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Streamnotes: May 27, 2020
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 27. Past reviews and more information are available here (14744 records).
Tetuzi Akiyama/Nicolas Field/Gregor Vidic: Interpersonal Subjectivities (2017 , Astral Spirits): Electric guitar, percussion, and tenor sax, no names I've run across before, although the Japanese guitarist has a long list of records since 2001 (69 Discogs entries). Nicely paced, no thrash, endlessly inventive. A- [cd]
Anáhuac: Y_y (2017 , Astral Spirits): Trio, initially met in Austin: Ignaz Schick (turntable/electronics), Chris Cogburn (percussion/electronics), Juan Garcia (double bass). Filed under Cogburn when the first album I noticed listed his name first on the front cover (this earlier one starts with Schick, but not on the cover). Some voice, some noise. B
Anáhuac: Ascua (2018 , Astral Spirits): Another one, slightly more impressive. B+(*) [dl]
Brian Andres Trio Latino: Mayan Suite (2019 , Bacalao): Bay Area Drummer, has a larger group called The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel. Drops back to a piano trio here with Christian Tumalan (piano) and Aaron Germain (bass), who offer original pieces as well as covers from Chick Corea and standards like "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "On Green Dolphin Street." B+(*) [cd]
The Bad Plus: The Tower Tapes #4 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): Trio, formed in 2000 with Reid Anderson (bass) and David King (drums), Orrin Evans taking over the piano slot in 2018. Two sets (42:48 and 57:59). B+(**) [bc]
Danny Barnes: Man on Fire (2020, ATO): Singer-songwriter from Texas, plays banjo, best known for his 1991-2000 group Bad Livers, less so for his 2014-18 group Test Apes, more than a dozen solo albums, can sound old-timey country with a hint of bluegrass, or postmodern. B+(***)
Majid Bekkas: Magic Spirit Quartet (2018 , ACT Music): Moroccan singer, plays various instruments (guimbri, oud, guitar), in a Scandinavian quartet with Goran Kajes (trumpet), Jesper Nordenström (keyboards), and Stefan Pasborg (drums), with Chaouki Family adding karkabas and backing vocals on two tracks. B+(*)
Josh Berman/Paul Lytton/Jason Roebke: Trio Discrepancies (2018 , Astral Spirits): Cornet, percussion, bass, second of two records for this trio. [PS: Side B didn't play cleanly.] B+(**) [lp]
Tim Berne's Snakeoil: The Tower Tapes #1 (2017 , Jazz Club Ferrara): Part of a large stash of live recordings from Ferrara, Italy -- sixteen volumes at the moment, wide range of jazz groups, quickly dumped for your quarantine listening pleasure. Leader on alto sax, with his main group since 2011: Oscar Noriega (clarinet, bass clarinet), Matt Mitchell (piano), Ches Smith (percussion). Two long sets (51:41 and 51:59), no attempt to identify pieces within. B+(**) [bc]
Blueface: Dirt Bag (2019, Cash Money, EP): Rapper Johnathan Porter, from Los Angeles, debuted with a 2018 mixtape, then two EPs -- this the second, 8 tracks, 21:33, most featuring rappers I've heard of but haven't heard much by. B+(***)
Blueface: Find the Beat (2020, Cash Money): First studio album, compared to last year's EP twice as many songs, bigger name featuring spots, still only 41:29, with FBeats and Scum Beatz keeping the beats choppy. B+(**)
Broken Shadows: The Tower Tapes #2 (2020, Jazz Club Ferrara): More quarantine tapes. Quartet name comes from an Ornette Coleman piece, with Tim Berne (alto sax), Chris Speed (tenor sax), Reid Anderson (bass), and Dave King (drums). Two sets (47:16 and 57:35), no songs let alone song credits. Reminds me how terrific Berne's 1990s group with Speed was, and this rhythm section may be even more of a powerhouse. A- [bc]
Chris Byars: On the Shoulders of Giants (2019 , SteepleChase): Retro-bebop tenor saxophonist, after having established himself as the most impressive of Luke Kaven's Smalls circle, lately has indulged in tributes (to Lucky Thompson, Gigi Gryce, Duke Jordan, Frank Strozier). Still, wrote 8 (of 9) songs here, the opening cover from Tommy Turentine. Sextet, with Zaid Nasser (alto sax), Stefano Doglioni (bass clarinte), John Mosca (trombone), Ari Roland (bass), and Phil Stewart (drums). B+(**)
Chris Cogburn/Juan García/Ignaz Schick: Anáhuac (2016 , Astral Spirits): Percussion/electronics, double bass, and turntables/electronics. Three longish pieces, "composed in real time with no overdubs," which sounds like hit and miss, but better than expected. B+(**) [cd]
Ronnie Cuber: Four (2019, SteepleChase): Baritone saxophonist, eighteenth album since 1976, assembled what for all intents and purposes is a soul jazz group -- guitar (Ed Cherry), organ (Brian Charette), and drums (Adam Nussbaum) -- and honks his way through a set of standard jazz tunes ("Sidewinder," "Bluesette," "How High the Moon"). B+(***)
The Dream Syndicate: The Uiverse Inside (2020, Down There): From Los Angeles, 1980s band, regarded as neo-psychedelia, broke up in 1989 with Steve Wynn going on to a moderately successful singer-songwriter career. Regrouped in 2012, third album since. Especially fond of soaring vamps, which can run as log as the 20:27 opener. B+(*)
Steve Earle: Ghosts of West Virginia (2020, New West): Coal mining songs for a Coal Country documentary, 10 of them but only runs 29:46. Several are memorable, not least the one Eleanor Whitmore sings. B+(***)
Joe Ely: Love in the Midst of Mayhem (2020, Rack 'Em): Singer-songwriter, based in Austin but bred in Lubbock, presents ten previously unreleased songs from various points in his career, one each going back as far as 1973-74. None of them click for me, but I do hear faint echoes of albums I still love. B+(*)
Wayne Escoffery: The Humble Warrior (2019 , Smoke Sessions): Tenor saxophonist (some soprano), born in London, based in New York, albums since 2001. Mostly quartet with piano (Dave Kikoski), bass (Ugonna Okegwo), and drums (Ralph Peterson), adding trumpet (Randy Brecker) and/or guitar (David Gilmore) to four tracks in the middle, one with a vocal (Vaughn Escoffery). B+(*)
Dave Glasser: Hypocrisy Democracy (2019 , Here Tiz): Mainstream alto saxophonist, from New York, handful of records since 2000 plus side credits with the Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie ghost bands, Illinois Jacquet, Clark Terry, and so forth. Quartet, also plays soprano sax and flute, backed by Andy Milne (piano), Ben Allison (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums). Gets in some surprisingly strong runs, and the rhythm section kicks ass. A- [dl]
Bob Gluck: Early Morning Star (2019 , FMR): Pianist, rabbi, professor, has written books on Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Paul Winter; composed electronic music before moving into jazz; fifth album since 2011, group has clarinet, bass, drums, and voice (Andrea Wolper). I find the voice uncomfortably operatic, but the music is engaging. B+(*) [cd] [06-15]
Joel Harrison +18: America at War (2019 , Sunnyside): Noting that the US has been engaged in war "nearly every year" since his birth in 1957 (I would have said 1941), he offers this "musical meditation on a lifetime of ruinous armed conflicts conducted by the United States." Big band, conducted by Matt Holman. Some remarkable passages here: big, bold, more than a little discomfiting. B+(***)
Dylan Hayes Electric Band: Songs for Rooms and People (2020, Blujazz): Keyboard player, some piano but mostly electric, with electric bass, guitar, drums, tenor sax/EWI (Santosh Sharma), spots for trumpet (Jay Thomas). Fast and fusiony. B [cd]
Art Hirahara: Balance Point (2020, Posi-Tone): Pianist, American, fifth album since 2011, trio with Joe Martin and Rudy Royston, plus Melissa Aldana on tenor sax. B+(*)
Anna Högberg Attack: Lena (2019 , Omlott): Swedish sextet, leader plays alto sax, with tenor sax (Elin Forkelid), trumpet (Niklas Barnö), piano (Lisa Ullén), bass, and drums -- all but Barnö women. Second group album (Barnö's first), rough and tumble free jazz. B+(***) [bc]
The Howling Hex: Knuckleball Express (2020, Fat Possum): Rock group, principally Neil Hagerty, who co-led Royal Trux 1987-2001, closer to grunge than to punk, but similarly straightforward and sharp. More than a dozen albums since 2003. This one is on the short side (ten songs, 28:48, but two of them top 4:45). B+(**)
Sam Hunt: Southside (2020, MCA Nashville): Country singer-songwriter, second album (plus a "mixtape"), both hits, has a big sound which occasionally puts a single over. B+(*)
KVL: Volume 1 (2019, Astral Spirits): Trio, initials for Quin Kirchner (drums), Daniel Van Duerm (keyboards), and Matthew Lux (bass), each with a side of electronics. Jaimie Branch (trumpet) has a stellar turn on one cut. [PS: Vinyl was warped so bad I couldn't play Side B.] B+(*) [lp]
Brian Landrus/Fred Hersch/Drew Gress/Billy Hart: For Now (2019 , BlueLand): Baritone saxophonist, also plays bass clarinet, alto and regular flute. Tenth album, has more help than the big names on the cover: Michael Rodriguez (trumpet), strings enough for a string quartet. B+(*) [cd]
Jinx Lennon: Border Schizzo Fffolk Songs for the Fuc**d (2020, Septic Tiger): Irish folk singer-songwriter with punk airs, has twenty years of self-released albums. An interesting character, although I'm not finding him aligning much with my mood these days. B+(**)
Lil Wayne: Funeral (2020, Young Money): Rapper from New Orleans, thirteenth studio album since 1999, not counting dozens of mixtapes. This seems like a big deal at 24 cuts, 76:04. Christgau thinks this is his best since No Ceilings (2010). Perhaps, but I'm not caring much. B+(**)
Mark Lomax, II & the Urban Art Ensemble: 400 Years Suite (2019 , CFG Multimedia): Single-disc live presentation of music from the Columbus, Ohio drummer's monumental 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic, performed by his superb regular quartet -- Dean Hulett on bass, William Menefield on piano, and most importantly Edwin Bayard on soprano and tenor saxophone -- plus a string quartet. Bayard blows you away every time, but the gospel piano solo is nearly as impressive. Wish I had a CD, and the time to see if even the strings say masterpiece. A
LP and the Vinyl: Heard and Sceen (2019 , OA2): Pretty awful band name. "LP" is singer Leonard Patton, from San Diego, has several records under his own name, backed here by piano (Danny Green), bass and drums. Green wrote two songs (one with Patton), the rest are covers, some surprise picks ("Life on Mars," "The Fool on the Hill," "Wonderwall"). Voice has its soulful moments. B [cd]
Rob Luft: Life Is the Dancer (2019 , Edition): British guitarist, second album, quintet with Joe Wright (tenor sax), Joe Webb (organ/piano), bass, and drums. Two tracks add trumpet and voice -- latter is a problem. Some adventurous sax spots, but not much else. B
Nduduzo Makhathini: Modes of Communication: Letters From the Underworld (2020, Blue Note): South African pianist, half-dozen local albums, this his first big international exposure (aside from appearing in Shabaka and the Ancestors). McCoy Tyner fan, especially for A Love Supreme, some fine saxophone here, don't care much for the vocals. B+(**)
Alain Mallet: Mutt Slang II: A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage (2018 , Origin): Pianist, from France, studied at Berklee and now teaches there, Google describes him as "Jonatha Brooke's ex-husband" (on the other hand, Brooke has a substantial Wikipedia page that doesn't mention him). Has a previous album, Mutt Slang. Long album, leans Brazilian. B+(*)
Chad Matheny: United Earth League of Quarantine Aerobics (2020, Dreams of Field, EP): Singer-songwriter, better known as Emperor X, American but based in Berlin, offers a quickie quarantine special. Seven songs (four versions of "Stay Where You Are"), 26:06, the others every bit as topical, including an inspirational labor anthem. A- [bc]
Joe McPhee/Dave Rempis/Tomeka Reid/Brandon Lopez/Paal Nilssen-Love: Of Things Beyond Thule Vol. 2 (2018 , Aerophonic): Same quintet, focus on the cello makes this less grating, until it isn't. B+(**) [bc]
Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes: What Kinda Music (2020, Beyond the Groove): English singer-songwriter, established himself with two Beat Tape mixes before his 2018 debut album. Dayes is a jazz drummer, but leans toward r&b here, with guitar shimmer. B+(**)
Mdou Moctar: Mixtape Vol. 1 (2020, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Niger, plays guitar, half-dozen albums, some among his region's finest. This one's a single 44:37 rack, mixed together from demos and live scraps -- the latter especially intense. B+(***) [bc]
Ted Moore Trio: The Natural Order of Things (2019 , Origin): Drummer, director of Jazz Department at UC Berkeley, graduated from Eastman 1973, not sure if he has anything else under his own name, but he was part of Paul Winter's groups, and led a group called Brasilia. Wrote 7 (of 8) tracks here, arranged the other. With Phil Markowitz on piano and Kai Eckhardt on bass. B+(**)
Josh Nelson Trio: The Discovery Project: Live in Japan (2019 , Steel Bird): Pianist, tenth album since 1998, trio with Alex Boneham (bass) and Don Schnelle (drums). The Discovery Project started with his 2011 album Discoveries, combining visuals and scenography with his music. CD, of course, just has the music. B+(**) [cd]
Arturo O'Farrill/The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Four Questions (2020, Zoho): Pianist, son of Cuban bandleader Chico O'Farrill, a master of his craft and leader of New York's most famous Latin jazz big band. Title piece runs 16:13, with Cornell West's long harangue its focal point. I was impressed enough to note some of the more intricate scoring in the next piece, before vocals I'd rather tune out appeared. B [cd]
Lido Pimienta: Miss Colombia (2020, Anti-): Singer-songwriter, born in Colombia, raised in Canada, based in Toronto, second album. In Spanish, beats a little choppy, then gets even choppier. B+(**)
Adam Rudolph/Ralph M. Jones/Hamid Drake [Karuna Trio]: Imaginary Archipelago (2020, Meta): Back cover and spine use group name, front cover just lists the musicians, percussionists by trade, each credited with instruments I don't recognize: membranophones, idiophones, chordophones, aerophones, as well as voice and electronic processing. Exotica fading into esoterica. B+(***) [cd]
Shelly Rudolph: The Way We Love (2010-17 , OA2): Singer-songwriter from Portland, OR; website shows five albums. Nine songs, short at 30:40, credits scattered aside from David Darling on cello, with four pianists. My first impression was overwrought, but a closer listen reveals a distinctive voice. Nice cover of "Stand by Me." B [cd]
Charles Rumback: June Holiday (2018 , Astral Spirits): Chicago drummer, eight album since 2009, leads a trio here with Jim Baker (piano) and John Tate (bass). [NB: Couldn't play second side of LP, which slipped due to warpage. I did play an MP3 download of the entire album.] B+(**) [lp]
Darrell Scott: Sings the Blues of Hank Williams (2020, Full Light): Country singer, more than a dozen albums since 1997, usually writes his own songs but gives a nod to the honky tonk founder here. Williams' songs are rarely identified as blues, but he managed to moan more miserably than the bleakest bluesman imaginable, so I could see Scott taking him that way. Can't hear it, though. B
Brandon Seabrook With Cooper-Moore & Gerald Cleaver: Exultation (2019 , Astral Spirits): Guitarist, with diddley bow and drums, no problem making a little noise, especially with this rhythm section keeping him on the rails. B+(***) [dl] [06-19]
Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamond Dreams (2020, Sub Pop): Hip-hop duo from Seattle, fifth album, an anomaly on their indie rock label, where they tend toward dark atmospherics and obscure iconography. B+(**)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Born Deadly (2020, Fontana North, EP): Canadian "First Nations" rap duo, Yung Trybez and Young D, three albums, the most recent (Trapline) recommended. Five tracks, 15:48. B+(**)
Martial Solal & Dave Liebman: Masters in Paris (2016 , Sunnyside): Piano and saxophone (tenor/soprano) duo, recorded a few months after their Masters in Bordeaux, so the pianist would have turned 89. Familiar standards, the opening "A Night in Tunisia" is especially striking. B+(***)
Dayna Stephens Trio: Liberty (2019 , Contagious Music): Tenor saxophonist, 10+ albums since 2007, mainstream/postbop, seems like I first noticed him on other people's albums. Trio with Ben Street (bass) and Eric Harland (drums). Good framework to hear him play. B+(***)
Craig Taborn/Dave King: The Tower Tapes #3 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): Piano-drums duo, both also credited with electronics. Two parts (57:04 and 18:22). Taborn is one of the top pianists today, but he first started winning polls in the less competitive electric keyboard category, which he returns to impressively here. B+(***) [bc]
TeeJayx6: The Swipe Sessions (2019, The Family Entertainment): Detroit rapper, first mixtape, invents a new genre: cybergangsta. I never got the point behind Bitcoin, so some of this goes over my head. Can't say as I approve of the rest either, but beats and flow are still valid currencies. B+(***)
Michael Thomas: Event Horizon (2019 , Giant Step Arts, 2CD): Alto saxophonist, not the same name trumpet player, co-leader of Terraza Big Band, only album I've found under his own name, a live quartet with more established players: Jason Palmer (trumpet), Hans Glawischnig (bass), and Johnathan Blake (drums). B+(***) [cd]
Azu Tiwaline: Draw Me a Silence Part I (2020, IOT, EP): Electronica producer from Tunisia, Nice beat and ambience. Six songs, 27:04. A Part II is due late May, as is a 2-LP that combines the two. B+(**)
Gary Versace: All for Now (2019 , SteepleChase): Piano trio, with Jay Anderson (bass) and Obed Calvaire (drums). Not sure I've seen him play piano before --usual instruments are organ and accordion, so not unrelated. Mostly originals, including one from Bud Powell. B+(**)
Rod Wave: Pray 4 Love (2020, Alamo): Young rapper from Florida, Rodarius Green (how young? "grew up listening to E-40"). Second album, a hip-hop lovers rock. B+(**)
Webber/Morris Big Band: Both Are True (2018 , Greenleaf Music): Two tenor saxophonists, Anna Webber and Angela Morris, both conduct, both also play flute, co-lead a conventional big band plus guitar and vibes. Too fancy for me to figure out. B+(**)
Hayley Williams: Petals for Armor (2020, Atlantic): Singer-songwriter, first solo album after five fronting Paramore. Organized as three discs, but at five songs each, totals 55:47. B+(*)
Charli XCX: How I'm Feeling Now (2020, Asylum): English pop star, Charlotte Aitchison, fourth album, a quickie recorded under quarantine in her home studio in Los Angeles. Doesn't allow her the usual kitchen sink pop production, but she cranks the synths up loud enough it doesn't matter. B+(***)
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Apala: Apala Groups in Nigeria 1967-70 (1967-70 , Soul Jazz): A Yoruba music style, originated in the 1930s, based on talking drums, thumb piano, percussion, originally rooted in religion -- strikes me as a parallel to nyahbinghi in Jamaica, but harder to understand. Haruna Ishola is the biggest star, responsible for 5 (of 18) tracks here. B+(*)
Derek Bailey/Greg Goodman: Extracting Fish-Bones From the Back of the Despoiler (1992 , The Beak Doctor): Duo, guitar and "objets d'intérieur" (mostly percussion). Goodman has played on a dozen-plus albums 1978-2017, mostly improv settings with everyone's name on the top line. B+(**) [lp]
Alan Braufman: Valley of Search (1975 , Valley of Search): Alto saxophonist, first album, for that matter the first album released on India Navigation, an important avant-jazz label of the late 1970s. With Cooper-Moore (piano), Cecil McBee (bass), David Lee (drums), and Ralph Williams (percussion). One piece is based on a Baha'i prayer, recited by Cooper-Moore -- comes off gloomy. But elsewhere the rhythm kicks up, and joy develops. A-
Alan Braufman & Cooper-Moore: Live at WKCR May 22, 1972 (1972 , Valley of Search, EP): Sax-piano duo, earliest work I've run across from either, just three tracks (17:40), "Suite I," etc. Avant intensity, the pianist already a unique talent. B+(**)
Emperor X: Nineteen Live Recordings (2005-13 , Dreams of Field): Singer-songwriter Chad Matheny, debuted under his alias in 1998, got some notice for his 2011 album Western Teleport, released this in 2013, the date still on Bandcamp despite adding a "2020 Preface" to the page (sounds like a reissue to me, especially as the label has changed). Interesting guy, but expect rough spots. B+(*) [bc]
The Good Life: The Animals Took Over (2009 , self-released): Drummer Scott Amendola put this together, taking the name from a piece on the Pat Matheny/Ornette Coleman album Song X, recorded it live in Oakland, and finally decided to donate it to Food Bank NYC. With two guitarists (John Dieterich and Nels Cline), clarinet (Ben Goldberg), and electric bass (Trevor Dunn) -- a slightly augmented Nels Cline Singers. Two Coleman tunes, an opener by Jimmy Giuffre, three originals from the band. Could be tighter, but nearly ever song peaks. A- [bc]
John Gruntfest/Greg Goodman: In This Land All the Birds Wore Hats and Spurs (1984-2008 , The Beak Doctor): American alto saxophonist, only other album Discogs lists is from 1977, plus a couple of side credits. Goodman, a British gadfly who shows up on widely scattered platters with various avant-gardists, is credited with "Every Thing Else." That seems to be about right. A- [lp]
Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80: Perambulator (1983 , Knitting Factory): Two tracks, "Perambulator" (14:36) and "Frustration" (13:42). Title track appears to date from a 1978 release of Shuffering and Shmiling, but when MCA did their 1978 reissues it was replaced by "No Agreement" (the title of a 1977 album that didn't get reissued). Fairly classic groove pieces, dubious discography. B+(***)
The MacroQuarktet: The Complete Night: Live at the Stone NYC (2007 [2020, Out of Your Head, 2CD): Quartet, two trumpet players (Dave Ballou and Herb Robertson), bass (Drew Gress) and drums (Tom Rainey). Released one album in 2008, Each Part a Whole, a live set from The Stone in NYC reissued on the first disc here, along with a second disc of additional material. B+(***) [cd]
Eddie Russ: Fresh Out (1974 , Soul Jazz): Keyboard player from Pittsburgh (1940-96), recorded three albums 1974-78, this his first. Mostly groove, with Larry Nozero (flute, soprano sax), guitar, bass, drums, extra percussion, mixing in anonymous strings and horns. Three originals, covers from Les McCann, Chuck Mangione, and Stevie Wonder. B
Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings (1982 , Verve): Originally released as Fodder in Her Wings on Carrere in France, reissued in France by CY in 1988, and by Sunnyside in 2015. A mixed bag of pieces, including some Latin rhythm, an upbeat gospel, and the aptly titled "Liberian Calypso." B+(**)
Stone Crush: Memphis Modern Soul 1977-1987 (1977-87 , Light in the Attic): Crate digging, 19 songs from 15 artists I've never heard of. Title cut was by O.T. Sykes, a dentist, and has a bit of Commodores funk to it. Nothing brilliant here, but the soft ballads are fetching, the nods toward disco and funk functional. B+(**)
Muhal Richard Abrams: Young at Heart/Wise in Time (1969 , Delmark): Pianist from Chicago, AACM founder, second album, two long pieces: a 29:20 piano solo, and a 21:52 quintet track, with Leo Smith (trumpet), Henry Threadgill (alto sax), bass, and drums -- by far the more exciting piece. Not sure if the original LP runs that long. B+(**)
Muhal Richard Abrams: Think All, Focus One (1994 , Black Saint): Plays synthesizer as well as piano, leads a septet with most of the options of a big band: trumpet, trombone, tenor sax/bass clarinet, guitar, bass, drums -- not big names but each has a role. B+(***)
Muhal Richard Abrams: Song for All (1995 , Black Saint): Piano/synthesizer, leading a septet -- trumpet (Eddie Allen), trombone (Craig Harris), saxes (Aaron Stewart), vibes, bass, drums, with voice (Richards Abrams) to start. B+(***)
George Adams: Sound Suggestions (1979, ECM): Tenor saxophonist, joined Charles Mingus in 1973 and played on his last great albums (along with Don Pullen and Dannie Richmond -- from 1979 members of the Adams/Pullen Quartet). With Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), Heinz Sauer (tenor sax), Richie Beirach (piano), Dave Holland (bass), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). Wheeler wrote 2 (of 5) songs, vs. 2 by Adams, 1 by Sauer. Only true Adams moment is "Got Someethin' Good for You," a huge blues with his growling vocal and hottest sax. B+(*)
George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet: Live at Montmartre (1985 , Timeless): Live shot from Copenhagen, with Cameron Brown (bass) and Dannie Richmond (drums) filling out the Quartet, and John Scofield (guitar) along for the ride (starts with one of his pieces). [Later reissued under Adams' name only. Some good moments here.] B+(**)
Air: Montreux Suisse Air: Live at Montreux 1978 (1978, Arista Novus): Saxophonist Henry Threadgill's 1975-82 trio with Fred Hopkins (bass) and Steve McCall (drums), best known for their 1979 album Air Lore, which brought Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton into the avant-jazz canon. Live set offers three originals, 39:02. B+(*)
Air: Live Air (1976-77 , Black Saint): Two sets (39:53 total), one in New York, the other Michigan. Starts meandering, with way too much flute, but ends real strong. B+(*)
Air: Air Mail (1980 , Black Saint): Three pieces, titles just initials, just 35:41. Again, flute opens weak, but sax ends strong. B+(**)
Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway: Oahspe (1978 , Auricle): BassDrumBone trio, a decade before they started recording under that name, the first record (of dozens) the trombonist and bassist put their name on, second for drummer Hemingway (whose debut featured the others). B+(***) [bc]
Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Frank Möbus/Ernst Glerum/Paul Van Kemenade: Who Is in Charge? (2010 , Kemo): American trombonist, likes to play funk as well as avant-garde, visits the Netherlands, where avant has always had a comic edge. The others play drums, guitar, bass, and alto sax -- the latter is someone I've overlooked, although his discography goes back to 2000 and includes several pairings with Wolter Wierbos. He also wrote three pieces here, vs. 1 each for the others (except Bennink; maybe he picked the "Song for Ché" cover?). B+(***)
Ray Anderson/Han Bennink/Ernst Glerum/Paul Van Kemenade: Checking Out (2016, Kemo): Same group minus guitar, which doesn't cost them much. B+(***)
The Art Ensemble of Chicago: Bap-Tizum (1972 , Atlantic): Cover proclaims "Great Black Music" and "Recorded in performance at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival 1972." Long-running group, founded by AACM members in 1968, with Lester Bowie (trumpet), Roscoe Mitchell/Joseph Jarman (reeds), Malachi Favors (bass), and Don Moye (drums), everyone also on percussion, which is what ultimately matters. Other stuff harder to take. B
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Nice Guys (1978 , ECM): Group recorded inensely 1969-70, a few more to 1974, then a break until they landed here on ECM. Starts with Lester Bowie's bent reggae "Ja," and ends with a flair. B+(***)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Full Force (1980, ECM): Four pieces, one each by all but Moye, one by everyone. Lives up to title. B+(***)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Third Decade (1984 , ECM): The number of credited instruments has hit a likely record here. According to Discogs: Lester Bowie (4), Joseph Jarman (19), Roscoe Mitchell (16), Malachi Favors (8), Don Moye (20). B+(**)
BassDrumBone [Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway]: Cooked to Perfection (1986-96 , Auricle): Trombone-bass-drums trio, nominally their sixth group album but culled from various European tours, with five tracks from 1986, one 1987, two 1996. B+(**) [bc]
Tim Berne Sextet: The Ancestors (1983, Soul Note): Alto saxophonist, first album on a label that got any notice. With Mack Goldsbury (soprano/tenor sax), Herb Robertson (trumpets), Ray Anderson (trombone/tuba), Ed Shuller (bass), Paul Motian (drums). Three longish pieces. B+(*)
Tim Berne: Mutant Variations (1983 , Soul Note): Quartet with Herb Robertson (trumpet), Ed Schuller (bass), and Paul Motian (drums). Five songs, each with a different concept as he sets and defies expectations. Most impressive for me is "Clear," where the horns run free. B+(***)
Arthur Blythe: Blythe Spirit (1981, Columbia): Alto saxophonist, from Los Angeles, part of Horace Tapscott's scene before he landed a major label contract and responded with Lennox Avenue Breakdown, his masterpiece. This is his fourth album for Columbia, midway through a decade tenure. Most tracks have guitar, cello, tuba, and drums. The other two: a resplendent "Misty" with piano-bass-drums (John Hicks, Fred Hopkins, Steve McCall), and a trad gospel with organ-tuba (Amina Claudine Myers, Bob Stewart). B+(***)
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: I Only Have Eyes for You (1985, ECM): Trumpet player from St. Louis, member of Art Ensemble of Chicago, first album (of nine) with this group, a nonet with four trumpets, two trombones, French horn (Vincent Chancey) and tuba (Bob Stewart), plus drums. Most impressive at the bookends: the title standard, and a Bowie credit that draws heavily on old gospel. B+(***)
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Avant Pop (1986, ECM): Alternates originals, including one dedicated by Steve Turre to Machito, with pop tunes ("Saving All My Love for You," "Blueberry Hill," "Crazy," "Oh, What a Night"). The covers are fun, but a Bowie credit with its "No Shit" chorus is even more so -- I hesitate to call it an original because it sure sounds like it was cribbed from somewhere. A-
John Butcher/Gerry Hemingway: Buffalo Pearl (2005 , Auricle): Duo, tenor/soprano sax and drums, joint improv, recorded live in Buffalo. B+(***) [bc]
Don Cherry/Dewey Redman/Charlie Haden/Ed Blackwell: Old and New Dreams (1979, ECM): Ornette Coleman's legendary 1958-61 Quartet, minus Coleman, plus Redman, who played tenor sax in Coleman's 1960s groups. Group did an eponymous album for Black Saint (1976), two for ECM, regrouped on the drummer's birthday in 1987 for A Tribute to Blackwell, their final concert (he died in 1992). Two Coleman songs, one each from Redman, Cherry (trumpet, piano), Haden (bass), and Blackwell (drums). B+(**)
Don Cherry/Dewey Redman/Charlie Haden/Ed Blackwell [Old and New Dreams]: Playing (1980 , ECM): Redman (tenor sax) opens up strong, and eclipses Don Cherry (trumpet) as the main force here. Three Coleman songs, one each for Cherry, Redman, and Haden. B+(***)
Tommy Flanagan: Thelonica (1982 , Enja): Pianist, plays nine Thelonious Monk tunes, with George Mraz (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). B+(**)
Charlie Haden/Paul Motian Feat. Geri Allen: Etudes (1987 , Soul Note): Bass-drums-piano trio, the pianist much the junior partner here with one original song ("Dolphy's Dance") vs. three each (although two of Motians were short "Etude" titles), plus covers from Ornette Coleman and Herbie Nichols. Remarkable balance and poise, and when the piano drops out you still get something remarkable. A- [yt]
Gerry Hemingway: Kwambe (1978, Auricle): Drummer, from New Haven, Connecticut; first album, probably 22 at the time, opens with the 20:41 title piece, quintet with African instruments (Ghanian flute and Tanzanian xylophone), piano (Anthony Davis) and bass (Mark Helias). Other pieces include a trio with Davis and George Lewis (trombone/euphonium), a solo, and an early assembly of BassDrumBone (Hemingway's long-running trio with Helias and Ray Anderson). B+(*) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway: Solo Works (1981, Auricle): Solo percussion, four pieces ranging from 6:00 to 9:58, doesn't connect much, but not without interest. B [bc]
Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Outerbridge Crossing (1985 , Sound Aspects): First Quintet album, recorded in New Haven, with David Mott (baritone sax), Ray Anderson (trombone/tuba), Ernst Reijseger (cello), and Mark Dresser (bass). Snappy title cut shows promise, but things drag later on. B+(*) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway: Tubworks (1985 , Sound Aspects): Another solo percussion record, opens with the 17:54 "Four Studies for Single Instruments." Similar issues with all of his solo albums, but "Dance of the Sphygmoids" picks up the pace. B+(*) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Slamadam (1991-94 , Random Acoustics): Nine Quintet albums 1985-2011, this one midway, with his most common lineup: Michael Moore (alto sax/clarinet/bass clarinet), Wolter Wierbos (trombone), Ernst Reijseger (cello), and Mark Dresser (bass). Nice mix, especially the horns. B+(***) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway: Acoustic Solo Works 1983-94 (1983-94 , Random Acoustics): More solo, appeared with Electro-Acoustic Solo Works 1984-95, but I don't recall thinking much of his use of electronics. Percussion, of course. B+(*) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Perfect World (1995 , Random Acoustics): Same quintet, starts scratchy/abstract, turns remarkable when everyone comes together. A- [bc]
Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Waltzes, Two-Steps & Other Matters of the Heart (1996 , GM): Same quintet, released after they closed their 1990-98 run, but looking back at their 27 gig/28 day 1996 tour of Europe. Scattered treats, but the waltzes are fun when they kick in. B+(***) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway Quartet: Johnny's Corner Song (1997 , Auricle): The second of four Quartet albums, lineups vary but all have two horns and bass -- here Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax), Robin Eubanks (trombone), and Mark Dresser (bass). B+(**) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway/Thomas Lehn [Tom & Gerry]: Kinetics (2003-06 , Auricle): Duo, Lehn plays analog synthesizer, could be listed first (per "Tom & Gerry"), but I'm following left-to-right artist names further down, because that files better. Also because it's the drums that justify the title. B+(*) [bc]
Gerry Hemingway: Kernelings: Solo Works 1995-2012 (1995-2012 , Auricle): More scattered solo pieces, some straight drumming I like quite a bit. Originally came with a DVD, which I haven't seen. B+(**) [bc]
Luís Lopes: Noise Solo at ZBD Lisbon (2011-12 , LPZ): Portuguese guitarist, has impressed me, especially with his Humanization 4tet, plays solo, focus on noise but not for its own sake. B+(*) [lp]
Jimmy Lyons: Other Afternoons (1969 , Affinity): Alto saxophonist, best known for his work with Cecil Taylor from 1961 up to his death in 1986. This, recorded in Paris for BYG, is his first album as a leader -- only one until 1979. Quartet with Lester Bowie (trumpet), Alan Silva (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums). B+(**)
Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Wee Sneezawee (1983 , Black Saint): Alto saxophonist, best known for his work with Cecil Taylor, in a quintet with Raphe Malik (trumpet), Karen Borca (bassoon), William Parker (bass), and Paul Murphy (drums). Exciting runs from all three horns, but especially Lyons, and you do notice how great the bassist is. A-
Jimmy Lyons Quintet: Give It Up (1985, Black Saint): Karen Borca (bassoon) and Paul Murphy (drums) return, this time with Enrico Rava (trumpet) and Jay Oliver (bass). B+(***)
Pamelo Mounk'a: No. 1 Africain: Ça Ne Se Prete Pas (1982, Star Musique): Congolese singer-songwriter (1945-96), from Brazzaville, had a hit "L'Argent Appelle L'Argent" (1981), later recorded with Rochereau and M'Bilia Bel. Christgau recommended his 1983 album Propulsion!, but this was the only LP I managed to track down. Soukous groove music, but first side sounds off to me, like the speed is wobbling. Nice ballad on the flipside, and better groove. B+(*) [lp]
Pamelo Mounk'a: Propulsion! (1983, Disques Sonics): Four-track LP (30:05), found them on a compilation (L'Essentiel, on Syllart), but thought I'd review them separately as I've long looked for this particular album. Relatively light touch for soukous, but the groove wins out. A-
Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Essentiel (1981-84 , Syllart): Minor soukous star from Brazzaville, on the other side of the Congo River. Ten-track compilation, the first four tracks (including hit "L'Argent Appelle L'Argent") from his eponymous 1981 album, next four from 1983's Propulsion!, plus two more I haven't found any other home for ("Le Travail, Toujours Le Travail," "Adjoussou D'Abidjan"). High point is the album Propulsion!, which you're most likely to find here. A-
Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Indispensable (1982-85 , Syllart): As far as I can tell, Syllart's three compilation all appeared at the same time, and don't have clear chronology or pecking order. This starts off with the 1982 album Samantha, then adds five tracks from I know not where. At least two tracks here belong on his best-of: "Samantha" and "Camitina." B+(***)
Pamelo Mounk'a: L'Incontournable (1982-85 , Syllart): Starts with Africain No. 1: Ça Ne Prete Pas (1982), adds five more songs of unknown providence. As with the other volumes, gets stronger as it goes. B+(***)
New Air: Live at Montreal International Jazz Festival (1983 , Black Saint): After Air split up in 1982, Henry Threadgill (alto/baritone sax, flute) and Fred Hopkins (bass) regrouped for the occasional gig, with Pheeroan Aklaff (percussion) justifying the "New" sobriquet. This is the first of two live albums. B+(***)
Old and New Dreams: Live in Saalfelden 1986 (1986 , Condition West): Live shot, Paul Motian filling in for regular drummer Ed Blackwell. Sound not great, but some of their best playing -- even on the 17:20 "Bass Feature." B+(***) [bc]
Oregon: Oregon (1983, ECM): Jazz/world fusion group formed in Eugene, Oregon in 1971, recorded their early albums for Vanguard (most notably 1973's Music of Another Present Era). Ralph Towner (guitar, but mostly synthesizer here), Paul McCandless (reeds), Glen Moore (bass), Colin Walcott (percussion). B
Oregon: Crossing (1984 , ECM): More guitar, a little more upbeat. B+(*)
Sonny Rollins: With the Modern Jazz Quartet (1951-53 , Prestige/OJC): Originally on 10-inch albums, compiled into Rollins' first LP in 1956: four tracks as billed from 1953, eight Quartet tracks from 1951 (Kenny Drew, Percy Heath, and Art Blakey), and one earlier track with Miles Davis, Heath, and Roy Haynes. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins [Volume 1] (1956 , Blue Note): Not sure when this officially became Volume 1 -- the only thing other than the artist name on the original LP was "blue note 1542," and I've never seen any "Volume 1" artwork, although a 1988 reissue says Volume One on the CD, and most sources even for earlier reissues are explicit. Vol. 2 came out in 1958, and they were reissued together many times. Quintet with Donald Byrd (trumpet), Wynton Kelly (piano), Gene Ramey (bass), and Max Roach (drums) on five songs, a relaxed 40:41. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Volume 2 (1957, Blue Note): With JJ Johnson (trombone), Paul Chambers (bass), Art Blakey (drums), and two pianists listed (Horace Silver and Thelonious Monk, nothing on who plays what but it shouldn't be hard to figure out). Two Rollins originals, two Monk songs, two standards. Feels like three scattered singles, and I'm not sure any of them really belong to Rollins. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins Plays (1956-57 , Essential Music Group): LP originally released by Period (probably in 1958), as a "Leonard Feather Presents," only one side (three songs, 19:37) by Rollins (Quintet with Jimmy Cleveland on trombone, Gil Coggins on piano, plus bass and drums), the other by Thad Jones and His Ensemble (with Frank Foster or Frank Wess on tenor sax). Strong period for both artists, though caveat emptor is in order. B+(***)
Sonny Rollins Featuring Jim Hall: The Quartets (1962 , RCA Bluebird): Reissue of The Bridge -- Rollins' first record for RCA -- plus two tracks from What's New? All tracks have Hall on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and most have Ben Riley on drums. B+(***)
Sonny Rollins & Don Cherry: Live at the Olympia '63 (1963 , Master Classics): Tenor sax and trumpet, quartet with Henry Grimes (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums), one of several recordings made during a two-month tour of Europe, has appeared on several labels under various titles (e.g., The Complete 1963 Paris Concert, on Gambit). B+(***)
Sonny Rollins/Don Cherry Quartet: The Complete 1963 Copenhagen Concert (1963 , Doxy, 2CD): Same group, live set, four days before the Olympia radio shot, five pieces stretched out even more. Sound is a bit dodgy, but the excitement is palpable. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Live in Tokyo, Japan '63 (1963 , Master Classics): Long takes of "Mack the Knife" and "Oleo" (22:06 and 23:12) with a quintet: Reshid Kmal Ali (trumpet), Paul Bley (piano), Henry Grimes (bass), Ron McCurdy (drums), two short tracks with Betty Carter vocals, and a final "On a Slow Boat to China" with a Japanese pick-up rhythm section. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Sonny Rollins & Co. 1964 (1964 , RCA Bluebird): Six tracks from The Standard Sonny Rollins (1965), one from Now's the Time (1964), six more not issued at the time. Some trio with bass and drums, three tracks add Jim Hall (guitar), five others Herbie Hancock (piano). That's a formula for a messy collection, but Rollins in one of those grooves he barely needs anyone else. A-
Sonny Rollins: Horn Culture (1973, Milestone): Second album for Milestone, his regular label from returning from his hiatus in 1972 up to his definitive This Is What I Do in 2000. With piano (Walter Davis Jr.), guitar (Yoshiaki Masuo), electric bass (Bob Cranshaw), drums (David Lee), and percussion (Mtume). A-
Sonny Rollins: The Cutting Edge (1974, Milestone): Live, from Montreux Jazz Festival, with same band except for Stanley Cowell on piano, plus bagpipes on the long "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" closer. Mostly seems to be in a laid-back mood, although occasionally you get a glimpse of what he can do. B+(*)
Sonny Rollins: The Way I Feel (1976, Milestone): George Duke wrote two songs, but Patrice Rushen is the keyboard player here (and wrote the other non-original). With Lee Ritenour (guitar), Billy Cobham (drums), Bill Summers (conga), bass or tuba, and much more on 4 (of 7) tracks. All meant to make him feel happy, which is contagious. B+(***)
Sonny Rollins: Easy Living (1977, Milestone): Fifth Milestone album, six tracks: three originals, "Isn't She Lovely?," "My One and Only Love," "Easy Living." Band mostly electric -- guitar, bass, keyboards (George Duke) -- with Tony Williams. Takes two songs on soprano, not what you generally pay your money for, but we're still talking Sonny Rollins here. B+(***)
Sonny Rollins: Don't Stop the Carnival (1978, Milestone): Live double from Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, runs 9 songs, 70:56. Electric guitar, bass, keyboards, plus Tony Williams, with Donald Byrd (trumpet) joining midway. Critics have been harsh, but Rollins can be awesome, especially on his solo intro. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Don't Ask (1979, Milestone): Electric band, with Larry Coryell (guitar), Jerome Harris (bass), Mark Soskin (keyboards), Al Foster (drums), and Bill Summers (congas). Flirts with disco (although I can't see "Disco Monk" breaking on the dance floor) and orientalism ("Tai-Chi," where he plays lyricon?). Title anticipates the reviews. B
Sonny Rollins: Love at First Sight (1980, Milestone): Two trio cuts, with George Duke (keyboards) and Stanley Clarke (electric bass), four more add drums (Al Foster), two of them also add congas. Pretty solid album. B+(***)
Sonny Rollins: No Problem (1981, Milestone): First thing I noticed here was the vibraphone (Bobby Hutcherson), which adds a little sparkle to his basic groove band: Bobby Broom (guitar), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Tony Williams (drums). Still, the only reason to listen is the saxophone, which he kicks up a notch (e.g., "Coconut Bread"). B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Reel Life (1982, Milestone): Two guitars here, with Bobby Broom from recent albums and Yoshiaki Masuo from Rollins' mid-1970s group, plus Jack DeJohnette joins on drums. None of which really matter, as the best thing here is the 2:12 "Solo Reprise" at the end. B+(*)
Sonny Rollins: The Solo Album (1985, Milestone): One piece, 56:10, split into two parts. I've seen this panned viciously, but solo sax is hard to do, every little bit exposed, and when you get down to it, the sonic palette isn't very broad. I find it often remarkable, but even I have trouble sitting still for the entire run. B+(**)
Sonny Rollins: Old Flames (1993, Milestone): Mostly stadards, like his 1989 Falling in Love With Jazz, all the better to wax eloquent. [5/7 tracks] B+(**)
Henry Threadgill Sextett: Subject to Change (1984 , About Time): Saxophonist (alto/tenor, also flute and clarinet), third album (of five 1982-89) with this group, the extra 't' signifying a second drummer (and seventh musician). With trumpet (Rasul Sadik) and trombone (Ray Anderson), cello (Diedre Murray) and bass (Fred Hopkins). Richly layered. Ends with a vocal by Amina Claudine Myers. B+(**) [lp]
Kenny Wheeler: Gnu High (1975, ECM): Canadian trumpet player, studied at Royal Conservatory of Music in 1950, moved to UK in 1952, played in many free jazz groups but always seemed like more of a postbop player, especially on his many ECM albums. This was his first, playing flugelhorn (really his main instrument), in a quartet with Keith Jarrett (piano), Dave Holland (drums), and Jack DeJohnette (drums). B+(***)
Kenny Wheeler: Around 6 (1979 , ECM): Sextet: Evan Parker (soprano/tenor sax), Eje Thelin (trombone), J.F. Jenny-Clark (bass), Edward Vesala (drums), Tom van der Geld (vibraharp). Parker has some strong runs. B+(**)
Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (1983 , ECM): Quintet: Mike Brecker (tenor sax) is the surprise name on the cover; John Taylor (piano) a close long-time collaborator, plus Holland and DeJohnette. Stellar cast, but I doubt Wheeler has ever been more on top of a record. A-
William Elliott Whitmore: Kilonova (2018, Bloodshot): Folk/country singer-songwriter from Iowa, ninth album since 1999, went with covers this time, "punk rock without the breakneck tempos." The best are the most obscure. B+(**)
WHO [Michel Wintsch/Gerry Hemingway/Bänz Oester]: Identity (1999, Leo): Piano-drums-bass trio, first album to spotlight their initials on the cover, although Wintsch and Hemingway shared a 1994 album, and the trio went on to record several more through 2014. B+(***)
WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Acoustic) (2011-13 , Auricle): Initials: Michel Wintsch (piano), Gerry Hemingway (drums), Bänz Oester (double bass). B+(***)
WHO Trio: WHO Zoo (Electric) (2011-13 , Auricle): Originally a second disc to WHO Zoo, the "electric" refers mostly to Wintsch's use of synthesizer, but piano is still common. Three longish pieces. B+(***)
Hal Willner: Whoops, I'm an Indian (1998, Pussyfoot): Record producer, best known for a series of tribute albums where various artists rehash the works of some notable composer -- my favorite has long been Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill, but he's also honored Nino Rota, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Harold Arlen, Leonard Cohen, and several genres, like Walt Disney songs, or pirate ballads, sea songs, and chanteys. But while I've filed several albums under his name, this is the only one he put his own name on, crediting Martin Brumbach and Adam Dorn (Mocean Worker) and himself as co-authors and producers. Audio collage with occasional references to trad tunes, and Ralph Carney adding some reeds. B+(***) [bc]
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:
Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020, Epic): Best regarded/most hyped album of the year so far. I played it two or three times when it came out, was impressed by the drums, less convinced by the songs, so I hedged. Played it more, impressed by how effortlessly it flows together without ever seeming formulaic, so hedging it the other way. [Was: B+(***)] A-
Aruán Ortiz With Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls (2019 , Intakt): Cuban pianist, based in New York, the others drums and percussion (the latter is also Cuban, the drummer a Haitian born in Brooklyn), all three also credited with voice, their occasional chants another layer of rhythm. [was: B+(**)] A- [cd]
Additional Consumer News:
Grades on artists in the old music section.
Current count 33333  rated (+154), 209  unrated (-12).
Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:
May 27, 2020
Music: Current count 33333  rated (+56), 209  unrated (-5).
Played a lot of old jazz last week. I mostly started with albums that were nominated by JazzTimes in reader polls to select the best albums of the 1970s and 1980s, but once I got into an artist's oeuvre I let myself wander. A couple of these albums were singled out by Chris Monsen as among the ten best of the 1980s, and they fared considerably better than average. I was particularly on the lookout for ECM releases, as they've only recently become available on Napster. Dozens more records on the list, so I may stick with this for a while.
I'm not giving up on new records -- more like pacing myself. I am still maintaining my tracking and metacritic files. They're just not inspiring me to check out a lot of albums at the moment.
Rated count includes a few records I missed counting in previous weeks, but mostly reflects that I rarely gave records a second play (especially old jazz). More exposure could lift a few of them -- especially among the Sonny Rollins releases, given that I have The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1962-64, 6CD) at A-, and Gary Giddins' expert selection from the Milestones (1972-2000), with one song per album, Silver City, at A+.
This is the last Monday of May, so Streamnotes (May, 2020) is wrapped up. I noticed that I had missed doing the indexing for April, so fixed that. I still haven't done the indexing for the last two Book Roundups, so need to work on that. I also have enough Questions to start trying to write up some answers. Should have some of them by the end of the week.
May 18, 2020
Music: Current count 33277  rated (+33), 214  unrated (+2).
First a reminder that you can use this form to ask me a question, or just make a comment. I'll start answering when they've piled up to a presently undetermined critical mass. The form is similar to the one I created for Robert Christgau. Both use a free software captcha package to cut down on spam. I've heard it cuts down on legit submissions as well, although Christgau has received close to 1,000, so it seems to work well enough.
I hadn't noticed any prominent musician deaths in the past week. Well, Phil May, 75, singer for The Pretty Things, a Brit Invasion group that had a cult following among my Terminal Zone comrades.
I did find out about a couple of older deaths last week, when I received a PDF booklet with biographical sketches of a few dozen people who participated in antiwar protests at Washington University in St. Louis in 1970. I moved to St. Louis a couple years later, so wasn't directly involved at that stage, but wound up knowing close to a third of the people in the booklet, as well as others unlisted. Two had died a few years back: Larry Kogan, who I knew as the owner of Left Bank Books but had been one of the main figures prosecuted for burning down the ROTC building in 1970; and Fred Faust, who had edited the student newspaper and been the main technical guy for every radical publication of the period. Fred started a typesetting business called Just Your Type, and one day he came up to me in Larry's book shop and offered me a job. That was the first job I ever had, and it changed my life: taught me I could make a living and survive on my own. Incidentally, when I left academia, I got into reading rock crit, and started my own checkered career as a record reviewer.
I noticed that JazzTimes is running a readers' poll to pick the 10 best jazz albums of the 1980s. I've jotted down their ballot for future reference (162 albums). First thing I'm struck by is that I missed a majority of the albums (100, 61.7%). I bought some jazz in the late 1970s, and lots from 1995 on (increasingly shifting to promos and streaming), so what I know of jazz in the 1980s has mostly been backfill, and almost all from purchases, so I've been pretty selective. Still, I can't complain that the ballot has a lot of obviously mediocre pop jazz (some: one Kenny G, one Bob James, two George Benson, one Yellowjackets, two Bobby McFerrin). Still, a lot of stuff on that list I would like to hear sooner or later (including 12 from ECM, 6 from Soul Note/Black Saint, 3 from Enja). Still, I've only graded 17 records on the list A- or above (4 by Don Pullen, 3 by Ornette Coleman), so a lot of fairly typical B+ material.
I'm not prepared to offer a list, but here's one that Chris Monsen posted on Facebook (with my grades in brackets -- checked out the last three while writing this):
I looked for their 1970s poll, but the page has been taken down. I did manage to scrounge up a results page from Google's cache, so added it to my notebook. The results page only listed 82 albums. With a shorter list of more famous records, the share I've listened to rose to 63.4% (up from 38.3% for the 1980s). The number of A- or better albums remained close to constant (16 vs. 17, 30.7% of graded albums vs. 27.4% for the 1980s). More really low grades, too (8 B- or lower in the 1970s vs. 3 in the 1980s).
Several points on this week's haul:
After no unpacking last week, this week bounced back to something more normal, maybe even a bit above normal.
May 11, 2020
Music: Current count 33244  rated (+37), 212  unrated (-6).
Probably the longest list of musician deaths of any week so far this year:
At least those were the ones I jotted down. Wikipedia lists another dozen-plus musicians I didn't recognize -- mostly classical and world, but also three rappers: Benedict Chijioke [Ty], William Daniels [King Shooter], and Andre Harrell, the latter better known as a producer. No new names so far Monday, but comedian Jerry Stiller (92) died today. As you may know, his "better half" (Anne Meara) passed in 2015.
I haven't tracked down much writing on these musicians, but can point to Robert Christgau's Little Richard: Sexual Shaman and Embodiment of Rock 'n' Roll at Its Most Incendiary. Billboard has been keeping their own list, which adds names like: Nick Blixky, Cady Groves, Brian Howe, Troy Sneed, Scott Taylor, and many more from earlier in the year.
Speaking of obituaries, the Wichita Eagle runs a couple pages of them on Sundays, a bit less on Wednesdays. I didn't do an exact count, and I didn't dig back into the archives, but there's a good chance that Sunday's list was the first time in my life when more people younger than me died than people older than me. The list above split 6 older, 2 younger, but 5 of the 6 were +5 years or less, so for my wife, the break would be 1 older (Little Richard), 7 younger. That's, well, disturbing.
Records listed below lean toward old music. I started the week listening to items I hadn't previously heard from drummer Gerry Hemingway's Bandcamp page (Auricle Records). One of the first records I tried there was Perfect World, a Penguin Guide **** and an A- last week. Nothing this week that good, but that's often the case given how I snatch up the better-regarded records first, and am usually content to give the rest a single spin. Some other Hemingway records I especially recommend (* on Bandcamp page): Songs (2002), The Whimbler (2005)*, Riptide (2011)*; BassDrumBone's Hence the Reason (1997); Saturn Cycle (1994, with Georg Gräwe and Ernst Reijseger); En Adir (1997, with Ivo Perelman, Marilyn Crispell and William Parker); Inbetween Spaces (2010, with Ellery Eskelin)*; Below the Surface Of (2010, with Terence McManus)*; The Apple in the Dark (2010, with Ivo Perelman); Code Re(a)d (2014, with Assif Tsahar and Mark Dresser); Table of Changes (2015, with Marilyn Crispell); Luminous (2018, with Simon Nabatov and Barry Guy); many more side credits, including most of what he did in Anthony Braxton's legendary 1983-93 Quartet -- Willisau (Quartet) 1991 is especially monumental; also two Lisa Sokolov records Presence (2004) and A Quiet Thing (2009).
Hemingway's site offered two BassDrumBone albums I hadn't heard, so that got me looking at trombonist Ray Anderson. The two Dutch albums on Kemo are fun, and there's a good chance that one (or both) could eventually earn an A- grade. The Henry Threadgill album is one I had ungraded on vinyl, and then I noticed the Air albums. Having run out of Astral Spirits CDs, I felt the need to dust off the turntable and play the three LPs they sent me -- but I had pulled the Threadgill album out a while back, so went with it first -- then moved on to other ungraded LPs (they'll show up in next week's report).
Meanwhile, I wiped out nearly all of my demo queue, and even delved into some downloads I had lying around. Plus I got guidance from two list compilers: Lucas Fagen (a short, belated 2019 list) and Phil Overeem (a long one on 2020 so far). Thanks to the latter for noticing Mark Lomax's The 400 Years Suite -- though he would probably return the nod for me writing up Lomax's 2019 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic. The new one can be viewed as a footnote to last year's edition, but I doubt anyone else will produce a more powerful jazz album this year.
The Aruán Ortiz album is a re-grade from one I streamed back in March. Maybe it does help to send me physical product (although this one is pure promo). A persistent publicist got me to listen to a download of the Dave Glasser album after the physical got lost in the mail. I should also mention the MakroQuarktet set. Good chance I would have given an A- to a straight reissue of their 2008 album Each Part a Whole, but the extra material didn't quite merit it. However, if you consider the extra material a mere bonus, and understand that after sampling it you can stick the the first disc, you might value it higher.
Not much to report on various projects. I did announce a Q&A feature last week, but so far have only received one question (and not one I'm chomping at the bit to answer -- something about a low grade for a record I don't recall in any detail, beyond the obvious point that I didn't much like it). I won't guarantee that I'll answer every question, but I'll get to that one in due course. Meanwhile, any questions? Please use this form. Thanks.
May 4, 2020
Music: Current count 33207  rated (+28), 218  unrated (-3).
Another famous musician died last week: Tony Allen, the Nigerian drummer who founded Afrobeat (although his bandleader, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, took most of the credit). He released a few dozen post-Fela albums under his own name. Perhaps the best came out early this year, Rejoice, a 2010 vault tape co-headlined by the late South African trumpet master, Hugh Masekela.
Looking at lists of recent deaths, one name that jumped out at me was Maj Sjowall (84), co-author of the Martin Beck detective books, a name I recall from early days when I took seriously every book published by Pantheon Books. One of many names I was unfamiliar with, but belatedly thankful for, was Henry Geller, who was resposible for getting cigarette advertising banned from TV.
Also noticed the "overlooked" obituary of Kate Worley (1958-2004), who wrote the Omaha the Cat Dancer comics (with illustrator Reed Waller). I probably read more of them than of any of the recent authors to show up in these lists.
Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade: