Streamnotes: February 25, 2019

So-so week, rated count actually a good deal more than I expected, given all the distractions. Since I went to weekly review dumps, I guess that means that the last Monday of the month is the closing date for the archive Streamnotes (February 2019). February's record total of 123 (91 new) is quite a bit less than January's 201 (153 new).

Still listening more to 2018 than 2019 records (15-4 below), even a couple hitherto unnoticed 2017 releases.


Most of these are short notes/reviews based on streaming records from Napster (formerly Rhapsody; other sources are noted in brackets). They are snap judgments, usually based on one or two plays, accumulated since my last post along these lines, back on January 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (12594 records).


Recent Releases

Ace of Cups: Ace of Cups (2018, High Moon): San Francisco band founded in 1967, originally five women, started to fall apart in 1970, disbanding in 1972 when no records -- some demos and live cuts eventually appeared in 2003, but regrouped for Wavy Gravy's 75th birthday party, and again in 2016 with four of the original members for this belated debut album. Period sound, mostly blues-based, until they start bringing guests in and it starts to shift and wander. B

Aceyalone & DJ Fatjack: 43rd & Excellence (2018, That Kind of Music): Underground rapper Eddie Hayes, started in 1995, attracted some attention for 2001's Accepted Eclectic but little notice lately, despite regular releases. Love the easy flow here, as well as the scratch-sample beats. Can't find anything on his producer-partner. A-

Ralph Alessi: Imaginary Friends (2018 [2019], ECM): Trumpet player, from San Francisco, often impressive on other folks' albums, released This Against That in 2002 and has used that as a group name, eventually landing on ECM in 2013. Third album there, front cover also names Ravi Coltrane (tenor/soprano sax), Andy Milne (piano), Drew Gress (bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). Rather laid back, although Coltrane has a sweet spot. B+(*)

Jakob Anderskov: Mysteries (2017 [2018], ILK): Danish pianist, more than a dozen albums since 2006, this the first I've heard, a trio with Adam Pultz Melbye (bass) and Anders Vestergaard (drums), recorded live at The Loft in Köln. B+(**)

Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain (2018, Fat Possum/Mama Bird): Singer-songwriter, from Phoenix, country-ish, soulful, rather sad. B+(*)

Julian Argüelles: Tonadas (2017 [2018], Edition): English saxophonist (tenor/soprano), first album 1990, this a quartet -- Ivo Neame (piano), Sam Lasserson (bass), James Maddren (drums) -- draws on Spanish for its titles (starting with "Tunes"), and doesn't skimp on the Latin tinge. B+(**)

Ehud Asherie Trio: Wild Man Blues (2018 [2019], Capri): Pianist, born in Israel, moved to Italy quite young, then to US at 9, taking lessons from Frank Hewitt at Smalls Jazz Club, sort of a bop-to-swing influence. Trio with Peter Washington and Rodney Green, playing eight standards, two from Charlie Parker, title tune from Louis Armstrong. B+(**) [cd]

Asleep at the Wheel: New Routes (2018, Bismeaux): Ray Benson's fiddle band from West Virginia, moved west to Austin back in the 1970s and discovered Western Swing -- my favorites of their records have been Bob Wills tributes (Ride With Bob in 1999, Still the King in 2015), although 2009's Willie and the Wheel (filed under Nelson) was even better. Trying to stand on their own here, with Katie Shore writing more songs than Benton (2.5-1.5), but they're still better off with Guy Clark and Johnny Cash ("Big River"). B+(*)

Dem Atlas: Bad Actress (2018, Rhymesayers): Rapper Joshua Evans Turner, stylized "deM atlaS," from Minneapolis, second album. Sings some, beats rockish, melodies too. B

August Greene: August Greene (2018, Fat Beats): Billed as a hip-hop supergroup, basically an alias for Common, with Samora Pinderhughes and a few more guest vocals, backed by Robert Glasper (keyboards), Burniss Travis (bass), and Karriem Riggins (drums). B+(**)

Bad Bunny: X 100RPE (2018, Rimas Entertainment): Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, Latin trap singer from Puerto Rico, not far removed from reggaeton, all rhythm, choppy words included. B+(*)

J Balvin: Vibras (2018, Universal Latin): Colombian, full name José Álvaro Osorio Balvin, tagged as reggaeton, a little more rockish beat than cumbia, fifth album, groove with some bounce. B+(**)

Rafiq Bhatia: Breaking English (2018, Anti-): Guitarist, born in North Carolina, of Indian descent via East Africa, second album, also plays in the experimental rock band Son Lux, and has side credits with David Virelles and Heems. Instrumental album, classified experimental, has some interesting twists and turns. B+(**)

Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (2019, So Ferocious): Singer-songwriter from Virginia, ran off at 16 to Oregon, then decided to turn pro and moved to Philadelphia but wound up in New Orleans. Never heard of her before, but sixth album since 2005 -- catchy, quotable, clever, sometimes cute, but bucks up when the going gets tough. A-

Blueprint: Two-Headed Monster (2018, Weightless): Rapper/producer Albert Shepard, from Columbus, Ohio, got noticed for his Rhymesayers debut (1988 in 2005) but ignored for a steady stream of self-released albums since 2003. Guest shots here include Slug, Mr Lif, and Aceyalone. "Good Guys Get Ignored"? That's a shame. A-

Martin Blume/Wilbert De Joode/John Butcher: Low Yellow (2016 [2018], Jazzwerkstatt): Drums, bass, tenor sax, respectively, recorded live in Slovenia. B+(**)

Moses Boyd Exodus: Displaced Diaspora (2018, Exodus): Drummer, born in London, straddles jazz and electronica, best known as half of Binker and Moses, first album on his own or in this group -- if that's what this is: I count 17 credits, including three vocalists, four bata drummers (who also sing some), Binker Golding on tenor sax, Nubya Garcia on bass clarinet, synth and guitar in the middle, and tuba in lieu of bass. Opens and closes with African chants, strong pieces. B+(***)

BTS: Love Yourself: Tear (2018, Big Hit): South Korean boy band, one of the world's biggest K-pop bands, easily the best-selling one in the US. Big pop production, nothing very exotic other than the language, but nothing I've latched onto either. B

Mariah Carey: Caution (2018, Epic): Big pop star, or r&b diva, at least in the 1990s following her nine-platinum debut, although the two records I sampled -- the debut and a 1998 compilation of her #1's -- never tempted me to dig deeper. This is her 15th studio album, and while sales are a tiny fraction of her peak, this reached 5 on the charts, and seems to have gotten more critical respect than ever. Don't know why, but not so bad.. B

Hayes Carll: What It Is (2019, Dualtone): Country singer-songwriter from Texas, sixth album since 2002, Trouble in Mind (2008) his best, but this is pretty close, rocks a little harder, worries about "Times Like These," honors "Jesus and Elvis." A-

Layale Chaker & Sarafand: Inner Rhyme (2018 [2019], In a Circle): Violinist, in Brooklyn, backed by cello, bass, piano, and percussion -- I suspected oud, given the Middle Eastern improv, but none listed. B+(**) [cd]

Jon Cleary: Dyna-Mite (2018, FHQ): Singer-songwriter, pianist, born in England but long-based in New Orleans, called his first album (1989) Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice. Rocks out on the title song, but wimps out later on, when "Best Ain't Good Enuff" proves inadvertent. B+(*)

Marilyn Crispell/Tanya Kalmanovitch/Richard Teitelbaum: Dream Libretto (2018, Leo): Piano-violin-electronics, at least for the 5-part, 25:00 title piece, a memorial for various deaths, some old, some recent, not quite a dirge but not very lively. Teitelbaum, who wasn't very engaged in the first place, then drops out for seven improv duets, just piano and violin. B+(*)

Stephan Crump's Rosetta Trio: Outliers (2017 [2019], Papillon): Bassist, trio adds two guitarists -- Liberty Ellman and Jamie Fox -- which makes this primarily a guitar record, intricate and not overly aggressive. B+(**) [cd]

Cypress Hill: Elephants on Acid (2018, BMG): Pioneering Latino American hip hop group, first album 1991, only their second since 2004. Throws you a curve at first, then settles into something solid, with an impact. B+(**)

Chuck D as Mistachuck: Celebration of Ignorance (2018, SpitSLAM): Public Enemy leader, fourth solo album, one in 1996 (Autobiography of Mistachuck), third since 2014 (sandwiched around Public Enemy albums). Opens and closes with "LeBron building schools/45 building walls" then a lot of "tired of 45." He's angry, comes on hard, but also keeps it short (32:51), almost cryptic. B+(***)

Michael Dease: Reaching Out (2017 [2018], Posi-Tone): Trombonist, eighth album since 2005, covers include Steve Turre and Conrad Herwig, "Live and Let Die" and Babyface. With Walt Weiskopf on alto/tenor sax, Ralph Bowen on tenor (8/11 tracks), piano, bass, drums, labelmate Behn Gillece on vibraphone (3 cuts). Trombone leads are fine, sax solos too, but the harmony gets mushy. B

Michael Dease: Bonafide (2018, Posi-Tone): Trombone choir (leader, Marshall Gilkes, Conrad Herwig, plus Gina Benalcazar on bass trombone), plus tenor sax (Sam Dillon) and rhythm (David Hazeltine, Todd Coolman, EJ Srickland). B+(**)

Michael Dessen Trio: Somewhere in the Upstream (2016 [2018], Clean Feed): Trombonist, fourth trio album, with Christopher Tordini on bass and Dan Weiss on drums. One title, split into eight parts. B+(***) [sp]

Jose Dias: After Silence Vol. 1 (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): Portuguese guitarist, first album, solo, improvised aside from excerpts from Man Ray dating from the 1920s. B+(**)

Dinosaur: Wonder Trail (2018, Edition): British quartet, second album, Laura Jurd (trumpet) the leader, with Elliot Gavin (synth), Conor Chaplin (electric bass), and Corrie Dick (drums). I like the trumpet but the vocal pieces have scant jazz interest. B

Double Dee & Steinski: Lesson 4: The Beat (2018, self-released): Doug DiFranco and Steven Stein, hip-hop producer duo, gained a measure of fame in 1983 when they pieced together a 12-inch single called "The Payoff Mix" -- Christgau graded A+ a 1985 EP that added "Lesson Two" and "Lesson 3," but lacking clearances it was hard to find (at least until it appeared on Steinski's 2008 compilation, What Does It All Mean?). Not sure when this dates from, but several others continued the "Lesson" series, with a "Lesson 4" from DJ Shadow in 1991 and another from Cut Chemist in 1993. This is billed as an EP, featuring ADA (turntables) with three takes of "Lesson 4: The Beat" (11:07-14:35) and two mixes of "This Music" (3:25-4:20). Remains sketchy at best. B+(**) [bc]

Mats Eilertsen: And Then Comes the Night (2018 [2019], ECM): Norwegian bassist, many side credits, a dozen albums since 2004, second on ECM, a trio with Harmen Fraanje on piano and Thomas Strønen on drums. Lovely. B+(**)

Endangered Blood: Don't Freak Out (2018, Skirl): New York quartet, originally came together to play in a benefit for Andrew D'Angelo. Their eponymous first album listed the names in alphabetical order, so I filed it under drummer Jim Black -- followed by Trevor Dunn on bass, with two saxophonists -- Chris Speed on tenor and Oscar Noriega on alto. (D'Angelo recovered, and Speed and Black still play in a band with him called Human Feel.) A-

Erin Rae: Putting on Airs (2018, Single Lock): Folkie singer-songwriter, dropped last name McKaskle, first solo album, two previous albums as Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles. B+(*)

Sue Foley: The Ice Queen (2018, Stony Plain): Blues singer-guitarist, originally from Ottawa, Canada, moved to Austin at 21, becoming my favorite blues performer of the 1990s. First solo album since 2006 (discounting two duos with Peter Karp 2010-12). B+(***)

Kinky Friedman: Circus of Life (2018, Echo Hill): Self-billed "Texas Jewboy," used all the irony he could muster to cut a good record in 1973, coasted a lot since then, but at 74 heard Willie Nelson whispering in his ear to write more songs, so he did. Bring up politics and you'll find he's turned into a crank, but he's pretty mellow here. B+(*)

Nick Grinder: Farallon (2018 [2019], self-released): Trombonist, from California, based in New York, second album, postbop quintet with Ethan Helm (sax) and Juanma Trujillo (guitar). B+(*) [cd]

Joshua Hedley: Mr. Jukebox (2018, Third Man): Country singer-songwriter, from Florida, plays fiddle and guitar, first album, trad sound, often leading with the violin. Songs remind me of a number of better ones. B

G Herbo: Humble Beast (2017, Machine): Chicago rapper, Herbert Wright III, started out as Lil Herb, first studio album after four mixtapes. Dense. B+(*)

G Herbo & Southside: Swervo (2018, Machine/Epic/Cinematic/150 Dream Team/808 Mafia): Rapper and producer, the latter's name referencing his native Atlanta (not the rapper's Chicago). Maybe no denser, but definitely faster. B+(*)

Hot 8 Brass Band: On the Spot (2017, Tru Thoughts): New Orleans brass band, first album 2005, led by tuba player Bennie Pete, presumably an octet but credits (where I can find them) are more scattered. Probably shouldn't bother with less than half the album available, but they're hot and funky out of the gate, unlikely to wear down. [4/11 cuts, 25:58.] B+(*) [bc]

Hot 8 Brass Band: Take Cover (2019, Tru Thoughts, EP): Five cut, 21:04 EP, giving covers like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Give Me the Night" the same overpowering, overwrought treatment. B+(*) [bc]

Charlotte Hug & Lucas Niggli: Fulguratio: Live at Ad Libitum 2016 (2016 [2018], Fundacja Sluchaj): Swiss duo, Hug's credit is "viola & voice," Niggli "drums & percussion." Hug's discography goes back to 1999, seems to be much more viola than voice; indeed, hard to call what she does here as singing, but in either mode she intensifies. B+(**) [bc]

Mick Jenkins: Pieces of a Man (2018, Cinematic): Chicago rapper, born in Alabama but mother moved him north when he was 10. Second album, more mixtapes since 2012. B+(*)

Cody Jinks: Lifers (2018, Rounder): Country singer-songwriter, born in Denton, TX, started in a thrash metal band, half-dozen albums since 2008. B+(*)

Darren Johnston/Tim Daisy: Crossing Belmont (2017, Relay): Trumpet-drums duo, Johnston born in Canada and based in San Francisco since 1997, Daisy from Chicago. Cover picture looks to be early construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, very eerie. Two pieces, 35:17 total. B+(***) [bc]

K.A.A.N.: Subtle Meditation (2018, Redefinition): Rapper Brandon Perry, from Maryland, acronym stands for Knowledge Above All Nonsense, Wikipedia lists this as his first album, after 17 mixtapes (since 2014). Underground like MF Doom. A- [bc]

José Lencastre Nau Quartet: Eudaimonia (2018, FMR): Alto saxophonist, name looked familiar but I had confused him with drummer João Lencastre, present here, along with Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano) and Hernâni Faustino (bass), two-thirds of RED Trio. Slow to get going, impressive at speed, rhythm section is key there. B+(**) [bc]

José Lencastre Nau Quartet: Fragments of Always (2016 [2017], FMR): Same group, first album together, stumbles on occasion but impressive power and speed. B+(***) [bc]

Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry (2018 [2019], ECM): Tenor saxophonist, one of the greats, also credited with tarogato and gong, in a trio with Marilyn Crispell on piano and Carmen Castaldi on drums. While the music is tricky as expected, everyone plays it so politely you're never challenged -- except perhaps on the closer, 'The Smiling Dog." B+(**)

Ahmoudou Madassane: Zerzura (2018, Sahel Sounds): Tuareg guitarist, plays in Les Filles de Illighadad, posits his album as a soundtrack to the "first ever Saharan acid Western . . . a meditation on the mysteries of the Sahara." Evocative, preferring the background. B+(**)

Marlowe: Marlowe (2018, Mello Music Group): Hip-hop duo, beatmaker L'Orange and rapper Solemn Brigham. Beats slip and slide, spoken dressing has a Doom-ish comix air. B+(***)

Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues (2019, Jazz Village): Born in New York, parents Haitian, father "ran a New York based Haitian socialist newspaper," mother founded "an anti-domestic violence human rights organization," lived a couple years in Ghana, played cello in Carolina Chocolate Drops, also banjo and guitar, first solo album was a tribute to Langston Hughes. This is her third. Title song rings true, and the calypso "Money Is King" is even better. Got heavier, and the screechy guitar threw me for a loop until I looked up the song title, "Aleppo." She follows that with what sounds like a Haitian lullaby, then some Cajun woo-pitching. Not sure I'm ready for all this. A-

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (2019, The Royal Potato Family): Drummer, group named for her 2010 debut album, retaining Jenny Scheinman (violin), Myra Melford (piano), and Todd Sickafoose (bass) from the debut, adding Ben Goldberg (clarinet) and Kirk Knuffke (cornet) for their second outing. That's a lot of talent, neatly balanced, the violin a bit up front. A-

Muncie Girls: Fixed Ideals (2018, Buzz): British post-punk band, second album, group name a Sylvia Plath reference, vocalist-bassist Lande Hekt and two blokes. Upbeat, almost cheery. B+(**)

Murs: A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable (2018, Strange Music): Rapper Nicholas Carter, from Los Angeles, moniker stands for Making Underground Raw Shit, 25 albums since 1997. B+(***)

Thiago Nassif: Três (2015 [2018], Foom): Brazilian, third album, sings, plays guitar, bass, synth, with scattered guests, notably Arto Lindsay, who produced here, while Nassif co-produced Lindsay's 2017 album Cuidado Madame. Picks up where Lindsay's badly bent postpunk tropicalia leaves off. A-

Larry Ochs/Nels Cline/Gerald Cleaver: What Is to Be Done (2016 [2019], Clean Feed): Credit order from front cover, although label reverses the order. Sax-guitar-drums trio, more tenor than soprano, all joint improv, two 20-minute pieces, one 6:04. Starts with a strong sax lead. Ends with equally strong guitar. In between is murkier. B+(**)

Ohmme: Parts (2018, Joyful Noise): Chicago duo, Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, both started as pianists but have come to prefer guitar for its noise potential, and probably play everything else (aside from Matt Carroll on drums), as well as sing in and out of tight harmony. B+(**)

On the Levee Jazz Band: Swinging New Orleans Jazz (2018, Big Al): New Orleans trad jazz outfit led by drummer Hal Smith, logo adds "A Tribute to Kid Ory," takes its name from a club owned by Ory. Clint Baker is front and center on trombone, Ben Polcer trumpet, Joe Goldberg clarinet, plus piano-guitar-bass. Fourteen songs, all "good ol' good 'uns" as Satch liked to say. I'm sure I've heard them all before, but not better, at least not lately. A- [bc]

Ulysses Owens Jr.: Songs of Freedom (2018 [2019], Resilience Music): Drummer, originally from Florida, plays with Christian McBride (trio and big band), has a couple albums under his own name. A tribute to three singer-songwriters, women with some affinity for jazz and justice -- Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, and Joni Mitchell -- employing three singers: Theo Bleckmann, Alicia Olatuja, and Joanna Majoko. Other credits are scarce -- maybe because the CD doesn't drop until March, and streamers are not supposed to care. B+(*)

Carly Pearce: Every Little Thing (2017, Big Machine): Country singer from Kentucky, first album, shares 8 writing credits (out of 13 songs). Generic writing-by-committee is topped by overkill production. B-

Rich Pellegrin: Down (2014 [2019], OA2): Pianist, third album on label, all original pieces, most quintet (trumpet, tenor sax, bass, drums), final piece uses the Mizzou New Music Ensemble (flute, clarinet, strings, percussion). B [cd]

Phonte: No News Is Good News (2018, Foreign Exchange): Rapper Phonte Lyshod Coleman, from North Carolina, second solo album after tours with Little Brother and The Foreign Exchange. B+(**)

Jim Piela: Out of Orbit (2018 [2019], Orenda): Alto saxophonist, studied at NYU, based in New York, has a previous album (Non Fiction). Postbop, pianoless quartet with Joey Lamb on trumpet, plus bass and drums. B+(***) [cd]

Pilgrims [John Wolf Brennan/Tony Majdalani/Marco Jencarelli]: Oriental Orbit (2017, Leo): Names on the spine, group name above them on the cover. Each is credited with many instruments, but the main categories are piano, percussion, and guitar, with vocals by Brennan (3 tracks) and Majdalani (6). Expansive jazz on a global scale. B+(*)

Verneri Pohjola/Maciej Garbowski/Krzysztof Gradziuk: Gemstones (2017 [2018], Fundacja Sluchaj): Trumpet-bass-drums trio, the leader Finnish, with close to ten albums. B+(**) [bc]

Popcaan: Forever (2018, Mixpak): Jamaican dancehall shouter, second album. B+(**)

Chris Potter: Circuits (2019, Edition): Postbop tenor saxophonist, possibly the most acclaimed of his generation, discography to my ear is hit and miss but at any time he's capable of ripping off a jaw-dropping solo. With James Francies (keyboards) and Eric Harland (drums), plus Linley Marthe (electric bass) on 4/9 tracks. Band does him no favors here. Sometimes he comes close to salvaging in spite of them, but they're hard to shake or ignore. B-

Protoje: A Matter of Time (2018, Easy Star): Reggae singer, Oje Ken Ollivierre, fifth album (plus 4 mixtapes). B+(*)

RAM: RAM 7: August 1791 (2018, Willibelle): Haitian group, more or less, the date a reminder of the start of the revolution against French rule and slavery. Big groove record, doesn't sustain much interest. B

Dave Rempis/Brandon Lopez/Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets (2018 [2019], Aerophonic): Avant sax-bass-drums trio, the latter also credited with electronics, the saxophones plural but not specified but I'd say mostly tenor. I'd also say tour de force. A- [cd]

Scott Robinson: Tenormore (2018 [2019], Arbors Jazz): Saxophonist, plays every one ever invented, settles on tenor here but gets uncommon range, starting with soprano notes. Quartet with Helen Sung (piano/organ), Martin Wind (bass), and Dennis Mackrel (drums), guest flute on one track, half originals, half classics, exceptionally gorgeous. A- [cd]

Javier Santiago: Phoenix (2016 [2018], Ropeadope): Pianist, from Minneapolis, first album, also plays keyboards, trumpet (one track), and is credited with vocals (as is J Hoard and Proper-T), a real blight on a tolerable funk/fusion album. Other musicians come and go. Nicholas Payton even leaves a memory. B

Shad: A Short Story About War (2018, Secret City): Canadian rapper Shadrach Kabango, born in Kenya, parents refugees from Rwanda, sixth album since 2005. Probably pretty smart, but the music got a little heavy for me. B+(*) [bc]

Shannon Shaw: Shannon in Nashville (2018, Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch): Solo debut for name singer in Oakland garage-punk band Shannon & the Clams, also involved with queercore band Hunx and His Punx. Cover looks retro, like she's been preserved in amber since the early 1960s. Nothing country about her pilgrimage -- I'm a bit reminded of Dusty in Memphis, but it's not about soul either. More big, tacky arrangements, which is Nashville's signature these days. B+(***)

Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature (2018 [2019], ESP-Disk): Piano trio with Michael Bisio (bass) and Taylor Baker (drums). B+(***)

Wayne Shorter: Emanon (2015-16 [2018], Blue Note, 3CD): Came out September 14, 2018, but withheld from streaming services (and not getting anything from Blue Note these days) this wound up being the only album to finish top-40 in Jazz Critics Poll that I hadn't heard. Still, it won the poll, getting more points but fewer votes than two runners up. Two live sets from his Long-running (at least since 2001's Footprints Live!) quartet -- Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass), and Brian Blade (drums) -- plus a string-drenched performance with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Nothing prepared me for now awful -- ponderous, hackneyed, convoluted, dispeptic -- the orchestral music is. The quartet sets hint at something better, but they're spotty. B-

Jorja Smith: Lost & Found (2018, FAMM): British r&b singer, father Jamaican, first album, nice flow. B+(**)

Zhenya Strigalev: Blues for Maggie (2017 [2018], Whirlwind): Alto saxophonist, from Russia, studied in London, based in New York, but recorded this (her fourth album) in Netherlands and Austria. Also credited with soprano sax, alto box, and electronics. Backed by Federico Dannemann (guitar), Linley Marthe (bass guitar, keyboards), and Eric Harland (drums). B+(*) [bc]

Tony Tixier: Life of Sensitive Creatures (2016 [2017], Whirlwind): French pianist, twin brother Scott Tixier a notable violinist, fifth album, a trio with Karl McComas Reichl (double bass) and Tommy Crane (drums). B+(**) [bc]

Ricardo Toscano: Quartet (2018, Clean Feed): Cover seems straightforward to parse although Discogs, following the label, adds an implicit "Feat." to the three names below the title line: João Pedro Coelho (piano), Romeu Tristão (double bass), João Lopes Pereira (drums). Leader plays alto sax, debut album. B+(**)

Jeff Tweedy: Warm (2018, dBpm): Alt-country singer-songwriter, led Uncle Tuppelo 1987-94, Wilco through 2016, followed by a solo album of remakes and now this one of new songs. I doubt he's done with the band, but wanted something a bit more intimate and easy-going, and he's got that here. B+(**)

Valee: GOOD Job, You Found Me (2018, GOOD Music, EP): Chicago rapper Valee Taylor, had a half-dozen mixtapes before getting a label deal which has thus far only produced this 6-cut, 14:30 EP, just short verbal stabs riding on minimal beats. B+(**)

Kate Vargas: For the Wolfish & Wandering (2018, self-released): Singer-songwriter based in New York, DIY but not particularly country/folk, interesting voice, possibly songs too. B+(*)

Vestbo Trio: Gentlemen . . . (2019, Dog Hound): Finnish trio -- Michael Vestbo (guitar), Jesper Smalbro (electric bass), Eddi Jarl (drums), plus organ on two cuts -- several albums since 2012. Strikes me as pretty easy going, but picks up a bit. B+(*) [bc]

Jack White: Boarding House Reach (2018, Third Man): Former White Stripes auteur/impressario, fronted the Raconteurs, then he Dead Weather. Started in bare bones rock and roll, created a label specializing in Americana, revived Loretta Lynn's career. Third solo album, sounds like he's trying his hand at hip-hop, except this isn't hip and doesn't hop. B-

Kelly Willis: Back Being Blue (2018, Premium): Country singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, considered neotrad, first album in 1990, last two duets with husband Bruce Robison, so this is her first solo since 2007. Nice sound, but in one awkward moment she refers to Cassius Clay, who chose the name everyone uses even before she was born. B+(*)

Luke Winslow-King: Blue Mesa (2018, Bloodshot): Singer-songwriter from Michigan, based in New Orleans, dropped his last name (Balzuweit), filed under blues which may be technically right but he's more wistful than downtrodden. But he makes something of that. B+(*)

Nate Wooley & Torben Snekkestad: Of Echoing Bronze (2015 [2018], Fundacja Sluchaj): Avant trumpet duo, the latter also credited with soprano sax for this improv set live in Copenhagen. Hard to get much going in this format. B [bc]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Gboyega Adelaja: Colourful Environment (1979 [2018], Odion Livingstone): Nigerian, I'm guessing, Afrobeat at least, with ties to Shina Williams and Tony Allen. Short album (7 cuts, 30:28). B+(**)

African Scream Contest 2 (1970s [2018], Analog Africa): More crate digging in Benin by Samy Ben Redjeb, "a new treasure trove of Vodoun-inspired Afrobeat heavy funk crossover greatness," dates uncertain but more likely earlier than later, groups even less famous. B+(***) [bc]

Big Star: Live at Lafayette's Music Room (1973 [2018], Omnivore): Alex Chilton's breakthrough Memphis pop-rock band, three months after they named their debut #1 Record only to watch it flop. Not that I don't recognize nearly every song, but my memory says they should all be sharper and catchier than this. The covers pick up a bit. B+(*)

Big Star: Live on WLIR (1974 [2018], Omnivore): Before the break up, a radio shot recorded in New York, reprising 9 of 12 songs from Radio City, 4 from #1 Record, 2 more. Two more cuts: "Motel Blues," and an awkward bit of interview wedged into the middle of the disc where it's uninteresting the first time and unwanted thereafter. This seems to be the same set released by Rukodisc in 1992 as Live. B+(**)

Anthony Braxton: Sextet (Parker) 1993 (1993 [2018], New Braxton House, 11CD): A massive expansion of the sessions and live tour that produced the 2-CD Charlie Parker Project 1993. I was pretty down on Parker back then, so the first thing I noticed was that Braxton had alto sax chops Parker could only dream of (but then I often thought that Braxton was most brilliant playing other's music). I didn't recall the brilliant band Braxton assembled for the project: Ari Brown (tenor/soprano sax), Paul Smoker (trumpet/flugelhorn), Misha Mengelberg (piano), Joe Fonda (bass), and Han Bennink (drums, except for 6, of 68, cuts with Pheeroan akLaff). Too much to digest, especially on computer -- the physical package was limited to 500 copies and quickly sold out, presumably to the 1% -- and I doubt you actually need, for instance, six takes of "Klactoveedsedstene." Still, much of this is magnificent. A- [bc]

A Certain Ratio: acr:set (1980-94 [2018], Mute): British post-punk/new wave group, recorded for Factory Records, found a dance groove in dank industrial grunge. Scattered singles, odd cuts, mixed bag. Atypical, but best rhythm track: "Si firmir o grida." B+(*)

Alex Chilton: From Memphis to New Orleans (1985-89 [2019], Bar/None): Pop anti-star from Memphis, had a number one hit as a teenager, led a legendary pop-rock band in the early 1970s, recorded erratically as a solo act from 1978 until his death in 2000. Mostly this draws from EPs just before and after his 1986 move from Memphis to New Orleans, about half covers. I don't think this makes as good a case for his genius as 19 Years, the Rhino compilation which leans a bit earlier (including 5 Big Star tracks, plus 5 tracks that reappear here). A-

Dur Dur of Somalia: Volume 1, Volume 2, & Previously Unreleased Tracks (1986-87 [2018], Analog Africa, 2CD): From Mogadishu, capitol of one of the poorest countries in Africa, even before George Bush (take your pick, but HW was the first to send in troops), Osama Bin Laden, and a series of Ethiopian tyrants eviscerated much of the country. Organ-centric grooves, rocksteady guitar, several singers. B+(***)

Asnake Gebreyes: Ahadu (1988 [2018], Buda Musique): Ethiopian singer, 25 when he released on cassette, more recently has worked in the French band UkanDanz. In some ways very typical, dry vocals and cheesy keyb, but finds a groove and breaks it in deep. B+(***)

Fred Hersch Trio: Heartsongs (1989 [2018], Sunnyside): Early piano trio -- Hersch's first records appeared in 1984 -- with Michael Formanek on bass and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Half originals (including one from the bassist), two by Wayne Shorter, one each Gershwin, Monk, and Ornette Coleman. B+(**)

King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller (2018, BMG, 2CD): An obscure but first-rate Nashville songwriter until 1964-65, when a string of novelty hits -- "Dang Me," "Chug-a-Lug," "Do-Wacka-Do," most importantly "King of the Road" -- made him a star, landed him a TV show, and ruined the rest of his career, leaving him dead at 56 in 1992. Could be some of these pieces are old ("Old Friends" is one), and they've cut in bits of banter from Miller himself. I recognize, even love, nearly all of the songs, but the performances are hodge-podge, all over the place. B+(**)

The Louvin Brothers: Love and Wealth: The Lost Recordings (1952-55 [2018], Modern Harmonic, 2CD): Early demos, I'm guessing on the dates ("first half of the 1950s" -- their first album appeared in 1956, first single in 1955, but I've heard other material as early as 1952). One of the great brother acts in country music, their harmonies unearthly, their souls tortured. Second half turns to their notoriously ill-tempered gospel music, starting with: "preach the gospel/regardless of who it hurts/pray that God will have His way." Not sure about Charlie, but Ira lived a life of drink and violence, running through four wives, the third marriage ending in a hail of bullets, the fourth drunk on a dark highway. B+(***)

Make Mine Mondo! (1958-69 [2018], Ace): Compilation ("fuzzed out garage bands, manic instrumentals, wayward rockabillies") from Dore Records, founded in Hollywood, 1958 by Herb Newman and Louis Bideu. Earliest singles included Phil Spector (The Teddy Bears) and Jan & Dean, but they moved on before becoming famous, and I've only heard of one artist here (Bobby Troup). B

Oneness of Juju: African Rhythms (1975 [2018], Strut): Afrocentric American group, based in Richmond, Virginia, led by James "Plunky" Branch, first album, after 1980 the billing changes to Plunky & the Oneness of Juju. Their African schtick isn't bad, but they have problems keeping it up. B+(*)

Orhestre Abass: De Bassari Togo (1972 [2018], Analog Africa, EP): Group from Togo, a sliver of a country between Ghana and Benin, although the tapes showed up in Accra, Ghana, and the band leader, one Malam Issa Abass, is long gone (killed with a grenade in 1993). Organ funk, primal soul jazz. Six tracks, 21:35. B+(***)

Neil Young: Songs for Judy (1976 [2018], Reprise): Another trawl through the bootleg archives, selected from dates in November 1976 when he was touring with the reunited Crazy Horse and appearing solo as his own opening act. Some old hits, some current, more unreleased at the time although they've surfaced since -- two that stand out for me came out in his great albums of 1978-79. Title from a purely tangential story about meeting Judy Garland. B+(**)

Old Music

1930s Jazz: The Singers (1930-38 [1987], Columbia): Early 17-track CD era compilation of "Columbia Jazz Masterpieces," from the label's legacy catalogs, a time when only Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday were treated with full CDs (7 for Armstrong and 9 Holliday -- others like Ethel Waters and Mildred Bailey had to wait, while Bing Crosby and Fats Waller (and others omitted here) did most of their work on other labels. B+(**) [cd]

1930s Jazz: The Small Combos (1930-39 [1987], Columbia): Remembered as the decade when big bands roamed the earth and dominated the dancehalls, most of these groups are still called Orchestra, and I don't think any are less than sextets. Also avoids big name groups, although Jones-Smith Inc. was early Basie, and Henry Allen, Sidney Bechet, Chu Berry, Roy Eldridge, Stuff Smith, Wingy Manone, John Kirby, and others are worth knowing more about. And they do swing. B+(***)

1940s Jazz: The Singers (1940-49 [1987], Columbia): Sixteen fairly classic tracks, starting with Maxine Sullivan easing up to "St. Louis Blues" and ending with Sarah Vaughan torching "Summertime," some cuts closer to r&b, and Slim Gaillard's aptly described by his band name, the Flat Foot Floogie Boys. With Billie Holiday before she left for Decca (where Armstrong and Crosby were recording, so they drop out here). B+(***) [cd]

African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo 70s (1970s [2008], Analog Africa): From West Africa, two slim contries sandwiched between Ghana and Nigeria. Mostly good groove groups, two I've heard of, but the scream winner here is Roger Damawuzan, who does a pretty fair JB. A-

Best of Blues Records Presents: The Prewar Blues Story [La Grande Époque du Blues 1926-1943] (1926-43 [1994], Best of Blues, 2CD): Bought this used at least 15 years ago, and it's long languished on my unrated list. First disc is just less than half from the 1920s, while the second picks up in 1935 and isn't totally "prewar" even given America's delayed entry -- there's Doc Clayton's "Pearl Harbor Blues," Louis Jordan's "Ration Blues," and Josh White observing Jim Crow wasn't any different in the Army. Not essential as a primer -- I have a half-dozen comparable surveys in my database -- but nothing to complain about, and a few pleasant surprises. French title is on the jewel case, English on the slipcover. A- [cd]

Jeb Bishop & Tim Daisy: Old Shoulders (2012, Relay): Trombone and drums duets, Chicago players, both in Vandermark 5 but would have to check to see if they overlapped (maybe, but not by much). Limits to the format, but they make the most of it. B+(**) [bc]

Carsie Blanton: Ain't So Green (2005, self-released): Debut at age 20, just a cute voice and a whisp of guitar, love songs because that's what most songs are, but asks some basic questions, like "what are we earning/what will it cost," elsewhere concluding "'cause if it don't cost nothing, it ain't for me." B+(***)

Carsie Blanton: Idiot Heart (2012, self-released): Third album, opens with a band, but gets quieter after a bit and starts to fade into the background. B+(*)

Carsie Blanton: Not Old, Not New (2014, So Ferocious): Jazz standards album, opens with Ellington then Porter, picks Julia Lee's "Don't Come Too Soon" for something a bit off-color. I'm not seeing any credits, but sounds like a standard piano trio with guest spots for sax and vibes. Only original is the 0:45 title sketch. B+(**)

Carsie Blanton: So Ferocious (2016, So Ferocious): Seems like a mixed bag, but a couple songs stand out: "The Animal I Am," "Fat and Happy." B+(*)

Alex Chilton: Bach's Bottom (1975 [1993], Razor & Tie, EP): Recorded in Memphis, appeared in 1981 in Germany, 10 songs, 29:42, reissue grew to 15 cuts, but the Napster version (credited Razor & Tie, but 1975) I'm working off is down to 8 songs plus 3 alternate takes, 34:02. Any way you slice it, bits of genius thrown out with the garbage, often hard to distinguish. B+(*)

Alex Chilton: Like Flies on Sherbert (1979 [1996], Last Call): Originally 11 cuts released on Peabody, Napster's 15-cut selection corresponds to this French reissue, except they got the cover wrong. More crap, less genius, or maybe it just doesn't seem to repay sorting? B

Andrew D'Angelo Trio: Skadra Degis (2007 [2008], Skirl): Alto saxophonist, raised in Seattle, moved to New York in 1986, also worked in Boston with Either/Orchestra, not much under his own name other than two Trio albums, this the first. With Jim Black (drums) and Trevor Dunn (bass). Strong group, sometimes a bit harsh but can't fault the energy. B+(***) [bc]

Andrew D'Angelo Trio: Norman (2015, self-released): Same trio, the leader playing bass clarinte as well as alto sax. Incendiary but rough in spots, Jim Black's drumming continues to amaze. B+(***) [bc]

Endangered Blood: Work Your Magic (2012 [2013], Skirl): Second of three albums for this quartet, the two saxophonists (Chris Speed and Oscar Noriega) switching to clarinet (bass for Noriega) on occasion. B+(***)

Kitchen Orchestra/Alexander Von Schlippenbach: Kitchen Orchestra With Alexander Von Schlippenbach (2013, Whats Cooking): Large Norwegian group, dates back to 2005, I found them while looking up Dag Magnus Narvesen (drums) and don't especially recognize anyone else -- 16 credits here including the guest conductor/pianist (also composer and arranger of the closing pieces by Dolphy and Monk). This seems to be the group's sole album, although their website lists events with various guests (in 2018: Eve Risser, Marilyn Crispell, Per Zanussi). B+(*)

Revised Grades

Sometimes further listening leads me to change an initial grade, usually either because I move on to a real copy, or because someone else's review or list makes me want to check it again:

Alex Chilton: Ocean Club '77 (1977 [2015], Norton): Working solo, covering favored pop songs as well as "The Letter" and his non-hits from big Star. [was: B+(**)] A-


Notes

Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade:

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at bandcamp.com
  • [sp] available at spotify.com