Monday, October 15. 2012
Music: Current count 20576  rated (+25), 643  unrated (+1).
Confused week: jazz enough to report, probably spent more time on Rhapsody Streamnotes, which will appear in a day or two -- not sure just when to pull the plug there. Rated count is a bit down. For one thing, I've played a number of jazz records I didn't feel like writing about yet. The two A- records took a lot of time, especially the SLF, and I'm still feeling they're pretty marginal. That's gotten me to wondering whether I've been too lax with A- grades this year, but the current list is at 80, which isn't much out of line with the expectation that I'll wind up around 120. (The 2011 list currently touts 131 A/A- records -- almost picked up another this week, before second thoughts backed me off.) So I'm probably being pretty consistent -- just a bit uncomfortable with how little time I can spend with all of these exceptional records.
I'm expecting to get little done this following week, what with guests coming and travel planned for the weekend into next week. So good chance for no Jazz Prospecting next Monday. (May even be hard to put a notice up.) The backlog queue has been piling up, so can't complain there (even though some times I still do).
Dan Block: Duality (2011 , Miles High): Reed player, mostly tenor sax and clarinet, but also here alto and baritone sax plus bass clarinet. Second album, nine duets and two trios -- one with bass/drums, the other with Scott Robinson and the same roster of reed instruments (at least that's what the credits suggest) plus Ted Rosenthal on piano (name misspelled; he appears on three cuts). His tenor sax cuts a deep swath, the clarinets impress as well, but the duets vary widely, with voice and vibes losing the pace. B+(**)
Chives: Dads (2012, Primary): Trio: Steven Lugerner (reeds), Matthew Wohl (bass), Max Jaffe (drums); first group album, all pieces jointly credited. The one we've heard of before is Lugerner, whose notable 2011 debut sprawled over two discs. This is much less ambitious, and more readily digestible, a compact sax/clarinet trio riffing smartly within the usual framework. B+(***)
The Billie Davies Trio: All About Love (2012, Cobra Basement): Drummer, website describes him as "post cool jazz & avant garde drummer" -- could parse that two ways, with a disconnect either way. Album, his first as far as I can tell, is a trio with trombone (Tom Bone Ralls) and bass (Oliver Steinberg). Tuneful -- well, anything with "Afro Blue" is that and this has two takes -- shifted into a lower register, a nice effect, more cool than avant, not my idea of post. B+(**)
Grupo Los Santos: Clave Heart (2010 , OA2): Latin-themed jazz group, based in New York, third album -- I liked their previous Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea quite a bit. I file them under tenor saxophonist Paul Carlon -- wrote 4 of 10 songs here, and has a mainstream tone that always gets my attention -- but bassist/bata-player David Ambrosio wrote the liner notes, and guitarist Pete Smith's email address is up for booking info. (Fourth member is drummer William "Beaver" Bausch, and a couple guests appear, notably tap dancer Max Pollak.) Not sure that the Cuba aficionados will be impressed, but a nice sax album with a little extra. B+(**)
Kelly McCarty 3: Roux Steady (2012, 72 Offsuit): Guitarist, plays 8-string, studied at Kansas State, based in Jacksonville; second group album, trio with tenor sax (John Diaz-Cortes) and drums (MJ Hall). Sax has some grit to it, and guitar some groove -- sounds like an organ-sax quartet minus organ, hardly missed here. B+(*)
Drew Paralic: Wintertime Tunes of Drew Paralic (2011 , self-released): Composer/arranger, from Brooklyn, fourth album, plays piano but not here. Six songs, two with vocals (Laura Kenyon), group includes tenor sax/clarinet (Mike McGinnis), piano (several players), bass, and drums. First song ("My Wintertime Sky") is catchy enough to be a standard, isolated bits of piano stand out (one song is called "How Bill's Heart Sings"), like the sax, but a bit scattered. B+(*)
Sonic Liberation Front: Jetway Confidential (2009-11 , High Two): This is percussionist Kevin Diehl's Baltimore-based Afro-Cuban group, built around the tuned bata drums at the center of Yoruba religio-cultural practice, their fifth album since 2000 (2004's Ashé a Go-Go remains the one to start with). Cut over a couple years with a spreadsheet of contributors, the horns grate sometimes, and the vocals go so deep into their roots they come out of a strange other world. Took me many plays to get into it, but a remarkable band, unique, and worth the trouble. A-
Weasel Walter/Mary Halvorson/Peter Evans: Mechanical Malfunction (2012, Thirsty Ear): Christopher Todd Walter was b. 1972 in Rockford, IL. He founded an avant-rock group, the Flying Luttenbachers, which featured Ken Vandermark on at least one album. He's described as a "composer and instrumentalist" -- credits are scanty here, but he seems to be the drummer. Halvorson plays guitar. She is a remarkable player with an erratic catalog that I don't fully appreciate, partly due to a spat with her publicist -- twice now her records have scored high in critics polls (meaning, among other things, that they were distributed widely, just not to me), and this year's Bending Bridges appears likely to be a third. Evans plays trumpet in the "bebop terrorist" outfit Mostly Other People Do the Killing, and likes to record solo albums on the side. Second album for the trio: avant noise, the guitar scratchy but probing, the trumpet poking through the clouds, the drummer on top of everything. A- [advance]
Sean Wayland: Click Track Jazz: Slave to the Machine (2012, Seed Music, 2CD): Pianist, mostly electronic keyboards here, b. 1969 in Sydney, Australia; has 21 since 1992 (the two volumes are available separately, at least on Bandwidth, but I haven't tried disentangling them here. Mostly groove pieces, cut with various guitar-bass-drums combos, Donny McCaslin tenor sax (2 cuts), Mark Shim EWI (1), Kristen Berardi vocal (1). B+(*) [advance]
Steve Williams & Jazz Nation with Eddie Daniels (2010 , OA2): Alto saxophonist, most of his background is in big band, including North Texas State, the Navy, and the Smithsonian, and now this group. Daniels is a well known clarinet player, has worked steadily since the late 1960s, and is special guest here, also writing 3 (of 8) songs -- Williams has four, and the other is by Mike Noonan. Solid group, few names I recognize, but hard to deny the thrill of the massed brass. B+(*)
Shingo Yuji: Introducing Shingo Yuji (2010 , Yujipan Music): Guitarist, b. in Kumamoto, Japan; based in Los Angeles since 2005. Debut album, mostly trio with bass and drums, first two cuts add tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, who makes an impression the rest of the album shies away from. Five originals; covers from Mingus, Lennon-McCartney ("Help"), and trad. B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
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