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Streamnotes: June 29, 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 May 27. Past reviews and more information are available here (14938 records).
79rs Gang: Expected the Unexpected (2020, Sinking City): New Orleans Indians: Big Chief Romeo from the 9th Ward, and Big Chief Jermaine from the 7th. Doesn't break form, which is ok with me, but also doesn't swing as hard as the ancients did, especially when the Meters were in the studio. B+(***)
Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (2020, Blue Note): Trumpet player, from Oakland, sixth album since 2008 (30+ side credits), quartet with Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums). Good player, wide range, still he's never blown me away. B+(**)
Al Bilali Soudan: Tombouctou (2020, Clermont Music): Group, from northern Mali, their isolated town more commonly (these days) spelled Timbuktu. Second album (at least from this NY label, which specializes in music from the Sahara Desert), vocals shouted over a swell of harsh strings and drums, a combo that feels so right it overcomes my instinct to dismiss it as unbearable. A-
Sebastien Ammann: Resilience (2018 , Skirl): Swiss pianist, based in New York since 2008, third album, quintet with MichaŰl Attias (alto sax), Samuel Blaser (trombone), bass, and drums. B+(**) [bc]
AuB: AuB (2020, Edition): British quartet, "pronounced ORB," tenor saxophonists Tom Barford and Alex Hitchcock, backed with bass and drums, most also credited with synthesizers. B+(*)
Lucian Ban/John Surman/Mat Maneri: Transylvanian Folk Songs: The Bela Bartˇk Field Recordings (2020, Sunnyside): Romanian (or perhaps I should say Transylvanian) pianist, studied in Bucharest, moved to New York in 1999, ninth album since 2002. With reeds (bass clarinet, baritone/soprano sax) and viola. Based on field recordings Bartˇk made when Austria-Hungary still controlled Transylvania. B+(**)
Gary Bartz and Maisha: Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions (2019 , Night Dreamer): Alto/soprano saxophonist, long career starts in early 1960s, led albums since 1967. Backed by drummer Jake Long's British band (minus saxophonist Nubya Garcia), on five songs (35:20), vamping freely over an appealing rhythm. B+(***)
Will Bernard: Freelance Subversives (2020, Ropeadope): Guitarist, originally from Berkeley, based in New York, records since 1998, likes a nice groove, often with organ (three players here, with John Medeski on two cuts). B
Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live (2010, Caroline): Stage name for French singer-songwriter Camille Bethomier, moved to England in 2006, first solo album after recording as John & Jehn (2007-10) and Savages (2013-16). A flair for the dramatic -- perhaps prefigured as her first solo project covered David Bowie songs, and her first solo tour opened for PJ Harvey. B+(*)
Black Eyed Peas: Translation (2020, Epic): Seems like they had a perfectly functional hip-hop/funk album on tap for summer release, then wound up adding a most atypical and remarkable topical song, "News Today." B+(***)
Body Count: Carnivore (2020, Century Media): Rapper Ice-T (Tracy Marrow) launched this heavy metal group in 1992. He alternated albums through 1999, then leaned this way, with only one more rap album (2006). Seventh Body Count album. Second song, recorded in 2019, is about police violence. First is about meat, and fourth is a Motorhead cover. Normally I can't stand metal, but turned this down and moved away and still found things to admire. B+(**)
Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet: In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock: Live at De Witte (2019 , O.A.P.): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, made something of a splash in 1995. Second album with the Dutch bassist, who arranged 4 (of 6) Hancock songs, the leaders adding one song each, plus a cover of "Yesterdays." With Rob Van Bavel on piano and Owen Hart Jr. on drums. B+(***)
Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher (2020, Dead Oceans): Singer-songwriter, from Los Angeles, second album, also a principal in (so far) one-album groups Boygenius (with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) and Better Oblivion Community Center (with Conor Oberst). Mostly ballads, surprised I noticed as many lines as I did, even wrote down "it's amazing to me how much you can say when you don't know what you're talking about." My pleasure spots were mostly in the drums, and there aren't enough of them, but the acclaim may well be deserved. "I Know the End" winds up most impressively. B+(**)
Caitlin Cannon: The TrashCannon Album (2020, Caitlin Cannon): Country singer-songwriter from Alabama "with a hairdresser mom and a brother in prison," first album, trashes education in the opener ("your BA is BS"), flirts with rockabilly, eventually settles down. B+(**)
CÚsar Cardoso: Dice of Tenors (2020, self-released): Portuguese tenor saxophonist, third album, a tribute with such sax standards as "Giant Steps" and "St. Thomas." Octet, with Jason Palmer (trumpet), Miguel Zenˇn (alto sax), trombone, vibes, piano, bass, and drums. B+(*)
Daniel Carter/Patrick Holmes/Matthew Putman: Whoadie (2018-19 , 577): Two clarinet players (Carter also credited with saxes, trumpet, flute) and piano, three members of the Telepathic Band -- shows you how much they need that rhythm section. C+
Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver: Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (2019 , 577): Leader plays tenor sax, trumpet, and flute, backed by a rhythm section that's great on paper and bound to Carter by decades of friendship. Big splash up front, tails off a bit toward the end. B+(***)
Caterpillar Quartet: Threads (2019 , ESP-Disk): Brooklyn group, unknowns to me: Ken Kobayashi (drums), Henry Raker (alto sax), Steve Holtje (piano, synthesizer), Jochem van Dijk (bass guitar, effects). Postbop with some edge, blunted a bit by the soft landing. B+(**) [cdr]
Chromeo: Quarantine Casanova (2020, Chromeo, EP): Canadian electropop duo, six albums since 2004, threw this together quick, donating proceeds to Know Your Rights Camp's COVID-19 Relief Fund. Five topical songs -- "Chlorox Wipe," "6 Feet Away," "Stay in Bed (And Do Nothing)," "'Roni Got Me Stressed Out," and "Cabin Fever" -- 18:01, padded out with instrumentals of same (another 16:41). B+(**)
Emmet Cohen Featuring Benny Golson & Albert "Tootie" Heath: Masters Legacy Series Volume 3 (2019, self-released): Pianist, had a couple albums before he hit on the idea of showcasing old-timers. First two albums spotlighted Jimmy Cobb and Ron Carter. Annoying lack of information on this session, like who is the fourth person on the cover (presumably a bassist)? The headliners are legends, Golson (now 91) a major songwriter as well as a leading tenor saxophonist, Heath a widely traveled drummer, including a stretch in Golson's most famous groups. Some reminiscences, lovely music. B+(**)
Emmet Cohen Featuring George Coleman: Masters Legacy Series Volume 4 (2019, self-released): Tenor saxophonist, started in the 1950s, played for Miles Davis before Wayne Shorter took over, has a few good-to-great albums under his own name. With bass and drums (Russell Hall and Bryan Carter). Monk tunes, blues, "On Green Dolphin Street" -- strong stuff. B+(***)
Elysia Crampton: Orcorara 2010 (2020, Pan): Electronica producer, originally from California, has some interesting records. This is an ambitious piece that comes off way too heavy for my taste. B
Whit Dickey: Morph (2019 , ESP-Disk, 2CD): Second of four drummers in David S. Ware Quartet (1993-96), cut his first record with Matthew Shipp in 1992 and remains his most regular trio partner. Dozen albums as leader since 1998, with this his second straight 2-CD affair, although it could just as easily be split into two releases, each disc even having its own title. The first, Reckoning, is a duo with Shipp, the piano so dense I didn't notice that there was no bassist. The second, Pacific Noir, adds Nate Wooley (trumpet), with one of the more impressive outings of his career. A- [cd]
Whit Dickey Trio: Expanding Light (2019 , Tao Forms): Drummer, long associated with Matthew Shipp, played in David S. Ware's Quartet for a while. Trio here with Rob Brown (alto sax) and Brandon Lopez (bass). Brown is consistently terrific here. A-
Dinosaur: To the Earth (2019 , Edition): British jazz "supergroup" -- Laura Jurd (trumpet) and Elliot Galvin (piano) are the ones I recognize elsewhere, bass and drums not so much (Conor Chaplin and Corrie Dick are the names). Third album, a very respectable postbop effort. B+(**)
Dion: Blues With Friends (2020, Keeping the Blues Alive): Last name DiMucci, lead singer in white doo-wop band the Belmonts, put his (first) name out front around 1960, scored big hits for a few years, had some success with a folkie phase up to 1965, has tried other things to avoid just being an oldies act, most recently blues (e.g., 2007's Son of Skip James). Eighty now, looks and sounds younger (not necessarily a compliment for blues musicians), lists 17 friends on the cover four 14 songs, ceding lead vocals twice (Van Morrison and Paul Simon, but Billy Gibbons and Bruce Springsteen just play guitar). B+(*)
Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity (2019 , Greenleaf Music): Nominally a tribute to bebop trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, not that I hear it much on the originals that sandwich the two covers in the middle ("Manteca" and "Pickin' the Cabbage"), the difference mostly in the rhythm, although the same guitar-piano-bass-drums play throughout. No extra horns other than a second trumpet (Dave Adewumi), less for chops than to polish up the brass. B+(**)
Lajos Dudas: The Lake and the Music (2020, JazzSick): Hungarian clarinet player, long based in Germany, in ▄berlingen, on the north shore of Lake Constance, opposite Switzerland. Ten standards, backed by guitar, bass, and drums, with appearances from Karl Berger (vibes) and Gerd Dudek (soprano sax). B+(***)
Beth Duncan: I'm All Yours (2020, Saccat): Subtitled (back cover) "Duncan sings Tabilio" -- all songs by Martine Tabilio. Third album for the singer. No idea about the "Dutch-born, Oakland-based" songwriter. Jackam Manricks arranged. B [cd] [07-24]
Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020, Columbia): Old man, not much voice left, his songcraft ever more dependent on slow blues shuffles. I never put much faith in his Nobel-certified rhymes, and my ears aren't sharp enough to catch many lines here. But every time I play this, "Crossing the Rubicon" mesmerizes for 7:22, and my interest remains piqued through the relaxed 9:34 of "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)," and well into the even longer "Murder Most Foul" (16:54). Probably just a mid-B+ before, but I'll take it. A-
Kahil El'Zabar Ft. David Murray: Kahil El'Zabar's Spirit Groove (2019 , Spiritmuse): Chicago percussionist, leads a quartet with Murray on tenor sax, Justin Dillard on keyboards, and Emma Dayhuff on bass. The leaders have history, but it's been a while since their 1997-2000 albums. Both have slowed down, gotten sentimental, which is why I forgive El'Zabar's singing, and treasure what's left of the saxophonist's chops -- not awesome, but still inspiring. A-
Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between (2020, Smoke Sessions): Pianist, raised in Philadelphia, couple dozen albums since 1995, including at least four with his big band, twenty strong. Didn't really mesh for me until "Tough Love," where the narration gave the musicians something to get worked up about. B+(**)
John Finbury: Quatro (2020, Green Flash Music): Composer, based in Massachusetts, website shows four previous albums. This is mostly a vehicle for singer Magos Herrera, backed by piano (Chano DomÝnguez), bass (John Patitucci), and drums (Antonio Sanchez). Group suggests a Latin tilt, as do 4 (of 7) song titles in Spanish. Can't say as I noticed that from playing. B [cd]
Jean-Marc Foussat/Daunik Lazro/Evan Parker: CafÚ Oto 2020 (2020, Fou, 2CD): French guitarist, plays synths and electronics here, solo on the first disc, with two saxophonists on the second: Lazro on tenor and baritone, Parker on soprano. Both are interesting, but more is better. B+(**) [cd]
Fra Fra: Funeral Songs (2020, Glitterbeat): Group from North Ghana, voices and percussion, billed as "field recordings" so hard to say how old these are. Pretty raw. B
Freddie Gibbs/The Alchemist: Alfredo (2020, ESGN/ALC/Empire): Rapper, from Indiana, last name Tipton, eighth albums, half collaborations, half of those with Alchemist (Daniel Maman). Has a little gangsta in the sauce. B+(*)
GoGo Penguin: GoGo Penguin (2020, Blue Note): British piano trio -- Chris Illingworth (piano), Nick Blacka (bass), Rob Turner (drums) -- fifth album since 2012. Strong groove pieces, more like EST than Bad Plus. B+(***)
Wendy Gondeln/Mats Gustafsson/Wolfgang Voigt: The Shithole Country & Boogie Band (2016-18 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): Artists listed as "featuring" under the title, which could be the band name if this really was a band, which doesn't seem to be the case. Saxophonist Gustafsson seems to have laid down the initial tracks (including piano mate and live electronics), then handed them off to Gondeln, who added her bits (violin, electronic treatments and more) and passed them on to Voigt (editing and mix), with some guitar and lap top guitar provided by "special guest" Martin Siewert. B+(***) [bc]
CeeLo Green: CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway (2020, Easy Eye Sound): Seems to be an unwritten law that hip-hop aliases will eventually revert to using given names, at least in a title. Callaway started in Goodie Mob in 1991, went solo in 2002, sixth album here, not counting his detour as Gnarls Barkley. First two were pretty great, but he slipped from there, raps never, and his soul ballads tend toward the grandiose and melodramatic. B
Haim: Women in Music Pt. III (2020, Columbia): Three sisters -- Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim -- from Los Angeles. Third album, the others named differently. Producers Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid share most writing credits, and Paul Thomas Anderson does their videos. Makes for a consistent well-oiled MOR pop machine. B+(**)
Hamell on Trial: The Pandemic Songs (2020, self-released): R-rated folksinger, decided to fight pandemic boredom by writing 15 songs in 15 days, cut this down "the best 9 I think," about disease and masks and social distancing and murder and mayhem and MAGA hat fans getting what's coming to them ("got no problem with that"). Runs 30:11. A- [bc]
Daniel Hersog: Night Devoid of Stars (2019 , Cellar Live): Trumpet player from Vancouver, doesn't play here, composed all but one piece and leads a multifaceted big band, with Frank Carlberg (piano) and Noah Preminger (tenor sax) the ringers. Didn't really catch my attention until "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" came wafting through, after which a lot of intricate details began to emerge. B+(**) [cd]
Hinds: The Prettiest Curse (2020, Mom + Pop): Girl band from Madrid, Spain, originally the Deers. Third album, sounds like a crowd cheering section adding to their wall of sound. Messy good fun. A-
Human Feel: The Tower Tapes #5 (2019 , Jazz Club Ferrara): Two sax quartet, with Andrew D'Angelo (alto + bass clarinet), Chris Speed (tenor + clarinet), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar/electronics), and Jim Black (drums/electronics), released a good album in 2019 (Gold). As with all of these tapes, consists of two sets, no song breakdown, something the Club is doing to tide itself over. B+(**) [bc]
Jason Kao Hwang: Human Rites Trio (2019 , True Sound): Violinist, born in America but studied Chinese classical music and added it to his jazz mix. With Ken Filiano (bass) and Andrew Drury (drums). Sample title: "Battle for the Indelible Truth." A- [cd] [07-01]
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Reunions (2020, Southeastern): Singer-songwriter, in Drive-By Truckers 2001-07, seventh solo album since. Some people I respect consider him major, but I can't say as I ever hear much in his sober, tasteful, well-structured songs. B+(*)
Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly (2020, Bjurecords): Danish bassist, lived in New York 1998-2012, was co-founder of Brooklyn Jazz Underground, dozen albums since 2004, always struck me as a composer first, but has been working with this group so long they've achieved a lovely balance. Group includes John Ellis (tenor sax), Danny Grissett (piano), Otis Brown III (drums), with Peter Dahlgren (trombone) the "+ 1." A-
Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated Side B (2020, School Boy): Canadian singer-songwriter/pop star, pairs this album with her 2019 Dedicated, much as she released a Side B sequel to her 2015 album E-MO-TION. Album came out with no publicity or reviews, and I'm not quick enough to sort it out. B+(**)
Norah Jones: Pick Me Up Off the Floor (2020, Blue Note): Singer-songwriter, plays piano, famous father Ravi Shankar, grew up in Texas with mother Ann Jones after age 7, eighth album since 2002 (the mega-selling Come Away With Me). I'm reminded how appealing her voice is. B+(*)
Jumpstarted Plowhards: Round One (2019, Recess, EP): Postpunk "group" -- joint effort between Tod Cofelliere (F.Y.P, Toys That Kill, Underground Railroad to Candyland) and Mike Watt (bassist, has a long and checkered career that started with the Minutemen). Eight songs, eight different drummers, 18:49. B+(*)
KeiyaA: Forever, Ya Girl (2020, Keiya): Chicago-based neo-soul singer, production murky, but seems to have something to it. B+(**)
Lady Gaga: Chromatica (2020, Interscope): Pop star, started off as a gay icon, later moved into acting, not sure where her duet album with Tony Bennett belongs. Reverts to hard dance pop form here: hard beats, strong words, arena acoustics. Reminds me of Madonna, a bit too much. B+(***)
John Law's Congregation: Configuration (2018 , Ubuntu Music): British pianist, regarded as an avant-garde figure in the 1990s (e.g., Extremely Quartet), has largely escaped my attention ever since. Emerges here with a quartet -- James Mainwaring (saxes, guitar, electronics), Ashley John Long (bass), and Billy Weir (drums) -- with strong beats and powerful riffing. B+(***)
Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene (2020, Jazzhaus): German singer-actress, first recorded appearance was on the original Vienna production of Cats, quickly found her niche with Ute Lemper Singt Kurt Weill and Life Is a Cabaret, so of course she has a Marlene Dietrich songbook -- she's lived it for decades, but specifically cites "a 3-hour phone call and exchange between Marelene and Ute in 1988 in Paris" as the basis for this production. I found the theatricality a turn off at first, but ultimately was won over. Mostly in German, bits of French and English, often sliding from one to another line by line -- the German bits of "Blowing in the Wind" are genius, as is the intro to "Falling in Love Again." B+(***)
Little Simz: Drop 6 (2020, AWAL, EP): London rapper, Simbi Ajikawo, had a major album last year in Grey Area, returns with a 5-cut, 12:49 quickie lockdown EP, lost me at the end. B+(*)
Corb Lund: Agricultural Tragic (2020, New West): Country singer-songwriter from Alberta, topics range from grizzly bears to Oklahomans including whiskey and lots of horses. Jaida Dreyer joins in a duet, arguing for gin instead. B+(**)
Madre Vaca: Winterreise (2020, Madre Vaca): "Dynamic collective of artists, three "founders" among the eight musicians here: Jarrett Carter (guitar), Jonah Pierre (piano), and Benjamin Shorstein (drums). Music is by Franz Schubert, words by Wilhelm MŘller (not a big deal), arrangements by Shorstein. Starts semi-classical and moves toward Latin. B [cd]
Rudresh Mahanthappa: Hero Trio (2020, Whirlwind): Alto saxophonist, major, decided to do an album of covers here, not clear whether it's the band or the subjects (Charlie Parker, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Johnny Cash, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker again, and again) who are the heroes. Trio with Franšois Moutin (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), the rhythm section from his quintet Bird Calls -- probably the most popular and my least favorite of his albums. This one is more fun, probably because his Parker is so upbeat. Recorded avant le deluge, but couldn't be timelier. A-
Sabir Mateen/Patrick Holmes/Federico Ughi: Survival Situation (2018 , 577): Holmes plays clarinet, as does Mateen (credited first with saxophones, also with flute, farfisa matador, and voice), with Ughi on drums. Rather hit and miss. B+(**)
Medhane: Cold Water (2020, TBHG): Brooklyn rapper. A little murky. B+(*) [bc]
Medhane: Full Circle (2020, TBHG, EP): Came out a bit earlier. Same concept. Might be something here. B [bc]
MIKE: Weight of the World (2020, 10k): New York rapper Michael Bonema, remains nearly impossible to google despite at least six albums and more singles and EPs since 2015. Partly, I suppose, because his beats and rhymes are so far underground one rarely notices them. B+(*) [bc]
Mike and the Moonpies: Touch of You: The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart (2020, Prairie Rose): Austin band, Mike Harmeier sings and usually writes, called their first record The Real Country (2010), their second one Hard Way. The guys at Saving Country Music are big fans, but I've never been that impressed. It helps here that they've got their hands on a batch of Stewart's songs. Would help more if they were all as good as "Smooth Shot of Whiskey." B+(**)
Benjamin Moussay: Promontoire (2019 , ECM): French pianist, three trio albums since 2002, this one a solo. B+(**)
Eva Novoa: Satellite Quartet (2017 , Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, born in Barcelona, based in Brooklyn, handful of albums since 2010. Quartet with guitar, bass, and drums -- nothing challenging the pianist. B+(*)
Aaron Parks: Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man (2019 , Ropeadope): Pianist, from Seattle, half-dozen albums since 2008 (plus a couple as a teenage prodigy). Quartet with guitar (Greg Tuohey), bass, and drums, plays some electric keyboards, strong focus on beat and flow. B+(**)
Perfume Genius: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately (2020, Matador): Singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, fifth album since 2020. I've never gotten anything from his records, but he has a story, and if you're young and male you might appreciate someone who's had it even rougher than you and tried to make something beautiful out of it. Which, in a way, he has. B+(*)
Bobby Previte/Jamie Saft/Nels Cline: Music From the Early 21st Century (2019 , RareNoise): Drums, keyboards, guitar, all pieces jointly credited. All three have checkered histories dabbling in fusion as well as more avant pursuits, so this foray into jazzed-up noise makes sense. Of its time, if not quite the Zeitgeist. B+(*)
Stephen Riley: Friday the 13th (2018 , SteepleChase): Mainstream tenor saxophonist, from North Carolina, roughly one album per year since 2005. Quartet with Kirk Knuffke (trumpet), Jay Anderson (bass), and Billy Drummond (drums): all standards, most from 1950s/60s jazz musicians. Horns do a nice job of shading each other. B+(***)
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Sideways to New Italy (2020, Sub Pop): Australian jangle pop group, second or third album, when they turn wistful they sound a bit like the Go-Betweens, but it's hard to figure out why (beyond Australian, obviously). B+(**)
Rent Romus/Heikki Koskinen/Life's Blood Ensemble: Manala (2019 , Edgetone): Alto saxophonist, plays other instruments, with Finnish e-trumpet player, and nine others, present "a musical adventures inspired by Finnish mythopoetics and Uralic oral traditions." Starts shaky, but finds its groove, Gaby Fluke-Mogul's violin stands out among the instruments, occasional vocals don't hurt. B+(***) [cd]
Whitney Rose: We Still Go to Rodeos (2020, MCG): Country singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island in Canada, third album (plus an well-regarded EP). Good songs, not wild about the big production. B+(**)
Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio: Angels Around (2020, Heartcore): Guitarist, originally from Philadelphia, based in Switzerland, over a dozen albums since 1996, many more side credits. Trio with Dario Deidda (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums). B+(**)
Run the Jewels: RTJ4 (2020, Jewel Runners/RBC/BMG): Rap duo, El-P and Killer Mike, fourth album, released a few days early, because "fuck it, why wait." Hard thrash, can't say as I'm following it very well, but complaints about police violence don't appear to be tacked on. Likely to remain one of the signature albums of 2020. A-[Later: A]
Dua Saleh: Rosetta (2020, Against Giants, EP): Minneapolis Rapper, born in Sudan, came to US as a child. Second EP (6 tracks, 17:36). Rejoined by Psymun, scoring the music, which slips by without quite registering. B+(*)
John Scofield: Swallow Tales (2019 , ECM): Guitarist, playing songs by Steve Swallow, who joins on electric bass, along with Bill Stewart on drums. Tricky songs, nice tone. B+(***)
Sara Serpa: Recognition (2019 (2020), Biophilia): Vocalist, eighth album including three duos with Ran Blake, this mostly music composed for a film, originally appearing silent with live music. With Zeena Parkins (harp), Mark Turner (tenor sax), and David Virelles (piano). High, lonesome soprano, tends to be arty and/or arch, but the variety helps. Choice cut: "Queen Nzinga." B+(**) [cd]
Matthew Shipp: The Piano Equation (2020, Tao Forms): Pianist, turning 60, decided to celebrate with a solo album -- not my favorite party treat, but a major pianist with a lot on his mind. B+(**)
Walter Smith III/Matthew Stevens/Micah Thomas/Linda May Han Oh/Nate Smith: In Common 2 (2020, Whirlwind): Tenor saxophonist, debuted in 2006, Bandcamp page co-credits this (and 2018's In Common) to guitarist Stevens, but the others (new on this volume) follow in same type, on piano, bass, and drums. B+(*)
Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 2) (2019 , RareNoise): Swiss ensemble, Stephen Thelen and two others play tritone guitar/bass, plus there's a drummer. Ninth album since 2012, third with guitarist Torn, also credited with loops. Disciplined and understated, not a note out of place. May, given more time, be as good as (Volume 1). B+(***) [bc]
Alister Spence: Whirlpool: Solo Piano (2019 , Alister Spence Music, 2CD): Australian pianist, eighth album since 2012, has a couple recent albums with Satoko Fujii, is a less commanding figure solo, but remains interesting. B+(*) [cd] [07-24]
Sunwatchers: Oh Yeah? (2020, Trouble in Mind): New York quartet, more instrumental rock (psychecelic?) than jazz, Jeff Tobias on alto sax/keyboards/whistling, others on guitar, bass guitar, and drums. Six pieces, the last running 19:53. B
Chad Taylor Trio: The Daily Biological (2019 , Cuneiform): Drummer, trio mates Brian Settles (tenor sax) and Neil Podgurski (piano) get a "featuring" credit on the cover and wrote most of the pieces (2 and 4 vs. 3 for Taylor). First group album, although all three were friends at New School in the 1990s. Feels balances with strong leads all around, and a lot of momentum. A- [dl]
Thank Your Lucky Stars: Girl in Her 29s (2020, Sounds Deevine): Searching for the artist name returns a 1943 movie starring Eddie Cantor, about a musical revue/charity extravaganza, with many cameos ranging from Humphey Bogart and Olivia de Havilland to Dinah Shore and Spike Jones. Adding "band" got me Beach House's 2015 album, and a "disambiguation" page that added a 1990 album by Whitehouse and a 1961-66 British TV variety show, which showcased the Beatles as early as December 1962. Adding the album title got gar nichts (well, more of the same, but nothing new). Searching for their/his 2016 record Spinning Out of Orbit got me product on Amazon and reviews by Robert Christgau and AMG, and a hint that the album may have been on CdBaby. A- [cd]
Pam Tillis: Looking for a Feeling (2020, Stellar Cat): Country singer-songwriter, daughter of Mel Tillis, 14 albums since 1983 (including two recent duet albums with Lorrie Morgan). B+(*)
Bill Warfield and the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra: Smile (2020, Planet Arts/43 Street): Trumpet player, cut his first records with the Towson State College Jazz Ensemble, has led a big band since 1990. Fanciful choice of songs here, including "Ode to Billy Joe" (Jane Stuart sings) and "Theme From Law and Order." Ends with a big, broad "Smile." B
Westside Gunn: Hitler Wears Hermes VII (2019, Griselda): Alvin Worthy, from Buffalo, seventh mixtape in this name series (plus several more, albums, bunch of EPs). B+(*)
Westside Gunn: Flygod Is an Awesome God (2019, Griselda): Third album, title a sequel to his debut Flygod. B+(*)
Westside Gunn: Pray for Paris (2020, Griselda): Rapper Fourth album. Sounded promising, but lost me about half way through -- probably in a skit. B+(*)
Dan Willis and Velvet Gentlemen: The Monk Project (2018-19 , Belle Avenue): Saxophonist (tenor, soprano, baritone, EWI, duduk, zurna), several albums including Velvet Gentlemen (2006), tackles eight Monk tunes. Band mostly electric instruments, most notably Pete McCann on guitar and Ron Oswanski on Fender Rhodes. Sounds a bit off, and not in a particularly Monkian way. B [cd] [07-17]
Jaime Wyatt: Neon Cross (2020, New West): Country singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, first album after an EP (Felony Blues). Finds her voice midway through. B+(*)
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 001 (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): Hip-hop producers, Younge's discography exploded from 2009, his trademark recycling 1970s beats for old style feel, sometimes claiming artist co-credit (as with two Ghostface Killah releases). The duo have several records together, starting with a 2016 soundtrack. Idea here is to tap into "the masters," each gets one track: Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Brian Jackson, JoŃo Donato, Doug Carn, Marcos Valle, Azymuth, The Midnight Hour. Eight tracks, 29:51, the only one over 3:05 is with Azymuth (9:27). B+(*)
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Jazz Is Dead 002: Roy Ayers (2020, Jazz Is Dead, EP): Just Ayers this time, resulting in much confusion as to how this is credited/titled. I've heard a fair amount of Ayers but this funk mix is too contemporary for me to recognize him here. Eight tracks, 26:01. Choice cut is "African Sounds," which despite the label brings forth some jazz. B+(**)
Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries
Willem Breuker/Han Bennink: New Acoustic Swing Duo (1967-68 , Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2CD): First album released by the Instant Composers Pool (ICP label), a scratchy, tetchy duo, sax (and other reed instruments) and drums (and other percussive objects). Reissue adds a previously unreleased Live in Essen tape, equally worthy, ends better. B+(***)
Grayson Capps: South Front Street: A Retrospective 1997-2019 (1997-2019 , The Royal Potato Family): Singer-songwriter from Opelika, Alabama; got a degree in theatre from Tulane, living in New Orleans until Katrina blew him back to Alabama. Ten albums 2005-17. B+(*)
Joe Harriott Quintet: Jazz for Moderns (1962 , Gearbox, EP): Jamaican alto saxophonist (1928-73), moved to UK in 1951, short but innovative career, developed what he called "free-form" but also played vigorous bebop. This is a previously unreleased BBC set, 4 tracks (13:17), with Shake Keane on trumpet, Pat Smythe on piano, plus bass and drums. B+(**)
Misha Mengelberg/Peter Br÷tzmann/Evan Parker/Peter Bennink/Paul Rutherford/Derek Bailey/Han Bennink: Groupcomposing (1970 , Corbett vs. Dempsey): Piano, three saxes, trombone, guitar, drums. One 42:38 piece split for LP. Feels improvised. B+(*) [bc]
Bobby Shew/Bill Mays: Telepathy (1978 , Fresh Sound): Trumpet/piano duets. West Coast players, intersected a lot, each producing a couple dozen albums without me noticing. This was one of their first, two joint credits here, the rest standards, easy going and elegant. B+(**)
Wussy: Ghosts (2006-19 , self-released): Odds and sods mixtape, two tracks previously unreleased, the others from EPs, singles, and side-projects, available as a free download, "created to thank Wussy fans." Fans who love everything the band does seem to be delighted with this. I was most impressed by the live "Shunt," a song from one of their better albums. B+(***) [bc]
Neil Young: Homegrown (1974-75 , Reprise): Vault album, recorded between On the Beach and Zuma, country-ish, no especially strong songs (although the title one is catchy enough), feels like it never got past the demo stage. Still, interesting that it's getting reviewed more enthusiastically than any recent new Young release, or even his other archive projects. Twelve songs, 35:08. B+(**)
Al Bilali Soudan: Al Bilali Soudan (2012, Clermont Music): First album, group from Timbuktu, Mali, four members on the cover. Fairly crude thrash and ululation, ultimately proving more agreeable than you'd first suspect. B+(**)
Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: Juju Street Songs (1972-73 , Prestige): Alto saxophonist, a powerful bebop player with a taste for funk rhythms, formed this group in 1969, recording seven LPs through 1974. This combines the 4th (Juju Street Songs) with the fifth (Follow, the Medicine Man) on one long CD. Quartet on the first, with Stafford James (bass), Howard King (drums), and Andy Bey (electric piano/vocals). Second adds guitar and replaces Bey on 2 (of 7) tracks. The vocals don't help the jazz, but the jazz adds to the funk. From a time when the world seemed big enough for both. B+(**)
Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: I've Known Rivers and Other Bodies (1973, Prestige): Double album, from a live performance at Montreux, quartet with Hubert Eaves (keyboards), Stafford James (electric and acoustic bass), and Howard King (drums), with Bartz vocals -- well enough that the title cut could find a home on an obscure funk best-of. Still more impressive when he blows. B+(***)
Gary Bartz: Shadows (1991 , Timeless): Cover lists Willie Williams (tenor sax), Benny Green (piano), Christian McBride (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums). B+(**)
Gary Bartz: The Red and Orange Poems (1994, Atlantic): Quintet, with Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Mulgrew Miller (piano), Dave Holland (bass), and Greg Bandy (drums), plus extra percussion on two tracks. B+(**)
Big Joe: Keep Rocking and Swinging (1977, Live and Love): Joe Spalding, from Trenchtown, recorded a couple dozen singles 1972-79, this his first album, produed by Striker Lee. Influeced by roots reggae and dub, hints at a classic without quite being memorable enough. B+(***)
Paul Bley/Paul Motian: Notes (1987 , Soul Note): Piano-drums duo, cover omits first names, the only duo of eight 1964-98 Bley albums Motian played on (plus two led by Charlie Haden). Mostly improv, not that it's ever easy to pin these two down. B+(***)
Paul Bley: Reality Check (1994 , SteepleChase): Piano trio with Jay Anderson (bass) and Victor Lewis (drums). Six originals plus a cover of "I Surrender Dear." B+(**)
Paul Bley: Notes on Ornette (1996 , SteepleChase): Piano trio, with Jay Anderson (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). Six Ornette Coleman pieces, closing with one original. B+(***)
Paul Bley/Evan Parker/Barre Phillips: Sankt Gerold (1996 , ECM): Piano, soprano/tenor sax, bass, recorded at the Monastery of Sankt Gerold, twelve pieces, named "Variation 1" to "Variation 12": 5 joint credits, otherwise split 2-3-2, with their signature solos scattered like gems in a less distinctive base. B+(***)
Paul Bley: Play Blue: Oslo Concert (2008 , ECM): Pianist, died in 2016, leaving this solo piano as his last recording. Four originals plus a Sonny Rollins piece, averaging 10 minutes. Can't say as it particularly moves me, but gives you a glimpse of his range and dynamics. B+(*)
Don Braden Quintet: The Time Is Now (1991, Criss Cross): Tenor saxophonist, first album, with Tom Harrell (trumpet/flugelhorn), Benny Green (piano), Christian McBride (bass), and Carl Allen (drums). Three originals, three standards, jazz tunes from Herbie Hancock and Jackie McLean. B+(**)
Don Braden: Organic (1994 , Epicure): Two dates, one with Jack McDuff on organ and Winard Harper on drums, the other with Larry Goldings and Cecil Brooks III, plus Russell Malone (guitar) on most tracks, with scattered spots for Tom Harrell (trumpet/flugelhorn on 3), Fathead Newman (tenor sax on 2), Leon Parker (percussion on 1). B+(**)
Don Braden: Brighter Days (2001, High Note): Quartet, with Xavier Davis (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), and Cecil Brooks III (drums). Tone seems a bit off. B+(*)
Clifford Brown/Max Roach: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (1956 , Verve): Actually recorded at Capitol Studios in New York, quintet with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Richie Powell (Bud's brother, piano), and George Morrow (bass) -- second to last session before Brown and Powell were killed in a car crash, the later one with the same quintet released as Sonny Rollins Plus 4. Three Powell songs, a Tadd Dameron piece, and three standards. May have been the best jazz group in the world at this juncture, but still not as inspired as you'd hope. CD reissue adds 35:31 of outtakes. A-
Milt Buckner & Hal Singer: Milt & Hal [The Definitive Black & Blue Sessions] (1966 , Black & Blue): Organ player (1915-77), in a relaxed, bluesy set with tenor saxophone (more on Singer below), with Johnny Letman (trumpet), Tiny Grimes (guitar), and Wallace Bishop (drums). Singer had moved to Paris in 1965 B+(**)
Dave Burrell: Black Spring (1977, Marge): Solo piano. Title cut features a still poem, written and read by Hart Leroy Bibbs. B+(**)
The Channels Featuring Earl Lewis: Golden Oldies (1956-59 , Essential Music Group): New York doo-wop group, sometimes lead singer Lewis got top billing, not sure how long they lasted, but Discogs' singles listing gets iffy after 1959. No big hits, sound varies, padded out with covers. B+(*)
Emmet Cohen Featuring Jimmy Cobb: Masters Legacy Series Volume 1 (2017, Cellar Live): The first of four (so far) volumes, reminds me that when Branford Marsalis started his own series of Honors albums the first musicians on his list was also Cobb. The veteran drummer died in 2020, his career spanning hundreds of albums, a few (mostly recent ones) under his own name, but most in groups -- the one invariably mentioned is Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. With Yasushi Nakamura on bass, Cobb does what he always does: makes everyone else sound better. Godwin Louis (alto sax) adds to two tracks. B+(***)
Emmet Cohen Featuring Ron Carter: Masters Legacy Series Volume 2 (2017 , Cellar Live): Bassist, joined Miles Davis in 1963, part of his "second great quintet," Wikipedia credits him with 45 albums (some co-headlined, including three recent ones with Houston Person), but he's also garnered more side-credits than anyone ("2,221 recording sessions," per Wikipedia). With Evan Sherman on drums. B+(**)
Emmet Cohen Trio: Dirty in Detroit (2017 , self-released): Piano trio, with Russell Hall (bass) and Kyle Poole (drums). Mostly standards, with Monk and Waller multiple sources, ending with a rousing "Handful of Keys." B+(**)
Miles Davis: Big Fun (1969-72 , Columbia/Legacy, 2CD): Pieced together from scattered sessions, each with 10-13 musicians, originally released on 2-LP with four side-long tracks (98:45), the 2-CD reissue adding four shorter tracks (43:29). Hard to say whether the extras dilute the experience given that it's all pretty diffuse anyway. Does remind you of the great albums that got released before this one. B+(***)
Lajos Dudas: Radio Days: Birthday Edition 75 (2016, JazzSick): Hungarian-German clarinet player, celebrating his 75th birthday, several dozen albums but many are missing from Discogs, so no credits or discographical details here, other than one tune from Attila Zoller, the rest originals. He sent me records over several years, so I was surprised to find out how far I had fallen behind. Some bright ensembles and remarkable leads here. Wish I knew more. B+(***)
Lajos Dudas: Some Great Songs Vol. 2 (2017, JazzSick): Sequel to his 1998 album, quartet with Philipp van Endert (guitar) and two percussionists. So many great songs I have no idea why he chose these, though occasionally he hits on one I would have picked ("Smile," "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"). B+(**)
Joe Harriott & Co. Feat John Dankworth & Tubby Hayes: Helter Skelter: Live, Rare and Previously Unreleased Recordings 1955-1963 (1955-63 , Acrobat): Alto saxophonist, 44 when he died in 1973, enough of a legend that there's still interest in rediscovering and repackaging his work -- e.g., the 2-CD Killer Joe (Giant Step) and the 4-CD The Joe Harriott Story (Proper). This combines four sets, starting with a lively 1955 EP, ending with some unreleased live shots (Dankforth and Hayes appear on 4 tracks from Paris 1963, as does Humphrey Lyttelton and Kenny Ball). The big band cuts aren't that interesting, although they rise to the occasion in "A Night in Tunisia." B+(**)
The Joe Harriott Quintet: Abstract (1961-62 , J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali): The alto saxophonist's breakthrough album was Free Form in 1961, followed by this adventurous venture. Recorded in two sessions, "Oleo" the only non-original. Quintet with Shake Keane (trumpet), Pat Smythe (piano), bass and drums, plus bongos on two cuts. B+(***)
The Joe Harriott Double Quintet: Indo-Jazz Suite (1966, Atlantic): Cover credit continues: "under the direction of John Mayer." Mayer (1929-2004), was an Anglo-Tamil composer, born in Calcutta, wrote all four pieces (35:38), played violin and harpsichord, directing the Indian musicians including sitar player Diwan Motihar (whose 1967 Jazz Meets India was another pioneering world jazz fusion work). Seems a bit tame now, but was pathbreaking then. B+(***)
Joe Harriott Quintet: Swings High (1967 , Cadillac): LP released by Melodisc in 1970, reissued by Cadillac on LP in 1989, CD in 2004, and "glorious downloadasound" in 2020. I'm crediting the CD here, but listening to the digital, and will list it as a 2020 reissue in the list(s). Recent covers add featuring credits for Phil Seaman (drums) and Pat Smythe (piano) -- not all that famous, but sure, more so than Stu Hammer (trumpet) and Coleridge Goode (bass). Vibrant hard bop, even if it sounds a bit old-fashioned compared to his other 1960s work. B+(**) [bc]
Hyphy Hitz (2004-07 , TVT): Bay Area hip-hop compilation, no names I recognize although several have substantial careers with dozens of records (Messy Marv, Keak Da Sneak, Mac Dre, Twisted Black, Balance, Mistah F.A.B.). Fast-paced, overstated, self-consciously ridiculous (or stupid seems to be the preferred term). [PS: I see that Tommy Burns, aka Twisted Black, "was sentenced to life in prison after found guilty of conspiracy to sell crack cocaine." He was 30 at the time. His sentence was appealed and reduced to 30 years.] B+(***) [dl]
If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby's 1974-1977 (1974-77 , Blood & Fire): Minor reggae stars from the heyday, only ones I don't recognize are Big Joe and Little Joe, and the former's "In the Ghetto" leads off and steals the show here. A-
Ranee Lee: Seasons of Love (1997, Justin Time): Jazz singer, born in Brooklyn but based in Montreal since 1970, recording a dozen albums 1980-2009. Tenor saxophonist David Murray gets a "with special guest" credit on the cover, but only plays on 4 (of 12) songs. Otherwise backed by piano, guitar, bass, and drums, all very deliberate. B+(*)
Booker Little: Booker Little 4 & Max Roach (1958 , United Artists): Trumpet player, died in 1961 at age 23, so only recorded three years. Joined Roach's group in 1958, and got the spotlight in this debut, with George Coleman (tenor sax), Tommy Flanagan (piano), and Art Davis (bass). CD reissue adds two tracks (18:53) with only Little and Coleman returning, and a second trumpet in Louis Smith. B+(**)
Mister Charlie's Blues (1926-1938) (1926-38 , Yazoo): Old-time compilation, label did a lot of these but this one doesn't look like it ever made it to CD. Front cover shows two white guitarists, one in blackface, the other painted even whiter. Main artist I recognize is Sam McGee, but Dick Justice, Buster & Jack, and South Georgia Highballers also get two cuts. Fine picking. B+(**)
Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (1972 , ECM): Drummer, joined Bill Evans in 1959, playing on his breakthrough early albums, the first of many exceptional piano trios he anchored. This was his first album as a leader. Six original pieces, mixes up the lineups for each: bass (Charlie Haden) and guitar (Sam Brown); drum solo; bass and guitar; piano (Keith Jarrett); flute (Jarrett); bass, flute (Becky Friend), and violin (Leroy Jenkins). B+(**)
Paul Motian: Tribute (1974 , ECM): Second album, quintet with Carlos Ward (alto sax), two guitars (Sam Brown and Paul Metzke), and Charlie Haden (bass). Three origials, Haden's "Song for Che" (done stripped down to guitar and bass) and an Ornette Coleman piece. B+(***)
Paul Motian Trio: Le Voyage (1979, ECM): Playing in so many major piano trios, Motian decided to do something different for his own trios, using a saxophonist (Charles Brackeen) instead of piano. This is their second, with J.F. Jenny-Clark joining on bass. B+(**)
Paul Motian: Pslam (1981 , ECM): Quintet with two tenor saxophonists (Joe Lovano and Billy Drewes, the latter also playing alto), guitar (Bill Frisell), and bass (Ed Schuller). Frisell is the major find here. B+(***)
Paul Motian: It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago (1984 , ECM): After several quintet albums, drops back to a trio, keeping Joe Lovano (tenor sax) and Bill Frisell (guitar) -- evidently expecting them to slip around the melody as deftly as the drummer evades rhythm. They don't, quite. B+(*)
Paul Motian Trio: Sound of Love: At the Village Vanguard (1995 , Winter & Winter): Live, with Lovano and Frisell, opens with Monk ("Misterioso") and Mingus ("Duke Ellington's Sound of Love"), before easing into Motian's more abstract pieces (and another Monk). Frisell and (especially) Lovano have developed into masters. A-
Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band: Flight of the Blue Jay (1996 , Winter & Winter): Group debuted in 1993, defined more by lineup than personnel -- two guitars (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Brad Schoeppach), electric bass (Steve Swallow), and tenor sax (originally one, but two here: Chris Potter and Chris Cheek) -- but also with more bop era covers (Parker, Powell, Davis, three Monk; only one piece by the drummer, plus two by Rosenwinkel). B+(**)
Paul Motian: Trio 2000 + One (1997 , Winter & Winter): First of several "Trio 2000" albums, some "+ One," others "+ Two": common denominator seems to be Masabumi Kikuchi (piano) and Larry Grenadier (bass), with the extras on horns (here tenor saxophonist Chris Potter), but this particular record also has Steve Swallow on electric bass. B+(**)
Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Europe (2000 , Winter & Winter): Initials stand for Electric Be-Bop Band, fifth group album since 1992. Two saxophonists (Chris Cheek and Pietro Tonolo), two guitarists (Ben Monder and Steve Cardenas), and electric bass (Anders Christensen). B+(*)
Paul Motian and the E.B.B.B.: Holiday for Strings (2001 , Winter & Winter): Same group, no extra strings. B+(**)
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard Volume III (2006 , Winter & Winter): Original Trio 2000 with Masabumi Kikuchi (drums) and Larry Grenadier (bass), joined by Chris Potter (tenor sax) and Mat Maneri (viola), with leftovers after the first two volumes were releaed in 2007 and 2008. B+(***)
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: On Broadway Volume 5 (2008 , Winter & Winter): Thomas Morgan takes over at bass, joining pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, the "+ Two" saxophonists Loren Stillman and MichaŰl Attias (doesn't specify, but both are primarily altos). Starts with an original, followed by six tunes that I must know but still aren't overly familiar to me, played gracefully and a bit on the pretty side. A-
David Murray: Let the Music Take You (1978, Marge): Tenor saxophonist, early quartet, with Lawrence "Butch" Morris (cornet), Johnny Dyani (bass), and George Brown (drums), live shot from Rouen, France. Strong performance, wobbles a bit. B+(***)
David Murray: Intergoogieology (1978, Black Saint): The tenor sax great's first album on the Italian label that first established him as a star (and, more than any other label, rescued the American avant-garde by providing an outlet for their work). Quartet with Morris, Dyani, and Oliver Johnson (drums), plus Marta Contreras vocals on two (of four) tracks. "Blues for David" is the only cut that really catches fire. B+(**)
David Murray: The London Concert (1978 , Cadillac, 2CD): Quintet in August, Morris again, plus locals on piano-bass-drums. Album appeared as 2-LP in 1979, reissue adding two long songs (46:27). B+(***)
David Murray Quartet: A Sanctuary Within (1991 , Black Saint): With Tony Overwater (bass), Sunny Murray (drums), and Kahil El'Zabar (percussion, voice, thumb piano) -- names featured on the cover, each bringing a song (Sunny 2, leaving 5 for Murray). His sax runs are often brilliant, and El'Zabar can chant "song for the new South Africa" as long as he keeps the beat. A-
Og˙n Meji Duo: #BlackLivesMatter (2014, CFG Multimedia): Duo -- Edwin Bayard (tenor sax) and Mark Lomax II (drums) -- based in Columbus, Ohio, the essential core of Lomax's larger groups. Narration means to give you an education in black history, the speeches errupting in sax fury and drums, starting with a severely distorted "America, the Beautiful." Comes with a supplemental reading list. B+(***) [os]
The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir: The Saxophone Shop (1985 , Soul Note): Tenor saxophonist, born in South Carolina but raised in Philadelphia, one previous album in 1982, but is best known for his Saxophone Choir, which starts here: 4 tenors, 3 altos, 1 baritone, with piano (Eddie Green), bass, and drums. Even with all that help, Pope's own solo lines really stand out, making it unclear why he needs them. B+(***)
Dudu Pukwana & Bob Stuckey: Night Time Is the Right Time: 60s Soho Sounds (1967-68 , Cadillac): Alto saxophonist from South Africa, left for Europe in 1964, settling down in London, ranged from kwela to avant-garde. Stuckey plays organ throughout: 9 tracks with Pukwana, guitar, and drums, plus 4 tracks with different guitar and drums. B [bc]
Buddy Rich/Max Roach: Rich Versus Roach (1959 , Mercury): Two famous drummers play battle of the bands, each armed with a quintet: Rich with alto sax (Phil Woods), trombone (Willie Dennis), piano (John Bunch), bass; Roach with tenor sax (Stanley Turrentine), trumpet (Tommy Turrentine), trombone (Julian Priester), and bass. CD reissue adds 4 alternate takes to the original 8 pieces. B+(**)
Max Roach/Clifford Brown: The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert (1954 , GNP): Short-lived hard bop group, formed in 1954, ended in 1956 when Brown and two others were killed in a car crash, but Brown recorded enough for a 10-CD box (Brownie). Brown got top billing for most of those records, but in 1955 GNP released two 4-cut live EPs, combined here. B+(***)
Max Roach: Max Roach + 4 (1956-57 , Emarcy): After Clifford Brown and Ronnie Powell died in that car crash, Roach found replacements in Kenny Dorham (trumpet) and Ray Bryant (piano), carrying on with Sonny Rollis (tenor sax) and George Morrow (bass). Leads off with George Russell's "Ezz-Thetic," includes two Roach originals, winds up with "Body and Soul" and "Woody 'N' You." CD adds three extra tracks (with Billy Wallace on piano). A-
Max Roach: Jazz in 3/4 Time (1956-57 , Emarcy): Waltz time, vows that it's possible to swing in something other than 4/4 time, a case I'm not sure is made. Impressive horns -- Kenny Dorham on trumpet and Sonny Rollins (author of "Valse Hot") on tenor sax -- with George Morrow on bass and Bill Wallace on piano (Ray Bryant for the final track). B+(*)
Max Roach: The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker (1957-58 , Verve): In the early days, only three drummers appear on memorable bebop albums: Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, and Roach. From 1950 on you get more, a new generation that grew up with the music, plus some older guys who figured it out (like Shelly Manne). But Roach was the main guy, not least because he was the one who usually played with Parker. Six Parker tunes here, with Kenny Dorham on trumpet, either Hank Mobley or George Coleman on tenor sax, and George Morrow or Nelson Boyd on bass. The sax players aren't quite up to snuff -- no tenor can match Parker for speed and glitz, although Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird held its own. CD reissue adds four more tracks. B+(***)
Max Roach: Award-Winning Drummer (1958 , Time): Quintet with Booker Little (trumpet), George Coleman (tenor sax), Ray Draper (tuba), and Arthur Davis (bass). Not the drummer's best showcase, but Little and Coleman have their moments. B+(**)
Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961, Impulse!): Drummer-led septet plus congas and cowbell on three cuts and vocalist Abbey Lincoln on two, doing six Roach compositions. One of trumpeter Booker Little's last sessions, backed by a young band we'd recognize as all-stars today: Julian Priester (trombone), Eric Dolphy (reeds), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax), Mal Waldron (piano), Art Davis (bass). Some thrilling moments here, but feels a bit overmuch. Lincoln's song ("Mendacity") is especially striking, but I didn't like her scree on the opener at all. B+(***)
Max Roach: It's Time: His Chorus and Orchestra (1962, Impulse!): Roach's career took a dramatic turn in 1961 toward politics with his We Insist! Freedom Now Suite. This album is every bit as ambitious, with Coleridge Perkinson conducting the chorus, and Roach arranging to make his "orchestra" seem much bigger than the six stellar credits: Richard Williams (trumpet), Clifford Jordan (tenor sax), Julian Priester (trombone), Mal Waldron (piano), Art Davis (bass). I'm not a fan of the chorus, but the music is bold and sweeping. B+(***)
Max Roach Quartet: Speak, Brother, Speak! (1962 (1963], Fantasy): Live, from The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, Quartet with Cliff Jordan (tenor sax), Mal Waldron (piano), and Eddie Khan (bass). Two long pieces, the title (25:00) and "A Variation" (23:30), each with a round of flashy solos -- Jordan's are especially terrific. A-
Max Roach: The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan (1964 , Atlantic): The "legendary Hasaan" was a pianist (1931-80) from Philadelphia, birth name William Henry Langford, Jr. This seems to be his only recording, a trio with Art Davis (bass) and Roach (drums), playing seven original songs. Has a strong rhythmic undertow. B+(***)
Max Roach: Drums Unlimited (1965-66 , Atlantic): Drummer's record, three (of six) tracks are drum solos, but that's only 11:01 of 41:27. The other three tracks are quintet, with Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), James Spaulding (alto sax), Ronnie Matthews (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass). B+(**)
Max Roach: Members, Don't Git Weary (1968, Atlantic): Short album (6 tracks, 32:12). Like Art Blakey, Roach was always looking for new people to play with, but had much less interest in taming them. The new generation here: Gary Bartz (alto sax), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Stanley Cowell (piano), Jymie Merritt (bass). Cowell brought three songs, Bartz and Merritt one each, leaving only the title song, with an Andy Bey vocal, by Roach. B+(***)
Max Roach Quartet: Pictures in a Frame (1979, Soul Note): First generation bebop drummer, co-led important 1952-54 group with Clifford Brown, yet by 1979 was consigned to European labels and mostly playing with younger avant-gardists (his big records that year were duos with Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor). This one splits the distance, with Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet), Odean Pope (flute, oboe, tenor sax), and Calvin Hill (bass). Styles shift several times, with an awkward vocal at the end. B+(**)
Max Roach: M'Boom (1979 , Columbia): Percussion ensemble, most pieces have eight members on various mallet instruments, drums, chimes, etc. B+(***)
Max Roach: Live in Berlin (1984 , Jazzwerkstatt): Quartet with Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet), Odean Pope (tenor sax), and Tyrone Brown (electric bass) -- vocalist on "Six Bits" not credited, but it's Roach's only original. Ends with a hot take of "Perdido." [Previously issued as Jazzbuhne Berlin '84, on Repertoire.] B+(***)
Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (1969 , Strata-East): Three-cut blowout, a more avant group than the one that cut Karma a month later, with Sonny Sharrock (guitar) the main addition. Leon Thomas sings the opener, adds to the percussion section (with Chief Bey on African drums and Billy Hart conventional). Title cut runs 28:50. B+(***) [yt]
Hal Singer: Rent Party (1948-56 , Savoy Jazz): Tenor saxophonist from Tulsa, survived the 1921 Massacre as a 2-year-old, still kicking at 100. Had a big r&b hit with "Corn Bread," leading off here. Recorded into the 1980s, and occasionally since. I was reminded of him when he showed up on a recent list of 15 Essential Black Liberation Jazz Tracks, but I had to hear these oldies first. Jukebox singles, the vocals pure rock and roll, the sax always honking. A-
Hal Singer With Charlie Shavers: Blue Stompin' (1959 , Prestige/OJC): After sax r&b faded, Singer landed this mainstream date with the trumper near-great and a rhythm section that could swing hard -- Ray Bryant (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass), and Osie Johnson (drums) -- blowing away them blues. [Was: B+] B+(***)
Hal Singer: Blues and News (1971, Futura): Small French label, cover notes "featuring Art Taylor [drums] and Siegfried Kessler [piano/flute]," omitting Jacques Bolognesi (trombone), Jean-Claude Andre (guitar), and Patrice Caratini (bass). One piece by Kessler ("Blues for Hal"), five by Singer, including "Malcolm X" -- the piece cited in the link above. B+(**)
Hal Singer/Jef Gilson: Soul of Africa (1974, Le Chant Du Monde): Another French album for the tenor saxophonist, sharing the credit line with the French pianist (1926-2012, actual name Jean-Franšois QuiÚvreux). Group includes Jacky Samson on bass and a lot of percussion, including vibes and a group called Malagasy Rhythm. "The High Life" is a highlight, comparable to Dudu Pukwana's In the Townships. A-
Hal Singer: Senior Blues (1991, Carrere): Recorded in France, backed by piano trio (Bernard Maury, Eric Vinceno, Eddie Allen), title cut a Horace Silver tune. Another very solid album. B+(**)
Hal Singer & Massimo Fara˛ Trio: We're Still Buddies (2001 , Azzurra Music): Fara˛ is an Italian pianist, couple dozen albums since 1995, with Paolo Benedettini (bass) and Bobby Durham (drums). Singer was 82 at this point, relaxed and lucid. Durham sings two songs, not very well. B+(*)
Hal Singer: Challenge (2010, Marge): Ninety years old, seems likely to be his last album, recorded in Paris, but his pick up band for once is American, young, and pretty famous: Lafayette Gilchrist (piano), Jaribu Shahid (bass), Hamid Drake (drums), plus Rasul Siddik (trumpet) on two tracks, and David Murray (tenor sax) everywhere. The latter more than earns his "featuring" credit, but the two-sax work early on is pretty thrilling. A-
Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra: Live at Le Mans (1998 , Edition, 2CD): Big band effort, for better (parts really swing hard) and worse (gets messy and loses direction. I count 18 pieces (including tuba, two drummers, and Paul Dunmall's bagpipes), plus 3 singers. B
Stan Tracey: Showcase (1958, Vogue): British pianist, toured with Cab Calloway and Ronnie Scott in the 1950s. First album. The leader plays vibraphone on three tracks, piano on nine, backed by bass/drums, plus guitar on three tracks. Standards, few out of the ordinary. B+(*)
The Stan Tracey Quartet: Jazz Suite: Inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (1965, Columbia): He composed this album based on a 1953 BBC broadcast of the play. Quartet with Bobby Wellins (tenor sax), Jeff Clyne (bass), and Jack Dougan (drums). A 1976 recording added narration, but you don't miss the story line here. Widely regarded as a classic of British jazz -- beautiful at first, then gets even better. A
Stan Tracey/Keith Tippett: Supernova (1977 , Resteamed): Piano duo. Tracey (1926-2013) was a generation older, more conventional (cited Ellington and Monk as his main influences) but worked with a number of avant-garde musicians (e.g., Evan Parker). Tracey and Tippett intersected several times in the late 1970s. This live tape from ICA in London is a good example. B+(**)
The New Stan Tracey Quartet: For Heaven's Sake (1995 , Cadillac): As the pianist gets older, the band gets younger: Gerard Presencer (trumpet/flugelhorn), Andrew Cleyndent (bass), and Clark Tracey (drums). Tracey and Presencer each wrote one song, the rest standards, three sharp ones by Monk. B+(***)
Stan Tracey: Solo : Trio (1997 , Cadillac): Five solo piano tracks, six trio with Andrew Cleyndert (bass) and Clark Tracey (drums). Ellington and Monk are touchstones. B+(***)
Stan Tracey & Danny Moss: Just You, Just Me (2003 , Avid): Moss (1927-2008) was a tenor saxophonist, played other reeds, recorded with Ted Heath 1952-56, probably ran into Tracey there. He liked standards, so that's what they play here -- most from Ellington and his crew. B+(***)
Stan Tracey Quartet: Senior Moment (2008 , Resteamed): Pretty lively album for 82, the pianist is joined by Simon Allen (saxes), bass, and drums. B+(**)
Stan Tracey Quintet: The Flying Pig (2013 , Resteamed): Seems to be his final record, released shortly after his death at 86 in December 2013. With Mark Armstrong (trumpet), Simon Allen (saxes), Andy Cleyndert (bass), and Clark Tracey (drums). B+(***)
Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 1 (1968 , Resteamed): Live shot from Ronnie Scott's, tenor saxophonist backed by a local piano trio: Tracey, Dave Green (bass), Tony Crombie (drums). Tracey was already pretty well known by then, and given his Ellington love an inspired choice. B+(***)
Ben Webster/Stan Tracey: Soho Nights Vol. 2 (1964 , Resteamed): An earlier quartet, with Rick Laird (bass) and Jackie Dougan (drums), also at Ronnie Scott's in London. Webster sounds especially debonair here, and the pianist is an ideal accompanist. A-
World Saxophone Quartet: Steppin' With the World Saxophone Quartet (1978 , Black Saint): If this was their only album I'd use the names on the cover as the artist credit: Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax/flute), Julius Hemphill (alto/soprano sax), Oliver Lake (alto/soprano sax), David Murray (tenor sax/bass clarinet). But they recorded 20+ albums, starting with a 1977 debut on Moers, then five albums on Black Saint, a major label move to Nonesuch, then from 1996 on Justin Time (like Murray). Hemphill dominates, writing 4 tracks vs. 1 each for Lake and Murray, but the whole approach to harmony was his -- something he pursued on his other records, but kept especially pure here. I've always found their limited monophonic range unpleasant, but this is more dynamic than most. B
World Saxophone Quartet: W.S.Q. (1980 , Black Saint): Hamiet Bluiett steps up here, with two short pieces (or five, as his "Suite Music" is broken into five parts), vs. 3-2-1 for Hemphill, Lake, and Murray. B+(*)
World Saxophone Quartet: Revue (1980 , Black Saint): Hemphill wrote four pieces, the whole first side. The others split the second, with Murray offering "Ming" and "David's Tune," and Lake and Bluiett offering hymns. Hemphill's side is the more cohesive, which doesn't necessarily make it better. B+(*)
World Saxophone Quartet: Live in ZŘrich (1981 , Black Saint): Bluiett riff pieces open and close, brief at 1:40 and 1:30. In between it's all Hemphill, six substantial pieces, played slow and soft enough to focus on complex harmony rather than indulging in the thrash that gladiators are prone to. B+(*)
World Saxophone Quartet: Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music (1985 , Black Saint): More of a group effort, with Murray's "Great Peace" longest at 14:58, but Hemphill gets the last word. B
World Saxophone Quartet: Four Now (1995 , Justin Time): Julius Hemphill became ill, stopped playing, left the group in 1990 (between Rhythm & Blues and Metamorphosis), and died in 1995 (age 57). (He continued composing. His 1993 Five Chord Stud, played by six other saxophonists, perhaps the best of his sax choir records, and a sextet in his name recorded a good Live in Lisbon in 2003. He had a profound influence on many saxophonists, notably Tim Berne and Allen Lowe.) The other three sax giants kept WSQ going through 2006, running through a series of alto replacements (Arthur Blythe was the first, but it's John Purcell here) and adding other musicians as opportunity arose. The cover notes: "With African Drums" (Chief Bey, Mor Thiam, and Mar Gueye). They make a difference, inspiring a vocal on the Thiam's closer, "Sangara." B+(**)
World Saxophone Quartet: Takin' It 2 the Next Level (1996, Justin Time): The four saxophonists (Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, David Murray, and John Purcell) get a full rhythm section for backup this time: Donald Blackman (keyboards), Calvin X Jones (bass), and Ronnie Burrage (drums). All but Jones contribute pieces, and they're all over the place. B
World Saxophone Quartet: 25th Anniversary: The New Chapter (2000 , Justin Time): After a decade of trying new things, back to the well -- just four saxophonists harmonizing, no bells or whistles (or African drums). Before this came their look back, Requiem for Julius, their tribute to founder and visionary Hemphill. Here they look forward, dressed on the cover in white tuxes, John Purcell way out front, pictured with saxello but credited with alto. Once again, I get it, but don't especially enjoy it. B
Current count 33526  rated (+193), 211  unrated (+2).
Excerpts from this month's Music List posts:
June 29, 2020
Music: Current count 33526  rated (+41), 211  unrated (-5).
Last Monday of the month, so spent most of the day doing bookkeeping for the monthly roll-up (link above). Five weeks this month, so the total is up -- 193 records, or 194 if you count the Hal Singer regrade, which I slipped into "old music" instead of "grade changes" for context. About half old music, with dives into records I had missed when a new one (or a death or a reader question) tempted me to look further or some other reference).
Speaking of questions, I field ones about David Murray and James Carter, and duck one on jazz books, in my latest batch. Use the form to ask me more.
Recommended music links: No systematic search, but these are a few things I had open:
Songwriter Johnny Mandel (94) also died this week.
June 22, 2020
Music: Current count 33485  rated (+36), 216  unrated (+1).
Don't feel like writing much here. Started the week thinking I'd track down some records by the late Keith Tippett, but quickly got sidetracked by Stan Tracey, an older British pianist who did some duet records with Tippett c. 1977. I then picked up some old World Saxophone Quartet records, adding them to my David Murray Guide. I probably should have done this anyway, but someone on Facebook commented on my missing Revue, which he teased was some kind of consensus pick as the greatest jazz album of the decade. The old Gary Bartz records came after reviewing his new one. I should note that Harlem Bush Music, which combines the two albums before Juju Street Songs, was previously A-.
Didn't do much on new records this week. Started most days with golden oldies, then when I sat down at the computer, switched over to old jazz rather than going through my new queue. Best reviewed new records this week were by Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers -- who got more favorable reviews than Dylan this week (32 to 22 in my metacritic file.) I'll check out both soon, but was more curious about Black Eyed Peas (AOTY critic score 50/1, user score 83/30). Not great, but much better than that, with a choice cut called News Today.
June 16, 2020
Music: Current count 33449  rated (+31), 215  unrated (+1).
British avant-pianist Keith Tippett died last week, at 72. He was a major figure, although having never sorted out his scattered discography, I can't say how major. I can say that on occasion he rivaled Cecil Taylor for explosive invention. One issue is that while he recorded several albums with Mujician as a title, he also led a group (with Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers, and Tony Levin) by that name through seven 1990-2006 albums. Another is that he dabbled in a wide range of music, especially along the prog rock fringe. He married pop singer/actress Julie Driscoll in 1970, and she changed her name to Julie Tippetts (meanwhile, her husband dropped the 's'), continuing a long career that veered far from the pop charts. She survives him. Also on Tippett:
I'll look into Tippett a bit more next week, but as I'm writing this I've headed off on a Stan Tracey (1926-2013) detour.
One other death last week I should note somewhere is Carl Brewer, a former two-term mayor of Wichita. He was a moderate black Democrat, always seemed to be in tune with local business leaders but always seemed like a decent guy, never had a whiff of scandal, and never embarrassed us. (I'd like to say never did anything blatantly stupid, but I have to question his support for Lyndy Wells in the latest mayoral election.) People I know who knew him liked him a lot. None of those traits were common among the recent run of Wichita mayors.
Robert Christgau published his Consumer Guide: June, 2020, with an A+ for Run the Jewels RTJ4 (an A- here last week); an A for the Wussy album below; A- for Princess Nokia's Everything Is Beautiful, Serengeti's Ajai, and a Fats Domino live album I previously gave good but somewhat lower grades to; an A- for a Malian record I haven't found; a B+ for the Hamell on Trial album below; and a few more things -- I tried Westside Gunn, and even went back two previous releases, but nothing really stuck with me. I'm not conceding that I screwed up, but I've often had trouble catching rap lyrics (especially given limited plays), and that may be at work here.
Christgau asked me for some info on David Murray (occasioned by an Xgau Sez question), so I pasted a chunk of my Jazz Guides into an email. It occurred to me that I could add that to my Village Voice David Murray Guide (2006). The file turned out to be a mess, so I cleaned it up from "unpublished draft" and notes to incorporating the published edits. But rather than appending the more extensive reviews, I created a separate file. I also used the occasion to pick up a few records I had missed, as well as Kahil El'Zabar's new one, just out. Started a list of "other records" as a self-check, but haven't gotten very far with it.
Two of the three new jazz A-list records this week were reviewed the old-fashioned way, from CDs. Probably helped get them the attention they deserve. I missed the A- Murray album because it was a mere Penguin Guide ***, but turns out it features El'Zabar as the magic beans. Found the old Joe Harriott records after noting the new vault release. Been wanting to hear them for a long time, but none match Free Form (1960).
By the way, I've been keeping the metacritic file reasonably up to date. Run the Jewels' RTJ4 made a strong run for the top spot, but is still one point behind Fiona Apple's Fetch the Bolt Cutters. At AOTY and Metacritic, the latter has slightly higher scores, but fewer reviews. Waxahatchie's Saint Cloud is third, then there's a substantial point gap before you get to Caribou, Dua Lipa, Perfume Genius, Tame Impala, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Lucinda Williams, Charlie XCX, Shabaka and the Ancestors, and Soccer Mommy.
June 9, 2020
Music: Current count 33418  rated (+40), 214  unrated (+5).
Cutoff was Monday evening, after I wrapped up Weekend Roundup, so that has a bit to do with the above-average count. Shifted back to new music last week, starting with some Phil Overeem recommendations, and ended with rummaging through my tracking file (jazz subset), with a few asides along the way. (One of Cliff Ocheltree's Facebook posts mentioned If Deejay Was Your Trade and Hyphy Hitz. Couldn't find the latter, but the Blood & Fire compilation was so good I wanted to hear more from Big Joe.) Still, didn't bother with my promo queue at all. It had been near-empty, but has recovered to the extent I need to pay it some attention.
I reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' Girl in Her 29s last week, noting that I couldn't find anything via Google on the CD. I'm told that this website will help. I also received a hand-written letter from Ben Barnes, which reads in part (or I think it does, as my eyes and his handlettering don't always mesh; I also spared you the all-caps, and added a link I'm almost 100% sure of and italics for the album title):
Looking back at last week's "review," I realize I didn't finish it -- by, like, saying something about the record. Meant to, but ran out of time and decided to run what I had anyway, and still haven't gotten back to it, so sorry. I will re-run the album cover.
On June 3, Robert Christgau tweeted:
I had the same reaction to RTJ4, although I didn't explain it very coherently below -- written after two plays before I saw the tweet -- no doubt because I always have trouble following rap lyrics. But even I caught enough to realize that this was the time. (Link above is to the whole feed. Even now the tweet in question is well down, but it won't hurt you to scroll for it.)
The Og˙n Meji Duo album was reviewed by Karl Ackermann as a new release at All About Jazz. Ackerman wrote: "The album makes a powerful statement that could have been a response to Emmett Till in 1955 or George Floyd in 2020." True enough, but it actually dates from the Michael Brown era. I might have graded it higher, but tired of the lecture, and got annoyed by the Soundcloud-like website streaming. But drummer Mark Lomax and saxophonist Edwin Bayard are awesome as usual. I should note that Lomax's 400 Years Suite is currently number one on my 2020 list, and his 12-CD 400: An Afrikan Epic was number three on the 2019 list.
June 2, 2020
Music: Current count 33378  rated (+45), 209  unrated (+0).
Post delayed a day because, well, a lot of things kept me from working on it on Monday. Frozen Sunday night, aside from adding Monday's unpacking.
A few weeks ago, I set up a form for asking questions. I finally decided I had enough to do the extra work of setting up an answer page, so Q&A is now a going concern. I've added a couple fields beyond what I did for Robert Christgau, but I'm not really using them yet. At some point, it should be possible to get selective lists based on keywords, or possibly other search methods.
One question I didn't answer was actually a tip, Jeopardy-style phrased as a question. Mongo asked if I had heard Whitney Rose's We Still Go to Rodeos ("the best country album I've heard so far this year"). No, I hadn't, but the obvious response was to listen to it, so it's in this week's list. I disagree, but my initial reaction was pretty similar to my initial underrating of Kalie Shorr's Open Book in 2019. Still, have major doubts it will ever catch up with the Lucinda Williams and Brandy Clark records (or Chicago Farmer, if he qualifies). I went on and sampled a few more recent alt-country albums, but didn't find anything really better.
Until those, most of what I listened to last week were old jazz albums. The first few were unheard items from the JazzTimes ballots I mentioned recently, at least until I got carried away with Paul Motian. Then I got into Max Roach, partly in response to one of the questions.
Got a rare rock record in the mail recently, with a hand-printed note explaining that Robert Christgau reviewed Thank Your Lucky Stars' debut album, Spinning Out of Orbit, in my one shot 2013 Black Friday Special, and hoping I might like the new one. I do. The CD is actually very nicely packaged, but has no presence on the web, and the note didn't even include an email address, so I have no idea how you'd go about buying a copy. (The old CD, which I haven't heard, is listed on Amazon, at $30.08, 1 copy left, with other vendor offers from $29.09.) Without an album cover available, I thought I'd try my old scanner -- an "all-in-one" Epson Stylus Photo RX580 -- only to find it doesn't work. (I replaced the 6 ink cartridges a while back, and now it's stuck in a mode where it insists on me first installing new ink cartridges before it does anything else. Two Ubuntu scanner programs fail to recognize it.) What I wound up doing was taking a picture with my cell phone, then running it through a bunch of rotate/shear/crop commands in Gimp. Very little margin on top to work with, but I managed to keep it even though I chopped off the other three edges. I'm real surprised it looks as good as it does.
I should mention that Joe Yanosik has written up Sonic Youth: A Consumer Guide to their live albums. They've released a bunch of them on Bandcamp. I had seen mention of a couple of them recently, but didn't realize there were this many, and after last year's release of Battery Park NYC, July 4th 2008 -- which Joe also includes, as an A+ -- I wasn't in a big hurry to go there. Nice that Joe has illuminated the way.
Alto saxophonist Lennie Niehaus (90) died last week. He's probably best known as the director of many Clint Eastwood soundtracks, but he was an important "West Coast cool jazz" musician, played for Stan Kenton 1952-59 (minus a stretch in the Army), and recorded a number of well-regarded (albeit a bit fancy for my taste) albums, especially in the 1950s, before focusing on soundtracks. I've heard a couple of his albums, and need to check out more.
English tenor saxophonist Don Weller (79) also died. I can't say that I know his work. I also heard that Sun Ra bassist Bill Davis died, but haven't found an obituary yet. Other recent musician deaths: Majek Fashek (57, Nigerian reggae singer), John Nzenze (80, Kenyan guitarist), Evaldo Gouveia (91, MPB singer-songwriter).
Horrors enough on Monday and Tuesday to get me to open Weekend Roundup as soon as I post this.
Everything streamed from Napster (ex Rhapsody), except as noted in brackets following the grade: