going
Woody Witt: Pots and Kettles (2010 , Blue Bamboo
Music): Tenor saxophonist (also plays some soprano), born in Omaha,
studied at University of Houston and UNT, based in Houston, teaching
at Houston Community College. Second album, quartet with pianist Gary
Norian (who co-produced and wrote 5 of 10 songs, to Witt's 3, with
two Eddie Harris covers), bass and drums, plus "special guest" Chris
Cortez (guitar) on three tracks. Postbop, nice tone, elegant, graceful.
No final grades/notes this week on records put back for further
listening the first time around.
For this cycle's collected Jazz Prospecting notes to date for this
round, look here.
Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last two weeks:
- Mario Adnet: More Jobim Jazz (Adventure Music)
- Fabian Almazan Trio: Personalities (Biophilo)
- Michael Bates: Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich (Sunnyside): November 22
- Stefano Battaglia Trio: The River of Anyder (ECM)
- George Benson: Guitar Man (Concord)
- Dan Blake: The Aquarian State (Bju'ecords)
- Ran Blake/Dominique Eade: Whirlpool (Jazz Project)
- Marc Copland/John Abercrombie: Speak to Me (Pirouet)
- Emperor X: Western Teleport (Bar/None)
- The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: Open Source (Cryptogramophone)
- The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble: Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff (ECM)
- Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone: Departure of Reason (Thirsty Ear): advance, November 15
- Werner Hasler/Karl Berger/Gilbert Paeffgen: Hasler/Paeffgen/Berger (NoBusiness)
- Kevin Hays: Variations (Pirouet)
- Julius Hemphill/Peter Kowald: Live at Kassiopeia (1987, NoBusiness)
- Kenny & Leah: All About Love (K&L)
- The Landrus Kaleidoscope: Capsule (BlueLand)
- Sinikka Langeland Group: The Land That Is Not (ECM): advance, November 1
- Le Boeuf Brothers: In Praise of Shadows (19/8)
- Jeff Lederer: Sunwatcher (Jazzheads)
- Elisabeth Lohninger Band: Christmas in July (JazzSick): November 15
- Ellis Marsalis: A New Orleans Christmas Carol (ELM)
- Will Martina: The Dam Levels (self-released)
- Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle (ECM)
- Bill McHenry: Ghosts of the Sun (Sunnyside): November 22
- Joe McPhee/Michael Zerang: Creole Gardens (A New Orleans Song) (NoBusines)
- Josh Nelson: Discoveries (Steel Bil'd)
- Denman Maroney: Double Zero (Porter)
- Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood: MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind (Indirecto, 2CD)
- Martin Moretto: Martin Moretto Quintet (self-released)
- Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto: Current (Adventure Music)
- The New World Jazz Composers Octet: Breaking News (Big and Phat)
- Enrico Rava Quintet: Tribe (ECM): advance, November 1
- Sultans of String: Move (Independent)
- Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia: Frère Jacques: Round About Offenbach (ECM): advance, December 6
- Jim Van Slyke: The Sedaka Sessions (LML Music)
- Andrea Wolper: Parallel Lives (Jazzed Media)
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Grabbed a few scattered links this past week -- not much because
I'm still preoccupied with more personal matters:
Ezra Klein: Could This Time Have Been Different?: Long piece on how the
Obama administration fumbled the recovery. For starters, they underestimated
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with measuring the
size and growth of the U.S. economy, initially projected that the economy
shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the last quarter of 2008.
Months later, the bureau almost doubled that estimate, saying the
number was 6.2 percent. Then it was revised to 6.3 percent. But it
wasn't until this year that the actual number was revealed: 8.9 percent.
That makes it one of the worst quarters in American history. Bernstein
and Romer knew in 2008 that the economy had sustained a tough blow;
they didn't know that it had been run over by a truck.
[ . . . ]
But the Cassandras who look, in retrospect, the most prophetic are
Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. In 2008, the two economists were about
to publish This Time Is Different, their fantastically well-timed
study of nine centuries of financial crises. In their view, the
administration wasn't being just a bit optimistic. It was being wildly,
tragically optimistic. [ . . . ]
In March 2009, Reinhart and Rogoff took to Newsweek to critique the
"chirpy forecasts coming from policymakers around the globe." The
historical record, they said, showed that "the recessions that follow
in the wake of big financial crises tend to last far longer than normal
downturns, and to cause considerably more damage. If the United States
follows the norm of recent crises, as it has until now, output may take
four years to return to its pre-crisis level. Unemployment will continue
to rise for three more years, reaching 11 to 12 percent in 2011."
Then there was the stimulus bill:
Critics and defenders on the left make the same point: The stimulus was
too small. The administration underestimated the size of the recession,
so it follows that any policy to combat it would be too small. On top of
that, it had to get that policy through Congress. So it went with $800
billion -- what Romer thought the economy could get away with -- rather
than $1.2 trillion -- what she thought it needed. Then the Senate watered
the policy down to about $700 billion. Compare that with the $2.5 trillion
hole we now know we needed to fill. [ . . . ]
The theory was that success would beget success. Passing the stimulus
would stabilize the economy, prove the White House's political mettle and
deliver immediate relief to millions of Americans. That would help the
administration build the political capital to pass more stimulus, if
necessary. But when the economy failed to respond as predicted, the
political theory fell apart, too. [ . . . ]
The stimulus was a bet that we could get out of this recession through
the one path everyone can agree on: growth. The bet was pretty much all-in,
and it failed. Reinhart and Rogoff are not particularly surprised. It's
hard to get through a debt-driven crisis without doing anything about,
In our crisis, the "debt" in question is housing debt. Home prices
have fallen almost 33 percent since the beginning of the crisis. All
together, the nation's housing stock is worth $8 trillion less than it
was in 2006. And we're not done. Morgan Stanley estimates there are
more than 2.2 million homes sitting vacant, and 7.5 million more facing
foreclosure. It is housing debt that has weakened the banks, and
mortgage debt that is keeping consumers from spending.
McCain's economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakins proposed a massive
scheme to restructure home mortgage finance, but nobody liked it
(Holtz-Eakins: "the politics on housing are hideous"), and Obama's
much more modest program went nowhere, leaving the debt overhang
to continue to depress the economy.
Its efforts to heal the troubled market at the core of the financial
crisis are widely considered weak and ineffective. The Home Affordable
Modification Program, which proposed to pay mortgage servicers to
renegotiate with financially stressed homeowners, couldn't persuade
the servicers to play ball and so has left most of its $75 billion
unspent. The Home Affordable Refinance Program was projected to help
5 million underwater homeowners. It has reached fewer than 1 million.
Even so, the administration rejects the more radical solutions that
are occasionally floated. The problem, it says, is that the choices are
mostly between timid and unworkable. [ . . . ]
On first blush, there are few groups more sympathetic than underwater
homeowners or foreclosed families. They remain so until about two seconds
after their neighbors are asked to pay their mortgages. Recall that Rick
Santelli's famous CNBC rant wasn't about big government or high taxes or
creeping socialism. It was about a modest program the White House was
proposing to help certain homeowners restructure their mortgages. It had
Santelli screaming bloody murder.
Another option that was bandied about, more by prominent economists
like Ken Rogoff and Paul Krugman (often citing work by former economist
Ben Bernanke) was to use the Fed to set inflation targets high enough
to wither away much of the debt overhang. The failed nomination of
Peter Diamond to the Fed Board might have helped such a move, but the
inflation hawks (and Republicans) rallied to prevent any such policy.
One thing that hasn't been tested or even proposed is anything to
strengthen the labor market -- unlike the New Deal, which fought hard
to keep wages (and prices) from collapsing, not least by promoting
organization of labor unions. Klein cites Germany's work-sharing
programs as an example: during the recession unemployment actually
dropped from 7.9 to 7.0 percent. Then there were public sector jobs,
which had been expanding by 160,000 per year, but have since been
slashed by 500,000 -- more than wiping out at the state and local
level the federal-level increase provided by the stimulus bill.
Still, the ultimate failures here were political -- the data and
the economic understanding were there if one bothered to look at
them. The Bush and Obama administrations moved aggressively to save
the banks and to preserve them on the same high perch they entered
the crisis on -- the only thing different now from then for them
is that the industry is even more consolidated. And Obama's crew
proceded at best with extreme caution in addressing the rest of
the economy, while allowing the Republicans to make every effort
to sabotage both them and the economy.
Paul Krugman: Levels and Changes:
On a recent Investor's Business Daily piece "that totally misinforms readers
about how to think about the effects of stimulus and austerity":
This is, of course, dead simple stuff. The economy's growth -- the rate
of change in GDP -- depends on the rate of change in spending, not its
level -- and the rate of change has been falling. What's more, lots of
people tried to explain this a long time ago. Here was
my take back in 2009.
Now, in my experience IBD is a consistent source of misinformation.
What's sad is that people pay money for this, believing that reading
the thing will make them smarter, when in fact it actively makes them
Update: A commenter reminds me that IBD, to attack health
reform, published an editorial claiming that Stephen Hawking would
never have survived under Britain's National Health Service.
Flagging more misinformation, see Krugman's
Legends of the Rentiers:
feel Dean Baker's pain. Dean is exercised over an NPR report which
says that Argentina is suffering from its 2001 default -- a claim that
is totally at odds with the evidence. Argentina actually did very well
by thumbing its nose at creditors.
This isn't the only case where news organizations consistently report
as truth something that didn't happen, while failing to report what did.
Another one that comes to mind is the California electricity crisis of
2001-2002. As some readers may recall, that crisis was caused by market
manipulation -- and that's not a hypothesis, Enron traders were caught
on tape telling plants to shut down to create artificial shortages. Yet
"news analyses" published after the whole thing was revealed would often
tell readers that excessive environmental regulation and Nimbyism caused
the crisis, with nary a mention of the deliberate creation of shortages.
And as you'll notice, in both cases the imaginary history just happened
to be one more comfortable to status quo interests.
Also, be sure to look up
Andrew Leonard: Why What's Good for GE Isn't Good for America:
Obama's decision to appoint GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chairman of his
Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was attacked by critics from the
left before the president finished making the announcement. GE makes
60 percent of its profits overseas, and in the 10 years since Immelt
took over as CEO, the company has trimmed its payrolls in the United
States by 34,000 while adding 25,000 abroad. In July, six months after
being appointed chairman of the jobs council, Immelt moved the
headquarters of GEs 115-year old X-Ray division from Waukesha, Wis.,
If Obama was looking for an expert in how to take advantage of
globalization to boost corporate profits, Immelt would be a perfect
choice. But domestic job creation? That's a tougher call.
[ . . . ]
The so-called jobs czar has made some inadvertently revealing
comments. At a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker Event, reported the New
York Times on Monday he declared that the council "was treating
the effort to spur domestic growth and reduce unemployment 'like
a turnaround at a company.'"
But what do turnaround specialists usually do when they swoop
into a struggling company? They slash payroll, cut expenses,
outsource business units to anywhere a given job can be accomplished
more cheaply. That's not a strategy that will work on a national level.
Immelt's pet ideas? "A clearer regulatory structure," like speeding
up the approval process for untested, possibly unsafe drugs, as well
as sweeping away those pesky environmental impact statements.
Actually, cribbed this from facebook, from Cam Patterson:
I did some first thought/best thought tonight from a list a friend
I like my jazz. . . ecstatic.
I like my country music. . . drunken and sad.
I like my rap. . . conscious.
I like my rock and roll. . . passionate and abandoned.
I like my punk. . . blasphemous and unkempt.
I like my R&B. . . sexyforya.
I like my folk singers. . . funny and honest.
I like my blues. . . gutbucket.
I like my divas. . . Arethas.
I like my indie rock. . . skinny and with glasses.
I like my funk. . . fuzzy and proud.
I like my guitar heroes. . . twisted like a pretzel.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Joe Yanosik came up with a list of jazz albums Christgau has recommended
By the way, I've copied Joe's jazz list off, thinking about
sticking it somewhere on the Christgau website (maybe lists). I will
sort it, probably add some more date/label info. What would be nice
would be links to the actual references (give that they are probably
on the website), but that would be a daunting task.
I see Tigster has added a couple more (which strike me as
right). Will add more as reported.
Friday, October 21, 2011
jimmyCook decided he can't vote in the jazz poll as he's
"too ignorant." I quote him and respond:
Couldn't resist responding to this:
I listen to jazz as often as the Dean recommends it, which is on
average once in a blue moon. When he does mention something I invariably
pick it up. When he wrote about Eric Dolphy, I rushed to find that gem
(The Berlin Concerts). Love it. But on the whole I've never heard
Benny Golson, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan,
Oscar Peterson, Archie Shepp, George Russell, Larry Young and many others.
FWIW, I do love my Monk, Bird, Rollins, Davis, Coltrane, and Coleman
LP's . . . but I suspect there is a strong rock 'n roll connection with
Davis and Coleman both did major work with electric guitar, and Davis
actually enjoyed some rock-star-level fame, but it's a stretch to claim
any rock affinities for the others (Monk, Parker, Rollins, Coltrane),
even by attitude, and it's worth noting Coleman's famous definition of
the difference between jazz and rock (in the former the drummer plays
with the band; in the latter the band plays with the drummer). If you
like Monk, Parker, etc. (let alone Dolphy), you'll like most of the guys
on the list of unknowns (maybe not Hutcherson, or Russell's post-1963
work; Peterson is the other odd man out here, but nobody dislikes
OP). McLean is the obvious guy to check out next there -- New Soil
or Let Freedom Ring or The Connection (under Freddie Redd's
name) or for something more retro Swing Swang Swingin' or maybe
Old and New Religion (where Ornette Coleman switched to trumpet
because McLean blew rings around him on alto).
On the other hand, there were jazz artists who were rock before rock:
Louis Jordan and Louis Prima and Cab Calloway and Stuff Smith and Big Joe
Turner are obvious examples, but why not Jimmy Rushing or Roy Eldridge or
Gene Krupa or Jimmie Lunceford (search out one called For Dancers
Only) or Lionel Hampton or Louis Armstrong or (if you're interested
in prog rock's true forerunner) Duke Ellington? Those guys immediately
appealed to me for the same reasons rock and roll did: they made
pathbreaking but immediately accessible popular music -- unlike Parker
and Monk and their followers who made jazz obscure and anti-popular.
(Took me a long while to forgive the beboppers for that, although I
instantly found more avant players like Coleman and Anthony Braxton
Thursday, October 20, 2011
In the Hospital
I spent the last four days observing the notorious US health care
system in action. My wife underwent surgery, and I mostly hung out,
observing. I had been reading more than my share of nightmare stories,
but it all went about as well as it could. The case was complicated,
but the surgeon and her team seemed to understand it and appreciate
the intricacies. The surgery itself went quicker and smoother than
anticipated, and the projected three day hospital stay was cared for
with patient confidence. There were a few problems that cropped up --
too-frequent oxygen saturation warnings, nausea coming out of the
anesthesia -- but they were recognized and sorted out. The nursing
staff was far more attentive than I recalled from ten years ago when
my parents had extended hospital stays, or my wife's previous surgery
when she was booted out of the hospital with unseemly (and as it turned
out unfortunate) haste. The room was private, and I was invited to stay
as long as I wanted -- 24 hours a day. I even found the nurses asking
if there was anything they could do to help me. I managed to be
present pretty much every time a doctor came by, and every step was
intelligibly explained. It helped that my wife was fully cognizant of
the whole process, and always knew what she needed to work on when to
make progress. In short, it was pretty close to ideal: the way a
hospital should work. No doubt the bill was damn expensive, but I
didn't get the sense of wasted effort or overtreatment.
It no doubt helped that the surgery was a well understood procedure,
and that the treatment was very closely aligned with it. My wife had
no significant illness going into the surgery. That is, for instance,
a very different situation from the one where my father entered the
hospital with MDS, being treated by a staff of cardiologists who had
no idea what they were up against, who made one mistake after another
before they finally dumped him off on a doctor who had a clue. Or I
could dredge up other cases from my own limited personal experience.
(E.g., when my father spent four days in surgical ICU due to a lung
infection that defied their treatment until it was fully cultured and
identified. Or when my father-in-law was prescribed a drug for an eye
problem but given a drug that crashed his blood sugar level, which
then resulted in several days of unpleasant tests investigating his
Still, it isn't hard to imagine lots of things that could have gone
wrong here that didn't. For one thing, the hospital had instituted a
software system that tracked drug doses and interactions -- probably
the samd system the VA hospitals are famous for: it slowed the nurses
down repeatedly scanning patient and drug barcodes, but it eliminates
errors that elsewhere are astonishingly frequent (I recently read as
much as one per patient per day). The ratio of nurses to patients was
higher than I had ever seen outside of an ICU. We never had to wait
more than 1-2 minutes after calling a nurse, and they were never in
an excessive rush to go elsewhere. Occasionally I would step out into
the hall and see one at a computer . . . looking at
what appeared to be continuing ed materials.
I suspect that this was a rare case where business competitiveness
served to improve the care level: well-insured patients could choose
to come to this hospital vs. the other competitor, and for the types
of surgeries this particular ward handled there was enough profit to
be made to reinvest some in quality service. So to some extent you
can chalk this experience up as a victory for the American system
(although as my wife is on Medicare I don't give any credit to the
private profit-seeking insurance companies). Still, this doesn't
argue that health care reform is not necessary. Rather, this reminds
us that a reformed system has to maintain this sort of quality level,
and to extend it more evenly and equitably. And it reminds me that
it can be done, for even if this particular case represents a shrewd
business decision on how to run a wing as a profit center, one key
reason it succeeded is that the people working there were free to
serve without having to constantly recalibrate their actions in
favor of padding the business' bottom line.
Personal note: we're back home today. My wife still has a ways to
go to get back to normal, but that seems certain to happen in due
course. And I need some sleep, but that too will happen.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Music: Current count 18908  rated (+28), 844  unrated (-0).
Cut this off Sunday night, but at least got the incoming catalogued. Much
fretting this week over the future of Jazz CG, but even that has taken a
back seat to Laura's surgery Monday morning, just a few hours away. Have
already posted a No Jazz Prospecting announcement, rolled into my No
Weekend Roundup post.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
No Weekend Roundup/No Jazz Prospecting
Just looked at my scratch file, and the spot for squirreling away
those interesting links was bare. Part of this can be blamed on Salon,
which killed Andrew Leonard's How the World Works column, and reduced
The War Room to, well, let's see: fully half of the recent articles
have been on Herman Cain. Those have long been places I'd go to and
easily find worthwhile links. But that's only a small part of it. I
have several tabs open to things I meant to write about, and I'm sure
I'd find more if I made the effort. This is just a bad day for effort.
My wife goes into the hospital for surgery tomorrow morning -- so
early in fact I might as well say late tonight. I have stuff to do
between now and then. And while I expect everything to go according
to plan, with an orderly and complete recovery, the next few days,
and for that matter the next few weeks, are going to be rough going.
So no Weekly Roundup this week. For that matter, figure on no Jazz
Prospecting on Monday either. I do have a reasonable set of notes
written up for that, but don't have the time to wrap them up, write
an intro, catalog the unpacking (slow week but big day Friday). Also
in no position to explain what is or isn't going on at the Village
Voice. So all that will have to wait until later -- probably the
Friday, October 14, 2011
Ziggy Schouws suggests two omissions from my 1960s jazz list:
Ziggy Schouws: Erroll Garner's Concert by the Sea was
recorded in 1955, released in 1956. Good record; arguably a great
one. I haven't heard any of the Clarke-Boland Big Band records, but
the 8th ed. of The Penguin Guide recommends several from the
1960s -- but no mention of Volcano (1969, Polydor). My database
contains everything ***(*) or better from the Penguin Guide
5th-7th editions, but I never managed to finish the full comparison
charts for the 8th (or 9th) eds. that I did for earlier editions. I'll
add some Clarke-Boland, and some other things I've been noticing.
Clarke moved to France in the 1950s, but in the 1940s he was the
first real bebop drummer, and shows up on many of those Parker records
you all love. The second bebop drummer was Art Blakey (or maybe third,
as Max Roach started about the same time). Blakey was originally a
pianist, but switched to drums to make way for Erroll Garner. It was a
smaller world then.
More, nitpicking the reviews -- an old Charlie Parker comp, and
James Carter's Organ Trio:
First question I have on the Parker is what exactly does Roy Carr
have to do with Penguin Guide? The authors are Richard Cook
& Brian Morton -- Cook died before the 9th ed. appeared, and that
now looks like the end of the series, superseded by a tombstone called
The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best
Albums. Cook & Morton don't have the usual acknowledgments page,
so I don't know who their editors, agents, and barbers are, but Carr
would seem out of place. He has edited NME, cranked out books
on the Beatles and the Stones, and compiled dozens or hundreds of CD
samplers -- mostly not jazz, but Parker isn't hard to pick
In the Carter reivew, "sometime guitarist Bruce Edwards
. . . substitute sometime guitarist Brandon Ross"? First time I read
this I wondered what else Ross played. The facts here are that Edwards
plays on three tracks, Ross on three others. Working back from knowing
that I can parse "sometime" here, but I didn't get it at first. I
don't have anything to say about Edwards -- not Ulmer and not Hall
isn't much either -- but Ross is a terrific guitarist, not well known
because he doesn't have his name on any album covers, but he's sent me
looking for the credits many times. Wadada Leo Smith's Spiritual
Dimensions and Heart's Reflections are good examples, as is
the recent Harriet Tubman album.
Hall, by the way, takes a whole song solo on the latest Sonny
Rollins Road Shows, which strikes me as odd. Back in the '60s
he played with Rollins.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Down and Out at the DMV
Went to the DMV today, which remains most people's prime case example
of how inefficient and rude government can be. Simple task: needed to
get my driver's license renewed. When I got there I was pointed toward
a queue the length of one wall then wrapped around another: twenty-some
people ahead of me. Wasn't too bad: I could lean against the wall, and
I had a book, although I ran out of book in the hour or so it took me
to get to the head of the line. The guy a couple slots ahead of me was
talkative. A guy with a gray ponytail limped up behind me, and the two
started comparing army records. The guy behind me offered to save him
a slot if he wanted to sit down, and he did. The two kept yakking for
much of the stretch -- mostly touching on politics. The guy ahead of
me declared himself to be "a big Ron Paul supporter." The ponytail guy
was psyched by Occupy Wall Street. The Ron Paul guy declared them to
be "commies" but cut some slack for the crippled vet. Both agreed that
politicians are crooks, that money has changed everything, but the Ron
Paul guy was fixated on taxes whereas ponytail thought the government
should work better.
Occasionally a woman behind me talked about the economy. She pointed
out that when she was young she couldn't wait to get her driver license
and get a job and get out of her parents' house, but her grown son isn't
interested in any of that. On the other hand, she lives in a small town
and there are no jobs -- nothing positive to draw her son out into the
world. All these people could have understood their problems better, but
there was no mistaking that those problems are real, and little sense
that any of them are likely to be solved anytime soon. There once was
a time when people would think twice before talking politics with total
strangers -- same for religion and various other uncomfortable topics.
Not now. Politics is everywhere, and everything is politicized -- much
like the 1960s, at least for my generation back then.
Watched Charlie Rose tonight and he had on one person pulled
from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and three left-leaning academic
sympathizers -- I guess Rose figured he was wet blanket enough to dampen
the enthusiasm. It reminded me again of the 1960s: the movement rep was
an ordinary guy who couldn't really articulate the issues, but deep down
knew someone has to make a stand, otherwise we're going to keep getting
rolled over. On the other hand, Paul Krugman, Marshall Ganz, and Jared
Bernstein had plenty of understanding of what's wrong. But they still
had problems explaining it all: the problem they faced is that problems
are so vast and interconnected that it's hard to know where to start.
Money in politics is obviously a big part of the problem, but it's not
just that. The problem with money is that it's allowed the rich to
tilt the levers of government (and privately owned institutions the
public depends on, like the media) to make them richer even at the
expense of everyone else.
This actually is a problem that many of us recognized long ago.
We have even understood that such increasing inequality is unstable
and unviable: that the longer it goes on and the worse it gets, the
more damage will be done not just to individuals at the bottom but
to the entire social fabric. Yet it's been virtually impossible to
get people's attention over such an "abstract" concept. But there
really is nothing abstract about it: just start picking people at
random from the 99% and you'll see real effects. And now it turns
out that many of those people would do something about their plight
if they only knew they could. That's the door that the demonstrations
have opened, and down at the DMV I could feel the pent-up energy
searching for some way to express itself.
One reason I see this resembling the 1960s is that when you think
about it you'll realize that the new left won the culture wars back
then: civil rights, getting out of Vietnam, abolishing the draft,
women's liberation (everything from abortion to equal pay), clean
air and water, consumer protection. The problem was that we didn't
build the institutional framework to consolidate power to protect
(and extend) those gains -- but one key reason that didn't happen
was that we distrusted and never grew comfortable with power. So
we left the rich too rich and the military-security state too well
dug in -- the bases for the right's counterrevolution -- and we
lost focus and, at least for a while, just lapsed and enjoyed the
better world we had made.
But there's at least one important difference between the movement
now and in the 1960s. Back then the US was a relatively affluent,
relatively equitable, and much more idealistic society, so much of
the movement generously fought for other people's rights. (That at
least was the stereotype, although I for one always had personal
reasons for my politics.) But things have gotten so much worse that
now we all have "skin in the game," and that raises the political
stakes -- the need, the resolve, the demand that change be real
Update: Let me add that the reason the new left issues
won out was because they were intellectually persuasive, in large
part because they tapped into basic ideas about equality, freedom,
justice, and sustainability. The right has worked hard to erode
those values, to cheapen and deprecate them, substituting greed
and self-interest, order, and faith that if you just follow your
betters all will be well. Those are shabby arguments, for as we
clearly see now, they do not bode well.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Music: Current count 18880  rated (+35), 844  unrated (-5).
Posted Recycled Goods and Rhapsody Streamnotes last week. Still no news
on Jazz CG; my guess is that's bad news. Haven't gotten away from the
computer as much as I would have liked, so the rated count continues to
Added grades for remembered LPs from way back when:
- Alec R. Costadinos & the Syncophonic Orchestra: Romeo
& Juliet (1977, Casablanca):
B+Pere Ubu: Datapanik in the Year Zero (1978, Radar, EP):
Five cuts, early singles, probably 1975-76. Didn't bother listing this
at first because the material was recycled in Terminal Tower and
later in same-named the 5-CD box.
Changed previous grades:
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents (1978, Blue Plate):
[was: A] A+
Jazz Prospecting (JCG #28, Part 10)
Another week, no news, just plugging away. Next 3-4 weeks are
going to be pretty stressful, so the future (if any) of Jazz CG
is one thing I shouldn't bother to worry about.
Mike Baggetta Quartet: Source Material (2010 ,
Fresh Sound New Talent): Guitarist, based in New York. Third album
with his name first, plus three duos with Kris Tiner -- one with
Tiner's name first, two as Tin/Bag. Quartet includes Jason Rigby
on "saxophones" (pictured on soprano, also plays tenor), Eivind
Opsvik on bass, and George Schuller on drums.
Yaala Ballin: On the Road (2010 , Gallery):
Standards singer, born in Israel, has a New York band and a previous
album on Smalls, as do most of her band: Zaid Nasser (alto sax),
Chris Byars (tenor sax), and Ari Roland (bass); the others are
Vahagn Hayrapetyan (piano) and Keith Balla (drums). Leans heavily on
blues -- two medleys, "Evil Gal Blues/Salty Papa Blues" and "Long
Gone Blues/Wise Woman Blues" tower like the pylons in a suspension
bridge, and you never doubt her right to sing those blues. "I Cried
for You" can't help but remind me of Jimmy Rushing, a thought that
brings me nothing but pleasure. The saxophonists stay within their
roles, but are superb, as expected.
James Carter Organ Trio: At the Crossroads (2011,
Emarcy): With Gerald Gibbs on organ and Leonard King, Jr. on drums,
plus others as the opportunity arrises: trumpeter Keyon Harrold (3
tracks), guitarists Bruce Edwards or Brandon Ross (3 tracks each),
vocalist Miche Braden (2 cuts; King sings a third). Carter plays
soprano sax (1 cut), baritone (3), alto (4), and tenor (7 cuts, 2
of those also on baritone). Gibbs and King wrote one piece each;
otherwise all covers, only Ellington's "Come Sunday" (leading into
trad's "Tis the Old Ship of Zion" for a little sacred mystique)
done much; and while Jack McDuff's "Walking the Dog" is the real
spiritual center here, Carter also takes his blues refracted through
Julius Hemphill and Ronald Shannon Jackson. Braden's boisterous
vocal on "The Walking Blues" comes as a surprise four cuts in,
then no more vocals until the gospel sideline at 10-11. Nothing
wrong with the vocals -- more wouldn't have been unwelcome -- but
what you really want to hear is the saxman busting loose, which
doesn't happen often enough but is mighty wondrous when it does.
François Couturier: Tarkovsky Quartet (2009 ,
ECM): Pianist, b. 1950 near Orléans, France; background in classical
music. AMG lists five albums since 2002. Has lately been drawing on
the filmmaker Andreï Tarkovsky (1932-86) for inspiration. Quartet
includes Jean-Marc Larché (soprano sax), Anja Lechner (cello), and
Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion).
Mike DiRubbo & Larry Willis: Four Hands, One Heart
(2010 , Ksanti): Alto sax-piano duo. DiRubbo is b. 1970, has
six previous albums since 1999, mostly mainstream labels, consistently
makes a strong impression. Willis is 30 years older (b. 1940), has
played a bit of everything; rarely got his name up front before 1990,
but has a couple dozen albums since; is a thoughtful accompanist,
doing a nice job of setting up and fleshing out the sax. One original
each, six covers mostly bop era; "Star Eyes" always gets my attention.
Scott Fields & Multiple Joyce Orchestra: Moersbow/OZZO
(2009 , Clean Feed): Guitarist, from Chicago, has a couple dozen
albums since 1993, about as close as anyone to being an American analog
to Derek Bailey. Doesn't play here; instead conducts MJO through a 13:54
piece dedicated to Merzbow and the much-longer 4-part "OZZO." MJO was
founded in 2008 by Frank Gratkowski (alto sax), Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba),
and Matthias Schubert (tenor sax), with 24 members credited here -- a
little bit of everything (except guitar), including computer and analog
electronics. Has that scratchy, abstract feel, but is rarely without
interest, and more pleasing than anyone would expect.
Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying . . . (2011, Savoy
Jazz): Framed as an album of John Lennon songs, although 7 of 16 are
of a vintage where they also credit Paul McCartney. Doesn't seem to
have been intended as a deep conviction tribute; rather, something
that Frisell got roped into trying on a tour and like the sound of.
From his liner notes: "This wasn't my idea. I didn't ask to do it.
Ever since I've entered into the world of music, I've never really
had to figure out what to do. The music always tells you what to do,
where to go. There's always something new waiting right there in
front of you." That something is the guitarist's logic in picking
around a melody, so striking early on when he attacked artists as
diverse as Ives and Madonna, honed over 40+ albums into an ingenious
reflexive style. His intuitive approach fares about as well as any
with the Beatles' songs -- a common temptation to people who grew
up with them (Frisell was b. 1951) hoping to modernize the standards
songbook, one that has almost never succeeded. With Greg Leisz on
steel guitar and Jenny Scheinman on violin, plus Tony Scherr on bass
and Kenny Wollesen on drums, the string sound is pure and saccharine
sweet -- something one tires of, although it's unlikely that the
opener, "Across the Universe," will ever sound more sumptously
Jason Kao Hwang/Edge: Crossroads Unseen (2010 ,
Euonymous): Violinist, group named after a previous album; quartet with
Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn), Ken Filiano (bass), and Andrew
Drury (drums). I find the title cut drags melodramatically -- it's not
obvious whether this is tied into Hwang's expertise in Chinese classical
music, but I get the sense that there should be actors on stage when
this plays. The rest of the pieces are more sprightly, as much affinity
to Billy Bang as we're likely to find. Don't hear much from Bynum, but
you can't go wrong with Filiano.
Jason Kao Hwang/Spontaneous River: Symphony of Souls
(2010 , Mulatta): Guess I complained too soon about Hwang's
classical inclinations. This is a full-fledged symphony, eleven
movements, played with 15 violins, 5 violas, 5 cellos, 6 basses,
and 7 guitars -- some names I recognize in the small print, but
not even the composer stands out in the dank mix. Not without its
interest, and might gain something if you cranked the volume up.
Tony Malaby: Tony Malaby's Novella (2011, Clean Feed):
Tenor saxophonist, credited first with soprano here. Has a dozen albums
since 1993, but I mostly run into him on side credits where he always
helps out and often steals the show. One such venue is pianist Kris
Davis's Quartet. Davis returns the favor here, not just playing but
arranging six pieces from previous Malaby albums for a nonet: four
reeds, three brass, her piano, and John Hollenbeck's drums -- no bass
but Dan Peck's tuba, Ben Gerstein's trombone, Andrew Badro's bari sax,
and Joachim Badenhorst's bass clarinet offer plenty of bottom support.
The front-line horns are Ralph Alessi's trumpet, Michael Attias's alto
sax, and Malaby's soprano/tenor, but they rarely stand out. I haven't
managed to take it all in yet, but it sure is heavy.
Mambo Legends Orchestra: ¡Ten Cuidao! Watch Out!
(2011, Zoho, 2CD): Mostly long-time veterans of Tito Puente's big
band -- John Rodriguez, Jose Madera, Mitch Frohman, Frankie Vazquez,
Cita Rodriguez, Marco Bermudez are singled out on the back cover.
Lots of punch in the horns, rhythm up the wazoo, Vazquez's vocals.
It's a bit much by the end, but quite a thrill along the way.
Oscar Peñas: From Now On (2009 , Bju'ecords):
Guitarist, b. 1972 in Barcelona, Spain; attended Berklee, based in
New York. Has two previous Fresh Sound New Talent albums. This is
a quartet with Dan Blake on tenor and soprano sax, Moto Fukushima
on electric bass, and Richie Barshay on drums, with a couple guests
here and there. His guitar builds on all that classical heritage,
and the soprano in particular is a close harmonic mate.
Houston Person: So Nice (2011, High Note): Hard to
think of any tenor saxophonists who have aged so gracefully. Age
76 when this was cut. Interesting that he's added a couple Arbors
artists to sit in on a few tracks: Warren Vaché (4 cuts, including
first three) and Howard Alden (5 cuts, including first two). They
help, and I'd love to hear Person and Vaché cover a full album,
but the really nice stuff is when they drop down to a quartet --
John Di Martino (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), Lewis Nash (drums).
Enrico Pieranunzi Latin Jazz Quintet: Live at Birdland
(2008 , CAM Jazz): Pianist, b. 1949 in Rome, Italy, has 30+
records since 1975 -- one of the major jazz pianists of his
generation. For this Latin Jazz project, he wrote 6 of 7 pieces (two
with "Danza" in the title, one "Choro"), and added two horns to his
trio with John Patitucci and Antonio Sanchez: Diego Urcola (trumpet)
and Yosvany Terry (alto & soprano sax, plus a percussion credit).
Daniel Rosenthal: Lines (2010 , American Melody):
Trumpet player, based in Boston, studied with Steve Lacy at New England
Conservatory, has played in Either/Orchestra since 2006 (which got him
in on their Ethiopian kick). First album. Mostly a two-horn quartet,
with Rick Stone's alto sax slipping and sliding around him, cutting a
clean harmonic path. Four tracks add Wes Corbett on banjo -- the closer,
"Standing," is mostly just the two of them, and especially striking.
John Scofield: A Moment's Peace (2011, Emarcy):
Guitarist, was a key figure in the 1980s and up through Groove
Elation and Quiet in 1994-96 with his fluid style and
fascination with funk grooves, but hasn't done much of interest
since. This is a back-to-basics quartet, with Larry Goldings on
piano and organ, Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums.
Temper changes depending on Goldings' keyboard choice, but that
highlights both sides of Scofield's style. His best album since
his heyday: had it come out in 1998 we might complain that he's
slowing down, but now it feels like a welcome second breath.
JC Stylles: Exhilaration and Other States (2009
, Motéma Music): No periods to be seen anywhere near "JC" --
may stand for his given name, Jason Campbell. Ampersand on spine
title but not on cover. AMG misfiled this under Pat Bianchi's name.
Stylles is a guitarist, New York-based, first album. Bianchi plays
organ, and Lawrence Leathers drums, so this is a soul jazz retro.
Nicely done, as these things go. "Love for Sale" is a romp; "Don't
Explain" is plaintive and delicate.
Tin/Bag: Bridges (2010 , MabNotesMusic):
Duo: Kris Tiner (trumpet) and Mike Baggetta (guitar). Third album
together, the first under their names, the second a quartet as
Tin/Bag. (Artwork uses a vertical bar here, which causes software
problems for me so I'm sticking with the slash.) Six Tiner pieces,
two by Baggetta, closes with "Just Like a Woman" by Bob Dylan.
It all plays very tentative -- slow, indeterminate. Interesting
how they tiptoe around Dylan's melody. Harder to appreciate that
on their own less known material.
Kenny Werner with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Institute of
Higher Learning (2010 , Half Note): Pianist, b. 1951,
has a wide range of records since 1979. This one is a big band using
his compositions (plus trad favorite "House of the Rising Sun") and
his arrangements. I haven't run into BJO before: AMG lists 4 albums,
their website offers 13 since 1999 for sale. Directed by saxophonist
Frank Vaganée, a standard-sized big band with guitar but no piano --
guitarist Peter Hertmans gets the first solo, a dandy. Dedicated to
Bob Brookmeyer. Liner notes by Maria Schneider.
Andréa Wood: Dhyana (2010 , Wood): Title is a
Buddhist term (can't do the macron accent over the first 'a' using my
chosen codeset); has something to do with reflection/serenity. Singer,
first album; wrote 1 of 11 songs, added lyrics to a Wayne Shorter
melody for another, arranged the rest. From Washington, DC, one of
those "musical families" where she started piano at five (although
others play here). Spent three years of her childhood in Prague.
Studied at Michigan State and Manhattan School of Music. Nice voice
on a straight standard -- "I Only Have Eyes for You" is seductive,
for a while. Don't care for the two Brazilian arrangements (yes,
one's a Jobim).
No final grades/notes this week on records put back for further
listening the first time around.
Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last week:
- Fabian Almazan Trio: Personalities (Biophilo)
- Pablo Aslan Quintet: Piazzolla in Brooklyn (Soundbrush): November 8
- Tony Bennett: The Classic Christmas Album (1968-2008, Columbia/Legacy)
- Michael Cain: Solo (Native Drum Music)
- Erik Charlston: Jazz Brasil: Essentially Hermeto (Sunnyside): November 8
- Cinque: Catch a Corner (ALMA)
- Emmet Cohen: In the Element (BadaBeep)
- Steve Cropper: Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales (429)
- Phil Dwyer Orchestra: Changing Seasons (ALMA)
- Rob Garcia 4: The Drop and the Ocean (Bju'ecords)
- Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid/Mats Gustafsson: Live at the South Bank (Smalltown Superjazz, 2CD): November 15
- Gilad Hekselman: Hearts Wide Open (Le Chant du Monde)
- Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie (429)
- Oscar Peterson: Unmistakable [Zenph Re-Performance] (Sony Masterworks)
- Jake Saslow: Crosby Street (14th Street)
- 3 Cohens: Family (Anzic)
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Got up this morning and found I hadn't squirreled away any links
during the week: all I had was a bunch of open tabs with promising
bits and pieces. So this was rather quickly thrown together, but a
couple pieces are exceptionally deep.
Nothing yet on the Occupy Wall Street movement (which, by the
way, has a presence here in Wichita). Needless to say, I not only
approve of the protests, I think they are necessary. For one thing,
they provide a forum for public education on issues that had been
quietly swept under the rug after the election in 2008 of Obama
and a Democratic Congress. From early 2009 it's become clear that
Obama was not going to make the case for change in the economic
system, but aside from the occasional carping blogger we've sat
idly and impotently on the sidelines, while the right bankrolled
the sham Tea Party movement. But the protests don't just provide
more balanced information. They provide the sort of emotional
heft needed to get that information taken seriously. One may be
skeptical about whether it will work, but the American political
system is pressure sensitive. Until now, that pressure has only
come from the right and its interest groups, and that has swept
all good intentions before it. Moreover, the economic issue is
one that has tremendous built-up energy behind it. This is not
something that's going to evaporate soon because this is something
that has so many unconscious and subconscious victims waiting for
something to come into focus.
Thomas Geoghegan: What Would Keynes Do?
John Cassidy has a generally useful piece on Keynes in the Oct. 10,
2001 New Yorker (not readily available
online; also see Cassidy's
blog) where he stresses the importance of aggregate demand in
recovering from a recession, and goes to great lengths to illustrate
that Keynes' concern was to salvage capitalism, not to bury it. But
Geoghegan takes a different tack: he argues that the real problem
with the US economy is the longstanding and ever-burgeoning trade
deficit, and finds plenty of support for that in Keynes:
For Keynes, the problem would be not just getting people into stores,
or even getting employers to hire but getting our plutocracy to invest.
It's not just our jobless rate but our huge trade deficit that would
appall him. He'd be aghast to see the United States bogged down in so
much debt to the rest of the world. [ . . . ]
In 1936, when Keynes wrote his classic -- The General Theory of
Employment, Interest and Money -- he was emphatic on this point:
no country, ever, should run up any kind of trade deficit, much less
the trade deficit on steroids we are running. Of course, in 1936 and
for years after, the United States was the biggest creditor country
in the history of the world. So Keynes never worried about our being
a debtor country -- rather, he spent much of his last days begging
the United States to get other countries out of debt. If he came back
and saw the colossal external debt we run now, he would be pushing
for a serious plan to bring it down just as hard as he'd be pushing
a stimulus for full employment. [ . . . ]
Keynes believed that practical leaders would always see the supreme
importance of keeping the country out of external debt -- indeed, he
seemed to see this as the first duty of the state. For Keynes, in his
later years, it was the economic analogue to defending one's country.
Avoiding an external debt was an act of patriotism and national
self-preservation in a sense that even reducing unemployment was not.
It's "fighting for freedom," in Skidelsky's phrase. Keynes would not
believe how Obama, the Tea Party, the Democrats, the Republicans --
our leaders -- pay so little attention to our whopping trade deficit,
as if it had nothing at all to do with our slump.
The right, the Tea Party, the Concord Coalition, Mr. Bowles and
Mr. Simpson, Peter Peterson -- they want to bring down the federal
deficit. The left, our side, generally wants to go deeper into debt
and get to full employment. Then we'll bring down the federal deficit.
Then we'll have full employment and all will be well.
But until we bring down the trade deficit and fix our balance of
payments, there is no way out of debt.
OK, Geoghegan still has
Germany on his mind: the prime example of a high-tech nation which
runs a positive trade balance (even, it seems, at the expense of the
rest of Europe, which it's managed to trap in its Eurozone). But the
main effect of the US trade deficit isn't just to make the nation as
a whole poorer. It's to increase inequality within the nation, and the
effect of that is increased misery for most Americans. The way it works
is simple: we send our dollars abroad, where they are collected by the
elites -- foreign businessmen, multinational corporations, the politicos
they all have to bribe. If we had balanced trade, those dollars would
come back to the US and many of them would trickle down to workers, but
since we don't produce that much others want to buy, the dollars have
to be redeemed elsewhere: buying US bonds is relatively benign, but
mostly they go to run up the price of US assets, one of the main ways
the rich get richer. And as the rich get richer, they become more
powerful and more able to make the rest of our lives miserable --
perhaps you noticed that by now. The big problem with inequality isn't
statistical: it's that you make life at the bottom cheaper, therefore
more disposable. And since those at the bottom don't like such shabby
treatment, the increased hierarchy depends ever more on brutality.
Part of the reason the United States isn't doing better is that, thanks
to the trade deficit, Keynesianism has lost its punch. On the evidence
of The General Theory Keynes would argue that a stimulus has to
be bigger, or work harder, as long as we have this external debt.
Consider a twist on Keynes's famous Aesop-like fable about the Bank
of England. Let's drop the Bank of England and make it all about the
Federal Reserve. As Keynes would put it, rather than do nothing in a
slump, it would be better for the Fed to bury bank notes in bottles
and pay Americans to dig them up. Not only do we goose employment but
there is a multiplier effect.
But Keynes did not say we should put bank notes in bottles and bury
them in China and have Chinese workers dig them up. Why not? Well, it
doesn't do us any good. It does not employ any US workers. And of course,
there would be no "multiplier." The beauty of the stimulus is the
"multiplier" effect. OK, I will oversimplify: if we hire Americans to
dig up the bottles with bank notes, they have cash to spend. In 1936
they might go to spend it at the corner bar. The bar hires more wait
staff. They go out and buy more groceries. Someone buys an extra truck
and truck driver to bring the fructose syrup in from Iowa for our Froot
Loops, and . . . should I stop?
It just goes on and on . . . jobs, jobs, jobs,
multiplying to the Pythagorean heights.
But it's not 1936. It's 2011. Now after digging up the bottles,
Americans will go to Target and Walmart and spend on bags of kitty
litter made by child labor in China. And what's going to happen to
the multiplier when the Obama bucks we spend end up over there? In
Chapter 10 of The General Theory Keynes writes, "In an open
system with foreign trade relations some part of the
multiplier . . . will accrue to the benefit of
employment in foreign countries." Or, as he said, there will be a
bit of "leakage." But that's OK if they buy back from us. If there
is a balance of trade, it's OK. But they aren't buying back from
us. They are buying more from Japan and Germany, so our stimulus
goes out of China and over to those countries.
There are other reasons Keynesianism has lost its punch.
First, by making their own cutbacks, our state governments can nullify
the federal stimulus. In 1936 the states were just toy governments. The
New Dealers hated them. But now they are far bigger public sector
employers than Washington. By virtue of state constitutions requiring
balanced budgets, they have to cut when Keynesian theory would have them
spend. If the stimulus did not stimulate, we can partly blame our fifty
Tea Party constitutions, which require a foolish "austerity" in the
states. In our system of federalism, a Keynesian-type stimulus is half
Second, the rich are so much richer now than they were in our Keynesian
golden age (let's say 1940 to 1975). If Obama gets GDP growth up by 1
percent, most of that goes to the superrich. It's beyond their capacity
to consume it -- i.e., to unleash a multiplier effect. The Financial
Times has a regular supplement called "How to Spend It," but it's
beyond their human strength. There's too much to spend.
A stimulus can wake up an egalitarian country's economy, since everyone
is spending. But a stimulus cannot wake up the economy of a super-plutocracy:
the people at the very top just roll over in bed.
The third part of the article has a number of recommendations about
what to do (especially "what Keynes would do"). All are worth quoting,
but I'll refrain. The key insight is that the rise of the financial
industry coincided with the increase in trade deficits, and that it
made matters worse by luring the rich into speculation instead of
making long-term investments in making things that could be exported.
(It also piqued their taste for the easy gains of usury and larceny.)
So anything that would rein in the banks would be a plus: usury laws,
strict regulation, a transaction tax, eliminating the tax breaks that
allow the Mitt Romneys of the world to buy up companies and pay for
them by sticking them with crippling debt. Then there's this:
The one standard way of being competitive abroad is to cut wages here --
to improve the terms of trade. Keynes hated the idea of cutting wages.
It was the standard remedy of classical theory, and he loved to point
out that cutting demand at home might only prolong a slump. But suppose
the government could dramatically cut nonwage labor costs by assuming
the cost of health insurance? If our government could deliver just one
Keynesian "shock" to make us more competitive, it would be single payer
national healthcare. At least right now, we should expand Medicare
coverage (lower the eligibility age) and adopt a public option, so
that the government can have more bargaining leverage to beat down by
decree the stupefying prices we pay to get well in an ever more
concentrated healthcare sector.
It is horrifying to see even the "tough" new President Obama proposing
to shrink Medicare -- aside from leaving people uncovered, shrinking
coverage means shrinking the government's power to dictate the price
and leaves employers and the rest of us exposed to higher healthcare
costs. If the president wanted to increase the trade deficit, the best
thing he could do would be to cut Medicare coverage and give the
government even less power to hold down the healthcare costs that
make us even less competitive abroad than we are now.
Finally, I think Keynes would hold up on the small stuff -- i.e.,
the cuts in the payroll tax or the proffer of one more investment tax
credit -- for none of that will matter (if it ever matters) until we
get people out of loans. In one way or another, in keeping with the
ancient wisdom of the Bourbons and the Habsburgs divined by Keynes,
we have to take down the scaffolding of this creditor-debtor economy
in which our country is imprisoned.
Andy Kroll: Flat-Lining the Middle Class:
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Here's the executive summary:
In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers,
has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and
particularly of the once-mighty American middle class. Each report
sparks a flurry of news stories and pundit chatter, but never much
reflection on what it all means now that we have just enough distance
to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and see
how Americans fared in that turbulent period.
And yet the verdict couldn't be more clear-cut. For the American
middle class, long the pride of this country and the envy of the world,
the past 10 years were a bust. A washout. A decade from hell.
Paychecks shrank. Household wealth melted away like so many
sandcastles swept off by the incoming tide. Poverty spiked, swallowing
an ever-greater share of the population, young and old. "This is truly
a lost decade," Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz said of
these last years. "We think of America as a place where every generation
is doing better, but we're looking at a period when the median family
is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s."
[ . . . ]
In the meantime, the middle class has flat-lined. Life support is
nowhere close to arriving. One lost decade may have ended, but the
next one has likely only begun.
The statistics are all too familiar, but they seem to have little
impact, perhaps because the definition of middle class is so fluid
and its mystique is so tendentious. I wonder if it's possible to
credibly spell out what a middle class standard of living is, what
occupations fit into that definition (at least 50 years ago, when
it was generally agreed that this was a middle class nation), and
how those alignments have changed. For instance, in 1960 my parents
were middle-aged (father was 35, worked in a factory; mother older,
was a homemaker); they owned a house; had net savings; they had
health insurance, a defined-benefits pension; they would be able to
afford to send their three children through college (not that we all
made it; I wound up going about $2000 in debt after transfering to
a fancy private college). One can argue that they were middle class.
If so, how many 35-year-old blue-collar workers with a single-income
and a wife and three kids can say the same today? Certainly, some
occupation group have held pace and can still be considered middle
class, but not blue-collar workers, and probably not huge swathes
of white-collar workers (like teachers). Moreover, others have hung
on by adding a second income and/or accumulating a lot of debt, but
that's not really the same thing. It's an exaggeration to say that
the middle class "has flat-lined" but it's certainly shrunk a lot
and slipped up the income distribution scale to where it's become
an increasingly elusive status. On the other hand, median wage (or
salary) earners are finding less and less separating them from the
poor -- often nothing more than a lost job or underinsured illness,
things that can happen almost as suddenly and unexpectedly as being
picked off by the DC Sniper.
By the way, John Cassidy has a blog post,
Poverty and Income in America: The Four Lost Decades, on this:
If you do the comparison with 1973 it is even worse. The figure for
median earnings of full-time male workers in that year (when O. J.
rushed two thousand yards and Tony Orlando had a chart-topper with
"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree") was $49,065. Between
now and then, Archie Bunker and Willie Loman have suffered a pay cut
of more than twenty-five dollars a week.
Is it any wonder Americans are not as optimistic as they used to be?
Cassidy points out this that this has been pointed out before,
citing an article he wrote in 1995 ("Who Killed the Middle Class?" --
again, abstract only online).
Jane Mayer: State for Sale:
On the bankrolling of the Republican resurgence in North Carolina,
thanks largely to a conservative moneybags named Arthur Pope, with
a hat tip to the Supreme Court for letting money enjoy free speech.
Yet Pope's triumph in 2010 was sweeping. According to an analysis by the
Institute for Southern Studies, of the twenty-two legislative races
targeted by him, his family, and their organizations, the Republicans
won eighteen, placing both chambers of the General Assembly firmly under
Republican majorities for the first time since 1870. North Carolina's
Democrats in Congress hung on to power, but those in the state legislature,
where Pope had focussed his spending, were routed.
The institute also found that three-quarters of the spending by
independent groups in North Carolina's 2010 state races came from
accounts linked to Pope. The total amount that Pope, his family, and
groups backed by him spent on the twenty-two races was $2.2 million --
not that much, by national standards, but enough to exert crucial
influence within the confines of one state. For example, as Gillespie
had hoped, the REDMAP strategy worked: the Republicans
in North Carolina's General Assembly have redrafted congressional-district
boundaries with an eye toward partisan advantage.
Experts predict that, next fall, the Republicans will likely take
over at least four seats currently held by Democrats in the House of
Representatives, helping the Party expand its majority in Congress.
Meanwhile, the Republican leadership in the North Carolina General
Assembly is raising issues that are sure to galvanize the conservative
vote in the 2012 Presidential race, such as a constitutional ban on
Republican state legislators have also been devising new rules
that, according to critics, are intended to suppress Democratic turnout
in the state, such as limiting early voting and requiring voters to
display government-issued photo I.D.s.
The vote suppression movement has been going on in Republican state
legislatures all over the nation, including here in Kansas where you'd
think it would hardly be necessary. But low voter turnout is essential
to Republican success: when 117 million voted in 2008 the Democrats
won the House by 13 million votes; in in 2010, only 78 million voted
and the Republicans took the House back. (For these numbers, and more,
here.) Of course, unlimited money had something to do with it,
too, and there are other factors. But knowing their platform is not
in the best interests of the overwhelming majority, the Republicans
play every angle they can.
Corey Robin: Revolutionaries of the Right: Subtitled "The Deep Roots
of Conservative Radicalism." Robin has a new book out: The Reactionary
Mind: Conservatism From Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin (2011, Oxford
University Press) -- I grabbed a copy of it, but haven't had time to dig
in yet. His main point is that conservatives today are little different
than conservatives any time in the past, at least as far back as when
Burke was railing against the French Revolution -- this he contrasts with
the efforts of conservative discontents (and their liberal admirers) who
are tempted to argue that today's conservatives are somehow different
from their ancestors. Robin mostly focuses on Burke, who only matters
if you think he matters, but was as bloody-minded about France as Hayek
about the Soviet Union, or the worst contemporary you can imagine against
A commenter points to an essay written in 2004:
Philip E Agre: What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong With It?.
The intro is spot on:
Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to
conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again,
liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and
what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions
are also simple:
Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and
civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality
and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the
These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently.
Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves "conservatives"
have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived
by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by
analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in
the United States.
Further down, Agre talks about the conservative claim for freedom:
Conservatism constantly changes, always adapting itself to provide the
minimum amount of freedom that is required to hold together a dominant
coalition in the society. In Burke's day, for example, this meant an
alliance between traditional social authorities and the rising business
class. Although the business class has always defined its agenda in
terms of something it calls "freedom," in reality conservatism from
the 18th century onward has simply implied a shift from one kind of
government intervention in the economy to another, quite different
kind, together with a continuation of medieval models of cultural
This is a central conservative argument: freedom is impossible unless
the common people internalize aristocratic domination. Indeed, many
conservative theorists to the present day have argued that freedom is
not possible at all. Without the internalized domination of conservatism,
it is argued, social order would require the external domination of state
terror. In a sense this argument is correct: historically conservatives
have routinely resorted to terror when internalized domination has not
worked. What is unthinkable by design here is the possibility that people
might organize their lives in a democratic fashion.
Much more worthwhile here. I can't even disagree with his claim that
"Snoop Dogg's music really is garbage," but caution against generalizing
from one data point.
Jonathan Schell: Cruel America:
Starts with the audience applause for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's record
of 235 executions, a phenomenon that Jim Geraghty dubbed "voting to
kill": a big part of the Bush-Cheney election strategy, a platform
that Obama is increasingly well pitched to run on.
At the GOP debate on the 12th, there was another public expression of
enthusiasm for loss of life in Texas. CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Texas
Congressman Ron Paul, who favors repeal of President Obama's health
plan, what medical response he would recommend if a young man who had
decided not to buy health insurance were to go into a coma.
Paul answered, "That's what freedom is all about: taking your own
risks." He seemed to be saying that if the young man died, that was
There were cheers from the crowd.
Blitzer pressed on: "But Congressman, are you saying that society
should just let him die?" Someone in the audience shouted, "Yeah!"
And the crowd roared in approval.
A characteristic that these exchanges have in common is cruelty.
[ . . . ] There have been many signs recently
that the United States has been traveling down a steepening path of
cruelty. It's hard to say why such a thing is occurring, but it seems
to have to do with a steadily growing faith in force as the solution
to almost any problem, whether at home or abroad. Enthusiasm for
killing is an unmistakable symptom of cruelty. It also appeared
after the killing of Osama bin Laden, which touched off raucous
celebrations around the country. It is one thing to believe in the
unfortunate necessity of killing someone, another to revel in it.
This is especially disturbing when it is not only government
officials but ordinary people who engage in the effusions.
I want to add that cruelty goes hand in hand with brutalization.
The more we engage in war, the more cruel we become, and not just
to the enemy but to ourselves. And this gets reflected in economic
and social policies at home. The essential point of the education
"reform" dubbed "no child left behind" was stigmatize and penalize
failure. Our justice system spares few expenses when it comes to
punishing miscreants, but offers little to help people in need.
We've long been told that we need to end welfare programs so that
people don't become dependent on them. Now we have to shut off
unemployment insurance too. "Tough love," it's called, but being
mostly tough it's easily transformed to hate.
Peter Van Buren: Freedom Isn't Free at the State Department, and
How the American Taxpayer Got Plucked in Iraq:
Former State Department functionary, wrote a recent book on what he
learned from his service in Iraq: We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose
the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (2011,
Friday, October 07, 2011
Some stuff -- evidently the Tigers eliminated the Yankees in the
ALCS playoffs last night:
Catching up: I lost interest in baseball before whatever happened
with Arizona in 2001 happened, but still vividly recall 1960, when the
Yankees dominated like their 1927 team (and indeed were their 1961
team) except when Vern Law pitched, then lost on a series of cosmic
flukes. But the Tigers were always my second favorite AL team, and we
would have been more conscious of this had my father-in-law lived to
After Jobs died, I was on the phone with a friend who misheard the
news and told me Bill Gates had just died. Bad day for the oligarchy,
I thought. I bought an Apple II in 1979, plus a bunch of add-ons
including a serial port card. I paid $99 for the latter, and later
priced out the components which came out to less than $2. Read an
interview with Wozniak later where he was bragging about how cheap he
built that board. I'd been reading a lot of MBA-oriented business lit
at the time stressing how prices should be set independent of costs. I
never forgave Apple for that serial card. Ever since they've
symbolized for me the shift to predatory rentier capitalism that is
the root of most of our problems. So I've been conscious from nearly
day one how systematically they convert awe and adulation into
exorbitant profits. Lots of companies treat the help bad, but Apple is
in a class of one in its ability to snooker people into paying for
I haven't intellectually, much less physically, engaged with the
Occupy Wall Street demos, but will note that a related event in
Wichita drew over 100 people.
On Brad Sroka's 1960s jazz poll:
Regarding the '60s jazz poll, let me once again offer up the
P&J long ballot rule I used back in the 2002-03 poll: albums 1-10
scored per P&J, 11-20 given 1 vote 3 points, 21-30 given 1 vote 2
points, 31+ (until your arm falls off, or your brain drains) 1 vote 1
point. Doesn't tend to change the top results much, but lets you
accumulate a much longer list of candidate albums, and allows for some
consensus building rather than the middle-bottom of the list just
representing arbitrary choices. Downside is more paperwork, but it's
not a huge polling population anyway. Depends on what you want to do
with the poll: anoint the winner, or search for prospects?
When I did it, nearly everyone extended their list to 20, but few
people went beyond 30 (without checking, I'd say there's a real good
chance that the only ones were Michaelangelo Matos, Jason Gross, and
me). Could be more trying to do a whole decade of jazz at a time:
while you have much less to choose from than in doing a rock poll,
it's not that much less -- 1 record per year seems awfully
Another something on Bradley's jazz poll:
I did a quick grep on my database to pluck out the 1960s jazz
albums, and I've started to format a master list at
artist, just barely started, but I figured better to announce it
prematurely and get feedback while it's easy to fix than wait until
it's cast in cement. It did occur to me to break out the vocal
artists. Could break out more genres if I knew what ones made sense
(Red Allen is trad, Herb Alpert is pop, most others so far are
mainstream unless you want to cleave off hard bop and cool and
whatever, which becomes increasingly difficult and confusing).
Original file, by the way, barely topped 2000 lines. I expect it
will shrink a bit from that, and I'll consider additional nominees if
someone will collect them and mail them to me. Also wonder if it's
appropriate for me to include my grades -- is that, uh,
Would be nice to have a sticky link to this, the rules, etc. Maybe
something that could be added to the blog roll?
Thursday, October 06, 2011
About a year ago I added a section to my "scratch" file to collect
links to music pieces, analogous to my "Weekend Roundup" political
links. Problem is: I never accumulated enough to bother posting. But
all of a sudden I have a few to share.
Francis Davis: Tenor Uncertainty:
Still no resolution on my status at the Voice, but at least
there's still some quality jazz crit there. First part of a longer
survey of recent releases by tenor saxophonists, starting with what
we might call the major leagues: Joe Lovano, David Murray, David S.
Ware, two by James Carter. I've weighed in on a couple of these,
have Carter's Organ Trio in my queue, and need to figure out how
to get hold of Murray's Cuban Nat King Cole album. I didn't pass
on Carter's Caribbean Rhapsody because of my "categorical
aversion to jazz-and-classical hyphenates," but that's probably
why I didn't like it. Carter is prodigious even in this company,
and his solo pieces aren't filler: they keep the album hinged.
Still, neither of his two Emarcy albums are as much fun as his
moonlighting with the Dutch group De Nazaten, where he's not even
the most important saxophonist but convinced me that his baritone
rep is deserved.
Looking forward to: "Next time: up-and-comers, long shots, and
a few out-of-towners." Some overlap here with my pending Jazz CG,
but I have some even longer shots from even further out of town --
Rodrigo Amado, for one. Davis is more comfortable than I am with
what used to be called Third Stream, with set deals like Lovano
playing Parker, and with the supremacy of Sonny Rollins over all
other mortals, but he has great ears, and I've found more unknowns
through him than through any other jazz critic. If the Voice
only keeps one of us, it'd be more useful for me to read him.
On the other hand, they're not running him often enough. This
is only the third Davis piece in the Voice this year: the
others are on
Bill Dixon and
Steve Lugerner and Matana Roberts.
Jason Gubbels has started what promises to be a six-part series,
Notable Jazz Recordings, 1980-1989: Re-evaluating a Decade --
out so far:
Part 1, and
Part 2. Consistently interesting selections thus far:
- Ran Blake: Short Life of Barbara Monk (1986, Soul Note)
- Paul Bley: BeBopBeBopBeBopBeBopBeBop (1989, Steeplechase)
- Joe Bonner: Suite for Chocolate (1986, Steeplechase)
- Charles Brackeen: Worshippers Come Nigh (1987, Silkheart)
- Anthony Braxton: Six Monk's Compositions (1987, Black Saint)
- Marilyn Crispell: For Coltrane (1987, Leo)
- Lee Konitz: Wild as Springtime (1984, Candid)
- Frank Lowe: Exotic Heartbreak (1981, Soul Note)
- David Murray: The Hill (1987, Black Saint)
- John Scofield: Time on My Hands (1989, Blue Note)
First thing that strikes me here is that while all ten artists are
Americans, only two of the records are on US labels (Candid and Blue
Note). In particular, Giacomo Pelliciotti's Black Saint and Soul Note
labels should be credited with rescuing jazz in the 1980s.
Second thing I'll note is that while these are all good records --
OK, I haven't heard the Konitz, but it's a Penguin Guide 4-star
and Konitz's other 4-stars are superb -- none of them come off the top
of my 1980s list, which is considerably more mainstream, something
like this (I thought about concocting a new one, then found this one
I had assembled in 2007):
- Sonny Rollins: Plays G-Man (1986, Milestone)
- Don Pullen/George Adams: Breakthrough (1986, Blue Note)
- Art Pepper: Winter Moon (1980, Galaxy)
- Ornette Coleman: In All Languages (1985, Caravan of Dreams)
- David Murray: Deep River (1988, DIW)
- Ornette Coleman: Of Human Feelings (1982, Antilles)
- Horace Tapscott: The Dark Tree: 1 (1989, Hat Art)
- James Blood Ulmer: Odyssey (1983, Columbia)
- Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman: Song X (1985, Nonesuch)
- David Murray: Ballads (1988, DIW)
- Steve Lacy: Morning Joy: Live at Sunset Paris (1986, Hat Art)
- Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya (1983, Ekapa)
- Don Pullen: New Beginnings (1988, Blue Note)
- Bobby Watson: Love Remains (1986, Red)
- David Murray: Ming (1980, Black Saint)
- Art Pepper: With Duke Jordan in Copenhagen 1981 (1981, Galaxy, 2CD)
- Bob Wilber: Dancing on a Rainbow (1989, Circle)
- Sonny Rollins: Falling in Love With Jazz (1989, Milestone)
- Vienna Art Orchestra: From No Time to Rag Time (1982, Hat Art)
- Mal Waldron/Jackie McLean: Left Alone '86 (1986, Evidence)
- Barney Wilen: Wild Dogs of the Ruwenzori (1988, Ida)
- Roswell Rudd: Regeneration (1982, Soul Note)
By the way, Gubbels' recent reviews of
Miles Davis and
Mekons aced mine -- partly because I keep dragging my feet on the Davis
bootleg set, where other notable critics (like
Hank Shteamer and
Nate Chinen) have gotten with the program. It's not that I'm engaging
in anti-hype (although I've been known to do that), nor that I'm wondering
why one should spend so much time focusing on such a well known figure
while there are so many others one barely knows (although, now that I
think of it, I do). It's just highly professional, technically superb
jazz in a vein I know all too well -- and it's hard to say that in a
snazzy, insightful way.
While I'm at it, let me also point out (as well as clean out my
saved music links):
Went through Stef Gijssels'
Free Jazz blog tonight, added all the missing records to my
metacritic file, and bumped the counts. Rather depressing: I haven't
seen 90% of the records he likes, including some by players like
William Parker and Ken Vandermark that I've written about a lot,
as well as scads of people I've never heard of. I could probably
chase most of those down were I to get real aggressive about it,
but that doesn't seem worthwhile given my current uncertainty. Also
noted that I don't think the other 10% are all that good. Somewhere
in the middle of the task I saw a post where he congratulated himself
on crossing the one million unique visitor milestone. I recommend his
site, but it does seem a little incongruous with narrowly adhering
to a niche where a record that sells 500 copies is a blockbuster. I
don't watch my own stats enough to have any idea whether I'm within
a country mile of that, but I doubt it -- even after 12 years "on
Stan Youle wrote a very kind fan letter, which I'll save here for
lack of anyplace better:
Tom: I've been reading your wonderful blog for a few years now and,
without intending to insult the fine stuff emerging here at all, I
always thought the absence of a Comments section was a great move. (I
say this not knowing if you tried and discarded one, or have always
dreamed of one.) Anyway, something about the purity of not having one,
I really like. What was and is striking is the way your work carries
the sense of an audience without you appearing to check in with that
audience or even check it's there - although visitor stats might have
bolstered your resolve from time to time?? But even then, you don't
seem like a page-view stats kind of blogger. More an
appetite-for-the-world sorta guy.
One of the wonders of THIS forum is that I can take such an
opportunity to thank you for all the reading, the recommendations, the
long-running gag with the uncommunicative Voice, the list-making, the
politics, the recipes, and even the updates on your home renovations
(which in some Pepys-like fashion I find addictive!). And of course
heading into a jazz poll, I feel we're going to need you more than
ever . . .
Cheers to you, Mr Hull.
PS: the only thing I've never understood is your 'Quicksearch'
button, which seems to be a joke one. Even a search on 'Tom Hull'
gives the message: 1 results: no entries to print. Quirky.
Should deal with various other comments as well:
Thanks to Stan Youle for the kind words. I use a software package
called Serendipity (aka s9y) and I'm currently stuck with a pretty
old version of it, so that has something to do with the "features"
and "bugs" of the blog. Quicksearch is something they provided, but
it never worked very well and looks to be flat broken now. I hadn't
noticed because I have other methods for searching the thing, but now
that you mention it, I got rid of it. This particular version does
a real lousy job of handling comments, so they've always been more
hassle than they're worth (no anti-robot or anti-spam filtering, no
moderation scheme; just post-facto blacklists). Still, I think a
comment thread would be helpful and interesting, if only it were
Some other things: Social Living is one of those records
with a really checkered release history. My favorite version is
Island's 2003 release, which includes some later material. Had I
noticed it in my database instead of 1994's Blood & Fire it
might have cracked my top 10. Not sure when the first US release
was: Discogs says 2003, but Christgau has a 1980 release they
missed. I think Discogs is more accurate than AMG, but it's still
missing a lot of stuff, and has a few things wrong, too.
Germ Free Adolescents poses another problem, in that
the original LP didn't include their first single, "Oh Bondage
Up Yours!" Every CD reissue has included it, and that's a good
thing. This sort of expansion is everywhere and impossible to
ignore: Sun Ra's Disco 3000, expanded to 2CD to include
the whole concert, is a prime example; Billy Bang's New York
Collage, newly reissued on 2CD with an earlier album, is one
that has grown more powerful with time. (I can't comment on the
massive Springsteen expansion, except that I rated the original
at 195 of 201.)
As for Merle Haggard, anyone notice him namechecking Connie
Smith? Her new album is classic enough to deserve it.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Rhapsody Streamnotes (October 2011)
Pick up text here.
STB's 1978 poll results:
- Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food 439 (40) 
- Elvis Costello and the Attractions: This Year's Model 423 (36) 
- Wire: Pink Flag 423 (35) 
- Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People/Jesus of Cool 367 (35) 
- Blondie: Parallel Lines 294 (29) 
- The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope 259 (24) 
- Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove 252 (25) 
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents 233 (19) 
- Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town 215 (19) 
- Rolling Stones: Some Girls 212 (21) 
- Neil Young: Comes a Time 181 (23) 
- Big Star: 3rd 173 (13) 
- Willie Nelson: Stardust 171 (13) 
- Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 123 (13) 
- Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians 109 (7) 
- Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) 108 (13) 
- The Ramones: Road to Ruin 103 (13) 
- Television: Adventure 79 (8) 
- Ian Dury and the Blockheads: New Boots and Panties!! 70 (9) 
- Wire: Chairs Missing 69 (8) 
- Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade 69 (7) 
- Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy 58 (7) 
- The Vibrators: Pure Mania 50 (7) 
- Pere Ubu: Datapanik in the Year Zero EP 46 (3) 
- The Cars: The Cars 44 (4) 
- Patti Smith: Easter 40 (5) 
- Tom Robinson Band: Power in the Darkness 38 (6) 
- Lou Reed: Street Hassle 36 (5) 
- Parliament: Motorbooty Affair 35 (5) 
- David Johansen: David Johansen 34 (4) 
- Plastic People of the Universe: Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned 33 (5) 
- Marvin Gaye: Here My Dear 30 (5) 
- Johnny Thunders: So Alone 29 (5) 
- The Adverts: Crossing the Red Sea With the Adverts 26 (4) 
- Van Morrison: Wavelength 21 (2) 
- Devo: Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo 18 (2) 
- Lee Dorsey: Night People 18 (2) 
- Kate Bush: The Kick Inside 17 (2) 
- Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone 17 (2) 
- Bob Dylan: Street Legal 15 (3) 
Votes + runner-up mentions:
- Brian Eno: Before and After Science 13 (2) 
- Bob Marley: Kaya 10 (2) 
- Shoes: Black Vinyl Shoes 15 (2) 
- The Saints: Eternally Yours 11 (2) 
- Bob Seger: Stranger in Town 5 (1) 
- Dave Edmunds: Tracks on Wax 4 5 (1) 
- Culture: Africa Stand Alone 10 (1) 
- Sun Ra: Lanquidity 10 (1) 
- Al Green: Truth N' Time 10 (1) 
- Carla Bley: Live European Tour 1977 10 (1) 
- Sonny Rollins: There Will Never Be Another You 9 (1) 
- Chic: C'est Chic 5 (1) 
- Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer: The Bramble and the Rose 6 (1) 
- The Police: Outlandos D'Amour 8 (1) 
- Ashford and Simpson: Is It Still Good to Ya 5 (1) 
- Michael Mantler: Movies 7 (1) 
Multiple runner-up mentions, no points:
- Richard Pryor: Wanted 
- The Band: The Last Waltz 
- Kraftwerk: The Man-Machine 
- Bryan Ferry: The Bride Stripped Bare 
- Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight 
- The Buzzcocks: Another Music in a Different Kitchen 
- Poet and the Roots: Dread Beat an Blood 
- No New York 
- The Jam: All Mod Cons 
- Van Halen: Van Halen 
- Generation X: Generation X 
- Boston: Don't Look Back 
- Robert Ashley: Private Parts 
I see from Christgau's website that my actual 1978 back-in-the-day
Pazz & Jop ballot was:
- Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (Sire) 15
- Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank) 15
- Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire) 14
- Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (Columbia) 12
- Blondie: Parallel Lines (Chrysalis) 12
- The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope (Epic) 9
- Brian Eno: Before and After Science (Island) 8
- Dave Edmunds: Tracks on Wax 4 (Swan Song) 5
- Silver Convention: Love in a Sleeper (Midsong International) 5
- Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (Warner Bros.) 5
So aside from the shuffling, I dropped the Ramones, the Clash, Brian Eno,
Dave Edmunds, and Captain Beefheart in favor of X-Ray Spex, Joe Ely, Johnny
Thunders, Neil Young, and Willis Jackson. Two of those were imports ineligible
at the time. I've played Ely and Young more since then than almost any of
the others. Jackson was a rather silly token choice -- wanted to slip in a
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents 18
- Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 16
- Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People 12
- Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade 12
- Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food 10
- Blondie: Parallel Lines 8
- Johnny Thunders: So Alone 7
- Neil Young: Comes a Time 7
- Willis Jackson: Bar Wars 5
- Silver Convention: Love in a Sleeper 5
Longer list at:
http://goo.gl/Y1zYt. I suggested
counting down to the end of the A- list (Lee Dorsey) as HMs, but
don't know whether they were. Next ten (adding Wire and Vibrators
back in) were: Captain Beefheart, Rolling Stones, Brian Eno, Ramones,
Wire, Willie Nelson, Vibrators, Tom Robinson, Burning Spear (Social
Living), and Warren Zevon.
I had plum forgotten that my original Pazz & Jop ballot is
available at the end of Christgau's year-end essay, although I did
recall putting Talking Heads' even-numbered albums at the top of
three year end lists (their 2nd, 4th, and 6th albums), so I was
surprised that my original sort put it in 5th. Two then-ineligible
imports crashed my list, plus Joe Ely and Neil Young -- just went
through my last trip's travel case, and those were the only 1978
records I found I had packed. Then there was Willis Jackson: I
wanted a token jazz album (also picked up a token black artist).
I came up with a dozen jazz albums in my top sixty, but Bar
Wars was the only full A, and the others were clustered
near the bottom of the list. Next opportunity was Zoot Sims, and
next one after that was . . . another Zoot Sims. It turned out to
be a formative year for the avant-garde -- especially for David
Murray -- but was not yet a very compelling one.
I'm not sure whether including Jackson was a good idea, but it
was the one record I replayed before sending in the list, and it
sounded real good at the time -- it's in the running for the best
soul jazz record ever. The other unique choice on my list is the
German disco group Silver Convention, which got better and better
through five albums, peaking here. I don't recall anyone paying
the record any heed, but it was on my Pazz & Jop ballot as
well. In retrospect, as much as anything else, 1978 was pivotal
as the year disco went new wave -- the Eurodisco producers were
part of that, as was Blondie, as was (inadvertently) Wire.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Recycled Goods (90): October 2011
Pick up text here.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Music: Current count 18845  rated (+37), 849  unrated (-3).
Added grades for remembered LPs from way back when:
- Elizabeth Barraclough: Elizabeth Barraclough (1978,
- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band: Meets King Penett
- Robert Palmer: Double Fun (1978, Island):
- Graham Parker: The Parkerilla (1978, Mercury, 2LP):
Live throwaway, contract breaker, fourth side just a re-recorded
single. Most memorable thing from the period was his label-dissing
single, "Mercury Poisoning," which isn't listed here.
- Status Quo: Rockin' All Over the World (1977, Capitol):
- The Vibrators: V2 (1978, Epic): Big letdown from their
debut. UK only, so you have to figure the label agreed.
Changed previous grades:
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents (1978, Blue Plate):
[was: A] A+
Jazz Prospecting (JCG #28, Part 9)
I should be talking about closing out the current jazz prospecting
cycle, wrapping up and buttoning down another Jazz Consumer Guide column.
However, nine weeks after I submitted the last one it hasn't run, and
I'm hearing very little about it. (Left phone messages last week; shot
off yet another letter to the editor today.) So we're stalled, treading
Better than average bunch of records below, partly because the
Bang and Vandermark discs jumped ahead of the their queue slots,
partly because I pushed to get the Miles Davis bootleg ready for
Recycled Goods. (Same review will run both places, so consider
this a sneak preview. Fits both places for bookkeeping purposes,
and technically it's all new music -- except for the DVD. Often
I write separate pieces, but sometimes I get lazy.) The Carney
record also jumped the queue: I played it a lot, like the first
one a bit better, and nothing has lingered this week like his
"Linger Awhile." Couldn't easily find cover scans for the three
new A- records, and felt like Davis would be too redundant, so
I grabbed his. The world needs more serious jass, really.
Should have a Recycled Goods tomorrow with a lot of jazz reissues,
then a Rhapsody Streamnotes shortly after that.
Andrew Atkinson Quartet: Live: Keep Looking Forward
(2011, self-released): Drummer-led quartet, b. 1982 -- I read his
bio as saying in Jamaica, but somehow he wound up in Miami. First
album, with Tevin Pennicott on tenor sax, Jim Gasior on piano, and
Kurt Hengstebeck on electric bass. Atkinson, Pennicott, and Gasior
wrote one song each, plus one split between Atkinson and Pennicott;
plus four covers -- a Jobim, "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," and
two from Miles Davis (forgetting about Victor Feldman on "Seven Steps
to Heaven"). Group is fast, upbeat, a lot of fun. Pennicott's from
Georgia. I noticed him before when he lifted Kenny Burrell's Be
Yourself to HM status, and he's even better here, in a real sax
Wolfert Brederode Quartet: Post Scriptum (2010 ,
ECM): Pianist, b. 1974 in the Netherlands. AMG lists four albums, most
likely too few; his website shows 20, many under other names (especially
vocalist Susanne Abbuehl). Quartet includes Claudio Puntin (clarinets),
Mats Eilertsen (double bass), and Samuel Rohrer (drums). Originals,
including one each from Rohrer and Puntin, three from Eilertsen. Very
pretty, not quite lush.
Frank Carlberg: Uncivilized Ruminations (2011, Red
Piano): Pianist, from Finland, AMG lists nine albums since 1992 but
that's probably short. Album packaging is sort of a slate gray with
white (and light orange) type on it, which my eyes are nowhere near
up to deciphering. The music is kind of like that too: I've heard
enough to want to move on, but there is a lot of subtle contrasts
in the mix: two superb saxophonists in John O'Gallagher and Chris
Cheek, the invaluable John Hébert on bass, Michael Sarin on drums,
and Christine Correa on vocals. I often can't stand Correa's opera
voice, but this time it seems to fit naturally into the overall
Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project: Seriously (2011,
Smog Veil): San Francisco group, led by the sax/clarinet player from
Akron who started up in rock group Tin Huey, has long worked with Tom
Waits, and occasionally thrown off odd projects on the side. Second
group album. First was a dandy, and this comes close to hitting the
same sweet spot. Leads off with one from Buddy Tate, then Coleman
Hawkins, then two (of three) Ellington tunes. Quartet with keyboard,
bass, and drums, plus a guest guitarist on a couple cuts, vocalist
Karina Denike on two, a couple more vocals by guys in the band.
Ron Carter: Ron Carter's Great Big Band (2010 ,
Sunnyside): At one point, Morton & Cook (The Penguin Guide)
went through their big book counting names and concluded that the guy
who had appeared on the most albums was bassist Ray Brown, with just
over 300. I did a pretty comprehensive discography of William Parker
a while back and saw that he was closing in on 300 -- he's probably
topped it now, although not all of those albums would appear in any
given edition of The Penguin Guide. I've never tried that with
Ron Carter, but I've read claims that he's played on over 1000 albums.
That's hard to grasp but it's not inconceivable (figure 25 per year
for 40 years). He's certainly played on a lot -- I don't think I saw
a single one of the recent CTI reissues that he didn't play on. He
even has a lot more under his own name than I expected: AMG lists
53, but I've only picked up five. I've always found him tough to
figure, sometimes tempted to view him as someone just fortunate to
be in the right places -- above all Miles Davis's late-1960s quintet --
at the right time, but every now and then I hear something from him
that makes me wonder if he really isn't one of the foremost bassists
of his generation. This record doesn't settle anything. I think he
means us to parse the title as "(great) (big band)" rather than
"(great big) (band)" -- he's only an English horn over a standard
weight, and doesn't have a guitar. But most of the musicians are
names you'll recognize. He wrote 2 of 13 pieces, picked most of
the rest from the bebop generation (Gillespie, Stitt, Mulligan,
Lewis, Nat Adderley, Shorter, with nods to Ellington, Handy, and
Sy Oliver. Lays out plenty of solos for his stars. It's all very
neat, just not quite enough to bow you over.
Come Sunday: Crosscurrents (2011, self-released):
Vocal group -- Bill Brickey, Lindsay Weinberg, Alton Smith, Sue
Demel -- backed by guitar, bass, and drums, assuming the name of
the Duke Ellington song -- they also cite Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia
Jackson as inspirations. Thirteen gospel pieces, eight by trad.
Best news here is that Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Is 10 Zillion
Light Years Away" has entered the canon, but I'd much rather
hear Wonder do it.
Kris Davis: Aeriol Piano (2009 , Clean Feed):
Pianist, originally from Canada, based in New York. Has several
excellent records, but they've mostly featured top saxophonists
like Tony Malaby. This one is solo piano, inevitably a little
thin but interesting nonetheless, especially for her rhythmic
workings. Note that the inside photos show her leaning over the
box, not operating the keys.
Miles Davis Quintet: Live Europe 1967: Bootleg Vol. 1
(1967 , Columbia/Legacy, 3CD+DVD): Something like this was
inevitable -- especially since the DVD was slipped into the 70-CD
Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (now
no longer complete) -- and the Vol. 1 promises more are in
the works. (For comparison, Legacy's Dylan Bootleg series
is up to Vol. 9.) The sets were recorded Oct. 11-Nov. 7,
1967, which slots this between Nefertiti and Miles in
the Sky in the Davis discography, midway in an empty stretch
as far as live recordings go. The group is the Quintet you know
so well: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams.
The set lists recycle, with "Agitation" leading off the first two
CDs and both sets on the DVD -- it has a strong trumpet lead to
set the stage. Sophisticated music but not so exciting: on the
DVD the group is focused, cool and workmanlike, no excess motion
or emotion. Not a major find, but a remarkable group.
FAB Trio: History of Jazz in Reverse (2005 ,
TUM): Name comes from a fortunate combination of initials: Joe Fonda
(bass), Barry Altschul (drums), and Billy Bang (violin), whose death
last year makes this all the more precious. Group did a previous
album together, in 2003, Transforming the Space (CIMP) -- a
record I like at least as much as this one.
Marquis Hill: New Gospel (2011, self-released):
Trumpet player, based in Chicago, first album, a mainstream thing
with soulful integrity, the front line shared with two saxophones,
the rhythm section filled out with both piano and guitar. Modestly
runs 36:36 -- in a more commercial genre this would be counted as
Francisco Mela & Cuban Safari: Tree of Life (2010
, Half Note): Drummer, b. 1968 in Bayamo, Cuba. Third album since
2005. The first two were very impressive, but I've played this four
times now and already lost my thread of thought. Could do without the
vocals (Esperanza Spalding), for one thing.
Sean Nowell: Stockholm Swingin' (2010 ,
Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1973, third album, cut live at
the Glenn Miller Café in Stockholm with what appears to be a local
crew: Fredrik Olsson (guitar), Leo Lindberg (piano), Lars Ekman
(bass), and Joe Abba (drums), with three tunes credited to the
band members, one to Nowell, one Swedish trad, plus Ellington,
Strayhorn, and Tyner. Nowell is a mainstream guy who flexes a lot
of muscle, turning this into a high speed, high volume romp.
Oscar Perez Nuevo Comienzo: Afropean Affair (2011,
Chandra): Pianist, born in New York, father left Cuba in 1966.
Studied at University of North Florida and Queens College. Second
album, the first his subsequent group name. With Greg Glassman
(trumpet), Stacy Dillard (tenor/soprano sax), Charenee Wade (vocals),
bass, drums, percussion. Ends with the three part "The Afropean Suite"
but all the pieces are flowing suite-like things, the voice adding
an unsettling aura.
B [October 11]
Side A: A New Margin (2010 , Clean Feed):
Free jazz trio: Ken Vandermark (tenor sax, clarinet), Håvard Wiik
(piano), Chad Taylor (drums). First group album, although Wiik is
in Vandermark's Jimmy Giuffre-inspired Free Fall group and they
have five or so albums together, and Taylor has been bouncing
around Chicago's underground long enough he must have bumped into
Vandermark somewhere. Writing credits are evenly distributed.
Given recording date omits year, but the most likely October is
last year. Vandermark takes a clarinet feature with remarkable
grace and poise, but he mostly races through fast changes, loud
and rough yet they seem remarkably complete and coherent.
Geoff Vidal: She Likes That (2009 , Arts and
Music Factory): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1980, from New Orleans, based
in New York since 2006. First album, a postbop quintet with trumpet,
guitar, bass, and drums. Veers into fusion toward the end, with
guitarist Joe Hundertmark taking charge.
No final grades/notes this week on records put back for further
listening the first time around.
Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last week:
- Tony Bennett: The Classic Christmas Album (1968-2008, Columbia/Legacy): advance, October 11
- Greg Burk Trio: The Path Here (482 Music)
- Taylor Bynum Sextet: Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12)
- Lajos Dudas/Hubert Bergmann: What's Up Neighbor? (Jazz Sick)
- Fattigfolket: Park (Ozella Music)
- Keith Jarrett: Rio (ECM, 2CD): advance, November 8
- Paul Kikuchi: Portable Sanctuary Vol. 1 (Present Sounds)
- Harold O'Neal: Marvelous Fantasy (Smalls)
- Lola Regenthal: With You (Origin)
- Dino Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes (ECM)
- Sounds and Silence: Travels With Manfred Eicher (1980-2008, ECM)
- Tarana: After the Disquiet (EP) (self-released, EP)
- Wellstone Conspiracy: Humble Origins (Origin)
Sunday, October 02, 2011
A Downloader's Diary (15): October 2011
Insert text from here.
This is the 15th installment, monthly since August 2010, totalling
382 albums. All columns are indexed and archived
here. You can follow A Downloader's
Facebook, and on
Saturday, October 01, 2011
This week's scattered links and commentary (a day early so I can
get on to the big week of music coming up, starting with A Downloader's
Diary on Sunday):
Paul Hockenos: Heart of Dunkelheit:
A review of two recent books on the Germany's first taste of genocide
in 1904-08 when as colonial masters of South West Africa (now Namibia)
they attempted to exterminate the Herero and Nama. The books are Jeremy
Sarkin: Germany's Genocide of the Herero: Kaiser Wilhelm II, His
General, His Settlers, His Soldiers (2011, James Currey), and David
Olusoga/Casper W Erichsen: The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten
Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism (2010, Faber and Faber).
Curiously enough, I've long been familiar with this history as it forms
a key chapter in Thomas Pynchon's novel V. For the more general
view, also see Sven Lindqvist: "Exterminate All the Brutes": One Man's
Odyssey Into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide
(1992; paperback, 1996, The New Press).
Paul Krugman: Does Economics Still Progress?:
Expresses discomfort with describing economics as a science, then:
Still, when I was younger I firmly believed that economics was a field
that progressed over time, that every generation knew more than the
The question now is whether that's still true. In 1971 it was clear
that economists knew a lot that they hadn't known in 1931. Is that clear
when we compare 2011 with 1971? I think you can actually make the case
that in important ways the profession knew more in 1971 than it does
I've written a lot about the Dark Age of macroeconomics, of the way
economists are recapitulating 80-year-old fallacies in the belief that
they're profound insights, because they're ignorant of the hard-won
insights of the past.
What I'd add to that is that at this point it seems to me that many
economists aren't even trying to get at the truth. When I look at a lot
of what prominent economists have been writing in response to the ongoing
economic crisis, I see no sign of intellectual discomfort, no sense that
a disaster their models made no allowance for is troubling them; I see
only blithe invention of stories to rationalize the disaster in a way
that supports their side of the partisan divide. And no, it's not
symmetric: liberal economists by and large do seem to be genuinely
wrestling with what has happened, but conservative economists don't.
Krugman is right that there is an asymmetry between liberal and
conservative (or more generally left and right), but I think it's
more deeply rooted. The imposition of political ideology on social
and economic data is nothing new -- it's so inevitable that it's
pretty much something you have to factor in as part of the cost of
doing business (something the left is better at because they're
more conscious of how it works). But the deeper difference is that
conservative economic theories are fair weather theories: they
start with the assumption that capitalism works just peachy keen,
an assertion they can buttress empirically when it does and which
they have to obfuscate theoretically when it doesn't. On the other
hand, left and liberal economic theories (Marx and Keynes) were
developed in response to crises within capitalism -- Keynes aimed
at repair while Marx aimed at revolution, but both started with
empirical failures and built theories to explain them.
So now that we are again in a deep economic crisis, it is all
but inevitable that conservative theories will disconnect from
reality, and that left/liberal economists will find their entire
worldview confirmed in actual data -- indeed, I have to say that
Keynes has never looked so good. One result of this is that most
of the "progress" that conservative economists had claimed during
their post-1970 ascendancy -- which, by the way, was fueled more
by the political gains of the right than by their own genius --
has turned out to be empirically useless: that such "zombie ideas"
(cf. John Quiggin's book) persist at all has everything to do with
the tenacious political hold of the right. (In economics this is
partly explained by the fact that right-wingers like the Kochs
bankroll their own economics departments.)
Krugman concludes: "And all this makes me wonder what kind of
an enterprise I've devoted my life to." One, I would submit, eager
to peddle the ideas of the class that supports them.
Barry C Lynn/Phillip Longman: Who Broke America's Jobs Machine?:
This is an important piece for understanding why job markets continue
to contract even with the current economy growing (such as it is).
If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the
last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and
2009 -- nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the
1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a
20 percent increase in the number of jobs.
Many people blame the great real estate bubble of recent years. The
idea here is that once a bubble pops it can destroy more real-world
business activity -- and jobs -- than it creates as it expands. There
is some truth to this. But it doesn't explain why, even when the real
estate bubble was at its most inflated, so few jobs were created compared
to the tech-stock bubble of the late '90s. Between 2000 and 2007 American
businesses created only seven million jobs, before the great recession
destroyed more than that. In the '90s prior to the dot-com bust, they
created more than twenty-two million jobs. [ . . . ]
The problem of weak job creation certainly can't be due to increased
business taxes and regulation, since both were slashed during the Bush
years. Nor can the explanation be insufficient consumer demand; throughout
most of the last decade, consumers and the federal government engaged in
a consumption binge of world-historical proportions.
[ . . . ]
But while the mystery of what killed the great American jobs machine
has yielded no shortage of debatable answers, one of the more compelling
potential explanations has been conspicuously absent from the national
conversation: monopolization. [ . . . ] Less well
established is what role concentration plays in suppressing new business
formation and the expansion of existing businesses, along with the jobs
and innovation that go with such growth. Evidence is growing, however,
that the radical, wide-ranging consolidation of recent years has reduced
job creation at both big and small firms simultaneously. At one extreme,
ever more dominant Goliaths increasingly lack any real incentive to
create new jobs; after all, many can increase their earnings merely by
using their power to charge customers more or pay suppliers less. At
the other extreme, the people who run our small enterprises enjoy fewer
opportunities than in the past to grow their businesses. The Goliaths
of today are so big and so adept at protecting their turf that they
leave few niches open to exploit.
The balance of the article provides many examples of consolidation
and monopolization -- some obvious, some surprising. Then the authors
return to what has been done in the past to limit monopolies and to
Populists have often been charged with being naive romantics who pine
for a lost agrarian utopia. Yet in practice, most New Deal-era populists
were perfectly at ease with concentration of power; they simply wanted
the government to create at least some competition wherever possible
and to regulate monopoly in those cases -- like the provision of water
or natural gas -- where competition truly seemed wasteful. Indeed, many
of the populists were strong proponents of industrial efficiency; they
just didn't believe that unregulated industrial monopoly ever was more
efficient than competition among at least a few industrial firms. Under
the direction of Thurmond Arnold, the antitrust division of the Department
of Justice set out to engineer rivalries within large industries wherever
possible. In the late 1930s, for example, the government brought an
antitrust suit against Alcoa, which had commanded a monopoly over aluminum
production. As the suit dragged on through the '40s, the government sped
up the process by selling aluminum plants built with public money during
World War II to Alcoa's would-be competitors, Kaiser and Reynolds.
The result of the second New Deal was an economy in which competition
was regulated in three basic ways. "Natural" monopolies like water or gas
service were left in place, and regulated or controlled directly by
government. Heavy industry was allowed to concentrate operations to a
large degree, but individual firms were made subject to antitrust law
and forced to compete with one another. And in sectors of the economy
where efficiencies of concentration were far harder to prove -- retail,
restaurants, services, farming -- the government protected open markets.
One result was a remarkably democratic distribution of political
economic power out to citizens and communities across America. Another
was an astounding burst of innovation. As the industrial historian David
Hounshell has documented, the new competition among large corporations
led companies like DuPont and General Electric to ramp up their R&D
activities and fashion the resulting technologies into marketable products.
Smaller firms, meanwhile, were carefully protected from Goliaths, enabling
entrepreneurs to develop not merely ideas but often entire companies to
bring the ideas to market.
Antitrust enforcers weren't content simply to prevent giant firms from
closing off markets. In dozens of cases between 1945 and 1981, antitrust
officials forced large companies like AT&T, RCA, IBM, GE, and Xerox
to make available, for free, the technologies they had developed in-house
or gathered through acquisition. Over the thirty-seven years this policy
was in place, American entrepreneurs gained access to tens of thousands
of ideas -- some patented, some not -- including the technologies at the
heart of the semiconductor. The effect was transformative. In Inventing
the Electronic Century, the industrial historian Alfred D. Chandler
Jr. argued that the explosive growth of Silicon Valley in subsequent
decades was largely set in motion by these policies and the "middle-level
bureaucrats" in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division who enforced
them in the field.
I've always been a big antitrust advocate -- even before I started
identifying as a leftist, when I saw antitrust legislation as the most
fundamental tool the public has to ensure the fairness of free markets --
but hadn't thought specifically about how consolidation kills jobs:
even though that's the first concern of anyone who's been through a
merger, even though I lost my last job as a result of a merger (which,
by the way, was just a stepping stone on the way to dissolving both
By the way, I started reading Lynn's Cornered: The New Monopoly
Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction (2010, Wiley) a few
months back, and I need to get back to it. (Had it from the library,
ran out of time, then bought a copy but haven't returned to it yet.)
Lynn's previous book on globalization, End of the Line: The Rise
and Coming Fall of the Global Corporation (2005, Doubleday) is
also very smart.
Alex Pareene: JPMorgan's CEO Embraces Mitt Romney:
That would be Jamie Dimon, who's also embodies the concept of regulatory
capture by sitting on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York --
i.e., the place JPMorgan Chase goes for handouts and bailouts. Obama
once called Dimon a very savvy businessman, but Dimon got thin-skinned
when Obama made a passing remark about fat-cat bankers, so that romance
Dimon supporting a Republican is only natural. Billionaire financial
executives have obvious reasons to support a Republican presidential
candidate. The Republican party line is that rich people should keep
more of their money and the financial sector should be lightly or
not-at-all regulated. But when the "longtime Democrats" who also
happen to be bank executives make the switch to the Republican party,
they for some reason feel the need to come up with justifications
beyond material self-interest. Thus, flailing attempts at sustaining
the Democratic party's disappearing middle-class base by lightly
soaking the rich are seen as horrific personal attacks on innocent
bankers. This makes these billionaires seem like hypersensitive
children, but that is apparently preferable to being seen as attempting
to maximize their profit by directing political support to the people
most likely to allow them to continue vacuuming up and hoarding the
The Democratic party has been extraordinarily friendly to the
interests of the financial sector since the Clinton era, but they are
learning now what should've been obvious all along: It is impossible
to be more billionaire-friendly than the Republican Party,
because the Republican Party's entire political philosophy is that
government should exist solely to serve the interests of the wealthy.
Rory Stewart: My Uphill Battle Against the Afghanistan Intervention:
By which he means military "surge" operations, not sticking your nose
in. After the fall of the Taliban, he wrote a book about walking across
Afghanistan, then he signed on for the British recolonization of Iraq
(subject of another book), then ran an NGO in Kabul, so he's been
sticking his nose in plenty. It's just that he doesn't think that
sending thousands of troops to overrun someplace like Helmand is a
very good idea.
Nevertheless, I was confident that I was right. I tried to explain
that this was not based on any special insights about Afghanistan,
but instead on a sense of ourselves: the international community.
I felt I had learned in the Balkans and particularly in Iraq that
we -- the foreign government organizations and their partners --
know much less and can do much less than we pretend. I knew the
international community underestimated the reality of Afghan rural
life: they did not grasp just how poor, fragile, and traumatized
Afghanistan was; just how conservative and resistant to foreigners,
villages could be. Our institutions were too inherently optimistic,
too ad hoc, too isolated from the concerns and realities of Afghan
life, too caught up in metaphysical abstractions of "governance"
and "the rule of law" ever to succeed -- or to notice that we were
But I don't think I ever convinced a single international in
Kabul that "counterinsurgency" or "state-building" was doomed to
failure. I began, from my base in Kabul, to travel to the bewildering
international policy conferences to try to make the same arguments,
but I had no more success. In 2007, for example, I spoke in Tartu,
Estonia, at a government conference on Afghanistan. There were German
generals, Italian diplomats, and representatives from European think
tanks. The three Afghans present were almost the only native English
speakers in the room, having been brought up in California and Virginia.
The participants were reminded that there was "no military solution";
lectured on the need for a "comprehensive approach," including economic
development and good government; and taught the intricacies of Pashtun
tribal structures. I argued for my belief that there should not be
troop increases but a "light long-term footprint." The conference
concluded that more resources and a new strategy were needed.
[ . . . ]
At the end of 2008, I moved back to the United States to teach and
to run a center at the Harvard Kennedy School. This was, I felt, the
best chance I would ever get of convincing the international community
to stop increasing the number of troops and adopt a "plan B."
[ . . . ] And my real advantage was that I was not
alone. The center I was in at Harvard included six fellows who between
them had spent over a century in the region, and who were, therefore,
unlike me, real experts on Afghanistan. They covered every subject,
from agriculture to tribes and counterinsurgency; they spoke Afghan
languages fluently and were continually deep in the field. They were
now also arguing, with their own hectic travel schedules, and through
every conceivable channel and medium, against the current strategy
of further troop increases, and in favor of a lighter, more moderate
approach. Between us we briefed almost all of the major international
policy-makers, diplomats, generals, and foreign ministers. But in March
2009, seventeen thousand more troops were sent. We redoubled our
efforts to ensure that those were the last, and that the administration
would now adopt a different strategy. Then, in October 2009 -- four
years after I had begun a path where I did almost nothing other than
argue against troop increases -- Obama sent another thirty-four
Ballot for STB's 1978 enhanced P&J contest:
- X-Ray Spex: Germ Free Adolescents (Blue Plate) 18
- Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance (Blank) 16
- Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Now People (Columbia) 12
- Joe Ely: Honky Tonk Masquerade (MCA) 12
- Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (Sire) 10
- Blondie: Parallel Lines (Chrysalis) 8
- Johnny Thunders: So Alone (Real) 7
- Neil Young: Comes a Time (Reprise) 7
- Willis Jackson: Bar Wars (Muse) 5
- Silver Convention: Love in a Sleeper (MCA) 5
Picked the last two to be perverse -- good chance no one else will
pick them -- bumping Captain Beefheart and the Rolling Stones, Brian
Eno, Willie Nelson, Tom Robinson, and the Ramones: 4 A+, 12 A records.
A- records go down to number 62 on the
master list. I finally decided that
the Vibrators: Pure Mania and Wire: Pink Flag were 1977
releases (the latter out in December). I have both as A records, but
neither would have made the top ten list had I considered them 1978 --
but they wouldn't have missed by much.
Before I elevated Jackson I had no black artists and no jazz records
in the top ten (although the half-Somali singer in X-Ray Spex might beg
to differ). I was surprised by the lack of competitive jazz records --
the next ones down the list were by Zoot Sims, Art Pepper, and Zoot Sims,
followed by some Sonny Rollins vault material and Ornette Coleman, then
Enrico Rava, Don Pullen, and Dave Burrell. (Not counting two items that
were recorded in 1978 but probably unreleased until much later, one by
Bill Evans, the other by Dexter Gordon.)
Four albums missed the CG. Two were UK imports, not released in the
US for many years. The others were Jackson -- soul jazz, something
Christgau has repeatedly claimed to detest -- and Silver Convention,
a disco novelty band that got better after Christgau lost interest
(and which, as far as I know, has never been reissued on CD).
Significantly more records on the 1978 list than on the one I
worked up for 1983: mostly the result of paying more attention at
the time. Discogs has about 35,000 entries for 1983 vs. 25,000 for
1978, so even sampling of raw numbers would lead one to expect the
opposite. In both cases the numbers are way below what I've been
tallying recently -- the combination of jazz publicity and Rhapsody
has pushed me up toward 1,000 records per year, whereas my graded
list here ends with Meat Loaf at 201.
Copied the above and mailed it in as my ballot. Also posted the
For what it's worth, I did a master 1978 list:
It has about a third more rated records than my 1983 list did: 201
rated vs. 147, 61 A- or better vs. 51, both had 16 A (or better). I
was living in New York in 1978, still writing occasionally for the
Voice, and paying much more attention to what was coming out
than I did in 1983. I always regarded 1978 as some sort of peak year,
which it may have been in my personal life, so I'm struck by numerous
slumps -- it wasn't just that new wave triumphed, but nearly
everything else tanked. The funk and disco bandwagons that dominated
my mid-1970s lists ground to a halt. The singer-songwriters that
dominated the whole decade fared poorly. It was a rather weak year for
jazz -- I wound up with 18 (of 61) A- records, but they were clustered
near the bottom of the list, and I probably cheated to include two of
them (at least I doubt that they were released at the time). I wound
up slipping one jazz album into my top ten (which also resulted in
there being one black artist).
Trying to figure out a methodology for these retrospective lists --
what should be included and when, but don't have any set rules I'm
comfortable with. For instance, Two Sevens Clash was released
in various places in 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1986 (finally in the
US). I'm leaning toward 1977 there, although no one outside of Jamaica
would have known so at the time. I went with 1977 for Pink Flag
based mostly on Wikipedia's insistence that it came out in December
1977 and no evidence (other than Christgau) to the contrary -- I was
struck by the precision, although I know full well how misleading
precision can be. Release dates are really hard to pin down
retrospectively, and clearly lots of sources get them wrong. I came up
with a dozen cases where the Christgau database appears to be wrong
(cf. my master list), but it's quite possible I'm wrong about some of
More, partly in response to others:
In my 1978 list (and more generally) the rated records are
in rank order, best first, then descending. The grade brackets are
spaced out. (Sometimes I think I should reformat to make grades more
explicit, but that gets messy.) I didn't try to split up B+ into
brackets -- most of these ratings were done way back before I started
doing that. The "candidates" are alphabetical by artist name.
From Discogs I see that Two Sevens Clash was released on Joe
Gibbs Music in Jamaica in 1977, on Front Line in UK in 1978, on
Shanachie in US in 1987 (not 1986, the date I pulled off the top of my
head without looking it up), with various other releases elsewhere --
they also claim a 1980 US release on Joe Gibbs Music. Doesn't help
that there are two separate entries, so it looks more 1978 than it
is. Sometimes critics jump the release dates: my guess is that some
who wrote for NME in 1977 kept on eye out for Jamaican imports, much
as I did for UK imports then. (I even tracked down a Jamaican import
shop in the Bronx back then, but it was so inconvenient and I was so
ignorant it didn't do me much good.)
My copy of the first Buzzcocks album was a 1977 import. I listed it
in 1978 to line up with the US reissue. Such time gaps were the rule,
not the exception. My guess is that Pink Flag was released in
the UK in December 1977, but didn't show up in the US even as an
import until 1978. I just didn't find any documentation to support
that, and since it would have wound up in the 12-14 range on my list I
let it go. I figure on using my lists for future projects, so I'm not
really out to argue with whatever rulings apply here.