Streamnotes: February 28, 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 January 31. Past reviews and more information are available here (18920 records).

Recent Releases

42 Dugg: Free Dem Boyz (2021, 4PF/CMG): Detroit rapper Dion Marquise Hayes, fourth mixtape. Like his voice, and the beats got some bounce. B+(*)

75 Dollar Bill Featuring Barry Weisblat: Social Music at Troost Vol. 1 (2017 [2021], self-released): Guitar-percussion duo Che Chen and Rick Brown, started out around 2014, instrumental music with a Saharan flair, have been self-releasing a lot of live tapes since the pandemic hit. This one has Weisblat sitting in, on electronics including violin processing. Three tracks, 38:33. B+(***) [bc]

75 Dollar Bill Featuring David Watson: Social Music at Troost Vol. 2 (2027 [2021], self-released): Guest this time plays bagpipes (both large and small), for one 36:15 piece. The bagpipes aren't that alien to the group's guitar sound, but they are still bagpipes. B+(*) [bc]

Adeem the Artist: Cast Iron Pansexual (2021, self-released): "Seventh-generation Carolinian, a makeshift poet, singer-songwriter, storyteller, and blue-collar Artist." Was born Adem Bingham, songs signed Adeem Maria, uses they/them pronouns, has a wife named Hannah, picks and sings country, minus any of the conventional tropes. Mostly songs about gender, but more firmly rooted in humanity. Notable lyric: "everyone's looking for Jesus/ or anyone else they can hang." A- [bc]

Adia Victoria: A Southern Gothic (2021, Atlantic): Singer-songwriter from South Carolina, last name Paul, third album, T-Bone Burnett listed as executive producer, more atmospheric than rootsy. B+(**)

The Allergies: Promised Land (2021, Jalapeno): British electronic/remixing duo (DJ Moneyshot, Rackabeat) from Bristol, fifth album since 2016, by this evidence hip-hop, more vintage/funk than UK norms. Guest spots for rappers include Dynamite MC, Andy Cooper, Marietta Smith, and Lyrics Born. B+(***)

Wayne Alpern: Secular Rituals (2022, Henri Elkan): Composer, originally from Detroit, based in New York, "his musical scholarship and theoretical expertise focuses on Schenkerian analysis and 20th-century music." Music here is "digitally created," patterns somewhere between minimalism, new age, and Krautrock. B+(**) [cd]

Aminé: TwoPointFive (2021, Republic/CLBN): Rapper Adam Aminé Daniel, from Portland, parents from Ethiopia, several albums since 2017, title here reflects on OnePointFive (2018). Short album (12 tracks, 27:20), nice and tight. B+(***)

Arca: Kick II (2021, XL): Alejandra Ghersi, born in Venezuela, studied in NYU, based in Barcelona, albums since 2013, Kick I appeared in 2020, this is the first of four additional volumes that appeared in late 2021. Has a flair for the dramatic. B+(*)

Arca: Kick III (2021, XL): Second of four albums released in quick succession, after an initial album in 2020. Not without interest, but on the cusp of becoming really irritating. B

Arca: Kick IIII (2021, XL): Artwork progresses from a big surrounded by mechanical interventions to a machine shaped like a body with bits of skin suggesting sex. The music is less irritating, but coud be that Ghersi is working too fast to notice. B

Arca: Kick IIIII (2021, XL): Starts with a slow one, a bit of ambient music neither here nor there. It's not that a change of pace isn't welcome -- it could even lead to something substantial, as the artwork has shifted from mechanistic to monumental -- but it's hard to start caring once you don't. B

Angela Autumn: Frontiers Woman (2021, self-released, EP): Country singer-songwriter, from Pennsylvania, based in Nashville, Bandcamp page shows 2 singles and 2 EPs, although this one is getting close to album length (7 songs, 28:08). Plays banjo as well as guitar. B+(*) [bc]

AZ: Doe or Die II (2021, Quiet Money): Rapper Anthony Cruz, from New York, at 50 returns with a sequel to his 1995 debut, his first album since 2009. B+(**)

Baby Keem: The Melodic Blue (2021, PgLang/Columbia): California rapper Hykeem Carter, first album after a couple mixtapes and EPs (mostly under his given name). B+(*) [sp]

Beady Beast [Christy Doran/Franz Hellmüller]: On the Go 2021, Between the Lines): Duo, Irish guitarist, based in Switzerland, has a couple dozen albums since 1984, and a younger Swiss guitarist, active since 2006. B+(**)

Beans on Toast: Survival of the Friendliest (2021, Beans on Toast Music): British folksinger-songwriter Jay McAllister, has released an album every December 1 since 2009, except for 2020, when he figured we needed two. He loves "This Beautiful Place" and the "Humans" that inhabit it. His rues the loss of "The Commons" (wasn't that 19th century?), but insists "Not Everybody Thinks We're Doomed," and prescribes: "if you want to be happy/ you're going to have to learn to be kind." B+(**) [sp]

Beauty Pill: Instant Night (2021, Northern Spy, EP): DC band, led by Chad Clark, two albums (2004 and 2015), title song was written in 2015 while watching Ann Coulter predict that Donald Trump would become president, but not released until October 2020, in fear that he might be re-elected. Four songs, 14:05. B+(*)

Dahveed Behroozi: Echos (2021, Sunnyside): Pianist, from California, grew up in San José, first album, a trio with Thomas Morgan (bass) and Billy Mintz (drums). Original pieces (including one by Morgan). B+(*)

Pat Bianchi: Something to Say: The Music of Stevie Wonder (2021, Savant): Organ player, albums since 2006, leads a quartet with Paul Bollenback (guitar), Byron Landham (drums), and (sometimes) tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery. You'd think Wonder's songs would work out better, but they rarely do. B

Selwyn Birchwood: Living in a Burning House (2021, Alligator): Blues singer-songwriter, from Tampa, plays guitar and lap steel, fifth album (third on Alligator). B+(*)

James Blake: Friends That Break Your Heart (2021, Republic): British singer-songwriter, seemed like electronica when he broke in in 2010, fifth album plus a bunch of EPs. I've never quite felt the appeal. B

Leah Blevins: First Time Feeling (2021, Crabtree): Country singer-songwriter, first album after an EP. Boot review says: "voice reminiscent of Dolly, the eye for storytelling of Prine, and the caustic wit of fellow Kentuckian Kelsey Waldon." Doesn't quite live up to any of those plaudits, except maybe the voice. B+(*)

John Blum/Jackson Krall: Duplexity (2018 [2020], Relative Pitch): Piano and drums duo. Both musicians have fairly long but not very prolific careers -- e.g., both have records that share credit lines with William Parker (Krall from 1997, Blum from 2009). Two LP-timed pieces. A bassist might have rounded the performances out, but they're quite striking as is. B+(***)

Nathan Borton: Each Step (2021 [2022], OA2): Guitarist, originally from Wichita, based in Michigan, studied under Randy Napoleon and Rodney Whitaker, who plays here, along with Xavier Davis (piano), and Keith Hall (drums). Four Borton originals, the last called "Grant's Groove," following Grant Green's "Grantstand." B+(**) [cd]

Andrew Boudreau: Neon (2021 [2022], Fresh Sound New Talent): Pianist, originally from Nova Scotia, grew up in Montreal, studied in Boston, based in New York. Debut, leads a quartet of his Boston chums, with Neta Raanan (tenor sax), bass, and drums. Nicely paced postbop. B+(***)

Big Chief Monk Boudreux: Bloodstains & Teardrops (2021, Whiskey Bayou): From New Orleans, joined the Wild Magnolias in 1970, parted company in 2001, first album in a decade, fairly straight blues. B+(*)

Pi'erre Bourne: The Life of Pi'erre 5 (2021, SossHouse/Interscope): Rapper Jordan Jenks, born in Kansas but grew up in South Carolina, second studio album after a pile of mixtapes (including the first three in the Life of Pi'erre series). B+(***)

Fimber Bravo: Lunar Tredd (2021, Moshi Moshi): From Trinidad, based in London, plays steel pan, released a soca album back in 1990, most recent album Con-Fusion in 2013. Opens with "Can't Control We," placing steel pan in a tradition of defiance rooted in Africa and stoked by slavery and repression. But the steel pans don't star here: they're embedded in the very fabric of life. A-

Leon Bridges: Gold-Diggers Sound (2021, Columbia): Retro-soul singer, third album since 2015. B+(*)

Bruiser Wolf: Dope Game Stupid (2021, Bruiser Brigade): Rapper, first album, don't know much about him but label was founded by Danny Brown. Comic voice, cosmic humor. B+(*) [bc]

Burial: Antidawn EP (2022, Hyperdub): William Bevan, British ambient producer since 2005, mostly produces EPs but with five songs stretched out to 43:27 this is EP in title only. Always the risk with ambient, but this one seems deliberate: "Antidawn reduces Burial's music to just the vapours." Maybe, but they don't waft away quickly enough. B-

Burial + Blackdown: Shock Power of Love EP (2021, Keysound, EP): William Bevan and Martin Clark, two pieces each, one a Blackdown remix of a Joseph Whittle (Heatmap) piece), total 27:33. Why am I not surprised that the Blackdown pieces have a lot more energy? Still, the Burial's closer has a bit of the old magic. B+(**)

Bo Burnham: Inside (The Songs) (2021, Imperial Distribution): Comedian, started in stand-up, expresses himself through songs. Fourth album, first three released through Comedy Central. This was a lockdown project, solo, with video if you care (I don't). Tackles some burning subjects, as well as some silly ones, but isn't that funny, nor all that musical. One line I jotted down: "I am a special kind of white guy." Not really. B-

Tré Burt: You, Yeah, You (2021, Oh Boy): Folkie singer-songwriter from Sacramento, second album, on John Prine's label, but his voice reminds me more of Dylan. B+(**)

The Buttshakers: Arcadia (2021, Underdog): French retro soul group, led by American singer Ciara Thompson, fifth album since 2010, extra gritty. B+(**) [bc]

Daniel Carter/Avi Granite: Together Song: The Improvisations of Daniel Carter and Avi Granite Vol. 1 (2018 [2021], Pet Mantis): Duets, three improv pieces (35:59), Granite plays guitar, Carter various wind instruments (flute, clarinet, tenor/soprano sax, trumpet). B+(*)

Curly Castro: Little Robert Hutton (2021, Backwoodz Studioz): Philadelphia rapper, several albums since 2013, part of groups ShrapKnel and Wrecking Crew, tapped for featuring spots here. Looks back to the Black Panthers, and finds a long tradition of radicalism. B+(***)

Chapel Hart: The Girls Are Back in Town (2021, self-released): Two sisters, Danica and Devynn Hart, and cousin Trea Swindle, from Poplarville, Mississippi, a country vocal group who happen to be black, but have so much fiddle, twang, and yee-haw they couldn't be anything else. Second album, imbued enough in the culture to write a credible answer song ("You Can Have Him Jolene"). I doubt they'll enjoy singing "Grown Ass Woman" forever, but they can turn a phrase: "so stand up for what you believe on/ just don't stand up on me." B+(*)

Circuit Des Yeux: Io (2021, Matador): Alias for singer-songwriter Haley Fohr, born Indiana, based in Chicago, seventh album since 2008. Heavy, arty, operatic. C+

Glenn Close/Ted Nash: Transformation (2021, Tiger Turn): Actress, tied with Peter O'Toole for the dubious distinction of most Oscar nominations without a win (8). Discogs credits her with 6 albums since 1984, but none solo. Here she gives dramatic readings, as do several others, all variously tied the title, notably Eli Nash's transgender reveal. They are backed by a big band led by the alto saxophonist but intersecting with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (including Wynton Marsalis on trumpet), a group Nash has long played in. The music is striking, deep, and elegant. B+(***) [sp]

Combo Lulo: Neotropic Dream (2021, Names You Can Trust): Brooklyn group, thirteen musicians plus singers on three tracks, play "Caribbean music," mixing cumbia instrumentals with dancehall reggae, or maybe they're just fucking with you. B+(***)

Common: A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 (2021, Loma Vista): Rapper Lonnie Rashied Lynn, 14th album since 1992, relegates his 2020 album to Pt. 1, although both are short enough (34:18 + 38:23) they've already been reissued together. B+(**)

Conway the Machine: La Maquina (2021, De Rap Winkel): Buffalo rapper Demond Price, related to Westside Gunn (half-brother) and Benny the Butcher (cousin), prolific since 2015. B+(**)

Crazy Doberman: "Everyone Is Rolling Down a Hill" or "The Journey to the Center of Some Arcane Mystery and the Entanglements of the Vines and Veins of the Cosmic and Unwieldy Millieu Encountered in the Midst of That Endeavor" (2020 [2021], Astral Spirits): Collaborative improv group, started as a quartet in Indiana but metastatized around 2017, with Discogs listing 38 albums since then. B [bc]

Steve Cropper: Fire It Up (2021, Provogue): Famous r&b guitarist, backed Stax stars from the late 1960s, playing in their "house band," famous in their own right as Booker T. & the M.G.'s. His career as a leader has been spotty, although his 2011 Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales is a high point. Solid original blues set here, where he shares most writing credits with Jon Tiven (bass/sax/keyboards) and Roger C. Reale (vocals). B+(**) [sp]

Cryptic One & Jestoneart: Pirata (2021, Centrifugal Phorce): Bandcamp page lists artist as "PIRATA," but I say why waste artist credits on the cover for an eponymous group? Words by Cryptic, sounds by Jestoneart. Dramatically and sonically, shades of MF Doom. B+(***) [bc]

Daggerboard: Daggerboard & the Skipper (2020-21 [2022], Wide Hive): Daggerboard is group with a previous album, led by Erik Jekabson (trumpet) and Gregory Howe (keyboards, from Throttle Elevator Music), with Ross Howe (guitar), Mike Hughes (drums), some vibes, and a string section. The Skipper is veteran bassist Henry Franklin. B+(*) [cd]

Damu the Fudgemunk: Conversation Peace (2021, Def Pressé): DC rapper Earl Davis, better known as a hip-hop producer, Discogs credits him with 23 albums since 2008, including one from 2020 that featured Archie Shepp. This is the first volume in the label's KPM Crate Diggers series, where various hip-hop producers are invited to rumage through the KPM Music library. Good choice, spinning the beats into a perfectly inconspicuous flow, adding thoughtful raps from Raw Poetic, Insight, Nitty Scott, Blu, and Damu himself. A-

Richard Dawson & Circle: Henki (2021, Weird World): English progressive/freak folk singer-songwriter, albums since 2005, plus long-running Finnish band Circle (for which Discogs lists 54 albums since 1992). I was more impressed before I realized the band they remind me of is Jethro Tull. B

Deafheaven: Infinite Granite (2021, Sargent House): Started as a metal band in San Francisco in 2011, second album Sunbather was widely acclaimed, with their fifth album they seem to have become "post-metal" or even "shoegaze." Gets heavy enough I have little interest in listening, but no doubt they have skills, and the songs have sonic details of interest. B+(*)

The Delines: The Sea Drift (2022, Jealous Butcher): Portland band, fourth album, singer is Amy Boone, songwriter is Willy Vlautin, who plays guitar and has a reputation as a novelist. Slow, immersive, comfy. B+(**)

Dialect: Under~Between (2021, RVNG Intl): Electroacoustic producer Andrew PM Hunt from Liverpool, Dialect(19) at Discogs, previously recorded as Outfit. B+(*) [bc]

Dijon: Absolutely (2021, R&R Digital/Warner): Singer-songwriter, last name Duenas, born in Germany, grew up in Maryland, first album after a couple EPs. Stressful. B

Dinosaur Jr.: Sweep It Into Space (2021, Jagjaguwar): Venerable indie band, not one I've ever found interesting (although I did like a solo album by leader J. Mascis), debut 1985, 15th studio album. B+(*)

Doss: 4 New Hit Songs (2021, LuckyMe, EP): Aimee Bowen, debut EP 2014, this is her second, nothing in between. Tiny, whispery vocals, big electopop beats. I don't quite hear hits, but "Puppy" comes close, and the rest could float an album. B+(***) [sp]

Drake: Certified Lover Boy (2021, OVO/Republic, 2CD): Canadian rapper Aubrey Graham, goes by his middle name, hit platinum with his debut and remains profitable, although seems like he gets little respect. Sure, this shows up in the middle-third of several hip-hop EOY lists, perhaps a nod to his sales, or to his liberal use of guests (12 of 21 songs here). Typical example: "Way 2 Sexy," built on the Right Said Fred sample handed over to Future and Young Thug. I like it, but it's not close to great. Same can be said often enough that one could imagine editing this down to a perfectly acceptable mid-B+ album. Still, one wonders what Drake's personal contribution is, other than signing the checks. B

Jon Durant & Stephan Thelen: Crossings (2020 [2021], Alchemy): Two guitarists, one based in Portland, the other in Zürich, reaching out over the pandemic lockdown. Functions as ambient, but on more levels than the genre is used to. B+(**) [bc]

Kahil El'Zabar Quartet: A Time for Healing (2021 [2022], Spiritmuse): "Chicago's legendary jazz shaman," a percussionist who sometimes sings too much, leads a group with Cory Wilkes (trumpet), Isaiah Collier (reeds), and Justin Dillard (keyboards), everyone also adding to the percussion. Some lovely music, but so subdued his "We'll Get Through This" doesn't come close to convincing me. B+(**) [bc]

EST Gee: Bigger Than Life or Death (2021, CMG/Warlike/Interscope): Rapper from Louisville, George Stone, has a couple mixtapes but this is his first big label shot. Whiff of gangsta, but steadying himself. B+(**)

Rory Feek: Gentle Man (2021, Gaither Music Group): Country singer-songwriter from Atchison, KS. Formed a duo with his second wife, Joey + Rory, which ended when she died of cancer in 2016. First solo album, several touching songs about his late wife, a Dylan cover that sounds richer and more nuanced than the original, and a bit more, just trying to move on. B+(***)

Fiddlehead: Between the Richness (2021, Run for Cover): Indie garage band from Boston, Pat Flynn the singer, teaches high school history as his day job. Second album, dense, 1980s emo feel, short (10 songs, 25:06). B+(*) [sp]

Gabby Fluke-Mogul: Threshold (2020 [2021], Relative Pitch): Violinist, based in New York, one of three debut albums that appeared in 2021. Solo improv, on the cutting edge of what can be an unpleasant instrument. B+(*)

Flying Lotus: Yasuke (2021, Warp): Steven Ellison, LA-based electronica producer, has had some crossover success, but this is soundtrack work, "music from the Netflix original anime series." Which means scattered, with dark and/or dramatic swells, not that the sounds aren't often remarkable. B+(**) [bc]

Sue Foley: Pinky's Blues (2021, Stony Plain): Blues singer-songwriter, originally from Canada, based in Austin when she released Young Girl Blues in 1992. Sixteenth album, leads with a pretty mean guitar instrumental, and keeps the heat up, especially on her "Hoochie Coochie Man" rewrite, "Hurricane Girl." Closes with another guitar romp: "When the Cat's Gone the Mice Play." A-

Four Tet: Parallel (2020, Text): Electronica producer Kieran Hebden, many albums since 1999, most under this name but he's also used his own name, particularly for collaborations with the late jazz drummer Steve Reid. Ten numbered pieces, one 26:46, two under 1 minute, adding up to something significant. B+(***)

Fred Again: Actual Life (April 14-December 17 2020) (2021, Atlantic): British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronica producer. First album after singles and an EP. B+(**)

Fred Again: Actual Life (February 2-October 15 2021) (2021, Atlantic): Presumably the dates are when these pieces were recorded, so they act as some kind of journal. Probably progress too, but not quite to next level. B+(**)

Mark Fredson: Nothing but Night (2021, self-released): Singer-songwriter, originally from Washington, based in Nashville, sings high and lonesome, drawing more on soul than on country. B+(*)

Dori Freeman: Ten Thousand Roses (2021, Blue Hens Music): Folkie singer-songwriter from Virginia, fourth album. Seems like she's lost some roots. B+(*)

GA-20: GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It . . . You Might Like It! (2021, Karma Chief/Alligator): Boston blues band, second album, guitarist Matthew Stubbs, singer-guitarist Pat Flaherty, and drummer Tim Carman, play 7 songs penned by Taylor plus 3 more. First impression is that they add not much. Second is that's fine. B+(**)

Amos Gillespie: Unstructured Time for Jazz Septet (2021 [2022], self-released): Alto saxophonist, based in Chicago, website claims six other albums since 2012, but some of the credits are unclear. Fair to say he's a composer first, and not afraid to try some unusual twists and turns. Way too fancy for me, though I'm impressed by several stretches, including most of the sax solos. Alexandra Olavsky's occasional vocals are another mixed bag. B+(*) [cd]

Micah Graves: Pawns (2021 [2022], self-released): Pianist from Philadelphia, also plays electric and synths, third album. Energetic fusion, not especially interesting, and the vocals don't help, but the saxophonists do: most likely Yesseh Furaha-Ali, or maybe Dick Oatts (the only name I recognize, but only one cut). B- [cd]

Colleen Green: Cool (2021, Hardly Art): Indie pop singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, fifth album since 2011. Mostly catchy, sometimes cool. B+(**)

Guedra Guedra: Vexillology (2021, On the Corner): Moroccan DJ (I guess), Abdellah M. Hassak, first album after a couple of EPs, has been filed under electronica and likened to footwork, but sounds mostly like acoustic flutes, strings, percussion, and voices, sampled and remixed perhaps. B+(**) [bc]

Curtis Harding: If Words Were Flowers (2021, Anti-): Soul singer-songwriter from Saginaw, Michigan, third album. B+(***)

Corey Harris: Insurrection Blues (2021, M.C.): Blues singer-songwriter, emerged 1995 in a Taj Mahal groove, probably peaked two years later with Fish Ain't Bitin'. I lost track of him after disliking his 2002 album, so I've missed out on a steady stream of albums as he got older and grizzlier. B+(**) [sp]

Shay Hazan Quintet: Nuff Headlines (2019 [2021], Chant): Israeli bassist, several albums since 2017. Quintet with trumpet (Tal Avraham), sax (Eyal Netzer), piano (Milton Michaeli), and drums (Haim Peskoff). Looks to Moroccan music for some edge, but doesn't really find it until "Desert Snake." Closes with a vocal by Rosa Lea Salmon. B+(**) [bc]

H.E.R.: Back of My Mind (2021, RCA): Initial for Having Everything Revealed, real name Gabriella Wilson, first studio album after EPs and certified gold compilations of same. Major sprawl: 21 songs, 79:18. B+(**)

Heritage Orchestra/Jules Buckley/Ghost-Note: The Breaks (2021, Decca): British classical orchestra ("40 or so of the brightest and best young classical musicians in London"), with Buckley conducting, sometimes composing, and leading forays into "heavy jazz and funk." Ghost-Note is an American funk band, sharing several musicians with Snarky Puppy. Program includes pieces like "Get on the Good Foot" and "Dance to the Drummer's Beat," with various feature spots. The breaks themselves are sharp as ever, the orchestral background enthusiastic but a bit thick. B+(**) [sp]

Daniel Herskedal: Harbour (2021, Edition): Norwegian tuba player (also bass trumpet), 10+ records since 2010, backed by Eyolf Dale (piano/celesta) and Helge Norbakken (drums/marimba). B

Hinda Hoffman Meets Soul Message: People (2021 [2022], Know You Know): Standards singer, fourth album since 1995 (3rd appeared in 2017). Group is led by Chris Foreman on organ, with guitar, drums, and alto sax (Greg Ward). Songs range from "All of You" to "Angel Eyes," with nods to "People" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love." Mostly upbeat, with some salsa. B+(*) [cd]

Iamdoechii: Oh the Places You'll Go (2020, Doechii, EP): Discogs identifies her as Jaylah Hickmon, from Tampa, but hasn't gotten to this 7-track 21:37 album, let alone a 4-track successor I'm having trouble locating. Not interested in Instagram much less Tik Tok, I have to make do with press like: "She is finest identified for her hottest monitor 'Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.'" And: "Iamdoechii's estimated internet price is $10 million." Dubious spot is a lecture on "God" that starts conceited and turns egalitarian. Real reservation is that it isn't real yet, but I wish it were. A-

Iamdoechii: Bra-Less (2021, Doechi, EP): Turns out Spotify filed this under Doechii, which probably makes more sense as artist name, but cover reads as above. Four tracks, 14:25. The harder raps are less distinctive, but remain credible. Wouldn't be a bad idea for some capitalist to combine these two (and possibly some more singles?) into a tangible product. B+(***) [sp]

Ifé: 0000+0000 (2021, Discos Ifá): Yoruba priest Otura Mun (originally Mark Alan Underwood, from Indiana), based in Puerto Rico (after moving there from Texas). B+(**)

IKOQWE: The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite (2021, Crammed Discs): Side project by Angola-born, Lisbon-based producer Pedro Coquenão (aka Batida), with Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão. B+(***)

Ethan Iverson: Every Note Is True (2022, Blue Note): Pianist, was establishing himself as a major player when he got sidelined with the semipop Bad Plus trio, which he left in 2017. Back with a new trio here, with Larry Grenadier (bassist for Brad Mehldau all those years) and Jack DeJohnette (drummer for Keith Jarrett even longer). Should be a big deal, but hard for me to focus on it. B+(**)

Javon Jackson: The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni (2021 [2022], Solid Jackson): Tenor saxophonist, emerged in the 1990s, recording for mainstream Criss Cross, then Blue Note. The poet curated this collection of old gospel tunes, singing one, reading some poetry on another. B+(***)

Jaguar: Madremonte (2021, El Palmas Music): Duo, two Colombians based in Switzerland, Raúl Parra and Paulo Olarte, foundation is probably cumbia but they also "imbibe" salsa, rock, zouk, and champeta in their dance floor fusion. B+(*) [bc]

Jazz Spastiks: Camera of Sound (2021, Jazz Plastic): Underground hip-hop beatmakers, based in Scotland, dozen-plus albums since 2010. Focus is on the beats and scratches, rather old school, but nearly half the pieces have guest rappers (most quite good, like Wee Bee Foolish), with skits sprinkled about like DJ Shadow fragments. Group name in appropriate on all counts. A- [bc]

Darren Johnston: Life in Time (2021 [2022], Origin): Canadian trumpet player, based in San Francisco, albums since 2007, most previous ones on avant-labels. Quartet with Geof Bradfield (sax/bass clarinet), who wrote 4 (of 10) songs to Johnston's 6, plus bass and drums. The interaction of the horns is always fresh and spirited. A- [cd]

Durand Jones & the Indications: Private Space (2021, Dead Oceans): Retro-soul group, from Indiana, third album, not sure how this will hold up over time, let alone in direct comparison with similar 1970s groups (like the Stylistics and the Chi-Lites), but for 2021 it's exceptionally lovely without being overly lush, and I'm really enjoying that. A-

Topaz Jones: Don't Go Tellin' Your Momma (2021, New Funk Academy/Black Canopy): New Jersey rapper, previous album from 2016, this one accompanied by a 35-minute film I haven't seen, but it seems to be well regarded. Nice flow here, has a lot to say. B+(**)

Kalabrese: Let Love Rumpel: Part 1 (2021, Rumpelmusig): Swiss musician Sacha Winkler, credited with "drums, vox, synth" in touring group Rumpelorchestra but group is only credited on one cut here (video available). Touted as "unconventional dance music," which gets it misfiled as electronica. Beyond category, so they invented their own. B+(**) [bc]

Karkhana: Al Azraqayn (2021, Karlrecords): Jazz group with members from Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, and Chicago (Michael Zerang), sixth album since 2015, includes some oud but more electric guitar and bass, with organ/synthesizer (Maurice Louca) signaling fusion which they then rip apart -- yes, they can break free and get noisy. Credits include Umut Caglar (reeds/flute) and Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet/electronics). A-

Kojaque: Town's Dead (2021, PIAS): Irish rapper Kevin Smith, first long album after a couple short ones (EPs?). Real long. B+(*)

Kondi Band: We Famous (2021, Strut): Sorie Kondi, singer and thumb piano player from Sierra Leone, with producers Chief Boima (also from Sierra Leone but based in US) and Will LV (UK-born). B+(**) [bc]

Femi Kuti & Made Kuti: Legacy + (2021, Partisan, 2CD): Fela Kuti's Afrobeat lives on, with son Femi and grandson Made each leading a disc's worth of songs. Femi's songs are as political as ever: not just "Stop the Hate" and "Privatisation" but "Na Bigmanism Spoil Government" and "You Can't Fight Corruption With Corruption." Made is more into "Free Your Mind" and "We Are Strong," and takes the music in that direction. B+(***) [sp]

The Adam Larson Trio: With Love, From Chicago (2021 [2022], Outside In Music): Chicago tenor saxophonist, with bass (Clark Sommers) and drums (Dana Hall), with Sommers writing 4 songs, to 3 for Larson and 3 covers (including a Monk). B+(***) [cd]

Howie Lee: Birdy Island (2021, Mais Um Discos): Chinese DJ, "future music from downtown Beijing," Discogs lists 5 albums and 7 singles/EPs since 2010. Draws widely, beats better than ambiance. B+(*) [bc]

SG Lewis: Times (2021, PMR): British singer-songwriter, electropop producer, initials for Samuel George, singles/EPs since 2015, first full album. Nicely rooted in the disco era. B+(**)

LNS & DJ Sotofett: Sputters (2017-20 [2021], Tresor): Techno producers Laura Sparrow (from Vancouver, first album after some singles) and Stefan Mitterer (from Norway, prolific since 2011), with a guest shot by E-GZR. Described as "a hybrid of warped electro and psychedelic hypnosis," this reminds me of what I first liked about techno: dance beats, stretched and fucked with without ever losing step or sparkle. A- [bc]

L'Orange: The World Is Still Chaos, but I Feel Better (2021, Mello Music Group): Hip-hop producer Austin Hart, from and based in North Carolina, many albums since 2011, most co-credited with guest MCs. This uses narration by Andreea Dinag & Sora the Troll, and credits nine more for "additional vocals." Scattershot. B+(**) [bc]

Doug MacDonald and the L.A. All-Star Octet: Overtones (2021 [2022], DMAC Music): Guitarist, started in 1981, has been very active of late. Composed all eight pieces. I don't recognize most of the all-stars, but the saxophonists are notable (Kim Richmond, Ricky Woodard), as is pianist Bill Cunliffe. And they do get a big enseble sound with deceptively easy flow. B+(***) [cd]

Rick Margitza: Sacred Hearts (2021, Le Coq): Tenor saxophonist, a fairly major figure from his 1989 Blue Note debut to his last Palmetto album in 2001, rarely heard from after he moved to Paris in 2003. French group, with Manuel Rocheman (piano), guitar, bass, drums, percussion, some vocals and handclaps. Still has a lovely tone. B+(**)

Amber Mark: Three Dimensions Deep (2022, PMR): Singer-songwriter born in Tennessee, father Jamaican, mother German, lived in Miami, India, Germany, New York. First album after a mini and a well-regarded EP. This will probably get slotted as r&b, but it's both straighter and stranger than that. Complicated world we live in. B+(***)

Stephen Martin: High Plains (2021 [2022], OA2): Tenor saxophonist, based in Kansas City, appears to be his first album, quartet with Peter Schlamb (vibes/piano), bass (Ben Leifer), and drums (David Hawkins). Leads off with a piece by Leifer, with two originals by Martin, covers from other saxophone touchstones Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, and Frank Foster. B+(*) [cd]

Mas Aya: Mascaras (2021, Telephone Explosion): Solo project by Toronto percussionist-producer Brandon Miguel Valdivia, mostly electronics with vocal samples from Nicaragua, and one song written and sung by Lido Pimienta. B+(**)

Maxo Kream: Weight of the World (2021, Big Persona/RCA): Houston rapper, name Emekwane Ogugua Biosah Jr., father Nigerian, third album after several mixtapes. Easy rolling trap beats. B+(**)

Otis McDonald: Beats Vol. 3 (2021, Track Tribe): Name adopted, Elton John-style, from Shuggie Otis and Michael McDonald, which doesn't inspire me with confidence -- but neither does Joe Bagale. In 2015 he released 30 tracks copyright-free via YouTube, which have since been downloaded over 5 million times. Not sure if this is that or just more: his only album in Discogs is People Music from 2019, but he has more stuff on Spotify. Functional, and varied enough. B+(*)

Peter McEachern: Code 2 (2021, SteepleChase LookOut): Trombonist, few albums but side-credits back to 1979, mostly with Thomas Chapin and Mario Pavone but also with Gatemouth Brown. He led a trio on 2018's excellent Bone Code (Clean Feed), with Pavone (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums). That same trio is joined here by tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger. B+(***)

Menahan Street Band: The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band (2021, Daptone): Instrumental r&b band, has three albums backing Charles Bradley, three more on their own. Way short of "exciting." B-

Ava Mendoza: New Spells (2021, Relative Pitch/Astral Spirits): Guitarist, based in Brooklyn, first appeared in 2008, got a lot of attention last year for her work on William Parker's Mayan Space Station. Solo here, metallic, rather brittle. B [bc]

Meridian Brothers/Conjunto Media Luna: Paz En La Tierra (2021, Bongo Joe): Expecting a meeting of cumbia groups, surprised to see this described as a duo of Eblis Alvarez (percussion, bass, vocals) and Iván Medellin (accordion, choir). B+(**) [bc]

Mesh: Mesh (2020 [2021], Born Yesterday, EP): Philadelphia post-punk group, EP has five tracks (12:04), songs like "CIA Mind Control" and "UR Dead." B+(*) [bc]

Mike.: The Highs. (2021, 4TheHomies): As far as I can figure, this is not the rapper Michael Bonema, who has at least six albums since 2016 as MIKE. According to AllMusic, this is Michael Francis Seander Jr., from Providence, RI, formerly known as Mike Stud (or Mike the Stud). At least it's not listed by Wikipedia or Discogs under "Mike(408)," and doesn't appear on Mike's Bandcamp. I suppose the periods (and lower case) are meant as differentiation enough, but since I first ran into him, I've found MIKE the most Google-unfriendly artist ever -- a complaint this only adds to. Still, a substantial (23-track) effort, flows nice, sings more than he raps. B+(**)

Mimz & Dunn: Infinite Lawn (2021, self-released): New York rappers, former sometimes billed as Mimz the Magnificent, but I can't find Discogs or much else on either. Underground vibe but messed up. B [bc]

Mathias Modica: Sonic Rohstoff (2021, Kryptox): German DJ/producer, seems to have a long list of groups and aliases (especially as Munk, from 2000-14). Plain keyb at first, changes gear around "Le Sud" with the entry of a saxophone and background vocals (but also a better beat). Too bad nothing else comes close. B+(*)

Mother Nature and BoatHouse: SZNZ (2021, Closed Sessions): Mother Nature is a Chicago hip-hop duo (Klevah Knox and TRUTH -- that's about all I know), and BoatHouse is the label's in-house producer. They make a well-meaning racket. B+(***) [bc]

Kim Nalley Band With Houston Person: I Want a Little Boy (2022, Kim Nalley Productions): Standards singer, leans toward blues, fifth album after the last two assayed Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. The saxophonist is spectacular. Maria Muldaur helps on the first of two title song takes, as if Nalley wasn't sexy enough. B+(***) [cd]

Nas: Magic (2021, Mass Appeal, EP): Longtime rapper Nasir Jones, mine-tracks, 29:16, dropped on Xmas Eve as a stopgap or throwaway between King's Disease II and a promised "KD3." Old school: "we don't want money in a bag/we want it in a bank." B+(**)

New Age Doom: Lee "Scratch" Perry's Guide to the Universe (2021, We Are Busy Bodies): Vancouver-based "experimental drone metal band," duo of drummer Eric J. Breitenbach and multi-instrumentalist Greg Valou. Third album. Some sources co-credit album to The Upsetters, or to Perry himself (credited with vocals). Other musicians listed include Dan Rosenbloom (trumpet) and Donny McCaslin (sax). Not quite metal, nor dub nor dancehall, but a gloomy fog obscuring all. B+(**)

Sebastian Noelle/Matt Mitchell/Chris Tordini/Dan Weiss: System One (2021, Fresh Sound New Talent): German guitarist, based in New York, fourth album since 2016, backed by well-known New York musicians on piano, bass, and drums. B+(**)

The Notwist: Vertigo Days (2021, Morr Music): German rock group, debut album 1991, ninth studio album, probably influenced by classic Krautrock bands but I also hear traces of New Order. B+(**)

Gary Numan: The Intruder (2021, BMG): British synthpop pioneer, I remember his 1978-79 albums as a big deal, although I stopped paying attention after 1980's Telekon. But he kept releasing records, making this one his 21st. A bit overblown, but as catchy as ever. B+(**)

Bill O'Connell: A Change Is Gonna Come (2021 [2022], Savant): Pianist, albums since 1978, some Latin-oriented, this one more hard bop, with saxophonist Craig Handy leading the way, backed with bass, drums, and (4 of 10 tracks) extra percussion. Seven originals, plus Coltrane, Cooke, and "My Foolish Heart." B+(**) [cd]

Okuté: Okuté (2021, Chulo): Afro-Cuban rumba group, drums and voices darting every which way, "raw and unfiltered." B+(***)

Joy Oladokun: In Defense of My Own Happiness (2021, Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic): Singer-songwriter, grew up in Arizona, parents Nigerian immigrants, moved to Los Angeles, then Nashville. Not country, but her straightforward songwriting is at home there. Especially catchy: "I See America." A-

Sergio Pereira: Finesse (2022, Sedajazz): Brazilian guitarist, moved to New York in the 1980s, third album (I'm aware of, after Swingando and Nu Brasil). Various lineups, with vocals by Pereira and Paula Santoro. B+(*) [cd]

Mathis Picard: Live at the Museum (2019 [2021], Outside In Music): Pianist, French-Malagasy, based in New York, seems to be his first album, venue is the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, likes to mix up classical and stride. Five originals, two pieces by Willie "The Lion" Smith, one by John Lewis, bits by John Williams and Maurice Ravel. B+(**) [cd]

Matt Piet: (Pentimento) (2020 [2021], Amalgam): Pianist from Chicago, has done some interesting work, both under his own name and with Dave Rempis. Suffered "a mental collapse" in 2018, partly impacted by the death of Cecil Taylor, but in 2020 "was beginning to be able to play again," so you might consider this "three-layered" solo album therapy. B+(**) [bc]

Queen Esther: Gild the Black Lily (2021, EL): Usual sources don't offer a birth name or date or location, but do note that she grew up with gospel, showtunes, countrypolitan, and opera, and has been working since 1996: not just singing but also writing for and acting on stage (including the libretto for The Billie Holiday Project). This is her fourth album since 2004, not counting sidework with James Blood Ulmer, JC Hopkins, Elliott Sharp. I filed her under blues because her first album was called Talkin' Fishbowl Blues, but this album starts with a banjo-driven cowgirl song, followed by an a cappella "John the Revelator," then came close to losing me with an Eagles cover, but won me back with songs like "Lonesome Road" and "She Thinks I Still Care." A-

R2Bees: Back 2 Basics (2021, Ziiki Media): Hip-hop duo from Ghana, where rapping over highlife beats is called hiplife. Fifth album since 2009. B+(*)

Raxon: Sound of Mind (2021, Kompakt): Egyptian DJ based in Barcelona, Ahmed Dawoud, "long awaited debut album" after many singles/EPs since 2009. Strong beats. B+(***) [bc]

Dave Rempis/Avreeayl Ra Duo: Bennu (2021 [2022], Aerophonic): Alto/tenor sax and percussion, 21 minutes per side (21:04 for first two pieces, 20:58 for last one). First time either had played in person in several months, so they sort of ease into it, relishing the circumstances. There is a point where they turn it on, as you know they can, but they mostly take it easy, which make clear how consistently inventive they are. A- [dl]

Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band: Dance Songs for Hard Times (2021, Family Owned): Country/blues band from Brown County, Indiana; 11th album since 2004, the "big" band a trio with Breezy Peyton on washboard and Max Senteney on drums and bucket, the Reverend playing antique guitars and singing. Rough and rambunctious, with "Too Cool to Dance" so perfect the Blasters could sue, and "Come Down Angels" a hymn that seeks not just to raise the rafters but rip them asunder. A-

Zilla Rocca: Vegas Vic (2021, Three Dollar Pistol Music): Philadelphia rapper, associated with Wrecking Crew, albums since 2008, called his 2019 album Future Former Rapper then went on a tear. Sounds a bit like Atmosphere, but more political. B+(***)

Adam Rudolph Go: Organic Guitar Orchestra: Resonant Bodies (2015 [2021], Meta): Drummer, side credits from 1983, albums from 1992, early interest in world rhythms, which figured into his long association with Yusef Lateef. He's led several groups (including Mandingo Griot Society, Hu Vibrational, and Build an Ark), lately various configurations of his Go: Organic Orchestra, including this one with its array of 9 guitarists (mostly names you'll recognize, like Liberty Ellman, Nels Cline, and Joel Harrison). B+(*)

Rüfüs Du Sol: Surrender (2021, Rose Avenue/Reprise): Australian electropop group -- Tyroe Lindqvist (guitar/vocals), Jon George (keyboards), James Hunt (drums) -- fourth studio album since 2013. Swelling sheets of sound, wraps you up. B+(**)

Jacob Sacks/David Ambrosio/Vinnie Sperrazza: Trio Trio Meets Sheila Jordan (2021 [2022], SteepleChase): Label founded in 1972 in Denmark by Nils Winther, drawing mainly on American bebop expats and tourists, and remains a major outlet for mainstream players, especially Americans. But they have virtually no web presence, so it's often hard to get discographical details. The singer is 92, and hasn't recorded much lately, so one wonders when this was recorded [March 2021]. One also wonders about the artist attribution, but Trio or "trioTrio" is so generic I decided to go with the musician names, also on the cover. Jordan is not in her best voice, and the songs are old ones, not that I mind her hearing her memoir of "The Bird" again, and I still get a kick out of "all God's children got bebop." The clincher is a brave and touching reading of her 1984 title song, "The Crossing." A-

Samo Salamon: Dolphyology: Complete Eric Dolphy for Solo Guitar (2021 [2022], Samo, 2CD): Slovenian guitarist, has recorded a lot since 2004. Eric Dolphy, on the other hand, had his brilliant career limited to 1960-64. Same concept as several others have done with Monk, but his songs are nowhere near as distinctive, which in some ways just reduces this to a virtuosic solo ehxibition. B+(***) [cd]

Scotch Rolex: Tewari (2021, Hakuna Kulala): Japanese electronica producer Shigeru Ishihara, based in Berlin, has used various aliases including DJ Scotch Bonnet and DJ Scotch Egg, hooks up with an Ugandan label not but similar to Nyege Nyege. Most cuts feature various MCs, meaning hip-hop with metal thrash, or metal tightly bolted to a beat. B [bc]

Shanique Marie: Gigi's House (2021, Equinoxx Musiq): Jamaican singer-songwriter, surname Sinclair, aka Shanz, first album after several singles and an EP, short one (8 songs, 30:18). B+(*) [bc]

Jared Sims: Against All Odds (2021 [2022], Origin): Tenor saxophonist, big sound, has several albums, this one a quartet with guitar (Steve Fell), bass (Keala Kaumeheiwa), and drums (Luther Gray). One cut features his wife, Amy M. Alvarez, with poetry. B+(**) [cd]

Steve Slagle: Ballads: Into the Heart of It (2021 [2022], Panorama): Alto saxophonist, albums since 1982, many in a group co-led by guitarist Dave Stryker. This one with Bruce Barth (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), and Jason Tiemann (drums), with orchestrations by Richard Sussman and Randy Brecker guest spots. I'm iffy on the strings, and the fiery closer suggests that ballads might not be their forté. B+(*)

The Smudges: Song and Call (2021 [2022], Cryptogramophone): String duo, Jeff Gauthier (violin) and Maggie Parkins (cello), a bit on the bracing side, which helps. B+(*) [cd]

Martial Solal: Coming Yesterday: Live at Salle Gaveau 2019 (2019 [2021], Challenge): French pianist, b. 1927, one of the major players to put France on the jazz map in the 1950s, still interesting at 92, even solo. B+(***)

Omar Sosa/Seckou Keita: Suba (2021, Bendigedig): Cuban pianist, moved to Ecuador in 1990s, spent some time around San Francisco, wound up in Barcelona. Second duo album with the Senegalese singer and kora player. B+(**) [sp]

Ståhls Trio: Källtorp Sessions Volume Two (2017-18 [2021], Moserobie): Swedish vibraphonist, albums since 2001 (as Ståhls Blå), side credits include Angles and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Also plays soprano sax in this trio with bass and drums, significantly adding guest Mats Åleklint (trombone). B+(***) [cd]

Sv1: Health (2021, Curiosity Shop, EP): Electronica producer Samuel Vaille, from Texas, singles since 2019, seems to be his longest effort to date (8 tracks, 24:13). Ambient tableaux with glitches, so not so ambient. B+(**) [yt]

Earl Sweatshirt: Sick! (2022, Tan Cressida/Warner, EP): Rapper Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, born in Chicago, father a noted South African poet, mother a law professor ("critical race theorist"). Fourth studio album (but short: 10 tracks, 24:05). B+(*)

Natsuki Tamura: Summer Tree (2021 [2022], Libra): Japanese trumpet player, married to pianist Satoko Fujii, credited with voice here on one (of four) tracks -- the few small bits of piano turn out to be Tamura, who is also credited with wok. Rough start, better when the trumpet takes over. B+(*)

C. Tangana: El Madrileño (2021, Sony Music): Spanish rapper, real name Altón Álvarez Allaro, previously dba Crema, fifth album since 2011. B+(*)

Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar 2 (2019-20 [2021], Moonjune): Guitarist, composer, mathematician, born in California, based in Zürich, has recorded since 2002, often as Sonar. This follows a remarkable 2019 album, six pieces with 3-6 guitarists each, percussion, sometimes keyboards. Groove helps, but doesn't just sweep you along. Every detail is fascinating. A- [bc]

Ben Thomas Tango Project: Eternal Aporia (2021 [2022], Origin): Vibraphone player, also plays bandoneon here, with clarinet, bass, cello on five tracks, piano and violin on two of those. All original compositions. Tango, of course. B+(*) [cd]

Don Toliver: Life of a Don (2021, Cactus Jack/Atlantic): Houston rapper, second album (plus a short collaboration with Travis Scott called JackBoys), first one went gold, this one charted about as well. More of a singer, which doesn't make him less trap. B+(**)

Torres: Thirstier (2021, Merge): Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott, fifth album since 2013. Latest gripe: "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die to get there." B

The Underflow: Instant Opaque Evening (2020 [2021], Blue Chopsticks): Avant-jazz trio: David Grubbs (guitar), Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax, flute, electronics), and Rob Mazurek (piccolo trumpet, electronics, percussion, voice). Long, never quite coheres. B

Caetano Veloso: Meu Coco (2021, Sony Music Brasil): Brazilian singer-songwriter, started the tropicalismo movement in the late 1960s, politically charged and rhythmically daring, Discogs lists 64 albums since 1967. I've only heard a few, and usually need a strong shot of rhythm to get interested -- something a reknowned wordsmith doesn't always offer. But there is at least a scattershot of it here. B+(***)

Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand (2022, Blue Note): Alto saxophonist, major debut in 2020, second album, quartet with Micah Thomas (piano), Daryl Johns (bass), and Kweku Sumbry (drums), plus guest spots. Even more ambitious: "hour-long suite comprised of seven movements that strive to bring the quartet closer to complete vesselhood." I'm underwhelmed, although he remains an impressive player. I also recall that I underrated his debut. B+(*) [sp]

Hayley Williams: Flowers for Vases/Descansos (2021, Atlantic): Pop singer, fronted the band Paramore, which released five albums 2005-2017. Second album on her own, solo, produced by Daniel Jammes. Spanish translates as "breaks." Introspective, comforting, seems like it might grow on you. B+(***)

Mars Williams: Mars Williams Presents an Ayler Xmas Vol. 5 (2020-21 [2021], Astral Spirits): Saxophonist, also credited with suona and toy instruments, leads a septet through three pieces (37:10) pieced together from Albert Ayler compositions sprinkled with more/less recognizable Christmas tunes. He's been doing one of these each year. Works because Ayler had a knack for turning free jazz into hymns. B+(**)

Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood (2021, Spinster): From Virginia, a "finger-style composer and guitarist," also playing harp-guitar, kalimba, and other instruments, "often with the guitar on her lap." Third album, written during lockdown and "influenced by the Black Lives Matter protests." B+(**)

Martin Wind/New York Bass Quartet: Air (2021 [2022], Laika): Four bassists, Wind credited as lead on all cuts save one, the others: Gregg August, Jordan Frazer, Sam Suggs. With some guests to move things along (drummers Matt Wilson and Lenny White) or brighten a bit (Gary Versace on piano, organ, and accordion). Title tune from J.S. Bach, other classics include a "Beatles Medley," with pieces by Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Joe Zawinul, and a couple Wind originals. B+(*) [cd]

Deanna Witkowski: Force of Nature (2021 [2022], MCG Jazz): Pianist, has several albums back to 1999, doesn't sing here but has been known to. She also wrote a book last year, about Mary Lou Williams, and this record is a tribute, offering a nice slice of her songbook (including parts of Zodiac Suite) as well as Witkowski's title piece. Mostly trio, with Clay Jenkins' trumpet a plus on 4 (of 12) tracks. Closes with "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "My Blue Heaven." B+(***) [cd]

Carolyn Wonderland: Tempting Fate (2021, Alligator): Blues singer-songwriter, originally from Houston, now in Austin, albums back to 2001, labels obscure, plays lots of instruments but her guitar really rips. She wrote six songs, including the political "Fragile Peace and Certain War." Covers from John Mayall, Billy Joe Shaver, Bob Dylan (featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore), and Garcia/Hunter (which finally proved too much). Dave Alvin produced. B+(**)

W.R.D. [Robert Walter/Eddie Roberts/Adam Deitch]: The Hit (2021, Color Red): The name partners play organ, guitar, and drums, with side credits for sax (Nick Gerlach) and bass (Josh Fairman), but they aren't immediately obvious. B+(*) [bc]

Yard Act: The Overload (2022, Island): British indie band, from Leeds, first album, vocals declaimed, sometimes reading like a manifesto (not unlike Art Brut), but they're on the right side of politics and, one hopes, history. A-

Yard Act: Dark Days (2021, ZEN FC, EP): Initial 4-song, 13:14 EP, came out almost a year before their debut album, no songs repeated. Expect the title song to lead off a future greatest hits album, while the rest fill up a decent "odds and sods." B+(***)

Yeule: Glitch Princess (2022, Bayonet): Natasha Yelin Chang, from Singapore, aka Nat Cmiel (non-binary), glitch pop auteur, second album (after 3 EPs), strikes me as obscure but not uninteresting. Skipped the 284-minute ambient track closing the digital edition. B+(**)

Denny Zeitlin/George Marsh: Telepathy (2019 [2021], Sunnyside): Pianist, in his 80s now, has recorded regularly since 1964. Marsh is a percussionist, side credits with David Grisman, has recorded a number of albums with Zeitlin going as far back as 1973. Duo, but Zeitlin's synthesizers broaden the sound spectrum. B+(**)

Recent Reissues, Compilations, Vault Discoveries

Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim: Harlem (1988 [2021], Acid Jazz): American percussionist, born in New York, original name Juan Amalbert, living in Denmark since 1977, where this was recorded. With saxophonist Ed Epstein, piano (Karsten Sørensen), guitar, bass, more percussionists, so the Latin is more than a tinge. B+(**) [bc]

Bush Tetras: Rhythm and Paranoia: The Best of Bush Tetras (1980-2019 [2021], Wharf Cat, 2CD): Repeats 11 (of 14) 1980-83 songs, adds 17-20 (depending on configuration) extra tracks, mostly from reunion bands, with their more conventional crunch. Package comes with a 40-page booklet, but hard to find the dates online. B+(**)

Doug Carn: Infant Eyes (1971 [2021], Black Jazz/Real Gone Music): Pianist, first album, resurfaced recently with a volume in the Jazz Is Dead series. Leads a sextet here, also playing organ. Draws on major jazz figures of the 1960s, writing one original plus lyrics to four more, sung by wife Jean Carn. After three albums together, she went on to a successful soul/disco career. Striking voice, though I find I'd rather listen to George Harper's saxophone. B+(**)

Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana Cuba: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85 Vol. 1 (1975-85 [2021], Soul Jazz, 2CD): Compiled by Gilles Peterson & Stuart Baker, reportedly with extensive liner notes, tied to a large format book release. Several bands are famous even here (Irakere, Los Van Van), failure to recognize more is probably my bad. Good, sometimes great, music, possibly classic, but not enough to really go on. [playlist: 15/23 tracks] B+(***) [sp]

Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana Cuba: Experiments in Latin Music 1973-85 Vol. 2 (1973-85 [2021], Soul Jazz, 2CD): More of the same, same caveats, but so far I'd give this one a slight edge. [playlist: 15/22 tracks] A- [sp]

J Dilla: Welcome 2 Detroit [The 20th Anniversary Edition] (2001 [2021], BBE, 2CD): Hip-hop producer James Yancey (1974-2006), from Detroit. Starts with the original album's 16 tracks (40:56), padded out with extra beats, instrumentals, demos, mixes (30 tracks, 77:07). De trop, of course, the beats fading into background and the rappers rarely standing out, but it holds up well enough. B+(***) [bc]

Willie Dunn: Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology (1968-84 [2021], Light in the Attic): Canadian singer-songwriter (1941-2013), mother was Mi'kmaq, and much of his work identifies with Canada's First Nations. He released three albums 1971-84, the latter two on the German Trikont label, which also released a live compilation in 2004. Few dates provided here, but 19 (of 22) songs appeared on those three albums, although later versions are possible. Seems like a subject for further research, and better documentation. B+(***)

Ron Everett: The Glitter of the City (1977 [2021], Jazzman): Trumpet player from Philadelphia, also credited with vocals (3 tracks) and piano (2 of the piano tracks). Ultra rare, part of the label's "Holy Grail" series, a mixed bag with Tahira singing the title song over a bossa beat, other pieces freer (or just rougher). Reissue adds three previously unreleased jams (34:58). B [bc]

Arv Garrison: Wizard of the Six String: Classic and Rare Recordings 1945-1948 (1945-48 [2021], Fresh Sound, 3CD): Jazz guitarist (1922-1960), recorded very little under his own name -- 6 tracks here, closing out the third disc, but several more tracks appeared under his wife's name, bassist-singer Vivien Garry. So this is mostly side credits, some famous ("Moose the Mooche," "Yardbird Suite," "Ornithology," and "A Night in Tunisia" from Charlie Parker Septet; other spots with Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee, Lionel Hampton, Les Paul, Frankie Laine, and Leo Watson/Vic Dickenson -- my favorite), some air shots with iffy sound. Also available as separate volumes, where the second is probably the best, but together they offer a more compelling portrait of a young musician navigating an era of tumultuous change. B+(**)

Jimmy Gourley: The Cool Guitar of Jimmy Gourley: Quartet & Trio Sessions 1953-1961 (1953-61 [2021], Fresh Sound): Guitarist, born in St. Louis, played with Lee Konitz in a high school band in Chicago, moved to France in 1951 and stayed there. Early tracks here with Henri Renaud and Buddy Banks (a bassist, leading a quartet with Bob Dorough and Roy Haynes), ending with two quartets he led, the last two cuts recorded in Poland with Kryzstof Komeda on piano. B+(**)

It's a Good, Good Thing: The Latin Soul of Fania Records: The Singles (1967-75 [2021], Craft, 4CD): New York-based salsa label founded by Johnny Pacheco and Jerry Masucci in 1964 (Masucci bought Pacheco out in 1967, and died in 1997, the catalog eventually owned by Concord). Even in its 87-track, 4-CD version, this has got to be a small slice of Fania's singles: "soul" is the distinction sought here. Early on that refers to a sort of salsafied Motown sound. Later on they dig into r&b covers: I first noticed this with Ralph Robles doing "Maybe," which was pretty authentic, but they quickly got ridiculous with "Spinning Wheel" and "Stand." Still, the point seems to be the culture crash: if you want salsa, Fania can easily top this, and if you want soul, look elsewhere. Title also available as a 27-track, 2-LP set: a more sensible length, but maybe not the point. B+(**) [sp]

Michael Gregory Jackson: Frequency Equilibrium Koan (1977 [2021], self-released): Guitarist, best known for a 1976 album called Clarity (with David Murray, Oliver Lake, and Leo Smith, but not nearly as good as the names imply), which he used as a later trio name. Here he leads a quartet with Julius Hemphill (alto sax), Abdul Wadud (cello), and Pheeroan aKLaff (drums), which is as edgy but more together. B+(***) [bc]

Rudolph Johnson: Spring Rain (1971 [2021], Black Jazz/Real Gone Music): Tenor saxophonist from Ohio, played with Jimmy McGriff, first album, nothing in his discography after 1976 (d. 2007). Backed by piano-bass-drums. After a wobbly start, finds a nice soul jazz groove. B+(*)

Noertker's Moxie: Walking on Blue Eggshells in Billville (2001-20 [2021], Edgetone): Bassist Bill Noertker, has 13 previous albums under this group name, celebrating their 20th anniversary with three CDs selected from bi-monthly live performances at the Musicians' Union Hall in San Francisco. Specific dates aren't provided, but the lineups vary considerably: most common band member is Annelise Zamula (flute/tenor sax) at six (of 9) tracks; drummer Jason Levis appears on five, with three drummers dividing the rest. No other instrument appears on more than five tracks (piano and flute, two musicians each). B+(**) [cd]

Noertker's Moxie: More Fun in Billville (2001-20 [2021], Edgetone): Eight more pieces, similar lineups, similar results. B+(**) [cd]

Noertker's Moxie: Pantomime in Billville (2001-20 [2921], Edgetone): Eight more pieces, again widely scattered, not sure if the selection flags a bit, or I'm just losing a bit of interest. B+(*) [cd]

The Notwist: The Notwist (1991 [2021], Subway): German group, first album, reissue remastered but no extras beyond the original 13-song album (32:57). Songs in English, written by guitarist-vocalist Markus Acher, with brother Micha on bass and Martin Messerschmid on drums. No Krautrock influence I can detect: post-punk, maybe proto-metal, but ultimately headed elsewhere. B+(*)

Roots: Roots (1975 [2021], Frederiksberg): South African jazz group, first of two albums released in 1975, with alto saxophonist Barney Rachabane, with Duke Makhasa (tenor sax), Dennis Mphale (trumpet), piano/organ (Jabu Nkosi), bass (Sipho Gumede), and drums (Peter Morake), with Gumede writing 3 (of 6) songs. B+(***) [bc]

Bunny Scott: To Love Somebody (1975 [2021], Freestile): Jamaican singer William Clarke, better known as Bunny Rugs (although he's used other aliases), lead singer-songwriter for Third World -- one of the first wave of reggae groups to get US distribution, but also one of the least impressive. He released this one album as Scott, others after 1995 up to his death in 2014. At this point, reminds me of how fertile that period was, but leans heavily on covers, and I could really do without this "Sweet Caroline." Lee Perry produced, which especially helps with the dub-oriented bonus tracks. B+(*) [bc]

Spitboy: Body of Work (1990-1995): All the Songs (1990-95 [2021], Don Giovanni): All-female anarcho-punk band from (or near) San Francisco, released an LP in 1993, split another in 1995 with Los Crudos, scattered EPs and singles. This gathers up 26 tracks, full of anger and spirit, few if any great, but attitude counts. B+(*) [bc]

Peter Stampfel & the Dysfunctionells: Not in Our Wildest Dreams (1994-96 [2020], Don Giovanni): The band is a Chicago group led by Rich Krueger long before he became semi-famous. Evidently some of this was released in 1995, but this reissue has more, two sets each in Chicago and New York. Several songs from Have Moicy!, one "massacred," and a bunch of standards, massacred worse. B+(*) [sp]

Sun Ra: Lanquidity [Definitive Edition] (1978 [2021], Strut, 2CD): Originally released 1978 on Philly Jazz, reissued 2000 on Evidence with the same 5 tracks (43:16). Not much new here, as the original "1978 Philly Jazz Commercial Pressing" is on the first disc, followed by "1978 Philly Jazz Alternate Version" -- main difference there is that "That's How I Feel" runs an extra 4:05. Arkestra with 15 musicians focused more on texture than showing off. B+(***) [bc]

Anthony Williams: Life Time & Spring Revisited (1964-65 [2022], Ezz-Thetics): Drummer, died young at 51 but started young too, playing professionally with Sam Rivers at 13, Jackie McLean at 16, joining Miles Davis's second legendary quintet when he was 17, and recording these two Blue Note albums (total 77:21) before he turned 20. They're a bit mixed, but tenor saxophonist Rivers stellar on most (7/10) tracks, with Wayne Shorter joining in on three. Two other tracks feature Herbie Hancock, one of those with Bobby Hutcherson. The other one is a 5:00 drum exercise. A- [bc]

Neil Young: Carnegie Hall 1970 (1970 [2021], Reprise): Seems like a long time ago, but coming off his third solo album, he already had lots of still-familiar songs. Solo, acoustic, folksinger mode. Struck me as tedious at first, but I softened up. In particular, I found "Ohio" very touching, and resonant at the moment. B+(**)

Old Music

Bush Tetras: Boom in the Night: Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983 (1980-83 [1995], ROIR): New York post-punk/no wave band formed 1979 in New York, with Adele Bertei vocalist (soon replaced by Cynthia Sley), debut single "Too Many Creeps," band broke up without an album but reunited in 1995, again in 2005 and 2021. ROIR issued 14 early cuts in 1989 as Better Late Than Never, those same cuts appearing in different order here (coincident with the 1995 reunion). I recall owning at least one of their singles, but never saw them. Not a great band, but I'm finding this holds up quite well. B+(***)

The Al Cohn-Zoot Sims Quintet: You 'N Me (1960 [2002], Verve): Tenor saxophonists, half of Woody Herman's famous "Four Brothers" sax section, played together often in the late 1950s, occasionally later on. With Mose Allison (piano), Major Holley (bass), and Osie Johnson (drums), playing three Cohn tunes, one from Sims, and various standards. The saxophonists are typically fine, but on "Angel Eyes" they (or someone) tries to vocalize the horn parts, to not-even-comic effect. B+(*)

Al Cohn: Rifftide (1987 [1988], Timeless): Recorded in Holland, backed by a local piano-bass-drums trio (Rein de Graaff, Koos Serierse, and Eric Ineke). Six standards, including the title piece from Coleman Hawkins, ending up with two originals. B+(***)

George Crumb: Voice of the Whale/Night of the Four Moons (1974, Columbia Masterworks): Cover has title order reversed, adding Latin translation ("Vox Balaenae"), and credits: Aeolian Chamber Players for Voice of the Whale, Jan DeGaetani ("Mezzo Soprano") for Night of the Four Moons. Crumb (1929-2022) was an important avant-classical composer of the period, initially influenced by Webern, Bartok, and Debussy, but interested in pushing limits, as with his use of whale sounds. B+(***)

Cleveland Eaton: Plenty Good Eaton (1974 [2020], Black Jazz/Real Gone Music): Bassist, played many other instruments, and sings some here, led a half-dozen albums 1973-1980, side credits mainly with Ramsey Lewis and later with Count Basie Orchestra (1980-92). Fairly large group, including violin, electric piano, guitar, horn section, at times seem swept up in disco groove or funk thang. B+(*)

Dennis Gonzalez/Yusef Komunyakaa: Herido: Live at St. James Cathedral, Chicago (1999 [2001], 8th Harmonic Breakdown): Avant trumpet player from Dallas, responsible for the music here, backing and complementing the Pulitzer-winning poets' meditations. Backed by Mark Deutsch (baantar/electric bass/sitar), Susie Ibarra (percussion), and Sugar Blue (harmonica). [Reissue 2021, details uncertain.] B+(***) [bc]

Joey + Rory: The Singer and the Song: The Best of Joey + Rory (2008-16 [2018], Gaither Music Group): Married country duo, last name Feek, Rory had a background as a songwriter, and has a hand on 8 (of 20) songs here. They recorded four albums (one Xmas) on Vanguard/Sugar Hill, four more on Farmhouse/Gaither -- the latter include Country Classics and Hymns That Are Important to Us as time was running out. This compilation favors the latter, perhaps exclusively (a couple early songs are rendered live, leaving only one that appears to derive from their debut). Both have appealing voices, but could use better songs. E.g., "Jesus Lovees Me" shouldn't be sung by anyone over eight, and "The Bible and the Belt" deserves its own place in Hell. B

Sheila Jordan & Arild Andersen: Sheila (1977 [1978], SteepleChase): Voice and bass duo, a format she used very effectively later. Her debut Portrait of Sheila appeared 1962, but she only started recording regularly with Roswell Rudd's fabulous Flexible Flyer in 1975. Some remarkable bits here, but could use a little more swing in the bass. B+(***) [sp]

Sheila Jordan & E.S.P. Trio: Sheila's Back in Town (1998 [1999], Splasc(H)): Twelve songs from seven dates in a tour of Italy, backed by Roberto Cipelli (piano), Attilo Zanchi (bass), and Gianni Cazzola (drums), with extra strings on three tracks. B+(**) [sp]

Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano: Spontaneous Compositions and Improvisations (1963 [1997], Impulse): Deserves his rep as the leading bassist of his generation on chops alone, but he's possibly even more famous as a composer and bandleader. He's also, evidently, a fine pianist, not that his solo doodling is going to rank high in his discography. B+(*)

Charles Mingus: Mingus at the Bohemia (1955 [1990], Debut/OJC): I think of 1956 as being his watershed year, but he had accomplished a lot before then. He had played with Kid Ory, Red Norvo, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker. He founded Debut Records with Max Roach, and recorded enough material there to eventually fill up a 12-CD box. This is a live set, a quintet with George Barrow (tenor sax), Eddie Bert (trombone), piano (Mal Waldron), and drums (Roach or Willie Jones). His compositional style is already clear. CD adds two alternate takes. B+(***)

Roy Rogers: Roll On Texas Moon (1945-52 [1986], Bear Family): Leonard Slye (1911-98), from Cincinnati, gained fame as a singing cowboy in the 1930s, most notably in Sons of the Pioneers, and moved on to films and TV -- I remember his 1951-57 The Roy Rogers Show better than the dates suggests, and I saw him and Dale Evans performing at the Seattle World's Fair, in what was probably my first concert. So I've always had a soft spot for him, but the records I've found were spotty at best. Clifford Ocheltree recommended this one. The one place where he slows to a ballad reveals him as a fairly ordinary crooner, but as long as he keeps the pace up, he's very pleasing. A- [dl]

The Rough Guide to Blues Women: Reborn and Remastered (1920-35 [2016], World Music Network): Twenty-five songs, one each from all the major "classic female blues" stars of the 1920s, starting with Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" (1920), plus another dozen or so I've barely heard of. After 1930 their numbers thinned -- I count 4 1931-35 releases here -- as jazz and blues went their separate ways. No view of the booklet, which despite expert selection probably leaves a lot to be desired. A-

Revised Grades

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

Al Dexter: Pistol Packin' Mama (1942-49 [1999], ASV): Most people only ever hear his title hit (if that), but you really should hear more. I must have initially knicked this for filler or running out of gas, but it's one I've often returned to, so the grade should reflect that. [was: B+] A-

Doja Cat: Planet Her (2021, Kemosabe/RCA): Amala Dlamini, rapper/singer from Los Angeles, third album, big, flashy pop production, first half (plus closer "Kiss Me More") as strong as any 2020 pop album. Sags a bit in the middle, and I'm not wild about the song delicately titled "Ain't Shit." [was: B+(*)] A-

Silk Sonic [Bruno Mars/Anderson .Paak]: An Evening With Silk Sonic (2021, Aftermath/Atlantic): A pop star in decline since his 2010 debut, and a rapper with a pop streak, a combination that must have seemed natural when they were hanging on the road. Not sure why it seemed so off when I first played it, but it showed up on a lot of otherwise solid EOY lists, and I found myself enjoying a video. Not as consistent as I'd like. Secret weapon: MC Bootsy Collins. [was: B-] B+(**)

Spillage Village: Spilligion (2020, Dreamville/SinceThe 80s/Inerscope): Atlanta-based hip-hop collective, several names I recognize from solo projects (EarthGang, JID, Mereba, 6lack), others I probably should. Christgau pick as the 3rd best album of the year after the one this was released in (September 25). I've replayed this several times, but doubt I'll ever get it, whatever it may be. [was: B+(*)] B+(***)

Morgan Wade: Reckless (2021, Ladylike): Country singer-songwriter from Virginia, second album. Great voice, solid (and then some) songs. I played this during a stretch with a lot of more idiosyncratic country albums, so its virtues stood out less. But it only gets better. [was: B+(***)] A-

Wild Up: Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine (2021, New Amsterdam): Eastman was a commposer, pianist, vocalist, and dancer, who grew up in upstate New York, lived 1940-90, anticipated elements of minimalism but didn't dare make it boring. This major work first appeared in 1974, and was revived by two groups in 2021 (the other is by Ensemble O/Aum Grand Ensemble). Led by cellist Seth Parker Woods, handful of albums since 2014, I count 17 musicians plus voice, with less electronics and more horns (including sax solos), making it more dramatic, more fun. [was: B+(***)] A-

Music Weeks

Music: Current count 37418 [37201] rated (+217), 144 [132] unrated (+12).

Excerpts from this month's Music Week posts:

February 8, 2022

Music: Current count 37256 [37201] rated (+55), 142 [132] unrated (+10).

Ran a day late posting this, mostly because I got distracted with the idea that I might make one last pass on the EOY Aggregate: I was about half through my straggler pass of Metacritic's Top Ten Lists, and I did manage to get to the bottom of it, as well as Acclaimed Music Forums: EOY 2021 (at least through Feb. 1), but I didn't get through my last bit of due diligence: a Google search for "best|favorite albums of 2021." (I'm down to page 8. In past years I usually go 20-30 deep before giving up.) I haven't been taking notes beyond my list index, but I can reconstruct a couple based on still-open tabs:

  • The Best Music of 2021: NPR Staff Picks: I rarely do this, but wound up counting every ballot here. Among the larger samples, I counted about 80% of the Jazz Critics Poll ballots, maybe a bit more from Jazz Times' much smaller sample, but certainly less than 20% from Pazz & Jop Ripoff Poll (my rule there was to only count ballots by people I've counted before).
  • I never could find the individual ballots for The 2021 Uproxx Music Critics Poll, which I have selectively counted in past year. I counted the poll itself down to 150, although the link goes all the way to the bottom (710).
  • I have a still open tab for Beehype, a "best music from around the world" site which organizes its long list by country. I may or may not add it, but it's certainly of interest to world music afficionados.
  • The short world music list that had the biggest impact on me this week was from NCPR's Beat Authority: led me to Fimber Bravo, Femi/Made Kuti, Ifé, and Okuté, and got me to reexamine Silk Sonic. Other A- records on the list: Arlo Parks, Mon Laferte, Mdou Moctar, and Sa-Roc.

Aside from a bit of new jazz, this week's records fell out of various EOY lists, although they started to dry up toward the weekend. Most of this week's A-list are revisits. All three are records I gave B+(***) to first time around. A couple records that started lower got a boost, but not to A-. Several more (not noted) stuck where they were.

One of the new records I belatedly got around to was by Caetano Veloso, a Brazilian star I've long admired but rarely understood. My sampling so far has been light, so I'm especially delighted to see this new consumer guide to Veloso by ace Brazil Beat critic Rod Taylor. [PS: New Yorker also has a long piece on Veloso: Jonathan Blitzer: How Caetano Veloso Revolutionized Brazil's Sound and Spirit.]

Still too early to summarize the EOY lists, but I can note: The 2021 music tracking file currently shows 1317 rated albums, combining 2021 releases with a few earlier ones from December 2020 (or earlier for records that missed the 2020 music tracking file). That seems like a lot, but is down from my 2020 count of 1627. I entered 2021 thinking I was bound to slow down, so I'm only surprised that the 2021 count isn't lower. Next year's will surely be less.

The EOY A-lists are currently at 74 for jazz and 68 for non-jazz (that adds up to 138, as 4 records are counted in both splits. I'd normally freeze the latter file by now, and call 2021 done, but haven't brought myself to do it. Only 10 (19% of 52) new records this week are 2021 releases. I will do the freeze by the end of February, but I'm not feeling any urgency to get into 2022. As the rated totals show, I'm in no danger of running up my 2021 stats.

February 14, 2022

Music: Current count 37322 [37256] rated (+66), 141 [142] unrated (-1).

Rating total probably reflects fixing some bookkeeping errors, but still list 62 records below, so I kept busy. Spent some time adding to the EOY Aggregate, picking up a pretty good country list from The Boot, and a bunch of lists from Bandcamp, where links to music were especially handy. Also got some fresh suggestions from Robert Christgau's February Consumer Guide (although the Yard Act EP was in Jason Gross's Ye Wei Blog list). Still confused whether it's Iamdoechii or just Doechii, and what the labels are (if any). Then there's another album I didn't get from anyone: Bean on Toast. But he's put out a record every year for quite some time, so I wondered whether he had another one -- and lo, he did.

Note that Saturday's Speaking of Which has an extra PS I wrote Sunday and posted today. I responded to a reader letter, and thought it made most sense to share what I wrote there rather than saving it up for a Questions & Answers.

I actually wrote a bit more at the time, but was satisfied with my ending as presented. Still, here's another useful iteration:

There is a much-commented on "blame America first syndrome," which I also don't think applies to me, but some of what I write can be read that way. I'd say it's not an irrational first approximation. I have a rather extensive catalog of American offenses at my disposal, including things like the CIA efforts to rig elections in Italy and France. The US took a monstrous wrong turn in starting the Cold War, and we've been paying for that mistake ever since -- Donald Trump being just one of many manifestations. It doesn't mean that I hate America. But it does mean that I think a little humility is in order. There are no humanitarian wars. To think otherwise is not only counterfactual, it's unspeakably arrogant.

It should be noted that the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is one of the few media outlets doing consistently good work on Ukraine, and not just their area specialist, Anatol Lieven (though I'll point out that he's not nearly as critical of NATO as I am). His latest pieces are: Russia sanctions bill is a 'single barrel sawed-off shotgun', and Why are we evacuating diplomats from Ukraine? You might also scan through Branko Marcetic's interview with Volodymyr Ishchenko: A Ukrainian Sociologist Explains Why Everything You Know About Ukraine Is Probably Wrong.

They also have an important article on Biden's $7 billion Afghan heist. In the years right after WWII, America developed a reputation as a generous victor, investing money and (more importantly) allowing political freedom to its vanquished enemies in Germany and Japan (while turning on US allies in the Soviet Union, and leaving a mixed legacy in colonized Asia and Africa). In the years since, the US has rarely prevailed in wars, and has often held long and bitter grudges against those who had defied us and the people we once claimed to support. The US debacle in Afghanistan was so total that the only decent thing left to do would be to provide the new government of Afghanistan the means to help its people, but once again we see bitterness getting the upper hand.

Like many people, I wish American foreign policy could be a force for good in the world, but all we ever see is the bullying, cajoling, arrogance, and petty-mindedness. This calls for a time out. (Still, story after story rolls in showing the US military trying to flex its muscles: e.g., Israeli jets escort US bomber to Gulf in fresh show of force to Iran; also: Israeli offiials rushing to evacuate citizens from Ukraine by Tuesday, where by "citizens" they mean an estimated 10-15K Ukrainian Jews they're hoping the Russians will drive into their arms.)

One last thing I should note is that this marks my 3000th blog post, going back to when I initially set up Serendipity (aka s9y) -- was it 2003? I haven't used Serendipity for quite some while, but kept the numbering scheme when I started hand-crafting blog posts (at the time, I called it my "faux blog"). That would work out to 3/week, a rate I have rarely hit over the last 5-10 years, but there was a patch early on where I tried to post something new every day. Not all of those posts are available in the current archive (which starts at 2156), but the redundant copies in the notebook have survived, and I've compiled most of them into a number of book files. There's a lot of writing: a quick wc on the notebook shows 14,820,257 words. Too bad my sloppy organization makes them so hard to find.

February 22, 2021

Music Week delayed a day this week, as I spent much of Sunday and Monday cooking birthday dinner for my wife (Laura) and nephew (Ram). I thought I had some scallops in the freezer, and I've been wanting to make coquille saint-jacques, so crafted a French-ish menu around that. I also noticed a brandade recipe, and had some salt cod in the refrigerator, and just enough lead time to soak it. I also had some chicken liver I needed to use, so decided I'd start the meal with spreads on crostini: the brandade (salt cod and potatoes), chopped liver, sardine rillettes, and eggplant-olive tapenade. For sides, I thought I'd go with simple for brightly-colored dishes: glazed carrots, baby spinach sauteed in butter, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, and mashed celery root. Plate looks like this. For dessert, a very intense flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Each dish was exquisite in its own way.

I didn't have much time (or, frankly, desire) to follow political matters last week, so missed Putin's speech where he announced Russian recognition of independent republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. But as I understand it, this still doesn't come close to the threat of invasion the Biden administration has been breathlessly hyping. Anatol Lieven reports: Putin's move on Donetsk, Lugansk is illegal but falls short of new 'invasion'. Given many precedents I can think of, I'm not sure that complaints about illegality are meaningful or helpful. This did lead me to a useful historical paper Lieven dated Jan. 4, 2022: Ending the Threat of War in Ukraine: A Negotiated Solution to the Donbass Conflict and the Crimean Dispute. I have two further comments on this: 1) I would personally be happy to resolve Donbass and Crimea by allowing either or both to be annexed by Russia, subject to a fair election (based on current population, which most probably tilts pro-Russian). 2) I regard Biden's aggressive and self-righteous rhetoric as reckless and dangerous, but I will allow that it may have made it harder for Russia to invade or to pressure Ukraine (while scaring the hell out of Ukrainians, in the hope of bullying them into being more pro-west and anti-Russian); one problem is that it risks exposing US "intelligence" as totally dishonest and incompetent; another is that it leaves Putin very few options to step back without being humiliated.

One political thing I'm more inclined to write about later this week is the manifesto Sen. Rick Scott is circulating about what to expect if Republicans win Congress in 2022. For a rundown, see If McConnell Disapproved of Rick Scott's Neo-Bircher Agenda, It Would Never Have Been Released. Consider how disconnected from reality one has to be to write something like this:

The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms -- but they want more. They are redefining America and silencing their opponents.

I've considered myself a (not-very-militant) member of the left since about 1967, when I found a book called The New Radicals (edited by Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau), and with it a label and context for much of what I believed. And for my whole life since then, I've never had reason to think that my fellow leftists had any power whatsoever in any of the forums Scott lists. Never once. Nor is redefining and silencing our style. The only way Scott's sentence makes any sense is if you read it as a complaint that the views of Scott and his cohort have become so completely unhinged that they've lost so much support in the halls of power that they now fear persecution. probably because in their bones they know that if they had that same power, that's what they would be doing.

The document continues with a list of things that the left wants "to change or destroy," so it would be easy (and possibly clarifying, or maybe just funny) to write up a point-by-point rebuttal. Of course, it would be a pointless exercise if Scott were really as marginal a figure as his rants suggest, but he is a US Senator from the 3rd most populous state in the US, and chairman of the US Senate Republican Campaign Committee, so it seems he should be taken seriously.

Despite losing a day from my usual week, we have a substantial list of records below, again mostly 2021 releases, many of which showed up on lately perused EOY lists. The blues albums came from AMG's genre lists (I previously had about half of them). I made a special search for hip-hop lists, which pushed Tyler the Creator into 3rd, displacing Olivia Rodrigo, and bumped Lil Nas X to 15th. I was surprised to find a lot of those lists touting Kanye West (up to 48) and Drake (up to 119) -- respectively, C+ and B for me. A set of lists at Wicked Sound helped, although none were labeled hip-hop or rap (closest was "beats").

The A- item in the "Old Music" section was offered up as a download by a reader, as a tangent to another discussion. Takes me back to my childhood, although it's actually better than I remembered. I guess that's one way to get me to write about something hard to find. (I'm still mostly using Napster, but also finding some things on Spotify that I can't find on Napster -- just not much.)

February 28, 2021

Music: Current count 37418 [37375] rated (+43), 144 [139] unrated (+5).


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
  • [dl] something I was able to download from the web; may be freely available, may be a bootleg someone made available, or may be a publicist promo