Streamnotes: May 27, 2019

No way I can write an original introduction to the monthly archive on the same day as the last Music Week, so I thought I'd pick out parts from the weekly columns, starting with a monthly version of my customary stat line. Then I decided that made for too much clutter up top, so I moved all that to the bottom.

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 April 29. Past reviews and more information are available here (12981 records).

Recent Releases

Greg Abate with the Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z (2019, Whaling City Sound): Saxophonist, grew up in Rhode Island, plays alto and tenor, adds baritone and flute here, well schooled in bebop. Ray is a pianist, his trio with bass and drums, featured on Abate's recent albums. Mostly originals, including a Phil Woods tribute, with three covers: one each from Roland Kirk and Joe Henderson, plus a nice feature for the pianist: "Jitterbug Waltz." B+(***) [cd]

Charlie Apicella & Iron City: Groove Machine (2018 [2019], OA2): Guitarist, several albums both before and after moving up front in his band. Not as insipid or mechanistic as the title implies, thanks in large part to saxophonist Gene Ghee, although organ player Radam Schwartz (who contributed a piece) probably deserves some credit as well. Covers from Lou Donaldson and Willis Jackson. B+(*) [cd]

Teodross Avery: After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane (2019, Tompkins Square): Tenor saxophonist, seemed like a big deal when he debuted on GRP in 1994 but has hardly been heard from since -- tours with Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, some studio work, a Ph.D. and a teaching gig. Not sure when this live quartet set was recorded, but he holds forth on Coltrane, really lighting up a few classics. B+(***)

Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album (2018 [2019], Columbia, 2CD): Probably the biggest star in American music these days, but I never cared for her albums, at least until 2016's Lemonade -- ok, maybe 2013's Beyoncé, which I rated mid-B+. But none stuck with me long enough to recognize any songs on this Coachella concert, and that, plus the cavernous sound of spectacle I can't see let alone fathom, leaves me indifferent -- at least until "Run the World" broke through. B+(*)

Carlos Bica/Daniel Erdmann/DJ Illvibe: I Am the Escaped One (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Bass, tenor sax, and turntables. B+(*)

Brooks & Dunn: Reboot (2019, Arista Nashville): Nashville hitmakers Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn reprise a dozen singles, starting with 1991's "Brand New Man," adding a guest vocalist to each. Mostly adds to the group's penchant for bombast, but Kacey Musgraves makes "Neon Moon" a choice cut. B

George Cables: I'm All Smiles (2019, HighNote): Pianist, 75, my favorite of Art Pepper's pianists from his last period, still has a light and playful touch on his standards, in a trio with Essiet Essiet (bass) and Victor Lewis (drums). B+(**)

Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018, Run for Cover): Australian group, from Melbourne, three women, Georgia McDonald the singer-guitarist. Second album, singer has a distinctive voice, making a strong impression. B+(***)

The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Litle Stars (2019, OverPop Music): I probably would have filed this as a mid-B+ with a sigle play had it not been for voice-of-the-Cucumbers Deena Shoshkes sending me the CD. She sounded as appealing as ever, but I could have done without the predominant male vocals (members of groups I've never bothered with: Speed the Plough, the Thousand Pities). I guess that's democracy, with all six members singing, most writing and playing multiple instruments. Gradually the male songs emerged more clearly, with several (especially John Baumgartner's "Deep Water") reminding me of the Go-Betweens. And Deena just kept getting better. A- [cd]

Steve Davis: Correlations (2019, Smoke Sessions): Mainstream trombonist, twenty-some albums since 1994, after early stints with Art Blakey and Jackie McLean. Repeats Blakey's sextet lineup here, with trumpet (Joshua Bruneau), sax (Wayne Escoffery), piano (Xavier Davis), bass, and drums. B+(*)

Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (2019, Righteous Babe): Product tie-in to the folksinger's new book, No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir, reprising 25 years of songs, mostly unplugged but with a few tricks here and there (also guests on three songs). At first I tried reading excerpts from her memoir while listening to this, but didn't have enough attention to satisfy both. Many striking songs here -- probably also on Canon, her 2-CD retrospective through 2007 -- maybe more so with her accumulated perspective, chops too. A-

Mark Dresser Seven: Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup & You (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Bassist, major figure since the 1980s, with a soft-toned septet -- flute (Nicole Mitchell), violin (Keir Gogwilt), clarinet (Marty Ehrlich, also bass clarinet and alto sax), trombone (Michael Dessen), piano (Joshua White), and drums (Jim Black). B+(**) [cd]

Rebecca DuMaine and the Dave Miller Combo: Chez Nous (2018 [2019], Summit): Standards singer, started in New York singing and acting, now based in San Francisco, has several albums, this one backed by Miller's piano trio plus Brad Buethe on guitar. Touches all the usual bases, from Jobim ("So Danco Samba") and the Beatles ("Yesterday"), with two songs in French, all tastefully done. B+(**) [cd]

Elder Ones: From Untruth (2019, Northern Spy): Vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, second album as Elder Ones, a quartet with Matt Nelson (soprano sax/moog), Nick Dunston (bass), Max Jaffe (drums), with her on harmonium and synthesizer. Four pieces, 46:47, meant "to give the listener momentary relief from the anxiety and pain caused by living in our current reality." Doesn't work for me -- the music is abstract, and the vocals arch -- but then while I find much to be pessimistic about, I'm not much touched by pain and anxiety these days. B

Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (2018, Strange Famous): Rap duo from Providence, Rhode Island: Sage Francis, with seven albums and eight mixtapes since 1998, and B. Dolan, five years younger, three albums and three mixtapes on his own. First album, but their collaboration goes back at least a decade. B+(**)

Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (2019, Strange Famous): Second album: picks up quickly from the first and powers through, with big, old school beats, pressured rhymes, real stories. A-

The Fictive Five: Anything Is Possible (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Avant group, retains the title of their 2015 album as group name: Larry Ochs (tenor/sopranino sax), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Harris Eisenstadt (drums), with two bassists (Ken Filiano and Pascal Niggenkemper), both using effects. B+(**)

Satoko Fujii: Solo Piano: Stone (2018 [2019], Libra): Japanese avant-pianist, celebrated turning 60 last year by releasing an album each month, back to a more normal pace this year, with her second album through four months. Solo piano, from two sets at Samurai Hotel in New York. Quieter than normal, comtemplating the "beautiful music" her grandmother claimed to hear after she went deaf. B+(**) [cd]

Luke Gillespie: Moving Mists (2018 [2019], Patois): Pianist, born and mostly raised in Japan (bio notes he lived in Ft. Worth in 1st grade and Memphis in 6th), studied jazz and classical piano at Indiana, where he teaches. Has a book and a CD (2003) in his CV, as well as several side credits (most with Indiana-based Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra). Various groupings here ranging from solo to septet, including three tracks with Walter Smith III (tenor sax), one each with Tierney Sutton (vocals), Dave Stryker (guitar), and Wayne Wallace (trombone). [July 12] B+(*) [cd]

John Hart: Crop Circles (2017 [2019], SteepleChase): Guitarist, released two Blue Note albums 1990-92, a couple more on Concord through 1997, not much since. Quartet here with alto sax (Dick Oatts), bass, and drums. Three originals, twice as many covers, from "How Deep Is the Ocean" to "Besame Mucho" with stops at Ellington and Monk. B+(**)

Fred Hersch & the WDR Big Band: Begin Again (2019, Palmetto): Pianist, more important as composer here as Vince Mendoza's big band overwhelms his typically erudite playing. B+(*) [cd]

The Invisible Party: Shumankind (2017 [2018], Chant): Guitarist Jon Lipscomb, based in Malmo, Sweden and/or Brooklyn (same page claims both), has appeared in groups like Super Hi-Fi and Swedish Fix, plays punk-noise jazz here, backed by bass (Kurt Kotheimer) and drums (Dave Treut). Most bracing guitar-bass-drums trio I've heard in some time (and, yes, I've heard Harriet Tubman). Everyone agrees this came out in September 2018, but nobody listed it last year, and I first heard about it when it popped up in my mail last week. A-

Peter Jensen & DR Big Band: Stand on Your Feet and Fight: Voices of the Danish West Indies (2018 [2019], ILK): Denmark was a relatively minor player in the transatlantic slave trade, possessing three islands in the Caribbean, populating and exploiting them with 100,000 slaves, and eventually selling them off to the United States to become the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas). The music here is a lament, contemplating this history, and recalling it through the spoken word of its survivors (recordings made between 1978 and 1985, recalling rebellions in 1878 and 1915). B+(*) [cd]

Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (2019, 604/School Boy/Interscope): Canadian pop star, fourth studio album, I missed her 2008 debut, but have been a fan since "Call Me Maybe" broke as a single. This isn't as instant as her last two albums, but growing on me. On the other hand, instant is what you expect in a pop singer. B+(***)

Norah Jones: Begin Again (2019, Blue Note, EP): Seventh album, a short one (7 songs, 28:53). Slight in every sense of the word. B

Kehlani: While We Wait (2019, Atlantic/TSNMI): R&B singer, third mixtape, first after her certified gold debut album, a short one (9 cuts, 31:19). B+(**)

L7: Scatter the Rats (2019, Blackheart): Riot grrrl band formed in 1985 by Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner, peaked in the early 1990s, released their sixth album in 1999, called it quits until they regrouped to tour in 2015. First studio album since regrouping, hard to distinguish from their late 1990s efforts, but if anything rocks harder. B+(***)

Jon Lipscomb Quartet: Fodder (2016 [2018], self-released): Avant-guitarist, also has a volume of Solo Guitar Improvisations as well as several group efforts. This seems like a warm up for Invisible Party's Shumankind, with tenor saxophonist Sam Weinberg sharing the spotlight, but not making as much of it. B+(**) [bc]

Doug MacDonald: Califournia Quartet (2018 [2019], Dmacmusic): Guitarist, originally from Philadelphia, based in Los Angeles, 15 albums. This a quartet, nice showcase for Kim Richmond (alto/soprano sax, flute), with bass and drums. B+(*) [cd]

Jørgen Mathisen's Instant Light: Mayhall's Object (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Norwegian saxophonist (tenor/soprano), has appeared on a few albums since 2014. Quartet with piano (Erlend Slettevoll), bass (Trygve Waldemar Fiske), and drums (Dag Erik Knedal Andersen). Very strong, especially on the closing "Neutron Star," the climax set up by a terrific piano interlude. A-

The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra: Along for the Ride (2018 [2019], Summit): Trombonist, sings some, discography goes back farther, but organized his big band in 2006, and that's been his main vehicle since. Composed half, arranged all, draws on New York musicians, swings a little. B

Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (2018 [2019], Pi): Pianist, based in New York, Wikipedia lists some early group records (2000-05) I wasn't aware of, but he's impressed a lot of folks since his 2013 Pi debut. I'm impressed too, as long as the piano is focused, but this no-horns quintet gets cluttered toward the end -- with guitar (Miles Okazaki), vibes, bass, drums. B+(**) [cd]

Yoko Miwa Trio: Keep Talkin' (2019, Ocean Blue Tear Music): Japanese pianist, based in Boston, eighth album since 2003, mostly trios. Mostly originals, likes to keep them upbeat, plus covers of Monk, Mingus, Beatles, Joni Mitchell, something Latin ("Casa Pre-Fabricada"). B+(***) [cd]

Youssou N'Dour: History (2019, Naïve/Believe): Senegalese superstar, another strong album -- tempted to complain that his vocals are too strong, but that would be petty. A- [os]

Phicus + Martin Küchen: Sumpflegende (2017 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Catalan guitar-bass-drums trio (Ferran Fages, Alex Riviriego, Vasco Trilla), two previous albums, plus the Swedish saxophonist (tenor/alto), adding occasionally inspired noise. B+(*) [bc]

Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (2019, Sister Polygon): Postpunk group from DC, led by singer Katie Alice Greer, second album, expands a bit musically, arguably political because politics matters, but for them the context and form are "character sketches about the everyday banality of evil." B+(***)

Ellynne Rey: The Birdsong Project (2019, self-released): Standards singer, second album, band includes Joel Frahm on tenor sax. Casting about for songs featuring birds, she struggles with "Skylark," "The Peacocks," "Song to a Seagull" (J. Mitchell), only hitting her stride near the end -- "Flamingo," "Blackbird," and that ultimate Bird song, "Ornithology." B [cd]

Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Side Three: New Work (2018 [2019], Edgetone): Alto saxophonist, leads an octet counting guest Vinny Golia, sometimes through a tricky postbop slalom, sometimes blasting through with sheer energy. B+(***) [cd]

Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson: «As We See It . . . » (2019, Clean Feed): Norwegian avant-jazz group, 12 musicians, founded in 2010, with a half-dozen albums, most featuring guests like trumpeter Johansson here, rising above the ensemble grind. B+(***) [cd]

The Selva: Canicula Rosa (2018 [2019], Clean Feed): Portuguese trio: Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (bass), Nuno Morão (drums). Second album. The bassist is best known, laying down a minimalist groove, while the cello rises above. B+(**)

Senyawa: Sujud (2018, Sublime Frequencies): Duo from Jogjakarta, Indonesia: Rully Shabara ("extreme vocals") and Wukir Suryadi ("homemade instruments"). Recommended by Phil Overeem, who is also a big fan of Zeal & Ardor, a group which mashes field blues into metal. These guys do something like that, although I can't identify the original ingredients for you. B+(***) [bc]

Marcus Shelby Orchestra: Transitions (2017 [2019], MSO): Bassist, eighth album as leader, fifth with his big band. Mostly standards here, mostly Ellington and Cole Porter, although he starts off with a Mingus piece, shortening the title to "Remember Rockefeller" (dropping the bit about "Nazi U.S.A."). Tiffany Austin sings several, adding to the reverential air. B+(*) [cd]

The Richard Shulman Trio: Waltzing out of Town (2019, RichHeart Music): Pianist, "since 1984, dedicated his music to the expression of love and the awakening of inner joy," with an upbeat and pleasantly catchy trio. B+(*) [cd]

Gwilym Simcock: Near and Now (2018 [2019], ACT): British pianist, half-dozen albums since 2007, this his second solo effort. No shortage of harmonies here, yet this doesn't do much for me. B

Matthias Spillmann Trio: Live at the Bird's Eye Jazz Club (2017 [2019], Clean Feed): Swiss trumpet player, second album, both with same title -- refers to a club in Basel, the previous one with a quartet on the club's label. With Andreas Lang (bass) and Moritz Baumgärtner (drums). One original, five covers, closes with a nice "St. Louis Blues." B+(**)

Spring Roll: Episodes (2017-18 [2019], Clean Feed): French chamber jazz outfit, steeped in avant-classical, led by Sylvaine Hélary (flutes), with Hugues Mayot (tenor sax/clarinet), Antoine Rayon (piano/Moog), and Sylvain Lemêtre (vibes/percussion). On two (of 5) cuts, Kris Davis takes over piano, and makes a difference (but it doesn't last). B+(*)

Ben Stapp/Joe Morris: Mind Creature Sound Dasein (2017 [2019], Fundacja Sluchaj): Stapp plays tuba and euphonium, also "acoustic items," mostly duo with guitar, but Stephen Haynes (cornet) earns a "feat." credit on 4 (of 11) tracks. Scratch and drone, abstract, prickly. B+(*) [bc]

Oli Steidle & the Killing Popes: Ego Pills (2017 [2019], Shhpuma): German drummer, has used his given first name Oliver as well as Olli elsewhere. Band includes Kit Downes (keybs) and Frank Möbus (guitar), and several guests pop in (bassist Peter Eldh with his own music, Philipp Gropper sax, Andreas Schaerer vocals). Prog rock, unsettlingly erratic. B-

Norbert Susemihl/Chloe Feoranzo/Harry Mayronne/Barnaby Gold: The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17, October (2018 [2019], Sumi): German trumpet player/singer, started playing trad jazz in the 1970s, moving to New Orleans in 1980, eventually returning to Hamburg, then to Denmark. Recorded this in New Orleans, with Americans Feoranzo on clarinet (also vocals), Mayronne on piano, and Australian drummer Gold. Rather easy-going, often gorgeous renditions of some of my favorite music. A-

Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer (2019, Six Shooter, EP): Inuk throat singer from the south coast of Victoria Island, way up in the not-yet-balmy Arctic Ocean. Has a couple of interesting albums, the extreme vocals here mostly give way to hard beats, giving way to desolate ambience. Five songs, 24:57. B+(**)

Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima (2018 [2019], BMC): Pianist, born in Japan but long based in Germany. A lot going on here, with adventurous free jazz, wild flings, scattered electronics, sound effects, even some hip-hop. A major factor is turntablist Takase's son Vincent Graf von Schlippenbach (dba DJ Illvibe), but the band also includes Daniel Erdmann (sax), Johannes Fink (bass), and Dag Magnus Narvesen (drums). B+(***)

The United States Air Force Band: The Jazz Heritage Series: 2019 Radio Broadcasts (2019, self-released, 4CD): Radio shots, hour-long discs with a sound test to start, super-annoying plugs for the Air Force, musicians all prefaced by rank. Three are build around featured guests, including snippets of anodyne interviews. Cyrille Aimée actually sounded pretty good, especially coming on after the group's Tech. Sgt. chick singer. Kenny Barron was a good sport, and Branford Marsalis was on his best behavior. I passed out during the fourth disc. They play perfectly ordinary swing-to-bop, which would be easily forgettable except for the evil of their mission. C- [cd]

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: The Rhythm of Invention (2019, Patois): Trombonist, from San Francisco, gravitated toward Latin jazz and has specialized lately. Quintet adds piano, bass, drums, and congas, but doesn't stop there, as the album lists 20 guest musicians, usually 2-4 cuts each, mostly horns and strings, plus a bit of spoken word. B+(*) [cd]

Rodney Whitaker: Common Ground: The Music of Gregg Hill (2017 [2019], Origin): Bassist, born in Detroit, director of jazz studies at Michigan State, eighth album as leader since 1995. Group includes Terell Stafford (trumpet/flugelhorn), Tim Warfield (alto/tenor/soprano saxes), and Bruce Barth (piano). Hill wrote all the pieces, co-produced, is pictured on the cover alongside Whitaker, but doesn't play. Whitaker's daughter, Rockelle Fortin, sings lyrics she wrote on four songs. B+(*) [cd]

The Dave Wilson Quartet: One Night at Chris' (2018 [2019], Dave Wilson Music): Tenor saxophonist, some soprano, based in Lancaster, PA, where he has a musical instruments business. Fifth quartet album since 2002, recorded live in Philadelphia, a hot set with piano (Kirk Reese), bass, and drums, mixing Beatles ("Norwegian Wood") and Beach Boys ("God Only Knows") covers in with traditional fare ("Summertime"). B+(***) [cd]

Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe (2019, ATO): British singer-songwriter, born in London, name preserves Turkish roots but the first band her guitar-rock reminded me of was the Buzzcocks. Gets slinkier after that, which I'd say is a plus. A-

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper (2018, Impulse!): The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band reconstructed, one song each by twelve artists, all much younger than their source, most with some crossover potential, many from the UK scene. Don't have the full credits, so I'm left with questions, like who plays the flute with Brandee Younger's harp? Beatles songs have been notoriously hard to jazz up, and this particular set has rarely been attempted. Results are scattered, the mix too varied to flow well, but here and there you catch a whiff of something transcending nostalgia. B+(*)

L7: Pretend We're Dead: Best of L7 (1992-97 [2019], Warner Music Group): Digital-only audio tied into the 2016 documentary DVD, L7: Pretend We're Dead, drawing from only three of their albums, with 10/11 tracks from Bricks Are Heavy, 8/12 from Hungry for Sink, and 7/12 from The Beauty Process -- the first two are solid-A in my book, and the latter holds up better than I recalled. A

Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (1968-70 [2019], Tompkins Square): Guitarist from Rochester, NY; studied classical and jazz (with Gene Bertoncini), but this comes closer to "American primitive" folk. B+(*) [bc]

Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87 [2019], Strut): Fourth installment in the label's Nigeria 70 series, the first a sweeping 3-CD set from 2001 that expanded the decade from 1964 to 1980. Further single-CDs came out in 2008 and 2011, so they haven't been in a rush to dump this one out (12 cuts, 81:06). Not the top material, but the highlife and juju styles are pretty irresistible. A- [bc]

Old Music

Greg Abate Quartet: Bop City: Live at Birdland (1991, Candid): Plays alto, tenor, sopranino sax, and flute, but pictured with the alto. He released an album in 1981, but his career basically starts here, his original title cut pledging allegiance to bebop, although he doesn't do anything more obvious than a piece called "Basting the Bird." With James Williams (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Kenny Washington (drums). Nice tone, shown to best effect on an atypical cover of "These Foolish Things." B+(***)

Greg Abate: Straight Ahead (1992 [1993], Candid): As advertised, a quintet with "featuring" names on the front cover because they're bankable: Claudio Roditi, Hilton Ruiz, George Mraz, Kenny Washington. B+(**)

Greg Abate Quintet: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1995, Candid): Featuring Richie Cole (alto sax), the leader's main tool, but that encourages him to switch off to everything from baritone to soprano plus flute. With Chris Neville (piano), Paul Del Nero (bass), and Artie Cabral (drums). Live, somewhere. B+(*)

Greg Abate Quintet: Bop Lives! (1996, Blue Chip Jazz): Just alto sax this time, his group expanded with the addition of Claudi Roditi (5/9 cuts, trumpet on 3, flugelhorn on 2), backed by Kenny Barron (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Ben Riley (drums). B+(**)

Greg Abate: Evolution (2002, 1201 Music): A chance to show off all his kit: four saxes (tenor on the cover, no flute this time), all originals, backed by piano-bass-drums (James Williams, Harvie S, Billy Hart). B+(***)

Greg Abate/Alan Barnes: Birds of a Feather (2007 [2008], Woodville): Two saxophonists, a quintet recorded on the latter's label, with John Donaldson (piano), Andy Cleyndeft (bass), and Spike Wells (drums), a strong rhythm team. Reminds me of those Ammons-Stitt blow-outs. A-

The Teodross Avery Quartet: In Other Words (1994, GRP): Tenor saxophonist (also soprano), debut album, no more than 21 when this was released on a major label, wrote 9 (of 11) songs, rhythm section no better known at the time, but Roy Hargrove got a couple of guest spots. Fashionably mainstream, a hot start, handles the ballad well. B+(**)

Teodross Avery & the 5th Power: New Day, New Groove (1998 [2001], 5th Power): After a second GRP album (New Generation), the saxophonist decided to do a funk/groove album, with raps by Common, Ransom,and Ursula Rucker. Probably figured this was his ticket to mass appeal, but didn't work out that way. Long interview at the end, over a minor vamp. B+(*)

Teodross Avery: Bridging the Gap: Hop-Hop Jazz (2008, BTG Music): I'm not unsympathetic to the ambition of jazz/hip-hop fusion, but this comes up short on execution, on both sides. Inadvertent humor: Roy Ayers comes on to praise Avery by admitting to being stuck in the gap Avery's bridging. Still, this has some moments, mostly because the man can play. B-

Jerry Bergonzi: Intersecting Lines (2012 [2014], Savant): Featuring Dick Oatts (alto sax), with Dave Santoro (bass) and Andrea Michelutti (drums). Too friendly for a proper joust, but the two saxes work marvels together. A-

Jerry Bergonzi: Dog Star (2017, Savant): Tenor saxophonist, with Phil Grenadier on trumpet, backed by Carl Winther's Danish piano trio. B+(***)

George Cables: Cables Vision (1979 [1992], Contemporary/OJC): Early album for the pianist, all tracks feature Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, one just a duo, the others running 5-7 musicians, with neither Freddie Hubbard nor Ernie Watts making the impression you expected. B

George Cables Trio: Beyond Forever (1991 [1992], SteepleChase): First of a series of eight albums the pianist recorded for the Danish label, attributed to his Trio but with three names listed under the title: Joe Locke (vibes), Santi Debriano (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums). Locke started his own run with the label in 1990, and did some of his best work there -- and he certainly brightens this up. B+(**)

George Cables: Quiet Fire (1994 [1995], SteepleChase): Piano trio with Ron McClure (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). Wrote title song, leans toward modern jazz pieces for covers, including Gary Bartz and John Hicks among his composers. B+(***)

George Cables: Person to Person (1995, SteepleChase): Solo piano: four originals and eight well-known standards (starts with a touching "My Funny Valentine," ends with "Body and Soul") cover all the bases. B+(***)

George Cables Trio: Skylark (1995 [1996], SteepleChase): With Jay Anderson (bass) and Albert Heath (drums). Typically fine set, with Latin touches and a bit of Monk. B+(***)

George Cables Trio: Dark Side, Light Side (1996 [1997], SteepleChase): Return of his trio with Jay Anderson (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). Usual mix, with Don Pullen's tribute to George Adams ("Ah George We Hardly Knew You") a special treat. B+(***)

George Cables Trio: Bluesology (1998, SteepleChase): With Jay Anderson (bass) and Billy Drummond (drums). Two originals here. Strong central arc from "A Night in Tunisia" to Milt Jackson's title song. In fact, strong throughout. B+(***)

George Cables: One for My Baby (2000, SteepleChase): Another trio, with Jay Anderson on bass and Yoron Israel on drums. More standards, the title cut stretched to 10:04. B+(**)

Betty Carter/Ray Bryant: Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant (1955-56 [1996], Columbia): Lillie Mae Jones, from Detroit, made her debut here, with half an LP backed by pianist Bryant's trio, plus Jerome Richardson on flute (3 tracks). The flip side was just Bryant's trio, with Wendell Marshall (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums). Two different things, but the CD reissue tilts toward Carter, leading off with her backed by Gigi Gryce's big band (four cuts, Hank Jones on piano). B+(*)

Betty Carter: The Modern Sound of Betty Carter (1960, ABC): Big band, arranged and conducted by Richard Wess. The music strikes me as modernistic, a not especially interesting impersonation meant to spruce up a passing form. You can say the same for Carter's scat, the more impressive technical feat. B+(*)

Betty Carter: Inside Betty Carter (1964-65 [1993], Capitol Jazz): A one-shot album for United Artists, produced by Alan Douglas, backed by Harold Mabern (piano), Bob Cranshaw (bass), and Roy McCurdy (drums). Mostly ballads, nothing fancy. Reissue adds a 1965 session with Kenny Burrell on guitar, unknowns on piano-bass-drums. B+(*)

Betty Carter: Finally, Betty Carter (1969 [1975], Roulette): Live set, lots of scat, backed by piano trio -- Norman Simmons, Lisle Atkinson, Al Harewood -- including a couple of medleys. B+(*)

Betty Carter: At the Village Vanguard (1970 [1993], Verve): Backed by same piano trio, pushes the envelope a bit harder. B+(**)

Betty Carter: The Betty Carter Album (1976 [1988], Verve): Self-released at the time, reissued after she signed to Verve. Backed by piano trio (Danny Mixon or Onaja Allan Gumbs). Probably more to it, but slipped past me easily. B

Ray Charles: Ray Charles (1953-56 [1957], Atlantic): First album, first on Atlantic, anyway: a 14-cut LP, the first side shows off his distinctive sound, that blend of blues and jive that would soon make him one of rock and roll's most distinctive hit makers. How soon? Well, side two starts with "Hallelujah I Love Her So" and "Mess Around," and ends with "I Got a Woman." A

Ray Charles: The Great Ray Charles (1956 [1957], Atlantic): Where his first and third Atlantic albums were cobbled together from singles, this second album was recorded as such, with eight longer tracks (3:40-5:54, total 37:37), all instrumentals, the idea perhaps to establish a jazz identity as well as r&b. He gets a distinctive sound on piano, but the arrangements are nothing special, and the musicians come and go. B+(**)

Ray Charles: The Genius After Hours (1956-57 [1961], Atlantic): Outtakes from the sessions for The Great Ray Charles, organized into a quickie album when the Genius left the label. Feels more intimate, as the big band stuff got moved out first. B+(**)

Ray Charles: Yes Indeed! (1952-58 [1958], Atlantic): Third album, compiling various earlier singles, some memorable, all true to his form. A-

Ray Charles: What'd I Say (1952-59 [1959], Atlantic): Title song, nominally two parts split on the single, run together for 6:26 here, is Charles' greatest vamp piece. The 3:54 "Rockhouse" also runs two parts, with everything else short, 10 titles totalling 30:08. A

Ray Charles: The Genius of Ray Charles (1959, Atlantic): At this point he's starting to figure that everything he touches turns to genius, and he's half right. He picks a mixed bag of standards, but the arrangements are more crucial: Quincy Jones' big band is stellar on the first side, but Ralph Burns' string orchestra is a drag. B+(**)

Ray Charles: Ray Charles In Person (1959 [1960], Atlantic): Seven-cut, 29:19 live set, recorded in Atlanta. No complaints, far as that goes. B+(*)

Ray Charles: Ray Charles Live (1958-59 [1987], Atlantic): Double LP compilation from 1973, combining Charles two live albums from the Atlantic period -- 1958's Ray Charles at Newport and 1960's Ray Charles in Person (at Herndon Statium in Atlanta) -- reordered with an extra track on the CD reissue, still just 71:55. B+(***)

Ray Charles: The Genius Sings the Blues (1952-60 [1961], Atlantic): A rumage through the tapes to eke out an extra album as he left the label. The theme is a natural one, although this does remind you that before he became a genius, he started out as a pretty fair Charles Brown clone. B+(***)

Ray Charles: The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years (1951-59 [1994], Rhino): Twenty cuts on one CD, a fine introduction with most of the high points, although I haven't spent enough time with it to swear it's a better than any of the three discs of Rhino's earlier The Birth of Soul box. A-

Ray Charles: Greatest Country and Western Hits (1962-66 [1988], DCC): Out of print, one of the first wave of Charles CDs (quickly superseded by the also-out-of-print Rhinos), but listed as unrated in my database, so it must be around here somewhere. Wasn't too hard to pick out a playlist, given that 17 (of 20) songs come from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, where he came up with his shtick -- country tunes with string orchestration (or less often big band) and a chorus. That sounded like genius at the time, but could easily flip to corny. The three later singles are all Buck Owens songs, right up his alley. A-

Ray Charles/Betty Carter: Ray Charles and Betty Carter (1961, ABC): When Charles left Atlantic for ABC, a big part of his deal was that he got control of his catalog, which has had the perverse effect of making his ABC years (24 albums, 1960-1973) hard to find, especially now. He poduced some of his greatest work during those years, but he was much less consistent. This was his fourth album, a meet up with a young jazz singer with a couple of recent albums, here backed by a snappy big band, there by mopey strings. Two brilliant singers, but not much chemistry between them. B [yt]

Ani DiFranco: Red Letter Year (2008, Righteous Babe): Sixteenth album, don't recall exactly when she grew too sophisticated for folk music. Maybe 2001's double Revelling/Reckoning, which started a series of albums I didn't much care for, but she's come out the other end here, with ten instrument credits (some plural), plus a number of notable jazz musicians (Todd Sickafoose, Mike Dillon, Allison Miller, a string quartet led by Jenny Scheinman, and the Rebirth Jazz Band to open and close). Songs too: subject matter ranges from the big bang to the atom bomb, not that it ever strays far from the personal (or the political). A- [bc]

Ani DiFranco: Binary (2017, Righteous Babe): Nineteenth studio album, somehow missed my attention when it came out. Easy to hear why: she started as a folksinger because it was a cheap route, and made it work by being so damn direct. This, with jazz bassist Todd Sickafoose the main musical contributor and another dozen helpers (mostly jazzbos and New Orleans legends, plus a chance to hear Maceo Parker and Skerik on the same track), is all sorts of sophisticated. B+(*)

Carly Rae Jepsen: Tug of War (2008, Maple Music/Fontana North): First album, at 22, after a 3rd place finish in Canadian Idol, sold 10,000 units in Canada but didn't chart anyway. Production isn't state-of-the-art, but I like her voice, admire her originals, and the one cover is the best John Denver I've heard since Toots & the Maytals. B+(***)

L7: L7 (1988, Epitaph): First studio album, quartet fronted by three women: Donita Sparks sang and played guitar, Suzi Gardner played guitar ad sang, Jennifer Finch bass and vocals -- Sparks and Garder the writers. Eleven songs, 31:58. Sounds prophetic. B+(***)

Jon Lipscomb: Solo Guitar Improvisations Vol. 1 (2016, self-released): Guitarist, recorded these five tracks (39:53) in Sweden. Noise at first, then turns it down and plays with the rhythm, developing some interesting ideas. B+(*) [bc]

David "Fathead" Newman: Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (1958 [1960], Atlantic): Saxophonist (tenor on 5 cuts, alto on 3), first album in a long career, mostly pleasant soul/groove albums, best known for his work with Charles -- pianist here, along with Hank Crawford (bari sax), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet), bass, and drums. B+(*)

David Newman: Fire! At the Village Vanguard (1988 [1989], Atlantic): From two nights, dropped the nickname, mostly plays tenor sax but opts for the flute for "Filthy McNasty," backed by Kirk Lightsey (piano), Steve Nelson (vibes), bass, and drums, with Hank Crawford joining on alto sax for 4 (of 8) cuts, Stanley Turrentine on tenor for 3 -- not much fire early on, but Turrentine brings it. B+(**)

David "Fathead" Newman: Chillin' (1998 [1999], HighNote): Ray Charles' saxophonist recorded very regularly on his own all the way up to his death in 2009 -- fifty years, about that many albums. His home stretch starts with this first album for Joe Fields' label. With John Hicks on piano, Bryan Carrott on vibes, bass and drums, the leader with a little flute, soprano, and alto as well as his tenor sax. Gentle, often lovely, especially "My Favorite Things." Cadino Newman sings the last two. B+(*)

David "Fathead" Newman: Keep the Spirits Singing (2000 [2001], HighNote): Mostly sax quartet with John Hicks on piano, with a little flute thrown in. But three tracks add trombone and percussion, and Steve Turre nearly runs away with the record on those. B+(*)

David "Fathead" Newman: The Gift (2002 [2003], High Note): Pretty typical album, with the tenor saxophonist showing off his flute and other saxes, backed by John Hicks (piano) and Bryan Carrott (vibes) as well as bass (Buster Williams) and drums (Winard Harper). B+(*)

David "Fathead" Newman: Song for the New Man (2004, HighNote): He seems to have found his voice here, even on the Herbie Mann tribute (long at 8:58). Trombonist Curtis Fuller (5/9 cuts) fits in better, and pianist John Hicks remains strong throughout. B+(***)

Larry Ochs: The Fictive Five (2014 [2015], Tzadik): Second album kept this title as group name, but this first album was credited to the saxophonist/composer/producer. Same group: Nate Wooley (trumpet), Harris Eisenstadt (drums), Ken Filiano and Pascal Niggenkemper (bass). B+(*) [bc]

Art Pepper/George Cables: Tête-À-Tête (1982 [1983], Galaxy): The first of two sax-piano duet albums, recorded two months before Pepper died. Cables wrote the title piece, the other ballads, some as well worn and comfy as "Body and Soul" and "'Round Midnight." Pepper is as lovely as ever, and Cables plays a lot of piano. A-

Art Pepper/George Cables: Goin' Home (1982, Galaxy): A second set of duets, recorded a month after Tête-À-Tête, one month before Pepper's death, and seems to have been released first -- it occupies most of the 16th and final CD of The Complete Galaxy Recordings, one of the most consistently inspired runs in jazz history. With more clarinet, comes in for a softer landing. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Night Lights (1995, Double Time): Tenor saxophonist, a few records in, quartet with piano (Joel Weiskopf), bass (Drew Gress), and drums (Steve Davis). Mostly standards, three originals, nothing fancy, but strong and dynamic saxophone. B+(**)

Walt Weiskopf: Song for My Mother (1995 [1996], Criss Cross): Nonet, credited on the back cover but not on the front, which just lists the musicians under the leader's much larger name. Expansion from four to nine is all horns: two brass (Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and Conrad Herwig on trombone), two more saxes (Jim Snidero on alto, Scott Robinson on baritone and bass clarinet), and flute (Anders Bostrom, et al.). Still, the flutes are hardly noticeable, while the leader's tenor sax towers over everyone. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Sleepless Nights (1996 [1998], Criss Cross): Sextet, adding alto sax (Andy Fusco) and trombone (Conrad Herwig) to spread out the horns. Originals (plus one standard), sketch pieces stretched out, a platform for some superb tenor sax. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Anytown (1998, Criss Cross): Tenor sax, back by piano trio (Renee Rosnes, Doug Weiss, Tony Reedus) plus very energetic vibes (Joe Locke). Hard postbop. B+(**)

Walt Weiskopf: Siren (1999, Criss Cross): Another nonet album, same lineup as on Song for My Mother except at bass (Doug Weiss replaces Peter Washington). The solos are better distributed, the ensemble even more energetic, and the leader plays his ass off. I do question leaving the blues cover to the flutes. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Man of Many Colors (2001 [2002], Criss Cross): Quartet, moving on to a new generation of players (emerging then, famous now): Brad Mehldau (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Clarence Penn (drums). Two covers ("Haunted Heart" and "People"), originals which show off the group's impressive chops. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Sight to Sound (2003 [2004], Criss Cross): Sextet, new horns (Andy Fusco on alto, John Mosca trombone), familiar rhythm section (Joel Weiskopf, Doug Weiss, Billy Drummond). B+(**)

Walt Weiskopf: Open Road (2014 [2015], Posi-Tone): Second album for producer Marc Free's label, a return to form in a standard quartet setting, with Peter Zak (piano), Mike Karn (bass), and Steve Fidyk (drums). Two covers, ten originals, burns at both ends. B+(***)

Walt Weiskopf: Fountain of Youth (2016 [2017], Posi-Tone): Adds Behn Gillece (vibraphone) to the previous quartet, picking up the pace and adding some sparkle, not ultimately making much difference. Still an impressive tenor saxophonist. 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:

The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (2019, Suicide Squeeze): Punkish girl group from Atlanta, a going concern since 2007, made me wonder whether they're going soft, but "F the NRA" allayed those fears, and the next song ("Memories") is even better. As for the slow ones, further listening reveals how together they are. [was B+(***)] A-

Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake: In Between the Tumbling a Stillness (2015 [2018], Hopscotch): Tenor sax trio, recorded at the leader's club in Tel Aviv with the best rhythm section one could hope for, as good as they get. The saxophonist is equally poised, opening long at 34:22, followed by shorter pieces (14:59, 4:29) that flow together. [was: A-] A

Music Weeks

Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:

Current count 31558 [31440] rated (+118), 251 [255] unrated (-4).

May 6, 2019

Had a low energy period after posting April Streamnotes last Monday, so I'm not surprised that the rated count dropped. If anything, I'm surprised it's as high as it is, but that was mostly from streaming back catalog of artists recently reviewed.

I speculated last week that Walt Weiskopf's Worldwide is his best yet, but I had missed most of his 1990s albums, so I had to hedge. There are still a couple things I haven't heard, but nothing old came close to the new one -- best of the albums below is probably Siren (1999). When I gave Betty Carter's The Music Never Stops an A- a few weeks back, I noted lots of holes in my database. Scratching my head for something to listen to, I remembered that, and plugged a few of them (while being unable to find others). The new Teodross Avery album also sent me back. No great finds from any of those excursions.

I also tried looking up the album Carter and Ray Charles did together in 1961, but couldn't find it. I noticed then I had an unrated Charles record, and wondered whether I could build a playlist to duplicate it (as opposed to having to dig up my physical copy). Turns out there's damn few of Charles' ABC records on Napster, but I still got 17/20 songs from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, while the other three were easy to find on YouTube. Not quite an equivalent listening experience, but close enough, I figured (especially given that I recalled hearing nearly everything). I'll do a few more Ray Charles albums next week, starting with the early Atlantics.

On the other hand, this week's two new A- records are ones I hadn't read a thing about before they showed up. After months of second guessing other folks' picks, I feel like I've done my job. . . .

May 13, 2019

Weird how these weekly totals keep landing on 29 (6th time so far this year). Should have been less, given that I drove to the Tulsa area on Wednesday, returning Friday evening. Took my travel cases for the car, nothing remotely new in them. Packed the Chromebook, but inadvertently left it at home. Supposedly I can check email and web on phone, plus a million apps including Napster, but I've never got the hang of that. . . .

I saw live music twice in Oklahoma, but nothing I can recommend. The first was a free concert at the Veterans Center, with a c&w singer who called himself Cowboy, and who toured with a dwarf pony in tow -- something the vets seemed to appreciate. He mostly played Merle Haggard songs (and nothing as obvious as "Okie From Muskogee"; more like "Silver Wings"). One bizarre moment: he had a little girl bring him up a disguise designed to make him look like Elvis Presley, then launched into a medley of three r&b songs ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "See See Rider," don't recall the third), suggesting not only that even today black music was only acceptable if dressed up as white. He then played a fourth Elvis song, something late and not black, and didn't bother with the disguise for that. Blackface has gone out of fashion, but whiteface still works in Oklahoma. (There were a few black residents at the Center, but they were a tiny minority, and I don't recall any at the show.)

Second live music experience was attending a recital at the Coweta High School of their various band ensembles, starting with 6th grade. All three of my second-cousin's granddaughters played there, among at least a hundred others. No strings, but lots of flutes and clarinets -- I counted 12 and 18 in the high school band -- a few saxophones, the odd oboe or bassoon, a fair amount of brass, and a pretty substantial investment in percussion (including a featured percussion ensemble). Best was a pair of Cuban tunes. More typical were the Andrew Lloyd Weber medleys. Lasted over two hours, which was exhausting for all (huge crowd, by the way). They made passing reference to also having a jazz ensemble, but nothing I heard fit that bill.

Given that hole in my week, the only way I got to 29 was by streaming oldies. I started by looking for Betty Carter's album with Ray Charles. Napster didn't have it, or for that matter much of anything else after Charles left Atlantic for ABC. I mostly know his Atlantics through the 1991 Rhino 3-CD box, The Birth of Soul (my grade: A), but since the individual albums were available, I worked through them, yielding most of this week's pick hits. That also got me Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman, and I followed that up with a few more of Newman's records (especially his early HighNotes). I didn't go very deep there, as I've never found him to be especially remarkable.

After I got back from Oklahoma, I played the new Greg Abate record, so I took a look at his back catalog. He's a mainstream saxophonist, more rooted in bebop than swing, and I especially liked his 2014 album Motif, so I was more hopeful there. I skipped a few things like his samba album, but got a fairly good sense of where he's come from. Several very nice albums, the best being one with Alan Barnes. The next logical step would be to see what else I can find by Barnes. My database lists six of his albums, all Penguin Guide ***(*)-rated, but I haven't heard any of them yet. Surprised I've missed him, although I have rated records he shared but I've filed under other names: Tony Coe, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vaché.

Revisited the latest Coathangers album this week, after Robert Christgau gave it an A-. As I recall, Michael Tatum also likes the album. I gave it a B+(***) on one or two plays back in March, and found that my review didn't need much tweaking. I played his other pick, Priests' The Seduction of Kansas, after the break, so next week for it and Camp Cope's How to Socialise & Make Friends -- both good, high B+ records.

May 20, 2019

Rated count well down this week. Wednesday through Friday got totally wiped out, starting with a dental appointment, then shopping for dinner on Friday, then marathon cooking. Zhanna Pataky and I made a blini feast. . . . Dinner was spectacular, and exhausting.

A couple weeks ago I learned that Ani DiFranco has written a memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. She grew up in Buffalo, and was close to my cousin's family there, so I have some kind of personal interest in her story, and I've been aware of her musical career from near the beginning. Then last week I noticed her No Walls: Mixtape on Napster, so delved a bit deeper. I read what I could from Google's excerpt, while listening to Mixtape -- unplugged remakes of 25+ years of remarkable songs -- and a couple other items I had missed that I found on her Bandcamp. Stopped short of the bootlegs, although one of my favorites (and one of the best places to start with her) is the live Living in Clip. I was especially pleased that after panning most of her recent albums with Todd Sickafoose I enjoyed Red Letter Year so much. I wrote about her in [The New] Rolling Stone Album Guide. A current grade list is here.

Robert Christgau reviewed Epic Beard Men this week, along with two records by Quelle Chris that I had already reviewed. I gave Guns another spin, enjoyed it, but left my grade at B+(***). For whatever it's worth, I've graded A- all four of Strut's Nigeria 70 compilations. I couldn't begin to rank them, other than to note that I have the CDs to the first, and played one out of my travel case while cooking last week. I doubt any are as good as the best King Sunny Adé albums, or the second edition of The Rough Guide to Highlife, but the new one hits the exact same pleasure centers, and that was good enough for me.

The Ray Charles comp was the one I skipped when reviewing his Atlantics last week. It's the one you'd most likely buy if you're reluctant to get the entire 3-CD box (The Birth of Soul). Not sure why I didn't grade it as high as the box or two of the source albums, other than that I didn't give it a lot of time. I'm still bothered that we don't have the ABC albums available for streaming. And I will note that one problem with virtually every "greatest hit" collection from that period is the mandatory inclusion of two hideous Beatles covers. Compilers don't always pick the best songs, so that may be what's slightly off about the Rhino Atlantic Best Of.

Best jazz album of the week was the first 2019 Clean Feed release I've found on Napster. They've sometimes been hard to search out, but until this year all of their releases have been available for streaming, which lately has saved me the hassle of downloading. Not everything that's come out is available yet, but I'm glad to get what I can. I'll try to catch up in coming weeks. (There are a couple more on this week's list, as well as one where the musician sent me the CD -- thanks for that favor.)

May 27, 2019

Last Monday in May, so extra work today doing my paperwork for the May Streamnotes archive. Rated count was 34 when I first checked on Sunday, but I've kept this open to see what fits into the month. Still, much of the bulk, both this week and for the month, has come from diving into back catalog. With new albums from George Cables and Jerry Bergonzi out, I thought they might be fun. When time ran out, I still had more Bergonzi to go, not least the new one.

The week's finds are scattered. The latest Christgau Expert Witness picked a Youssou N'Dour album I had noticed from publicist email but hadn't tracked down (not on Napster, but I was able to stream from Rock Paper Scissors). Also Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's Miri, a previous A- here (also according to Michael Tatum). Phil Overeem's latest list pointed me at Beyoncé's Homecoming and A Day in the Life, but the album I liked most was an exceptionally genteel trad jazz quartet he had down at 23. I got some more ideas from Alfred Soto's The best albums of 2019, first draft: specifically Nilüfer Yanya's Miss Universe -- although I'll note that I had heard his six higher-rated albums and didn't A-list any of them. (Further down his list, I did pick Control Top: Covert Contracts; Robert Forster: Inferno; Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?; and Lizzo: Cuz I Love You; still unheard: The Mountain Goats, Vampire Weekend, The National; Tyler, the Creator; and Weyes Blood.) Lucas Fagen provided the tip on L7 (also one I did't follow up on yet: Gary Clark Jr.). First L7 play didn't convince me, so I went back and played the Best Of. Gave the new one an extra play later, but didn't move it. They have one of the all-time great band sounds, but at this point I'd guess it's more likely to drop a notch than to rise one. Opposite is true of their eponymous debut, which Christgau missed and I'd never heard. They get something out of youth there that they'll never get back to again.

It occurred to me that Ray Charles and Betty Carter might be on YouTube, and indeed it was. Someone wrote me a while back to point out that several albums I couldn't find on Napster were on YouTube (usually with nothing but the static album cover for video). I haven't followed that tip often, but with big chunks of backlist from both artists this month, seemed like good due dilligence. Disappointing album. . . .


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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at
  • [yt] available at
  • [os] some other stream source