Streamnotes: January 31, 2022

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 December 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (18711 records).

Recent Releases

Aeon Station: Observatory (2021, Sub Pop): Kevin Whelan, formerly of the Wrens -- three albums 1994-2003, the last got some critical acclaim, but a 2014 album was never released -- not sure if this is a new group or just a solo project. B+(**) [sp]

Alfa Mist: Bring Backs (2021, Anti-): British producer, real name (probably) Alfa Sekitoleko, part of "creative quartet" Are We Live, third album. I've seen it grouped as jazz, and it does have a bit of saxophone on it. B+(*)

Alice Phoebe Lou: Glow (2021, self-released): Singer-songwriter from South Africa, surname Matthew, has lived in Paris and seems to be based in Berlin, third album (fourth later in 2021). B+(*)

Alice Phoebe Lou: Child's Play (2021, self-released): Fourth album. More ambient, which in a pop star should be a downer, but in this case isn't. B+(*)

Alostmen: Kologo (2020 [2021], Strut): Ghana group, into traditional instruments -- talking drums, djembe, goje, the titular kologo -- but know their way around "rap, reggae, Malian music" and mostly sing in English. They are primitivist cosmopolitans, like the Congrotronics bands. Similar approach, but distinct. A-

Riddy Arman: Riddy Arman (2021, La Honda): Country singer-songwriter, from Ohio but went to Montana for a video, and Portland to record this short debut album. B+(***)

Charlie Ballantine: Reflections/Introspection: The Music of Thelonious Monk (2021, Green Mind): Guitarist, several albums including a collection of Bob Dylan songs, does Monk tunes here, half trio with Jesse Whitman and Chris Parker, half quartet with Amanda Gardner on sax and Cassius M. Goens III taking over on drums. I prefer the latter, especially the lovely "Ask Me Now." B+(***)

Gregg Belisle-Chi: Koi: Performing the Music of Tim Berne (2020 [2021], Relative Pitch): Guitarist, based in New York, plays solo on ten pieces composed by Berne, with Berne and David Torn producing. I imagine I could recognize Berne's alto sax anywhere, but the songs themselves are another story. B+(*)

Bitchin Bajas: Switched on Ra (2021, Drag City): Side project by Cave keyboardist Cooper Crain, with close to one album per year since 2010. Eight Sun Ra tunes, played on synths with Dan Quinlivan, Rob Frye, and (sometimes) Jayve Montgomery joining in. B+(***)

Black Pistol Fire: Look Alive (2021, Black Hill): Garage rock duo from Austin, Eric Owen and Kevin McKeown, half-dozen albums since 2011. Strike me as minor, but functional, the sort of band you can always enjoy but never remember. B+(*) [sp]

Blackberry Smoke: You Hear Georgia (2021, 3 Legged): Southern rock band, from Atlanta, 2003 debut called Bad Luck Ain't No Crime. True to form, but I jotted down two lines from the opener: "it's a helluva thing to break your back just to make another man rich" and the refrain, "let's live it up until we can't live it down." B+(*)

Solemn Brigham: South Sinner Street (2021, Mello Music Group): North Carolina rapper, has a couple good albums as Marlowe -- with L'Orange, a producer here. Rapid fire volleys most striking. B+(*) [bc]

Chris Brokaw: Puritan (2021, 12XU): Singer-songwriter, graduated from Oberlin, played drums in Codeine, co-founded Come, has worked with another dozen groups, went solo around 2001, 25+ albums since then. B+(**)

The Brother Moves On: Tolika Mtoliki (2021, Matsuli Music): South African group, uses initials TBMO, opens with a politically charged rap ("You Think You Know Me") over a light township jive riff. Shades of Mzwakhe Mbuli, without the zing. B+(**) [bc]

Lindsey Buckingham: Lindsey Buckingham (2021, Buckingham): American singer-songwriter, erratic solo career (mostly since 2006), but formed a duo with Stevie Nicks in 1973, and together they merged with (took over?) British blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac, leading to some of the best-selling albums of the late 1970s. So, strikes me he's a little old (71) to be introducing himself with an eponymous album. Still has some songwriting and arranging skills. Still not much of a singer. B+(*) [sp]

Scott Burns/John Wojciechowski/Geof Bradfield: Tenor Time (2021 [2022], Afar Music): Three tenor saxophonists, backed by piano (Richard D. Johnson), bass (Clark Sommers), and drums (Greg Arby). Eight pieces, two each for the saxophonists and Johnson. B+(*) [cd] [01-21]

Garrett T. Capps: I Love San Antone (2021, Vinyl Ranch): Likes Austin but loves San Antonio, proclaimed in the first song then underscored with Tex-Mex accordion in the second. Seems almost too easy. B+(***)

Melissa Carper: Daddy's Country Gold (2021, self-released): Country singer-songwriter, also plays upright bass, second or third album, plus one as The Carper Family. B+(***)

Sharel Cassity/Rajiv Halim/Greg Ward: Altoizm (2021, Afar Music): Three alto saxophonists, from Chicago, I've seen them ordered every which way, with alphabetical making as much sense as any. Rhythm section: Richard D. Johnson (piano), Jeremiah Hunt (bass), Michael Piolet (drums). Seven tracks (2-3-2). Bebop throwback, like a Charlie Parker tag team. B+(***)

Chris Castino & Chicken Wire Empire: Fresh Pickles (2022, self-released): Singer-songwriter for a Minnesota jam band called the Big Wu, tries his hand as a leader, drawing on bluegrass guests like Jerry Douglas and Peter Rowan, but dropping a little Tex-Mex into the mix. B+(***) [cd] [02-04]

Cheekface: Emphatically No (2021, New Professor Music): Indie rock trio from Los Angeles, with Greg Katz singing (also guitar), Amanda Tannen (bass), and Mark Edwards (drums). Second album. Fair mix of political ("it turns out the whole world will collapse/ but that's just a mistake"), personal ("I'm feeling good/ but I'm sure it will pass"), and a nod toward others ("there's always some reason to talk about yourself"). B+(***) [bc]

Anansy Cissé: Anoura (2021, Riverboat): Saharan blues groove from Mali, second album, nothing spectacular but true to form. B+(***)

Chris Conde: Engulfed in the Marvelous Decay (2021, Fake Four): San Antonio-based rapper, previous album Growing Up Gay, "combines the classically detached spheres of hip hop, indie rock and avant-garde art punk of the drag variety." Has a metal edge not unlike Backxwash, but I'm not sure it helps. B+(*) [bc]

Kiely Connell: Camulet Queen (2021, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Indiana, based in Nashville, first album. Strong voice, some grit to her songs. B+(**)

The Coral: Coral Island (2021, Run On, 2CD): English rock band, tenth album since 2002, indie guitars and folk/psychedelic mix. I was intimidated by the 2-CD packaging, but songs are short and the 24 split over two discs only add up to 54:04. B

Andrew Cyrille/William Parker/Enrico Rava: 2 Blues for Cecil (2021 [2022], TUM): Drums, bass, flugelhorn. "Cecil," of course, is Taylor, the late pianist. The title tracks are jointly credited, as are two improvisations, with each contributing additional pieces, ending with a cover of "My Funny Valentine." None of which is especially reminiscent of Taylor. A- [cd]

Danger Dan: Das Ist Alles Von Der Kunstfreiheit Gedeckt (2021, Altilopen Geldwäsche): German rapper Daniel Pongratz, from Aachen, part of the Antilopen collective, third album. Title refers to artistic freedom, the suggestion that covering songs with alternate lyrics is what we call "fair use." Most are speak-singing over piano. The first sounds like Randy Newman, the title "Lauf Davon" close enough to "Sail Away." I can't place the others, and don't follow German well enough to get any subtle points. B+(*)

Jesse Daniel: Beyond These Walls (2021, Die True): Country singer-songwriter, third album. Fine trad sound picking and singing. One in Spanish is high-octane Tex-Mex. B+(***)

Jamael Dean: Primordial Waters (2021, Stones Throw): Pianist, third album. Sharada Shashidhar sings, effectively taking over. Bandcamp includes an extra 10-track hip-hop album, which has some plusses, but at that length it's kind of a wash. B+(*)

Dessa: Ides (2021, Doomtree, EP): Minnesota rapper Margret Wander, also writes fiction and poetry, joined Doomtree collective in 2005, 2010 debut (A Badly Broken Code) is about as brilliantly literate as hip-hop gets, four albums and more EPs, sung more after the debut, does both here. Seven songs plus a remix, 25:55. [Bonus choice cut: check out her earlier single, Who's Yellen Now?] B+(***) [bc]

Dltzk: Frailty (2021, Deadair): First album after an EP and a couple singles, slotted under electronica or "digicore," more precisely described as "guitar music created by a Skrillex and Porter Robinson obsessive." That's pretty close to the mark. B

Bobby Dove: Hopeless Romantic (2021, self-released): Country singer-songwriter from Canada (Montreal), third album. Reviews display a curious lack of pronouns, but are right as to the classic form and depth of the songs (aside from the one in Spanish, which I still have doubts about). A-

Eris Drew: Quivering in Time (2021, T4T LUV NRG): Chicago house DJ/producer, second album. Fun beats, not much more. B+(**)

Ducks Ltd.: Modern Fiction (2021, Carpark, EP): Jangle pop duo from Toronto, with some sort of connection to Australia. First album, short (7 songs, 21:48), following an EP as Ducks Unlimited. B+(**)

Hope Dunbar: Sweetheartland (2021, self-released): Singer-songwriter from Utica, Nebraska (pop. 800), with a husband and three kids and enough housework to keep her down, but sometimes she'll write a few words and pick up her guitar and sing. Sometimes she oversings, coming off like Bruce Springsteen. B+(***)

Hope Dunbar: You Let the Light In (2021, self-released): Third album, recorded in Nashville. Powerful singer, songs strike me as a bit more generic. B+(**)

Kurt Elling: Superblue (2021, Edition): Jazz singer, from Chicago, has dominated the category since joining Blue Note in 1995. I've never liked his hip swagger and undeniable chops, and see no reason to start now -- other than that Charlie Hunter's grooves are sinuous indeed, and Elling's one of the few who can follow them. B

Vincent Neil Emerson: Vincent Neil Emerson (2021, La Honda): Singer-songwriter from Texas, third album after East Texas Blues and Fried Chicken and Evil Women, evidently had second thoughts about calling this one "High on Gettin' By" or "Saddled Up and Tamed." Flashes a bit of John Prine early, more Rodney Crowell (producer here) later. Part Choctaw-Apache, good for the deepest ballad here. A-

John Escreet/Pera Krstajic/Anthony Fung: Cresta (2022, self-released): Keyboards, electric bass, drums, eighth album for the leader since 2008. B+(*) [bc]

Kari Faux: Lowkey Superstar (2020 [2021], Don Giovanni): Rapper from Little Rock, second album, originally an 8-track EP, grows to 12 tracks here (still short: 29:03). B+(*)

FKA Twigs: Caprisongs (2022, Young/Atlantic): British pop star, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, two previous albums, well-regarded but left me unimpressed. This one is considered a mixtape, something to do with the long list of featured artists and possibly the array of writers and producers. Slips up in a couple spots, but at least has a beat, and the singer seems to be onto something. B+(**)

Flatland Cavalry: Welcome to Countryland (2021, self-released): Lubbock, Texas country group, singer-songwriter Cleto Cordero, fiddle hinting at western swing, third album. B+(*)

Béla Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart (2021, Renew, 2CD): Banjo player, born in New York, has long straddled jazz and bluegrass, with occasional forays elsewhere (one of his best albums is Throw Down Your Heart, recorded in Africa, and another features Zakir Hussain). Instrumental, aside from the occasional giggle, with a few recognizable bluegrass stars dropping in to jam. B+(*)

Linda Fredriksson: Juniper (2021, We Jazz): Finnish saxophonist (alto, baritone, bass clarinet, guitar, piano, synthesizer, voice), first album. With keyboards-bass-drums, soft edges, a bit of space ambiance. B+(**)

Ezra Furman: Sex Education: Songs From Season 3 (2021, Bella Union, EP): American singer-songwriter, has some good albums, got tapped for this British comedy-drama series streaming on Netflix. Five songs, 16:12, "Don't Turn Your Back on Love" the best. B+(**)

Ezra Furman: Sex Education Original Soundtrack (2020, Bella Union): Nineteen songs, no soundtrack dross. Seems odd to pick a quintessentially American rocker for a tie in to a British TV series -- one I haven't seen, so I have no idea how or whether these songs fit. B+(**)

Slava Ganelin/Alexey Kruglov/Oleg Yudanov: Access Point (2017 [2021], Losen): Avant trio -- piano, alto/soprano sax, drums -- recorded live in Moscow. B+(***)

Derrick Gardner and the Big Dig! Band: Still I Rise (2020, Impact Jazz): Trumpet player, as was his father (Burgess Gardner; brother Vincent Gardner plays trombone), from Chicago, has a previous album from 2005 (actually a couple more that didn't show up at first), and a fair amount of big band experience. B+(**) [sp]

Myriam Gendron: Ma Délire: Songs of Love, Lost & Found (2021, Feeding Tube): Folk singer from Ottawa, second album, songs split between French and English, five originals, most of the rest are traditional. B+(**)

Ghost of Vroom: 1 (2021, Mod Y Vi): Collaboration by Mike Doughty (ex-Soul Coughing, vocals/sampler/guitar) and Andrew Livingston (cello/piano/organ). Talkie vocals over garage beats, some as singular as "More Bacon than the Pan Can Handle," some as timeless as "Revelator." A-

John Glacier: Shiloh: Lost for Words (2021, PLZ Make It Ruins): British hip-hop, or glitch hop, the beat broken and scattered but still more of a focus than the words. Short: 12 songs, 25:16. B+(**)

Charles Wesley Godwin: How the Mighty Fall (2021, self-released): Country singer-songwriter from West Virginia, second album. Saving Country Music's album of the year. Can't fault it for craft, but a bit too mighty for my taste. B+(*)

Pasquale Grasso: Pasquale Plays Duke (2021, Sony Masterworks): Italian guitarist, based in New York, has released a bunch of solo EPs/albums recently, all covers showing off his virtuosic technique. Here he takes on Ellington, adding bass (Ari Roland) and drums (Keith Balla), with vocal spots for Samara Joy and Sheila Jordan ("Mood Indigo," not her best voice but remarkable nonetheless). B+(*)

Charlotte Greve: Sediments We Move (2021, New Amsterdam): German-born, Brooklyn-based composer, singer, and saxophonist. Credit muddled here, as one interpretation is that she is the composer, but the performers are Wood River (a quartet she leads, with guitar, bass, and drums) and Cantus Domus (a Berlin choir conducted by Ralf Sochaczewsky). Way more vocals than I can usually handle, but not so bad here. B+(**)

John Hébert: Sounds of Love (2013 [2022], Sunnyside): Bassist from New Orleans, has a few albums under his own name, played on many more, his presence almost always a sign of quality. Put this stellar quintet together in 2011 to play Changes-era Mingus, with Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Tim Berne (alto sax), Fred Hersch (piano), and Ches Smith (drums). B+(***)

Lande Hekt: Going to Hell (2021, Get Better): Singer for British punk band Muncie Girls, first or second solo album (after a 2019 7-track mini). Starts with but doesn't sustain punk anger, reflecting: "You're doing fine and you're doing well/ but the Catholics think you're going to hell." B+(***)

Lande Hekt: Gigantic Disappointment (2019, self-released, EP): Solo debut, 7 songs, 18:23. Starts near-solo for its most striking song, falls back on a fairly average band. B+(*) [bc]

Fred Hersch: Breath by Breath (2021 [2022], Palmetto): Piano trio, with Drew Gress and Jochen Rueckert, plus the Crosby Street String Quartet. The writing for strings caught me by surprise, lovely at first with added layers of complexity, which the piano only adds to. A- [cd]

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet With Wynton Marsalis: The Democracy! Suite (2020 [2021], Blue Engine): "Jazz music is the perfect metaphor for democracy," sez Marsalis, who taps into vintage brass band traditions and adds considerable swing and swagger. B+(***)

Sven-Åke Johansson/Niklas Fite/Joel Grip: Swinging at Topsi's (2020 [2021], Astral Spirits): Drums, acoustic guitar, double bass. Swedish drummer has been around a long time, mostly playing with German avant-garde groups. Two 25-minute sets are keep interest levels up. Ends with two short songs, sung by Johansson, not well, but that's part of the charm. B+(***) [bc]

Tom Jones: Surrounded by Time (2021, S-Curve): Welsh crooner, seemed like part of an earlier/obsolete tradition when he had his first hit in 1965, but 40 albums later it's fair to say he's proven resourceful and resilient. Past 80 he's found his blues voice, and backed it with a harsh mechanical grind. All covers, of which "Pop Star" (Cat Stevens) and "Talking Reality Television Blues (Todd Snider) are most striking. B+(*)

Kaytranada: Intimidated (2021, RCA, EP): Electronica producer Louis Celestin, born in Haiti, grew up in Montreal, acclaimed debut album in 2016. Three tracks, 9:13. B+(*) [sp]

Kiefer: When There's Love Around (2021, Stones Throw): Last name Shackelford, plays piano/keyboards, fourth album, filed it under "pop jazz" because I don't quite buy it as instrumental hip-hop, and it got a couple Jazz Critics Poll votes. Pleasant enough, but who cares? B [bc]

The Killers: Pressure Machine (2021, Island): Rock band from Las Vegas, principally Brandon Flowers (vocals), early albums sold millions, and they sound more arena than indie to me. Seventh album since 2003. Not unappealing once it settled down. There's also an "abridged version," which knocks out 5 minutes of spoken introductions. B+(*)

Lily Konigsberg: Lily We Need to Talk Now (2021, Wharf Cat): New York "polymath," has a couple EPs, some side projects (e.g., Palberta), a compilation Best Of, and has been sneaking up on an album. Not sure whether this one counts (11 tracks, 23:52). But it does earn her self-assurance: "you've got a lot of fucking things to be proud of." B+(**)

Koreless: Agor (2021, Young): Welsh electronica producer Lewis Roberts, first album after a couple EPs. B

Boris Kozlov: First Things First (2020 [2022], Posi-Tone): Bassist, from Russia, moved to New York in the 1990s, has a couple albums as leader, many side credits. With Donnie McCaslin (tenor sax/alto flute), Art Hirahara (piano), Behn Gillece (vibes), and Rudy Royston (drums). B+(**)

Christof Kurzmann/Sofia Jernberg/Joe Williamson/Mats Brandlmayr: Disquiet (2018 [2021], Trost): Title generally taken as group name, but artist names are in smaller print on cover, so we'll parse it that way. Credits: lloopp/vocals, voice, double bass, drums. One 47:14 piece. Not as disquieting as expected, unless you listen closely to the words. B+(*) [bc]

Joëlle Léandre/Pauline Oliveros/George Lewis: Play as You Go (2014 [2021], Trost): Radio shot from Prague, one 43:59 piece, credits: contrabass/voice, Roland Button V-Accordion, laptop electronics/trombone. B+(**) [bc]

Alessandra Leão: Acesa (2021, self-released): Brazilian, several albums since 2006, don't know much more, can't even find a label for this one. Rhythm appeals here, fractured and complex. B+(***) [sp]

Mac Leaphart: Music City Joke (2021, self-released): Nashville singer-songwriter auditioning for the next generation John Prine, aiming high and failing amiably. Aesthetes may seek originals, but many of the rest of us will settle for compatriots. And when you think about it, that's the rule for folksingers. Bob Dylan imitated all sorts of people before he became himself. A-

Rob Leines: Blood Sweat and Beers (2021, self-released): Country singer-songwriter, born in Georgia, bounced back and forth to California, second (or third) album. B+(**)

João Lencastre's Communion: Unlimited Dreams (2021, Clean Feed): Portuguese drummer, sixth Communion album since 2007, roster highly variable, one a trio, this one an octet, with two saxes (Albert Cirera and Ricardo Toscano), piano/electronics (Benny Lackner), two electric guitars, two basses (one electric, the other acoustic). B+(**) [bc]

Carol Liebowitz/Adam Lane/Andrew Drury: Blue Shift (2019 [2022], Line Art): Piano-bass-drums trio. Pianist has albums back to 1994. B+(**) [cd] [03-04]

L.U.M.E. [Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble]: Las Californias (2021, Clean Feed): Pianist Marco Barroso also credited with composition and direction, leading a 15-piece group in their third album. Expansive, almost circus-like atmosphere, huge swells of sound, stretches that are almost catchy, bits of random dialogue. B+(***) [bc]

Roberto Magris: Match Point (2018 [2021], JMood): Italian pianist, many records, quartet Alfredo Chacon (vibes/congas), bass (Dion Kerr), and Rodolfo Zuniga (drums). Four originals, covers include Monk, Randy Weston, and McCoy Tyner. Nice and bright. B+(**) [bc]

Tony Malaby's Sabino: The Cave of Winds (2021 [2022], Pyroclastic): Tenor saxophonist, from Arizona, a dominating player who not infrequently steals others' albums. Group name refers back to a 2000 album, another quartet with Michael Formanek (bass) and Tom Rainey (drums) returning, with Ben Monder taking over guitar. B+(***) [cd]

Pete Malinverni: On the Town: Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein (2021 [2022], Planet Arts): Pianist, mostly trio albums since 1988, this one with Ugonna Okegwo and Jeff Hamilton, doing Bernstein songs, as Nate Chinen put it, "forthright and elegant." B+(***) [cd]

Man on Man: Man on Man (2021, Polyvinyl): Pandemic lockdown recording by 58-year-old Imperial Teen Roddy Bottum, with boyfriend Joey Holman. B+(**) [sp]

Aimee Mann: Queens of the Summer Hotel (2021, SuperEgo): Singer-songwriter, 10th studio album since 1993, not counting band projects (like Til Tuesday). Part of a stage adaptation of Susan Kaysen's 1993 memoir, Girl, Interrupted. That introduces an element of distance that leaves one uncertain how to gauge the songs. B+(*) [sp]

Juçara Marçal: Delta Estácio Blues (2021, QTV Selo/Mais Um): Brazilian singer, appeared in Vésper and Metá Metá before going solo in 2014. Second solo album. Combines a soft touch with sharp angles and unexpected rhythms. A-

Michael Mayo: Bones (2021, Artistry Music/Mack Avenue): Singer, from Los Angeles but based in New York, father played saxophone for Earth, Wind & Fire; first album, on a jazz label but at least as close to soft-edged neo-soul. B+(*)

Kate McGarry + Keith Ganz Ensemble: What to Wear in the Dark (2021, Resilience): Jazz singer, 8th album since 2003, Ganz plays guitar and is her husband, band includes Ron Miles (cornet), Gary Versace (piano), bass, and drums. Standards, but she prefers late 1960s/early 1970s soft rock (Beatles, Eagles, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon). B+(**)

John McLaughlin: Liberation Time (2021, Abstract Logix): British fusion guitarist, pretty much invented the genre, returned to form after a sabbatical delving into Indian music. B+(*)

Joe McPhee: Route 84 Quarantine Blues (2020 [2021], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Numbered 2 following Ken Vandermark's solo album, another pandemic solo outing, for tenor sax and found sounds. Odds and ends, most touching his Mingus-on-Lester-Young, "Goodbye Porky Pig Hat." B+(**)

Mike and the Moonpies: One to Grow On (2021, Prairie Rose): Austin-based country band, albums since 2010 -- the first two announced their intentions: The Real Country and The Hard Way. B+(*)

Charnett Moffett: New Love (2019 [2021], Motéma): Bassist, father is drummer Charles Moffet, dozens more side credits. Quartet with Irwin Hall (sax/flute), Jana Herzen (guitar), and drums. Don't care much for the vocals, but one has to admire how he keeps the bass in focus. B

Nation of Language: A Way Forward (2021, PIAS): Electropop trio from Brooklyn, second album. B+(**)

Youssou N'Dour Et Le Super Étoile De Dakar: Mbalax (2021, Universal Music Africa): Very little information on this, but he's brought back his original band name, and styled a tribute to the style they made famous. Sounds very much of a piece with what he's been doing forty years now. A- [sp]

Helado Negro: Far In (2021, 4AD): Roberto Carlos Lange, born in Florida, parents from Ecuador, based in New York, eighth album since 2009. Has a soft lilt appeal. B+(*)

Oz Noy/Ugonna Okegwo/Ray Marchica: Riverside (2020 [2022], Outside In Music): Guitarist, from Israel, based in New York since 1996, trio with Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Ray Marchica (drums), usually tends toward fusion and funk but sticks with bebop standards here: not his fanciest, but pretty enjoyable. B+(***) [cd]

NTsKI: Orca (2021, Orange Milk/EM): Kyoto-based J-pop artist, debut album (although her website lists other albums, as well as EPs). B+(**) [bc]

The OGJB Quartet: Ode to O (2019 [2022], TUM): Second album: Oliver Lake (alto sax), Graham Haynes (cornet/electronics), Joe Fonda (double bass), Barry Altschul (drums). Filed it under Lake, who dominated the previous Bamako, but Altschul wrote the title piece (where "O" stands for Ornette) and two more ("Da Bang" for Billy, and "Caring"). Those are high points, and Lake's free blowing impresses as ever, but nicked a bit for electronics that don't go anywhere. B+(***) [cd]

Matt Olson: Open Spaces (2021 [2022], OA2): Tenor saxophonist, leads a sprightly postbop quintet with alto sax, guitar, bass, and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Orquestra Afro-Brasileira: 80 Anos (2021, Day Dreamer): Brazilian group founded 1942 by Abigail Moura, continued until 1970, although recordings are scarce. Revived here under the direction of Caio Cesar Sitorio. Not sure who the singer is. B+(***) [sp]

Emile Parisien: Louise (2021 [2022], ACT): French soprano saxophonist, tenth album since 2006, more postbop textures, a sextet with Theo Croker on trumpet, both piano and guitar, bass and drums. B+(**) [cd]

Perila: How Much Time It Is Between You and Me? (2021, Smalltown Soupersound): Alexandra Zakharenko, DJ/producer, based in Berlin, has produced quite a bit since 2019. Ambient, broken up by occasional clunkiness. B

John Pizzarelli: Better Days Ahead: Solo Guitar Takes on Pat Metheny (2021, Ghostlight): Second-generation guitarist, has done a lot of tributes but mostly to singers. This is nice, not that I know Metheny well enough to get the point. B

Pony: TV Baby (2021, Take This to Heart): Canadian pop group, Sam Bielanski singer-songwriter, first album after an EP. B

Poppy: Flux (2021, Sumerian): Pop singer Moriah Rose Pereira, fourth album, started closer to bubblegum but moved on to flirt with metal, but the extra heft hasn't harmed her pop sense. B+(***)

Mike Pride: I Hate Work (2021, RareNoise): Drummer, moved to New York in 2000, led a group called From Bacteria to Boys, Napster lists him as "smooth jazz," but that's some kind of sick joke: he mostly plays in free jazz groups, but is also into hardcore noise, and sometimes combines them, or in this case flips them over. Ten songs "loosely based" on Millions of Dead Cops' 1982 debut -- a connection from when Pride toured as their drummer -- done with piano trio (Jamie Saft and Brad Jones), but lest you get completely lost three cuts have guest vocals, two have Mick Barr on electric guitar or banjo, and both Pride and Saft play some electric keyboards. B+(*)

Masha Qrella: Woanders (2021, Staatsakt): German indie pop singer, originally Mariana (or Masha) Kurella, father Russian, started in bands before going solo in 2004, released an album of Loewe and Weill in Exile in 2009. In German, mine not good enough to follow but I catch words here and there, and find that comforting. One can hear bits of vintage krautrock in the electro, but they blend into something more . . . human? B+(***) [sp]

Rainbow Girls: Rolling Dumpster Fire (2021, self-released, EP): Folkie group, female harmonies remind me of the Shams, enough to get me wondering whether there's a genius therein. Seven cuts, two of them mere fragments, so total 16:30. B+(*)

Isaiah Rashad: The House Is Burning (2021, Top Dawg Entertainment/Warner): Rapper, last name McClain, from Tennessee, has a easy delivery. B+(*)

Raw Poetic Featuring Damu the Fudgemunk: Big Tiny Planet (2021, Redefinition, EP): DC rapper Jason Moore, albums since 2014, many with producer Earl Davis. Five tracks, 25:34. B+(*) [bc]

The Reds, Pinks & Purples: Uncommon Weather (2021, Tough Love): San Francisco band, principally Glenn Donaldson, who's appeared in a lot of bands since 2001, this one from 2019 and in its third album. Sound much like the Go-Betweens. B+(*)

Alex Riel/Bo Stief/Carsten Dahl: Our Songs (2021, Storyville): Danish drummer, started out in trad jazz bands before 1960, many side credits, bassist and pianist also Danish. Half standards from "My Funny Valentine" to "Giant Steps," half Danish titles. B+(**)

The Rite of Trio: Free Development of Delirium (2021, Clean Feed): Portuguese trio: André B. Sivla (guitar), Filipe Louro (bass), Pedro Melo Alves (drums), all three electric as well as acoustic. Second group album. B+(*)

Ritual Habitual: Pagan Chant (2021, Clean Feed): Portuguese/Dutch sax-bass-drums trio, with Riccardo Margona (tenor, bass clarinet, synthesizers), Gonçalo Almeida, and Philipp Ernsting. Joint improv, nods to Coltrane and Ayler, great strength in the opening and closing sax runs. B+(***) [bc]

Diego Rivera: Indigenous (2019 [2021], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist (soprano on 3 tracks), born in Michigan, family Mexican-American, teaches at Michigan State, couple previous albums, this one backed by an exceptional piano-bass-drums trio (Helen Sung, Boris Kozlov, Donald Edwards) with Etienne Charles (trumpet) joining on 3 cuts. Not Latin Jazz, but lots of joyous tinge. B+(**)

Hank Roberts Sextet: Science of Love (2021, Sunnyside): Cellist, one of the few in jazz following his 1987 debut, ten or so albums as a leader, three with Arcado String Trio, regular side credits with Tim Berne and Bill Frisell. Nicely balanced sextet with Mike McGinniss (clarinet/soprano sax), Brian Drye (trombone), Dara Lyn (violin), Jacob Sacks (piano), and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums). B+(**)

Rostam: Changeophobia (2021, Matsor Projects): Last name Batmanglij, US-born, parents Iranian, founding member of Vampire Weekend, second solo album. Has a good command of popcraft. B+(*)

Charles Rumback: Seven Bridges (2021, Astral Spirits): Drummer, tenth album since 2009, mixed bag, vocal songs unimpressive, spots for violin (Macie Stewart) and horns more interesting, the best Ron Miles on cornet. B+(*)

Samo Salamon/Cene Resnik/Jaka Berger: Takt Ars Sessions: Vol. 1 (2021, Samo): Guitar/tenor sax/drums trio, recorded on Oct. 29 and offered on Bandcamp on Oct. 31. Five pieces are jointly credited, all numbered "Free." Renik wrote one piece, Salamon four, and Paul Motian got covered. B+(***) [bc]

Samo Salamon/Cene Resnik/Jaka Berger: Takt Ars Sessions: Vol. 2 (2021, Samo): Four more "Free" pieces from the same session, long ones (76:38). B+(**) [bc]

Anna B Savage: A Commmon Turn (2021, City Slang): English singer-songwriter, first album. Remarkable voice, just one I don't particularly enjoy. B

Doug Scarborough: The Color of Angels (2021 [2022], Origin): Trombonist, has a couple previous albums (one from 2000), teaches in Walla Walla, WA. Original pieces, with piano (Jeremy Siskind) and violin (Akram Abdulfattah) prominent, also bass, drums, and darbuka (Mustafa Boztüy). B+(**) [cd]

Maria Sena: De Primeira (2021, Alá Comunicação E Cultura): Brazilian singer, first album. Dance beats with typical Brazilian sway, in other words pop. B+(***)

Elvie Shane: Backslider (2021, Wheelhouse): Country singer from Kentucky, got the drawl, the testosterone, a "public education in the back of the bus," blind props to God and Country, an anthem that could be hateful or maybe just dumb: "Amazing Grace/how sweet the sound/of Sundays in the South." B+(*)

Ayanda Sikade: Umakhulu (2021, Afrosynth): South African drummer, second album, credit info hard to come by, but looks like: Nduduzo Makhathini (piano), Simon Manana (alto sax), Nhlanhla Radebe (bass). Early on barely hints at township jazz heritage, but as the album develops, first the piano then the sax come into focus. Manana is described as "young," but he impresses like Dudu Pukwana. A- [bc]

Connie Smith: The Cry of the Heart (2021, Fat Possum): Popular country singer for RCA 1965-72, although I can't recommend a compilation from the period (The Essential Connie Smith is part of a generally exemplary series of single-CD compilations, but a B- for me). She moved on to Columbia through 1976 and Monument to 1978, and has recorded a few things since -- produced by Marty Stuart since they married in 1997. One I like a lot is 2011's Long Line of Heartaches, on Sugar Hill. At 80, she still has quite a voice, and more faith in Jesus than seems warranted. B+(**)

The Steel Woods: All of Your Stones (2021, Thirty Tigers): Southern rock group, founded by singer Wes Bayliss and guitarist Jason "Rowdy" Cope (d. 2021), based in Nashville, third album since 2017. Best line was about not being able to feel a broken heart, but that's a pretty low ceiling. B

Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine: A Beginner's Mind (2021, Asthmatic Kitty): Singer-songwriter from Detroit, prolific since 2000, recorded this collaboration locked down in a cabin in upstate New York. Fourteen songs, each inspired by a film they watched. B+(***)

Billy Strings: Renewal (2021, Rounder): Bluegrass picker William Apostol, main instrument is guitar but also plays banjo and mandolin, and sings. Third album. Classic sound. B+(**)

Dave Stryker: As We Are (2021 [2022], Strikezone): Guitarist, many albums since 1988, backed by piano-bass-drums trio (Julian Shore, John Patitucci, Brian Blade), with Shore arranging for string quartet, which is the rub. B+(*)

Aaron Lee Tasjan: Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! (2021, New West): Singer-songwriter, filed under country but latest album listed as "power pop." Indeed, sounds a bit like Marshall Crenshaw, except, you know, not as good. Sample lyric: "cartoon music for plastic people, who don't know how to feel." B

The Tiptons Sax Quartet & Drums: Wabi Sabi (2021, Sowie Sound): Saxophone quartet from Seattle, has operated under several variations of the name since 1993 (originally as the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet), with a drummer since 2005, and under this name for three albums since 2014. Current saxophonists are Amy Denio (alto), Tina Richerson (baritone), Jessica Lurie (soprano/alto/tenor), and Sue Orfield (tenor), with Robert Kainar on drums. Very upbeat, some vocals. B+(**)

Ken Vandermark: The Field Within a Line (2020 [2021], Corbett vs. Dempsey): Pandemic project: "a new book of works for solo reed instruments." B+(***) [bc]

Vario 34-3: Free Improvised Music (2018 [2021], Corbett Vs. Dempsey): German free jazz musician Günter Christmann, plays cello and trombone, played in Globe Unity Orchestra, has organized fifty-some iterations of "Vario" since 1979. Vario 34 originally recorded in 1993, returns here with 5 (of 6) original members: Christmann, Mats Gustafsson (soprano sax), Thomas Lehn (electronics), Alexander Frangenheim (double bass), and Paul Lovens (percussion). B+(*) [bc]

Piet Verbist: Secret Exit to Another Dimension (2020 [2022], Origin): Belgian bassist, several albums, leads a trio with Hendrik Braeckman (guitar) and Lionel Beuvens (drums), both of whom contribute songs, with covers of Monk and Charlie Parker tying this to the bop tradition. B+(*) [cd]

Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz (2021, Year0001): Swedish post-punk group, second album, Sebastian Murphy the singer, original guitarist died after this album, sax is a nice touch. Ends with an estranged cover of John Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves," with Amy Taylor (Amyl and the Sniffers) reprising Iris DeMent. B+(***)

Villagers: Fever Dreams (2021, Domino): Irish band, principally Conor J O'Brien, sixth album since 2010. B

Ghalia Volt: One Woman Band (2021, Ruf): Last name Vauthier, singer-songwriter from Belgium, plays blues, looking to Tampa Red and Ike Turner for the two covers. Has a couple guest spots, but plays her own drums. B+(**)

Kanye West: Donda (2021, GOOD Music/Def Jam, 2CD): No rush to get into this 108:48 sprawl, with its 53 Metacritic score coming off the B- Jesus Is King, not to mention his dalliance with Trump and his feint at the 2020 presidential election. I figured I could wait for a sign, but none came. Still big enough to finish 19 on Billboard's Top R&:B/Hip-Hop Albums list, and 23 in the Hip-Hop breakout from my EOY Aggregate (highest unheard album until now). His minimalist raps over beats aren't all tedious, but his attempts at church music (see "24") are beyond awful. No, I didn't get to the 130:52 Deluxe Edition. C+

Joyce Wrice: Overgrown (2021, Joyce Wrice Music): R&B singer from Los Angeles, first album after an EP and singles, "grew up with the silky tones of R&B's golden era," by which she means the early '00s. B+(**)

Carlos "Zingaro"/Pedro Carneiro: Elogio Das Sombras (2012 [2021], Clean Feed): Violin and marimba duo. Fairly limited concept, but "Zingaro" has at this for a long time now, and he keeps it interesting. B+(**) [bc]

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Albert Ayler: La Cave Live Cleveland 1966 Revisited (1966 [2022], Ezz-Thetics, 2CD): Previously unreleased (at least with any official imprimatur), three sets over two days in Ayler's home town, one a quintet with trumpet (Donald Ayler), violin (Michel Samson), bass, and drums; the other adds Frank Wright (tenor sax). B+(***) [bc]

The Beaters: Harari (1975 [2021], Matsuli Music): South African "Soweto soul" group, first album, changed their name to Harari thereafter, going on to record another dozen albums up to 1986. Not sure who plays sax on the closer. B+(**) [bc]

Chuck Berry: Live From Blueberry Hill (2005-06 [2021], Dualtone): I lived a couple years in St. Louis: one on Eastgate, across from a bagel bakery [Pratzel's], at the east end of what was even then known as the Delmar Loop. Blueberry Hill was the local pub, and I spent a fair amount of time in there -- only Left Bank Books and Streetside Records saw more of me. I don't recall any music there, but Joe Edwards built his empire around it. His biggest coup was getting Chuck Berry to play monthly from 1996 to 2014. This picks 10 tracks from the middle of his run. His voice is shot, and the lean elegance of songs you certainly know has thickened, and the band/sound is far from spectacular, but his excitement is still palpable, and he throws in some ad libs you'll want to hear. After all, "if you love it, you ain't never too old." A- [sp]

Chuck Berry: Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival 1969 (1969 [2021], Sunset Blvd.): Remastered complete set of a live concert that's been variously available at least since 1978. The 9:41 "My Ding-A-Ling" is either a high- or a low-point. No debate over the 6:32 "Reelin' and Rockin'." B+(***)

Black Unity Trio: Al-Fatihah (1968 [2021], Salaam/Gotta Groove): One-shot avant-garde trio, credits: Joseph Phillips (Yusuf Mumin): alto sax; Ron DeVaughn (Abdul Wadud): cello and bass; Hasan Abdur Shahid (Hassan-Al-Hut, AKA Hasan Al-Hut): percussion -- the latter was originally Amos Franklin Gordon Jr. By far the best known is Wadud, for his work with Julius Hemphill, Arthur Blythe, and others. B+(**) [bc]

Paul Bley Trios: Touching & Blood Revisited (1965-66 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Canadian pianist, a decade into his career, had already played in Jimmy Giuffre's famous trio, led the quintet that first recorded Ornette Coleman, and had at least one dazzling trio album (his 1953 debut). This reissues the album Touching, recorded live in Copenhagen with Kent Carter (bass) and Barry Altschul (drums), plus the 18:45 title piece from the follow-up album Blood, with Mark Levinson taking over bass. Three of his own songs, one from first wife Carla, four from second wife Annette Peacock. Black Lion's 1994 CD of Touching includes the same bonus. B+(**) [bc]

Marion Brown: Why Not? Porto Novo! Revisited (1966-67 [2021], Ezz-thetics): Alto saxophonist, reissues two major albums: a quartet with Stanley Cowell, Sirone, and Rashied Ali, that originally appeared on ESP-Disk; and a trio recorded in the Netherlands with Maarten Van Regerten Altena and Han Bennink, that appeared on Polydor in 1969, and later on Freedom and Black Lion (the latter added two later cuts, not included here). A- [bc]

Cameroon Garage Funk (1970s [2021], Analog Africa): "Yaoundé in the 1970's, was a buzzing place." The capitol of Cameroon, a former German colony split between France and Britain after WWI, independent by 1961. Cameroon's most famous musical export was Manu Dibango (1933-2020), who moved to France in 1949 and had a big hit with "Soul Makossa" in 1972 -- a nod to one of Cameroon's styles. Nobody famous here, but these mostly one-shot singles are rather more impressive than the second-tier Afrobeat/funk coming out of Nigeria at the time -- Congolese influence is less apparent. B+(***)

Don Cherry: Complete Communion & Symphony for Improvisers Revisited (1965-66 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Cornet player, in with Ornette Coleman's legendary quartet, early appearances with Albert Ayler, Steve Lacy, George Russell, and John Coltrane. These were his first albums as leader, released on Blue Note, and squeezed down to 79:24 for this compilation. The quartet with Gato Barbieri (tenor sax), Henry Grimes, and Ed Blackwell is epic. The larger group, adding Pharoah Sanders (tenor sax), Karl Berger (vibes & piano), and a second bassist -- is more unruly. B+(***) [bc]

Ornette Coleman: New York Is Now & Love Call Revisited (1968 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Two 1968 albums, the end of Coleman's brief 1960s fling with Blue Note, still best remember for his live trio sets, At the "Golden Circle" Stockholm: Volume One and Two. This was a quartet, with Dewey Redman (tenor sax) plus Coltrane's former bass-drums duo, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones. Not always top drawer material, but often amazing anyway. A- [bc]

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: Berlin 1959 (1959 [2021], Storyville, 2CD): There's gotten to be a lot of live Ellington from this period: the orchestra was magnificent, and the songbook was so deep he resorted to medleys. B+(***)

Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House (1973-84 [2021], Analog Africa): A compilation of from Ghana's Essiebons label, long headed by producer Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, leans more toward Afrobeat than the earlier highlife style. I usually prefer the light grace of highlife, but this overwhelming deluge of rhythm works too. A- [bc]

Harari: Rufaro/Happiness (1976 [2021], Matsuli Music): Formerly the Beaters, second group album, kept the name of their debut album. B+(**) [bc]

I'll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico (2021, Verve): A project of the late Hal Willner, evidently his last, recreating the Velvet Underground's first album cut-by-cut, with different artists tackling each song, with widely varying degrees of inspiration. I got to the album late. I remember going to at least two people's homes, playing their copies, and having them come into the room and ask me "what is this shit?" The record soon enough became my kind of comfort food, so it's a bit unsettling to hear other people fuck around with it. B+(***)

Instant Composers Pool: Incipient ICP (1966-71 [2021], Corbett Vs. Dempsey): First tremors of the Dutch avant-garde, with Misha Mengelberg (piano), Willem Breuker (reeds), and Han Bennink (drums) in on the ground floor. The group eventually settled on ICP Orchestra, and recently released a 53-CD box set collecting their work -- the group continues today, although Breuker and Mengelberg have passed. A- [bc]

J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan: Volume 3 (1970-85 [2021], BBE, 2CD): As with previous volumes, this shows that there's a lot more depth in Japanese jazz than we've known from the occasional musician who gets away to Europe or America. (Aki Takase, long resident in Berlin, is the most recognizable name here.) The most striking pieces are not just proficient postbop or free jazz but go places we're not used to: Hiroshi Murakami's party music, or Tatsuya Nakamura's samba, or Koichi Yamazaki's sax closer. B+(***) [bc]

Khan Jamal: Infinity (1982-84 [2021], Jazz Room): Vibraphone player, born in Florida but raised in Philadelphia, a founder of Sounds of Liberation in 1970. Died January 2022, at 75. Group includes Byard Lancaster (alto sax/flute), plus piano, bass, drums, extra percussion. B+(***)

Lily Konigsberg: The Best of Lily Konigsberg Right Now (2017-21 [2021], Wharf Cat): Seventeen DIY cuts posted on the sly while working on her main band, Palberta, released before her short 2021 album. Small songs, neatly done. B+(*) [bc]

Joe McPhee: Black Is the Color: Live in Poughkeepsie and New Windsor, 1969-70 (1969-70 [2021], Corbett Vs. Depsey, 2CD): Three sets, with different groups (bassist Tyrone Crabb is on all three, drummer Bruce Thompson on the first two) -- the groups are fleshed out with: (1) vibes (Ernest Bostic); (2) tenor sax/flute (Reggie Marks); (3) piano (Mike Kull) and vocals (Octavius Graham). McPhee plays tenor sax, also trumpet on the first two sets. First two are heavy into Coltrane. Third starts off with James Brown, then Graham enters on "Funky Broadway," and stays on for the "Blues for the People" closer. From his private tapes, he was still finding himself, but also having fun. B+(***) [bc]

Modern Love (2021, BBE): New covers of David Bowie songs, commissioned by the British label, initials standing for Barely Breaking Even. Not their usual fare, which focuses on 1970s funk and Japanese jazz, so they don't have a house roster of artists to draw on. They managed to round up many artists I've heard of, with Meshell Ndegeocello and Jeff Parker the longest-established, L'Rain the most au courrant (and least interesting). The most successful tactic is to slow it down a bit and let the melody sneak up on you (e.g., Léa Sen on "Golden Years"). B+(**) [bc]

The New York Contemporary Five: Copenhagen 1963 Revisited (1963 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Before Archie Shepp emerged as a leader, he spent some time in Copenhagen, with local alto saxophonist John Tchicai and a few fellow New Yorkers (notably cornetist Don Cherry). They went on to record two volumes in 1964, and reunited for a 1966 album. This early live set eventually appeared on Storyville in 1972, reissued on CD in 1992. This has same songs, but finally reordered in set sequence, with enough applause and chatter removed to squeeze it down to 79:30. Exciting music. A- [bc]

New York Contemporary Five: Consequences Revisited (1963-64 [2020], Ezz-Thetics): Reissue of their 1966 album, originally recorded in August 1963 in New York except for one cut from Copenhagen (October 1963), plus three more cuts (total 68:15) from a 1964 session in Newark, with Ronnie Boykins (bass) and Sunny Murray (drums) replacing Don Moore and J.C. Moses, and Ted Curson instead of Don Cherry on two tracks. B+(***)

Leo Nocentelli: Another Side (1971 [2021], Light in the Attic): Guitarist from New Orleans, played for the Meters back in their heyday, side credits include Labelle, Wild Tchoupitoulas, Albert King, Etta James, Taj Mahal, Trombone Shorty. Recorded this one solo album, unreleased until now. B+(*)

George Otsuka Quintet: Loving You George (1975 [2021], Wewantsounds): Japanese drummer, Discogs has last name Ohtsuka. He joined Sadao Watanabe's quartet in the late 1950s, released albums on his own from 1967, mostly quintets. This one features Shozo Sasaki on soprano and tenor sax, with fusion keyboards: Fumio Karashima, who wrote the first piece, followed by covers from Steve Kuhn, John Coltrane, and Minnie Riperton. B+(**) [bc]

Pink Floyd: Live at Knebworth 1990 (1990 [2021], Pink Floyd): I saw them once, at Madison Square Garden, and thought they put on a fine show, but all they did was literally play their last two albums (Animals and Wish You Were Here), with a couple cuts from Dark Side of the Moon for the encore, all with then-state-of-the-art videos. Here, 12-13 years later, they're picking and choosing songs, the band beefed up with Michael Kamen (keyboards) and Candy Dulfer (sax), and backup singer Clare Torry taking over "The Great Gig in the Sky," and Roger Waters nowhere in the credits. It's all music I love, but not until "Run Like Hell" did I start to consider I might prefer it here. B+(***) [sp]

Tom Prehn Kvartet: Centrifuga (1964 [2021], Centrifuga): Danish pianist, recorded some remarkable free jazz as early as 1963 but I'm not sure he continued after 1970. John Corbett was a fan, reissuing some of his work in Atavistic's Unheard Music Series, and later on his Corbett Vs. Dempsey label. This is half of a 2021 reissue, but I've only been able to find the original self-released album so far. Quartet with tenor sax Fritz Krogh), bass (Poul Ehlers), and drums (Finn Slumstrup). One 44:09 piece. B+(***) [bc]

Ritmo Fantasía: Balearic Spanish Synth-Pop, Boogie & House (1982-1992) (1982-92 [2021], Soundway): From Spanish islands in the Mediterranean, most famously Ibiza, collected by Berlin-based DJ Trujillo. B+(**)

Akira Sakata/Takeo Moriyama: Mitochondria (1986 [2022], Trost): Japanese duo, alto sax and drums, fairly intense free jazz, not least because the drummer is not just engaged but commands attention even on his solos. B+(***) [bc]

Shintaro Quintet: Evolution (1984 [2021], BBE): Japanese bassist Shintaro Nakamura, quintet recorded in New York with Jeff Jenkins (piano), Bob Kenmotsu on tenor sax, Shunzo Ohnn on trumpet, and Fukushi Tainaka (drums). B+(**) [bc]

Star Lovers: Boafo Ne Nyame (1987 [2021], Hot Casa): High life group from Ghana, cover proclaims "Highlife Is Back with Star Lovers," and notes: "Frimpong Manso Production." B+(***) [bc]

The Thing [Mats Gustafsson/Joe McPhee/Ingebrigt Håker Flaten/Paal Nilseen-Love]: She Knows . . . (2001 [2021], Ezz-Thetics): Norwegian free jazz trio, started with eponymous group album in 2000, adds American free jazz legend McPhee (pocket trumpet/tenor sax) to pump up the volume. Previously released on Crazy Wisdom, and included in their Now and Forever box. B+(***) [bc]

The Velvet Underground: A Documentary Film by Todd Haynes (1954-70 [2021], Polydor, 2CD): Soundtrack, 11 group songs not all tied to the four studio albums, one from Nico's solo album, four more including a pre-VU Reed group (The Primitives), pieces from the Diablos, Bo Diddley, and La Monte Young -- the latter a 6:21 minimalist sax solo. The VU songs are mostly live, and often magnificent (especially the 19:04 "Sister Ray"), but they're available in other packages, so I wonder how useful this particular one has. I haven't seen the movie. [PS: Napster credits most of these songs to Amon Tobin, but other sources, including a scan of the booklet, cite the group. My ears concur.] B+(***)

Old Music

The Allman Brothers Band: One Way Out: Live at the Beacon Theatre (2003 [2004], Sanctuary/Peach, 2CD): With founders Duane Allman and Berry Oakley dead, and Dickey Betts departed, the remaining originals are singer-songwriter-keyboardist Gregg Allman and the two drummers. The vocals hold the songbook together, and new guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks provide the spark. Also helps that they pull three pieces out of the blues archive (Blind Willie McTell, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson). I've never been a big fan, but enjoyed their early work, and enjoyed this one all the way through. B+(***) [sp]

David Bowie: ChangesOneBowie (1969-76 [1976], RCA): First draft for a greatest hits package, 10 obvious songs from 7 albums plus the much-noted but little-heard non-album single "John I'm Only Dancing." Seemed superfluous back when I owned the albums, but nice to recover the high points from the weaker albums, and put them into a a context that looks like a progression. Superseded by the 1990 CD ChangesBowie. A [sp]

David Bowie: ChangesNowBowie (1996 [2020], Parlophone): Packaged like a variant of his greatest hits series, this is a live set of mostly old songs recorded by BBC, starting with unplugged versions of "The Man Who Sold the World," "Aladdin Sane," and "White Light/White Heat." B [sp]

Charles Brackeen Quartet: Attainment (1987 [1988], Silkheart): Tenor saxophonist from Oklahoma City, didn't record much: a Strata-East album in 1968, three albums for Silkheart in 1987, ten or so side-credits, but he often stole the show with his hyper-aggressive playing. Group with Olu Dara (cornet), Fred Hopkins (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums), plus voices and extra percussion on the title piece. B+(**) [bc]

Precious Bryant: Feel Me Good (2002, Terminus): Blues singer from the Georgia side of the Alabama line, learned her guitar from an uncle, George Henry Bussey. Got recorded as early as 1967, but didn't release this debut until she turned 60. Live set, solo, just acoustic guitar and voice. B+(**)

Precious Bryant: The Truth (2004, Terminus): Second album, same sensibility but gets a lift from the extra depth of a band, not that you notice it much. Not sure of the provenance of the songs: some I thought I recognized, but not the titles. A-

Precious Bryant: My Name Is Precious (2005, Music Maker Relief Foundation): Label is a non-profit, got some recognition a couple years back with the compilation Hanging Guitar Doors, but it dates back to 1994, and started working with Bryant a decade before this album appeared. She runs through 26 songs here, nice and simple. B+(***)

Chicago Farmer: Quarter Past Tonight (2018, Chicago Farmer, 2CD): Cody Dieckhoff, moved to Chicago and started self-releasing his talkie folk/country albums in 2005. After six of them, he figured he had enough songs built up to try this live-double, located in Peoria, perhaps looking for a venue he could fill. A- [sp]

Anansy Cissé: Mali Overdrive (2014, Riverboat): Guitarist-vocalist from Timbuktu in Mali, first album (at least known to the outside world), finds an undulating groove that many others have pioneered. B+(**)

The Robert Cray Band: Shame + a Sin (1993, Mercury): Blues singer-guitarist, touted as the next great hope but came up as the genre was going down. Still, got a lot of ridiculous hype for 1986's Strong Persuader, and sold impressively. I eventually decided I really disliked the album, and followed him long enough to note that he got worse. I gave up before this one, the last of five Christgau A-listed (not counting his Heavy Picks comp). This is less obnoxious, but still a few cringe-inducing moments, and not enough chops, let alone inspiration, to make me care. B

The Robert Cray Band: Heavy Picks: The Robert Cray Collection (1980-97 [1999], Mercury): Spans much of his career, including albums before he had his breakthrough on Mercury. Several I recognized, but even title songs don't stand out much. Not as annoying as I feared, but not close to great either. B

Hope Dunbar: Three Black Crows (2017, self-released): First album, a dozen homespun songs, but she got some production (from Emily White), strings and percussion and backing vocals. B+(***)

Vincent Neil Emerson: Fried Chicken & Evil Women (2019, La Honda): Title song continues, "will be the death of me," and is followed by "The Bad Side of Luck." His songs flow as easy and natural as anyone's since Billy Joe Shaver. A-

Booker Ervin: Structurally Sound (1966 [2001], Blue Note): Tenor saxophonist from Texas, rarely included in the list of "Texas Tenors" but should be. Emerged as a dominant player with Prestige in the early 1960s, but less known for his late 1960s work, before his death in 1970 at 39. Standard quintet here, but Charles Tolliver (trumpet) and John Hicks (piano) were barely known at the time. Really kicked in for me on Ervin's one original, "Boo's Blues." Reissue adds four tracks. [PS: Allen Lowe included this in a list of life-changing records he first heard at 14. It was the only one I didn't know.] A-

Booker Ervin: The In Between (1968, Blue Note): Last release before Ervin's 1970 death, first actually on Blue Note (which later reissued his two Pacific Jazz albums; also this one in 2004 with no extra material). Richard Williams plays trumpet on 5 (of 6) tracks, with Bobby Few (piano), Cevera Jeffries Jr. (bass), and Lenny McBrowne (drums). Sounds very strong. B+(***)

Shannon Jackson & the Decoding Society: Nasty (1981, Moers Music): Drummer from Texas (1940-2013), most of his records include his first name (Ronald), first recordings in late 1960s with Albert Ayler and Charles Tyler, worked with Ornette Coleman in mid-1970s, formed his own "free funk" group in 1980. This version has three saxes (Byard Lancaster, Charles Brackeen, Lee Rozie), electric guitar (Vernon Reid), electric bass (Melvin Gibbs and Bruce Johnson), and vibes (Khan Jamal). A- [yt]

Jaojoby: Malagasy (2004, Discorama): From Madagascar, proximate to Africa but geologically far removed, and populated initially by people from Indonesia, a unique terrain, overlaid with various waves of imperialism. The most celebrated music there is Salegy, and Eusèbe Jaojoby is their star, although interest from elsewhere has been spotty. B+(***)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Inala (1985 [1986], Shanachie): South African male choral group, founded by Joseph Shabalala in 1960 but unknown in America until Shanachie started reissuing their Gallo albums with 1984's Induku Zethu. So while this is well into their discography, it's only number three for Americans (or number one if you started with Paul Simon's Graceland, which featured them). Only problem is they're pretty much interchangeable, although I think Classic Tracks is especially well selected. B+(***) [sp]

Lifter Puller [LFTR PLLR]: Soft Rock (1996-2000 [2002], The Self Starter Foundation, 2CD): Minnesota rock group, immediately recognizable as singer-songwriter Craig Finn, before Hold Steady. Collects much of what they recorded, sprawling out to 2:19:39. And no, there's nothing soft to it. A- [yt]

Los Guanches: The Corpse Went Dancing Rumba (1996, Corason): Cuban ensemble, a son band from Santiago de Cuba, released three albums in the late 1990s, the third also under Armando Garzón's name. This was the second, a fine balance between folkie and fancy. A- [sp]

Orchestra Baobab: La Belle Époque: Volume 2 (1973-76 [2011], Syllart, 2CD): Senegalese band, established 1970 as house band of the Baobab Club in Dakar, drawing on Star Band of Dakar. During the mid-1970s, they were the nation's most popular band, but the Club closed in 1979, and they broke up in 1987 -- only to reunite in 2001, and go on to release new albums to international acclaim. This adds to a 2-CD first volume, somewhat haphazardly, although you could edit it down to one landmark disc, or credit its historical import. [Digital splits this into Volume 2 and Volume 3. PS: I found an earlier review, and decided to revert to its earlier grade, and add the cover scan above.] A- [sp]

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey: The 1st Album (1973 [2011], Analog Africa): Long-running band from Cotonou in Benin (formerly Dahomey). Album originally credited to vocalist Ahehehinou Vincent as well as the and. Reissue adds two previously unreleased tracks, adding up to 4 tracks, 33:22. Keyboard pomp, horns, rhythms every which way. A-

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou: The Vodoun Effect: Funk & Sato From Benin's Obscure Labels 1972-1975 (1972-75 [2008], Analog Africa): In my database as Vol. 4, which now appears to be the label's release number. The German label started excavating the music of the former German "protectorate" of Togo and the adjacent French Dahomey (Benin since 1990), with albums like African Scream Contest: Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds From Benin & Togo 70s. It was only a matter of time before they got to the signature band of Benin's largest city. B+(**) [bc]

Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou: Volume Two: Echos Hypnotiques: From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979 (1969-79 [2009], Analog Africa): Mostly produced by Adissa Seidou, for Benin's leading label, Albarika Store. B+(***) [bc]

Orchetre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou: The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-1980 (1969-80 [2013], Analog Africa): Another substantial compilation of their work. B+(***)

The Platters: Enchanted: The Best of the Planters (1956-67 [1998], Rhino): Major, best-selling vocal group of the late 1950s, more pop than doo-wop, not least because they were focused on a single lead singer, Tony Williams. Out-of-print, like all the other great cross-licensed Rhino compilations of the 1990s, I easily picked out all but the last three (inessential) songs from Mercury's 2-CD The Magic Touch: An Anthology -- probably the better deal, although every compilation has quality/quantity trade-offs. A-

Frederic Rzewski: Coming Together/Attica/Les Moutins de Panurge (1973 [1974], Opus One): Composer-pianist, died last year, made his mark early with this remarkable LP. Three pieces, the first two with Steve Ben Israel speaking texts by Sam Melville and Richard X. Clark over jazzy minimalist patterns. Third piece is for percussion group. [PS: Found an earlier review of this, same grade.] A- [yt]

Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (1986 [1990], Hat Art): His most famous composition, "36 Variations on a Chilean Song," for solo piano, often recorded. The version I first encountered was played by Ursula Oppens and released by Vanguard in 1978, but there are others: by Stephen Drury on New Albion (1994); by Marc André Hamelin on Hyperion (1998); by Ralph van Raat on Naxos (2008), by Corey Hamm on Redshift (2014); by Lee Sangwook on Audioguy (2014; by Omri Shimron on New Focus (2014); by Igor Levit on Sony (2015); by Daan Vandewalle on Etcetera (2017); and a "four hands" version by Oppens and Jerome Lowenthal (2015). Rzewski has recorded it himself at least twice: for Edizioni di Cultura Popolare in 1977, and here. B+(***)

Frederic Rzewski: North American Ballads & Squares (1991, Hat Art): Piano pieces, the four ballads -- extended improvs on trad pieces like "Which Side Are You On" and "Down by the Riverside" -- run long (38:40). The four "Squares" are briefer (19:05). B+(***)

Frederic Rzewski: De Profundis (1993 [1994], Hat Art): Two compositions (36:32 + 31:38), performed solo by Rzewski, his 1991 "Sonata for Piano" and 1992 "De Profundis for a Speaking Pianist." B+(**)

Further Sampling

Records I played parts of, but not enough to grade: -- means no interest, - not bad but not a prospect, + some chance, ++ likely prospect.

Darius Jones: Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) (2019 [2021], Northern Spy): Alto saxophonist, tends to run hot and rough, solo here, settles for plug ugly. [2/5 tracks] - [bc]

The Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band: Both Ways (2017 [2021], self-released): Holy Modal Rounders redux, download only and very skint on the samples. Bandcamp page touts this as "The Great Lost 2017 Double-Album." Christgau likes it. Maybe. [3/26 tracks] ++

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 36534 [36534] rated (+0), 149 [149] unrated (+0).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:


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

  • [cd] based on physical cd
  • [bc] available at
  • [sp] available at
  • [yt] available at